Thursday, 22 February 2018
On Monday 19th February, I drove to a very gloomy Oulton Broad by the Wherry and the fine male Red- breasted Merganser was swimming on the Broad way out by the Maltings. Back in the garden a fine Treecreeper scaled on one main vertical branch then another at 4.30pm but was gone by the time I had retrieved my camera. On Tuesday 20th February, a dismal day raining until 3pm, I was again at the Wherry and noticed the time male Red- breasted Merganser close in to quay by the Boulevard by the alcove area where the yachts are moored I rushed over and obtained some close shots albeit in appalling light.
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
On Saturday 17th February, having arrived at Mum's, in the afternoon I visited Cymisfael stream, walking along no sign of the Dippers but a mewing Red Kite flew over and west. 13 Redwing flew overhead. several Goldcrests heard too. Walking past the stream to the meadow, amazingly I saw a male Peregrine Falcon flew past and south at around 30 feet off the ground. By the far stream, a Moorhen was seen. Walking back by Pennybanc Farm bridge, a Goldcrest showed well in the hedge. By the house near the start of the stream a male and female Bullfinch seen perched near the top of a large bush. On Sunday 18th February, by the Pennybanc bridge, a Dipper was seen at close range but a running dog walker complete with running dog and luminous yellow jacket flushed not only that bird but another Dipper joined it flying further down the stream. On the third and final visit the 2 Dippers were along the far parallel stream feeding in the waters seen well at distance. By the meadow, a Red Kite circled. A rattling Mistle Thrush flew past and a Grey Wagtail seen from the meadow, flying overhead towards the stream, and it was picked up feeding half way along the stream join the way back. Goldcrest again seen by the bush by Pennybanc bridge. By Mum's house a Red Kite flew directly overhead and 14 Fieldfares flew east over the house. Driving back from Llannon, after seeing family on Sunday 18th February, at Cym Mawr by the Green, in fading light 2 Mistle Thushes fed on the lawn. Driving back along the M4, 4 Rooks seen at Membury services near swindon and a red Kite seen alongside the M4 near Reading.
On Friday 16th February, I drove back to Exeter and drove down to East Budleigh, a charming village and I parked in the free car park at Hayes Lane at around 11am, where I noticed a sign saying this was the road where Sir Walter Raleigh was born and the pub opposite was called the Sir Walter raleigh. I walked up to Reynards road and found the green area with 3 trees in the middle where two feeders had been put out to attract the Italian Sparrow. I spent around 30 minutes hear initially no luck despite seeing several 5 House Sparrows, 3 Long- tailed Tits and a Redwing moving through. I decided to check out the Cadbury Gardens road, really a Close where the last house on the right before the end had several bird feeders up near a great amount of scrub. Sparrows were coming regularly to feed here. I was also seeing Starling as well. After 20 minutes I suddenly saw the excellent Italian Sparrow, with a distinct dark chestnut brown cap, a distinctive hooked bill the bill tip of the upper mandible was distended. It also showed a little white before and after the eye. It also showed more extensive black on the throat and upper breast. It quickly flew however. Around 15 minutes later it came in again with several Sparrows and was perched in bushes before it flew to feeders at the back where it fed for a while and I managed to obtain my best shots. Walking round to the churchyard where a local couple said Hawfinches had been seen, I came across a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh, in the churchyard itself, a close Robin around the perimeter hedge and a pale Buzzard that flew into a field and then perched up in a nearby tree. It later flew together with a second darker Buzzard.
On Thursday 15th February, after almost quarter of a century, 24 and a half years to be precise, it was a long overdue nostalgic return visit to Staines Reservoirs at around 10am. I had tried the western end and it had totally changed, as I turned around in a scrubby car park, I heard but did not see a Ring- necked Parakeet call. I had seen some great birds at Staines, cycling down there from Hounslow when I was studying for my Library degree and my first Library jobs since qualifying at Chiswick and Hounslow Libraries. The far west side has totally changed with roundabouts either side and the expansion of Heathrow evident. The eastern side was far more recognisable with the housing estate area still there and Ashford Hospital further down the road. The sign had changed by the Eastern entrance but the railings were just the same and most importantly the reservoirs the same too and as I walked up, I met some people looking over the north side they said the bird was further down. Reaching almost to the towers at the far end, one birder came up saying had I seen it? No, I replied, he stated that the birders had seen it ten minues ago but it had flown up a little way towards the middle. Each side of the walkway which is borders by a 5.5 high foot railings, it slopes down to the water's edge. The half nearest the path was grass, that nearest the water's edge was stone interspersed with weeds growing through. I had checked some birds noting first Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail. But a larger Lark like bird I spotted was the bird, the excellent American Horned Lark. I informed the 3 other birders and we quickly got onto the bird and followed as it as it was constantly feeding on the sloped borders along the concrete part interspersed by reeds. It was a heavily marked bird with...It then flew to around half way along and we saw it pretty close before it went down tot he waters edge. Also seen walking back along the east side, 2 fine male Goldeneyes. Driving along past Reading a Red Kite flew low over the motorway near Newbury services.
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
On Mon Feb 12th there was good birding this am but none of the birds would show for the camera: 2 Hawfinch were flying around Wrentham old cemetery, initially a female was seen and she perched in the tall trees at the back. She and another male Hawfinch often dived in the Yew trees but didn't appear out on the edge at all in the couple of hours of observation. The Glossy Ibis was seen at the back of the flashes at Eastbridge, it was maybe forced to the back by birders using an admittedly public footpath by the side of the flashes. Onwards towards Minsmere and I was fortunate enough to see a second year Glaucous Gull flying north along the beach at Minsmere, this arctic visitor viewed whilst I was walking along the north wall. Joined by Chris L, disappointingly no sign of the both redhead Smew who had been asleep on the bunds. Walking back a male Stonechat showed really well and had a lady not walked by without stopping and then onto the reserve we would have obtained some good shots. By the pools just west of the car park, I spend 1 redhead Smew sitting on a bund asleep and she finally showed despite trying to hide! Common Seal was seen in the sea off Dunwich beach car park too.
Thursday, 8 February 2018
On Saturday 3rd February there was 'great' Great Yarmouth/ East Norfolk birding to be had this am with Glossy Ibis- Bure Park, from the second car park, I walked south 400 yards (thanks to Tony S- part of the crack Scottish birding team- for precise directions) and good to see him again) and by the flooded field by the building could clearly see the fine Glossy Ibis feeding by the pool. It walked over to a large bush and taking care walking out by the trees we got a little closer without disturbing the bird. It huddled down by the bushes before it eventually and nonchalantly walked back to the puddle to resume feeding. From the road down to the tip looking south towards the Greyhound stadium, the fine Great White Egret could actually be seen from the car but stopping I had reasonable if distant scope views it stalked the field feeding. Driving to Halvergate, down the Halvergate road the wonderful Whooper Swan seen with around 20 Mutes looking west with the Norfolk correspondent. Seeing a big flock of c170 Swans 1 mile west Hindu temple, I remembered my good friend Ricky finding some Bewick's amongst this flock the previous winter and I wanted to repeat this. Parking by the southern lay-by I scanned the flock and sure enough there were 2 adult Bewick's Swans feeding bang in the middle of the flock. Behind them in the background you could see Stokesby's Ferry Inn. With Matthew S joining me, good to see him too it was fine end to the day, especially as I was able to pick up the Whooper again distantly from the same lay-by and point this out to Matthew, too.