The unsound approach

25th July
Blakeney Harbour (AL, JG, R. Addison, D. Smith)

A rare (very rare) Norwich union for the team of '98. Primary trip objectives were drinking and, er, actually that was the sum of the objectives. Anyway, we had a couple of hours on the coast where Blakeney Harbour produced 9 Spoonbills, 5 Curlew Sandpipers and buckets of common waders, inc at least 35 Greenshank. 

21st July
North Atlantic (C. Batty, S. Bisgood, D. Breen, D. Brown, A. Lees, A & T. Lowe, A. McGeehan)

The much anticipated deep-water trip from Galway left Derryinver with a skeleton crew on a wet and windy July morning. Claims of financial irregularities and fears over the small craft warning (plus other assorted excuses) meant that nearly half the punters dropped out, putting paid to two trips. Cheers lads. Still the hardcore managed to at least get 45 miles from port (via Inishboffin) and into some big Atlantic swells but finished shy of the shelf edge. The Brazen Hussy was a superb boat skilfully piloted, but progress was difficult in seas that the Andrea Gail would sympathise with*. In the end it was pretty quiet, but a good dry run** for the next attempt at game changing. Some advanced chumming pulled Stormies virtually onto the boat.  Comedy was provided by a head-on collision with a rogue wave which unleashed several tonnes of seawater onto AL and AM, reminiscent of a ‘Funhouse-style gunging’ (sensu Batty Night and Day: tales from the bar). Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and faber est suae quisque fortunae. Next time.

*artistic licence

**Well, I say dry run, actually this is an artists’ impression of what the scene  looked like. Only the rock-hard Skipper, his actual salty sea Labrador and the indomitable McGeehan didn’t suffer from mal de mer at some point.

seabirds at sea... (CB)

19th July 
Attenborough (RoMa)
Brief visit back to the old stomping ground reveals that it's now the most popular site in the midlands, and might actually justify that position. Admittedly most people come for the coffee, but the new high rise Keith Corbett hide is a major draw: 9 Black-tailed Godwit (24 had been there earlier), a Greenshank, Redshank and Oystercatcher present, along with Red-crested Pochard and 2 Little Egret feeding in the new shallows. Despite the swarming hordes I managed to pull out the best bird for myself, a moulting adult Black Tern over Main Pond. Slightly gutted it wasn't the White-wing I'd been telling my Dad would be there at any time though.

Cambs (AL)
Some more late Cambs news.... 2009/Quail Cambs.mp3 
left: audacity of huge right: boom boom boom (RSPB's new campaign single...) neither where they are supposed to be
29th June - 3rd July
The Netherlands (DB, JL)
Dan is just back from over the way, its amazing what a difference a sliver of sea and some relaxed policing makes, remember, don't pass the Dutch.... full account here. 
26th June
East Norfolk (AL)
A last FK push; was at Rush Hills for dawn, where 3 Knot were the undoubted highlight (if Knot can ever be a highlight), then proceeded to trudge for miles along the east coast around Waxham/Horsey hoping for River Warbler. Saw lots of Whitethroats and received a near-fatal pollen dose. After all the exertions the next stop in the Yare yielded a singing Marsh Warbler within ear shot of the car. It was singing 0900-0910, then re-appeared after having a bath (when I got this video) and then sporadically to midday. A revisit in the evening didn't yield any more views but it did sing a bit around 2015. Liased with the team you know and the county rec who favoured keeping inland birds on the downlow, worth checking your local marshes for Marshes though, they must be underrecorded. No sign subsequently, one hopes it got loved up after a night of big warbling. 2009/Norfolk Marsh Warbler.mp3  
The first recording 0.00 -1.08 was made at about 0900, the second in the evening around 2020, note I swung the mic around to get a brief snippet of a Gropper that reeled for a few seconds behind me (1.10). The bird spent most of the time singing from an elevated perch (circa 2m) in willows, which is more of a Blyth's Reed thing, but the surrounding habitat matrix: ecotone of willow scrub with non-Phrag marshland (with willowherb, meadowsweet etc) is typical Marsh.  
Tech-buff information: recordings made with a Sennheieser ME67, plus Sony HiMD, sounds edited in Audacity, converted to MP3 with BladeEnc.
Compare with this one from Foula the year before.... 08/marsh warbler, ham valley.mp3
Wales (DB)
4 Hawfinches cruise over the A55 just outside Bangor - big local skor!

25th June
Wales (DB)
A 1st summer Glauc sits on full display for a drive-by just north of Menai Bridge (its been well over a month since this beauty was last on the cards), closely followed by a fine female Peregrine, a Green Woodpecker (both ok records) and topped off by a Red Kite over Talwrn, Anglesey - yet another decent record. You can't beat birding from the car!
24th June
Leigh, Manchester (DB)
At least 2 pairs of Willow Tit brightened up a dull railway line.
East Anglia (AL)
Starting to get serious saudades of late for proper recording opportunities so have been taking the Sennheiser out for walks with some pleasant results, so here's a mix of noises... 2009/EA recordings.mp3
18th June
Cambs (AL)
Its all been going a bit Schedule 1 of late so no bird news for now, but here's a flower/bug combo to get the over 45s in the mood. Remember its bikini season...
7th June
Cley (AL, RMa)
Tough call on comfort versus potential, get drenched on the Point for Bushchat/nothing or sit in the hides in relative comfort and wait for Oriental Pratincole/nothing. In the end we opted for the latter where, amusement was maintained by a brace of minuta stints and a 'pair' of subadult Spoonbills. The latter were behaviour-tastic; loads of reciprocal and simutaneous allopreening. Hot gen from the point was 1 Willow and 1 Lesserthroat....
witness the fitness increase (AL)
5th June
Thornham/Titchwell (AL)
Some pre/post work twitching, arrived at 'the field' at 9am to find the prat shimmering in the heat haze, it looked, well, like a pratincole, albeit a dark and leggy one. It sat down, folk came and went, 10 minutes, in and out with a fuzzy brown shape suffice for the box next to the name of this legendary denzien of the steppes 'can't wait any longer we need to see the Monties and the Honeyz'. Nice one. Two hours came and went, then it upped sticks, circled, called (which was nice) and flew over to Titchwell. I followed, arriving to find it on the scrape with a beaming Lowe/Langdon combo (who appeared to be the happiest people in the history of Norfolk). Another two hours came and went, albeit less tediously in the company of the MG. Then after about six hours of watching it, it did something good: it flew round, and round, and round, virtually into Parrinder Hide, to a stunned silence punctuated only by dudes getting stuck on 3j yarelli. Truly the greatest pratincole show on earth and by far the best thing I've seen in over a year. It was phenomenal, the prat-set for NW Norfolk for me and the 1st prat I've seen in the UK since the nearly-as-mega April 2000 hyper-active Collared on Scillies. Nobody should ever tick a pratincole until they see it fly, less still see this thing as a blob in a field, in less than a second it transforms itself from something vaguely resembling a turd to a true cosmic mega.
all (AL)
4th June
Buckenham Marshes (RDM)
A cracking Little Stint was the highlight. Stacks of Black-tailed Godwits also.
2nd June.
Wales (DB)
A single female Dotterel seen flying south west over a mountain range in North Wales (exact location withheld in case they are breeding). 
31st May
Pont Croeso Osprey Watchpoint (DB et al.) 
A single Wood Sand seen bombing down stream past the hide during a 'retro' style bird race. Other highlights of the day including bubbling Black Grouse, Nightjar, Water Rail, Chough, Osprey etc etc 


23rd May - 30th May

Unst (RA, JG, RMa, AL)

More on this misadventure in due course, no highlights, but we found a Frankin's Gull, 3 Icterine Warblers and, well that was about it. Remember folks, always go on holiday for two weeks.......


25th May

Gun Hill (RDM)

A brief and brown Common Rosefinch provided the highlight, also Spot Fly, Yellow Wag, singing Reed Warbler.


What a beauty!


Unst (the others)

JG bags his Franklin's Gull pics.


24th May

Unst (the others)

JG hits big with an adult Franklin's Gull but couldn't wipe the sick away from his mouth fast enough to pick up his camera.


21st May

Broads Diary (RDM)

Lounging on my backside mid-morning, waiting for a lizard to return, produced startling results as I followed a gallavanting crow, hell-bent on mischief, as it flew towards a brace of Honey Buzzards, one light, one middling. They towered upwards then drifted north towards West Caister. A Common Buzzard and what was presumably a Kestrel were in orbit in the afternoon. In addition, a 1st summer female Pallid/Monties, probably the latter, hunted it's way west along the riverbank, hopefully it will be about on the morrow and I can obtain some better views and some pics.


21st May (JB, AS, SMi)

Girton, Cambridge

Morning cake was interupted by Red Kite over the BirdLife International head office in Girton, Cambridge at 11 am. Ade Long delivered the goods so no points for the pb showing.


17th May (RMa & JG)

Blakeney Point

All round poor showing. At beach car park by half six with Cley already well populated with birders having a great time seeing the various pieces of pre-arranged entertainment on the marshes. However the point was deserted leaving it wide open for easy collection of the surely guaranteed spring beauties. Biting easterlies with squally rain maintained hope but sapped energy. With a couple of hours sleep between us in the previous few days we were zombies by Halfway. A male Redstart at the plantation, a Cuckoo, Whitethroat, a couple of Chiffs, that mad Lt Duck and (eventually) a couple of Wheatear was the haul, but surely there had to be a bluethroat somewhere.

15th May

Kilvington, Notts (AL)

30 second scan of the main lake on my way to my parent's home/airport produced 2 Black Terns, a Little Egret and a Sanderling. 


The Hills (JG)

Early start, hopes were high but things seemed very quiet in the heavy rain. I was almost on the verge of sacking it early on, but an extra-loud pishing effort eventually came good with a fine pair of Pied Flies. I kept going and once the rain relented it was pretty busy - two Redstarts, two Spotfly and another Pied, two Gardens, three Whitethroat and about a dozen phylloscs. It was strangely quiet in the open areas, just a single Wheatear and no Whinchat or anything else interesting. Busy overhead though, with a constant stream of hirundines, a handfull of flavas, a single Tree Pipit, several Redpoll sp. plus the usual raptors/owls. Also stacks of wader movement, including singles of Little Stint and Curlew Sand. Frustrating moment #1 came in the form of a very brief burst of hi-tempo Europop warbling coming from some of the heaviest cover. Seemed to be loads of squeaky repetition delivered super fast, very Ickyish. Sadly it promptly shut up and after a couple of hours fruitless searching I had to give it up. Frustrating moment #2 was perhaps worse, hearing an odd-sounding heron coming high in-off whilst I was deep under the trees. I crashed my way out into the open, but wasn't sure which way it was going, lost my cool and never saw the bird. Probably just a Grey with a cough but it did sound a little bit "kwak"... Final frustrating moment came when I fired up birdguides this evening, discovering I'd been a stone's throw from a Black Kite and a Collared Prat. Crap.


14th May

Whitlingham New (JG)

No terns and nothing much grounded, but some proper fly-thru excitement: three Whimbrels and a flock of eight tundra Ringos. Shame none of them fancied the new habo'. (Although newbie Jono L had a single Whimbrel grounded there in the eve, so perhaps one of them changed its mind).

Whit blocker?


North Norfolk (AL, SMi)

Deja vu all the way to the Hood, Mitchell, having left with the highest hopes was considering giving up birding by Half Way. A Chiffchaff at the Hood was new as was a Common Whitethroat and by the time we made Yankee Ridge things were looking up with Lesserthroat, Whinchat, Common Whitethroat and an unseasonal Robin. Other bits and bobs included the mad Long-tailed Duck and a Black Tern through the harbour, hundreds of Arctics were still on the move too. Arriving at the Plantation, birds seemed to be filtering in as we sat there, after an hour there was a Whinchat, a Spotfly, 2 Willows, a Reed and a Garden. Micro-fall! More thrashing around didn't deliver the scarce though, although SMi had a probable Common Nightingale that couldn't be refound, so we limped back to Cley where SMi used Jedi mind tricks on AL to get him to go on the reserve. We managed to see the KP, 2 Tems and the Citwag, overflown by Black Terns from Daukes, where we were treated to a sage reminder of the state of British birding.

BP Grounded migrants: 4 Wheatears, 2 Whinchats, 1 Robin, 1 Reed Warbler, 4 Common Whitethroats, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warblers, 6 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Spotted Flycatcher.


13th May

North Norfolk (AL)

Another pre dawn start and from thence down the point, initial omens were good, a Chiffchaff, practically in the carpark formerly known as Coastguards. Didn't see another proper migrant till a Willow Warbler at the Hood, although a Wood Sandpiper went high west. A Whitethroat on Long Hills raised expectations (!) and then whilst waist deep in suaeda a flock of seven Black Terns briefly encircled me as they headed off east (to form the nucleus of the Cley mega-flock). A further thrash round produced another Whitethroat, a White Wagtail and a Cuckoo but on my own and in the big easterlies it was really tough to keep tabs on migrants. Limping back to Cley, I scoped up the scrapes from the vis centre, 39 Black Terns were hawking over a scrape full of waders, magic. Blasted over to Stiffkey where 32 Black Terns were whizzing round and then tried a couple of places up coast but returned empty-handed. Still there's always the morrow... cheers to Golden Holden for gen updates....


Fen Drayton (JB, AS, SiMi et al.)

A quick bolt up the road at lunch yielded a handful of the Black Terns that were reported this morning and several Arctics but no score. With Birdguides inflicting more pain than a Chelsea smile at the moment tomorrow had better see some improvements. Still, it was nice...


Cart Gap - Happisburgh (JG)

Tempted by the winds into an early start for a pre-work coastal bash. After two hours the grounded-migrant haul stood at one wheatear, with a vizmig haul of one common swift. Eventually I managed to eek out some value in the form of three cracking Dotterel - two lady-drakes and a dullard - in a distant sugarbeet field. They looked super-skittish so I had to sprint to the car and then hoon down the lane to get near enough for a record shot. Fortunately they posed long enough to fire off a couple before a dog-walker appeared and sent them over the horizon. 


A pleasing mini-trip (is that called a buzz?), shame they were miles away, and then they flew away.


12th May

Burnham Norton (RoMa)

Post bbs birding; 1 Wood Sand was much more obliging than James' sounded, either that or he couldn't work out which dslr to turn on... Called in at Stiffkey Fen in case I could add to the tally of Temms, but still just the one there for now, with one 1st yr Little Gull. Clearly should have gone for the point this afternoon.

Whitlingham (JG)

Limited colour, but a Wood Sand was on the new works early am. Unfortunately it towered off east before I could get the camera fired up. Also little egret, greenshank, mandarin and a stunning drake Garganey X Shover hybrid down there in the last few days.


11th May

Cambs (ACL)

Called in at the Whittlesey Dotterel pre BBS (0515) to remind me of my failure, tried to hate them, but well, who could hate Dotterel. Tried to rescue the day by driving around and trying for.... Dotterel. Gave up after three hours and did the Nene Washes. March Farmers yielded a Whimbrel, a Black-bellied Plover and some distant Calidrids in the first instance but on the way back to the car I picked up a spanking male Montagu's Harrier heading north, it disappeared behind a wind break so I legged it down the bank only for it to skip over the trees and cross over onto the Washes, leaving me at the bottom of the bank... Ran back up and tried to photo-document, but fly-through harrier in a 25mph wind hand-held in an exposed position is the upper-limit of digi-scoping possibilities (good job it wasn't a Pallid). In failing I tripped and then fell down the bank; apologies to the bovids which were subjected to a tirade of bad language even more colourful than Rich's 'eaters, the like of which has probably never been heard in rural Cambridegshire. Whilst walking back to the car a Cattle Egret flew over heading SE, presumably one of the Doublet Dog birds. Rats. A Garganey at KfB (sev at the Nene) ended the day's unpaid birding, but at least 10 Whimbrel flew over my VP that evening.



Its over now, trippin on you........(AL)


Broads Diary (RDM)

Forget red-letter days, this was even more colourful.....




These beauties were along the River Bure on the north-west side of Yarmouth...It was beyond exciting. James summed it up perfectly via the text...

"Christ on a cake" followed 5 minutes later by "I'm jealous to the power of gutted". They were again present at 3.30pm (along with an adult female Montagu's Harrier which passed through to the north) when I went to pick up my colleague, although they seemed to bugger off once again. If you want to give them a go they are maybe viewable from the other side of the river, the west/south side is closed off due to construction works.   


10th May

Muckleburgh Hill and environs (AL, RMa, JG, SMi)

With harriers, red-feet, orioles and drongos viz-migging along the North Coast the day before, we were expecting big things from our long-planned assault on the peak of Muckleburgh Hill. A 0315 start (average for AL & RMa) ensured a pre-dawn arrival. The Great Grey Shrike appeared on the camp with the first tentacles of dawn and we rattled through the usual dross. Flyover passerines were in short-supply, although included Tree Pipit (2), Grey Wagtail, Redpoll sp, and a 'headed' Flava wagtail. Biggest excitement/disappointment came in the form of a pair of falcons picked coming in-off 1km out and 3km east; they looked good for vespertinus but headed away high east, never to be seen again. Otherwise raptors were really slow, just a single adult Hen Harrier which moved west and the local Common Buzzards etc. The sea was pretty quiet, and the Quagg gave nothing better than Little Gull and Greenshank. We stayed as far as early afternoon, but with diminishing returns we quit at 1400 with the last bird #86 an ad Med Gull over the heath, way short of last year. A quick drive round some other places produced very little. Norfolk can be very cruel.....


Its never Breskens (AL)


9th May

Dorset (RA)

Some semi-decent-almost-half-hearted effort between (inclusive) Winspit and Portland produced nothing better than  pied fly, a reed warbler at the bottom of Winspit valley, and an awesome strawberry cornetto at Ferrybridge. The day did at least provide some cool stuff to twitch and decent photo opportunities. Have a score to settle with Portland…. 

No points (RA)


8th May

Broads Diary (RDM)

A Whinchat at Scaregap provided the day's highlight. Also, forgot to say, Becky had 6 Scaup (4 drakes) on the flood dyke at Scaregap yesterday, unusual....


Cambs (ACL)

Bumped into an odd Chiffchaff this am at a private nature reserve, a few images and really bad quality sound recordings here. Obviously doesn't sound like collybita, does look a bit like ibericus (prominent yellow supercilium, bright green upperparts [honestly, light is bad in the images], brown tarsi, white throat and underparts) but doesn't give the classic Ibe riff. Song resembles the Belfeld bird a little, although whether it could actually be construed to be one or is a mixed singer, an intergrade or just a spanner collybita will now be the subject of about 10 minutes research before I sack it off and do some proper work.....  




7th May

Broads Diary (RDM)

A bit quiet in recent days although 4 Barnacle Geese flew west near Yarmouth yesterday and 2 Little Terns flew west up the River Bure today. A single Dunlin, Cuckoo and 3 Common Sands were at Whitlingham this morning.


Cambs (ACL)

A big Dottereling day, drove 60 miles between surveys and saw a Wheatear, 2 Bar-headed Geese (sibes!), and somes Oykes and Peewits. Called in at the Nene Washes late on and was genuinely surprised to find the people I thought were looking at Garganey were actually looking at two Cattle Egrets.

30th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A Spoonbill was an early morning find at Breydon, favouring the western end. Nothing much doing elsewhere.


29th April

Cliffe Pools (RMa)

Drake Garganey, some other common breeding birds and a few Greenshank.


26th April

Waxham, Hickling Rush Hill (RMa)

Nothing at Waxham, well 1 Wheatear and a grass snake to wrestle. A pair of Garganey were on Rush Hill, along with 7 Dunlin, 40 Ruff, 2 Greenshank and 3 RP.

27th April

Earith (RMa)

Evening wanderings in Cambs before torching the skin off three species of newt near Peterborough. Berry Fen held a stunning drake Wood Duck, fresh from Shetland obviously, and 1 Bar-wit, 2 Greenshank, 6 LP, 5 RP, drake Garganey, 45 Black-wit, and 2 Dunlin.


28th April

Nene Washes (AL)

A few waders on offer: 1 Barwit, 2 Greenshank, 15 Ruff and 70 Blackwit, plus Garganey, first Swifts since yesterday, but no whiskers...


27th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A veritable red-letter day at Scaregap - as I score with an all too brief Stone Curlew! Flushed from by the fold dyke towards the pasturelands where it crouched around for a bit then buggered off.



Can you see it? (it on the right, just below the middle, facing right head and shoulders only). It was (fairly) obvious until I had to reduce the size of the pic - usual excuses - Beaufort Scale 11 winds, couldn't actually see the bird in the view-finder, blah blah blah

25th April

North Norfolk (AL, RMa)

First up the Norton, where we swapped banter with DoE kidz and enjoyed some unseasonable warmth, but no repeat of previous years Savi's or anything else good for that matter. Thence to the Hills where optimism was raised a little by a few grounded migrants - 6 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Song Thrushes and a Yellow Wagtail. A Hobby scythed past the pines and on over the marsh and Rob found half an onion; good to get your five a day on. Some lepidoptera kept the interest up but where was the Wryneck? A Coal Tit was some compensation, a good Hills bird. After trying the Stiffkey roadside pools (token marsh waders) the day collapsed at Salthouse, after an ulta distant Falco's identity over Kelling was resolved as another subbuteo. Clearly we should have tried harder, write out 50 times....

token insects (AL)

Seasonal reminder, access to the Hills is entirely tide dependent and requires knowledge of safe fording places of dangerous tidal creeks. These can be overcome with pole (left) or manually (right) (AL, RM)


24th April

Buckenham, Breydon (RMa)

Drake Garganey, 4 Bar-wit, Whimbrel, Turnstone, Dunlin, 4 Greenshank at Buck, while a single 1st sum Little Gull appeared amongst the BH at Breydon in the evening. Not much terning going on here this eve, just 6 Common loudly proclaiming their presence above the platforms.

The Lane (RDM)

An early blast pre-work prodcued a brace of Sandwich Terns. I would swap these boys for a Little Tern any day.



Horsey Gap (JG)

With the weather looking steltronic, I decided to get up early for some pre-work coastwalking. The radar was in the right place, but sadly the execution went astray... Having covered as far as the north end of Winterton Dunes without much more than Gropper, Tree Pipit and Cuckoo to my name, I bundled into the car and headed for home. As soon as I got through the door I fired up Birdguides, and was very 28RDM)



Choking back the tears, I realised I couldn't face working just yet so I headed straight back out the door, aiming to twitch some Sandwich Terns that Rich found at Whitlingham earlier on. No sign, but I did get a tiny bit of compensation (he he) in the form of a Little Tern. Good day for terns at the Lane...


Mini Tern having a mini-adventure. Unfortunately it was over the New Workings, and I was over the Old Workings, hence the shoddy digiblastery.


23rd April

Fen Drayton (JB, AS, SM, RJ)

A quick lunchtime blast up the A14 to Fen D saw Jez swipe his first Garganey from under the noses of Mitchell and Symes. The team rounded off their collective half hour of spring birding with several Lesser 'throats, two + Hobbies, Cuckoo and Common Buzzard.


21st April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A Red Kite was over the marshes this afternoon, south of Runham. Wheatears, Weasels, SEO, Whimbrel, the usual other stuff.


20th-21st April

Baie de Somme (AL, IS)

A couple of days pseudo non-birding post Paris on the Somme, were well, lovely. Amazing what a difference a thin strip of water (and an isotherm) makes to distributional limits. Marquenterre is a bit like Disney Land meets Minsmere on acid, and was full of young hot female birders. Brilliant. A walk in forêt de Crécy produced a fly through Black Kite and nice views of Hen Harrier, Hawfinches etc, Le Hâble d'Ault is the sort of local patch I'd kill for and well, those were all the places I went to. Great migration with the dunes full of Wheatears, ouzels and flava wagtails and the mudfalts rammed with waders, pity I couldn't actually do any proper birding....

Echasse blanche, looking rare in the mist (AL) 


heronry: couldn't fit Spooners and Greys in the same pic, Rye Harbour 2012? (AL)


big ugly bling egret (AL)


Greenstreak (AL)


17th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

The Short-eared Owl was still at Ashtree Farm. More Whimbrel at Scaregap.


16th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

The Short-eared Owl was still at Ashtree Farm. A Weasel family was at AT3.

Strumpshaw in the evening held Otter and 5 species of bat. Whitlingham was awful.


15th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A single Dunlin and Golden Plover were new on the pools at Scaregap.


14th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A Grey Plover was on Far Pool at Scaregap whilst a Whimbrel was with the Curlew flock on Near Pool. Breydon held some Brents, Sanderling and Turnstones. A Barn Owl was at Ashtree Farm.

Raced out after work to check a couple of Broads. Started at Rcokland Broad where I found a drake Common Scoter and a female Hen Harrier. There was no sign of the DBBG at Whitlingham, just a Common Sand and LRP for compensation.


13th April

East Norfolk (RMa)

Tried the "birding when you don't have to" routine. Nothing doing at Breydon apart from some tatty but cute yank plover (click for video). Winterton south was full of Willow Warblers, a sea fret and a nor'easter. Things picked up at Waxham as the sun almost broke through and three cock Ring Ouzel chattered around the dunes (also video), and a continental type Coal Tit looked a bit lost in the blackthorn along the dunes. With a steady drip of Swallow passing (heading south, as they always do) I actually felt a little excited by spring prospects. Couple of Wheatears, Whitethroat and a load more Willow Warblers confirmed that trans-saharan migrants do indeed migrate to Britain. Any chance of further sparks of excitement quickly evaporated, in contrast to the sea fret that now took the coast back to winter for the rest of the day. Inland there were no such weather troubles and at Colney three species of hirundine flickered in my binoculars for the first time this spring.


Welches Dam and March Farmers (AL)

Had a go at some inter-survey cleaning up on the washes, a 4 km inspection of the RSPB 'serve produced 2 drake Garganey, 1 Red Knot, 3 Spotted Redshank, Curlew, Icewits and LRP. Called in at March Farmers on the Nene for ten minutes and bagged another four Garganey (3 drakes), a Grey Plover (flying round with Icewits) and a Short-eared Owl. Off to France for a week now, but the scene is set for getting my Cambs swag on next week.

Ouse Washes highlights (AL)

Nene Washes (AL) right photo dedicated to Whittlister...


Broads Diary (RDM)

A quick blast to Whitlingham whilst the Frenchies were in town produced an outstanding result as I picked a DB Brent (my first here in 9 years) on the new workings over the river. Also LRP and 4 Shoveler.



12th April

Broads Diary (RDM, AR +parents)

First House Martins of the year at Whitlingham along with Common Sand, 2 Wigeon and 3 Shoveler, roast in the Nelson Head, rounded off with slagging off of cretinous families for getting too close to the seals at Horsey. Tossers.

AND I'm not sorry about all these Garganey. Garganey are great, fact.


Nene Washes (AL)

Crossed the Doublet on my way home and espied a pair of Garganey from the car, quick stop'n blast sesh

Sorry about all these Garganeys folks, normal service will be resumed shortly...(AL)


Sussex (DB)

A return to the pools of dreams revealed an influx of dabblers including a fine drake garganey fast asleep but still no stilts, rumpers, swifts etc etc. Next time...


Saturday 11th April

Orfordness, Minsmere (AL, GP, SP)

Fall back Blakeney, understand that, and take it down south. Conquered the 'ness today, which is big in every sense of the word. Actually I didn't conquer it, the NT only has one trail open at this time of year, which lets you check about 2% of the good habitat for Tristram's Warbler and about 0.01% of the good habo for White-winged Lark. The place is legendary, it looks truly monster-squared, yet you never hear anything about it. Er. There were plenty of vols running around with Swaros and  'access all areas' passes who managed to suppress stuff to my face in a truly mungus fashion; respect. Probably better off in autumn when two more trails are open and you can actually access the wader habitat. Still I had a nice time learning about the Cold War and operation Cobra Mist, a huge death ray built by the wardens to kill any would-be rarity-finders trying to walk south from Aldeburgh. Did I mention how rare it looks? Bear in mind that the new Cobra Mist successor: Smooth Snake Haze means that any pagers brought onto the island are neutralised by an EMP...  Anyway, we saw a handful of Willows and Chiffs and 5 Wheatears. Minsmere, was well, Minsmere, plenty of migrants, inc Nightingales, Reed Warblers etc, plus porn Bitterns and the like, but well, its not a shingle spit....     

I rank this bush (arrowed) as the rarest place in the UK after the Sneck of the Noup (Foula); Gort (Inishmore) and now apparently Canary Wharf. Its a strong look baby... (AL)  


Broads Diary (RDM)

Little to write to my cat about, with Sedgies at various sites, LRPs at Scaregap and Whitlingham, but little else.


Sussex (DB)

In a bid to recreate the magic of the last finders keepers i attempted to bird Selsey Bill again and make my mark. The first venture out resulted in locating the second best place in Britain for rares after AL's assult on the 'Ness. Some recently excavated scrapes teemed with birds of at least 3 species and the potential of the site blew out the top of the hand-held rareometer. A short-eared owl cruised the fields, 5 buzzards and a marsh harrier came in off, and a pair of avocets gave grief to anything with wings and/or legs. A selection of migrants dotted the landscape but no rumpers appeared and i went home empty handed.


Friday 10th April

The S.H.I.T (RDM)

Pretty quiet with just a single cock Wheatear, 3 Blackcaps, SEO, Song Thrush, but good numbers of Chiff and Willow.


Thursday 9th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A pair of LRPs were fresh in in the afternoon on Far Pool at Scaregap. A female Hen Harrier was south of Stokesby.


Wednesday 8th April

Isle of Grain (RMa)

First Whitethroat in and singing, Common Buzzard over, some Wheatears. Must get something good here this spring, just waiting for that repeat albicollis.

Broads Diary (RDM)

Breydon - Saw this for 11 seconds before I had to get to work, also Med Gull,...



Tuesday 7th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A Common Buzzard was over Stokesby this afternoon. Otherwise, actually, including that, it was all sh*t.


Monday 6th April

Cambs Journal (AL)

KfB was looking good; an early Common Tern was joined by 3 spanking ad/w Little Gulls but therefafter a trip north to the Nene Washes was a little disappointing, still buckets of duck but only Yellow Wagtails (12) made it really feel like spring.

Little Gull and Common Tern, good job I read Steve Young's latest Birdwatch column, otherwise this photo could have been shit. (AL)


Broads Diary (RDM)

A pair of Garganey at Whitlingham this evening earned my first points of the campaign.

A look at Breydon at 9am revealed no Lesser Golden Plovers, but did yield 22 Sanderling and a couple of Turnstone. The Short-eared Owl was still at Ashtree Farm, and a Yellow Wagtail was at Scaregap.

There's the quality


5th April

Brecks, Lakenheath, Snettisham (ACL, GP)

Big day mopping up some of George's tarts. Started at 'the' Gos site, had to jostle with the pack and watch Red-tailed Hawks, Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks and Carrion Crows all be identified as Goshawks in one exciting hour-long window. Unfortunatley no Gos's showed by the time we left at 11, but at least we saw some nice Woodlarks, Xbills etc. Debut visit to Lakenheath was a little disappointing: Bitterns boomed, a Sedgie spluttered and I added a drake Garganey to the pair to open my FK account. Big up to You Me At Six for the tribute. From then it was on to Snetts, not really sure why, and in the process of trying to nail Terek I was nearly docked points for finding a Black Brant, but thems the breaks.  

(AL) No points for rubbish

This is a special magic eye picture, 9/10 people sitting within 2m of a copy of Olsen & Larsson never notice the querquedulas... (AL)


Broads Diary (RDM)

A Weasel at Runham was the day’s highlight. The Short-eared Owl continued to hunt at Ashtree Farm and a few Marsh Harriers were knocking about. Breydon held 3 Knot, a few Sanderling and still outrageous numbers of Redshank and Blackwit.

4th April

North Norfolk (AL, RMa, JG)

East-bank-Stiffkey Fen-Gun Hill-Burnham Norton. Classic route on the first day of spring, well at least the first venture in a semi-serious manner. The bar was set at Calandra Lark, which may retrospectively have been too high. Everything was against us, starting on the East Bank it was about -4 degrees C with a 120mph wind blowing, two hours later it was about 40 deg C and we all got melanomas and heatstroke. Can't beat the British weather, though maybe we can make it better/worse with global warming. In fact it beat Rob who developed a suggestive migraine, probably enough to keep him out of the Phoenicurus action on Gun Hill where singles of Common and Black provided the day's highlight. Also rans at this latter site included Willow Warbler, Chiffs, Wheatears, Swallow and Sand Martins. Everywhere else was also pretty rubbish. 

nice enough (AL)

4th April

Broads Diary (RDM)

l color=black>e a hunting Short-eared Owl and a Merlin. A few Curlew were on the Near Pool at Scaregap. Breydon held 7 or so Sanderling and loads of other stuff.


3rd April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A female Peregrine was typically topping a gatepost at Scaregap where the male Ruff was still present. Otherwise, a calling Water Rail, Bearded Tits, Sparrowhawk, Bank Vole, Little Egret, CWD and a few Brown Hares were the only things of note.

2nd April

Broads Diary (RDM)

A male Ruff was on the Decoy Pool at Scaregap. Breydon held a Turnstone and severe amounts of Redshank, Blackwit and Dunlin

2nd April

Marston STW (AL)

Brief visit produced 3 Green Sands, 2 LRP, 4 House Martin and 9 Swallow.

1st April

Broads Diary RDM

Highlight of the day was a scorching male Yellow Wagtail on Far Pool at Scaregap.

31st March

Broads Diary (RDM)

Severe amounts of birds on Breydon with at last 1k of Blackwit, and several hundred each of Redshank and Dunlin. Kingfisher, Barn Owl and several Green Sands were the best north of the Straight.

29th March

Whitlingham (RDM)

Single Swallow, 3 Sand Martins and a female Goosander.

27th March

Cambs (AL)

Wish I lived in Cambridgeshire, its way better than Norfolk, anyhew some between survey touring produced a flock of 42 (!) Avocets on the Cam Washes south of Upware (what's the biggest ever county flock?) and an obliging Bittern at a semi-private site nearby. 

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16th-24th March

<¬e=arial>Cyprus (PB team)

More on this in due course, but suffice top say in between bouts of drinking and feeling really sick we saw some birds. Indeed some folk were ticking more than an antique clock shop. A text from Dan today described a fall of biblical proportions, too bad most of us were back in Norf*ck....

left to right: newlyweds; aquatic micro-chicken; two down, who's next? (AL)


18th March

Nene Washes (AL)

Post VP visit to Cambs on the nicest day in the history of this week was reasonably eventful. In fact it was downright lovely. Short-sleeve weather to be precise. The Washes were looking amazing, still masses of dabblers but less expected around 1200 Black-tailed Godwits (Plus 50 Ruff, 20 Dunlin and 1 RP). Overhead raptors were much in evidence Marsh Harriers were seriously getting the horn on, 8 up at once, and hormones were so thick in the air that I nearly had an asthma attack. A Red Kite swung through as did Peregrine, Merlin and 3 Common Buzzards, Skagen? Eat my shorts. To compliment this latter theme, I relocated the 2 Common Cranes, apparently on loan from Woodwalton. There was so other stuff... Water Pipits, singing Chiffs, Cetti's, Tawny Owls (at midday!) but no-one cares.... Anyhow, the big news is that we're all either about to leave for or are already on Cyprus - for an on-location shoot for the movie. Although Si is apparently using this as an opportunity to get married, hope we can fit that in......

Cranes, and part of the ultra Godwit flock, can you read the rings on either? (AL)


12th March


We all know that most gulls are worthless shitpieces. But they do have a few plus points, like when they exploit their superior intelligence to bully and intimidate harmless grockles at seaside resorts. Genius.


See for more.


8th March

The S.H.I.T

The time felt right, the team was put together, it was time to get it out. On Sunday, the S.H.I.T took the kayak out on it's debut adventure, blasting down the channel from BO Staithe towards the sea. I say 'blasting down the channel', really it was more like dragging it over innumerable protruding sand banks. No Ivory Gulls or other High Arctic fare, but we did see half a dozen Blackbirds, a GCG, and a couple of Reed Buntings. Errr, brilliant! Swim Coots, here we come!

6th March

Fan Si Pan, Vietnam (SM)

Long weekend on the roof of Indochina trying to walk off a broken leg produced a slew of Himalayan lovlies such as Plain-backed Thrush, Blue-fronted Redstart, Speccy Barwing, Yellow-bellied Fantail, 3 Yuhinas, 4 Fulvettas, 3 Minlas etc, but none of the hoped for monsters. Three of the newly split endemic Pale-throated Wren Babblers showed to within biting distance, at one point coming within 30 cm of my face. No sign of Collar's new Rimator split though, despite much effort.

5th March


I know it's winter, but please, 89 of the last 140 photos on RBAs scarcity gallery are gulls!! That's over 63%!! No wonder we have to wait until the Cley Square Mega Release Squad to get busy before we see something good - every f*ckers twitching these big bags of sh*te!!