Thursday, November 26, 2009

23rd-25th November 2009: Some birds from northern Suffolk, UK

Compared to Malaysia, there are very, very few birds around the places we've visited so far, and also compared to my memories of the UK ten years ago. Of course, the season doesn't help, nor the fact that it gets dark in mid-afternoon, but still - the birdlessness is quite an unpleasant shock!

One of the few birds that still visits my parents' bird feeder - a European Goldfinch. Even Robins, House Sparrows and Starlings are tough birds to see these days it seems.

A visit to my old favourite haunt, Lowestoft, was another shock. Enormous wind turbines have sprung up, even in the sea, and an industrial estate now sits inland of Ness Point. This was one of a small flock of Meadow Pipits sheltering in the lea of the seawall.

What I was really looking for was some Purple Sandpipers, which used to frequent the seaweed-covered breakwaters. Eventually I found a couple, unfortunately rather distant on a couple of groynes.

At this point the course of our day was drastically altered by my wife falling heavily onto the concrete seawall, smashing her face up pretty badly and fracturing her left wrist. The rest of the day was spent experiencing the primitive services of Great Yarmouth hospital A & E. It made us glad to be living in Malaysia!

On our way to and from regular appointments at the outpatients department of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, we came across a 500-strong flock of European Golden Plovers.

I gave them a good going over but was not able to pick out any Pacific or American Golden Plovers among them. Not an easy job, with the birds being rather distant and huddled down in the furrows of the field, trying to keep as much out of the wind as possible!

In flight, European Goldies differ from both American and Pacific Goldies in having white axillaries and underwing coverts as opposed to grey. It wasn't so easy to distinguish the true colour of the underwings from the effects of shadow in the strong low sunlight.

Once the flock took flight, they spend ages flying around before deciding it was safe to land again.

Watching the flock twist and turn, flashing dark and light like a shoal of fish, was a brilliant sight!

From above, they have a more obvious white wingbar than American or Pacific.

Coming in to land again.


Redzlan aka Tabib said...

Sorry to hear about your wife misfortune. Hope she make a quick recovery.

Great bird pictures as always.

Anonymous said...

Yea, same here, sorry to hear
about that. Hope she recovers
real soon.
While I was in UK 3 years ago,
I saw those large Wood Pigeons of UK, but can't photographed them.
can you try to shoot one for me?
And maybe 1 or 2 real magpies.

Choo Eng.

digdeep said...

Thanks for your kind wishes Tabib and Choo Eng. Magpies and Wood Pigeons shouldn't be too much of a challenge - I'll do my best!


Erwin said...

Hi Dave!

It must have already been a shock (especially for your wife..) to arrive in England during this time of year... and then she also falls! So sad...
I can imagine to slippery concrete wave barriers, just like you have them in Holland.. can't walk on them because of the sea weed. Very dangerous!

Are you there until Christmas?
Are the hospital services in England worse than Malaysia? I always thought it is like 'the best' in that region of the world..

Anyway; enjoy your time in greyish wet windy cold England with a warm family/friends time! I hope you will see more of the birds you've been hoping for!


Erwin and Minke

Gyorgy Szimuly (Szimi) said...

Sorry to hear the accident. Wish your wife all the best.
I have to agree that winter times are really depressive for those birders who birded in the tropics. It is so sad to return home.

Hope for better times.


digdeep said...

Hi Erwin & Minke

Thx 4 the kind words. Hospital services in UK seem to be ... variable! Norfolk and Norwich very good, but Yarmouth best avoided!

We hope to be in Portugal over Christmas - so hopefully a bit warmer!

Hi Szimi - thanks for the kind wishes - my wife is recovering well.



Sedih dengan kecelakaan terjadi kepada isteri mu. Gembira juga ansuran kepulihan nya. Semoga cepat semboh.

Karim Madoya.

Tony nile life said...

The moorhen looks a lot like the female purple galinulle.

digdeep said...

Hi Tony

The reason for the similarity can be explained by the fact that the bird you have labelled female Purple Gallinule on your blog is in fact a Common Moorhen!