Wot no Horned Lark? Staines, 29 November 2017

Jus and I headed off to Staines yesterday. The original plan had been to wait on news of the American Horned Lark while enjoying the Parrot Crossbills at Santon Downham. The first part of the plan worked nicely with 32 Parrot Crossbills counted around the carpark and even seen coming down to drink in a puddle by the toilet block. News from Staines didn't come through so with time getting on we decided to go anyway.

After the drive we got there at lunchtime. Walking up the slope onto the causeway, dodging the dog shit, past the dog poo bags hanging on the pallisade fence and turning right at the abandoned supermarket trolley (you get the picture!) we were greeted by negative news from those on site. Under leaden skies and with darkening moods we gave it about an hour and a half until we almost froze to death and gave up. At least the view was nice, oh wait, it wasn't! Joking aside we did get some nice views of a Black-necked Grebe on the south basin plus a Peregrine, 5 Pintail, Goldeneye and c60 Pochard but were glad to leave in the end.

With a bit of time left before dark we called in at Stockers Lake, Rickmansworth on the way back round the M25. After a long walk all round the lake we eventually found 8 Red-crested Pochards plus a handful of Ring-necked Parakeets, 2+ Kingfishers, 3 Goldeneye and 8 Siskins. Around the M11 and M25 while driving we also clocked up 7 Red Kites and 3 Common Buzzards.

Red-crested Pochards


Parrot Crossbills etc, Santon Downham, 28 November 2017

A little short day trip to the Brecks that I'd put off from the previous day because of the weather.
If only all birding could be as easy  - I pulled up on the St Helen's Well carpark at Santon Downham and walked just a few yards to watch c30 Parrot Crossbills in the sun! And very entertaining they were too with their feeding antics involving ripping pine cones off branches whole and holding them in their feet to extract the kernels. Some even flew carrying cones in their bills! The flock consisted of about 70% males. A couple of Nuthatches were calling, a Grey Wagtail and a Stock Dove flew over and on a short walk I found a flock of c45 Siskins in alders by the river.

Parrot Crossbills

I moved on to Grimes Graves next but a cold walk later only yielded Sparrowhawk so I cut my losses and headed for Lynford. The reported Scaup on Lynford Water turned out to be a Tufted Duck (!) but a walk down to the paddocks and around was much nicer. I eventually found 2 Hawfinches in the NW corner of the paddocks and also had a Kingfisher by the bridge, c25 Siskins, 3 Marsh Tits, Coal Tits, 2 Nuthatches, Treecreeper and Little Grebe.    

Marsh Tit



Gadwall pair

Sotterley, Suffolk, 23 November 2017

I spent a very pleasant hour wandering around Sotterley Park this morning. Despite it being a bit blustery I was able to find 2 Hawfinches without too much difficulty. They both allowed close approach as I just stood still and watched them feeding in a Hornbeam at the far end of the Dell. While there I also had Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Mistle Thrush, all nice woodland species which reminded me of my childhood days watching these.
Later on near Thwaite (near Ditchingham) 2 Sparrowhawks were sparring c5 Fieldfares flushed from the hedge and there was an even later Red Admiral.

 The Dell, Sotterley Park

North Warren area, 19 November 2017

Really not too much to write home about but a very pleasant walk around Thorpeness, Sizewell, Aldringham Walks and North Warren in the sun yesterday.
Wildlife was restricted to some late insects in the form of c6 Red Admirals and 2 Common Darters plus a fly-over Grey Wagtail at North Warren. Despite a paucity of winter thrushes there were a few Fieldfares at Leiston Abbey and then an albino Common Pheasant near Metfield on the way home.

  Lengthening shadows at Leiston Abbey