Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Sunday 26th September 2010 - The hardest twitch ever?

News came out on Saturday afternoon about the Empidonax sp Flycatcher on Blakeney Point. We ummed and ah'd and decided to go on news on Sunday morning. The crew of PJ, GAS and myself headed off at 06-30hrs, but by 08-00hrs we were sat in a petrol station on the edge of Nottingham fearing the worse as there had been no news yet from Norfolk. Finally, the new reached us (direct from Blakeney from Carl and before the pagers) and we headed off again. We parked up at Cley at 10-35hrs and started the walk.
Above - The path to Blakeney Point
It was quite windy, but at first it was not raining. GAS, a spritely 76 walked at his own pace. I tried to keep up with PJ, but his superior fitness and physique eventually took its toll and he was first to arrive at the point, about 15 mins in front of me. Towards the end of the walk, it started to rain. And in fact it never stopped raining for the rest of the afternoon. We saw the Traills Flycatcher - it was showing incredibly well considering the appalling weather. Most other birds would have gone to ground. The problems started when our bins started to mist up. Eventually, GAS arrived, taking only 1hr 45 mins to walk to the point. We all had seen the bird and so took shelter by one of the buildings.

Above - GAS with PJ to the right
Below is a picture showing the birders stood out in the horizontal rain and strong wind watching the Empidonax sp

I tried to take a picture of the Flycatcher but it was useless. The camera was getting soaked and soon my scope joined my bins in being wet, steamed up and unusable. Happy with our views, we headed back. The walk back was incredible. Pouring with rain and with the driving wind, it was enough to test anyone. It took us all about 1hr50 to get back, and by the end we were all totally and utterly soaked and shattered. I shared the car back with two team members with no trousers on. A totally amazing bird and a totally unforgetable day!

Above - PJ leading the way with GAS behind - an amazing feat for a 76yr old to make it to Blakeney Point and back on a day like it was

Monday, 27 September 2010

Saturday 25th September 2010 - Belvide

Stayed local again today, with visits to Westport, Belvide and BGP. Two juvenile Little Stints showed well by the dam at Belvide and as it was quite sunny (but a biting northerly wind) there were quite a few butterflies on show.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Saturday 18th September 2010

So after two consecutive weekends out, we decided to return to our local patches in Staffordshire today. It was a long hard slog for me and CJW visiting four sites with few rewards. We saw a Little Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Ruff at Blithfield, another Black-tailed Godwit at BGP plus a Common Darter showed well as it first sat on my scope, and then landed on my hand.

Here is the Black-tailed Godwit at BGP

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Saturday 11th September 2010 - Norfolk

The week had quietened down a little as it came to the weekend, but the ARCTIC WARBLER was starting to appear on the pager more frequently. So, we decided for the second Saturday running to run the risk and leave Staffordshire. After all, two of the Clayhead crew still needed ARCTIC WARBLER for their British Lists. The forecast wasn't good, and so we had a lie in and headed off at 05-00hrs. Holme was our first stop. As we passed the Redwell Marsh, there was only one car parked in the field. We decided to pop into for the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE and try to get away without paying the £3 entry fee. After all, there was just the one car. We had good views of the juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, and came out £3 lighter off each!

Next was for the ARCTIC WARBLER. For two hours this little gem led us a merry dance through the pines at Holme. Brief 5 second glimpses in the tops of the pines were all we got. Luckily we could follow it around and so we had enough views to be satisfied. Unfortunately, Arctic Warbler is still not on my photo list, but here's a nice crowd shot - all crammed into a tiny spaces craning their necks.

Then it was on to Cley and the East Bank for WRYNECK and LAPLAND BUNTING. The Laps were no Problem - we had them flying over our heads as we sat on the ridge for two hours waiting for the WRYNECK to show. We also had the wind blowing in our faces for the whole time. Our time was livened up by a photographer who decided to sit facing us. Below is a picture. The WRYNECK was actually found only a few metres behind him. One birder decided to go down and ask him why he was sitting where he was. The Wryneck then flew out of the grass behind him and we finally got our views. The funny thing was about this bloke - his camera was never set up!

Bird of the day though was a Ruddy Shelduck sat with the Egyptian Geese. This picture is especially for my good friend, the Blurred Birder. He'll appreciated the quality of the picture plus the birds in it.

Lastly, the Lapland Buntings showed well as we walked back to the car

Saturday, 4 September 2010

4th September 2010 - Flamborough Head and Grimston

Despite dipping the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER, we went on to have not a bad day out at all. A Common Rosefinch showed briefly in the Bay Brambles

The Barred Warbler also showed well eventually.

Details then came on the pager for the Booted Warbler at Grimston. We decided to head down to there, and on arrival we saw the bird twice, but then it disappeared and wasn't seen again all afternoon.
Perfect habitat for a Booted Warbler

September 4th 2010 - Flamborough Hd and the EOW dip

A full turnout from the Clayhead Crew saw PJ, CJW and GAS heading for Flamborough hoping to see the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER that had been present for three days during the week while we were busy at work. Alas, it was not to be and we all dipped. We were very fortunate while we were waiting to meet the legendary ASBO crew. It was a wonderful experience to witness the ASBO's in the field, and learn from their exciting new techniques. Here, ASBO leader and Warwickshire legend Archie Archer demonstrates his new technique for sky watching.

We stood looking for the EOW for nearly three hours. CJW managed to find a secret stash of cakes in the field. Here he tries to eat one without anyone noticing.

Fortunately, with decades of fieldcraft behind him, PJ noticed the secret cake eating and managed to get one himself.

Here CJW denies all knowledge of the secret cakes and refuses to tell me where they were. A double blow for me personally. Cake and EOW dipping in the same day.

Early September mornings at Westport Lake

Fine, clear mornings this week with some stunning sun rises.