Hushed Up 1st for the WP in Dorset on Monday!

News has belatedly broken of an absolute mega in a garden in Southwell on Portland on Monday afternoon - the 1st WP record of Pale-legged Leaf Warbler!
Found by the house owners in their garden (incidently the same garden that hosted the recent Collared Flycatcher) and seen by a few locals only during the afternoon. Initially ID'd as an Eastern Crowned Warbler until the last observer of the day pointed out it didn't have a crown stripe!
Sadly kept quiet due to access problems which would have meant large crowds were a real no no. It was gone the next morning so most of us wouldn't have seen it anyway.

See the Portland Bird Obs website here

Apparant Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Portland (copyright Portland Bird Obs)

Late Autumn Rush, North Norfolk Coast, 24 October 2012

With just an afternoon off and an impending birding-free weekend in Bath I dashed up to the North Norfolk coast in the fog and gloom for a birding fix.

Heading through the lanes to Stiffkey a Common Redstart flew across the road at Cockthorpe before I joined the other cars at The Greenway in Stiffkey and made my way east through the woods. 300 yards RBA had said but was much further than that before I came across the small group of birders and within 5 minutes I was enjoying some crippling views of the Red-flanked Bluetail around some logs and brush piles. The woods were absolutely alive with migrants - Robins, Song Thrushes, Fieldfares, Blackbirds and Redwings all in huge numbers plus a single Ring Ouzel and a late Swallow

With more news from RBA my 2nd port of call was Brancaster Staithe (via an impromptu stop at Burnham Overy Staithe because yours truly obviously can't read properly!). En-route the thrush theme continued with flocks seemingly bursting out of every roadside hedge!

At Brancaster Staithe a walk for half a mile west to a row of willows and the Arctic Warbler was showing on arrival. It's so long since I've seen one of these beauties I'd forgotten how good they are! Another Common Redstart, Chiffchaff, Bramblings and more thrushes and Robins later I had to give up on the afternoon in the gathering gloom and head back to south Norfolk.


Amazing Rediscovery of Sillem's Mountain Finch

A fascinating story - the rediscovery of a species thought to have been extinct since 1929!

This link click here tells the amazing chance rediscovery in a remote area of Karakorum range earlier this year.

One of the most inspiring things I've read for some while. Huge congratulations to all involved!

male Sillem's Mountain Finch

Lowestoft, 13 October 2012

I managed to persuade Belinda that our trip to the coast today should be to Lowestoft so I could do a little birding. Arriving at Kensington Gardens in Kirkley the Yellow-browed Warbler found this morning was effectively missing. After wandering around the lovely gardens checking all the trees for about 30 minutes I got onto the bird calling high in a big pine and got some brief bins views before it started to tree hop for a few minutes only to be lost again. Despite the cold both Red Admiral and Small White were out in the gardens too but no other migrants at all.

On the way home 2 Common Buzzards were seen - 1 near Beccles and the other perched in a tree in the Waveney Valley near Alburgh which looked very pale so may be worth another look soon.     

Kelling area, 8 October 2012

A mornings birding up on the coast for the 1st time in ages.
The Pectoral Sandpiper of the last few days was quickly found in the NE corner of Kelling Water Meadows and watched at length. It never did come as close as I wanted but I did manage a few record shots. Whilst there a female Hen Harrier and a single Sparrowhawk flew west whilst 15 Jays moving east hinted at the huge and rather strange movements of the species over the previous few days.
A wander on Kelling Heath afterwards produced a very welcome male Dartford Warbler in lengthy sub-song. Very pleasing to note the species is hanging on here and this one was within a few yards of where I first saw the species here about 6 or 7 years ago! A flock of c12 Goldcrests contained 1 Chiffchaff and 2 late Swallows were seen at Baconsthorpe.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Kelling

Pectoral Sandpiper, Kelling

Pectoral Sandpiper, Kelling

Hen Harrier, Kelling

Are the days of cheap day twitches to Ireland over?

Once was the time when a goodie was found on a remote western Irish headland and all it took was a cheap last minute Ryanair flight from Stansted to Cork, Kerry, Shannon or Knock and £30 a day car hire and it was job done. Happy days indeed with fond memories of Little Blue Heron, Philadelphia Vireo, Thayer's Gull etc.
Fast forward to the present day and the HUGE mega of Eastern Kingbird. A quick check of the Ryanair website and they want £350 return to Knock this weekend and when I had a casual glance in midweek thinking of the MyrtleWarbler I couldn't get to Cork for less than £230 return at short notice.
Do they actually sell tickets at these prices?!
Anyway, for this birder at least, it seems those happy twitches to the Emerald Isle and plenty of craic are a thing of the past :-( 

While I'm in a moany mood, I've been trying to arrange some guided birding for a few days in Northern Thailand next Feb and the prices are unbelievable - £280 per day for 2 of us?! Or £640 for 3 days for 2 of us?! In a country which is generally very reasonable I find it amazing. It'll be far more satisfying finding my own birds!  

Minsmere Woods, Suffolk, 29 September 2012

A walk through the woods inland of Minsmere is something I've never done before so combining a bit of exploring with some geocaching I did so on Saturday. Nothing to write home about bird wise but loads of butterflies and dragonflies still out despite the time of year, Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Comma, Red Admiral, Large White, Small White, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper, and Common Blue all still on the wing.

Southern Hawker, taken with my iPhone