Thursday, 29 January 2009

Yorkshire LEOs

Two of a group of 5 birds, roosting at Fairburn Ings (click for bigger images!)

For me, the main attraction of Fairburn is the presence of Willow Tits, that can be more of less guaranteed, on the feeders outside the visitor centre - a sight that is becoming increasingly rare for us down in the south, where the species struggles to maintain a foothold in a number of the home county's. Hanging on in Norfolk, at a small number is sights, they are now very rare in Bedfordshire, and have more than likely been lost as a breeding species. Very similar to Marsh Tit, but generally not to tricky to tell apart if seem well, and for a long enough period of time. The thick "bull necked " appearance is particularly striking, if seen from the right angle, as is the pale wing pannel and the warm, peach coloured flanks. Always worth the effort to see.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Friday, 16 January 2009

Cornish Snowy

Snowy Owl Zennor Cornwall

Another bird struck from the "want to see" list, and a damn fine one at that! Being an opportunity that was simply too good to miss, I made the journey down from Bedford train station Saturday morning, arriving at Carbis bay (just below St Ives) with enough light left for a look in the bay. As well as the usual mix of Shags, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills, the bay also held 3 redhead Goosanders, an unexpected surprise, and the first time I have seen the species feeding on the sea, as oppose their usual freshwater haunts.

After missing the bird on Sunday (very windy) it was with great relief that I managed to locate it with relative ease the following day. After viewing from Sperris Quoit, for a couple of hours, I left the bird, and whent back along the road to view from the fence line (where the above photos were taken) that ran up the top of the hill, more or less opposite the Quoit.

The following day saw the bird at the very top of Trendrine Hill (opposite Sperris Quoit) with its head and body, just showing against the skyline. Allthough the views were relatively distant, there seemed little point in atempting to get any closer, given its position, just beyond the top of the ridge. Allthough people, stading near the top of the hill were very close, they were unable to see above the ridge that was in front of them, keeping the Owl hidden from view. Finally, after almost 3 hours of sitting (me not the Owl), it took flight and made its way accross the top of the hill before flying down the hillside, and landing in amongst the heather. Seing it perched , was one thing, but to see it in flight was something else (rather like watching a flying White tailed Eagle)..... it was HUGE.

Other highlights from around the area included three Purple Sandpipers, a very obliging Firecrest, and 4 Great Northern Divers at St Ives, plus a ringtail hen Harrier at Zennor, and a group of 3 Greenshank, at Lelant saltings (Not forgetting the 39 different Buzzards counted on the journey down!)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

New year

Glaucous Gull

A very showy 1st year bird, on the beach at Salthouse (Note drooping left wing) taken in terrible light at close range. A nice start to the year list along with a couple of Hawfinch seen at nearby Felbrig Hall... a species not seen last year.

Snow Bunting

A tail less individual on the beach at Snettisham

Pale-bellied Brent Goose

A solitary juvenile feeding with Canada Geese on Ken Hill Marsh


Taken in Thronham harbour

Just like my last Christmas visit to Norfolk, where I succeeded in seeing 3 path ticks (Goosander, Purple Sandpiper, and Water Pipit) I managed to hit lucky once again, with a further two species (Shag and Firecrest) added to my slowly increasing talley (now 212). Unfortunately, the Shag was just a fly through bird, heading south through the pits and refusing to stop, whilst the Firecrest was frustratingly elusive. After seeing it fly into a nearby Bramble, just below the inner bank, I was able to see enough colour on the back to be more or less convinced that it wasnt just another Goldcrest. Eventually it decided to come into full view where it could show off its colourfully striped head, before flitting into a nearby Privet, and dissapear out of sight for a further two hours. A quality Coastal Park tick, with only a handfull of known records.