Monday 29 March 2010

Caspian Gull, 29th March

This adult Caspian Gull was in fields just south of Dogsthorpe Tip this afternoon, along with two Yellow-legged Gulls. Earlier in the day I attempted a return trip to Suffolk but bailed at Huntingdon on negative news, so went and saw the female Two-barred Crossbill at The Lodge, Sandy (Beds) instead. Off to Ireland tonight, so I guess thats my chance of seeing the kestrel gone...

Saturday 27 March 2010

North Norfolk, 27th March

Today was primarily focussed around having a second shot (this time with my wallet) at getting to Norfolk and seeing some Alpine Swifts. On hearing that both were still present, I got on the road at about 09:00, with first stop being the patch. Around 40 Lesser Redpolls were still being a nightmare to view properly, although the New Workings was much more satsfying - 5+ LRPs, 2 Ringed Plovers, Redshank and 2 Oystercatchers provided a nice selection of typical summering waders, with the star of the show being a single Dunlin there. Dunlin always seem to be good indicators of the quality of a site, so this early showing bodes well for the rest of the spring. Just a shame I will be in Sheffield really!

Battling through hordes of old people driving at ridiculously low speeds, I reached Hunstanton by around 10:45. Needless to say, the Alpine Swift had done one and it was not long before I was back on the road and heading for Cromer. Slow drivers were present in even higher densities along the A149 making for a torrid and stressful journey. As I drove through Sheringham, it suddenly occurred to me to go and have a look for the juvenile Glaucous Gull which has been wintering on the seafront. No sign of the Glauc, but I had a bit of a surprise when this 2nd-winter Caspian Gull appeared just offshore:

Second-winter Caspian Gull, Sheringham seafront.

When you are so used to seeing Caspian Gulls loafing on rubbish dumps or miles away on reservoirs somewhere in the English Midlands, the Sheringham bird seemed a little out of context - indeed, it is the first of its' kind I have seen in a coastal setting. A splendid brute of an individual, it was consistently aggressive towards the local Herring Gulls, and preferred a perch at the eastern end of the seafront. Whilst watching the beast a couple of other birders arrived, informing me that the Alpine Swift was still showing on and off near the lighthouse at Cromer. So, off I went and, after a short walk up to the lighthouse, there it was:

Alpine Swift @ Cromer.

This is only my second Alpine Swift in the UK, following a bird at Hampstead Heath in April 2006.

With little time to spare, I reluctantly left the bird and headed home for work. Overall, despite all the morons driving at moronic speeds across the county, it had turned out to be a fairly successful day. Big plans for next week, so watch this space - I'm hoping there will be something to write home about.

Friday 26 March 2010

It's been a long time... 26.3.10

So, my blog hasn't been up date for some months, reflecting my complete lack of enthusiasm for anything birdy over the winter. I haven't twitched one bird (until today), and have only been birding once or twice since before Christmas. As it is now the Easter holidays, I thought it would be time to put that right.

First port of call today was the patch. Soon after getting out the car near the Old Wader Scrape pull-in, I heard a few excitable redpolls, but didn't manage to get on to them (I was a bit rusty first off). A scan of the skies produced a number of Sand Martins blogging about, before the redpolls began to distract me again. This time, I got on to a flock of about 10 making for the alder stands just west of ARC Pit, so headed over there to see if I could sniff out some better views.
Over the next hour or so, it became apparent that a good number of Lesser Redpolls were present (some 30+, with small flocks coming and going all the time), and a number of males were singing and generally getting a bit rowdy. However, the wind wasn't making things easy, and the birds were tending to bury themselves deep in bushes. Nevertheless, a female-type Mealy Redpoll was located:

Mealy Redpoll - BLGP seems to be a reliable site for this species in most winters, even in poor redpoll years.

As I watched the redpolls, a Willow Warbler burst into song providing a nice seasonal contrast - one of (if not equalling) my earliest dates for the species. There were a few other mildly interesting bits about, including two Little Ringed Plovers, a few Shelducks, 11 remaining Goldeneye and quite a few Common Gulls. Standard late March fayre really...

On arriving home it transpired the Alpine Swift was still at Hunstanton, so I set off that way. By the time I got near King's Lynn, petrol was running low. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to pick up my wallet (and so had no way of paying for petrol), resulting in a miserable drive home instead of continuing the extra 15 miles to Sunny Hunny. An excellent reintroduction to twitching then.