Monday, 25 January 2010

Two Gulls From 'Up North'

I HATE not having a camera that works properly!!! ARGGGGHHHHHH!!!

This morning the Axe Estuary Ringing Group had an outing on Colyford Common. A nice selection of ducks first thing included three Mallard and four smart Teal - gorgeous ducks - even the ladies! For the 'macro' to work on my camera I need to zoom in a little bit - just by one notch. BUT cuz that's the button that is buggered, I couldn't take a single in focus photo of any of the birds! PANTS!

An obvious highlight seen during the ringing session was an Otter feeding in the northern corner of Blackhole Marsh - it gave cracking views! A couple of Water Pipits and four Green Sands also livened things up a little. It was nice to see some new faces helping us out today.

I was out again just after 14:00, a sweep of the estuary revealed just two adult Med Gulls. Afterwards a look at the sea gave eight Red-throated Divers, ten Great Crested Grebes, one Eider, six Common Scoters (four lovely drakes) and good numbers of Razorbills. At Beer a lone Black Redstart remains on the beach.

I returned home and after a couple of hours of odd jobs, went out for one last look.... was well worth it :-)

At 16:50, what looked like a small Polar Bear in with the gulls north of Coronation Corner turned out to be a second-winter Iceland Gull! It really was WHITE WHITE, which had me worried for a sec as albino/leucistic this or that entered my head... but when it came out of the water and started wandering about all doubts disappeared, my first Axe second-winter Iceland was waving at me - COOOOOOL! I wonder if it is one of last winters first-winters?

Ian Mc was the only one able to respond to my texts, he joined me for five minutes before we both had to leave. As my camera is busted (in case you didn't know!?) I didn't even bother trying to get a pici of it in the gloom, so instead went for a photo of the estuary north of Coronation Corner at 17:10 tonight...

No that's not a small Sun on the mud, but the Iceland Gull!

Another notable one just before I turned up the Ike was this third-winter argentatus Herring Gull. Amazingly this photo actually turned out only slightly worse than okay...

My first of this winter on patch; for most I know this is a YAWN.... but not for me :-)

Back to work tomorrow, something to look forward too........NOT!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Norfolk Trip - Day Four

We packed the car, and after breakfast headed out into the fog for the final stint of our four day trip.

First stop was Sheringham, to try again for the Purple Sandpiper for the trip list. Almost immediately after poking our heads over the sea wall, we could see the Purp feeding on rocks just below the Crown Inn. Excellent! Despite lots of large larids loafing about there was no sign of the Glonk.

We started heading south, with Whitlingham CP being our next destination near Norwich. We were here mid morning and scored with the trio we were hoping for - what an impressive place this is! The Red-necked Grebe was fishing towards the western corner of the Great Broad, and in the eastern section the redhead Smew was loafing about with large numbers of other wildfowl. The star performer though was the Great Northern Diver! It spent a good five minutes close in right in front of us resting and preening. Stunning views!

What a show off!

This is how close he was, I know he looks miles away in the pici...but he really wasn't!

After this we headed south to Chedgrave Marshes, our final destination of the holiday. We parked up in Waveney Forest and walked north east...which was a very stupid thing to do as we had to go north west! Still, Bun remains the biggest plank as he KNEW we were heading the wrong way but decided to stay schtum!!!

We eventually found a raised part on the edge of the forest, luckily the fog had cleared and visibility was ever-improving. Raptors were VERY impressive! Several Kestrels were hunting, a Peregrine came bolting through, a Barn Owl sat in the entrance to an old tin barn, up to four Marsh Harriers included one sat on a close bush for half an hour and two ringtail Hen Harriers were awesome. One of the Hen Harriers repeatedly hunted over a bit of reedbed adjacent to the edge of the forest we were standing in, unbelievable views! As we were under the cover of the trees I guess it just couldn't see us! The final raptor was the reason we were there...

After probably an hour of scanning there was no sign of the Rough-legged Buzzard we were after, but after some alarming Gulls, it suddenly appeared sat on a wooden fence, back on. After a short while, it flew a short distance and landed on another post. Unfortunately for us, the fog came in again at this point, quick and thick! It took off and flew away from us, before landing on much more distant post. This, along with the thickening fog, encouraged us to up and leave as we knew we wouldn't be getting any better views.

Also here, we saw up to six Bearded Tits (hearing several more) and it was great to see two Chinese Water Deer. With the fog in at 14:15 we left here and started the journey back to Seaton at 14:15, that was via a stop at this garage...

Bun's very own Service Station.... in fact the whole village was called Hales! There is also a place nearby called Bungay.... enough said!!

We also stopped at Fleet Services for some KFC, and were home for 20:15.

Well what a BRILLIANT trip we had, with the final species tally being 129 (and we didn't see Bittern, Greenshank, Brambling, any auks).

My bird of the trip, well, has to be the cracking pair of
Shorelark, but the male Hen Harrier at Wareham Greens and the Titchwell Mealy were certainly mega highlights too. The vast flocks of Pinkies really float my boat as much as anything though, just awesome! What an amazing place....

Norfolk Trip - Day Three

Well we woke up and it was raining....

We thought we'd head south to Blackborough End Tip and have a look through some Gulls. We did that, we saw some Gulls, but nothing out of the ordinary! We also got quite wet! Plenty of Egyptian Geese about down here were all that was worth mentioning. Driving about though did give us our only Bullfinch of the trip and a Barn Owl.

Early afternoon, we were back on the north coast, and just as the rain stopped we pulled up into West Runton beach car park. An adult Med Gull which has apparently been around for a while here, was on the beach, but soon made its way up to the car park and onto its favourite perching post...

Bun and Karen enjoying what was a Norfolk tick for me!

On the sea were at least 22 Red-throated Divers with the first Gannets of the trip flying past. Stock Dove made its way onto the trip list here too.

We left here, and headed west. It was with impeccable timing that Bun's pager buzzed as we were passing through Beeston Regis with news of a first-winter Glaucous Gull and Purple Sandpiper at Sheringham. Later I learnt it was thanks to The Chill for that! Cheers :-)

We pulled up by the Crown Inn, and soon found the Glaucous Gull resting on the sea just to the east. What a stunning beast, a really well marked and dark individual. We looked and looked for the Purp, but to no avail.


After this, we finally saw the Black Brant on Wells-next-the-Sea Pitch and Putt Green, a stonking individual! Just a shame it was tipping down with rain again!

We finished up at Holkham again, lots of Geese including the Snow Goose again. A Grey Partridge gave some good views, three Barn Owls were quartering below the Church, but best of all, Karen spotted a Woodcock sat out in the open beside a small pool near to us - nice! It made the fact my camera was knackered even MORE annoying though...

Not too bad I suppose!

We retired, wet and bedraggled, to the B and B, and yet again the Bowling Green saw us through the evening, our final evening in fact.

(Click on 'newer post' for Day Four)

Norfolk Trip - Day Two

Thursday was another dull day, but after breakfast we were out, with Holme being a very productive first port of call.

This day though will always be remembered as the day my camera broke. During the day, the 'zoom in' button just stopped working, hence why all my photos from this day on become EVEN WORSE in quality!

Anyway, back to Holme, and walking across the golfcourse, a large flock of Fieldfares flew up, with a couple of Redwing and Song Thrush. On the beach, a flock of 71 Snow Buntings flew up and down the beach, only settling briefly, with another four and five flying in to join them from the east. Aside all the wader activity on the beach, the sea was where most of the action was happening.

16 Long-tailed Ducks looked specactular - especially the splendid drakes, ten Eider, six Common Scoter, several Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers were the wildfowl on show. A Great Northern Diver was resting on the sea close in, with two Red-throated further out. A nice surprise was a Slavonian Grebe which flew close west, we later learnt it had been seen off Titchwell before it flew off from there at 10:15.

Next stop was our second visit to Titchwell. We scored with the things we dipped here the previous day, with the three redhead Smew showing to the west of the bank, but they remained distant - especially two of them. This is the best I could get...

Elusive blighters!

Twite was the other bird we managed to connect with, a distant flock feeding on the Brackish Marsh. There were up to 50 birds in the flock, but there were a few Linnets in there, so I'd guesstimate at about 40 Twite. It's a pity they stayed so distant though.

Spotted Redshank over the bank was the only one we saw all trip, and a Water Pipit proved elusive during our visit offering only flight views. The sea showed a decent flock of 180 Common Scoters plus six Eider and the usual Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers. Near the visitor centre the Mealy Redpoll was still present and two Water Rails showed superbly.

A scope view of the Freshwater Lagoon!

On our return to the vistors' centre, it was time to try a Tichwell bacon bap...WOW! Check this out...

There were TWELVE rashons of bacon inside it!!

We finished the day at Wareham Greens, the walk to and from the edge of the saltmarsh showed a couple of Grey Partridges, a Woodcock, and in a flock of c40Brent Geese were two lovely Pale-bellied, here's one of them...

I blame the broken camera :-(

Raptors included a Merlin, a Barn Owl, two Marsh Harriers, and three Hen Harriers. One distant ringtail came in from the east, a ringtail passed us close arriving from the west, and best of all, a STUNNING male gave a couple of really close fly pasts, he also came in from the west. Sensational views of a stunning bird! He certainly got 'bird of the day' award!

It was then back to the B and B, and another fine meal in The Bowling Green. The weather forecast didn't give us much hope for the following day, but you will have to read the next post to see how we got on....

(Click on 'newer post' for Day Three)

Norfolk Trip - Day One

As you can see, I didn't update the blog whilst up there, but now we're back I will tell each day as it happened. Hope you enjoy....

The team - Me (driver), Bun and Karen - left Seaton at 3am on Wednesday 20th, we passed through lots of rain, a bit of sleet, a possible snow flake or two, and arrived at Wolverton Triangle at 08:05, just as it was getting light. Perfect timing I'd say!

First thing I needed was a pee, as I stepped out of the car, a Crossbill broke out in an eruption of 'chups' above me before flying off, and as I was hiding behind a hedge to 'do the deed', a Lesser Redpoll did the same. It was a very worthwhile pee as this was the only time in the trip these two species were noted!

It took an hour of driving round 'The Triangle' (a pastime I'd rate at being less enjoyable than sticking pins in my eye) 'til Karen glimpsed a tail disappearing into the middle, we pulled up and glared in....three male Golden Pheasants! There was also a dark shape with them which was presumably a female. They disappeared deeper into cover, so we drove around to the other side, and eventually two (and briefly three) males came out onto the edge of the road feeding - excellent! The light was really dull, so photos for me weren't an option at all, but to show how colourful they are...

The dirty windscreen didn't help either! A truly PANTS photo

Worse than that photo is my video of them! Just soooo dull...


I know these 'dark-throated' guys get bad press - mostly from me - but they are stunning! Past hybridisation has been blamed for the dark throats, but looking at them, I see no other anomalies, so why is it not just a DNA cock-up in this small and isolated population?

It was then time to do some 'proper' birding. We headed to Snettisham, the first time I've ever been here! Getting out of the car, a Green Sand flew over, the only one of the trip so that was a bit of a jam! It's a bit of a walk to the beach, past all the small pools, larger lakes, and this big lagoon (most of which seemed to be littered with Goldeneye!)...

Looking west

We timed this visit well, as the tide was just edging out. Masses and MASSES of waders (mostly Knot) gave great aerial displays, with hundreds of Teal shuffling about on the mud. Further out more species of duck were dabbling on the water, and singles of Merlin and Peregrine were out looking for some late breakfast. All the time we were here, Pink-feet were going over, with many large flocks still resting on the mud in the distance.

The main reason we were here was to look for the two Shorelarks, and a trudge round the usual haunt drew a blank. We had earlier seen a flock of 26 Snow Buntings (which were flushed by the Merlin) fly east along the beach, so this is the way we walked.... Eventually we stumbled upon the Shorelarks, awesome birds!!! I only managed photos of one of them...

A 'lifer' for both Bun and Karen

Us relocating them went down well with other birders on scene, and soon 'Norfolk's finest' had gathered to enjoy these beauts....

Six nice people, and one not so nice person.... Goldfinches!????

Walking along the beach revealed a HUGE numbers of ex-birds, a dead seal pup and part of a porpoise! One of the ex-birds was this Pinkie....

'showing well!'

From here we headed to Titchwell. We knew a Mealy Redpoll was seen the previous day with the Goldfinch flock behind the visitors' centre. As we walked away from the centre Karen said 'there are the Goldfinches'... I pointed my scope up at the tree tops and immediately had the Mealy staring down at me, which was lucky!

I know a lot of people will be going 'Mealy....yawn!', but this this one was a STONKER! He really was an Arctic-wannabe, huge great wing bars, white tram lines, nice white underparts, a stunning bird! You can kind of see some of these features on my poor photo of him, just....

Nothing like a gingery Lesser, far from it! We were so impressed he almost got 'bird of the day'

Wandering out along the bank, Bearded Tits 'pinged' away but remained invisible, a Cetti's Warbler called briefly, at least three Marsh Harriers were the first of our trip and 15 Ruff and a few Avocet were the best in with the waders. We dipped a few things, which meant a return visit was necessary...

We continued east along the A149, but hadn't gone far when a road-side flock of Pinkies encouraged me to pull over for a scan. Singles of White-fronted and Barnacle Geese made this a worthwhile move.

We carried on to Wells, and pulled in at the Boating Lake where a pair of Scaup had been present. The light was really dull by now, but they still looked cracking - especially the male, probably one of my favouite ducks...

Apologies again for the consistently crap photography quality, trust me, it gets worse...

We headed back west a little to see the Geese come in at Holkham. I enjoy viewing them from the entrance to the church along the A149, so this is where we went. 180+ White-fronted and one Barnacle were amongst the thousands and THOUSANDS of Pinkies already on the marsh, and the wintering Snow Goose flew in soon enough with a massive skein of Pinkies from the west, and when it landed shone out like a beacon!!! Our first Barn Owl and only Marsh Tit of the trip were seen here.

Darkness had fallen, so we made our way to our B and B, The Cobblers, in Wells-next-the-sea. For the second year in a row it provided very comfortable, friendly and birder-friendly accommodation, I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

We unpacked, then headed to The Bowling Green Inn, where Bun was dying to get his teeth into their Vegetarian Quiche once more!!

We were sooo tired so hit our beds by 8:30, but still eager to get up and get out in the field again the next morning...

(Click on 'newer post' for Day Two)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Bye bye...

Early tomorrow, three Backwater Birders (Bun, Karen and I) will be loading up my car and heading to Norfolk for three nights.... am well looking forward to it!!! :-)

But before I'm off, here's what I've seen on patch over the past couple of days. It isn't much at all!!

Star bird has been this adult Spoonbill, which was showing north of Coronation Corner late this afternoon...

Not sleeping for a change!

Also on the estuary, two adult Med Gulls, a good count of 103 Common Gulls and another HerringXLesser Black-backed hybrid-type thingy! A Golden Plover was amongst a big flock of Lapwing near Boshill Cross (opposite Axmouth FC).

A quick look over the sea from Beer mid morning showed birds were REALLY on the move! Ten Brent Geese and seven Common Scoter flew east, and five Red-throated Divers and two auk sp. flew west. This was only in about five minutes! A Black Redstart was flitting about on the beach besides me.

The Woodlarks are still present near Axmouth, I saw them here a couple of days ago.

And that's that.... I shall try and update whilst away, but if not, you can read about it all on my return...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A World Premiere!

With little time for birding over the past two days, it's time to publish the post I have been threatening some of the local birders with...

Lurking in a dusty box in the corner of my bedroom is this...

Produced in 1997!

A local musician worked with the local schools to produce this video. In 1997, I was in my last year at Seaton Primary School, so was part of this project. We put on a performance in Kilmington, which was filmed for the video. I have just watched it for the first time in years, here's a few shots of the star of the show...

Aren't I cute.....what went wrong??!

To go with the music for the video, we were also filmed during an outing to the Estuary...

Me again, and Coronation Corner in 1997! Little did I know I'd find a Bonaparte's Gull from roughly the same spot ten years later!!!

But the whole entire point of this post, is this....

The camera man returned to the Estuary alone to film the scenery and birds. For the video he got some nice footage of Black-headed Gulls, Wigeon. And these....

The Axe 1997 Smew!

I actually remember them quite well, as they tried to feed in the ice-free patches of the Estuary. There were several Goosanders around at the same time too, I recall seeing about six hauled up on the mud north of Coronation Corner. If I remember rightly the Smew stayed for about a week. It was just total luck that the camera man for 'The sounds of the River Axe' visited the Estuary when they were here.

I tried to film the video playing on my didn't really work at all! But here it is anyway....



Hope to get some birding in tomorrow morning, and I have a good feeling about it too....

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Some Thrills In The Chill


After a quick sweep of the estuary first thing, I spent an hour and a half on the seafront - it was thoroughly enjoyable!

It was a little after 9am that my star bird appeared overhead. In the grey skies with light snow flakes falling, a
Red Kite looked STUNNING as it drifted west overhead just off the beach, rather quickly making a bee-line for Beer Head. It wasn't until it was circling over Beer Head (between one and two miles away) that I thought I'd try digi-binning it! And this was the best I got...

It IS a bird I promise!!! Although you can't see it at all in this photo, its plumage was immaculate

The sea was good value too, with some duck passage. 17 Pochard was a good count, a flock of ten (8 males) flew in from the west and landed on the sea before continuing east. Then five minutes later another flock, this one containing seven birds (4 males), also flew east. Here's another rubbish photo...

The flock of ten....just!

A single female-type Goldeneye was very notable as it flew west along the beach, a drake Tufted Duck flew in and landed amongst a flock of Wigeon and one drake Gadwall. To finish off the wildfowl for the sea, a Shoveler flew west with 18 Wigeon, four Common Scoters flew west with two on the sea, the Velvet Scoter and Eider remain off Seaton Hole and the two Coot were still looking out of place, as did two juv Mute Swans!

Also on the sea were at least four Red-throated Divers, with another three past west and one more east. Two very distant waders flew east, they were either Ruff of Knot; there was a notable size difference between the two of them so I'd guess at the former.

Apart from the Red Kite, there was much less on the move overhead, though two Mistle Thrushes were notable as they flew west along the beach.

Now to the estuary, and I'll get the ducks out the way first. The drake Goldeneye remains, and at least 11 Tufted Ducks were dotted about, a good count. The five Brent Geese were still near Seaton Marshes, both the Bewick's and Whooper Swan again opposite Stedcombe, and Gadwall offered the 'count of the day'. I clocked at least 21 in all, including a nice flock of 17 feeding on Bridge Marsh....

Another appalling digi-binned photo!! Sorry folks!

Have you had enough of crappy photos yet??? How about a jerky video clip?

My early morning check of the Estuary revealed the Ruff flock had increased from four to SEVEN! It was early so the light was awful - the reason why I went for the video option. Anyway, enough of me rambling about it, here it is...

Although this video it pretty rubbish, I LOVE the sound of it! Listen to all those winter estuary sounds...

A Bar-tailed Godwit was new in and a Common Sandpiper flew past me near the trams sheds. All that's left for me to talk about on the Estuary now are the gulls...

These three Med Gulls were showing mid afternoon...

Ohhh... slightly improved photography skills on show here! :-)

But now it's time to be bored! I came across this thing, which I think is a HerringXLesser Black-backed hybrid. Its legs were dull greeny yellow, mantle shade in between Herring and LBBG and it did look quite cutesy. Here it is anyway.... YAWN....

What do others think?

Early afternoon I went up to Whitford, and walked along a stretch of the Axe between here and Kilmington. The area around the river was rather green, but the hills around still white...

Musbury Castle

This little trip proved a great idea, as towards the end of my walk, a lovely male Goosander flew past me and up river - possibly yesterday's bird found by Phil? Also here, I had lovely flight views of a Jack Snipe which came up from a small stream shortly after three Common Snipe had flown up from the same spot. 11 Teal were trying to remain hidden under the banks of the Axe.

It doesn't feel as cold anymore, so I hope all these struggling birds can start to get back to normal. Tomorrow though, more ducks would be nice.... especially a Smew or two...

Saturday, 9 January 2010

More Bittern!

Was out for several hours this morning, and finished superbly when Phil phoned to say he had the Bittern in full view! Just as we (Bun and I) arrived it flew into a hedge and remained here for about half an hour before flying back into the field again.

It looked WEIRD perched up like this!

Poor bird :-(

And the last I saw of it was when it did this...

Walk inside the wood pile!!

Earlier on in the morning, a few of us were gathered at the seafront watching even MORE cold weather movement...

It was actually very pleasant here in the sun

A Brent Goose in-off was the highlight with Lapwings, thrushes and a few Linnets and Goldfinches on the move overhead. Up the estuary the drake Goldeneye was still showing well, along with several Gadwall, a Pochard and a Tufted Duck. The four Ruff were still knocking about too.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow...

Friday, 8 January 2010

Booming Marvellous!

The freezing dawn saw four Backwater birders on the edge of Blackhole Marsh, hoping for a glimpse of a patch mega! We did better than that.... We enjoyed two really good flight views of yesterday's Bittern as it tried to find ice-free water.

The last view we had of it was when it landed somewhere along this ditch...


...we waited and waited and waited, and looked and looked and looked, but it had vanished! For now anyway.....

Whilst here, Lapwings were piling south with at least 12 Golden Plovers. A Jack Snipe was a nice surprise as it rose from a wet ditch and flew west, and the cold is now taking its toll on Woodcock with at least four seen, including one which landed briefly on the track behind us. A species which I'm sure is struggling more than others at the moment is Cetti's Warbler, so it was nice to see one here briefly. The five Brent Geese remain in the fields north of Seaton Marshes.

I've had a couple of checks of the sea today. This has shown one Red-throated Diver, 13 Great Crested Grebes, the Eider, the Velvet Scoter, nine Common Scoters, six Teal, 20 Wigeon and weirdly two Coot!

I spent quite a lot of time along the river/farm gate early to mid afternoon today. At the farm gate just before 13:30 I was suddenly aware of the Bittern flying about over Colyford Marsh with two Crows in hot pursuit. The trio gained height, but shortly after the Bittern dropped down into an area of reeds just NW of the gate. Another excellent flight view, fantastic stuff! I hope it stays.

Now to ducks, and a nice gathering from the farm gate included three Pochard (two drakes) and a/the lady Tufted Duck. Three Gadwall flew up river and near the tramsheds this fella was much more obliging than he was yesterday...

What a looker!

Also the Estuary Coot flock has increased...

Now six! There are still several at Lower Bruckland Ponds plus the two on the sea

The four Ruff flew south past me at the farm gate, one of them looking noticable smaller than the others....which is weird because yesterday I could have sworn they were all males!

Still lots of thrushes about, in fact there seems to be even more
Redwings! They are starting to look like they are really struggling, any ice/snow free patches of grass I've come across today has been covered in them! The bank opposite the back entrance to Co-op was littered with them this afternoon, along with a female Black Redstart - a belated work tick - belated cuz I wasn't at work!!!

They're getting worryingly tame too...

Back to work tomorrow after a nice couple of days off, but I have a week off soon so I don't mind :-)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Big Freeze Continues

Wow - the weather is doing INCREDIBLE things! This is better than autumn, though I do feel so sorry for the birds, they have no chance. Please KEEP KEEP KEEP chucking apples, bread, whatever on your lawn, and keep de-frosting those bird baths and garden ponds!

Nearly all day Fieldfares, Redwings, Skylarks and Lapwings have been flying west over patch, several thousand of each easily would have passed over the patch today....probably tens of thousands. Truly remarkable stuff!

I'll split this post into two; Garden Birding and Out And About. There's LOTS of photos!!

Garden Birding

What a day for the garden! This is our front garden...

Admittedly looking a bit whiter than usual!

As well as some cracking birds in the garden today, the sheer numbers of birds has AMAZED me, especially Fieldfares! At one time over a hundred were on the lawn and in the trees, and there has been a constant turn-over of them too so we've probably had nearer 300 in the garden throughout the day! There were much fewer Redwing, probably only c20 all day and just the one Song Thrush. Here's a few Fieldfare pics...

Have only had a couple of singles of these settled in the garden before today

They loved the berries!

One a little closer!

Aren't they such stunning beasts!

This one was in the middle of Durley Road!

And finally, a little video....


So, what else has the garden given today? How about this corker...

A male Brambling, present all morning


A new for the garden (settled anyway, I've had hundreds fly over) was a Meadow Pipit. It was running about on our patio pecking away at the base of the house, weird.....very weird! It just shows what this weather does to birds, and how it changes their behaviour. Two female Bullfinches and a female Blackcap finishes off this section of today's post.

Out And About

Durley Road was still too icy this morning to get my car out, so mid morning I went for a walk down to the seafront. Here I bumped into Ian Mc. Offshore there were several Great Crested Grebes, two Red-throated Divers, two Eiders and a Velvet Scoter, but sadly no Smew! Behind us, two female-type Black Redstarts were feeding along the West Walk with a female Stonechat. Wandering back home, large flocks of Fieldfares and fewer Redwings were in several gardens, we kept looking for that Black-throated Thrush but no luck!

At 14:00 I took the plunge and got the car out. After a bit of skidding and sliding I got myself to the Estuary, and there was plenty to see! It was from Coronation Corner that the main prize was awaiting me, though it was VERY hard to photograph.

Most photos turned out like this....


A couple of pics came out like this....

Its bum!

But one or two looked like this....

A distant, but STUNNING drake Goldeneye

Other wildfowl included a female Tufted Duck (which SHOULD have been a Scaup!) and at least twelve Gadwall dotted about. The Bewick's and Whooper Swan were still in the valley, the former landing on the river late on. You know it's cold when you see these on the Estuary...


A nice quartet on Colyford Marsh were four male Ruff, presumably three of these were the ones seen by Ian Mc a short while earlier on Colyford Common. There were loads of thrushes and Skylarks in all the fields in the valley too....I couldn't even begin to estimate the numbers of these species on patch today!

On arrival home, I heard about a gripping patch mega seen by a local at 16:20. A Bittern was watched in flight from Blackhole Marsh and landed in a nearby field. Hopefully a dawn raid will do the trick tomorrow.... wish us luck!