Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dipping, but not on a Dipper

Dipper, Dovedale, Staffs, 26.06.05 | © Will Bowell

Not being able to face another boringg' Sunday in Norfolk, the wandering birders went inland today; towards the mighty Derbyshire/Staffordshire Dales and the year ticks it had to offer.

Our first stop of the day was the impressive valley of Dovedale. The main target here was Dipper, which going on past experience we thought would be plentiful. Unfortunately though we only saw about two pairs and non of them were easy to get photos of.

The first bird we saw though, was by far the easiest with it sitting nicely on a fallen tree over a waterfall. Unfortunately though the light was either top poor or too strong; even when underexposing to the max the light was bleaching out the white, presumably the light being reflected off the stream was the main reason for this.

Dipper, Dovedale, Staffs, 26.06.05 | © Josh Jones

Once this beaut had flown we headed along the river with numerous encounters with Grey Wagtails and Redstarts, all difficult or in the case of Redstart, impossible to get shots of. It was just that kind of a day.

Grey Wagtail, Dovedale, Staffs, 26.06.05 | © Will Bowell

We were both quite amazed at the numbers of breeding Grey Wagtails on the small stretch of river we walked, though it's quite obvious as to why they are spreading to places like around us, away from traditional breeding haunts.

Grey Wagtail, Dovedale, Staffs, 26.06.05 | © Will Bowell

Another highlight of the walk were four female type Goosanders which tended to sit in the shade (told you it was that kind of a day!), but we did manage to get something on these beasts (or beauties).

Goosander, Dovedale, Staffs, 26.06.05 | © Will Bowell

Goosander, Dovedale, Staffs, 26.06.05 | © Josh Jones

We spent all morning in the valley and it was most enjoyable, if a little frustrating, but our next and final task of the day was even more frustrating- Red Grouse year ticking!

Swallow Moss used to be a top spot for Black Grouse, but sadly they have died out, but back in 2001 Will had a Red Grouse there, so presumably they are still there and the habitat is certainly vast enough. Unfortunately though despite extensive searching, there was just no sign of any Grouse, infact the only bird of note was a couple of Curlew.

More frustration was to come once we got home when we found out that a Purple Heron had been reported in the morning at Tittesworth Reservoir- the Reservoir we could see from the moors near Swallow Moss! Bugger! It was definitely one fo those days.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dig that crazy bill!

From this afternoon:
Curlew sp, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk, 17/10/04. The controversial bird from autumn 2004 has been confirmed as a Eurasian Curlew by DNA analysis.
Nuff said....!

Actually, although the wandering birders had felt all along that it was indeed a Eurasian Curlew it would have been nice if it hadn't have been, not just for the tick but for day we saw it on. Not only did we have a Yellow-browed Warbler and more Beardies than you shake a stick at on the long walk to the Curlew, but after seeing the bird and deciding it was rather uninteresting, we went and payed our respects to the Baird's Sand on the reserve.

We then moved our way along the broads dipping on Glossy Ibis and finishing the day after a quick pint in a nice pub on the north Norfolk coast, at Titchwell RSPB. It was a great way to finish the day with Roseate, Arctic, Common and Sandwich Tern all on the beach and Common Crane roosting on the Brackish Marsh! All rather brilliant..... and all because of some runt Eurasian Curlew!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

One good tern.....

As part of work experience with English Nature, Josh has had to study the Common Terns at Grummit's Scrape, on Nicholas Watts' land. So this evening both wandering birder went down to the hide with Will's camera and went for the flight shots with JJ getting the most pleasing shot of one with a fish.

Common Tern, Grummit's Scrape, Lincs, 24.06.05 | © Josh Jones

Will on the other hand only spent about a minute with the camera (the whole point of going was for JJ to take some pix for a project) and didn't get a great deal.

Common Tern, Grummit's Scrape, Lincs, 24.06.05 | © Will Bowell

Not much else was noted, the Oystercatcher young continue to grow and a male Sparrowhawk flew through.

More photos can be found here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

So cute....

Recently, a pair of Oystercatchers hatched two young at Baston & Langtoft Pits (Josh's local patch), and are doing well. The usual Oyc pair are proving themselves to be good parents, and as this photos shows, they are doing well.

Oystercatchers, 21.6.05, © Josh Jones

Hopefully both will fledge - I will keep you posted!


Saturday, June 18, 2005

What you lookin' at?!?!

With an afternoon to spare and no where to go, and Josh in Norfolk, I wasn't overly sure where to go today, but the Long-eared Owl spot I visited last Thursday seemed worth a shot for insects more than anything. I wasn't really expecting any more views of the Owls and was some what surprised to find three chicks calling in the heat of the day.

At first they seemed distant and I was pretty sure that they wouldn't be on show so continued to watch the local Red eyed Damselfly and Four-spotted Chaser happenings on one of the drains. Eventually we wandered half heartedly up to where the squeaking had taken place, they started up again and to our surprise we clocked a couple of orange eyes staring back at us a mere three and half metres away.

Long-eared Owl, Peterborough, 18.06.05 | © Will Bowell

After moving back a bit and enjoying the sight of a LEO out in the open I decided to take a few shots, having to move back to allow my 500mm lens to do the action. In hindsight, I should have gone straight for the small lens 'cos it was that close I only got the head in my 500mm! I blasted a couple of hand held shots before putting it on the tripod, by which time the Owl decided to flap a couple of beats and head for cover!

This is the more mature of the three and I am impressed to see how much it has moulted into more adult like plumage in the past two days! To see what it looked like two days ago click here. Still, it ain't no looker yet; as Josh put it, "the adults are sexy, the chicks are cute but these are in the spotty teenage stage". It even has the rebellious punk hair with a few quills poking through in the making of 'ears'.

We didn't see much else other than a few Scarce Chasers and a single Marsh Harrier but still a great afternoon of local action.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Here's looking at you kid!

After a rather busy day in Peterborough and Deeping, a brief but productive walk round a local site was just what the doctor ordered!

The highlight was the target Long-eared Owls, of which I was rather hoping for some hunting shots of the adults if I was lucky, but instead I had to make do with the usual "in bush" shot, only this time with the squeaky gate chicks.

Long-eared Owl, Peterborough, 16.06.05 | © Will Bowell

At first there appeared to be just the onesqueakyy gate, but moving round a bit soon revealed a second, younger bird.

Long-eared Owl, Peterborough, 16.06.05 | © Will Bowell


Back looking for the adults, all we could muster was a single Barn Owl and Little Owl. This smart White Ermine was nearly a gonna, but thankfully I spotted it and got the shot.

White Emine, Peterborough, 16.06.05 | © Will Bowell


Monday, June 13, 2005

Pyramidal Orchid and website updates.

Pyramindal Orchid, Deeping Lakes LWT, Lincs, 12.6.05 | © Will Bowell
Hopefully we will get more pix once it actually comes out into flower....

Birds Gallery
On our website,, we have just uploaded a brand spanking new Birds Gallery featuring 93 species. It includes photos taken from all over the UK- from the Outer Hebrides to the Cornish Valleys, including a number of rarities. Please take a peak, and if you enjoy it then please feel free to leave a comment in our guestbook.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Southern Spain Trip Report

You can now read a trip report by myself, about a long weekend's birding in Southern Spain in late May. It includes photos of birds, insects and landscapes.

Friday 20th May 2005 > GO
Saturday 21st May 2005 > GO
Sunday 22nd May 2005 > GO
Monday 23rd May 2005 > GO


Monday, June 06, 2005

Relaxed Norfolk, 5/6

A slightly slower pace to our Norfolk travels today, after last weeks wanderings from the Jones' Norfolk pad, we took a day trip with Will's Dad today in the hope of nailing Bittern to the year list.

We started off at Titchwell RSPB which seems the better choice these days with connecting with Bittern, we spent most of the morning sitting around waiting for one to show, with a few pieces of entertainment along the way. From the Fen Hide we enjoyed excellent views of a couple of Beadies sat on the tops of the reed, preening and a few Marsh Harriers were knocking about as well.

Eventually we moved out onto the main track which seems the best spot for viewing Bittern as you have a greater field of view. Along the boardwalk a few Southern Marsh Orchids were out along with Ragged-Robin.

Southern Marsh Orchid, Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk, 5.6.05 |
© Will Bowell

Ragged-robin, Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk, 5.6.05 |
© Will Bowell

From the main track Josh located a couple of adult Med Gulls (on call!) as they flew over- nice one! The most bizarre sight was a pair of Corn Bunts coming down for a drink in the middle of the reedbed- both the wandering birders have never seen this before and presumably these are birds from nearby Choosley Barns. A Marsh Harrier alerted us to a brown bird in the reedbed, which was clearly a Bittern. Eventually, tired of the hassle from the male Harrier and a few Black-headed Gulls the Bittern lifted out the reedbed revealing blue lores proving it to be a male.

The bird flew ever closer to us, and plopped down into the reeds out of sight- crackin' views of an ace bird!

We then moved onto to Salthouse where the weather was pretty changeable, going from sunny to peeing with rain in seconds. The wandering birders spent most of the time blasting a Meadow Pipit and a confiding flock of Dunlin.

Meadow Pipit, Salthouse Marsh, Norfolk, 5.6.05 | © Josh Jones

Dunlin, Salthouse Marsh, Norfolk, 5.6.05 | © Josh Jones

Dunlin, Salthouse Marsh, Norfolk, 5.6.05 | © Will Bowell

Stay tuned for more pix in our newly designed Bird Gallery due to be released later this week!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Norfolk, 30/5 - 2/6

A good few days in Norfolk were spent this week, with the wandering birders generally based around Cley (after its recent run of scarcities and rarities). To sum the few days up, the word "quality" would have to be used, rather than "quantity".

We drove down late in the evening of the 30th, stopping for Nightjar, which was a year tick for Josh. Bill Oddie-style hankie waving and clapping really did the business for excellent views. Dudey!

The next morning we began at Titchwell, which was generally dead apart from good numbers of Swifts, 11 Little Gulls and a drake Garganey in quite poor plumage. A thrashing of our 'little spot at Thornham' produced little of interest.

Little Egret, Norfolk, Thornham, 31.5.05 © Will Bowell

Spending the afternoon at Cley produced some good birds, but no year ticks were to be had. Birds included the Collared Prat, Temminck's Stint, and a smart Spoonbill flying by. However, in six hours, there was no sign of the Purple Heron.

Cley at sunset © Will Bowell

Another lie-in on June 1st turned out to probably have been a good idea. On our way to Cley (we were going to walk Blakeney Point), we had a phone call while we were in Stiffkey to say a White Stork was circling over the reserve. Josh's Mum put her foot down and we were away. Thankfully, the idea to pull up onto the hill at Morston proved to be a good one, and we got superb views of the White Stork as it flew low west just to the south of the village. A good start to the day!

Blakeney Point was rather quiet, with just a Wheatear and a few Arctic Terns noted. We walked back in the pouring rain hardly looking beyond our feet. If only we had looked further...

Back in the car on the way to Wells, we had a phone call to say a Short-toed Lark was on the Point, around a mile west of the Coastguards. Bugger! It must have come down in the rain...
We grabbed a quick bite to eat and raced back to Coastguards and set off along the point. Around the wrecked boat at the Marrams, Will flushed a pale bird which he immediately recognised as the Short-toed Lark. We then obtained good flight views as it flew around the sueda bushes, and it called twice. Josh then located it feeding with a Skylark on the deck, and we obtained superb views. It was just a shame it was raining and the light was shocking!

Short-toed Lark, Norfolk, Blakeney Point © Josh Jones

So 2 year ticks, including a lifer - you can't grumble at that... and the coasthopper journey back to Thornham comes highly recommended!

On 2/6 we did very little aside pootling around Titchwell. All the usuals were noted.

Blackbird, Norfolk, Titchwell © Josh Jones

All in all, another excellent few days. Surely this run will come to an end soon....?!

Another new gallery added and subscribing

For those of you who haven't been on our main website, why not check it out now? We have recently added a Landscapes gallery which has interesting Landscape shots from around Europe at the moment- we should be adding more as the weeks go by.

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