A phone call from Joan Thompson just as I was dishing up dinner telling me of a possible Marsh Warbler at Amwell NR had me stuffing my dinner down then driving up to the East of the county. Just after 8pm i'd arrived on site and stood there watching my first Marsh Warbler in Herts and only my 2nd in the UK. Amongst its mimicking song I identified Blue and Great Tits aswell as Blackbird and Swallow. Also singing away was a Cetti's Warbler.
A Watford RSPB coach trip to one of my favourite sites saw 4 new year ticks added these being Nightingale, Bittern, Sandwich Tern and Spotted Redshank. Other highlights were Bearded Tits and 6 Mediterranean Gulls (4 ads and 2 chicks).
Avocet, Barnacle Goose, Black-Winged Stilt and Ruff at Pensthorpe.
After the excellent weekend in Norfolk I was back again the following week this time staying in my dads caravan in Hemsby with my partner and my son. Unfortunately this time was lacking in good birds to go see, so as Springwatch was on the telly we decided to go to Pensthorpe and have a look around and maybe get on tv!
A Honey Buzzard that I saw from the car near the village of Stibbard was flying towards the Raptor Watchpoint at nearby Great Ryburgh, luckily there was a layby so I pulled in and got my bins onto it until it flew behind some trees.
Inside Pensthorpe a Marsh Tit was seen in the woodland and I did cheat a bit and take photos of the captive birds so I could add them to this blog.
It wasn't until the Friday evening when just as I was about to go to the chippy to get some dinner that the MEGA alert went of on my pager and I thought to myself lets hope its nearby though I was half expecting it to be either Shetland or worse still Herts! But to my amazement it said Mega Norfolk Great Knot at Breydon Water!! I ran to the chippy and back and said keep mine in the oven ill be back soon!! By 7pm I was on site and watching the bird tho it was pretty distant about half way out from the South wall. It was only later that evening that doubts started about its true identity as some were saying it was just a Red Knot. Photos proved unconclusive so I and the other birders will just have to wait and see if it gets accepted and give us all a nice armchair tick. Though to me it didnt look like a Red Knot from the views I got.
The Hoopoe at Great Ryburgh and a 'sunbathing' Mole at the same site!!
After dropping off my future step-daughter and her boyfriend off for their hols in Hemsby myself and my girlfriend carried onto North Walsham to spend a couple of days. We unpacked and then decided to go to the North coast to have a wander (and see a few birds hopefully!!).
First port of call was West Runton where the previous October i'd dipped a Blyth's Reed Warbler but this time I came up trumps (eventually). After a 15 minute wait a small group of GREY-HEADED WAGTAILS (4 males and 1 female) flew into view. So luckily I didnt have to wait too long to grip back the missed bird at Grove Ferry, just 3 days infact!! Another lifer (ok a sub-species tick) though in my eyes if a bird is identifiably different from something else then it should be countable hence I count Blue-Headed Wagtail aswell as they are so different from Yellow Wagtail!! Just my opinion.
We then set off for Blakeney Freshmarsh/Friary Hills in the hope of adding my 2nd species of Pratincole in a few days. Again luck was on my side as although distant a Collared Pratincole showed in flight and on the deck. My first since May 2001!
The final stop was Great Ryburgh not for Honey Buzzard but for a Hoopoe. We arrived to find nobody around but within 20 minutes a few others had turned up we managed to find it feeding in an adjacent field.
All in all a very good day!
This was followed the next day with a trip to Cromer where between heavy rain showers a couple of Fulmars got onto the year list.
Another half day off of work and I was off down to Kent again this time to Grove Ferry.
I arrived in the pouring rain and then trudged off towards the reserve. Thankfully within minutes the rain had stopped and birds began singing again including both Reed and Cetti'sWarblers. The Cetti's being species number 160 for the year.
I was within 30 feet of the Marsh hide when 6 people walked out and told me it had just flown off! So rather than walk all the way back to the car and drive around trying to find it I decided to sit it out. A brief flyover was the only glimpse in over an hours waiting and not long after another birder in the hide received a call saying the bird in question was at nearby Collards Lake. So along with Dan Pointon we started walking back to the car park popping briefly to Harrison's Drove hide to see both Little and Temminck's Stint and a Greenshank. But just as we had left Dan got a call to say it was infront of the Marsh hide again! So a brisk walk back enabled us to finally see a wet and sad looking BLACK-WINGED PRATINCOLE my 4th lifer in as many weeks!
Later that evening once home news broke of a male Grey-Headed Wagtail infront of Harrison's Drove hide! Not seen one of those - yet!
As soon as news came onto my pager I was out the house and on my way to Portland in Dorset.
A Little Tern at Ferrybridge on the way down was a year tick.
During the 3+ hour journey there was no news coming from the site and I was begining to fear the worst. Thankfully though as I turned into the street in Southwell the small crowd of birders were all looking into a garden obviously looking at the bird. I parked up around the corner and ran back to join the crowd and was told that it had just reappeared 4 hours after being first seen that morning! About 3 minutes later I was watching my first ever COLLARED FLYCATCHER, a stunning 1st summer male flitting about and posing in a couple of small apple trees.
Unfortunately after just 20 minutes of viewing it disappeared again and then the rain set in so I walked back to the car and promptly drove all the way to Dungeness in Kent!
Some 4 hours later I arrived and walked over to join the throng of birders all watching the bird in question. Unfortunately as I was setting my scope up the bird was flushed and flew over some houses and was lost to view! After over an hour the bird was flushed accidentaly again but this time it decided to sit out in the open on a shingle ridge for just over 5 minutes giving myself good views of my first ever CRESTED LARK.
2 lifers in a day but at the cost of 470 miles of driving and 12 long hours from leaving home to getting in! But it was worth it, even if news the next day of an Eastern Bonelli's Warbler literally down the road from the flycatcher on Portland broke.
4 photos of the Dotterel at Ashwell. A nice County tick.
A Dotterel reported on my pager in North Herts saw me driving to near Ashwell early on Sunday morning. I arrived just before 10am and thankfully immediately got onto the bird crouching down in a pea field not far from the road.
Also in the field were 4 Wheatears and a singing Corn Bunting in the hedgerow.
An evening trip produced 3 more Lesser Whitethroats and 10 Whitethroats but the main prize was the reeling Grasshopper Warbler which showed well on occasion. It was my 150th Species of the year so far.
3 images of the male Red-Breasted Merganser I found.
A 5am start on a bank holiday Monday isn't the most enjoyable thing to do but I was hoping the reward would be worth it. Just after 7am I arrived at the site to be told i'd missed the bird in question by 5 minutes. Thankfully not long after out popped the bird in full view just 10 feet away. Yes the early start was definately worth it with an absolutely cracking male WHITE-THROATED SPARROW that even started singing! It had been present since November 2008 but thankfully news broke just in time as after 150+ days on site it promptly disappeared after just 10 days on show. This was my 2nd Lifer this year.
On the way home I made a slight detour to a local reservoir and promptly found a female Wheatear followed by a male Red-Breasted Merganser!
Just two of the Serins a male Black Redstart and a Lizard around Pompeii.
Another long weekend away this time for my mums 60th birthday. The highlights were around 75+ Serins around Sorrento and Pompeii and 3 Sardinian Warblers, Tree,House and Italian Sparrows and a brief view of a possible Lesser Kestrel.
My partner and I went up to my dads for a long weekend but a slight detour on the way up was made to Beighton near Strumpshaw for a Cattle Egret and a Red-Legged Partridge was another year tick.
12 Mediterranean Gulls between the piers at Great Yarmouth were the 120th species for the year. A female Merlin and Golden Plover at Winterton and 95 Red-Throated Divers off of Caister-on-Sea were new ticks for the year.
A 10 minute stop off at Sandon on the way home added Grey Partridge and Yellowhammer.
Born and bred in Watford,Herts, I started birding when I was just 8 years old because the old next door neighbours garden was very overgrown and attracted birds to his and our gardens! I first went to the Watford RSPB group at 15 and then I joined the Herts Bird Club in the same year. I was on the Herts Bird Club committee for 3 years. I started twitching in September 2001 after i'd bought my RBA pager and within a week of owning it i'd added Red-Necked Stint and American Green Heron! I keep 2 main lists which can be seen above.