Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Lynford & Minsmere

Very enjoyable day out mostly doing photography, started at Lynford and had excellent views of the presumed Two Barred Crossbill / Hybrid type thing. Also great views of common Crossbill too. Had a mini panic when I noted three 'blipping' birds fly over head and land in the horse paddocks. To my delight they were Hawfinches! Good views where obtained before they flew off and melted into the forest. Also had some nice views of Firecrest, Nuthatch and displaying Siskins!

We then moved on to Minsmere where I spent much of the afternoon catching up with some little devils... Those 'devils' being Dartford Warblers! After a patient wait I was rewarded with views of at least 7 birds. Often too far away for photo's but was very pleased to see them. On my return back to the main reserve I flushed up a  Merlin which was in the heather.

Minsmere itself was quiet, the odd Marsh Harrier, Common Snipe, Avocet etc. But was good to hear my first booming Bitterns of the year. Shame the bittern didn't show anything like last week!

Common Crossbill

TBC thing

Distant Hawfinch

Dartford Warbler

Bittern (From last week)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

"It's been 2 months since your last post Jake, where have you been?"

Well person I haven't just made up, I've been out birding. I just haven't been updating it here. Which is lazy of me, so starting from today I shall be updating more regularly (he says).

After my top 10 of 2013 I had 7 weeks with of placement at the N&N (Norfolk & Norwich Hospital) which was brilliant! Exhausting but brilliant, 7-7 4 times a week really takes it out of you. With that being said I still went out just didn't update!

I've been loving Norwich it's a brilliant city and who ever reads this probably already knows that the birding is brilliant! Just hope this year will be just as good! I've been patching a lot more, my patch includes; UEA, Earlham Marsh & Bowthorpe Southern park. A great area with some fantastic birds, I've amassed 75 species this year alone!

With this being said, lets get too some pictures!

During January I did quite a lot of local birding mostly around the patch but visiting places like Strumpshaw, Cantley, Whitlingham and so on.

Mealy Redpoll
I saw my first ever Mealy redpoll which was also a patch tick! Kindly shown to me but one of the ringers, ironically since this picture was taken and me writing this post I have seen up too 7 different mealy's all on campus!

Throughout most of the month the two remaining shorelark (from 8) continued to entertain all those who came too see them in Yarmouth. As far as I'm aware they've now moved on last being seen the 2nd of March.

I also took part in the footit challenge, well I and Drew put in a combined effort and achieved a respectable 85 species, not bad for just going around the city!

During February my placement was coming to end so I was able to do more birding, but of course keeping up with my coursework! As a reward to myself for completing my coursework and my placement I decided to head north to twitch my first ever yanky warbler, the Myrtle Warbler. A fantastic bird and brilliant company, also saw my first Willow tit! Something I was probably more excited about than the warbler!

Myrtle Warbler
 My pictures don't really do the bird justice. Was a very cool experience to watch such a lost bird on a council estate in the middle of Durham!
Tree sparrow

I nice supporting cast of Waxwing and Tree Sparrow around the corner, and best of all whilst out walking with Anthony Bentley, we stumbled across a Yellow-Browed Warbler! Heard only and unfortunately looks like nobody else connected with it, but was quite an unexpected find!

March is where things got interesting; Myself, Sam & Drew decided we'd check out Lakenheath as there had been some interesting birds being seen there lately. Long story short we had a fantastic time seeing the likes of bittern, cranes, barn owls, marsh harriers and bramblings.

Cranes at Lakenheath
Since the weather has been so lovely this month I've been doing a lot more photography. I went with CAWS society to visit Sculthorpe recently and had fantastic views of Water Rail, Brambling, Mealy Redpoll and so on.

Water Rail

Marsh Tit 
I've also been enjoying the grebe's which have been resident on the UEA broad for a number of years now. Speaking to others I've heard they're not amazing at nest building / breeding and I can see why, they're just really lazy. I've managed to catch up with the courtship a couple of times but nothing really too spectacular, still nice to see. Especially 2 mins from my where I live!

I was also very pleased to have this seemingly tame waxwing 'just' inside patch boundaries. It showed so well the first day I went allowing me to approach it to just a few ft. The next day it went AWOL and finally vanished after that. Coincidently this very same bird was seen on Ber Street in Central Norwich about 10 miles away!

I'll add just a few more photo's here from recent trips;

Woodlark, Undisclosed

Marsh Harrier, Strumpshaw

Little Grebe, Titchwell 

Sanderling, Titchwell 

Red Necked Grebe, Lifer! 
And finally... This not so stunning picture, but something that was stunning to witness was the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, which graced much of the East Coast. It was a truly spectacular thing to see, something I didn't think I'd see in the UK, let alone Norfolk!

Phew... Think that's everything! 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

My top 10 of 2013 (and everything else that matters)

Well, what a year! Finished with 278 for year of those 278 36 of them where lifers, and some of them truly brilliant lifers. I present to whomever is reading this my top 10 birds / birding moments of 2013.

10) Bonaparte's 'Napoleon' Gull, Princes Park, Sussex

A ridiculously obliging bird showed well throughout my visit, showed even better when we introduced him to Hovis best of both!

9) Kentish Plover (x2), Rye Harbour, Sussex

The views of these birds where never brilliant always distant however the fact there was two! Made it such a brilliant thing to witness. It was one of my first solo twitch on the train after finished college early! Look old walk but so worth it!

8) Penduline Tit, Stod Marsh, Kent

My first out of county train twitch with Luke & George, 3-4hours roughly to get there but so worth the wait. Had the bird all to ourselves, for about an hour. Absolutely fantastic!

7) Dusky Thrush, Margate Cemetery, Kent

Well that was a panic! 11.30pm this bird came out on the news, having already made plans to go out birding I knew this was something that could not be missed, fortunately the birder I was going out with didn't mind me cancelling! I frantically rang Luke & George. George being asleep already and Luke in a state of total disbelief when I spoke to him! The first train up there also taking about 3 hours! We managed excellent views of the bird, throughout our visit.

6) Bridled Tern, Farne Islands, Northumberland

Wow. What a bird, many thanks to Garry for driving me up there wouldn't of seen it without him! But just wow, what a remarkably brilliant bird! Much larger than its commoner cousins but far more striking and more graceful in flight! Also life ticked Puffin on the same trip, cracking little birds almost as brilliant as the tern itself!

5) Red Flanked Bluetail, Happisburgh, Norfolk

After hearing about this bird from Connor the day before I was desperate too see it, a dream bird! Despite frantically asking for lifts through rba, twitter, facebook etc nothing. To console myself I decided to go birding in Gt Yarmouth Cemetery, during the morning there had been no news, I was annoyed but pleased not to have bothered! Suddenly 'still present'. Fortunately Craig was on his way up and offered me a lift! Great views of a great bird, also met Kayn for the first time!

4) Wilsons Phalarope, Great Yarmouth, IOW

I think its every birders dream to see any Phalarope in Summer Plumage, this being the dream bird really. Although not a mega rarity, they're still fairly rare and certainly much rarer in full blown summer plumage! This gorgeous female bird spent a week down on the IOW and showed fantastically when I went to see it!

3) American Golden Plover, Cuckmere Haven, Sussex 

Many thanks to Matt for finding this incredibly obliging stunner! Incredibly tame, views down to about 10ft if that at times. Completely fearless, in fact so fearless I and Liam dared birders to try and flush it! It wouldn't budge! Showed brilliantly throughout its stay and well deserved to be in my top 3!

2) Ivory Gull, Patrington Haven, Yorkshire

Another dream bird, stupidly showy after some wait! The brilliant thing about this trip other than the bird was meeting all the other NGB's! The largest gathering in history and it was really great to be a part of it, and to see peoples reactions to so many young people on a twitch!

1) Corncrake, Beachy Head, Sussex 

Even to this day I'm amazed I've seen a Corncrake in Sussex! Absolutely stunning views of a truly stunning bird, I can't think Mick enough for driving me over there. I've never experienced such a joy of seeing a bird but this, provided that joy! Easily the best bird I saw in 2013 even if doesn't have the same rarity factor as they Dusky Thrush for example.

Other birds which where fantastic too see in their own right but not quite cut out for the top 10.

Brunnich Guillemot
Pacific Swift
Western Bonellis Warbler
Cirl Bunting
Pallid Swift
Lesser Grey Shrike
Spotted Crake
and many many more!

My best self find of the year - 8 Shorelark at Great Yarmouth Beach in Norfolk, which proved to be the largest flock in Norfolk for 2013 and the most twitched in Norfolk!

If anyone would like to see anymore of my photo's from 2013 please visit my Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakegeartysphotos/

A very Happy New Year to Everyone in 2014, and hope to find/ see some awesome birds in the new year!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Cameron Bespolka RIP a young birder, photographer, patcher and a friend.

It's been a couple of difficult days, I imagine everyone in the birding scene has heard about tragic death of young Cameron. It's come as shock to everyone, including us over at NGB. Cameron was one of the best patcher's I'd ever seen. He put so much effort into it and he never quite managed he's dream reward. That reward being YBW, he would obsess over it after missing one in 2012. Its memories like this which will keep him in all of our thoughts for the rest of our lives. I can't really express in words how gutted I am, he always brought such a brilliant some what witty opinion to every conversation, whether it be on our little facebook group, twitter or wherever. He always had something to say which was normally total nonsense, but it was great having someone with such a brilliant personality being so involved with everything. In regards to his patch, he loved that place, he'd always update on twitter or on facebook of a new tick. This year he managed his best ever patch total of 125 stating he'd think he would never beat it again. You got that right mate. The day he found out that his patch had American redstart previously, he would not stop going on about it. Canny blame him what a bird! He was determined to find something of equal rarity there and was dedicated to visiting as often as he could. Anyone reading this can visit his blog and read his old post's here: http://cameronbespolkabirding.blogspot.co.uk/

I'll leave with just a few words, it was a pleasure to have met you albeit briefly. It was great to of spoken to you, even if you did wind me up with your RFB comments! Where ever you are now mate, hope you're still watching out for birds, especially that Yellow-Brow.
I think this picture sums him up pretty well. 

Ivory Gull

Visited Yorkshire for the Patrington Ivory Gull, brilliant bird easily the 2nd best bird I've seen this year. Nothing on Corncrake, but nothing can ever beat Corncrake. Brilliant area, great to visit the Spurn area, albeit only being able to see it distantly!

Updates from Sussex soon...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Big update, its been a while!

Hello! I've not updated in a while I've been super busy. I've been out birding but just haven't got round to updating the blog. I'll summarise my recent 'adventures' in picture form as it's easier that way. But I will do a full update from today.

Today wasn't so much about seeing masses of birds it was more quality over quantity, it was literally just two birds. Two awesome birds don't get me wrong, the first being a bird I've seen twice briefly once very distantly and the second fairly close but it was on the sea and I was looking down on it. The bird I'm taking about? Grey Phalarope! A bird I've always wanted to see close and today was going to be the day, or so I first thought. A text from Kevin in the morning asking if I wanted to come was very relieving as going by public transport was literally near impossible! Anyway we arrived in the car park and Kevin spotted the bird almost immediately feeding in a flooded field opposite the car park. Great! I've seen it, the problem now was how do I get pictures of it? I mean I could get distant shots but I was here to get up in it's face, photo's so far online had been brilliant and I wanted the same! I assessed that the area where the bird was feeding was very flooded and indeed I was right, first step in water half way up my leg, salty and freezing! But alas after a few minutes the numbness had taken over mostly and I was getting on with it! Long story short after about 10mins of waiting in the water the bird eventually passed by my make shift reed viewing area and I managed a few shots, which I'm happy with anyway!

Once both I and Kevin where happy with our sighting we heard news that another bird was still on view just up the road. That was a Long Tailed Duck, something I've seen before but only distantly sitting on the sea. The light was getting low at this point and so it was quite shady when we arrived to a very empty Benacre broad. The water level was extremely low, assuming from the gap in the beach from the storm surge no doubt! The LTD was present but distant, we decided to sneak along the beach and try and get level with it to try and get some pictures... It had other ideas. As soon as we got to within 40ft of it, it took flight. Flying parallel with us and then eventually about 10ft in front of us and straight out to sea. I managed to get a few flight shots which I'm happy with and I don't think I'll be getting that close to one anytime soon again!

The walk back produced 3 drake pintail flying along the sea and 1 red throated diver, a very good day and very much enjoyed.

Stunning bird!

Not the best picture, but I'm happy

The pictures below are from recent birding days out.

I visited the flooding, truly devastating

Just a common, but I have seen he Parrots twice! 

Whooper Swan! A very tarty life tick on my part!

Purple Piper, my favourite of the sandpipers!

Cranes at Horsey
Good movement of Eider duck recently

Grey Seal Pup

The sunsets have been brilliant recently!