My first visit to Pulborough Brooks and with a RSPB SE Herts Group coach trip. A beautiful reserve set in the South Downs on a sunny but very cold day. A warm welcome from the Warden and great views from above the visitor centre!
A fluffed up Robin was one of our first birds as we walked down through the mixed woodland.
We had good views of woodland birds including three Tit species, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a few Goldcrests.
Fieldfare were added to the list and the raptor count included Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and a flyover Sparrowhawk.
We spent some time looking over the Brooks which held huge numbers of Canada Geese, though we could not locate the three White Fronted Geese that had been reported. Waders included Common Snipe, Lapwing and around 500 Black-Tailed Godwits.
As to be expected there were good numbers of ducks including Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Shelduck and lots of Pintail. A couple of shots of a cracking male.
A walk along the many paths revealed Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and Stonechats as well as a mixed flock of Jackdaws and Rooks on some grassland. This Rook found a welcome snack!
Our sixth raptor was for many of the group their first ever view of a White Tailed Eagle, also known as a flying barn door! One had been seen distantly by one of the groups but we were treated to great views as this one was mobbed by corvids including at least one Raven.
Re-introduced recently on The Isle of Wight they are doing well and spreading, with birds being seen most days at Pulborough. This bird is a youngster as it does not have the full white tail. To give an idea of scale, the wingspan is up to 2.4 metres.
An excellent, well organised trip and after a well earned coffee, a chance to catch the last of the light over the reserve.
My first ever visit to this relatively new RSPB reserve in Essex. It is a huge site and soil was shipped in to help create the intertidal habitat from the Crossrail project. It was a sunny day but fairly windy. First stop was up on the sea wall and the view across to Burnham on Crouch.
There were quite a few waders, all distant that included Redshank, Grey and Golden Plover, Curlew, Turnstone and Dunlin. Also quite a few Shelduck and Brent Geese which flew close in.
The sea wall gave us views of Reed Buntings and Stonechat as well as Marsh Harriers and a single Cattle Egret. It was then into the centre of the reserve where we had views of two ringtail Hen Harriers but always too far away for shots. Greenshank was added to the day list and as high tide passed Black-Tailed Godwits started to head out to feed.
Golden Plovers joined in the exodus.
One of the main attractions, especially this year are Short Eared Owls. There have been reports of eight birds, though a regular informed us there are probably 13 in the area. In previous years they have been mostly in the same area, but this time they were more widely spread. We saw three or four birds, but again they were fairly distant so not the best selection of images, but just amazing to watch them!
Always beautiful birds to watch as the light fades and we saw one more in a field on the way out of the reserve. Looking forward to another visit.
I was away in Cambridge when news broke of a juvenile Great Northern Diver on Abbott's Lake, on the 13th November. I managed to get down there the following day, late afternoon but the shots I managed were all into the light, so not the best quality.
It certainly proved to be adept at catching Crayfish!
A return visit on the 17th November was much more fruitful with beautiful light!
What a fantastic bird and great to bump into a couple of local birders.
A short trip up the A1 to take a look at a North American Visitor, a Green-Winged Teal. The walk along the dam is always interesting and a confiding Pied Wagtail posed well.
A Great Northern Diver showed distantly but too far away for pictures. Goldeneye numbers are starting to build up and there was a small group off the dam.
A Lesser Black-Backed Gull had found a dead fish and had a very easy meal!
Despite being so far inland, Grafham always seems to attract the odd wader or two, but this Common Sandpiper was a surprise so late in the year.
Less of a surprise was a lone Redshank and a Dunlin.
The Green-Winged Teal was right at the South end of the dam and was feeding close in. It was fairly easy to pick out amongst the "ordinary" Teal due to the white stripes down the front.
A nice bird to see and Grafham Water delivers again!
A Penduline Tit was trapped by the ringing group late on the 10th November and in accordance with BTO guidelines was roosted overnight. It was announced it would be released the following morning at 7.15am so a no brainer to be there and get some pictures of this beautiful bird.
A huge thanks to the Rye Meads Ringing Team and the RSPB Reserve staff for the opportunity.
A visit to Abberton with SE Herts RSPB members and a first stop at the Layer Breton causeway. A bit too early for large numbers of ducks but a couple of Great Egrets and a Kingfisher were a good start to the day. A brief shower had us popping round to the visitors centre for a coffee before visiting the hides. A few Skylarks visible and a Kestrel hunting were the highlights.
Also a lone female Goosander (we did see three or four more later).
The main causeway was incredibly bereft of birds so we went round the Church viewpoint. Good views of a male Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and lots of Pintail as well as hundreds of Coots. A quick stop at the main causeway on the way back revealed a few female Goldeneye and then we headed for Billetts Farm. Walking up to the viewpoint a Short Eared Owl appeared and we had good, albeit fairly distant views.
It dropped down near the shore and despite waiting a good hour or so, it failed to reappear. This Brown Hare provided a pleasant distraction.
As did this Great Egret.
A great day out!
At last a decent day of weather and as I had not been down to the Lea Valley for a while I thought a trip was in order. The intention was to look for early Brambling at the farms, but no luck despite quite a few being seen in England in recent days. Small birds were few in number with Skylark, Reed Bunting, Linnets, Goldfinch and Chaffinch being seen. However, a big surprise was this Weasel! I only managed a couple of shots before it disappeared.
Such tiny little creatures! I then popped in to the Bittern hide and had a look from the tower as there was no sign of the Bittern from ground level. I had a couple of views of Water Rail and this Muntjac put in an appearance.
The Bittern was spotted initially fishing and catching a Perch.
Then a quick wander to digest it.
There had been two birds present but I believe this adult has probably chased off the juvenile that was encroaching on its patch! A few more shots as it found a sunny spot for some preening and feather ruffling.
Whilst I am not a great fan of the design of the new centre and the light is always difficult there, it is certainly one of the best places to get close views of this super bird.
Typically, while in Norfolk a Glossy Ibis was spotted for a couple of days at Rye Meads, but then disappeared. Thankfully it was relocated in Marsh Lane, Stanstead Abbotts by Jane Free. I had never previously seen one in Hertfordshire so an ideal opportunity to connect. Numbers have been increasing over the past few years as global warming pushes them northwards. They bred for the first time this year in Cambridgeshire. My first visit was on a dull afternoon so the shots were not great as shown below.
I also managed a short video.
The following day the weather was much better so I paid an afternoon visit when the light was less direct. Much better results showing off that glossy plumage.
That annoying moment when you clip a wing off!
A great local bird and a species that I think we will be seeing a lot more of over the coming years.
A family and friends break in Norfolk, so not a lot of birding but some great views and food. Based in Cromer there was time for a spot of sea watching with lots of Razorbills and a few Red Throated Divers offshore. Caspian and Little Gull were unexpected bonuses. Cromer is a great base and an attractive seaside town with its resident Peregrines on the church.
When up this way, especially at this time of year I always love to go and see the Grey Seals at Horsey Gap. Unsurprisingly there are usually a few confiding Turnstones as well.
The seals mainly spend most of the year higher up the coast around Blakeney Point, but move down to Horsey and Winterton later in the year to pup. We were too early for pups but the beach was still open allowing for firstly a short video.
The pups are usually born around November after an 11.5 month gestation period. While there, there were probably about 100+ seals either hauled out on the beach or in the sea.
Always a delight to watch and photograph them! And finally, an Autumn sunset, with the view from Cromer towards West Runton.
Frampton had been hosting some great waders blown in from North America so time to make a visit! The weather could have been a bit better but certainly not as bad as my last visit in July. Work was taking place in front of the visitor centre so not much around until this Great Egret flew in.
On the way to the 360 degree hide a small party of Bearded Tits put in a brief appearance.
A large group of birders on the path near the reedbed hide was a sure sign one of the key waders was around. We ascertained the Semi Palmated Sandpiper had been visible but had flown off towards the back (we never got to see it). The Lesser Yellowlegs had also been showing and while waiting a distant Water Rail left cover for a while.
Finally, the Lesser Yellowlegs showed well, allowing some reasonable shots.
A super bird and a lifer as well! Next stop was the East Hide for some Dunlin close ups.
And for size comparison - Dunlin (rear) with Little Stint.
And a short video.
There were quite a few Little Stints in front of the hide giving some good views.
Also my best ever views of Curlew Sandpipers as well.
It was then up to the sea wall to see the Buff Breasted Sandpiper, another visitor from North America. What a stunning bird and also another lifer.
And for size comparison, here with a Meadow Pipit.
Three Ruff then decided to join the party.
What an absolutely fabulous day with not one but two lifers! And walking back to the visitor centre views of Sparrowhawk which was checking the finches on the Sunflowers. A great job done by the RSPB at this wonderful reserve.