**MEGA**Cley NWT. December 2011.**MEGA**

Western Sandpiper. Cley Norfolk.

Luckily for me the morning after the pager rang out with this little mega, was the first of my night shifts and so I had the morning to try and connect. I picked my dad up at 04:15 and headed off for Cley Marshes. Arriving before first light the thought of continuing my run of dips was certainly in my mind, and with one birder from Hertfordshire already in the hide, we settled down with a birding couple and awaited the sunrise.

The hide soon started to fill up and unlike in Kent the birders here were all scanning for the bird. So it was no surprise that it was picked up on Simmonds scrape after flying in. A very fast moving bird and quite mobile when mixed in with the Dunlin, especially when the bloody Wigeon kept flying in to land after being spooked, probably by one of the many Harriers quartering about. We were to get good views of the Western and I was happy with this set of images considering the size of the wader and distance even for the big lens!

! And best of all....we didn't dip !


In the space of 4 days I had dipped on 2 wanted birds. So bloody frustrating. I hadn't been well and after suffering through two night shifts I thought I deserved to go for the Eastern Black Redstart at Margate....well bloody beano to Margate it wasn't, the bird had disappeared overnight (Thur 17th). Still slightly peeved late on Saturday afternoon news of a Blackpoll Warbler in Kent again, being a 1 3/4hr journey I couldn't resist going for it the next day and so on Sunday, picked up my dad on the way through and set off for 1st light. Well that's about as good as it gets....another bloody no show (although a single report the following day done nothing but aggravate the fires!). It was a cold damp foggy morning and with about 100 birders present it was not to be found. As every party of tits came through they were scrutinised but to no avail only Blue's, Great's and Long tailed were seen. Mind you it makes me laugh that so many twitchers turned up and for some instead of putting in some work scanning and looking for the bird they were more content to stand around chatting away gossiping, greeting one recognisable face after the other,chatting again, some 'birders' near me didnt even lift their bins once....top class for sure.

A small bit of Asian spice to warm my day !.

I arrived at Holme before first light and set off along the dunes up to the area where I thought, opposite Gore Point, the Pallas's Warbler had been showing the day before. There was plenty of bird movement with Dunnocks,Redwing,Starlings galore and up till then the best being a female Blackcap. Searching around I met up with a couple of birders who the day before had connected with the Pallas's and sure enough I was in the right place. It was then just a matter of being patient and waiting, and the 3 of us were rewarded after some time with good views of this stunning little waif. Even if not frame filling images I was happy to record this beauty, the first time for me to photograph too. And with now more birders turning up the bird became more elusive and eventually moved to a nearby area where it was seen a few times flitting around the tree canopy but a lot more elusive than earlier. At least with the thought of this Asian Babe' in my head the realisation of back to work tomorrow was put on the back burners for a while.

"If you go down in the woods today"

Sarah and I took a stroll through Potton Woods, close to where we live. I specifically went to look for some nice leaves to photograph. With the weather a tad dull I decided to collect the leaf litter and photograph them at home. We were not to be disappointed either, the array of colours and patterning when viewed in the hand are stunning to say the least on most. Regardless of whether the leaf was decaying,diseased or torn they were all a picture in their own right. I used a black back drop to bring out the colours more and for them to look different than just laid down and snapped.

The Lodge.Bedfordshire.Oct 21st 2011.

I arrived mid-morning at the Lodge to look for the 6 Woodlark frequenting there. On arrival at the hill fort I was shown the birds by some birders already in place. They were to show reasonably well although most of the time along the distant ridge, they would at times stop and sun themselves before giving their position up again as they moved. They then flew to the new heath and were unviewable unless seen in flight. Whilst waiting for the return of the Woodlarks the nearby pines held Siskins and Lesser Redpoll. News on the pager of a Osprey at Brogborough had me stating to another birder how nice it would be to have that fly over! Unbelievably a short time later as I was scanning for the Woodlarks on my own, I turned around and surprisingly stared at a Osprey circling complete with fish in talons, it circled just the once they moved away. I only saw the Woodlarks once more in flight landing on the new heath but the Osprey certainly made my day.

Early start and early return home.

After an early start to Minsmere for first light with my dad, the day was to end in disappointment. I had refrained from joining the melee at Warham Greens for the "RTR", and should of known my luck would be the same with both the Shirke and Bluetail moving on as well. We watched the highlight of the trip, a Short eared owl flew in off the sea(2 Reported) and flew a couple of circuits before downing in the vegetation. Oh shit, maybe something great before I return to work later this month.

A grey Grafham but a lovely white arse later !.

I took Sarah for a walk along the dam end at Grafham Water hoping to get some pipit images. The weather was dull but we were graced with good numbers of Meadow Pipits. Although quite flighty due to squabbling a lot of the time, I was able to grab some nice images. Across from the dam Sarah picked out 2 pure white Pheasants amongst a few almost black ones, they really stood out in the field.

After getting back from Grafham I decided to go to one of my local spots where I had seen a lone Wheatear the day before. On arrival the the lone Wheatear was still present albeit further out in the crop field. It soon moved closer mind you and after a patient wait (something that some prats seem unable to do these days) I was able to work alongside this lovely bird for some time. It seemed content on posing for me and would alter its head position from side to side as if at a fashion shoot....what a marvelous model.