28 March, 2010

'Mega' Twitching

Well, what a day ! A planned day out to Portland with mates was hastily rearranged after yesterdays news of a Two-barred Crossbill on our own doorstep. After failing to see it the previous evening, we had a short wait when it appeared with a flock of c.25 common Crossbill near the Lake Hide just after dawn at the Lodge, Sandy. The only other Bedfordshire record was a small flock of this irruptive 'Mega' species at Ampthill on 3rd January, 1890 .

We opted to go to Norfolk, and stopped by Hunstanton for a look at the sea. Fulmar patrol the cliffs here making best use of the updraughts.

The draw of two Alpine Swift together at Lowestoft proved too much so once more we changed tack for an all-out day of twitching - not something we do too often these days.
With rapidly changing backgrounds of bright white clouds, dark clouds, blue sky and dark/pale buildings it proved difficult to get the correct exposure as these magnificent aerialists swooped around our heads. Using RAW would have helped but I knew my 2 x 2mb cards would fill up too quickly and not last the day.

Spending more time would also help sort out exposure compensation adjustments, but our next twitch beckoned a few miles down the coast at Kessingland for yet another Alpine Swift and a Pallid Swift together !
After a worrying twenty minutes they both obliged. However, they were always a bit distant to obtain plumage detail. Too often they were in the wrong quarter of the sky nearing the sun, whilst a longitudinal cloud bank seemed to track over the site throughout our visit - excuses, excuses . . .

Both Swifts together.

We then called it a day. Fifteen minutes later the pager warbled. It's set up to warble for a Bedfordshire rarity or a national 'mega' rarity. Expecting an update for the Two-barred Crossbill I checked the message - MALE LESSER KESTREL AT MINSMERE !!! - only about twenty-five minutes away !
On arrival we heard that the bird had been harried off by a Common Kestrel - Lee Evans and many others were searching for it and we duly joined the hunt. I did speculate that it might head for Westleton Heath - where it was eventually re-found. Good but distant views were obtained in late afternoon sun, but I didn't attempt any photography. So below is one I took in May 2008, Trujillo, Spain :~)

Two Suffolk Barn Owls later, and after 377 miles of driving, we approached home and reflected on how our luck held up for an absolutely stunning day of twitching.

26 March, 2010


Blow's Downs had a male Ring Ouzel, but it wasn't showing during my search. There were six Wheatear on the paddocks slope. Nearby a Chiffchaff was feeding between bouts of singing. On the local patch, a few Swallow and Sand Martin were still present.

25 March, 2010

Local Patch - 25/03/10

Today a singing Willow Warbler was my earliest in Bedfordshire. Other migrants included two Barn Swallow, a single Sand Martin and two Chiffchaff. Wetter weather moved in mid-afternoon during which a pair of calling Redshank circled the site but quickly moved north. One (perhaps two) Water Rail were on the scrape and five Common Snipe came out to feed in the rain. A male Reed Bunting sat out the worst of the heavy downpour.

04 March, 2010

Feeding Forest Finches

Spring is stirring, but today was tempered by a cold wind. Near Woburn, at Lowe's Wood, a sizeable flock of Siskin fed in the Larches.

Above the pleasent twittering of the Siskin were the distinctive metallic 'chupp' calls of Common Crossbill, and after a few minutes of searching, three were found feeding at the tops of the tallest Larches.