Posts Tagged ‘Stonechat’

We did our annual trip into Norfolk a little bit later than usual this year, but we still saw around 100 bird species. I left home at 10-30pm Friday and got home at 10-35pm Saturday night, a full 24 hours job, it was well worth it. My turn to drive and with nearly a full “A Team,” we left Newhey around 11-15pm. On the way a diversion on the A1 around Clumber Forest saw us see a couple of Barn Owl`s really close to the road, good start. We arrived at our first stop at Dersingham Bog around 2-10am and waited for Martin Q to join us from Rutland. The night was fairly still as we all descended into the bog at 2-30am and as we passed John Denver`s seat, a Nightjar and a Woodcock were heard. On the boardwalks another Nightjar was seen in our torchlight as we stumbled around, it was a male, what a splendid bird. More Woodcock along with a Grasshopper Warbler at the side of the path and then as the first vestiges of dawn appeared a singing Stonechat was heard, it had us stumped for a while did that bird! As we got back on the boardwalk a Nightjar was churring as it sat on top of a tree in full view of us all. We were all then listening to a Tawny Owl, when a Nightjar flew past us and we were treated to an amazing display by the bird as it hunted about 30yards from us for 5 minutes, great! The Golden Pheasant did not put in an appearance, though that is not unusual at the triangle. We headed off towards the Brecks and as we arrived the wind had gained in strength rendering a search for a special species quite useless. Next stop Lakenheath and at 5am as we arrived, around a dozen cars were already present. A male Little Bittern had been present for a while calling / singing trying to attract a female. After the long walk down the river, passing the wood that used to have the Golden Orioles in it, we reached the reed bed were the Little Bittern was still calling / singing. What an unusual sound, its likened to a distant barking dog. A Hobby passed over and a couple of Marsh Harriers were seen. Bearded Tit and Bittern were also seen. What a great reserve this place is. Back up towards the coast we headed for Kelling Heath, now after last year`s resounding success, surely we could not see all target species again, or could we? No, was the answer, it was sunny but very windy so no Woodlark or Turtle Dove anywhere. Now we all like to ask people if they have seen anything of interest and as luck had it, a couple told us where to look for some Dartford Warbler`s. We struggled, but we all managed to see these great little birds, eventually. A Spoonbill had been seen from the Iron Road at Salthouse, but it had gone when we got there and so had the car park that was buried under many ton`s of shingle as a result of the winter storms. We watched the sea and got a few passing terns and we would have all fallen asleep if had been allowed to! Along the East Bank at Cley some amazing plumaged Black Tailed Godwit`s were seen along with the regular breeding birds on Arnold`s Marsh. We called in at Chosely Drying Barn`s but still no Turtle Dove`s. At Titchwell we soon located 10 or so Red Crested Pochard, on a “new” lagoon to us all, but the Garganey that were present tested our skill`s. We saw what we thought was a moulting Garganey and this was later confirmed by photograph, well done Steve B. Then 2 Spoonbill flew over the lagoon, great birds to watch in flight! We said goodbye to Martin Q at Titchwell, it was nice to see him again and enjoy his birding skills. We headed towards home calling at Whisby nature reserve just west of Lincoln. It was a little late in the season for Nightingale but after about an hour one bird burst into song, got to be the nicest British songbird. We headed of home all very tired but a really good day was had with between 10 and 22 year ticks having been seen between us.
Dave O.


A trip to see the wintering Ring Ouzel`s in North Wales along with the various scoters got us all rarin` to go. Then as often happens a lifer turns up for a couple of the team. So a change of plan, get to New Brighton in Cheshire to see a first winter Laughing Gull. The bird should be on the east coast of America about this time of year but was sadly of course. How it got here was discussed, but flying here seemed the most likely after some of the Atlantic gales that there have been. A grey, foggy morning greeted us as we set off from Rochdale and it did not get better en route. As we went under the Mersey Tunnel we hoped for clearer conditions on the Cheshire side, no such luck. We got to New Brighton and wandered around in cold miserable conditions and waited for the tide to turn. It’s really changed has New Brighton and we met a jolly traffic warden,now there is a rarity! We met a few of our birding friends from the York area and had a good laugh about various things,(a bigger laugh was to follow) After a couple of hours vigil the bird was found on the beach near the lighthouse. To get there you had to cross a barrage of barnacle strewn rocks, some quite slippy. The bird was seen but it kept crossing over the rocks to feed on the sandy beach, cross the rocks again, but not so lucky. Fully laden with camera, tripod & telescope, binoculars and lots of insulating clothing, I slipped on the rocks. Going down in stages would have been good on You Tube (I have looked) but not for me, sustaining cut hand and slight damage to telescope eyepiece. Bowed but not beaten, we took up position above the pontoon on the marina and got some decent pictures of the Laughing Gull, which performed admirably for the crowds. A couple of Purple Sandpipers and 2 Snow Buntings were also seen in New Brighton. We called at a few birding spots on the Wirral before ending at Burton Marsh were Stonechat and Linnet were added to our lists. The hoped for Great White Egret had flown up the coast unseen by ourselves. Good day out with 2 of our team getting a lifer and we got back home to claim a few “browny” points.

Dave O.Laughing Gull @ N Brighton (30)Laughing Gull @ N Brighton (63)Laughing Gull @ N Brighton (29)Snow Buntings @ N Brighton (8)

A few day’s before a family holiday is not the ideal time to go rushing off on a twitch at the other end of the country, now is it? So when a Short Toed Eagle was first seen in Hampshire and later in East Sussex, I thought I will have to miss that one, even after a couple of my fellow A Team birder friends had tried to tempt me to go (try harder next time boys) You cannot believe how I felt upon returning to the UK, late on Friday, to find that the Short Toed Eagle was still present in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. Whilst unpacking, washing, cleaning house, gardening and shopping a few texts where secretly sent and a team assembled for an early dash Sunday morning, after first obtaining permission from my “understanding” wife. At two am we got into Chris B’s car with Steve B,Steve K & myself, only, “bird of prey man” Bob was missing from a full A Team trip! Heading along the M62, M6, M40, M25 and finally onto the M23, East Grinstead and into the Ashdown Forest area. At this point we struggled to find the “Long” car park, but as a few other birders arrived we realised we were in the right place. This area is really beautiful and certainly not like “Up North”. A few Tree Pipit’s and Stonechat’s were seen, but no birds of prey, so after about an hour we decided to go to the Gills Lap car park area were, we were told, quite a few birders were present. A check of the bird news revealed the bird was sat in tree waiting for us, put your foot down driver time. As we arrived a gathering of around 60 birders were watching something! A birder told us the Short Toed Eagle was sat on top of a tree at the other side of the valley, what joy, a bird that was seen by one of our departed birder friends on Scilly a few years ago, could finally be enjoyed by us all now! Truly amazing to be lucky enough to see one of the most charismatic eagles of the Western Palearctic right here in England. As it was a “lifer” for all our group the customery hand shakes were exchanged. The bird took to the air after about 20 minutes and gave great flight views, especially right over our heads! It gained height and disappeared out of the valley (not to be seen again until Tuesday morning). A couple of Red Kite’s and a single Honey Buzzard along with a couple of Common Buzzard’s made up the impressive bird of prey list! The people that live or visit this area are truly impressed by its natural beauty, as we were. After the very early start we all began to feel a bit “jaded” and we decided after a little stop in Crawley to head for home. We all got home around five pm and enjoyed the sunshine that had made the day very special.

Dave O.

My local patch is Cowm & Spring Mill Reservoirs, Whitworth, Lancashire. Most visits are fairly predictable with ducks, crows and a host of smaller birds to watch, this weekend has been very different! Saturday morning, an early walk around Cowm was as normal as ever, when I remembered what a fellow Rossendale birder told me about seeing 2 adult Stonechats at the picnic area. It was such a nice morning that I took a detour to see if I could locate them. After about 15 minutes, 2 adults and 3 juvenile birds were located, but,what was that other bird that was with them? A rusty red tail and a washy grey body and upright appearance, it was only a Black Redstart! A new bird for me in Rossendale and only half a mile from my house. The bird showed really well and sat in the sunshine with the family of Stonechats.
On the Sunday morning a return visit was planned and along with 2 other Rossendale birders a search of the area was made and no sign of the Black Redsart. The Stonechats had moved farther up the valley, perhaps the bird had carried on? Also seen were:- 2 Buzzards, 2 Raven, Goldcrest. We decided to have a look at Spring Mill Reservoir and upon arrival 6 Cormorant & 30 Black headed Gulls seemed to be the the only birds in the area, how wrong! I picked up a Hobby chasing hirundines and then had a go at a Jackdaw across the other side of the valley over Healey and Lobden. We watched the bird swooping around for over 10 minutes, what a sight and on my local patch! The Hobby then had a go at a Kestrel, only to be joined by a Peregrine Falcon that made the Hobby gain height and disappear in the direction of Watergrove. What an amazing 10 minutes of raptor watching! We carried on around the reservoir to the back, very wet side and picked up a couple of Stonechats. Then as we nearly got all the way around the reservoir, more birds were seen sat on the fence, as we watched them we realised we had found 3 Whinchats mixed in with another four Stonechats. The birds were in the same place that we found a Whinchat in spring, must be a stopping off place on migration. What a couple of day’s of local birding makes you realise what you can find if you put the time in!!

Dave Ousey.

About this time of year. The bird world hits a bit of a lul. So a bit of local bird watching is called for. Ozzy visited Holden Wood, Ogden and Calf Hey Reservoirs this afternoon and saw the following species:- GC Grebe, Little Egret (feeding at the far western end of Ogden Reservoir for over 2 hours) Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Buzzard, Kestrel (watched 4 birds hunting together) Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, B H Gull, LBB Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Redstart (juvenile in small bushes at western end of Holden Wood Reservoir, firstly at 3pm and again at 5pm) Stonechat, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Some great birds for our area. We don’t get many records of Little Egret – great bird. Always glad of any sightings of Redstart too.