Part of the day was spent at the council depot in Oxhey picking up bedding plants for planting around the town. Whilst there around 9am a flock of 200+ Fieldfares zoomed overheard. In the afternoon 3 Lesser Redpolls flew over and there was at least 5 Ring-Necked Parakeets in the area but probably more.
After waking up later than I wanted at 9.50am we left our hotel and popped in for a cuppa at my dads and to wish him a happy birthday. We then went to Lowestoft for my first visit to Sparrows Nest Park. Prior to coming up a Red-Flanked Bluetail had spent a few days at Waxham but had gone on the Thursday. Thankfully on checking my pager just after waking up another had been found a few miles down the road! On arrival another birder said it had been seen 10 minutes ago and not long after I re-found it. A brief view and then nothing for 10 minutes until I re-found it again but for even less time. It eventually showed well for 20 seconds but that was enough for my 3rd in the UK and we headed off back to Great Yarmouth and a quick visit to the cemetary in the hope of finding a Yellow-Browed Warbler and Firecrest but some Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were all that were seen! A Lesser Redpoll flew over aswell.
Photos of the adult and adult with juv in bottom right hand corner.
As it was my dads 60th birthday on the sunday myself and the missus went up to Norfolk earlyish on Saturday and as we had a couple of hours to kill we went to my local Norfolk patch of Winterton-on-Sea. Barbara (my other half) sat in the car for some kip and I did an hours seawatching from the car park. Almost immediately 9 Dark Bellied Brent Geese flew North close in and these were followed by another 90 during the hour. Gannets were in good numbers but always distant. 8 Red-Throated Divers were on the sea, 20 Pintail, 29 Wigeon, 4 Guillemot, 3 Kittiwake and a drake Eider flew past but the highlights were my first Arctic Skua of the year and the best bird of the day which flew North albeit a bit distant at 1.40pm which was a juvenile Sabine's Gull. This was only my 2nd in the UK and so was a great find.
Afterwards we went to get some lunch at Poppylands cafe in Horsey and was informed of 3 Common Cranes in the field opposite. I went and got my bins out of the car and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was 2 adults and a juvenile (my first ever juv). After a cuppa I attempted to get a photo of the birds but an adult had walked out of view and the juv had sat down and only its head was showing. 3 Swallows also flew over.
If your wondering about the title of this post then let me explain! Later in the evening as a birthday surprise we all went to Yarmouth stadium for a night at the dogs. Race 5 dog number 2 was called Small Crane! Surely an omen? So £2 to win was placed and it romped home winning me £5.40!!
After being ill for most of my second weeks holiday I finally felt alive enough for a couple of hours birding. I chose Wilstone as I had to pick up my son from school in Kings Langley on the way home. On arrival a Little Egret flew over the car park as did a couple of Skylarks. At the top of the steps I bumped into Dave Bilcock who told me to look over the edge of the reservoir and I will see a Rock Pipit! So I did and I did!!
A scan of the water found 9 Pintail and 5 Golden Plover were on the exposed mud. I wandered round to the hide and had a couple of Siskins fly over and along the path to the hide a Goldcrest was in with a tit flock and a female Bullfinch flashed by and another was calling nearby.
From the hide a Snipe and a Green Sandpiper were feeding on the mud on Drayton Bank and the pair of feral Whooper Swans were still present. Whilst walking around the back of the reservoir a pair of Yellowhammer were near Rushy Meadow and a Cetti's Warbler burst into song nearby. A Buzzard was sat on the roof of a barn and 3 Redwing flew over. A field by the dry canal held at least 50 Meadow Pipits but the crop was just too high to see the birds properly! Just before getting back to the car park a flock of at least 72 Golden Plover flew in, landed for 2 minutes the nflew off again towards Startops Res. Once back in the car park a Swallow flew over.
On the way home we popped to Clarks outlet centre in Street to appease the missus!! But unfortunately i'd come down with a cold so couldn't really appreciate the shops!!!! Once we'd finished there we visited Meare Heath NR in the hope of seeing at least 1 of the 2 Great WhiteEgrets that were present. Eventually we found the car park and got the last parking space. We wandered up the track stopping to ask a couple of birders if they had seen them. They had seen an egret sp but not sure what one it was. I then found this bird and it was a Little Egret. Whilst waiting 2 Siskins flew over, at least 3 Cetti's Warblers were singing a Water Rail screeched from the reeds and a Bittern flew over the path a bit further along. At least 5 Buzzards were overhead giving great views. I said to the missus i'll give it till 1pm then we'll go. At 12.58pm right at the back of the reeds 2 large white birds took flight and flew towards us eventually being lost to view heading over the car park towards Ham Wall RSPB. Hooray it was the 2 Great White Egrets and just in the nick of time!! These were the first i'd seen in the UK for 2 years and were my 5th and 6th of the species.
Once back at home pager messages told me of a Common Crane that flew over the site at3pm and then 3 Cattle Egrets over at 5pm!!
With the possibility of seeing some good birds we travelled down to the lake. On the way a Raven flew over us near the village of Cross. We popped into Woodford Lodge for our permits and then first port of call was Herons Green Bay. There was a large number of birds to be seen from the layby starting off with another 2 Ravens overhead. Little and Great-Crested Grebes were in good numbers along with numerous ducks. All of a sudden while scanning through them I picked up 1 of the 3 male Ferruginous Ducks on the lake. I got my camera ready and just as I was about to take a photo it flew off and out of sight!! Across the road were 2 Snipe and 4 Green Sandpipers on the small pool.
Next stop was the hide at Stratford Bay. From here it was obvious that picking out any of the other Ferruginous Ducks would be tricky as there were many hundreds of ducks but I gave it a go and 15 minutes later I mangaed to pick one out on the far side though it was mainly spending its time asleep. The 4th Raven of the day flew over and 3 Black-Necked Grebes were also seen. 8 Little Egrets were dotted around the lake.
The 2 Fudge Ducks were the first i'd seen in the UK for 7 years and take my tally to 6 birds.
As i'm off for 2 weeks me and the missus decided to have a weekend away down in Somerset. Our base was East Brent in a lovely B&B. We had a quick wander around Weston-super-Mare and saw 3 Rock Pipits and a Sparrowhawk. Another Sparrowhawk was seen over the car as we arrived back at the B&B.
After purchasing some new walking boots and waterproof trousers I was up early and arrived at the reservoir at just gone 7.30am. Visible migration was very much the order of the day with some fairly impressive numbers (well for the Watford area anyway!!). A full list is below.
For those who read my blog I do apologise with the lack of updates. This is mainly because ive not seen much!
After waiting 6 days for my walking boots to finally dry out after the Blakeney monsoon I waterproofed them and went for a wander around Hilfield reservoir. Unfortunately after walking just 100ft or so through the long grass I realised my boots had given up the ghost and were leaking again!! Undeterred I walked all the way around and saw the following.
At least 48 Meadow Pipits flying south and they were the ones I saw as there were others only heard. A Ring-Necked Parakeet, 8 Chiffchaffs (including 2 in song), 40+ Swallow and a male Kestrel.
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.