The unsound approach

General sightings, activities and, progressively less crap record shots from the creme-de-la-menthe of Norfolk birding - First With Our News Most Of The Time!

Glorious past events:

2011 June-December | January-May | 2010 January-March | April | May-June | July-August | September | October | November-December | 2009 January-February | March-August | September | October-December | 2008 January-February | February-April | May-July | Spring Review | August | September | October-November | December | 2007 November-December | October | September | August | June-July |  April-MayMarch-early AprJanuary-Febuary | 2006 October - December ¦ September | August part II | August  | July   

3rd January 2013
Cotham Tip, Notts (ACL)
A not so quick trip to the dump finally came good after two hours of searching with a juvenile Glaucous Gull, initially viewed from the Sustrans Route on the dump, I relocated it off Grange Lane. Also here an adult Caspian Gull which I saw here before xmas, a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull and something else that might have been quite interesting had I 1) no time constraints, 2) a better gull skill-set 3) better views or indeed 4) if it hadn't been a gull. The whole lot booted seconds later, might try again tmrw.
It wouldn't be xmas without a Glauc, now I can go back to a megadiversity country happy...
Gull, looking a bit like a GLWG but presumably more parsimonious explanations are available; presumably involving poor species recognition (on my part and on its parent's part). Image bottom left is not even certainly the same bird, dropping in after a flush, but it wasn't the Glauc (which I had kept tabs on) and I just saw it as it ditched: the wings were extremely uniform without contrast between the coverts and remiges.
27th November - 8th December
Peru (ACL, G. Kirwan, A. Whittaker, A. Symes)
We participated in the inaugural Birding Rally Challenge  and came a fairly-respectable close second with 490 species in 5 days - perhaps in part due to our hour of wasting time on the last day watching a mother Spectacled Bear and cubs. Highlights too many and varied, but Rufous-fronted Antthrush a corker.
16th-23rd November
Alagoas & Pernambuco, Brazil (ACL, NGM)
A trip out east for the Brazilian Ornithology Congress in the world's third most dangerous city was preceded by three days at Frei Caneca, PE, trying to see the world's most endangered avifauna. Frei Caneca was only the second rainforest fragment in the Pernambuco Centre of Endemism found to contain the four endemic birds (Alagoas Foliage-gleaner,  Alagoas Antwren, Orange-bellied Antwren and Alagoas Tyrannulet) described from the famous Murici fragment in the 1980s this news broken to the world in [Juan] Mazar-Barnett et al. (2005). Tragically, Juan died in hospital in Argentina whilst we were in the NE, a massive loss to South American Ornithology and he received many tributes during the course of the congress.
Sadly during our trip, and despite considerable effort we had no sight or sound of the foliage-gleaner, which has now not been reliably reported for over a year. From anywhere. The Alagoas Antwren is apparently extinct from Frei Caneca but we managed to find several territories of the Orange-bellied Antwren and the Tyrannulet along with some cool sub-specefic endems like soror Rufous-tailed Antbird, pernambucensis White-barred Piculet (PSC splits ahoy) plus White-collared Kite (year-tick!) and the fabulous Seven-coloured Tanager.
male Orange-bellied Antwren (Terenura sicki) (ACL)
Alagoas Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes cecilliae) (ACL)
18th November 
Happisburgh (RDM + JG)
You gotta love the lighthouse field! Richard's Pipit! 

It's in there somewhere! 

Estonia (RDM + MO)
Back again with a Northern Birch Mouse, Smews, Barnies, and some woodpeckers the highlights! 

Northern Birch Mouse - corker! 

22nd October
Happisburgh + Cart Gap (RDM + JG)
What to say about this day that hasn't already been said? Not much - 'extraordinary' will do. 8 hours of pure excitement and anticipation involving thousands of birds all lead to an Olive-backed Pipit that dropped onto the roof of the pub just after 5pm.

Rouzals in the mist

26th October
Blakeney Point (ACL, NGM)
Five days late for the fall of the decade, ho-hum. Any other day that you saw 400 grounded passerines on the Point would have been pretty exciting. Knowing that this represented two orders of magnitude fewer birds than there were, less so. Here's some semi-evocative images:
Woodcock @ the Blue Boat
LEO @ the Hood
One of 200 Robins, still lots trying to eek out a living on the saltmarsh
That didn't work out for everyone
One of two Red Deers in the seal colony, vertebrate of the day (doe + calf)
28th September 
Happisburgh (RDM, JG)
These two intermediate Long-tailed Tits were in amongst a tit flock that was bordering on Continental chaos. 

8th-10th October
Kerry (RDM)
Once more to the kingdom. Thrice in one autumn, will I ever learn? Again, a frustrating three days - too many sites, too little time, too much speed and not enough haste. New plans required for next autumn...
Anyway, I woke at 5.30am on my first morning and such was my excitement I was at my first site 45 minutes before it got light enough to get my bins out. I didn't find anything good, but I did manage to find the 20th (Ballinskelligs beach car park) and 22nd (Valentia Island) Yellow-browed Warblers for Kerry with the Kerry Birding blog boys picking up the 21st and 23rd either side of mine on the same afternoon at Dunquin. The Buff-bellied Pipit showed nicely at Smerwick (where a Buff-breasted Sand somehow melted away amongst the rocks after it had got flushed). 
Final afternoon frustration at Trabeg where a very distant stint on the only sandbank not covered by the high tide was probably a Little.....

Valentia YBW - 1st for the island! 

4th October
Foula (DB et al.)
Things have quiet enough at the edge of the world for Dan to send over some photos, start looking at Snipe and complain about the lack of cafes... Feast yours eyes on these... He has one more day to bring tears to your eyes mind.
(all DB, note we find the Iduna scary too.)
28th September
Happisburgh (RDM, JG)
JGs first day in the UK field after returning from Norway for the autumn. After RDM bigging up the lighthouse field to JG on the way there and suggesting that a Buff-b was likely to make its presence felt at some point this autumn..... 

It took JG at least 8 minutes to make an impression this autumn....More exciting photos of other stuff to follow in next few days...

26th September
East Hills (ACL, NGM)
The biggie comes after the fall? We certainly hoped so. Arrving on the Greens nominal vizmig was on, best a group of 11 Jays that coursed west. Per Rich & Trektellen there seems to be some weird movements going on on the Continent so watch this space. Out on Hills the birds were concentrated, so perhaps little new but still plenty of interest. In four hours we teased out c 30 Phylloscs (3 sp, mostly Willows) - well done Dave for picking the Greenish which was tough high in the pines; 5 Pied Flys, 15 Redstarts, 1 Ring Ouzel, 15 Song Thrush, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Garden Warblers,  4 Blackcaps, 3 Common Whitethroats, 2 Coal Tits (apparently the nominate) 1 Jay and 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker - over the sands when first found. Raptors on the move included 4 Marsh Harriers, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Common Buzzard and a Red Kite. No biggie but worth the drive...
Greenish (ACL)
Jay passage 5 of 11 (ACL)
Foula (DB, PF et al. per ACL)
Dan & French get a new OBP, Sykes still around plus 3 YBW, Dick's and Rosefinch.
25th September
Foula (DB, PF et al. per ACL)
Dan finds a new Blyth's Reed Warbler, old one still present plus Dick's Pip & 3 YBW... By my count that's a cumulative haul of 4 Blyth's Pipits (1 as yet unsubmitted eh Dan) and 3 Blyth's Reeds for the team in the last six years.
24th September
Foula (DB, PF et al. per ACL)
Dan finds a Blyth's Pipit and sees OBP, Blyth's Reed, Rosefinch and Richard's Pipit...
East Norfolk PM (ACL)
After an appointment at the UEA medical centre I took my live yellow fever for a walk on the east coast 'don't lower your immunity' said the nurse. hmmm. Point? With time ticking away and memories of yesterday's disaster in mind I scooted out east. Trimmingham Wood took a while to give up its secrets but after an hour I eeked out a Chiffchaff, a Redstart a Pied Fly and a Wheatear. The rest of the village produced two more Redstarts and a few Phylloscs. From thence I tried Bacton/Mundesley (where I was interrogated by MF) the clifftops here produced a flyover Lap, 5 Redstarts, 3 Wheatears, 1 Pied Fly, a few Phylloscs and Sylvias and a flava wagtail. Birds seemed to be turning over continuously and I flushed robins out out of the kale crops. A rare lark overhead defied my attempts to get a passable sound-recording and bounded on south. Then the heavens opened... Meanwhile on Hills...
Clifftop Willow wondering where it all went wrong (ACL)
one of many start (ACL)
23rd September
Foula (DB, PF et al. per ACL)
Dan finds a Swainson's Thrush and gets some degree of assist on a Syke's Warbler. He's off the xmas card list then.
Blakeney Point (ACL, NGM, JB)
After a quick potter around Stiffkey (highlight 1 Brambling) we bit the bullet and walked the point despite no obvious arrival of migrants and plenty of evidence of a clear-out overnight. Result: 1 Willow Warbler between Coastguards and the Plantation... despite then help of key representatives from yesterday's cohort of rarity-finders. The plantation managed to hold on to 1 YBW and one each of Spotfly, Pied Fly, Blackcap, Robin and 3 Goldcrests. We walked back into a stiff easterly and driving rain, where shapes in the dark suggested that the beginnings of a fall were afoot...
22nd September
East Hills (ACL, NGM)
A late pm raid on the hills on the way back from Lincs following news of a big JM et al. haul on the Point. Working our way up the long round we were shocked to find 5 Common Buzzards sitting on the sand flats and three more overhead, as we worked our way over they dispersed with some moving to roost in the pines. Two were super pale morph juvs (commoner on the Continent) and the circumstances did suggest that they may have come in-off but obviously no way to firm that assertion up. Into the pines and the first belt & environs held 3 Pied Flycatchers, Song Thrush, 7 Redwing, 2 Whinchat and a Willow Warbler, all crowded into the NE corner, with just a further two Pied Flys and a Blackcap along the rest of the arc, suggesting a recent arrival. Despite thrashing around for two hours we couldn't find any scarce. Short-changed...
Whinchat (ACL)
pale CB looking rare (ACL)
20/21 September 
Estonia (RDM)
With the help of the relevant comedy birding pamphlet out of the Gosney stable I stumbled upon Puise on the north-west side of Matsalu Bay on the west side of the country. The (n)ever helpful DG mentions that the site is good for seeing a heap of wildfowl, both species of Whitethroat (!) and Red-backed Shrike (this is NE Europe - who gives a f***?). He ends the Puise section by suggesting, almost as an afterthought, that "the bushes are worth checking for migrants too". Well, thanks for that, I might drop in...... Bloody glad I did! After stumbling around the bay (a bit like the Broads, but good), I turned myself up at Puise at 10.30am. Four Scandis were already present on the low observation platform looking as professional as you can when your bins are on sticks. I asked what they had seen. Did they actually say 30 little Dendrocopos? Probably not. 20 minutes later I realised that yes, yes they had. In 2 hours I notched 98 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers fly west out into the Baltic Sea - this was f*cking unbelievable. I had spent one of the previous hours staking out a single at Vonnu and getting super excited when I eventually saw it. I had probably ever only seen a dozen before in my whole life. Now 98 had just flown by me in the time it takes to watch the X-Factor special edition. Add in Golden Oriole, White-backed and Black Woodpeckers, zillion finches and tits, 1,000 Jays and make no mistake, this was pretty mind-boggling. For me, at least. An evening of 20,000 Common Cranes in one field (again, a bit like the Broads...) followed before another blast at Puise at (just after) dawn the next day. This time I had 3 hours up until 10.30am and after 90 minutes on the platform I decided to get amongst the bushes. Despite this, I still notched up 41 Lesser 'peckers by the end (more than the Scands had seen by the same time yesterday, so maybe another big count was on the cards?). The 90 minutes in the bushes were some of the most exciting, melon-twisting, and frustrating I've ever had. The birds went through at a serious rate, never sitting still for more than a split second. Huge numbers of tits (Great, Blue and Coal), Sylvias, and thrushes were the commonest bush dwellers, with RB Flicker the better prize. Overhead, Hawfinches, Woodlarks, Tree Pipits and tremendous numbers of finches pounded westwards trying to avoid a pounding from the local Hobbies, Peregrines and Sprawks. 

Because of sheer numbers, at times there was Dendrocopos 'air-jam' and some individuals were forced to perch up on random metal sticks, phone wires etc

22nd September
Foula (DB, PF et al. per ACL)
Grippng text: Marsh Warbler:1, Bluethroat:1, Wryneck: 1, Barred Warbler: 1, Common Rosefinch: 1, Yellow-browed Warbler: 24, Lapland Bunting: 10, Pied Flycatcher: 1, Whinchat: 1, Lesser Whitethroat: 3.
20th September
Dovey Estuary (ACL)
One of the obvious perks of a six month sabatical back in the UK should have been the chance to treat my ailing self-found list, spring pretty much passed me by, two trips to the coast and a token vespertinus. But then spring is only a mistress to the serious field birder. Autumn is obviously where it's at. However, another trip to Brazil and a suite of other more pressing matters have kept me away from the bins. That was until an offer of a bird survey on a Welsh moor cropped up. From the tops I could see the Irish Sea and after 36 hours of counting raptors, I ogled the map and picked a random spot and romped down to the coast to take advantage of a receding tide at somewhere called 'Ynyslas'. Success was basically immediate as I found a distant dark peep but the flock was on the other side of a tributary, strong super (not split), no tram lines, grey = Semip right... [?] I was poorly equipped with no DSLR, no lit, no company and only one bar on my shitty digicam. I decided to 'go round' and started running back to the car whereupon a flock of Dunlin called next to me and a stint dropped in - an obvious Little*. WTF? A quick scan revealed the other bird still present so no freaking out required. After spending 15 minutes getting lost amidst the creeks I refound it and rung Stu to try and drum up some mental support. Without a kind voice telling you that it's obvious, that 'call' can be rather stressful. Embroiled with his own stint issues he said I needed to get some palmations and arrowheads on. I agreed and got my feet wet to get some decent photos before a call out to Newsbeard. Whilst I was doing that a Spotshank/generic_rare_wader called and a Curlew Sand showed up. Then I drove five hours home semi-elated. First for the county. No-one showed up.
*only seen one other Little in the last 3 years...!
quite a beaky one (ACL)

Semi-p video here
13th-16th September
Kingdom Of Kerry (DB, RMo, MO)
A few pics from Martin, Rich and Dan's escapades in Ireland over the last few days, hopefully some text to follow...
all DB
16th-18th August
Ireland (RA, DB, JB, JG, ACL, RMa, RMo, SP, DS)
Stag trip report here.