Monday, 23 February 2009

Norfolk: the grand tour!

Still somewhat sleepy after my late night return from Gambia on Friday night, I joined Monkey, Hawky and Lethy on a trip to the Brecks... or at least, that's where we started!

First stop was Santon Downham, where the Lesser-spots showed superbly from about 7.30am. Two males and a female were constantly chasing about right in front of us, with a bit of drumming and periods of manic display thrown in for good measure. Brilliant birds, brilliant views!

Moved on to Lynford for some Hawfinch action - Hawky (or should that be Hawk-eye?) picked up two flying over the road near the carpark, while the rest of us had to make do with a more settled bird in the usual hornbeams in the paddock. Aside from various flocks of Siskin roaming around, we didn't see a huge amount else, preferring instead to move on to take a quick look at Brandon Country Park, where I'd heard rumours of a regular Willow Tit. They could be true.... but our few fleeting views of a non-calling bird weren't enough to rule out Marsh Tit. Ho-hum.

Hmm... was that a Willow Tit?

The main target of the trip was Goshawk, at a not-very-secret site in Thetf0rd Forest. However, the weather was neither as warm nor as bright as the previous day, and we were out of luck. A male had been seen fairly briefly between 9.30 and 10am, just before we arrived, but we had to make do with a distant flock of 6+ Crossbill and plenty of gorgeous Woodlark song. Not a bad way to dip.

Mr L took the opportunity to return home and recoup some brownie points with the boss, so I switched cars. Not having a strong preference for our next stop, we headed up to East Norfolk, since Monkey wanted to see a little white goose and some Cranes. No problem - here they are...

Onwards to Cley, where a Pale-bellied Brent was quickly located as it flew past the visitor centre, from the reserve to nearby fields. Views were good, and the Monkey moved up to a two-tick day (well, with a rather loose definition of tick, but never mind).
Huge contrast between dark neck and pale underparts and flanks.

Reviewing the photos afterwards, a second individual looks interesting as well - check out the bird to the left of the obvious Pale-bellied here:

Unusually pale Dark-bellied Brent, a second less obvious Pale-bellied... or dare I say hybrid?!

Final stop of the day was a quick diversion into Lakenheath RSPB, where the Great Grey Shrike showed typically well, just north of the carpark. Photos weren't anywhere as impressive, though!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

First photos from the Gambia

David and I returned from our week's honeymoon in The Gambia with:
  • a trip list of 188 species
  • more than 1300 photos taken with the new camera - thanks everyone! (Canon 50D and 100-400 IS L lens, if you care)
  • many happy memories
  • relatively feeble suntans (i.e. we don't look like lobsters) - it wasn't actually as hot as we'd expected
Sorting the photos is going to take a while (slight understatement there), and we'll post them up here gradually. However, for the moment, here's a few of the highlights - hope you like them!

Little Bee-eater

Long-tailed Nightjar

White-faced Scops Owl

Abyssinian Roller

Pied Kingfisher