Siberian (ish) Chiffchaff, Cley, 29 January 2017

With an afternoon to spare due to a domestic cock-up I headed up to Cley. The main reason being to see what all the fuss was about with the Siberian Chiffchaff which has gone from a 'possible' to a 'probable' to a 'definate' within the space of a few days. The bird was showing very well feeding on reed debris in a ditch along East Bank and continued to do so virtually all the time I was there. It was kept company by 4 Common Chiffchaffs, an unusually showy Cetti's Warbler and a Wren.
Plumage-wise it was an interesting individual and I can see why there has been some discussion about it. It may well be a Siberian and is certainly very pale, lacks green and yellow tones and has noticably 'tobacco' coloured ear coverts. On the down side it has a pale bill, pale feet and not a very pronounced supercilium. Sadly it refused to call. A Little Egret was nice and close beside the path too but a scan of the Serpentine failed to reveal the Smew with just Pintail of note.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Cley

Cetti's Warbler, Cley

Common Chiffchaff, Cley

Little Egret, Cley

Leaving Cley I had a look at a Pink-footed Goose flock near Weybourne Mill finding a single Tundra Bean Goose in their midst before I headed to Sheringham. I found bugger all there probably due to a low tide and people everywhere. An adult Mediterranean Gull sat nicely on a groyne by the prom but that was about it.

Tundra Bean Goose, Weybourne

Pink-footed Geese, Weybourne

    Mediterranean Gull, Sheringham

More Glaucous Gulls! Sidestrand, 22 January 2017

After postponing our trip to the north coast yesterday today was much brighter. At minus 4 at 10.00 it was bloody cold but Cromer was lovely in the sun. Sadly the Black Redstart at the east end of the prom decided to only show for 5 mins all day so we missed that. A walk along to Sidestrand from Overstrand however was very nice (I love this wild remote stretch of coast) with 2 Glaucous Gulls (a very mean looking adult and a 1w) were found without too much trouble on the beach and groynes. Also there were 3 Red-throated Divers and a single Gannet offshore. 

Finches everywhere in the Brecks, 19 January 2017

A sunny afternoon in the Brecks was a very pleasant distraction today.

I called in for a quick 30 minutes at Thetford on the way through to have another look at the gulls - in the short time I had available I managed the 1w Iceland Gull and a 4w Yellow-legged Gull but not much else of note except a Lesser Black-backed Gull with a deformed bill and a Common Buzzard over. The light was better for photos today though.

Iceland Gull, Thetford

Yellow-legged Gull, Thetford

Lesser Black-backed Gull with bill deformity

Common Buzzard, Thetford

On to Santon Downham next where there were hundreds of Bramblings which I managed to photograph using my van as a hide. Also there were loads of Chaffinches, Nuthatch and Coal Tit but shamefully I left without even getting out of my van!

Bramblings, Santon Downham

My main aim of the day was to spend time at Lynford so I headed there for the rest of the afternoon. A qucik look at the gravel pits produced nothing more exciting than a female Goldeneye, 1 Pochard and a Little Egret amongst the numerous Tufted Ducks and Gadwall. I then walked down past the arboretum to the paddocks getting c80 Siskins and 2 Crossbills en-route. Once in position I spent the time until dusk watching the amazing spectacle of 35-40 Hawfinches come in to roost in tall pines. By far my biggest numbers ever in the UK. Also there another Crossbill flew over and a few more Bramblings were kicking about with Goldfinches, Greenfinch and 2 Bullfinches continuing the finch theme! A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming, a Marsh Tit singing and Nuthatches calling hinting of spring.

Hawfinches, Lynford     

Looking forward to Cuba!

A very cold, grey and dreary Sunday in South Norfolk so my thoughts have turned to our upcoming trip to Cuba in early March. Now just 6 weeks away it'll be nice to escape the winter here and to fill my boots with a few endemics and other goodies out there.
We fly into Havana to spend a couple of days exploring the city before the birding begins at La Guira NP, Vinales and then onto the Zapata area (La Turba, Soplillar, Bermejas etc) for a few days followed by Najasa and then finally the northern cays of Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Caya Paredon Grande.
That lot should get me within reach of most of the gettable endemics and other specialities plus some North American migrants.
Quite tempting as I stare out over the wet garden this afternoon!

Cuban Tody - one of the nicest and easy to see endemics  

Thetford Gull-fest! 13 January 2017

Once the snow had stopped and the roads cleared I ventured out to Thetford this afternoon. Around a waste disposal site on the Burrell Way industrial estate an impressive array of gulls was discovered yesterday so it was an opportunity not to be missed.

Within about 20 minutes I'd seen pretty much everything I wanted to see which was superb. The gulls were spending periods on the roof of the waste disposal site venturing inside to feed on skips of rubbish every once in a while.

The final counts were 1 Glaucous Gull (1w), 1 Iceland Gull (1w), 2 Caspian Gull (1w and 3w), 3 Yellow-legged Gulls (1w, 4w and ad), a curious Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid (ad) identified by Lee Gregory plus plenty of Herring Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Greater black-backed Gulls and Black-headed Gulls plus a single Common Gull making it a 9 gull sp haul!

Thetford is the new Killybegs!

Glaucous Gull 

Iceland Gull

Yellow-legged Gulls
Caspian Gull

    hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull   

Little Bunting, Knettishall, 11 January 2017

I'd not seen a Little Bunting for ages so with one being found in a winter finch flock on Knettishall airfield not too far from home it was the ideal opportunity. With the weather due to close in tomorrow today was maybe the last chance for a while so I popped along this morning.

Quite surpisingly (especially as it didn't show until 13.00 yesterday) I'd got 3 views of it by 10.00! Twice briefly in a low flat topped hedge and then a more lengthy view in the top of a small tree along the same field edge. The flock also held c10 Tree Sparrows, c20 Reed Buntings, c40 Yellowhammers, Goldfinch and loads of Chaffinches. A Common Buzzard was hanging over a distant woodland and both Redwing and Song Thrush also popped up along the hedge. A covey of 8 Grey Partridges was also very welcome.

Advice for anyone going - take a scope!    

Pallas's Warbler, Hooded Crow and more, 8 January 2017

My first venture out of 2017 because up until today work has been a bit mad! The forecast was thick fog today but in the end it turned out to be rather nicer than expected.

My first and main aim of the day was to see the rather unseasonal Pallas's Warbler at Kessingland Sewage Works and with a bit of patience some great views were eventually had (after several less than great ones!). The bird ranged quite widely in the area centered on the wooden gate. Also around the area were at least 6 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, a fly-over Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and a 'peeping' Kingfisher.

Next on my agenda was the Hooded Crow at Mautby and I was very lucky to find it straight away after fighting my way through the usual Oulton Broad and Yarmouth traffic. It favours the pig fields just south of Mautby Lodge. Also there was a much darker Hooded Crow hybrid.

Hooded Crow, Mautby

Halvergate isn't very far away from Mautby so I headed there next finding just 1 Cattle Egret with the cattle but it seemed to like spending most of its time in a ditch. Also there was another Kingfisher which landed on a rail really close to me but not for long enough for a photo! Amongst the c200 Pink-footed Geese there were 5 White-fronted Geese plus 2 Little Egrets.

Cattle Egret, Halvergate

As I was leaving Halvergate I got news of a reported Todd's Canada Goose with Pink-feet between Billockby and Clippesby so I hot-footed it there. Sadly a large proportion of the huge flock of geese had moved over the brow of a hill but I did pick out c8 Tundra Bean Geese and 2 White-fronted Geese and an Svalbard neck-ringed Pink-foot (no.S53, black on white)  before I moved on.

My last port of call was Ludham Airfield where after a bit of driving about I found the flock of wild swans in fields to the north of the airfield. The flock was 156 birds strong with c125 Bewick's Swans and c30 Whooper Swans. By driving along a concrete farm track I was able to get close enough for a few pics but the light was beggining to fade. 44 Egyptian Geese there were also notable.

Bewick's and Whooper Swans, Ludham