Where do Siberia and Southern Europe meet? Oulton Broad! 24 January 2014

I spent a very pleasant afternoon at a sunny but cold Oulton Marshes on the edge of Oulton Broad today and was musing on the way home about how lucky we are in the UK to attract rare birds from all points of the compass.

The long-staying Glossy Ibis was seen straight away in almost exactly the same spot as I saw it last month, this time with a Little Egret for company amongst the numerous Wigeon. What I'd really come to see however was Siberian Chiffchaff and with quite a bit of patience I managed some really nice views of 2 birds in the reeds just behind the viewing platform. Most of the time they were very elusive and keeping very low down but they did pop up on some bullrushes 2 or 3 times but trying to get a shot of them was nigh on impossible.Not that I let that stop me trying and once a couple of other birders had left I had them to myself and managed to pish them to within about 3 yards but still they refused to pose! They both looked like classic individuals to me, very grey and white with a prominent bright green wing panels, black legs and bills.

While I was there 9 Whooper Swans flew north, a Cetti's Warbler sang and on the sloppy walk back to the church I had 2 Stock Doves and a Barn Owl.

Earlier in the day while geocaching I had a Nuthatch calling in Nicholas Everitt Park, Lowestoft which I've since discovered is a bit of a local rarity!     

Yarmouth and Lowestoft, 12 January 2014

A beautiful sunny day in the far east of the UK which turned out to be a bit of a photo-fest!

First stop was at Yarmouth North Denes for the 2 Shorelarks that seem to have settled in for the winter. They took a little locating despite directions of them being 'near the pink and blue beach huts' but after the other couple of observers had left I had them to myself. A bit of crawling through the dunes and I managed to get pretty close and enough to nail some half decent pics.


Then it was south along the seafront to the beach between the piers. Before I started lobbing bread at them I counted 44 Mediterranean Gulls loafing on the sand and then the fun began trying to photograph them in their bread feeding frenzy! The flock comprised roughly 85% adults, 10% 2nd winters and 5% 1st winters with 5 different ringed birds noted as follows:

Adult, ring E651, black on white - ringed in Belgium or Netherlands
Adult, ring AA20, white on green - ringed in Germany
Adult, ring PNN7, white on red - ringed in Poland
1st Winter, ring 2H20, black on yellow - ringed in the UK
Adult, ring E254, black on white - ringed in Belgium or Netherlands

I'll be submitting these sightings to the relevant recorder to find out more of the history of these individuals.


We then had a circular walk at Gunton where several Kittiwakes were offshore together with a single Eider and then a wintering Chiffchaff in Gunton Wood.

Finishing the day with a cuppa in the car at Ness Point, Lowestoft it was decidely wild and windy but it proved to be 3rd time lucky for me here on recent visits with 2, then 8 and finally 10 Purple Sandpipers showing extremely well on the rocks. Plenty of Kittiwakes here too.


The arse-end of Suffolk! 5 January 2014

Bawdsey and Shingle Street to be more precise! I've always held a strange liking for this isolated corner of Suffolk probably because of its remote location and oddness. Shingle Street is like the land that time forgot!

East Lane Bawdsey let me down badly as the Scaup of the previous few days were nowhere to be seen. Plenty of other wildfowl on the lagoons though with numerous Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Teal and Coot plus 2 Little Grebes. A Water Pipit was picked up flying over and then a single Purple Sandpiper flew low past the coastal rocks so the visit was not all in vain.

On to Shingle Street for a walk and a picnic lunch on the beach (yes, even in January!) and on the lane leading into the hamlet I got onto a Short-eared Owl which I leapt out of the car for and promptly lost. After a few minutes I picked it up again on the inland side of the road carry prey and going down into a field. Although not mega close it was close enough to get a shot or two.

The only other birds of note in the remainder of the day was a Common Crossbill in Rendlesham Forest and a pair of Common Buzzards near Wickham Market on the way home.


2014 begins, Pakefield/Lowestoft, 2 January 2014

In between doing other things today I popped in to Pakefield and down to the beach to try to photograph the flock of Snow Buntings. There were so many dog walkers and teenagers on the beach the flock of c60 birds were constantly being spooked and ranging up and down a big area of beach. With a little patience at what seemed like their favourite spot I managed a shot or 2 and while waiting picked out an adult and then 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull at the north end of the beach.


Next I nipped to Ness Point, Lowestoft where I failed dismally to find any Purple Sandpipers despite walking miles north in search. A couple of confiding Sanderlings were some recompense and several Kittiwakes were offshore.