Saturday, 11 June 2011

Norf Yorks Better Than Nor folk

After dipping Honey Buzzard in Norfolk two weeks ago, daily reports of them from the Wykeham Raptor Watchpoint in North Yorkshire this week were too good to miss out on. 
With a planned trip with some of the Magnificent Seven later this month now not possible because of work, it was worth a punt.  And with a Monty's Harrier and Osprey also seen, it was too good to pass over.
A journey that appeared to take twice as long as it needed to (108 miles in over two hours) ended with arrival at 9:00 am and straight into a Goshawk.  Good start!
Also seen/heard were: Siskin, Garden Warbler, Turtle Dove, Jay, Chaffinch, Crossbill, Swift, Wood Pigeon and Buzzard.  Others noted Peregrine and numerous Corvids with the odd Gull.
The guy who had seen the Harrier and Osprey (within 45 minutes of each other) was amiable and explained that he had been there every day this week.  Whilst the weather was cool and grey, the visibility was good and there was a breeze too.  'Only rain puts them off', he whispered 'and 10:30 am is the key time.' 
He was wrong!
At 10:34 am, Honey Buzzard No. 1 approached from the right, low and pretty damn close.  Lifer 274 and a cracker!  By now, about ten birders were present.
In the next hour or so, two in one scope view, three in the sky together, and some breath-taking displays of wing-clapping.  They appeared to favour the far right, whilst the Goshawk views tended to be centre and left (I saw them three times).
When I left, there were 20 birders at the Point and others arriving as I got in the car. 
216 miles in total, £30 in diesel and four hours of driving - BUT DEFINITELY WORTH IT!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Visit to the Doctor's

After seeing this I was far from keen to travel to Hartlepool this evening, but I was glad I did.

Access to a warm, dry, bright and sunny Doctor's Garden was provided, with a few smiles too, and an orderly gathering of birders, numbering 25 or so, was on the left side looking across to the right in eager anticipation.

After five or so minutes........................

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Movie Titles

Got back yesterday from a Grand Day Out (or rather, five of 'em) with 'six of the best' local birders (so making up The Magnificent Seven):

The Liverbirder is Chris Adams (Yul Brynner; it's the hair!), Crammy Birder is Chico (Horst Buchholz) and DMc, LMc, SH, LR and GB are Vin (Steve McQueen), Lee (Robert Vaughan), Harry Luck (Brad Dexter) Brit (James Coburn) and Bernardo (Charles Bronson) resp.

We travelled to Suffolk then Norfolk for some quality time with our feathered friends.

(Or a Backpacks-R-Us ad?)

End result?  Nine Lifers and about twice that many 'Yearers' (for moi) was a tidy outcome from 800 or more miles.  The Suffolk base camp:

Near Westleton, this B&B was spot on!  Called Pond View, it cunningly gave a view of the village pond!

Westleton Heath was the place for Dartford Warbler and Nightingale:

It was also the place for Nightjar, Green Woodpecker, Turtle Doves and Foxes and Red Deer:

Minsmere was a day of ornitholgical bliss, with Hobbies, Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, Bitterns, Cetti's Warblers all showing very, very well:

Lakenheath earlier concealed the Golden Oriole (heard only) but at both places, the Hobbies were breathtaking, catching and consuming dragonflies almost within touching distance.  This Four Spotted Chaser was not a 'subbuteo snack' when we were there:

And a few others shots:

Greater Flamingo called Fiona!

Not everything went according to plan. 

We dipped Bluethroat (Welney), Honey Buzzard (Gt Ryburgh Watchpoint (but did get Red Kite, Hobby and Buzzard), Woodlark (Westleton Heath) and even after five attempts, Montagu's Harrier (The Dull Monty!).  Uneventful hours watching Harrier-less fields were partly remedied by more Marsh Harriers and these beauties:

But we did get Stone Curlew at two sites including Weeting (distant and through a heat haze):

And a brief glimpse of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Santon Downham.

Titchwell was fantastic, with the world's best Hide, or should I say hotel, with louvre windows, books and bean bags freely available (the latter for scopes not for sitting on!).

Again, the best Bittern and Bearded Tit views (very close) and Ruddy Duck, Greylags and Red-crested Pochard too:

And Cley (strangely pronounced Cly) was quite impressive:

Yellow Sea Poppy - nice!

After the five day ornithological extravaganza, the long trip home, fantastically punctuated by a stop at Wolfreton near Sandringham for Woodlark (within 30 seconds) and the Surf Scoter at Black Hall rocks!

More than 135 species in all, it could easily have been nearer 150!  And GB (or should I say Bernardo?) won the sweep so is now planning what to do with his Lottery-sized winnings. 

And finally, the Caption Competition (what are Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson discussing?)!