Norfolk. 24th November 2010.

My Dad and I headed off to Norfolk for first light. We started at Wells Wood first and hoped for a glimpse of a Northern Bullfinch. But despite seeing 2 male of the British race there were no female Northerners to be seen. There were plenty of Coal tits and Goldcrests around though but after two and a half hours we decided to move on along the coast. Next stop was Burnham Overy Marshes, on arrival a Merlin flew over the road and then a Barn Owl was still hunting the fields adjacent to where we parked. The light was not perfect by any means, surprise surprise, and the day was emerging into a non photographic day and more akin to a good old day out in Norfolk birdwatching. The next sight to grace us was a flock of around 12 Waxwings, that I picked up flying across the marshes. They landed in bushes along the track leading to the dunes giving us some brief but welcoming views. There were skeins of geese flying inland continuously, we had no sightings of any Harriers or Buzzards and so moved onto Burnham Norton and further along, always hoping to glimpse the 'possible Northern Harrier'. News came through of a Rough legged Buzzard where we hadn't long departed from and so we about turned and headed back in time for my dad to connect before it sat up out of sight. News of the 'Northern Harrier' came through on the pager, seen at Titchwell then flew inland. Frustratingly the sighting was an hour and a half ago, which would of given a chance to search around the fields nearby if it had come out when seen. We headed off towards Titchwell as the light was already beginning to fade and it was definitely getting colder. We drove around the surrounding farmland sighting a couple of Common Buzzards, I then parked up overlooking the marshland west of the main footpath at Titchwell. Three Marsh Harriers were getting up every now and again and then in from the east a 'Harrier' appeared and proceeded further out over the marsh. With its orange breast and dark upperparts it hunted over the marsh for a few minutes before going to ground, with a line of watchers viewing from the main footpath and a few joining us by the roadside it wasn't long before the pager was showing ' probable Northern Harrier' at Titchwell, the bird then flew around the marsh before moving east over the pathway ( if only I had been standing there I thought ) and further along the coast. But we were both happy to of connected with this Harrier, it was my second attempt, and if it hangs around, which it should do for a while longer, then I may try to connect again and hopefully get a photo. Time to go home....

Pied-Billed Grebe. Hollingworth Lake. Gtr. Manchester. Nov 2010

After working my last night shift I decided I had to go for the Pied-billed grebe in Gtr Manchester. From leaving work I picked my Dad up on the way and headed home to change and collect my gear. The journey was not too bad and I was feeling awake with glorious sunshine warming the car all the way.... that is till we reached Hollingworth Lake only to see fog!
I drove along the approach road only to miss the car park entrance, and so I had to turn around. But as I came back towards the car park I paused next to a small congregation of birders and there it was ... the Pied billed grebe close in to the edge. Well we had both connected at least, and so now went and parked up.
Once we had returned to the gathering we found the grebe had moved away into the fog, presumably around to the bay where the hide was located. The sun looked as though it was starting to win the battle of breaking through and so decided to stay where I was and not join everyone in moving to the hide, the viewing would surely be as hampered as it was here. As the minutes passed by the opposite vegetation started to become visible and then out of the fog came the shape of the grebe, steaming towards us as if it was a duck coming to bread, fantastic, and as luck would have it the sun suddenly conquered the fog and broke through.

The grebe then stayed around our position busily diving for fish, and catching a few, as if it enjoyed our company. It certainly didnt take long to dispatch the small perch it surfaced with either. By now a few of the birders had returned to join us along with some new arrivals, and we watched for some time before it moved out to the opposite reeds and around to the bay. We eventually moved around to the bay, but it stayed on the far side, and although harassed by the black headed gulls there did not venture closer. Preferring to feed and rest under the low hanging branches, watched by the perched Kingfisher above it.

On one occasion when it was feeding I saw a group small fish leap from the water before it, hurrying out of its way before it submerged once again. And after nearly three hours there we decided to head back to the car and start the long trek home, but very bloody happy indeed.

Titchwell.Norfolk. 9th November 2010.

I headed to Titchwell knowing that the weather was bound to be a bit 'iffy', but I just had to get out and practice my photography. The wind was stronger than I had expected and predicted, with a few heavy showers mixed in. On arrival the tide was in and raining so I hunkered down in the dune ridge. This sheltering and then photographing continued but I still enjoyed being out.

As I set off along the path to the front my first sighting was a ring tailed Hen Harrier leaving the marsh and heading inland, and as usual before it was light. The Brent geese were actively feeding and moving around once it was light enough, this flock above had a Pale bellied type mixed in (second from the rear).

There were quite a few Grey Plovers around and indeed a lot more waders than on my last visit.

Bar tailed Godwits were numerous and quite approachable after careful stalking.

There were frequent 'fly by's' of waders, even flying into the strong winds did not seem to slow these birds down, and still proved a challenge to pan with.

And low above the water amongst the incoming waves just seemed to be a walk in the park as it were for the small waders.

The Grey Plovers never really feed as busily as the other waders, always more alert and aware of their surroundings.

The Bar tailed Godwits being bigger than the other waders tended to pass slightly slower into the wind and so were easier to grab a few passing shots, as they moved from one feeding patch to another.

This female Red Breasted Merganser ventured close along the shoreline, a couple of males were seen further out.

The Sanderlings proved most obliging as always, and definitely had a job running in a straight line whilst hampered by the strong winds.

I finished up after nearly six hours out and now wet and cold but glad I had ventured out. It was time for a cuppa and something to eat.