Thursday, September 15, 2022

Building The List in North Norfolk.

Arrived 9am ish at Cley Coastguards. A light Northerly wind. We spent a couple of hours scanning and saw Arctic Skua, Gannets (year tick!), Wigeon, Sandwich Tern, Arctic Tern, Common Scoter. And a distant bird, large gull sized, brown above, white below, heavy persistent flight. Hard to avoid the conclusion this was an Osprey. Hard to admit there wasn't enough to put it down definitively in my notebook. I have a hard and fast rule that I only have records in my book I can positively ID. No exceptions. 

A walk along the shingle to East bank. Mike found a couple of Wheatears and a Whinchat, then at East Bank a Pintail, 100+ Curlew, 120+ Golden Plover in a distant flock, and a couple of Yellow Wagtails. Back along the beach and this time 3 Arctic Skuas reasonably close in. A lovely gingery juvenile, all subtle barring, and two dark phase birds. So often a distant silhouette, a real treat to get a proper view of these birds.

Back to the car and check Birdguides. A ringtail Hen Harrier at Holkham (how soon before that becomes a Pallid? I quip to Mike) and a Greenish Warbler at Weybourne Camp. We head east and I make my one and likely only visit to Weybourne. The Muckleburgh Military Collection has fenced off a large area of prime habitat (and mined it too according to signs!).  We add a couple of cracking Mediterranean Gulls (adult and 1st winter) and a Stonechat, but this is unbirdable. Make mental note to never chase a rarity reported here. 

Lunch then back west. We stop at North Point Pools, add 30 Ruff, a Greenshank and an overhead Hobby. Birdguides duly reports a Pallid Harrier gone west through Holkham.

We stop off at Wells Woods. It has been a relatively quiet day, bright sunshine not conducive to dropping migrants in, and we walk through a birdless Dell until we hit The Flock and have a pleasant hour getting 10+ Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, and a supporting cast of Treecreeper, Coal tit, Goldcrest, Long-Tailed tit.

Birdguides shows the Pallid Harrier has come back east of Lady Anne Drive! We scan from the Dell. Nothing. We stop off on the way. Buzzard, Marsh Harriers. Stoat. We are blocking a drive so move on to Lady Anne Drive drive itself and join a largeish crowd and wait for an hour and then there it is, quartering the reeds and banks, A vivid orange breasts and head, white rump, and classic harrier shape, then down into a field. Another half hour and it is up heading west at pace, just brief views as it rises over the bank. We head off to the lookout, get a nice Green Sandpiper and two close up Grey Partridges, but hear that as we were driving up it had flown high and west.

Clearly in the brief time I saw it I didn't get chance to tick off the key features. I guess it looked too small for a Hen and too big for a Monty's, but seriously who am I kidding? So what about that rule about hard and fast ID's? No Exceptions? Well, every rule has its exceptions. 

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Zen and the Art of Dipping.

A trip to Canvey for sea birds on the Easterlies was rudely interrupted by Birdguides, and Mike and I instead found ourselves at Cliffe, joining a surprisingly small crowd looking for Lesser Sand Plover. In summary, it had been present for a short while and had gone, but there was some optimism it would return.

We saw some decent birds. The annual autumn arrival of juveniles Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint is one of the highlights of the birding calendar, and we saw plenty of those, plus a Pectoral Sandpiper, a Hobby, and some Pintail

We cut our losses and went for Canvey. We were way too late for the long-tailed skua, but had Common Scoter, distant Black Tern, and an Osprey that seemed to set off from the Kent coast and fly low towards Southend. Even at that distance, on 60x, I could make out the dark back, some white underneath, and that protruding head poking low from the body.

Then back to the car, and a quick check of Birdguides.

What do you want to see at that point? Do you want to see the Lesser Sand Plover has returned? Or it has not been seen again?

I think I've reached some kind of zen on the subject of missing rarities. I cannot be everywhere all the time. I make choices about where I'm going to be and when, and those choices mean I will miss some, or many rare birds. Ultimately I think most birders reach this point because it is pretty much impossible to do this activity on any reasonably regular way without consistently missing rare birds, so to preserve one's sanity and remain a reasonable person around the family, you have to reach a peace with that.

I'm sorry the Plover didn't return. Sorry that the birders we left on the mound didn't get the opportunity to see the bird and get it on their lists.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...