Monday, 6 September 2021

Norfolk Dip - 4.9.21

 News of a Sykes’s Warbler half way up Blakeney Point saw me join a small group of birders early Saturday morning. Unfortunately the bird hadn’t read the script and had disappeared overnight. It wasn’t a total loss as I did add 7 species to the year list. Dunlin and Curlew where the most embarrassing but an adult and juvenile Spoonbill were nice to see. 

Out at sea a Red-throated Diver flew east and 4 Arctic Skua flew west. A noisy Whimbrel flew over Cley beach car park but a hoped for Pied Flycatcher at Walsey Hills had just been trapped and ringed and then vanished. As I reached the car news reached me of a Crane flying over Warham Greens heading my way I sat and waited for it to appear but I eventually decided to leave. I got about 20 yards down the road when I picked it up flying over Cley reserve so shot into the east bank car park and managed a couple of record shots. 


Common Crane

Monday, 30 August 2021

Wilstone - 30.8.21

 A birthday wander around Wilstone was mostly a quiet affair regarding bird on the water with a Barnacle Goose, 2 Common Sandpipers by the hide and a lone Wigeon being of note. It was once past the hide that things picked up. The long hedge in the middle of the hide meadow produced 2 Spotted Flycatcher (my first of the year), numerous Chiffchaff and singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. In the skies above were 2 Hobby and at least 7 Swift in with 50+ mixed hirundines.

Spotted Flycatcher 

Monday, 23 August 2021

Home - 22.8.21

 Whilst sitting on my chair quietly enjoying the start of my week off work I heard a commotion outside of gull alarm calls. Usually it’s a passing Buzzard that’s annoying them but I thought I’d go and have a look. I found 3 Gulls mobbing a larger bird that didn’t look like a Buzzard so I ran back in and grabbed my bins. Upon laying my eyes on them I found it to be 3 Herring Gulls mobbing an Osprey! My second record for the garden.

Osprey (bottom blob!)

Saturday, 14 August 2021


 For those of you who do read my blog (in the event it’s ever updated!) you may recall last July when I drove up to Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve in East Yorkshire with George and Matt to try and see the North Seas (mainly in Germany) long staying Black-browed Albatross that had showed brilliantly on the Friday but had then sodded off and left a lots of dipping birders staring out to sea. 

Well fast forward to this year and it had returned and seemed to be staying faithful to the cliffs albeit with a couple of days here and there where it was presumed to have gone off fishing. I duly booked off the 24th June to go and see it but with news the previous evening of it having flown out to see I wasn’t hopeful of connecting. As it was I reached Sheffield and stopped in a service station hoping for positive news which never came so I went home and sulked!

Fast forward again and after going missing midweek it returned halfway through Friday 9th July so I made plans to go for it again. Nobody was free to join me so I went solo and left home at 10.30pm and arrived at the car park at 2.50am. My plan was to try and get some sleep in the car then head out to the viewing platform for about 6am as it hadn’t been seen much before that time before but I just couldn’t get comfortable and just before 4am birders started stirring and heading of so I thought I would join them! On arrival at the platform is was a bit foggy and the bird wasn’t where it had roosted. Had I dipped again? 

But then at 4.50am the shout we’d all been hoping for went up. “There it is!!” And sure enough a couple of seconds later the enormous BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS loomed into view and flew around the cliffs for about 10 minutes before dropping down onto the cliff in amongst the Gannets. Here it showed for a minute or two before moving out of view. Happy that I’d seen it in flight and perched up I made the decision to head home and try to beat the traffic. A brief stop on the way back for a nap then I was home by 9.50am to find my family still in their pyjamas! Ok I didn’t get the reach out and touch it views that others had had along the cliff top but I didn’t care. What a stunning bird and I’m so glad I don’t have to go back and try again! 

Black-browed Albatross 

Oxhey Grange - 6.7.21

 While helping tart up Oxhey Grange and Watford Heath for a forthcoming green flag inspection my attention was alerted to some anxious bull calls overhead. Expecting to see them mobbing a Buzzard I was delighted to see them actually mobbing an Osprey!  My first this year and number 140 for the year.

East Anglia - 27.6.21

 After the offer of a lift from Brendon Fagan up to Suffolk and Norfolk was accepted we headed up towards Hickling Broad but as there was a good bird on the way and despite him seeing it during the week Brendon kindly took me to see only my second UK Roller. This one was showing much better than my first (also in Suffolk) perching on wires over a field and dropping down to eat any insect that dared move. 


After our fill of that we headed a few miles down the road towards Lackford Lakes. The hoped for a Glossy Ibis didn’t show until an hour after we’d left! So we headed for Hickling where after waiting our turn to get onto the viewing platform the pair of Black-winged Stilts could be seen snoozing behind the long grass. Some wonderfully multicoloured male Ruff were dotted about and a Curlew Sandpiper played hide and seek behind the tussocks. 

Black-winged Stilt (sleeping!)

Minsmere was our last stop where we hoped to see one of the Roseate Terns that had been around for a week or so. Typically they didn’t show today but 9 summer plumaged Spotted Redshank was a delight to see. In the public hide we bumped into my old mucker Jonathan Nasir. We wandered around to the east hide to try and locate the terns but instead I did manage to find 3 Garganey (which he failed to mention in his blog 😉 - see my blog list for Random Birder!). A couple of flyby Bittern were the last species noted as again I failed to see a Purple Heron at Minsmere (5th attempt!)

RIVER WARBLER!! - 6.6.21

 Just over a month since my last outing and with only a Hobby over the garden being added to the year list news broke from Ham Wall RSPB in Somerset that a River Warbler had been found. It was 2010 since the last twitchable mainland bird so this would prove popular. Along with Matt and George we headed down and on the walk to the area it was favouring we had the first of 5 Great White Egrets flying over. A singing Cuckoo was also new for the year but after a brief while struggling to get on it I finally got my first ever RIVER WARBLER in view through my scope as it sang its head off trying to find a mate. A great bird on a great reserve. 

River Warbler

On the way home again tried for the Great Bustards and this time we were successful in our search. We eventually saw 8 birds including 5 strutting males. Hopefully in time once they’ve produced a few more generations and reached good numbers they’ll be tickable! A nice juvenile Stonechat and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler were also noted.

Great Bustard