Friday, 26 April 2013

April 26th

Out on patch after work. Decided to stop on road overlooking MoD field as I was driving past. In one scan at least 60 Wheatears were present feeding close to the road! An obvious large arrival of the species. During my subsequent patch walk I saw many more leading to an eventual total of 105 Wheatear seen in the Corton parish. Additional birds were 5 on Corton clifftop, 15 on the field by Corton new sewage works and at least 25 feeding in the field behind Hopton railtrack. Interestingly the large concentrations appeared to be somewhat inland with for example only 5 seen on clifftop, I guess they had been filtering inland during the day. 2 Willow Warblers were nice as they showed well in a large sallow by Corton new sewage works pool, WW are quite scarce at Corton and the habitat preference shown above means that area is the best spot for them, none were along the railtrack for example. There has been an influx of WW into our area today too with Andrew noting 9 in the scores. A Lesser Whitethroat rattled away along Hopton railtrack bringing the lowestoft area yearlist onto a decent 160 having noted the Drake Garganey on Carlton marshes scrape a few days ago.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

April 21st

Up early and out to Fisher Row, Oulton. At least 5 Grasshopper Warblers were reeling, probably the most reliable site in East Anglia for them nowadays since the decline. Also 7 Willow Warblers, 5 Blackcaps and 2 Whitethroats. Habitat is key as Willow Warblers are common here but for example pretty rare at Corton. At nearby Carlton Marshes another Gropper was heard and a male Blue-headed Wagtail was seen among 5 or so Yellow Wags and a nice White Wagtail. A few Teal and Shoveler were on the scrape, which is still looking in ace condition and will produce something decent real soon, watch this space. A Cuckoo was calling here and again Willow Warblers were frequently heard. At Corton a Yellow Wagtail flew north over Radar lodge but no other migrants were noted. At Burgh Castle 2 Spotted Redshanks and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits on the south flats brought my Lowestoft yearlist onto 156.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

April 20th

Fine sunny day with little wind for a change. At Lound Lakes a fresh in Reed Warbler was singing by the hide and a Whitethroat and 6 Chiffchaff were present. At Burgh Castle a Whimbrel and 3 Blackcaps were noted. At Breydon south wall 2 Sandwich Tern, Willow Warbler and a Whimbrel were seen. Travelled back to Lound Lakes where the Boys had found a Pied Fly on my patch and it showed well in sallows by the main causeway, a female. A bonus male Ring Ouzel was also noted here feeding in the grassy field. No sign of Mergansers reported off Gorleston from the Corton benches but optics can only reach so far and there was haze. 5 Whitethroats were new in at Corton new sewage works. Patch ticks coming thick and fast at last, its turning into a decent April.

Friday, 19 April 2013

April 19th

Nightingale seen well around the eastern hedge in Corton churchyard in evening, often feeding on ground. My first for Corton and a very valuable patch challenge yeartick. A single Wheatear was present on the holiday camp and a Curlew flew over, the first on the patch this year. Patch challenge now onto 119 sp. Yesterday I saw my first Lowestoft area Red-rumped Swallow at Kessingland sewage works fishing Lake, showing very well at times, a wonderful bird. Lowestoft yearlist moves onto 146 sp, tho im sure im still a fair way behind our "secret" front runner.

Monday, 15 April 2013

April 14th evening update

This evening we witnessed the most amazing migration spectacle I have ever seen. I joined Robert Wilton and Robert Wincup at Corton church where they had just seen 3 Waxwings. In the surrounding poplars thousands of Redwing were amassing ready to make the journey back to the breeding grounds on the ssw breeze. They had been held up by weeks on steady north easterlies and had now concentrated and were ready to leave on the favourable conditions. The day had seen many huge flocks of Redwing in Lowestoft area many well inland eg 3000 in a field at Mutford. At Corton we stood in the field by the church and many thrushes were passing overhead from inland and heading high out to sea. At first mainly Blackbirds then followed massive numbers of Redwing. The ones in the church poplars took off climbed high and headed off out to sea. More flocks flew in from the west, often settling in the tall poplars before flying out to sea. Everywhere you looked in the sky distant high flying thrush flocks were heading out to sea. A close flock amazingly held a conservative estimate of 3000 birds (counted by 100s along the huge flock). Similar flocks were moving higher. Many locals arrived for the spectacle including Peter Ransome, Andrew Easton and Alison Allen. We picked up 2 Long eared Owls flying around us then out to sea on return migration. By the time we called it a day Redwings could still be hard calling above us in the near darkness. We concluded that a conservative estimate of 30 000 Redwings passed out to sea over Corton that unmissable experience. I believe these birds were concentrated experienced individuals taking their quickest route out to sea that they were familiar with. This may explain why the vast majority of the Blackbirds were adult males. Other local sites were also witnessing the movement eg many over Gorleston, Yarmouth, Hemsby and Reydon but not in the huge numbers concentrated at Corton.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

April 14th

Up early and out to Corton church. It soon became evident that a phenominal passage of Redwing was underway as stream upon stream of them were moving south over the sallows and off south over the church with many stopping to rest in fields also. The passage continued for at least an hour and I logged a conservative 2300 birds. An hour later when at the new sewage works a massive flock of 1200 Redwing flew over south west. In adition to these there were also masses of Redwing around Hopton railtrack and the stubble and hedges inland of it, at least 1000 more. Some of the birds at the railtrack here were singing. A wonderful spectacle and maybe never to be repeated in spring. Many Chaffinch and Siskin and some Fieldfares were also moving south over Corton church early morning. Whilst walking along Hopton railtrack I was stopped abruptly by a large shape in the gorse. Raising bins a pair of bright orange eyes stared back at me..Long-eared Owl. Backing up and notifying the locals..the bird was enjoyed for most of the day. Another Long eared Owl was noted by others at Corton railtrack, part of an influx into our coast today. Back out to Corton Cliffs 6 Sand Martins were new in and a number of Swallows were noted during the day. Peter had seen a female Ring Ouzel here but it had moved off north by the time I arrived. At the railtrack 1 or 2 Firecrests were seen. At Flycatcher Alley another Firecrest was noted along with a flyover Brambling. 2 female type Black Redstarts were showing at the net posts.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

April 13th

The wind is now in the south and stuff is starting to arrive. However the most prominent feature at Corton in the morning was again high numbers of Thrushes present including 50+ Redwing. I see that Gib Point noted 3000 Redwing SOUTH! today. However the day was brightened by a very smart Firecrest found at Corton railtrack and showing well to only a few feet. 3 Woodcocks were flushed from the undergrowth here and finally 4 Chiffchaff and 3 Swallow were noted. The area seems to have a resident pair of Common Buzzards now, probable breeders. Popped along to Kessingland Sluice to take a look at the resplendant fsp Black-necked Grebe on the river Hundred. Showed very well to the large gathering present for this scarce Lizardland bird. However some locals let their dogs swim in the water despite the birders present and this had the effect of spooking the Grebe to swim away upstream and out of sight. Too high a proportion of Dog walkers show NO consideration for other people. A corking male Redstart showed well just north of the sluice.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

April 10th

News broke of the White tailed Eagle having just flown north over Benacre around midday. I decided to try from Corton after deciding it was too late to get down to Kessingland and after its speed had fooled me at Breydon the previous week. While scanning I heard an unusual noise coming from a bird flying in from the south over my head, a soft whistling fluty yodel. I had suspicions as to what it was, confirmed when I got bins on it and it was clearly a Woodlark with short tail easily noted. My first for Corton and only my second in the Lizard area (after a singing bird at Ashby way back.) It continued on north steadily, still calling. They really do sound nothing like Skylarks and when calling are easily identifiable. No sign of the WTE tho but a new tweet saying it was still at Benacre had me racing to try my luck from the viewpoint overlooking Kessingland levels. No sign tho in a 3 hr search..this bird is really beggining to piss me off... Chiffchaff only bird of note at the sewage works. Yesterday a fine male Stonechat was present at Corton new sewage works, a handy patch yeartick bringing the total to date onto 110 sp 130 pts.

Monday, 8 April 2013

April 8th

The biting east wind is back. Up early again to check sites in Corton but again no evidence of summer arrivals, just winter visitors. A few Redwing, Siskin and Chaffinch were present but no Chiffchaffs were noted, they should be heard in scores around this time of year. Not a sniff of a wheatear either, I guess we need a south westerly to push these into our area, I never thought id see the day i prayed for south westerlies in the Lowestoft area... In the afternoon went back to Corton new sewage works whre an immature male Black Redstart was seen feeding on the grass on the westward side of the dome, at least keeping the patch list ticking over for the year.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

April 7th

Up at dawn at Corton in hope of migrants. A woodcock flew out of the roadside sallows at Corton as I drove past. At Corton railtrack a Chiffchaff and 10+ Redwing were noted. Then went to Kessingland where a Grey Wagtail was in full song at the filter beds and 3 Chiffchaff were noted along with 3 Barn Owls on the levels. Then went to Carlton Marshes scrape where the habitat looks very good now but little was on it bar Teal and a Curlew. A Red Kite flew west and a few Buzzards were noted. I then decided to scan the grain silo viewed from the coastguards to try to snare Peregrine on the patch. There was no sign from this viewpoint but the next few minutes were rather extraordinary. While scanning the sky for Peregrine 3 Raptors filled my view out over the town. They were clearly Buzzards but when one turned it showed a very distinct clear white large uppertail area even from a good distance. There was a thick black tail band. The bird appeared larger than the other 2 Buzzards and its back was a tone paler than the other two. As it flew south I like 99% of other birders would, called it as a Rough-leg and tweeted it out. Then a Red Kite soared into the same view and was put out. Then 2 more Red Kites came along and joined it. This was turning into quite a passge through central Lowestoft of all places. (we had assumed most raptors actually skirt the town)More Buzzards followed, 8 south in all. Many groups of Siskins passed overhead south calling. Had I found a new undiscovered viz mig hotspot?! 45 minutes later i received a text from Rob that they had just seen a Rough-leg lookalike Common Buzzard over the west of the town viewed from near Carlton marshes. I later quizzed him on it and he said they had had good views and it showed a white uppertail but in their opinion was structurally a Common Buzzard. In most likelyhood it was my bird and I dutifully withdrew my claim. Later I searched the net for images and could see no bird marked as Common resembling my bird, it was plumage wise spot on for RLB. But ill bow to the better views and judgement of my peers. They may not have seen the same bird but ill just have to let that one go. To console myself I then headed to Lound and indeed my mood was brightened by 3 patch ticks within an hours watch, Peregrine, Golden Plover and Yellowhammer. In the evening after a tip off I visited a flooded field at the other end of Carlton Marshes and saw a much prized Little-ringed Plover and 2 Ruff, neither of which I saw in the Lowestoft area last year.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

April 6th

Sunny day with a fairly gentle NNE wind after 2 months of srong North Easterlies caused raptors to move through the area. Standing on the southern perimeter of Corton new sewage works in the morning I had a nice clear sky view to the south and west. Common Buzzards were moving and at least 11 were noted from here going north. The hoped for Red Kite was noted when 2 majestic birds drifted north together from over Gunton then right over my head as they headed inland towards Lound. Indeed most of the Common Buzzards took a similar route and at times showed great over my head. Later on I joined my "secret" listing competition and watched from the Hobland road where an additional 8 Common Buzzards were noted moving. One member of this selective club shared that he got a massive rush of adrenaline when he set eyes on the Kites from there and now realised why some people are so mad into yearlisting for the buzz it gives even from semi common birds. Id been telling these guys that for years. So im resigned to not only being gazumped on Dec 31st by a secret "triangle" in North east Norfolk...but also by those closest to me. But all is not yet hedging all my bets on an autumn finding spree to leave these newcomers face down in the dirt:) Rest of the day was spent scanning the sky for the White tailed Eagle. It probably went over me high and unoticed at Breydon south wall after i raced there having had the tip off from Winterton as it was seen at Burgh Castle 10 mins after I had arrived.

Friday, 5 April 2013

April 5th

Long-eared Owl seen in pines by Gunton football pitch viewed from along Corton road. Has been around since April 1st apparently as a resident presented some stunning photos. At least 8 weeks of north easterlies brought something....but still not a sniff of any summer migrants around. They have cleared out the central paths of both Corton and Gunton railtracks along you to walk freely along both. While this did get rid of some productive scrub, hopefully the easy access and viewing will make up for it. No positives concerned with the clearing of all trees and scrub around the Corton old sewage works tho, a real shame as it used to be very productive, but still looks decent enough for chats etc around the fence.