Monday, 28 December 2015

Iceland Gull at Kings Lynn

13th December 2015

A juvenile Iceland Gull had been present at the Kings Lynn fishing fleet for a few days now so well worth a visit on my way to Titchwell. I knew the area well from my earlier Norfolk birding days in so was soon at the intersection of the fishing fleet creek and the River Great Ouse,

There was only one birder there who was just leaving saying that the bird was last seen mid-river floating out with the tide. I therefore grabbed my bins and looked down the river towards The Wash, but there was no sign of a gull, only a pair of Mallard. Therefore, the gull had either flown into The Wash...........or had flown back!!

I drove my car along the river wall for a couple of hundred yards and then turned back driving close to the river and inspecting all the gulls on the rocky bank. It wasn't long before I came across the Iceland Gull standing just 10 yards away. Unfortunately it was not possible to take some shots from the car because of the angles and the light, so I parked up and walked back with the light, what little there was, behind me.

The bird seemed very settled and I took photos as I approached, eventually getting to within 10 yards. I am sure I could have got closer, but there was little point as the bird was already filling the frame. If only all birds behaved like this.

I eventually moved on as the bird had obviously had enough when it couldn't even stifle a yawn.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Mediterranean Gulls in Flight around the Wooden Cliff

9th December 2015

Today there was a stiff sea breeze on Southend Pier which, as it hit the pier structure, caused a significant updraft just as you would get by a cliff. This was irresistible to the gulls which spent much of their time wheeling around or just hanging in the updraft making in-flight shots much easier than normal. What a fantastic way to round off the day.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

My Annual Pilgrimage on the Southend Pier Railway

9th December 2015

It's that time of year again and off for a rickety ride once more on the Southend Pier Railway, just as I did with my mum 60 years ago. The only worrying thing is that today they give me a Concessionary Ticket without me even asking for it!!

So after a rather bone-shaking ride we arrive at the end of the pier where we are going to spend the next couple of hours photographing everything that moves. The Turnstones were once again trying to break the record for the highest density of Turnstones on a slipway, not that you could see much of the slipway. And irrespective of how many shots you have of a Turnstone it is impossible to resist just one more.

Rather unexpectedly a Cormorant flew in and perched on one of the slipway posts. I suspect that this is the closest I have ever been to a Cormorant and it provided some excellent opportunities for some detailed shots.

I was just about to start taking some shots of the Mediterranean Gulls when I noticed a lone gull at the end of the line which, due to its yellowy-green bill, I had initially assumed was a Common Gull. However, closer inspection revealed that it was in fact a Kittiwake, the first I have seen here. Other people had reported seeing Kittiwakes here but I had always assumed that these were fly-bys.

Anyway, now down to the business in hand. There were 24 Med Gulls present covering 1st Winter, 2nd Winter and Adult plumages. Although the birds keep to the slipway area, they are obviously used to people and even when a boat pulled up at the slipway they were rather reluctant to fly. This of course provides great opportunities for some close-up shots.

And now for some flight shots.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Yellowhammers at Heartwood Forest

8th December 2015

A rare bright and sunny day so time for a visit to Heartwood Forest for another attempt at the Short-eared Owls. The omens were looking good as we pulled into the car park, just in time for a Red Kite to waft slowly overhead allowing a few rather unexpected shots to be taken.

Now in position on top of the hill but no sign of any owls yet, so time for a look around the field margins and the hedgerows. There are not normally too many small birds visible, but they are there and with a little patience they will come to you. First on show today was a small flock of Reed Buntings that were feeding on the ground, but would occasionally fly up into one of the saplings for a look round.

But the stars of the show today were the flock of Yellowhammers that were using the nearby hedgerow as a base to mount forays into the adjacent grassland allowing several opportunities for some shots. What superb birds and such a pity they are not as common as they used to be.