Christmas Day and after opening the pressies me and the Beloved headed up towards Newbiggin with the target bird being the Desert Wheatear. After a walk along the beach heading North and having seen 2 other birders scrutinising a certain spot then leaving and walking along the golf course I was confident it was going to go in the Notebook. Got my bins on it from a 150 or so metres away but then it took off and flew straight past us so we turned around and headed back only getting one more glimpse of it on the edge of the banks about 100m from the caravans. We then headed down to St Marys but it was absolutely chokker so headed home for Christmas Dinner.
Boxing Day and Carole decided to give it a miss and try to get rid of the cold completely (its now 07.00 on Tuesday and she failed miserable so I will have to go out along again today) so off to Big Waters. Arrived 09.00 and only 1 vehicle there so a quick wander round but nothing much around apart from the wind whipping me to death and a small flock of Siskins in its normal spot. Off to the 1st hide where there was a delightful Little Grebe feeding just outside and giving me the eye for disturbing his meal
On the Island were several Cormorants mainly intent on making themselves look good and it was quite a while before a couple of them put their heads in the recommended position to ascertain whether they are carbo or sinensis. So the following pic (small digi camera clagged up against ancient Nikon scope) has the heads at the correct angle for identification as suggested in this article. After studying it intently and with all my accumulated years of birding expertise (3 and a bit) I have decided that I still am not sure so am sending the pic to someone who might.
Whilst I was away in Norfolk the last of the Whoopers departed any only Mute Swans were left which were a bit more active than in the last few weeks with lots of aggro going on. Couldn't quite figure out which ones were the resident couple as there seemed to be 3 Adults (no red rings on) and 1 Sygnet ganging up on others and chasing them then I became more confused when 10 Sygnets came coasting in and settled in with the other 4 birds I have just mentioned.
No sign of the 100+ Geese including the White Fronted which have been around Big Waters for a couple of weeks with the exception of this solitary Greylag which was soon chased off by the aforementioned Swans
Then headed up to the main hide where 3 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers in the Feeding Station were the highlight as the scrape is now non existent due to the influx of water. A small flock of Siskin also came in. Ian D arrived and a 30min chat ensued with me doing most of the talking about Norfolk and its delights then I headed off to Gosforth whilst Ian went on "The Big Walk".
At Gosforth I dropped into the new(ish) feeding station first where Jack (Whitley Birder) was already esconed. It was quite active with Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Treecreepers and Nuthatches being the highlights although there were plenty of Tits, at last a couple of Chaffinches and several Goldfinches and Blackbirds.
Then headed off to the Pyle Hide where I was pleasantly suprised at the the reed cutting that had gone on since I was last there, it certainly enhanced the viewing experience of the birder. A Water Rail was spotted up the left hand channel which was being harassed by several Moorhen and finally decided to leg it. At the very extreme of the channel a slight movement betrayed the presence of at least 3 Snipe which eventually were chased off by the Moorhen yet again. A very badly digiscoped (once again cheap camera pushed against ancient Nikon lens).
Next to appear was a Kingfisher and this time the excuse for not getting a decent pic was that the camera kept focusing on the reeds in the background making the actual bird look a bit like one of those cuddly toys
I bought someone might buy from an RSPB outlet.
Finally a short video of a Nuthatch taken with my ever increasing elderly bridge camera (hoping the wife with take pity and let me buy a new one even though when I do bring up the subject she always says "its your money buy one if you want" then turns away with the head up in the air. I want one that does HD Videos like this one from Cain's blog of the Desert Wheatear