Sunday, 22 November 2015

Brief encounter with a Kingfisher

The weather has turned and the last hint of Autumn is behind us and this is now winter. Yesterday we had bitter cold gusting north westerly winds blowing over the bins in people front gardens in Hunstanton and providing birders on the east coast with a few Little Auks to enjoy.  By this morning the wind had dropped and there was a blue sky over the town, in my case I could see it from the windows of the Oasis leisure centre where I was attending no2 sons 4th birthday party.
Kingfisher, Holme Marsh
By this afternoon the weather had closed in again and grabbing the chance for an hours fresh air I headed to Holme Marsh where I figured I'd have the place to myself and the shelter of the hides if I needed it.
Cropped Kingfisher image, Holme Marsh
It was good to see the reed and Typha had been cleared from in front of the first hide and from here I saw a Cettis warbler in brief partial glimpses as it worked its way through the base of some reeds. A Barn Owl put in a brief appearance and I then decided to look from the second Hide, here the best birds were a male and a female Marsh Harrier hunting the NWT reserve. Then the high pitched call of a Kingfisher had me looking hard out of the hide window as a bird landed on a Typha head in front of the hide, its blue back and orangey underside doing their best to brighten a dull afternoon. I grabbed my compact camera [a Panasonic Lumix TZ30] and managed a few shots of the perched bird, not bad results for something the size of cigarette packet. The Kingfisher departed and in its place came rain, lots of it hitting and pock marking the surface of the pool. Time to head home.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Goldcrest's for Lunch

The east coast deluge of Goldcrest's is over. Just a few weeks back vast numbers of these tiny warblers could be found in almost any piece of seaside cover.

For such a tiny bird, they are smaller than a Wren, Goldcrest's are impressive little things with their orange or yellow crests, small needle bills and round black eyes set against olive green feathers. It can be hard to imagine such little bundles of feathers deliberately crossing the North Sea. Indeed an old colloquial name for Goldcrest was Woodcock Pilot the belief being that to cross the sea they'd hitch a ride on the back of a Woodcock, acting as a pilot for the larger, stronger but perhaps less intelligent bird.
Goldcrest, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich
So here I am on a mid November lunchtime in the heart of Norwich, its sunny and clear but the cold wind tells me that we have almost completed the transition from autumn into winter. A familiar set of chattering and high pitched bird calls has made me stop on the path beneath a couple of small trees that have nearly lost all of their leaves. In them are a mix of small birds Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits are the most numerous and most obvious but a high pitched call and a couple of fidgety tiny shapes give away the presence of a couple of "Crests"

I start phishing, sucking air between my lips and teeth making a rasping, screeching sound almost guaranteed to bring in curious small birds for a closer look, something I'll need as I have no binoculars with me.

I want to get the Crests in close to check if one of them might be a less common Firecrest and also, well because I can, and to try and get a picture with my compact camera, which is not the best tool for the job.

As I phish a succession of small birds drop in for a look and eventually two small Goldcrests move to my side of the tree flitting and fidgeting through the bare branches whilst I try and get a shot. I can easily see from the views that I get that they are both Goldcrests and I even manage a couple of OK shots.
Goldcrest, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich
Time is pressing and my lunch break is nearly over and I need to retrace my steps through the overgrown cemetery and back to my office, I do so with a small smile of my face as m encounter with these small birds has given me a small birding fix for the day.