Monday, September 29, 2014

Birding at last!

Wow, this was a long break. But today I finally managed to get myself out of Norwich, courtesy of Jake and Drew. We left early and headed first to Sheringham for a couple of hours of seawatching. **Lesson 1 in UK birding - if the weather is good (like it was today), lower your expectations.** 
No wind resulted in, well, alright birding. Some movement of Red-throated Divers, Common Scoters, Guillemots, one Scaup, one Shag and a few other bits and pieces. Some divers swam rather close in:

Red-throated Diver

Red-throated Diver and Shag

Then we moved on to Cromer. By the pier the long-staying Caspian Gull showed too well at times. It was associating with a Yellow-legged Gull, and most of the time they were both perched on top of Hotel de Paris. Caspian Gull looks a bit different here compared to the more Asian birds that reach Israel. Slightly more black on the wingtip (tiny black dot on P4) and bill shape not quite the same - a bit heavier. Note that now it's growing P8 to P10 so when it finishes growing them in a couple of weeks the wingtip will have even more white.

Caspian Gull

Yellow-legged Gull 

What a brute


We spent the rest of the day at Stiffkey, which was really nice even though we didn't have anything special. Lots of birds both on the scrapes and on the mudflats.
**Lesson number 2: always carry a good rifle when birding to shoot down dog walkers.**
Some highlights included 3 Curlew Sands, 2 Green Sands, 4 Rock Pipits, Peregrine, 14 Spoonbills, 1 continental White Wagtail, 2 Whinchats. Not too shabby.

Rock Pipits

Thanks to Jake and Drew for the ride and company - it was a good day indeed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Welcome to the 21st Century

Apologies to all my followers and readers for this long absence. Finally we moved to the UK almost three weeks ago. It took me almost three weeks to get connected at home. Incredible. The first week without internet was quite fun in fact, but then it started getting complicated - almost impossible to survive without internet these days.
Anyway, the move was quite OK. Norwich is a lovely city and we enjoy life here very much. The first couple of weeks were hectic with the new house and with our sons beginning school (without speaking English). But they are advancing very fast - really impressive how quickly they adjust.
I don't have a car yet so haven't been able to do any proper birding yet, which is quite frustrating with all the RBA tweets I get every five minutes. Working on my garden list - latest additions included a hooting Tawny Owl from my neighbour's garden, and some flyover migrants. 
Spent a day on the coast with the family near Sheringham. Impossible to bird properly but between icecream and Fish & Chips glimpsed some Gannets, gulls etc. offshore. Amusing to see Turnstones feeding on bread with pigeons.

Went to Whitlingham one afternoon with my boys - nothing special there but the kids really enjoyed it:

Enjoying autumn colours in Norwich

Monday, September 1, 2014

Goodbye Israel

Today was my last full day in Israel before leaving to the UK tomorrow. Left early and went for a sentimental farewell birding session at Ashdod. Short seawatch was quite unproductive - only some Garganey migrating over the sea and some gulls, so I moved on to the ponds, that were pretty birdy. Good autumn variety in the scrub around the ponds. Lots of shrikes of four species (Red-backed, Woodchat, Masked and Lesser Grey):

Lesser Grey Shrike

Red-backed Shrikes 

My 500 mm lens is waiting for me in the UK, so I am shooting with my old 400 mm, feels so 80's. I miss my 500 baby.
Big numbers of shorebirds (mainly Ringed Plovers and Little Stints) but low diversity. Only birds worth noting were two Temminck's Stints.
Many Yellow Wags and Willow Warblers in the grass-covered ponds. A couple of Citrine Wagtails were nice, and some Marsh Warblers too.

Citrine Wagtail, 1cy female - too close - 3.6 m.

Flused by Common Snipe 

Black-headed Yellow Wagtail, 1cy female

Only two Yellow-legged Gulls present. This bird is quite unfortunate:

Goodbye my ponds