Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Away days

Just back from a week in Suffolk, a long slog (450 miles) from East Lothian.

Not long into the drive south, stopped off in Northumbria to see a Roller, only the second I've seen in Britain, which was a good start. Then a week based at Dunwich on the east coast of Suffolk - not as flat as I expected and with a really good network of footpaths, large areas of forest, heathland and lots of coastal lagoons and marshes, including Minsmere RSPB reserve.

In the first couple of days re-aquainted myself with a few southern species (such as Dartford Warbler) that we don't get too many of in Scotland. I also saw loads of Jays and Green Woodpeckers, both of which are pretty scarce up here.

On 17th, decided to go and twitch a Red-flanked Bluetail about 10 miles down the coast. I got there at dawn, and there was only a couple of other folk there, but within half an hour there were 50+ birders there, shouting and yelling, charging through the bushes and basically only allowing very brief views of the bird before it was flushed deeper into cover. What a bunch of idiots. No concept of a patient sit and wait....

18th at Minsmere was more enjoyable, even though the Reserve was pretty quiet. Excellent views of Marsh Harriers, a very brief Bittern and a late Swallow were the highlights (although Reserve staff were more interested in 2 fly-by Velvet Scoters I had offshore!).

"No I can't see it! Just off to crash through the undergrowth to get a better look..."

On 19th, about 30 Avocets on the Alde estuary were a pleasant surprise - there were none elsewhere.

Back home, and out at the Reserve on 22nd and I found two drake Surf Scoters offshore. Ordinarily bird of the day, but that accolade went to a pair of Gadwall that were the first for the year here - I had a Surfie in January! Yesterday, 17,000 Pink-footed Geese came in to roost at dusk. Magic!

Just goes to show that you don't have to go too far to have good birding!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Out for a duck

Nipped down the coast for a couple of hours this morning - south-easterly winds, mist and rain, so it looked promising. Loads of Redwings and Song Thrushes piling in off the sea, plus a distant owl sp. that was either Long- or Short-eared. A few Bramblings as well, and luckily I was at Torness just after a Yellow-browed Warbler was found. Good views as well!

Back at ther reserve this afternoon - hoaching in wildfowl! 350 Wigeon, 180+ Teal, 90 Mallard, 3 Pintail, 3 Shoveler, 24 Barnacle Geese and a good few Pink-feet around. Gosford Bay had a few Slavonian and Red-necked Grebes as well as 30 Long-tailed Ducks.

Not bad for a manky day!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Highs and lows

Wednesday morning was very pleasant - mild and calm with a cracking adult Mediterranean Gull on the beach, only the third time I've seen these here and a goood bird to bring up 160 for the site this year.

Then back to the car park to discover some dirty f****r had decided to break into my car and rip out the stereo. Love to get a hold of them....

Tonight, one fixed window (but no music yet!) later and the dusk goose count gave 10,170 Pink-feet - a bit more like it. Keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Quiet autumn

Despite this allegedly being the peak autumn migration period, it's pretty dead. Barnacle Goose numbers have dropped, Pink-feet numbers are rubbish and there's no thrushes here yet. Did add Yellowhammer to the year's list though - now 159. Crap! A few lingering summer migrants remain, including Swallow & Sandwich tern today. Also, 4 Little Gulls offshore...

So, in order to spice things up, thought I'd try to break my UK month record of 163, set in September 2002. I've a week away planned, plus a day up north so we'll see. So far, the total is on 81.
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