Sunday, November 06, 2005

No show Bunting, but Bill is crossed off and combined with a “white stripe” Teal

With another Friday booked off work, this one was dedicated entirely to the provision of my NMYL!
The bike was loaded up Thursday night, and the alarm set for 6.15 am. Target species were
Crossbill (again!), Little Bunting and possibly GW Teal.

I was on the road by 0700am, a beautiful cool crisp, blue skied affair, the first of the autumn.
Less than a mile from home I skidded to a halt, 2 Swans, over Themelthorpe had to be worth checking,
as the bins focussed in, I could just see the bill shape and the hint of yellow, the size and jizz unfortunately told me there were Whoopers rather than Bewick’s (the latter still needed!),
as I put my bins down I noted two more 400 yards behind the first two, as I homed in on these, they also called. Although I really wished them to be Bewick’s it was a really nice start to the day, especially as I never had them anywhere near home before.

I was at Holkham around 830, a walk around, circuiting the Washington hide and shoreline produced a good array of birds, and yessss……… just as I neared the endo fht epine belt on the seaward side I could hear the distinctive deep kip, kip, giving the presence away of 2 Crossbills I then heard another single and mangd to get flight views – CROSSBILL at last.
A nice group of 20 Brambling also passed overhead, drawing my attention with their deep nasally overhead tones.

A walk along the shoreline provided Grebes, and divers aplenty. Three Slav’s, four Red-neckeds, 20 Red-throats, 500+ Common Scoter, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 10 Eider and 10+ Guillemot.

I refuelled at Wells, and sat enjoying my meal in the sunshine alongside the quay, I then headed for Stiffkey, the Little Buntings chosen site for the last 10 days or so. This proved very difficult as the weather started to deteriorate. The wind in particular had increased, and after 2 hrs and studying every Reed Bunting in the area I decided it was not to be, besides I had a text meesage from Dave and Ray telling me the Green-winged Teal was sat roosting in front of Teal Hide at Cley.

I arrived Cley and headed out fro Teal Hide, only to be told the dreaded “Sparrowhawk story” -, “it’s just flushed everything, and the teal is not on view”. Was it going to be one of those days.
Just before entering the hide I was distracted by a “phyllosc”, that I gave brief attention to as I was troubled more by the Teal, although the brief views concerned me as it gave me the impression of a Willow Warbler rather than a Chiff – chaff, it would have to wait.
As I walked into the hide, I had mentally prepared myself for a blank.
As Dave and Ray were still in the hide, I enquired “I heard a Sparrowhawk has flushed all the duck, no further sign?” It was a weighted question! They both looked surprised and pointed to the nearest group of Teal and replied “No, it’s just sat at here look!” You just never know with birding, this proved to be the easiest bird of the day, it was just feeding a few hundred yards from the hide - I need not have worried!

After 15 minutes of the “White stripe” GREEN-WINGED TEAL, I got Ray, Dave and another birder on to the warbler it was now feeding in the phragmites just outside the hide. We eventually had killer views and bit by bit it became clear that it was definitely a very late Willow Warbler.

Another great day with 3 more NMY ticks.

237 species NMYL further 50 miles on the bike.

Return for the Little Bunting 06/11/05
I then made a return journey the next day for the Little Bunting, after choosing between Hickling for an American Wigeon, (on the pager as American Wigeon or hybrid) or the Little Bunting. Nice settled conditions and confirmation on the pager of the Buntings continued residence saw me head off back to Stiffkey.

Two hours and then 20 seconds of good views for me, courtesy of Oscar’s scope (sorry mate I did rather hog it!!)

Confirmation by the end of the day that the American Wigeon was indeed a hybrid, completely vindicated my decision

238 species NMYL further 4 miles on the bike.