Category Archives: Bird Recording

Demons Of The Swamp Vol.3

Fans of The Cramps will get the title and if you don’t like The Cramps a. What is wrong with you? b. Why are we friends? Maybe we’re not.

Anyway, a blog post. First in a year? Does anyone still read blogs? If so read on.

Yesterday I went on my first twitch in absolutely ages. What did I twitch? A Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, some call it Western Swamphen, I still prefer Purple Gallinule. Will it ever be accepted onto the BOU British List? I doubt it but then Chinese Pond Heron made so maybe.

Anyway one arriving at RSPB Minsmere we were soon watching Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. I mean the Swampmonster.


Sizewell B


Purple Swamphen


Purple Swamphen

After a while of watching the Swampdonkey walk round a pool a sort of purple haze descends on a man and it was time to head off to the visitor centre to buy some china tea cloths or something and a coffee and bacon butty.

Around the centre, as well as the stench of composting toilets, are lots of Buddleia bushes. These attracted a steady stream of insects and a steady stream of photographers.


Migrant Hawker


Migrant Hawker


Migrant Hawker


Peacock & Red Admiral

By now we needed to see more birds and better insects so yomped a whole 300m to look at the Stone Curlew, two adults and a chick. Can’t be too many places you can see Purple Gallinule and Stone Curlew in the same reserve.

Back towards the centre we dipped Pantaloon Bee but scored with the Beewolves and a bonus if somewhat shy Purple Hairstreak.






Purple Hairstreak

We finished our day watching a pair of Honey Buzzard put on a full flight display over Westwood Lodge at Walberswick. The three lifers in the day Brian Moore’s granddaughter Rosie certainly hit a purple patch!

All photos were either iPhonescoped (still or 4K video) or taken using the camera on the iPhone 6S. Stills from video were taken using the StillShot app.





Like A Super Whooper

Had a text this morning from Steve James, he’d found a flock of 21 adult Whooper Swans on the fishing lake at Cossington South. I finally got myself in to gear and got down there with the camera to be joined by Colin Green. From the lay-by the Whoopers were against the sun so we made our way round the lake.

With Swans or any white birds, getting the lighting right is always a challenge and I’m still not happy with the results.

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

After a while with the Swans whooping, washing and preening it was clear they were getting ready to go and at 11.30 the duly set off, had a fly round and headed West.

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

You know me I like a pun, hence the title and I love a bit of ABBA… so here they are.


Tristis With Tris

Last night LROS welcomed Tristan Reid, The Inked Naturalist to speak to us on his efforts to raise money and raise awareness of the problems in Turkey. See Tristan’s website for more information.

Tris stayed with us last night and after breakfast we went for a look at the Siberian Chiffchaff at Barrow Sewage Works before his coach home. After an hour or so we finally found it showing brilliantly well in full sunlight. I would have murdered it had I bothered to take the DSLR! Alas, I didn’t.



In a modern society how can this still be happening? Oh yes, the Tories are back in power.


Baikal Teal – From Russia With Love

This morning I joined ASBO Birders Adam Archer, Dave Hutton and Jules Allen for a trip to the seaside. This time we were off to Southport to have a look at a mega rare duck. Arriving on site there had been no sign of the bird so we split up a bit to have a scan, Jules and I checked the Teal flock (difficult) while Archie and Dave checked through the Wigeon. It wasn’t long before Archie relocated the bird but as it moved in and out of the Wigeon flock it was tricky to get on. Everyone eventually did and we settled down to enjoy a stunning Baikal Teal.

Always distant or after lunch partially obscured by the sea wall, we got some half decent digiscoped shots. Many have mentioned the lack of a black band on the face but you can see this clearly starting to come through on both cheeks. The bird appears fully winged and clearly unringed… I’m happy!


Baikal Teal


Baikal Teal


Baikal Teal


Baikal Teal


Baikal Teal


Baikal Teal

From what I saw yesterday and from reading discussion on Birding Frontiers, I’d push y luck and age the bird as a 1W male.

Slender-billed Curlew Removed From British List

I think the BOURC and the BBRC have shown great courage in today announcing the Druridge Bay Slender-billed Curlew as not proven. This means that the species is now probably considered extinct. I have no axe to grind either was but the record was contentious from the very beginning and with hindsight might better have been dealt with as not proven from the start or at least pended (though the latter would have pleased no one I guess). See here on the BBRC website.

There was however a much more recent claim from the rarity hotspot of Stronsay… see this old post by The Drunkbirder.


Oh Yeah! The Norwegian Blue?

This morning Dave Gray, Steve James and I headed off to Norfolk for a spot of birding. Colin Green had gone down with the Jimmy Smits and The Llama thought the weather wasn’t going to be any good. As we headed through the fens we did wonder whether Andy was right but in Norfolk it was a pretty nice bright morning.


Holt Lowes

Our first stop was Holt Country Park. Here we took radios with Steve walking the park and Dave and I headed to the Edgefield sign clearfell. After a good hour we’d seen or heard nothing Crossbill like so set off back to the car to think about strategy. There’s an awful lot of good habitat there…

Dave and I found a Fly Agaric that looked like something had been munching on it.


Fly Agaric

Just as we set off towards the car park a flock of Parrot Crossbills over unseen but calling loudly. We radioed Steve and headed back out on to the Heath where I picked up a few in a lone pine. Steve joined us and we started to move closer. The birds soon settled in a stand of trees and started to demolish the cones. Snipping them off, then trapping the cone with their feet before demolishing it to get the seeds.


Here Be Crossbills


Parrot Crossbills and Common Crossbills


Parrot Crossbill


Parrot Crossbill

We counted 15 at this point but as a Sparrowhawk went through it was clear there were a few more. We were joined by Richard Millington and finally arrived at a total of 23 Parrots and one Common Crossbill… in flight it looked tiny by comparison. There were also a few Brambling knocking about.

After lunch we stopped in at Holkham and had Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose.

Our last stop was Roydon Common where we were treated to five Hen Harrier roosting including a beautiful ghostly male. Not a day of quantity but hey, feel the quality.