Wednesday 31 December 2014

Showy Glaucous Gulls in Peterborough

Several thousand gulls at Dogsthorpe on New Year's Eve including the second-winter Iceland Gull again and two juvenile Glaucous Gulls. I was photographing one thinking it looked a bit more robust than the previous day's bird, not noticing the second in the images until I reviewed a few of the shots. A quick look through the 'scope and there they were, side by side - quite amazing!

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Post-Christmas wingers

After a visit to Dogsthorpe on Saturday morning with little more than brief views of a 2cy cachinnans to show for the effort, I was surprised (and a little gripped!) to hear that Jonathan Taylor had scored both Iceland and Glaucous Gulls on the tip yesterday. Popped over this morning and was pleased to find both were behaving extremely well on the predominately frozen Star Pit. It's been a while since I've seen any gulls on the pit there, let alone good ones, and so it had a rather pleasant 'old school' feel to it - I remember ticking Caspian Gull here about ten years ago!

I've seen quite a few white-winged gulls in Peterborough over the years, but this is the first time that I actually had two in the same 'scope/camera view. I've had two on the same pit before, but never side-by-side!

Juvenile Glaucous

2cy Iceland

Glaucous + Iceland

Not much else today save for a confiding pair of Stonechats at Baston Fen, where there was also a Barn Owl hunting (but not SEOs). 85 (eighty-five!) Red-crested Pochards and 23 Shoveler on my patch. Another glorious winter's day.

Monday 29 December 2014

Penduline Tit

This is the first Penduline Tit I've seen in Britain since the flock of four at Rainham in winter 05/06. I wasn't going to bother going but on hearing it was showing well, decided it was worth the hour drive down this morning. And so it proved: though it would go missing it times, it eventually showed to within 10 metres in beautiful golden afternoon light.

Friday 5 December 2014

Quick trip to North Yorks

Imagine opening your curtains one morning and seeing this hopping about in the road!

Popped up to North Yorkshire in the ever-delightful company of Dan Pointon to have a look at this gorgeous Eastern Black Redstart (P. o. phoencuroides), which had been busying itself about a housing estate on the north side of Scalby for a few days. I can't entirely remember why I didn't see either of the 2011 birds, though I suspect the reason was something list-orientated - not bothering to travel for a subspecies (or similar).

Male Black Redstarts are seriously brilliant birds and this one, with its brick-red breast and belly sharply demarcated from the black face and throat, grey forehead and brownish upperparts was one handsome beast. At times it looked remarkably Common Redstart-like but both behaviour and structure were much more reminiscent of Black Redstart. I'd actually go as far as saying this is one of the best-looking birds I've seen in Britain and the fact that it's not a species in its own right shouldn't detract from that.

Unfortunately behaviour didn't match appearance and while it did show incredibly well on a few fairly brief occasions, it was utterly restless and kept zipping off in to gardens. It appeared to be conducting a fairly loose circuit, ranging over a good few hundred metres (at one point it stormed off down the hedgerow of an adjacent field and didn't come back for a couple of hours). As such it proved a frustrating subject for the lens but there are some decent pics floating about the internet now. Here are a couple of my best, more on Flickr as always:

We also popped up to nearby Cloughton Wyke where we found the Richard's Pipit in its favoured field south of the Hayburn Wyke Inn. A really big and obvious bird that called frequently, it was also typically mobile and wary.

I suspect that will be it for the good birds now this year, unless someone turfs out a surprise passerine. Come to think of it, has there ever been a better year for a late, late autumn hyper-rarity? The mild weather seems to be encouraging a number of common migrants to attempt to winter here - think Swallows, Whinchats and two species of warbler on a Leyton traffic island, for example. A Siberian Accentor would be ideal, as would a Black-faced Bunting - though I'd settle for a Pine!

Monday 1 December 2014

Black Brant hybrids

My guess is that these birds are probably well known to Norfolk birders but, not spending the timethat I once did in the county as teen, I've lost touch and so it was a pleasant 'surprise' to come across them on the saltings at Holkham. I guess one of these birds is responsible for recent reports of a Black Brant in the Burnham Overy area.