Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cley 28 Aug- 1 Sep

For my parents' golden wedding anniversary, all the families got together for a few wonderful days at Cley-Next-the-Sea. From the car on the journey, we saw a harrier with a white rump - unmistakably a Hen Harrier. Great start! On arrival, we only had time for a short walk down to the sea, but nonetheless saw Wheatear, Spoonbill, Kingfisher, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Common tern, Black Headed Gull, Little Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Ruff, Greenshank, Redshank, Mallard, Shelduck, Grey Heron, Curlew, Woodpigeon and Lesser Black Backed Gull. There was a group of twitchers along the shingle so we tramped to catch up with them and were fortunate to spot the target - Short Toed Lark. Happily, toe-length is not the sole distinguishing feature - pale colour (and the guidance of experts) better guide.

On Sunday I had a glorious morning run out to Blakeney and back, and picked up Blue Tit, Dunlin and Marsh Harrier. we then did a big family walk along the shingle, in increasingly stormy conditions, to Salthouse (where we bought Samphire and Cromer Crabs) and back. We added Collared Dove, Oystercatcher, Jackdaw, Starling (there were some spectacular evening flock displays - and I also must confess to having got over-excited when mistaking juvenile starlings for something more interesting), Pied Wagtail, Avocet, Goldfinch, Lapwing, Greater Black Backed Gull, Little Ringed Plover, Dabchick, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Great Tit, shoveler, Kestrel, Pheasant and the great highlight, a Common Crane flying overhead and then landing on a field. What a magnificent sight. In flight it is so long that it undulates, and then on the ground it really is of an ostrich scale.

A real storm was in progress now and Leo spent time down with the hardy souls cowering behind the shelter, but was rewarded with Great Skua, Gannet, Common Scoter (L) , Turnstone (L) and the next morning added Pomarine skua (L).

When the weather cleared up , we had a couple of sunny days with more time spent in the hides and added Curlew Sandpiper, Carrion crow, Wigeon, Teal, Common Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Hooded crow (L), House Martin, Coal Tit, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Common Snipe, Whinchat, Dunnock, Yellow Legged Gull. We also saw Barn Owl from the enormous window at the cottage, and another at the stone bridge near the Swallow Inn, as predicted by Ben. News from the church there is that the proposed stained glass window to commemorate the White Crowned sparrow (and funded by its viewers) has been approved.

The other birds about which we didnt see where Bluethroat up towards Blakeney, Icterine Warbler around Snipe Marsh and Red Backed Shrike off the Salthouuse Road.

Vietnam & Cambodia Aug 2010

We flew to Hanoi via Kuala Lumpur, which involved a couple of hours’ layover in KL airport. It is a shiny new airport and includes an enclosed area of a couple of dozen trees which one can boardwalk through. It was good to get some fresh (albeit hot and humid) air, and we also saw a Large Billed Crow and a pair of Black Naped Orioles in the trees. Common Mynas were, well, common and we saw some small birds chasing away a bird of prey which we decided was a Long Legged Buzzard.

Upon arrival in Hanoi our bleary eyes saw Tree Sparrows and a Red Whiskered Bulbul.

Day 1 in Hanoi took us to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum complex where we found a Common Tailorbird skulking in the bamboo. Numerous Oriental Magpie Robins.

Day 2 early start to Ha Long bay. Maybe due to overfishing (apparently they used to use dynamite), the birds are disappointing. Black Kites everywhere. Saw several Blue Rock Thrushes on the cliffs and an occasional Pacific Reef Egret. Couple of Blue Eared Kingfishers.

Day 3 back to Hanoi and at our loo stop we found Oriental White Eye in a palm tree.

From the bus, Leo saw Yellow Bittern. Numerous Little Egrets and Barn Swallows.

Overnight on the Re-Unification Express from Hanoi to Hue. From the window White Throated Kingfishers and Black Drongos on power cables.

Next day at the mausoleum, Scarlet-Backed Flowerpecker and Red Collared Dove.

Leo has seen Green Tailed Sunbirds.

In Hoi An a Burmese Shrike (pic) in a tree at the farm and confirmed Great White Egret. Confirmed that the mystery bird at Marble Mountain was a Stripe Throated Bulbul.

On the way to My Lai, a great view of a Yellow Bittern flying over the road.

My Lai itself seemed to have a lot of birds, but neither of us could contemplate looking at them in a place of such horror.

An early flight from Danang to Saigon and then a long coach journey into the Mekong delta. At a loo stop, got a picture of a Scaly Breasted Munia.

Once on the longtail boat and heading into the delta proper the birds got better. Our local guide said that the kids here still use airguns to shoot birds - which is a variant on 'we've eaten them all' and 'the american defoliants are responsible'. I suspect all the above are factors.

We saw a beautiful Cinnamon Bittern, almost glowing amongst the mangroves. Collared Kingfishers patrolling their territories - apparently more often seen in evenings when tide is low so they can see the fish in the brown murky water, though surely the tide timings vary across all times of the day??

A Greater Coucal seen by Leo. Lydia spotted a brown wagtail which was surely the Mekong Wagtail, but I only saw a flutter.
Asian Palm Swifts emerging as usual as the afternoon progresses.

From our homestay we did a perambulation and nailed Ashy Tailorbird and Common Iora, both of which are particularly badly represented in both the Photographic guide and Craig Robson's. Also a White-Throated Fantail and Golden-Bellied Gerygone.

In Saigon itself no obvious venues, but the grounds of the Independence Palace at least yielded White-Vented Myna, Spotted Dove and Streak-Eared Bulbul.

The 'big' birding trip from Siem Reap is a full day to Tonle Sap which is apparently very expensive ($60ph?), and we just didn't have time for this, so instead just took opportunities as they arose whilst touring the temples.

At Angkor Wat, a Shikra patrolling over head. At Angkor Thom, a pair of Red Breasted Parakeets (pic).

Next day, at Beng Melea I saw a pair of Hooded Orioles high in a tree. We then went off to a fishing community in stilt/floating houses and took a boat trip along their river and out into the lake. We saw some massive birds circling up and identified them as Lesser Adjutants.