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:

2012 latest 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-May| March-early Apr| January-Febuary | 2006 October - December ¦ September | August part II | August  | July   


Norton Disney, Lincs (ACL)

So this is Christmas..... having had the best day of my life on Christmas eve I went back and saw one ad winter Med Gull, 1 drake Goosander and 6 Bewick's Swans (over NE).



SW Lincs (ACL)

Back to basics for Christmas, struggled out of bed for midday and did Marston. Predictably it was craptastic: 33 Tree Sparrows, some Curlew and a pair of Stonechats, forged north and had a Merlin cross the A17 at Newark before ending the very short day at Norton Disney. Ducks were disappointing as per the previous site, global warming again.... but the roost was gullarific with one 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull and an adult Caspian Gull (below).



DECEMBER 22nd (RoMa)

Some Pink-feet, over my house as heard from bed after getting thrown out of Optic for only the third time in my life. This time I don't know why.



My Back Garden (RoMa)

"I've got this funny bird in my garden. It's got yellow underparts, a black bit through the eye and it's upper mandible is three times the length of the lower one."


"Must be I suppose, only passerine in the northern hemisphere with one mandible longer than the other."

"Can I count it?"

"no, it's a Blue Tit, shut up"



Massingham Heath (R. M*ores, A. Lees)

Vintage farmland birding: 14 Bewick's Swans west, 3 Common Buzzards and a ringtail Hen Harrier, no shrikes or eagles.



Coastal Norfolk (RoMa)

 8 million Goose sp (mostly Pink-feet, some Snow features but too large to look at sensibly), 12 Shorelarks larking, 3 Little Gulls passing, 2 Slavs and a Red-necked Grebe being harrassed by gulls. No time for songs. Burnham Norton. 1 Water Pipit, 2 Buzzard. Thornham: some Twite with deformed brightly coloured legs. Titchwell: abandoned due to terrifying hordes. Warham: one Hen Harrier, Barn Owl and nothing Dan-shattering at all...  

Coastal Suffolk  (A. Lees)

Started the day at Minsmere, nice idea, shame there wsn't anything to see, checked Sizewell for the Ross's; 3 Little Gulls the compensation. On  to North Warren via a Chiffchaff at Thorpeness: lots of plastic geese and 3 Water Pipits. All my best ideas spent I checked the Iken and the Blyth and some marshes for Rough-legs. Only rough-legs attached to some horsey-girls, riding, well,  horses. Lots of small gulls on the Blyth, half a dozen Meds the pick of the bunch.  



Whitlingham Lane  (early am, JG)

No wind, no leach's, no skuas, no seabirds at all. Checked the sheepfield - no sign of any black-capped petrels, and none in the gorse bushes either. Even looked under the telegraph wires - no albatrosses to be found. Had to make do with c. 1000 golden plovers (whit tick) wheeling around down the valley. Couldn't make out what was bothering them, but it was probably one of those urban gyrs causing more newsworthy trouble. Also a maximal 42 pochard and 3 goldeneye on the broad. Magic.



Abberton Reservoir (RoMa)

Once round the reservoir for the ducks. Joined briefly by the tornado hightailing it away from London. Despite turning the reservoir into a boiling frenzy the only effect on the birds was a dark smudge smeared against the eastern bank (later resolved as a mess of Coot)  and the appearance of a Slavonian Grebe, first this winter, found 20mins afterwards.


Black Dog Sands, Wales  (Special D Brown)

Too windy for work, Dan headed to the coast and found 100 Leach's storm petrels sheltering in the bay. One was also seen sheltering in a Bonxie's mouth, whilst another was seen heading strongly out to sea from inland. So maybe there's hope for that one in manchester yet...   



Kerry (JG, AL)

Last gasp attempt for points at Brandon Bay saw the discovery by AL of a drake Surf Scoter off Fermoyle; the first of the winter at this site, accompanied by a couple of Velvets. Lough Gill looked amazing for Sora, American Bittern, Buffelhead etc but the wind, rain, light, golfers, cows, and farmhands were against us and we couldn't prise a Lesser from the huge flock of Scaup. We progressed from there to some more amazing beaches clad in dross and the day ended in ignominity at Blennerville, where we decided to tell the one birder we met in Ireland about the Spotshank we found on his patch on Thursday.  Then he told us about the "golden bird" he found at Loop Head in October.....

far right, and inset: Surf Scoter (AL)



Kerry (JG, AL)

JG opened his eyes to a grey dawn and two Iceland Gulls in Dingle Harbour, whilst still in a supine position in the front seat. AL was still too drunk to see, but managed to claw back a third Iceland Gull a little while later. We progressed from there to Smerwick Harbour where AL got some cheap Ring-billed Gull points at Baile an Reannaigh, but no ducks of note on the pool nor waders to die for on the beach. Then it was over to Ferriter's and from thence to Dunquin where a brief search for migrants produced 2-3 abietinus Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcaps, 5 Goldcrest but no Mugimaki. We can't really remember what happened to the rest of the day.


Iceland & Ring-billed Gulls (AL)



Kerry (JG, AL)

In an attempt to close the gap with Special D Brown, westernmost Ireland was revisited: this was to be a highly planned, clinically executed trip. Anticipation was so great that team member 3,  RDM, had to pull out because he was too excited. We arrived in the Emerald Isle midday without a map or a plan and after briefly crashing the car, we used the earth's lay-lines to find a tourist information centre where AL seduced the "helpful" young lady into donating a map, and using this we were able to find out where the funk we were.  The rest of the day was spent checking a load of classic early autumn sites for early winter rare, so no joy there. Arriving at Dingle at 1730, we started drinking at 1733 and continued for the next 7 hours...



Cromer (JG, ELA)

Spared an hour to look for crag martins over the crags. As the sun set, some martins appeared, but the hernia was prevented by the presence of three obvious white rumps. They roosted on the big church, but we don't like religion so we left.



Whitlingham Lane (JG, RDM)

Five minutes, one whit tick. Female Pintail, expert poaching by scopeless RDM borrowing JG's Swaro "for a second".



Wroxham Broad (RDM)

Red-crested Pochards (male +female)



Dawlish Warren (A. Lees, R. Martin, J. Gilroy, R. M*ores)

The morning of the 10th November was perhaps the most exciting of the autumn,  Trousers forwarded on photos of a "Little Auk" from Devon,  causing instant panic. JG and AL managed to get through to Piner, who told us that the twin bastions of UK bird identification (RBA and Bird Forum) had got the situation semi- in hand. We told them to stop procrastinating and mega it, they did. A decision was made to travel overnight to Devon and try and refind the bird, however both capitulated independently within an hour..... As fate would have it a deserving character refound the bird on the Saturday morning, and we drew up plans to go twitching. Unfortunatley we aren't very good at twitching and instead of getting a half decent night's sleep, we all went to Club Retro and got drunk. Leaving the LCR at 2am, Alex cycled home and got the car, Dan bottled out, the ladies were walked home and the twitch was on. Six hours and a couple of games of football in service station car parks later, we pulled up on the Devon coast. We'll leave Tom McKinney to describe the carnage but suffice to say it was exciting. Even on the seafront we were crap at twitching; some of us walked in the opposite direction to the twitch, others played football and Rob enjoyed a round of bingo. That said when we did manage to actually go and see the bird we were genuinely excited and universally pleased that we went after much soul-searching the previous day. After meeting some old aquaintances - e.g. Richard Johnson, Rebecca Nason, Mark Telfer & Joe Tobias, we started the journey back via KFC and the largest supermarket on the 50th parallel. Norwich was finally refound at 8pm just in time to save Rob's marriage and for Alex to check into a caffeine rehabilitation clinic after 3 bottles of Coke, two Red Bulls and two double espressos...   

Brachyramphus perdix (AL)


left: and you thought Nancy's bread puddings were good. centre: Rob, dazed and confused after Tescos; right, traffic, this doesn't happen on the way back from Waxham.



Blakeney Point (R. Martin, J. Gilroy, A. Lees)

After a poor decision the previous evening (see above) we made our way to the north coast and while ruminating on the futility of mid November birding from inside the car, watched a large dark "lark" cross the eye field distantly and head off up the point. Motivation briefly rekindled we headed off up the point and bumped into a group of at least 16 Shorelarks only 300m west of the Coastguards. We did peak too soon however, the only grounded migrants to be had were 5 Blackbirds a Goldcrest and a Starling. A Jack Snipe, a Merlin and a brainless Little Auk failed to make up for the one that got away....


Shorelarks (AL)



Cambridgeshire (D. Brown)

Golden continues to demonstrate the rarity potential of the fens, this time producing an adult Dotterel, in fields near March. Nice.



Wells-next-the-Sea (J. Gilroy S. Mitchell)

Motivation - absent. A reluctant SMitch managed to drag bins to face for just long enough to find a glorious black brant on the pitch and putt. Such an auspicious start - followed up professionally by some intense tideline corpse-searching. A couple of dead dovekie were the rich reward. We looked in the trees and found lots of leaves. Thanks george bush, you earth-warming bastard, how are we supposed to find the pallas's now? The day was rounded off with a classic Norfolk sea watch. 12 redshank and a shelduck.


NOVEMBER 3rd (R. Martin)

On the way to selecting a pair of work bins (gone Zeiss for variety) I stopped in at Sheringham Promenade to sit in the shelter. Surprisingly I was alone for a while with only a bundle of 22 Little Auk, strings of Eider and Common Scoter, a Peregrine, Bar-wits, Knot and Turnstone and flocks of Skylark passing to indicate that this is a 'hotspot' of seawatching. When a couple of other birders appeared we noted a Little Auk ditched onto the beach surrounded by Herring Gulls. Racing down I heroically rescued the little darling, gave it a finger to nibble on then foisted it on one of the other birders because he had a nice woolly hat. Cutest thing ever. If either of those birders read this: could you send a photo of the event through to the website email please?  

Evening update: Robbed, house burgled. Camera and K's bag (mobile, car keys, purse etc) gone. Arse.



Trimingham - Sidestrand (RDM esq)

Classic early November birding along the crumbling clifftop fields offered up a few Little Auks and Goldeneye offshore, Snow Bunting, 4 Woodcocks, Short-eared Owl, and a few grazing brents.



River Nene (R. Martin)

Called in to check the Snow Goose was still there on the way back from surveying Alex's back garden near Grantham. It was. Fabulous.



Trimingham - Sidestrand (Baron R.D.Moores and Lord S.P.Mahood)

Classic late October birding along the crumbling clifftop fields between Trimingham and Sidestrand offered up two braces of Lapland Buntings (4), a Jack Snipe and a Northern Wheatear.



OCTOBER 24th-28th

Lundy, Devon (A. Lees + Rob Duncan et al.)

A somewhat disappointing sojourn that promised much but delivered rather little, regular late October fayre included a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers, Ring Ouzels, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a spectacular movement of 11,000 Chaffinches on the 27th. A Balearic Shearwater the only sure-fire points but the most interesting bird was an acro I located in the "Ruppell's Bushes" on the 24th, (see photos below), classical wisdom suggests that this its too late a date for Marsh and the wings suggest the same conclusion; its obviously not a Blyth's Reed but the bare-part colouration, bill size and general plumage tones don't smart too much of classical Eurasian Reed. Answers on a postcard?


acro horror-show (AL) UPDATE ! click here for the video



River Nene mouth (R. Martin, with Owen Marks and Ian Barton)

Final low tide count on this project. Loads of Pinkies around, at least a thousand counted before we got to the sea wall. From there we saw a large group go up a couple of fields back and Owen picked a white one. We watched it drop down about a mile away and thought it looked quite small and compact, good for Ross's. After the survey we quickly picked up the bird again with upto 3500 Pink-foots, and about half a mile away. Still hideous driving rain and the bird still looked compact and Ross's. As the rain are eased views marginally improved and it became clear that it was 'just' a white morph SNOW GOOSE. The head shape was too angular and the bill too large for Ross, then eventually a suggestion of a grin appeared. Good bird to end the Lincs counts.    



Badshot Lea, Surrey (Dave "Trousers" Smith)

Ever heard of Badshot Lea? No? That's because it's a load of crappy fields in the middle of rural Surrey. But it also happens to be Dave Trousers' local patch. Inspired by his recent flirtation with birding in Shetland, Dave went out for a random check of his local pond / meadow (best bird previously =Barwit) and found himself a EURASIAN CRAG MARTIN. No shit. Sadly it disappeared a few minutes after he found it, but still an awesome record, and surely the winner of punkbirder associates find-of-the-year... Trousers, we salute you.




River Nene mouth (R. Martin)

80+ Twite and an Arctic Tern.

Burham Overy Dunes (R. Martin)

1 Lapland Bunting over track to dunes heading towards Scolt. 2 Blackcap, Fieldfare and sev. Redwing in dunes.


Tetney Lock, Lincolnshire (D. Brown)

Richards Pipit south over the lock



Filey Brigg, N. Yorks (David Gilroy)

All recent punkbirder exploits have now been thoroughly eclipsed by DG (father of JG) on a random birding trip to the yorks coast. Mid pm he had brief views of a wing-barred phyllosc in Arndale Ravine which, as the saying goes, "looked unfamiliar". Unfortunately it refused to call, but after some phone consultation with JG he decided it most likely to be an Arctic. News was released, and within minutes about 100 twitchers were on site, but confusion started to reign on the ID. Amazingly, this morning the bird has come out with a few "chit-chuw-uit" calls and confirmed itself to be a Two-barred Greenish Warbler, only the 4th record for Britain (albeit of a semispecies). Got to be a strong contender for punkbirder associates bird of the autumn...


Reed Fen, Cambs (Golden Brown)

Dan keeps up his bid for global rarity-finding domination, getting in on the recent East Anglia American Golden Plover influx with a fly-through individual mid morning. Presumably one of the recent birds from the Peterborough area relocating.



Blakeney Point, Norfolk (A. "Busta" Symes, G. Dave)

Two Shorelarks flew south with Skylarks.  juv Pom, Ring ouzel, 2 Black redstarts, Redstart, Merlin, 100's Song thrushes and Robins.   


Winterton, Norfolk (S. Mahood, Jack (Canid))

14:00 Y-brow found in the south dunes and plenty of thrushes arriving indicated it was autumn.  juv Pom flying along the beach.


Mainland, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R.D. Moores, R. Martin, A. Lees, J. Bird, R. Addison)

11:30 PECHORA PIPIT found by James, Jez and Rich at Virkie Willows.

Pallas' still present at the lighthouse, Rob refinds Barred Warbler at Sumburgh Farm and the Firecrest is still in the Hotel garden.

Pechora Pipit, Virkie (AL)



Mainland, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. D. Moores, R. Martin, A. Lees, J. Bird, R. Addison)

14:40 the crew finds 2 more y-brows and a redstart at Fladderbister. 

10:50 Minimal score for James at Levenwick, where he finds a Barred warbler and Alex and Rob get yet another y-brow

10:05 R. D. Moores continues over to Boddam where the Arctic warbler is no-where to be found. 

09:30 Jez re-finds the Firecrest in the rosebushes at the Sumburgh Hotel, this species is five times as rare on Shetland as the Pallas' warbler which is also still present! 



Mainland, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. D. Moores, R. Martin, A. Lees, J. Bird, R. Addison)

14:30 R. D. Moores heads over to Boddam and finds Rob's Arctic warbler is still showing well. 

11:50 Jez demonstrates his love for small things, producing a Firecrest at Grutness (mega on Shetland), also Y-brow there and a Barred warbler found at Sumburgh Farm.   

10:50 the skor reaches new heights as James and Alex pull out a BLYTH'S PIPIT at Sumburgh!!!  Details of this monster find to follow. 

Blyth's Pipit and supporters (AL) UPDATE ! click here for the video



Mainland, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. D. Moores, R. Martin, A. Lees, J. Bird, R. Addison)

13:00 Rik triumphs with Britains first PALLAS' WARBLER (of the year anyway) in the Lighthouse Compound at Sumburgh Head 



Mainland, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. D. Moores, R. Martin, A. Lees, J. Bird, R. Addison)

Things continue to plod along nicely for the boys in Shetland:  James finds an Ortolan at Grutness and the others turn up some more new Y-brows, 15 to be precise. 



Mainland, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. D. Moores, R. Martin, A. Lees, J. Bird, R. Addison)

16:55 update: A. Lees and R. D. Moores manage to get from Dale of Walls to Kergord in 23 minutes and after Rich unearths a Great Tit, Alex manages to dig out a skulking OBP, plus 2 YBWs. 

11:19  R. Martin continues his fine run of form with an ARCTIC WARBLER at Boddam.   

Olive-backed Pipit at Kergord (AL) UPDATE ! click here for the video



Mainland, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. D. Moores, R. Martin, A. Lees, J. Bird, R. Addison)

Rosefinches proved to be like busses for James, he co-finds another at Boddom with Rik, whilst Alex and Rich find one at Burra.  Meanwhile, the others produced four new Y-brows between them.   Will they strike it big this week? 



Winterton, Norfolk (S. Mahood)

Dusted off the bins for an afternoon of fruitless toil: blackcap, wheatear and some swallows, still looking forward to autumn... 



Unst, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. Addison, D. Trousers, S. Mitchell)

HOT NEWS!!! 15:28 UPDATE!!!  On thier last day on Unst UPLAND SAND found by the new golden boy of UEA, S. Mitchell in association with P. Harvey and M. Maher, details to follow. 

After nearly a week of effort Gilroy and Trousers finally start finding some decent birds, well, some rosefinches anyway.  JG had one at Haroldswick and DT one at Baltasound. 



Unst, Shetland (J. Gilroy, R. Addison, D. Trousers, S. Mitchell)

An apparent acute lack of anything thus far from Shetland apart from a sprinkling of scarce most of which isn't new. Still no fear, the Palm Warbler is on its way.... 



Blakeney Point PM (A. Lees, R. Martin, R Moores, S. Mahood)

So what do you do in south-westerlies? Without a better plan we walked down the point, the way out produced 3 each of Wheatears and Song Thrushes. Pioneering seawatching (read sea-glancing) in an offshore wind was remarkably interesting for those that hadn't seen the sea in five months. Evidently the onset of "total ecosystem collapse" in the North Sea had forced lots of pelagic hopefulls in search of food. Lots of terns (inc sev Arctic) big rafts of auks, 3-4 Manxies and both Arctic and Pom Skuas. The way back produced a Stock Dove in-off (2nd BP record outside of the breeding season) and an incongruous Canada Goose sat on the sea (8th documented record...). 

bad day on Blakeney (left AL, right Rob's camera)