Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Red-footed Falcon found shot

Photo : Rare Bird Alert

Back in August this first summer Red-footed Falcon was delighting the assembled masses at Willow Tree Fen in Lincolnshire after spending a while doing the same in Stoke. On 19th September it was found dead close to the town of Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire and in the recording area of the Peterborough Bird Club. The bird had been shot.

This news doesn't seem to warrant any television coverage, although if you look hard enough the BBC have got a small story about it on their news website. The RSPB are offering a reward of £1000 for any information leading to a prosecution, it may as well be £10,000 for all the good it will do! Another wild life crime that will go unpunished.

In happier times when he graced Willow Tree Fen

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Hoopoe at Crostwick in Norfolk

Finally managed to pick my 'bogey' today with the Hoopoe that has been present on horse paddocks at the village of Crostwick in Norfolk for the past week. I have 'chased' this bird for years, never 'catching' it, even abroad where they are apparently extremely easy to see.

After a bit of a run around in the rain, sleet and strong winds I finally managed to get to the correct site and whilst balancing on a plastic bucket in order to look over a 7ft high wooden fence, I got my first ever view of this rather splendid bird. When the sun did deem to shine the bird was never closer than about 200 metres away and when it did decide to come any closer the sun had gone in and more rain clouds appeared. It did feel good to pick that bogey though!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Long-tailed Duck at Deeping High Bank in Lincolnshire

This female/1st winter type Long-tailed Duck was first spotted on the River Welland at Deeping High Bank yesterday morning by local birder Tony Rowe. It was still present today in the fog and murk when myself, Paul Taylor and Mike Weedon paid a visit and showed quite well. This is the first time in around 9 years that a Long-tailed Duck has been seen locally and so was a very welcome life tick, in fact, it was the 219th bird species that I have seen in the area of the Peterborough Bird Club (PBC).

I crave forgiveness, dear reader for the poor quality in the above photos, but I had the ISO settings extremely high in order to get any sort of shutter speed due to the foggy conditions, which explains the amount of 'noise' present.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Olive-backed Pipit at Muckleburgh Hill in Norfolk

We made our way to Muckleburgh Hill and on arrival found the parking situation to be the same as that at the Shrike site, but with only a small car we managed to get a space. We made our way to the hill, passing various birders informing us that patience was the key and the bird will show eventually. We arrived and the bird was right in front of us, not ten feet away! Skulking through the bracken and seemingly oblivious to the hoards. I rattled off a couple of shots in case this was my only chance and then the bird flew. Upon reviewing my photos, I realised that I had got the completely wrong settings and everything was completely blurred (more so than normal anyway!), gutted! We waited for a bit to see if the bird would return and in about 10 minutes it did. A bit further away and again skulking about, low to the ground, but great views were had with the bird feeding and even doing a bit of preening. The bird then seemed to disappear behind a clump of bracken and vanish. It was at this point that we decided to cut our losses and go for the next bird(s).

We drove to Wells Woods, parked up and paid the rather pricey sum of £3 for 2 hours (I thought it was a bit dear anyway!). We walked to the drinking pool where a 1st-winter/female Red-flanked Bluetail had been showing and after a bit of a wait and several Goldcrests later the bird showed on the far side from us, always on the move and in dark cover, but the blue tail was unmistakeable. Unfortunately photography was not an option at that distance and with very poor light and so I contented myself with views of the third lifer in a day. Someone announced that the Hume's Leaf Warbler was showing and so we all moved off along the main track, perhaps I will get my fourth lifer I thought! A small group of birders were standing just off the path, but the group kept going, but we stopped and asked what these people were looking at, a Pallas's Warbler came the reply. There in the top of an evergreen oak was a gorgeous Pallas's Warbler, flitting in amongst the foliage, calling occasionally and showing its rather fine central crown stripe, with it even hovering and showing the yellow rump. Again, I had to be content with views. We then made our way the short distance to the Hume's site and there, in amongst a Hawthorn bush was the bird, calling, but never showing that well. Five out of five! This was definitely a day to remember! The only 'dip' was the Blyth's Reed Warbler, a notoriously skulky bird that was definitely not showing itself whilst we were there, it may have done if we had more time, but the two hours were almost up and hunger got the better of us. We left Wells Woods and went into the town of Wells where fish and chips were enjoyed.

Quite a day, the sort of day that makes Norfolk famous amongst birdwatchers. When will it be repeated, I wonder?!

I am afraid that the only photos I have for your perusal are those of the rather fine Olive-backed Pipit, a superbly marked individual and my 'bird of the day'.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Isabelline Shrike at Beeston Common in Norfolk

Over the past couple of weeks the wind has been coming from the east and with it all sorts of birds. The Norfolk coast has been littered with rare and scarce migrants, a lot of which I have never seen before. Pallas's Warblers, a couple of Hume's Leaf Warblers, a Blyth's Reed Warbler, several Red-flanked Bluetails, an Olive-backed Pipit and at least 3 Isabelline Shrikes were all on the radar and with Lisa having a rare weekend off and Sunday being free for me as well, we decided to visit the county in order to try and see some these eastern beauties and even treat ourselves to an overnight stay in Little Walsingham.

The first bird I had my eye on was a very obliging Isabelline Shrike that had been showing all week at Beeston Common just outside Sheringham. We arrived at the site with drizzle in the air and a thick grey sky, but that hadn't deterred other birders as the rather large parking area was full with cars. Luckily someone was pulling out just as we got there, so we managed to pull in and make our way to the birds' haunt. Where was everyone, we wondered and more importantly, where was the bird?! We saw a large group of birders in the distance all staring intently at a row of hedges, ah, that must be the site I thought, but no, the Shrike duly appeared on top of a hawthorn bush not 40 yards in front of us. Lovely views were had, the bird even ventured forth to catch a few wasps, but the group of birders still continued to stare into the aforementioned hedges. A couple of birders walked past us and I mentioned the fact that the Shrike was showing in front of me, but they weren't interested in this rare bird from the east, they had come to see a Long-eared Owl that was roosting nearby. That's what the group were looking at! It seemed quite strange to me that there were far more birders staring at a brown blob in a dense hawthorn hedge than there were at this very showy Shrike. Now don't get me wrong, a Long-eared Owl is a great bird, but a non-moving, brown blob can only keep me entertained for so long, especially when an Isabelline Shrike is flying about, hunting various insects, causing panic to the local Robins and Blackbirds and being thoroughly entertaining.

We stayed for a while watching this 1st-winter bird and then decided to venture west in order to 'bag' the other birds that were on show. That tale, dear readers will follow shortly, but for now I will leave you with some other images of the Isabelline Shrike.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Blood Moon

In the small hours of Monday 28th September 2015 an unusual event happened. A lunar eclipse coincided with a 'Supermoon', which occurs when the Moon is at its' closest to the Earth, making it appear larger than usual. An event not due to happen again for 33 years and so I set my alarm for silly o'clock in order to witness it and maybe mange to take some photos.

The moon went through several phases, starting with the full 'Supermoon' and then the eclipse started at 01.11am and reached maximum eclipse at 03.47am (shown in the first photo) where it became the 'Blood Moon'. The red colour is caused by the dust in the Earths' atmosphere. Will I be around for the next one? Hopefully.