Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Spring Come Early? (Probably not) - Chiffchaff

Whilst returning from the walk along Holkham Beach I caught a bird fly past me and it looked greenish in colour. It definitely wasn't a Greenfinch and for a few minutes I really couldn't place what it might have been. It was quite flighty and landed among some long duney grass. Best thing for it was to wait a while and try and get a second glimpse of it. It did eventually reappear and rather obligingly, it popped up onto a fence post so I could see it in all it's splendour. Through the binoculars I now re-evaluated this to be Chiffchaff. It did make me scratch my head though. This was very early February, not late March or April.

There it was though, sat in the sunshine quite happy doing it's thing. As the winters are becoming warmer, more and more birds are staying over winter. I guess there is plenty of food around for them otherwise they would head off again. So this may become more of the norm, just as Blackcaps are staying longer these days, or even the whole year. One way or another it added another year tick a month or so early.

Thursday 16 February 2023

Long-billed Dowitcher - Cley

There had been a Long-billed Dowitcher reported around the Cley area of Norfolk for some weeks, but it sounded like it was difficult to pin down at times and was on the move regularly, or was at some distance. With the marshes being so vast I didn't even have the bird on my mind when I visited a couple of weeks ago. I thought the chances of me connecting with it would be slim, so went on a nice family walk enjoying all the other birds on offer.

On a ridge ahead of us were a large gaggle of birders with their scopes pointing all in the same direction. We didn't rush as we enjoyed the great and very noisy spectacle of thousands of Pink-footed Geese flying overhead. Eventually we moved up to the group, and saw the Long-billed Dowitcher just a matter of metres in front of us. I was expecting it to be hundreds of metres away, but it was only about 20 metres away. It was skulking around the grassy areas and mingling with some Teal and a Ruff. Only my second ever sighting of one, so I was chuffed to bits.

Long-billed Dowitcher in between two Teal for a good size comparison.

Looking rather like a large Snipe

Thursday 9 February 2023

Holkham Gap Shorelark

A winter trip to my parents in Norfolk will at some point involve a long trudge across Holkham beach to look for Shorelark. This year it was an early morning visit. The sun was just coming up and a cold wind was blowing across a quite unforgiving landscape. It was a biting cold and meant hat, gloves, snood and extra layers were essential. Walking into the wind on the mile or so walk through Holkham gap had me asking the question, what if they're not there? Thankfully we were rewarded, eventually. We had walked past their usual area and so decided to take a look at the sea, where we spotted a few Sanderling running alone the tide line before being chased off by a marauding dog. Grrrrrr!!

Back to the search, and just as the sun lit the sand dunes behind us I saw movement on the ground in front. I think there were about a dozen or so Shorelark heading towards us. So we stopped where we were and set up the scope to watch them go about their business. Fantastic little birds, just so difficult to spot, but spot them we did and it was mission accomplished. I'll make the same trip I've made many times next year, when hopefully I will catch up with them once again. 

The walk back, which seemed much shorter, had us watching Brent Geese, Redshank and a couple of Egyptian Geese for good measure.

Thursday 2 February 2023

Water Rail - Elton Reservoir

One of my hardest to find birds each year is the Water Rail. The winter months are the best time to spot them, as the cold weather draws them out from their secretive reed bed homes, but they certainly don't make it easy for you, or give you a free ride. Sometimes you'll hear their squeal like calls, but never set eyes on them, and on other occasions you'll get the briefest of flights from one bed to another. Every now and again though they stay out in the open a little longer to give a good view. Make the most of it, as you don't know when you might get as good a view.
This one was seen at Elton Reservoir along the canal. Unfortunately the sun was in the wrong position, but beggars can't be choosers. A cracking bird to watch.

Perfectly camouflaged against the reeds .