Posts Tagged ‘Stone Curlew’


I don’t often chase after birds that might not get accepted by the great bird gods, but, I had a lapse and thought about the Dalmatian Pelican in Cornwall. I saw a message from Dave W, from Huddersfield, on RBA asking for a lift or offering transport to see the bird. Steve K has always wanted to do a “silly night trip to Cornwall”, this could be a chance? Along with Bruce from Stretford we all piled into Bruce`s car at around 4am and set off for Restronguet Creek, just south of Truro. We arrived around 10-30am and searched this beautiful part of England for the pelican, without any luck. We met a few locals who told us all about the bird and one kind lady showed us a picture she had taken! It became apparent that the pelican was not in the area. At 2pm a local birder told us that the bird had flown off around 2-30pm on Saturday and a few minutes later a message came on RBA news repeating the same. We all said we would not have made the journey if we had known this earlier. A few Whimbrel on the creek didn’t really soften the blow for the journey home. But the news of a Western Purple Swamphen at Minsmere, Suffolk had us all thinking. Good company and a good day out in nice sunny conditions was had by us all. A new bird for the “dip list” then. We reached home by 10pm.

Monday morning dawned and a tired “dipper” woke up to find that the Western Purple Swamphen at Minsmere had been elevated to a mega!! Mark K in York was contacted and a team was put together with young Ellis from York our third member. A 4am meet at Fairburn near Castleford was arranged with myself at the wheel. The journey down was fairly uneventful with scattered rain and mist in patches. The oil on the road kept me on my toes as we slid our way towards Minsmere, the news on the Swamphen was positive, this added a couple of mph, and we reached the premier reserve at around 8-45am. A damp spell welcomed us as hurried to the south hide area, about 30 birders were watching something, and it was the Western Purple Swamphen. The bird kept close to the reed fringes, disappearing for short spells, but showed really well at around 100 yards distance. We all watched, what is potentially a first for the United Kingdom, for about an hour and enjoyed watching the birds feeding habits. Along with a squealing Water Rail we all enjoyed the moment and exchanged handshakes as is the norm, when you get a lifer. In other parts of the reserve we saw: – Stone Curlew, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and lots of other types of waders. After catching up with a few old birding friends at Minsmere we had a drive up onto Dunwich Heath and saw about 3 Dartford Warbler`s, what smart little birds they are. They carried food to their nestlings and must have had a good breeding season as it is likely to be their second brood at this time of year?  The journey home was made a bit more interesting by the driver of a Post Office articulated vehicle trying to push me off the road. The A14 by this time was full of waggons and was a bit of a nightmare to be honest, upon reaching the A1 we stopped for a nice coffee, then pressed onto to Fairburn. At 5pm I dropped the lads off and got onto the M62 which looking more like a car park, finally reaching home around 6-30pm. The journey home always seems easier when you see the bird though, excellent trip out. Need a rest now, but what`s this, a trip to Cornwall again next Sunday to try for the pelican, well go on then!

Dave O.


A family holiday spent at the Sahara Beach Hotel in Skanes, Monastir, Tunisia. It was our fifth visit to the area so I already knew where to go birding. Managed to do some birding every day, but mainly in the morning, usually around 6-15am as it became very warm around 9-30am. The area around this hotel is dominated by very large salt lagoons and lots of breeding birds, including Yellow legged Gull, Slender billed Gull, Little, Common and Gull billed Tern’s and good numbers of Collared Pratincole. Waders in the shape of Black winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover. Lots of Greater Flamingo directly behind the Monastir Airport, along with Spoonbill and Stone Curlew in small numbers. At the local dump near Sahline, up to 180 White Storks were present but the spectacle of uncountable numbers of Yellow legged Gull will stay with me for a long while! In the hotel area’s Hoopoe, Serin, Crested Lark, Bee-Eater, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spanish Sparrow were seen in varying numbers. Around the salt lagoons various bushes and mixed habitat held up to 8 Great Grey Shrikes of the algeriencis form that allow close attention to photograph! Also in those area’ s are small numbers of Zitting Cisticola(Fan Tailed Warbler), Greenfinch, Linnet, Short Toed Lark and the abundant Rock/ Feral Dove. Smaller numbers of Collared, Laughing and Turtle Doves also.Large flocks of Spotless Starling are great to watch as they dig for food on the ground and squabble just like “our” one’s. There are lots of Swift and with a bit of luck a few Pallid Swift can be found as they chase their prey close to the ground. Small numbers of House and Sand Martins were seen, but not many Barn Swallow’s (think there is a sad decline this year in their numbers) On the journey from Enfidha Airport to our hotel a single Carrion Crow was seen flying around a small village, a bit unusual that? A single Barbary Partridge was seen one early morning in the scrub around the salt lagoons and in the evening a single Hobby was out hunting and then a flock of 5 Shelduck flew past. A few Kestrel’s and Sparrowhawk’s were seen again in small numbers. Our our return home and near the airport at Enfidha a Booted Eagle was seen hunting and great end to a very localised birding / family holiday.

Four intrepid souls risked another 24 hour birding trip,well it was only 23 hours really! An 11pm start after a gripping European Cup Final with Bob K at the helm. We had a little rain through Lincs and as we arrived at Dersingham Bog a little “sea fret” was in the air. Down into the bog we descended using two torches for company, ta Bob K, where a Grasshopper Warbler was “reeling” away, then a Nightjar was heard and as we got nearer to the sea a few mammals eyes were caught in our torches,quite an eerie feeling that was. A good number of Woodcock were around and a few more Nightjars & Grasshopper Warblers heard made up a good hours dark birding. Our next call was at Weeting Heath were the Stone Curlew were expected, but, only Rabbits & a Barn Owl were seen! At another spot a Stone Curlew was seen,but it took a bit of effort to find one. A dashing by Hobby was then seen as it chased its breakfast without much joy. Next stop our favourite reserve RSPB Lakenheath. Since the area was taken over by the RSPB the Golden Oriole population has fallen every year, probably too much disturbance by visitors. Having said that the reserve has come on greatly with Bittern,Crane,Hobby & Marsh Harriers enjoying a breeding boom! To see 2 Bitterns flying for a good 10 minutes then another flew past us and one carried on “booming” was a spectacle to behold, no Cranes or Orioles were seen though. Lots of warblers were singing in the reedbeds as we made our way back to the car and some refreshment, it was still only 9-30am! Back to the coastal area now and a new area to visit on Kelling Heath. We met a gentleman birdwatcher, who very kindly gave us a grand tour of his “patch” and what a thrill it was for us all, with Dartford Warbler, Turtle Dove & Woodlark all successfully located. His knowledge extended to the insects & plants of the area and the general history of the site, a real chance meeting for us all. A walk along the East Bank at Cley and seeing the damage caused to the area was very sad to see, only Little Tern was seen and an almost complete lack of any waders due to the high water levels. A tour of the North Norfolk “Hills” only revealed highish numbers of Marsh Harriers, they are doing well now that they have adapted to living amongst crop areas.A call at Choseley drying barns and then down to RSPB Titchwell were a Red Crested Pochard and 2 Little Gulls were seen, lots of birds and people were present (the day after a Slender Billed Gull would drop in) We had a needed cup of tea, then headed of to Whisby near Lincoln. We reached Whisby and it took us a while to locate a singing Nightingale but when we did it was a really good rendition from the bird! No sign of the Med Gulls at the site though, it was time to head for home as we were all becoming tired. About a 100 species were seen with us all getting between 12 – 20 year ticks. Its a hard trip but always very rewarding!

Dave O.

Not quite the words from the famous song, but it was that time of year again to undergo our, “nearly a day trip” to Norfolk. Only three brave souls aboard this year with Steve K driving, Chris B and myself leaving Newhey at 11-30pm. We reached our first stop, Dersingham Bog, near Sandringham around 3am with a full moon and a cloudless sky, the signs were good. We saw a Nightjar sat in the road either feeding or eating grit? and we were off to a good start. As we descended into the bog distant “churring” was heard and a Grasshopper Warbler was just warming up. A few Woodcocks were heard/seen and what sounded like deer gave the place a bit of an eerie feel to it! As we left another two Nightjars were seen in the road and as the first vestiges of light came through no sign of the Golden Pheasants on the triangle. Next stop Foulden Common, a place I saw/ heard my very first Nightingale about 25 years ago, but alas no birds were heard in our search. A nice Barn Owl was perched up for us though. At Weeting Heath a blanket of low lying mist hampered our search for Stone Curlew, Chris found a Spotted Flycatcher and then the bird we had come to see as a Stone Curlew walked out of the mist. Now onto everyone’s favorite reserve, RSPB Lakenheath Fen. It seems like a long time ago that this place was owned by Bryant & May for growing the tree’s that would be turned into matchsticks and that Golden Oriole’s were fairly easy to see. Now it has been transformed into a really cracking reserve with practically any type of marsh bird being seen. We arrived at 5-30am and already the car park held 10 cars on it. We trudged our way along the riverbank and soon heard the “dawn chorus” in full swing with Cetti’s Warbler to the fore. We reached the far end of the reserve and watched a couple of Marsh Harriers, then the news of the Red Footed Falcon male being perched up about 250 yards away, so, off we went. A pair of Mute Swan’s and 5 cygnets barred our way, but a patient walk around them did the trick! The Red Footed Falcon was indeed perched up and was admired for 15 minutes, a new bird for one of our number. We walked back along the river and watched a Common Crane gracefully feeding on the Norfolk side of the river. We agreed to have another look at the falcon, just as a Golden Oriole began to sing its very distinctive song. Two Hobbies were found sat in the same area as the falcon and a few long flights by the local Bittern’s were also enjoyed. A small group of birders were looking into the reed’s and told us that a Savi’s Warbler was singing. It sung some more then showed itself to the small gathering. What a cracking marsh bird and in the company of a sat out “reeling”, Grasshopper Warbler, nice to be able to compare the respective songs. This was another new bird for one of our team. A call in at Barnham Common for possible Woodlark had, nothing more than the following butterflies:-Small Copper, Small Heath, Green Veined White, Brimstone (pair). Time to head for the coast, reaching the “Iron Road” at Salthouse were we saw:-Egyptian Goose, Common & Sandwich Terns and a dodgy looking Ruddy Shelduck. Onto the east bank at Cley were a Wood Sandpiper showed very nicely and a couple of Bearded Tits were “pinging” and flying around. At Titchwell we saw a Red Crested Pochard and a Temminck’s Stint, fairly close to the new hide. Grey Plover, Little Tern and a few more waders were seen in very pleasant conditions. We had to leave Norfolk now as time was pressing as a call at Whisby Nature Reserve was planned to catch up with the Nightingale that could not be found in Norfolk. We reached Whisby at 7pm and walked straight into a singing Nightingale, that gave us a good rendition before heading deeper into cover. The last bird on this trip anf a fitting end to a really memorable trip.We reached Newhey at 9-30pm having seen a total of 107 species and each of us having had around 20 new species for our year lists.


Dave O.

Wife wanted a holiday/break in England this year. So I book a 5 day break in Grt Yarmouth, Kensington Hotel (can’t fault our stay here). Weeks of planning and research to be done. When we was at Flamborough Head, we met some cool guys from Yarmouth who gave me their web-site which I was greatful for fresh information of Birds about East Anglia – Thanks got to them boys.

Ozzy produced 2 books from his library – Where to watch Birds in East Anglia – Clark, P&M (Helm). and Best birdwatching sites in Norfolk – Glenn N. (Buckingham Press). I must say that Neil Glenn’s book was a fantastic read and help. The layout is simple and truely enjoyable covering 73 sites, each with a Likely birds to see feature, Maps and directions. I wish ALL guides and Web sites follow this format. I thoroughly recommend this a Must read if you are planning a trip to Norfolk.

Anyway Thursday 9:45  Blastoff to ASDA for a Full-Monty Breakfast, then with a Joe Bonamassa Favourites CD compilation set to 11 we are finally on our way to Rutland Water. Easy Osprey to begin the list.

Osprey from the Web Cam.

Highlights for the list included – Yellowhamnmers, Corn Buntings, Whitethroat, Common Terns, Green Woodpeckers, Sedge Warblers.

Birds Enroute – Not far from the reserve we pass under a Red-Kite. Buzzards, Sparrowhawks.

Friday 18th: 5am Yarmouth beach Little Terns and  Sandwich Terns all flying past, Ringed Plover on the beach. No sighting of the cert Med. Gulls. Dumping machines (dogs) all ready on the beach, now’t much else about (no Black Redstarts too). Back to the Kensington for 8am Breakfast, then blast off south to Landguard, Suffolk. It’s my first time here, and a possible lifer – Serin. Not many birders here. I was told that if I find the Linnets, look carefully amongst them to see the bird. I found every bush held flocks of Linnet, but didn’t see the Serin. Other birds seen included – Wheatears, Whitethroats.

Little Tern

Minsmere – Highlights, Two Stone Curlews, Cettis’ Warbler, Bittern in flight, Marsh Harriers.

Saturday 19th – A shopping day in Norwich – enjoyable. Later Strumpshaw Fen, A first for me . Each morning, about 5:30 am a Savi’s Warbler can be seen/heard (A lifer, if I could get up, that is), Cuckoo’s calling, Every bush seemed to have a Cettis ready to burst your ear drums. Little Grebes and Reed Warblers  loads of Marsh Harriers again.

Sunday 20th  – Another morning in bed, I blame that strong apple juice the sell at the bar..Hic!.. Lakenheath – love the new visitors centre. A clockwise route taken. 2 Male Golden Orioles seen, Cuckoo’s calling, Bearded Tits, all seen before we got to the bird screen. From the screen we saw 3 low flying Bittern’s 2 Egyptian goose. A record number of 30 Hobbies seen for here yesterday – I saw none. Continueing in a clock-wise direction. beyond the back of the Oriole popular platation, we look over a reedy area and see 2 adult Common Cranes with a newly hatched chick.

Common Crane – Lakenheath RSPB

Other birds of note – Whopper Swan (Injured), 2 male Garganeys.

Weeting Heath – Stone Curlews – not much else.

Stone Curlew – Weeting Heath

Santon Downham, St. Helens car park – Tree Pipit, Garden warblers, Yellowhammers a plenty, but Crossbills are everywhere!!

Crossbill – Santon Downham

Monday  – Home trip – Last chance for the Savi’s Failed to get up, blame the paralysis in my legs (apple juice again). Enroute – Golden Pheasant b ythe road Nr. Swanton Morley stunning male – Dead!…. Shame.

Frampton RSPB – a first for me. I like this fairly new reserve. Black winged stilt and Black Terns have buggerd off. still got these – Curlew Sandpipers 7, Little Stint 2, Black Neck Grebe, Black tailed Godwits, Brent Geese a bazillion, Avocet, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, more male Garganeys, Yellowhammers, Corn Buntings.

874 miles from the Thursday blast off and we return home for 5:pm – Papped out!! and overdosed on birds. All equipment put away for a few days, I hope.

Thanks to Ozzy for the invaluable books and the guys from Yare Valley for their information too.

Its our most looked forward to trip of the year, our annual trip to Norfolk. The trip itself was spoilt a bit by the strong winds that were blowing, and not all coming from me!(Ozzy!) We began at Salthouse Heath were a couple of Nightjars were heard and then seen, but the first of many disapointments was in the shape of no Nightingales not being heard on the heath at all (this was the first time ever that we have failed to hear them here). At Salthouse we picked up Egyptian Goose then the bit I really like the East Bank at Cley a couple of Bearded Tits, Spoonbill, Sandwich, Common and Little Terns were seen. The Glaven valley had a cracking Barn Owl. A trip to the Monty`s place was a wash out, we also didn’t connect with the Quails at Choosely Barns also. Hoping for better things at Titchwell we had really close veiws of a Bittern that kept flying over the footpath and giving us all prolonged sightings. Time to head for the Brecks and one of the best reserve`s in Norfolk, Lakenheath or Hockwold Washes? No sign of the Golden Oriole`s, missed the Cranes by seconds but a couple of Hobbies and lots of Marsh Harriers kept us entertained, we had not seen Turtle Dove anywhere and didn’t manage to see them here, also even with a good tip off from a reliable friend. Our last port of call was to see the Stone Curlew at a secret location (so we didn’t have to spend any of our precious money – Tight Northerners and that) we were successful, but didn’t connect with any Wood Larks. One highspot on the way home was of a Red Kite, in the Yorkshire area. A long day, but not one of our better trips! Ozzy managed to 93 species, which included 12 year ticks, that puts him on 173 species for 2011.