Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mystery Bird Quiz Week 23

Avocet Chick
Last weeks Mystery Bird was an Avocet chick which I saw at RSPB Blacktoft Sands earlier last year.
Well done to Rob Stokes, Mark Lucas, Toby Carter and Mark Lewis for all getting the correct answer. Unlucky to the people who got the wrong answer but thanks for having a go.
Here is this weeks Mystery Bird.
I will reveal the answer next weekend and if you cant send me your answer through the blog DM me on Twitter @ellisethanfox.
Good Luck

Grouse Galore!

After having amazing views of Red Grouse last week we decided to head of to the spot again this week. Here is a shot from last week to show how well they showed.

Red Grouse
Pretty much as soon as we arrived we spotted a male and female feeding at the side of the road so we got out of the car and started heading towards them. Suddenly we couldn't see the female but it turns out she was only about a metre away hunkered down in the heath. It is amazing to see how camouflage she was.
Red Grouse
It was fantastic to get so close and see all the stunning colours. After that little beauty we moved on to more of a marshy area were we came across an amazing Lapwing nest! It was a fantastic little nest, in total it had 4 eggs in it. Just a little while after we had left the nest we spotted a summer plumaged Golden Plover lift of and fly over some hills in the background.
After that we decided to have a good walk through the heath to hopefully spot something a little different. On our way through we spotted lots more Red Grouse and tons of Meadow Pipits in the heath. A while later lots of Curlews were passing over our heads which was nice to see. After having a good hours walk around we hadn't found anything to unusual until my Dad found something amazing! He had found a Red Grouse nest!!! This was a brilliant end to our day, what a great nest to find! This nest had a total of 8 eggs in. Me and my Dad were extremely pleased to find our first Red Grouse nest.
As we were driving out of the spot my Dad spotted a Red Grouse sitting up perfectly on the heather. It was about a metre away from our car! It sat sitting there for quite a while, it didn't hardly seem bothered that we were even there!

Red Grouse
On our way home we came across a field with tons of wildlife in it. There was around 50+ Linnets, a few Hares, Red Legged Partridge, Pheasant, Mallards, Meadow Pipit, Lapwings and quite a few Jackdaws.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Mystery Bird Quiz Week 22

Lapland Bunting
Last weeks Mystery Bird was a cracking Lapland Bunting which I saw at Bempton Cliffs this year.
A very well done to Rob Stokes, Mark Lewis, Ben Moyes, Toby Carter and Mark Lucas for all getting the correct answer. Unlucky to the people who didn't get the right answer but thanks for having a go.
Here is this weeks Mystery Bird.
Sorry that my quiz has been a bit late this week as my computer hasn't been working for the past couple of days.
If you cant send me your answer through the blog DM me on Twitter.
Good Luck

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Enjoyable Return to Norfolk!

Day 1

We got up at around 5:30am. We had to be in Norfolk for around 9:30am as we were going to the young birders workshop in Thetford. This was my second trip to Norfolk this year and it was just as amazing as the last one.

We arrived at the BTO headquarters at around 9:15am. While we were waiting for it to start I met some great people like Findlay Wilde and Toby Carter who are also young birders like me. Firstly the BTO staff gave some information about them selves like how they started working with the BTO and what they like doing, nesting, ringing etc. Afterwards we went onto do some activities I picked ringing, nesting and better birding. We did nesting first, we learned about where different birds nest and about different bird eggs. Then we got to go outside to look at some nests! Dave Leech, a top nester at the BTO showed us an awesome Chaffinch nest, a Song Thrush nest which had 4 eggs in and a Blackbird nest which had 3 Chicks in! After we were on to Ringing, on this we learned about what you have to do with the birds while ringing. He showed us 2 Blackbirds, a Marsh Tit and a Blackcap. I got to let the Blackcap go so I was really pleased. Finally we were doing Better Birding this is were you learn how to obviously become a better birder. Like if you weren't very good at bird calls you would learn about that.

After that amazing morning it was now Lunch. After Lunch some of the young birders gave talks about why they like birds, what have they done in the past and what they can do in the future. All of them were fantastic! The day ended with a debate about Conservation. On the way out on the BTO headquarters I spotted a Stoat running across a field and 2 Muntjac Deer in the woods! As we were coming out of the car park I also spotted a very showy Egyptian Goose. I would just like to say a huge thanks to the BTO for holding this amazing event.

Egyptian Goose
At around 5:45pm me and my Dad set of to go to Weeting heath in search of Stone Curlews! Once we arrived we headed of to one of the hides. When we were in the hide all we could see were tons of Rabbits but I eventually picked out one of the stunning Stone Curlew, it kept hiding in the heath but occasionally it gave nice views. While we were waiting for it to come back out a little Rabbit sat up right in front of the hide! After we moved on to the other hide, on the way we saw Findlay Wilde who informed us of a few Stone Curlews showing well from the next hide! Once we were in the hide we couldn't see much but then a few mins later my Dad spotted one, he pointed me in the direction of where he saw it. I managed to spot it sitting on a nest! My Dad then started to say "it has just walked right out in the open", I was a bit confused as when I looked back at it, it hadn't moved a single bit and then it turns out we were watching completely different birds! Soon the one my Dad was watching moved over to the other one and then they switched over, now the one I was watching was walking around and the one my Dad was watching was now on the nest! This has definitely been one of my best highlights so far this year!   


Stone Curlews
Day 2
Today we decided to have a look in Pymoor for the drake Baikal Teal. The drive from Thetford was around 50mins. Once we had arrived at the spot we first spotted a very nice Green Woodpecker on the side of a hill just next to the spot, this is probably one of the best views I have ever had of this species. On the little pool of water of where the Baikal Teal was sighted there was only a few Teal, Wigeon, Coots, Shoveler and Grey Herons. Afterwards we moved on to have a look around RSPB Ouse Washes. Once we arrived I noticed a Cattle Egret had been spotted from the Stockdale hide, on the way to that hide we had a check in the Kingfisher hide first where we spotted a few Little Egrets, Coots, Gadwalls and Moorhens. Afterwards we moved on to the Stockdale hide, on the way we asked a man who had just came from the Stockdale hide to see if it was there, he said he has seen it but it walked out of view a few mins ago. Once we were in the hide there was no sign of the Cattle Egret but there was lots of Avocets, Black Tailed Godwits and Little Egrets. A while later a man said he had just seen the Cattle Egrets head look up from the ditch, everyone had there eyes peeled to hopefully catch a glimpse of it. Thankfully it then took of and landed just outside the ditch! It stayed quite distant for all of the time we were there but it was still a very nice bird to see. A while later it then took of again and then landed in some fields right at the back of the reserve.

Cattle Egret
After me and my Dad decided to have a look at the Two Barred Crossbills in Lynford Arboretum but firstly, since its on our way back, we decided to have a quick check in Pymoor for the Baikal Teal. Once we were we asked a few people to see if they had it but they all replied "no". About 10mins later a big flock of Wildfowl dropped in and then someone shouted "I have it" but then he said "it just went into the reeds" but thankfully it came back out! We got decent views through the scope of this stunning bird. Hopefully it will get accepted.
Baikal Teal
In case you aren't sure of which bird it is, it is the one which is pretty much in the middle of the photo and it is the bird which looks a bit bigger than all of the other ones. We eventually found Lynford Arboretum, we were hoping for the Two Barred Crossbills to come and drink from the puddle inside the walled garden but sadly they didn't but we did manage distant views of one male at the top of a tree! This was a very welcome year tick for me. They are stunning birds. There was quite a few birds drinking from the puddle such as Siskin, Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Blue Tit also up in the trees there was quite a few Nuthatch and on the grass there was a cracking White Wagtail.
White Wagtail
Day 3
Sadly this was our last day in fantastic Norfolk. Today we decided to hopefully have a look at the Two Barred Crossbills again. Once we arrived at Lynford Arboretum we went over to the walled garden but once again there wasn't any Crossbills drinking from it. A little while on a man had a male just a little further down the path so we went to have a look. It showed a lot better than the other day also Common Crossbills were showing really well to! A few mins later a man spotted a Brambling in with the Crossbill flock. This cracking little bird gave great views. After me and my Dad decided to have a walk through the wood where we spotted several more Brambling. Also we found 3 nests, we found a Marsh Tit nest, a Tree creeper nest and a Little Grebe nest! Sadly by his point it was time to go, on our way back to the car we saw Willow Warblers, Goldcrests and more Common Crossbills.
Two Barred Crossbill

Common Crossbill

After an amazing trip with tons of fantastic wildlife it was time to head home.



Sunday, 13 April 2014

Mystery Bird Quiz Week 21

Water Rail
Last weeks Mystery Bird was a stunning Water Rail. A very well done to Rob Stokes, Toby Carter, Ben Moyes, Mark Lucas, Shaun Hickeys, Mark Lewis and Paul for all getting the correct answer! Unlucky to the people who got the wrong answer but thanks for having a go.
Here is this weeks new Mystery Bird.
I will reveal the answer next weekend and if you cant send me your answer through the blog, DM me on Twitter @ellisethanfox. Good Luck

East Coast Crackers!

Yesterday we had a very enjoyable visit to Flamborough. We were hoping to see either the Crag Martin or the Tawny Pipit. On the cliffs at Flamborough in occasionally started to rain but most of the time it wasn't that bad.

As soon as we got out of the car we spotted a Wheatear on top of a small building. We kept creeping a little closer and closer until we were enjoying decent views. On our way down to the cliffs we spotted another Wheatear, this one showed a lot better than the other one, it let us get within a few meters.

Afterwards we had a walk along the cliffs where we saw Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and some lovely Puffins! It was great watching some of the Puffins go in and out of their burrows. A little further on I spotted a duck on the water, I took a few shots and I noticed it was an Eider! It swam onto one of the islands just of the cliffs. I think it might be a first summer male.
Puffins and a Fulmar

We had no breakfast that morning due to getting up really early and then going almost straight away so we went to a Café which was right next to the car park. On our way to the Café we saw lots of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. While we were in the café a report came through that the Tawny Pipit was in a field just south of Head Farm, so we quickly ate up and then headed of towards the farm. On the way we spotted a Moorhen in a gorse field, what an odd place to get a Moorhen. While we were walking down we asked a few people on the way to see if they had seen it and they all said "yes!" Further on we saw a few birders with scopes, cameras and binoculars and by the looks of things they were all looking in one particular spot. Once we had reached the spot we were almost straight away looking at the stunning Tawny Pipit! It showed very well for all of the time we were there and at one point it kept on coming closer and closer until it was only a few meters away! It was great watching it feed in the grass along with a Skylark. What a little cracker!

Tawny Pipit

Afterwards we decided to have a look in the Millennium Wood to see if we could find anything interesting. While we were in there we heard lots of Chiffchaffs and also we found some awesome nests. We found a Song Thrush nest, a Wrens nest and a Long tailed Tit nest. It was great watching the Long tailed Tit nest because we watched the adults come back and forth with nesting material to their nest. On the way back we saw a Yellowhammer, some Linnets and a Sparrow Hawk.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Mystery Bird Quiz Week 20

Green Winged Teal, Teal and Moorhen
Last weeks Mystery Bird was Green Winged Teal, the one with the 2 vertical white stripes on its body, teal and Moorhen. I saw these at North Cave Wetlands. A very well done to Rob Stokes, Ben Moyes, Mark Lewis, Mark Lucas, Toby Carter, Mike Buckley and Rosie. Thanks very much for having a go. Unlucky to the people who got the wrong answer.
Here is this weeks Mystery Bird.
I will reveal the answer next weekend and if you cant send me your answer through the blog, DM on Twitter @ellisethanfox. Good luck

Twite Delight

Today we had a very enjoyable walk around Blacktoft Sands. For pretty much the whole of the day the weather was cloudy with a bit of rain.

When we arrived we had a scan through the trees in the car park because there has been around about 25 Twite in the trees around the car park but all we could see was Tree Sparrows. We went to the visitor centre to see if much had been spotted and the man said " lots of Marsh harriers but no reports yet of the Twite". We decided to have a walk around a few of the hides and then come back later to see if we could see the Twite.

Once we were in the first hide we couldn't see much other than Moorhens, Coots and Mallards but then a pair of Marsh Harriers came really close to the hide which was an amazing sight! Also we had around 10 Sand Martins fly over which was the first of the year for me and my dad.

Marsh Harrier
Afterwards we moved on to the second hide where we had a fantastic views of a pair of Little Grebes which were collecting nesting material. Their nest was just inside the reeds, it was great watching them come back and forth to their nest. Next we went to the Singleton hide where we had 3 Common Snipe feeding right at the front of the hide! Also out on the water there was Greylag Geese, Mute Swans, Gadwall, Mallards, Pochards and a few Shoveler.
Common Snipe
On the way to some other hides at the other end of the reserve we walked past the car park so we decided to have a check just in case the Twite were there. We walked up and down the car park but still no Twite until my dad (yes, my dad) spotted some birds fly over the car park and then they came back over and landed in a stubble field. We walked over to the field to see that they had taken of again and now they were flying around the field but thankfully they eventually landed and then realised it was the stunning Twite! I was over the moon to have finally seen them as we have been to the coast tons of times looking for them but never seen them. They showed well for about 10mins in the field until they flew of and landed in some trees in the car park! Sadly when they were up in the trees the lighting was terrible so it was hard to get shots but the main thing is that we saw them! They stayed in the trees for about half an hour before flying back into the field. What great little birds, I think there call is awesome especially when they are in big groups. Next we went to some other hides around the reserve.

In one of the other hides we visited there was tons of Black Headed Gulls, the sound was amazing! Also hunting across the reeds there was more Marsh Harriers. When we got in the last hide this one to was like the other one, filled with Gulls but mixed in was a few stunning Avocets! Occasionally they came fairly close to the hide which allowed great views.
We left a little bit early so we could hopefully have another look at the Twite. On the way back we heard our first Reed Warbler of the year but sadly despite waiting for a while we didn't see it. Thankfully it became a little brighter when we reached the car park so now we could get some better photos of the Twite. We managed to find them again in a tree just out side the car park where we managed brilliant views and then afterwards they landed back in the field.

Sadly afterwards we had to go to be back in time for dinner but I could have stayed all day.