4 February 2017
WellsThe female type Black Redstart at East Quay before lunch.
WarhamA large mixed flock of finches to south of village included 6 Brambling, 60 Linnet, 5 Yellowhammer and 4 Reed bunting.
A fantastic roost watch from 14:30 to 17:10 produced:
1 Short-eared Owl
2 male and 3 ringtail Hen Harrier
7 Marsh Harrier
3 Common Buzzard
2 Merlin (male and female)
1 male Peregrine
1 barn Owl
1 Imm Spoonbill flying west
1 Great Skua offshore
1 Fulmar offshore
2 Pink-footed Geese w
1 2nd winter Glaucous Gull e
2 Red-breasted Merganser
30 Golden Plover
30 Little Egret
Great Walsingham1 Bullfinch
5 February 2017Very misty start to the day meant a slow start. Tried Wells East Quay for the Black Redstart but no luck. Holkham was too misty so returned to check the finch flock at Warham. About 20 Reed Bunting and 16 Yellowhammer plus 5 Brambling and 80 Linnet.
Walked from Cley East Bank around the reserve and down the West Bank out around Blakeney freshes and on to Morston for lunch in The Anchor. Then returned similar route but along the road at Cley, c5 hours of walking and 20 km.
|Stonechat - female|
|Stonechat - male|
11 Feb 2017
Wells East Quay1 fem type Black Redstart seen well along the concrete wall.
WarhamChecked the finch flock. Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting numbers increased with c20 and c40 respectively. Also 50 Linnet, 40 Chaffinch and 5 Brambling
Warham Greens2 Male and 3-4 ringtail Hen Harrier
6 Marsh Harrier
30 Little Egret
12 Feb 2017
Wells1 fem type Black Redstart at East Quay showed well in the missle
|Female Black Redstart or Grey Orange-end as Mac more aptly renamed it|
Cockley CleyWalked around the wood seeing a Buzzard but not much else.
Linford ArboretumAbout 60 Hawfinch came into roost, creating quite a spectacle, looking like funky Christmas baubles in the tree tops.
4 Marsh Tit
Coal, Blue, Great, Long-tailed Tit
6 Bewick's Swans over
18 February 2017
Murston, KentThe wintering male Pine Bunting hadn't been reported for the best part of two weeks, however given the amount of grain available from the duck shoot I was pretty sure it must still be around somewhere. So I arrived just after first light and parked the car near the stables. As I drove the last stretch about a dozen Yellowhammers flew from beside the track. On getting the scope set up I could instantly see a flock of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and Linnet feeding in the stubble field to the west of the path, so I scanned through them hoping to find the Bunting. However after 30 minutes there was no sign and the flock was rapidly moving away down the field.
I walked down towards the gate into the duck shoot field and scanned the bushes. There was a Buzzard on the concrete wall and a Kestrel in the Hawthorn hedge, but no finches or Buntings suggesting the food had run out. As I scanned back across the stubble a Bunting flew past me calling, sounding a bit more hoarse. It dropped into the stubble and vanished. I scanned some more, and then there it was, that distinctive dark chestnut throat and white loral stripe. It crept around often in the longer vegetation and never showing in the open unlike the bolder Yellowhammers. I watched it for the next hour and a half as the flock made its way down the field, until suddenly they took flight and dispersed to the east and south.
|Pine Bunting in the stubble|
|The throat looked almost solid chestnut|
I decided there was little chance of me finding it again, so I made my way to Oare Marshes. The water level was really high and the tide was out so not much on show. After a brief scan and having warmed up I wanted to return to Murston and try again, hoping to find it in a public area. I parked in the same spot and found some Yellowhammers in the corner of the paddock. Most of them flew further away, and then a Yellowhammer arrived in the bush behind me, calling. But behind it I could hear something - something distinctive. A few steps down the path and there was the Pine Bunting, calling away in the next bush. I fired off a few images before it flew south along the track, back towards Little Murston Farm, landed in the trees, before apparently dropping down towards the lakes.
|The throat appeared paler when fluffed up, showing a chestnut chin and lower edge|
I decided to check East Malling Research Station in case any Waxwings were still around and was delighted to find 9 birds sat in the trees by the greenhouses. I watched them feeding on fallen apples before another group arrived to join them, with 14 in the trees and possibly more arriving when they returned to the apples. Always fantastic to see and the sun had come out.
|Waxwing in the fallen apples|
|You'd think there were enough to go around|
19 February 2017
Stow-on-the-Wold, GloucestershireA family get together at my parents in Worcestershire meant we had to literally drive through Stow-on-the-Wold where a Blue Rock Thrush has set up its winter territory. It had actually turned up the day after we were last there, so it would have been doubly rude not to stop off. I actually hate twitches in residential areas, always feels awkward looking around someone else's houses. As the bird had been here a while we were the only people, other than a young lad riding his rather cool four wheel electric motor bike around the close. I said to Mac that it was often on the roof of number 9 or 29, and we soon found them opposite each other at the end of the road. There was no sign initially, and Mac and my niece Emma soon decided they'd rather get a coffee in the village. However as they turned to walk away the Thrush appeared on the roof of number 29. I called them back and we got some pretty good views as it fed around the roofs and gardens, before it flew across the road onto number 9 and dropped over the roof.
It recalled the last one I saw in Morocco in December, sitting on the tv aerial of a house in a mud compound in the village of Lalla Takerkoust. In some ways not that different an environment, at that one had the Atlas Mountains and various desert gorges available locally.
|The Blue Rock Thrush appears on the roof|
|And the chimney|
|It found plenty of food on the tiles|
|And then showed in a garden tree|