Saturday, November 10, 2018

Foreness Point

The best from a rain-soaked day were two Black Redstart occupying the pumping station at the point, and a couple of unseasonal visitors. 

A single juvenile Swallow and House Martin were feeding along the clifftop despite the heavy rain.

A Red-throated Diver passed by on the sea with small groups of wader that included Ringed Plover heading toward the shore on the incoming tide.

I managed to skillfully evade all Pallid Swift sightings.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Norfolk royalty - King Eider

It's a long drive to Norfolk.  A long way to the North Norfolk coast from here.  It took a massive three and a half hours and with daylight now a precious commodity, time was at a premium.

The first stop, Sheringham, for the eclipse drake King Eider seen distantly, drifting slowly west, on a calm sea.  Sheringham is a lovely place.

Then onto Salthouse, where the 'eastern' Stonechat of Eastern Russian descent was seen, again distantly, extremely twitchy, flighty, and at times atypically elusive.

The constrasting pale underparts and dark under-wing coverts were fortuitously captured, the possibility of Saxicola stejnegeri.

A quick trip to the Coastguards at Cley produced a single Little Auk flying west but the sea was generally quiet.  I headed back to Salthouse.

The sun was brilliant, the south-west breeze keen, the expanse of a blue Norfolk sky stretched out over the sea, folding back onto the horizon.  It is a fabulous place.  Laying on the beach, looking out to sea, where two more Little Auk flew through along with a couple of Red-throated Diver and Razorbill.

It was nice being still, listening to the breeze whip off the pebbles, lying prostrate, staring into the oblivious sky.

A Purple Sandpiper was a surprise on a small pool beyond the road.

A couple of Turnstone flew energetically along the rocky shoreline.

The late show involved an extremely late Swift, appearing to be a Common Swift with Pallid Swift a distinct possibility.  It appeared dark, but the light was beginning to fade, as was I.

A Merlin dashed low over the marsh.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Foreness Point

This doesn't show how monstrous the weather was today.  The sea was billowing into a frothy frenzy backed by a north-westerly wind that howled and buffeted the shore.  Sometimes you just have to stand and watch.  Watch and feel.  Feel and admire the forces of nature. 

It was a day for that.

A relaxing day, to escape for a few hours, to calm the mind, to breathe deeply.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wanstead Flats - Rustic Bunting

A rare bird hit East London.  Not many of these tend to visit the capital.  Only the second ever for the big smoke.  This is a rare bird, difficult to catch up with.  Perhaps a chancy encounter on the east coast or on the outer isles.

So a full scale twitch ensued.  I for that matter had a leisurely train ride toward the east.

The Rustic Bunting was seen well but not enough for any decent pics.

Nice to see familiar faces, wasn't fussed about a couple of narky ones though.

Wanstead looks like a great site, understandably well used but looks like there's something for everyone there.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kingsgate - Red-rumped Swallow

Making the most of a week off and hot on the heels of the Scoter trip, I headed down to Kent and based myself in an area between Margate and Ramsgate.

It was great and a little frustrating too having missed the Pallid Swift by a matter of minutes at Kingsgate,  What this did result in during the search was an unexpected Red-rumped Swallow that breezed through in the company of a House Martin.  Both pale rumped, this was an obviously totally different bird and perhaps the juvenile that was seen the previous evening.

The day turned out to be quite leisurely, the warm sun and breeze, and the stunning backdrop of golden sand and white cliffs.  It really is a lovely area.

Barn Swallow were passing through in small groups all day, speeding low along the cliff-face fighting against a head-wind.  Another interesting feature were small groups of Chaffinch heading inland in-off the sea with a few Skylark and Siskin.

The sea was interesting later on in the day.  A Great Skua passed close by, a Red-throated Diver flew west, a single Sandwich Tern and two 1st winter Mediterranean Gull flew past and a couple of Harbour Porpoise were loafing about offshore.

A rare sighting of an ageing Cavok Air AN-12A on a cargo flight from Stansted to Budapest.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Musselburgh Lagoons - American White-winged Scoter

Rewind back to a dismal July day in 2016 when I opted to head up to Aberdeen to twitch a rare bird.

I was hungover, tired, but the flight was booked.  Unfortunately the bird went missing for a day which was just a little inconvenient.

This perennial American visitor was back, returning to the place where it had initially been identified in 2014.  I decided to head for Musselburgh Lagoons for another crack at this yank seafarer.

A 4.15am alarm call, 5am taxi ride, 5.50am coach ride, and an 8.55am plane ride from Stansted, had me at the car hire office by 11am,  By 11.50am I was on-site, firstly walking the wrong way, and then hacking back to the sea-wall away from the town.

At 1.30pm, the American-White-winged Scoter was picked up associating with a small group of pristine Velvet Scoter.  The open water was at times back-lit on a mild and breezy afternoon.

It roosted for a while, preened for a while, swam up and down for a while, flicked its head back for a while.  It was all rather entertaining and not to mention the relief after the aforementioned failed attempt.

This was a great site.  Lots of waders out on the exposed mud of the receded tide that was starting to surge its way back in.  There were hundreds of Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Curlew, with smaller numbers of Knot and Dunlin flying close past the seawall.

On the sea, two Slavonian Grebe were bobbing about as were small groups of Red-breasted Merganser, Common Eider, and the odd Guillemot and Razorbill.

Four Sandwich Tern flew through, and a few 1st winter Gannet were present offshore.

The sight of hundreds of yapping formation flying Pink-footed Goose passing high overhead on inward migration was magical.

With no further incidents, I finally returned home at 11.50pm.  It is amazing what you can do in a day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Isles of Scilly - Day Seven

It was sad to leave.  A week never feels like long enough on the Scillies.  At the airport after a check-in, I took a final wander toward the hangars.

Flying through were four Cattle Egret that circled before heading further inland.  It never stops here and a great way to end the week.  Four Northern Wheatear were feeding on the airfield.