Home | Photo Pages | Trips | Diary | Contact me

December 2010

 

Friday 31st December

So, another year bites the dust! It ended with three days of thick fog making any attempt to go birding pretty pointless, though a few people did manage to see one or two interesting birds around the county. Instead I stayed in with a view to catching up on a few things so that I can have more time to bird in 2011 - I can't go another year with as little birding as I did in 2010. Staying at home did get me a good garden bird though - I went to the bedroom window to see what the commotion was about, half expecting a Sparrowhawk, or an owl being mobbed, but when I got there all the tits had finished their squeaking. Just outside the window, however, was a smart female Brambling. It didn't hang around to have its picture taken but a nice surprise anyway. I've heard them here before on a couple of occasions but I don't recall seeing one previously. Finally another Winter Moth finished the year off.

Happy New Year!

 

Thursday 30th December

Two more Winter Moths tonight.

 

Tuesday 28th December

Arriving back in the small hours this morning and with rain forecast for the morning I decided to lie in. I spent a cold, gloomy and damp afternoon at Swanton Morley where Holkham Lake was still frozen over and there were remarkably few birds. There was some free water on Curly's and this contained 49 Gadwall and 3 Shoveler. Elsewhere Little Egret and Water Rails provided the nearest thing to highlights and 2 Marsh Tits were pretty much the only passerines seen all afternoon.

You'd have thought that all this arctic weather we've been enjoying would have killed off any moths but with temperatures rising to a dizzy 2 degrees today the moths were out in force. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but there were 2 Winter Moths tonight.

click for larger image

Coots, Swanton Morley, 28th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Winter Moth, Bawdeswell (left) and Tufted Ducks, Swanton Morley (right), 28th December

 

Monday 27th December

We spent Christmas this year at my brother Stephen's near Dundee. We didn't have much time for birding up here so I was keen to get in a little bit on the way home and stopped off at a couple of locations in Tayside and Fife. The tide was out at Tayport meaning the sea duck were distant, but Long-tailed Duck could be picked out from among the Eider. Lots of waders and gulls and a few duck on the shore but nothing of note. Further south near Craigie a couple of flocks of Pink-footed Geese contained a few presumably Icelandic Greylag Geese.

St Andrews didn't have nearly so many sea duck as last time I was here, but there were a few Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoter and Eider. Also 17 Snow Buntings here. I then headed to Largo Bay where I have, many years ago, enjoyed some good winter birding. Unfortunately by the time we got here it was pretty much time to head south, as we'd made arrangements to visit friends in Sheffield on the way home. Consequently I only had time for a quick scan looking into the light from Lower Leven. This produced Red-necked Grebe, 3 Slavonian Grebes and more Long-tailed Ducks and other sea duck, including Velvet Scoters. This was enjoyable enough but I left disappointed I'd not given myself longer so that I could explore the area properly - I remembered from my last visit that Rudden's Point was a good spot from where to search for Surf Scoters, not that any had been reported here recently so far as I could recall. My disappointment about leaving so quickly and without self-finding any Surf Scoters was somewhat heightened about an hour or so later when I discovered that at the time we were leaving someone else was finding a Surf Scoter from Rudden's Point!

I'd not had time to look for any grouse so we paused very briefly at a likely-looking spot off the M74. No luck there, just Goosander and Raven.

click for larger image click for larger image

Common Scoter, St Andrew's (left) and Velvet Scoter, Largo Bay (right), 27th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Rooks, St Andrew's, 27th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Ram (left) and Goosander (right), Crawford, 27th December

 

Tuesday 21st December

During today's lunch break I popped in to the car park at Burnham Norton from where you can sometimes see a variety of wildfowl and often raptors, maybe even the Northern Harrier if you're lucky. Some Brents were in the field close to the car park and among these was one Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Further back and mostly over the ridge and out of sight were at least 9 Barnacle Geese. Also from here were Hen Harrier (not Northern!), 2 Marsh Harriers and a Barn Owl. After this there was just time to pop in to Brancaster Staithe where a larger flock of Twite must have contained at least 40 birds. Also today 3 Buzzards at sites either en route to work in the morning or on the way back from lunch.

click for larger image click for larger image

Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Norton, 21st December

 

click for larger image

Barnacle Geese, Burnham Norton, 21st December

 

click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image

Twite, Brancaster Staithe, 21st December

 

Monday 20th December

One of the heaviest frosts I've ever seen provided some great photo opportunities once the mist cleared but with most of the day spent at work I only had a quick lunchbreak to take advantage of them.

click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image

frosty scenes between Stanhoe and Barrow Common, 20th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Red-legged Partridge, north of Stanhoe, 20th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Lapwing, Brancaster Staithe, 20th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Dunlin, Brancaster Staithe, 20th December

 

click for larger image  

frosty trees near Barrow Common, 20th December

 

Saturday 18th December

Today a trip to Kent was planned to see Vitty's family in Ramsgate and my brother Andrew and his family in Tunbridge Wells, and friends in the area too if we had time. We got there ok, but while in Ramsgate several inches of snow fell while we were having lunch. 3 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over while I cleared snow from the car and then, having failed to get up several hills in Ramsgate we eventually found a route out that was passable. Passable just, but it was a couple of hours before we reached the M2 and any thoughts of visiting Andrew or friends were now forgotten. The M25 was as clear as it ever is but the M11 saw more snow and more hold ups, and the normally 3 hour journey home took us 8 hours altogether.

 

Sunday 12th December

I forgot to mention yesterday what may well prove to be the last moth of the year - a hardy Winter Moth.

click for larger image  

Winter Moth, Bawdeswell, 11th December

 

Saturday 11th December

I hate Christmas shopping with a passion. This year though, it was made marginally less unpleasant by the accompaniment of Waxwings. We parked in St Andrew's car park where I'd forgotten some Waxwings had been reported during the last week or so. Walking out of the car park I immediately saw a trilling flock of at least 35 Waxwings between the car park and St Benedict's Street. When I returned to the car later there were still 24 there, with one in the berries right next to the walkway with Christmas shoppers admiring it. Needless to say they'd all disappeared when I'd finished shopping and was able to get the camera out, so instead I headed over to Rupert Street where more had been reported yesterday. I didn't get an accurate count here but there must have been well over 50 Waxwings at this location. They spent most of their time on the TV aerials but every now and then dropped down to the Rowan trees to feed. A fabulous sight, and again one enjoyed by more members of the public than birders. Vitty finished her shopping and needed collecting before I'd had long enough to get the perfect photos I was hoping for, but I did at least manage a few shots. When I returned after picking Vitty up there was just a single bird left sitting on the TV aerial.

click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image

Waxwings, Norwich (Rupert Street), 11th December

 

Friday 10th December

En route to work this morning a Little Egret flew over the A1067 at Twyford having got up from the stream just below. The second time I've seen this species here, but with it being, I think, quite a tiny stream, it's not a place I'd expect them to hang out often.

 

Tuesday 7th December

click for larger image  

Blackbird, Heacham?, 7th December

 

Monday 6th December

Another lunch stop at Brancaster Staithe produced 3 Goldeneye, whilst an Egyptian Goose flying over was possibly my first for this location.

click for larger image click for larger image

Bar-tailed Godwits, Brancaster Staithe, 6th December

 

Saturday 4th December

With Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler, Arctic Redpoll and Northern Bullfinch all at Wells yesterday, and possibly Northern Treecreeper too, a quick visit to Wells was too tempting. Unfortunately none of the above were seen, the warbler having almost certainly succombed to the cold given the state it was reported to have been in yesterday. All I saw was a flock of Mealy Redpolls, though apparently other people reported seeing a possible Greenland Redpoll among them too!

A few brief stops elsewhere along the coast didn't turn up much more until I reached Salthouse where the feral goose flock contained 5 hybrids, one of which clearly had Snow or Ross's Goose parentage. Given that there had been a Snow Goose among this flock of Canada Geese for some time, I imagined it was probably a Snow Goose x Canada Goose hybrid, but as has since been pointed out it actually resembles Snow x Barnacle Goose more closely, so probably wasn't an offspring of the birds in that flock at all. (Update: and subsequently the bird has moved, or probably returned, to a mixed flock of Ross's and Barnacle Geese - and, given its relative size I now think it's most likely Ross's x Barnacle.)

click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image

Mealy Redpolls, Wells, 4th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Curlew (left) and Snipe (right), Wells, 4th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Dunnock, Wells (left) and Stonechat, Salthouse (right), 4th December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Probable Ross's x Barnacle Goose hybrid (left) and Greylag x Canada Goose hybrid (right), Salthouse, 4th December

And if you liked them, you'll love these:

click for larger image click for larger image

unidentified captive hybrid ducks, Blakeney Collection, 4th December (update - apparently the left hand one is a "ginger" variant Laysan Duck, probably with some Mallard in its ancestry)

 

click for larger image click for larger image

captive possible Ferruginous Duck x Red Shoveler hybrid (left) and Smew x Hooded Merganser hybrid (right), Blakeney Collection, 4th December

 

Friday 3rd December

Not much at Brancaster Staithe at lunchtime today.

click for larger image click for larger image

Red-breasted Merganser, Brancaster Staithe, 3rd December

 

click for larger image

Marsh Harrier, Brancaster Staithe, 3rd December

 

Wednesday 1st December

Looked in at Brancaster Staithe during my lunchbreak where the wind was bitterly cold. A surprise Long-tailed Duck flew down the channel next to me as I parked and then landed nearby - the first time I've seen one here, though I think I recall a report of one in Brancaster Harbour a few days ago. Also a few Red-breasted Mergansers flying around, but nothing else of much note.

click for larger image click for larger image
click for larger image click for larger image

Long-tailed Duck, Brancaster Staithe, 1st December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Red-breasted Mergansers, Brancaster Staithe, 1st December

 

click for larger image click for larger image

Bar-tailed Godwit (left) and Little Egret (right), Brancaster Staithe, 1st December

 

Next month: January 2011

Current month

Previous months:

2007: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2008: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2009: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2010: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov