A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Twite surprise

I had the day off yesterday so headed up to Burnham Overy first thing.  This Guillemot was in the channel by the start of the sea wall near the staithe.

Guillemot, Burnham Overy, 7th December

It dived occasionally but I think to hide from me rather than to feed, but I did notice it swimming along with its head dipped in the water a few times, Shoveler-esque.  Was this feeding, and if so is that normal behaviour for Guillemots?

Guillemot, Burnham Overy, 7th December

The flocks of geese in the field south of the reedy pool were worth a look through.  A Barnacle Goose was among the Pink-feet, with another 5 Barnacle Geese together behind the pool.  Among the closer Brents was a Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid.  Not as Black Brantish as the bird that's been here in recent winters, I don't think, indeed when the sun came out it became very tricky to pick out from the Dark-bellied Brents.

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Burnham Overy, 7th December

A Stonechat was north of the reedy pool and from Gun Hill I could see both Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser in the harbour.  The latter later flew out to the sea where it joined 3 more.  A Peregrine flew east along the beach pausing over the dunes where it flew around for a while.  A minute or two later I heard a commotion and looked up to see 2 Peregrines together flying off over the saltmarsh.

Reed Bunting, Burnham Overy, 7th December

From the east end of the dunes I could see 6 Eurasian White-fronted Geese on Holkham Freshes and a Stonechat in the dunes north of the pines.

Later I drove down Lady Anne's Drive to have a quick look at the geese there.  Nothing to note but this Kestrel dropped in beside me.

Kestrel, Holkham, 7th December

I then headed over to Blakeney.  Red-necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver had both been present recently and showing well for photography - and it was a good excuse to have a gander at the wildfowl collection to see if there was anything of interest there.

Well neither the grebe nor the diver showed but I enjoyed a good chat with Keiran and Marcus.  We all converged as a flock of 7 Twite dropped in briefly before flying off calling.  While we stood there the flock, now 8 Twite, dropped in twice more, each time just for a minute or so.

Twite, Blakeney, 7th December

A Barn Owl was hunting the area and good numbers of Pied Wagtail were gatthering near the car park for roost.

Among the wildfowl collection there were a few bits of interest.  Pairs of Ross's Geese and Red-breasted Geese are now in residence and these Teal aroused my curiosity.  A drake of each Blue-winged Teal and Cinnamon Teal (I assume the Blue-winged is a first-winter drake with its slightly obscure head pattern) and a female which is less straightforward.  Here are the drakes:

Cinnamon Teal, Blakeney, 7th December

Blue-winged Teal, Blakeney, 7th December

My first thoughts on the female were Cinnamon Teal, in view of its relatively spatulate bill (and probably influenced by the fact that by this time I'd only seen the drake Cinnamon), but I had a feeling the head pattern was more Blue-winged Teal.  Checking references later confirmed this to be the case, but the bill was surely too spatulate for Blue-winged, and probably even for Cinnamon.  The pale colouration on the bill was also amiss for either species.  But the bird was shaped and sized like a Teal - this was certainly no Shoveler!  My assumption at the moment is that it's a Blue-winged Teal x Shoveler hybrid, but other views welcome!

presumed Blue-winged Teal x Shoveler hybrid, Blakeney, 7th December

My recollection was that the storm surge in December 2013 completely destroyed the collection with all stragglers disappearing within a few weeks of the event.  But my photos of Mallard x Indian Spot-billed Duck hybrids are dated late February 2014, so I must have forgotten that a few birds survived for a while after.  Pretty sure they weren't there much past this though, but as two very similar hybrids are back there now I wonder if they were temporarily removed elsewhere for safe-keeping, or if these two are different birds?

Mallard x Indian Spot-billed Duck hybrids, Blakeney, 7th December

When I saw this bird at the end of October I wasn't sure if it wasn't just a Mallard with remnants of juvenile plumage.  But it's not changed six weeks later and a bit of research turns up other Mallard x Indian Spot-billed Duck hybrids looking similar, so I presume that's what it is - probably backcrossed with Mallard I should imagine.

Mallard x Indian Spot-billed Duck hybrid (probably backcrossed with Mallard), Blakeney, 7th December

 Among the other exhibits was this Hooded Merganser.

Hooded Merganser, Blakeney, 7th December

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