October 27, 2006

What's happening?

... not a lot, at the moment.

Autumn is here, but we still need some British breeders!

So, where have we cocked up and where do we still have a chance? A summary...

Red-necked Grebe. Still possible, but we'll probably have to twitch one somewhere inland.
Storm-petrel, Leach's Petrel. Looking decidedly unlikely...
White-tailed Eagle. Dipping in Scotland in May means we've virtually no chance.
Ptarmigan. Definitely no chance.
Quail. Too late now... but where were they all?
Golden Pheasant. Not beyond the realms of possibility.
Spotted Crake, Corncrake. Left it too late. Doh.
Crane. Still in with a chance. Need to go to the right places.
Stone-curlew. Ballsed that one up. Failure to visit right part of Brecks at the right time.
Dotterel. Spring passage in Cambs went unnoticed this year, and dipped in Cornwall.
Temminck's Stint. Too lazy to go and twitch any (anyway, they don't really breed, do they?).
Purple Sandpiper. Hopefully will still see these...
Roseate Tern. Lack of finance meant trip to the North not possible.
Ring-necked Parakeet. Will have to go to London. Yuck.
Bee-eater. Failed to twitch any, or find any nesting in the quarry at The Lodge...
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Didn't get any in spring; will need some jam.
Savi's, Marsh and Icterine Warblers. Never seriously on the cards.
Willow Tit. Should still be possible.
Serin. Never had much chance.
Twite. Not on Llanfairfechan seafront, so we'll have to head east.
Parrot Crossbill. Always going to be a bit ropey.
Common Rosefinch. Well, you never know...
Snow Bunting. Likely to get this, I think...

There you have it. We're rubbish twitchers, you see.

September 11, 2006

Speck Sand

After the heartbreak of missing the pectoral sandpiper at my old local patch at Willington, I subjected Katie to psychic chinese burns all day today in the hope she would psychologically collapse and go to Grafham Water with me for the 8,147th pectoral sandpiper to appear in the UK this autumn.

She did.

''It's only a f*cking pec sand!'' she said of the last one.

''But a very smart looking individual'' I countered, eyebrows arched knowingly, but secretly thinking ''Yes, but we both need to see it for it to count. Even though it won't because we're only counting UK breeders''

We arrived, I scanned. Katie watched f*cking mallards on the bird table. But i guess thats better than watching mallards f*cking on the bird table.

I got onto the bird. By the time Katie got there it had disappeared behind the most stupidly positioned tree since the death of Marc Bolan.

(If you've ever been to the Valley Creek Hide at Grafham, you'll know what I mean).

I scanned again for another 30 minutes. A small, long-winged wader with pale underwings flew across and alighted at a distance of about four and a half miles.

Thank f*ck for that. Katie gets on to it and concurs with my now somewhat desperate identification. A pec sand alright, but hardly crippling views.

I wonder if I can persuade her to go back tomorrow? ;-)

September 10, 2006

Easy Ticks

We went sea-watching at Weybourne this weekend. God, its bloody hard.

I consider myself to be a careful birder, but the number of birds that went unidentified was staggering. What I can report is that around a thousand terns - mainly Sandwich - flew east in little under two hours. Five skuas were positively identified: two arctic and three great. The bonxies couldn't be arsed with the terns but the arctics put on a superb display of elegant thuggery.

A distant red-throated diver gave itself up along with a few guillemots. I couldn't string a pomarine for the life of me.

It made me think how easy some people have it - they never seem to dip. I wish I had such a god-like prowess in the field.

Bird 'A' seen at location 'B' in bush 'C' means that the first bird that observer 'X' sees flitting about in bush 'C' must be bird 'A'

Well, in my experience, it just doesn't work like that. And if it did, this birding business would be a boring waste of time and you may as well just log on to BirdGuides for your daily fix.

F*ck 'em.

We also saw a very attractive and rather showy barred warbler. Sometimes things don't pan out as you anticipate...

Species added today
188. Great Skua
189. Arctic Skua

August 27, 2006


From my other blog, Bogbumper

It's a bit silly to go to the north Norfolk coast on a Bank Holiday weekend and then moan because there are lots of people about...


Lots of birds at Titchwell, too. Mixed flock of Dunlin and Curlew Sandpipers

Curlew Sandpiper with Phragmites in the way...

Bathtime for Ringed Plover


Teal dabbling

Snipe probing

Will Bowell and David Roche had counted 24 species of wader on the lagoons and beach, which I think would have been...
  1. Dunlin
  2. Curlew Sandpiper
  3. Black-tailed Godwit
  4. Bar-tailed Godwit
  5. Lapwing
  6. Golden Plover
  7. Grey Plover
  8. Sanderling
  9. Temminck's Stint
  10. Little Stint
  11. Redshank
  12. Spotted Redshank
  13. Curlew
  14. Snipe
  15. Green Sandpiper
  16. Common Sandpiper
  17. Oystercatcher
  18. Avocet
  19. Ringed Plover
  20. Turnstone
  21. Greenshank
  22. Ruff
  23. Knot?
  24. Wood Sandpiper?
Before hitting Titchwell, we took a walk along the hedgerows at Burnham Overy Staithe, only to find it congested with dog-walkers and a selection of eccentrically-dressed birders, and devoid of birds. Nice Migrant Hawkers, though.

Lunch was had at The Chequers Inn, Binham, and was very good. I can recommend the steak and ale pie. Am I getting middle-aged?

Nearly forgot to mention that I had a Titchwell tick - a small boy having his bum wiped by his mother, on the main path to the beach, fully exposed to the cold north-westerly wind. Poor sod. No wonder he didn't look very happy. Is there anything people won't do on nature reserves? It seems not...

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

August 04, 2006


Darren's now heard a Firecrest at The Lodge so we're having it for our year list (I saw one there back in April).

That's a relief... thought I'd never hear the end of it...

Species added today:
187. Firecrest

August 02, 2006


Steve Blain, fellow Lodge lister, see here: http://www.birdingthelodge.blogspot.com/ found a juvenile Wood Sandpiper at Broom GP's on Sunday. So for the last three lunchtimes, I've been back and forth to Broom to look at this elegant, smart and spangly beauty.

Nice birdy...

July 22, 2006


This morning, the Spoonbills at Cley were doing what Spoonbills like best - sleeping.

Instead, we enjoyed the close-up Marsh Harriers, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits and, especially, the pristine, breeding-plumaged Knot.

Why is rusty red so popular among Arctic-breeding waders?

Species added today:
185. Spoonbill
Yellow-legged Gull