An early start saw myself with Jon and Ad Clifton at UEA Broad on the outskirts of Norwich searching for the 2w Ring-billed Gull that had been around since October. It had been quite tricky to pin down but we were lucky and picked it up easily. It was in quite advanced plumage and at glance resembled an adult although the eyes were still dark.
[Eds: I believe that this was possibly the first for Norfolk?]
Some nearby gravel pits failed to produce Red-necked Grebe
or Red-crested Pochard but we did find what appeared to be a female Ferruginous
Duck. Cranes were next on the agenda at Horsey but we could not find any but a
Short-eared Owl showed very well and caught several voles while a single female
Marsh Harrier quartered and a herd of 100 Whooper Swans was out in the fields.
Down now to Lowestoft where a single Purple Sandpiper was seen
at Ness Point along with a few Kittiwakes, a cracking male Eider and some Rock
Pipits to be followed by two Waxwings gorging on Rosehips in Bloodmoor Road.
Our final stop of the day was at Benacre which we approached
from the Kessingland end. We eventually
found the six smart Shorelarks on the beach along with a single Snow Bunting
and six Skylarks.
A disappointing trip to East Tilbury with none of the
potential sea duck, Pom Skuas, Red-throated Divers or Merlin! There was only
one Black-tailed Godwit but 45 Corn Buntings and 110 Stock Doves was notable.
Hanningfield Reservoir had very low water levels and was quiet bar 2000 Lapwing
and flock of 600 Pintail.
Another early Norfolk venture with Jon Clifton, Tariq Watson and Ken Barrett [Eds: sadly the last two are no longer with us…]
A Pacific Golden Plover was our quarry on Cley Eye but after two hours scanning thousands of Plovers it was only obvious by its absence.
Steve Gantlett turned up and let everyone know that it was showing from
Blakeney Quay causing a very sudden exodus of birders I that direction. There were even more birds down here but no
sooner had a couple of us picked up this small Plover than the whole flock got
up and few back towards Cley.
A quick retrace and then another 30 minutes scanning to find
the bird in the field. Crippling views were had and it came to within 15 feet
of where we were standing. A tiny delicate bird only a little bigger than a
Turnstone in body size but on long spindly legs. We noted three projecting primary tips and the
tertial tips ended about even with the tail.
A couple of short flights revealed the smoky grey underwings.
|Pacific Golden Plover
With nothing better to do we headed back south and spent a couple of hours in the Yare Valley where 300 [Taiga] Bean Geese [Eds: those were the days…], 150 Russian White-fronts, 100 Greylags and 15 Canada Geese were noted [Eds: no Pinkfeet were wintering on this side of Norfolk back then].
We estimated 15,000 Wigeon across the flooded meadows and two Sparrowhawks and
a female Marsh Harrier were seen before we called it a day.
A crisp frosty morning walk at The Chase with Mum and Dad was greatly
enhanced by finding the Long-eared Owls on show but not two but eight in two groups
of four!. There were still lots of
thrushes around and duck were represented by 20 Teal and four Wigeon. I was not
expecting a Chase tick though and the freeze had obviously displaced two Grey
Plovers which circled the Slack but did not land. A Chiffchaff called from the
scrub and a Water Rail popped out briefly on the ice.
Back to Dagenham Chase with Ken B where four of five
Long-eared Owls seen were selfishly flushed by a dog walker but allowed us some
flight views for a change. Two Golden Plover flying around became my second
site tick that week. I had just left Ken
and headed back off to find him and in the process relocated the Jack Snipe that
Ken had seen earlier down near the Rom.
Two Sparrowhawks were out hunting and on the pit nearest the
road there were two stunning male Goosanders paddling around along with 28
Tufted Ducks, a Pochard and a single female Gadwall. I was almost back at the
car when 18 more Golden Plovers flew over!
Quite a morning on the patch!
A quieter morning at The Chase with Peter G with only two
LEOs and no special ducks. Thrush
numbers had risen again and the Jack Snipe was still lurking near the spring.
Two Foxes patrolled the Slack and 45 Lapwings drifted over. I headed up London
later on and saw four Snipe and amazingly a Woodcock from the train.
Out with Dad, this time to Fishers Green. It was very cold and frosty with little open
water available and as such all the wildfowl were tightly packed in. We counted
26 Mute Swans, a single Canada Goose, 32 Great Crested Grebes, four Little
Grebes, 180 Mallard, 199 Gadwall, 69 Shoveler, 24 Wigeon, 42 Teal, 65 Pochard,
64 Tufted Duck, 14 Goldeneye, one female Ruddy Duck, 60 Moorhen and 1100 Coot
jammed into the small open areas. There were a few waders too with 130
Lapwings, 26 Golden Plover and two Snipe and two Kingfishers dashed along with
Lee. There were a few roving Tit flocks and six Water Rails out and about
searching for food. Two Mute Swans had succumbed
and one was be devoured by a very smug looking female Kestrel. A most
satisfying morning out.
Daily visits to Barking Park to keep an eye on the Mute
Swans in the ice resulted in a Jack Snipe around the edge and two male a female
Gadwall. Both good records and obviously
the result of the cold snap. Tawny Owls
were vocal around home as well while a Great Spotted Woodpecker in South Park
was the first local sighting away from Valentines or Wanstead.
A bitterly cold but sunny day out in Essex with Peter G. We
bravely walked out to Shinglehead Point
at Tollesbury and were rewarded with a good selection of winter waders
and wildfowl including a male Scaup, nine Eider, 64 Goldeneye and 13 Mergansers
along with a selection of small birds too with five Snow Buntings, ten Twite,
50 Skylark, 200 Goldfinch and Rock and Meadow Pipits. The only slight
disappointment was getting totally covered in rich, black, smelly mud right up
to my knees which Pete, as usual though was hilarious.
Abberton next where six Bar-headed Geese was the goosy
highlight along with 800 Wigeon, 87 Shoveler, seven Goosanders, five adult
Bewick’s and a single Whooper Swan. After Pete brewed a cuppa we headed to
Mersea and dipped some Waxwings but I did get an Essex tick with five distant
Velvet Scoter. There were countless
Golden Plovers and big flock of cackling Brent Geese while 67 Goldeneye, three
Eider and 11 Mergansers were in the Colne.
A flock of 32 Corn Buntings was a nice was to end up the day.
Our usual pre-Christmas visit to Felixstowe to visit my
Grandparents resulted in brief views of the adult Iceland Gull heading towards
the outfall and nine Corn Buntings and four White-fronted Geese battling
against the wind at The Ferry.
A couple of hours at The Chase was well spent with seven
Long-eared Owls in one bush, 32 smart Shoveler, 40 Teal and a dashing female
Merlin to become my third site tick this month.
A very late post dinner visit to The Chase with Dad gave
superb views of one of the LEOs actually out hunting.
A quick visit to show my Grandad Stan the LEOs. We saw four and he was most impressed.
A very early start for a special bird – a Laughing Gull. The
140 mile journey up to north east Norfolk with Peter G and Roy and Ian Woodward
was enlivened by two Tawny Owls. We had only been at Walcott twenty minutes
when it was picked up on the beach before quickly flying inland to a field
where it paddled around with some Black-heads in a puddle. A small dark looking
first winter gull with a black smudgy mask and a droopy dark bill. This was a much welcome life tick.
We headed south to Waxham and passed eight Whooper Swans on
the way. The Cranes had just flown over
the bank but our usual little bit of trespassing [Eds: I am pretty sure I can
remember where this was] saw us peering around a barn at five stalking adults
at close range. They were sharing the
fields with 42 more Whoopers and a quartering female Marsh Harrier.
Onwards to Cantley where 170 Bean Geese were on show
including two blue and one white neck collared individuals. Sixty White-fronts
and 15 Ruff were also noted before we crossed Reedham Ferry and made our wat
south to Butley where both an adult and immature Rough-legged Buzzard were dutifully
on view at the same time, both perched and in flight. Four Barn Owls were our
hunting the fields and Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were also seen before we called
it a day.
After Jon and Ad’s wedding in North Essex yesterday I needed a walk and so headed down to the Concrete Barges at Rainham. It was a most worthwhile visit to my least favourite spot [Eds: says he, just coming up on 19 years working at the place…].
Pipits were located amongst the numerous ‘littoralis’ Rock Pipits and a Purple
Sandpiper was tottering around the Barges with the Dunlin and Redshank and was
my first Essex record away from Southend. [Eds: There has not been another
Rainham one since…] A Common Sandpiper was also seen along with Snipe, Ringed
Plover and Lapwings.
A final Chase visit with just three LEOs found but any owl
is a nice was to round up the year.
I ended up with 313 species in 1991 but only managed 11(ish)
lifers which was probably to be expected as my list creeps ever closer to the
magic 400. I wonder what species that will be?