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The Search for the Green-Winged Teal 4 Days in East Anglia

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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 20:56   #1
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The Search for the Green-Winged Teal 4 Days in East Anglia

In search of the Green-winged Teal four days in East Anglia

With four days in East Anglia to catch up with family and old friends and do a spot of birding, it seemed fortuitous that there were two Green-winged Teal being reported from the area ,this a Bogie bird for me and have been to many areas where they have been reported and completely failed to find one ,this time would be different ,confidence oozed through my veins. I would be staying with me old mate and birding partner Gary and his wife Sally at Colbyís house, with a plan to hit the reported hot spots when possible. The weather forecast was set fair, what could possibly go wrong!!

Day one

Leaving Sussex at 5am an uneventful drive saw me arrive at Abberton just after first light, drawn here not just by the reported GWT, but also reports of Black-throated Diver, Long-tailed Duck, Bewick Swan, Whitefronts and Scaup, well I saw the Scaup!! None of the others showed mainly due to a lack of research on my part, I missed out the one area where most of them were!! On the bright side I did have cracking views of Smew, Goosander, Goldeneye, Great White Egret and all the usual Wildfowl, large numbers of Tufted Duck and Pochard looked particularly good in the glorious sunlight.
I searched painstakingly through thousands of Teal at extreme distance in the case of Abberton Church where most of the reports had come from to no avail, the problem of course is that Abberton is a huge area with many areas unviewable, which seems to be a recurring problem in GWT searching!! I gave up and headed to Hadleigh a quick cup of coffee with Sally, just long enough to tick the Sparrowhawk she spotted on the shed roof and leave my bag. Headed of to Ipswich to meet up with the youngest offspring, we decided over a Macciíd to visit Bawdsey to see if the Rough-legged Buzzard was still present, Gary has spent 4hrs there the day before without luck, but we rocked up, and due to the kind birder present we were directed to the usual bush, as I put my eye to the scope the bird took flight sailed across the field in a graceful glide before landing out of sight. After this we headed to Shingle Street where we had great views of a couple of Short-earred Owls. Gary had also seen none the day before, to say he was a little disgruntled at our sightings would be the truth 😊 We finished the day with a couple of tasty Burgers at a local Beefeater!! A great days birding in lovely winter sunshine!!

Photos from Abberton at the link below

https://onedrive.live.com/?id=6356FB...56FB2BA7828F28

Photos of the Shingle Street Owls found here.

https://onedrive.live.com/?id=6356FB...56FB2BA7828F28

So no GWT on day one, three days to go will one be found ?!!!

To Be ContinuedÖÖÖ.
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Old Thursday 23rd January 2020, 06:16   #2
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I have a one shot one hit success rate in the UK (a drake somewhere near Reading sometime in the 90s)but this is a bird very high on my target list each winter in Hong Kong, so I’ll be following with interest.

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Old Thursday 23rd January 2020, 09:37   #3
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I have a one shot one hit success rate in the UK (a drake somewhere near Reading sometime in the 90s)but this is a bird very high on my target list each winter in Hong Kong, so Iíll be following with interest.

Cheers
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A species causing angst all over the world then :)
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Old Thursday 23rd January 2020, 10:06   #4
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Also interested to know how many burger establishments get visited along the way (presumably as a nod to the origins of the purported bird(s).)
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Old Thursday 23rd January 2020, 11:26   #5
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Also interested to know how many burger establishments get visited along the way (presumably as a nod to the origins of the purported bird(s).)
Think as far as burger joints go that's the lot though defo a pizza place in the next installment at some point this evening !!
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Old Thursday 23rd January 2020, 19:09   #6
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A trip to Norfolk!

Day 2

Norfolk

Another early start saw Me and Gary on the road at 5.30 heading for Titchwell, quiet drive, a Barn Owl flew across the road and as we arrived at Titchwell at first light the sky was full of skeins of Pinkfeet heading inland from the wash, fantastic sight.
We parked up and headed towards the beach another Barn Owl was hunting in the first field on the left a little distant in the low light for pics, as I was trying to string a distant Marsh Harrier into a Hen Harrier, Gary put his scope on it, spoilsport, an actual Hen Harrier appeared in the Reedbed in front of us, the Ringtail was in pursuit of a small bird which escaped by the skin of itís teeth, what a start to the day!! We headed to the beach the usual Waders and Wildfowl were abundant in the various pools, it was nice and early so we had the beach to ourselves, we scoured the sea with our scopes but all we could find in the choppy water was a single Red-breasted Merganser, no sign of the Red-necked Grebe or Divers reported the day before, Denied!! However, the beach was more productive with great views of the Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwits, Sanderling, Brent Geese, Knot, Grey Plover and Oystercatchers along the surf line, we spent a happy half hour taking snaps of these. We headed back along the path taking pics along the way, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Redshank, Teal and Black-tailed Godwit all posing well, Marsh Harriers were displaying over the Reed bed, as we neared the visitor center another birder had found a couple of Water Rails one of which showed exceptionally well, for the species ! After filling our boots on Water Rail goodness, we headed to the center for Brekkie. A tasty Sausage and Bacon bap and a cup of Coffee for me Veggie equivalent for Gary, while we discussed the next destination, distracted I put my bap down on the table, nearly lost it to a Robin!! I lost several crumbs to the bugger but my overwhelming weight advantage saved the day andi managed to fight him off!!
The result of our discussion was to nip to Wells to see the Rough-legged Buzzard thatís been around a while, having seen one the day before I wasnít that bothered but I gave in to Garyís blubbing, we arrived at the site predictably, the layby was full so it was a quick stop grab a couple of pics and move on!!
We back-tracked up the road and pulled into Lady Anne Drive at Holkham Hall , the crowds were building now ,with dog walkers prevalent and we almost decided to give it a miss, however the pull of the reported Shorelarks and Snow Buntings was strong and we headed into the pines, as we made our way towards the roped off area the number of dog walkers decreased and a few birds started to appear ,in their defence we didnít see a loose dog anywhere near the roped off area so they seemed to be respecting that, first birds we had were a small flock of Rock Pipits and a couple of Skylarks, a small brown job flew in and revealed itself to be a Twite a real bonus bird !! At the roped off area a small group of birders got us onto the Shorelarks with directions of varying quality! They were reasonably close and looked cracking in the scope though the pics I managed were not great, the Snow Buntings were easier the flock numbered 34 when we were there , we positioned ourselves in the Dunes and the birds gradually came closer feeding in a line.
Another birder present informed us that there were rafts of Common Scoter on the sea with at least one Velvet present .We then spent half an hour picking our way through the raft of Scoter ,but the distance involved, the swell and the constantly diving birds seemed to have defeated our search, until part of the flock lifted off the sea and the Velvet Scoter revealed itself in all itís white winged glory!! We headed back to the car where a Kestrel showed well despite the crowds and the multitude of Wigeon in the fields looked great in the sun.
For our next move we decided to investigate the viewpoint at Burnham Ovary turned out to be a good decision, although we didnít see the reported Cattle Egrets, in a couple of hours viewing we had 3 different Short-eared Owls, 3 Barn Owls,2 Great White Egrets, 4 Grey Partridge, 3 Marsh Harriers,2 Buzzards, a flock of Golden Plovers, but the highlight for me were the constant flocks of Pinkfeet Geese coming up off the Marsh and flying over our heads, we had so much fun here that we ran out of time and therefore missed a chance to go and see the Alaskan Wagtail but there we go!! Canít win em all.
An uneventful drive back to Suffolk, although a final Barn Owl flew alongside the car as if escorting us on our way, our 6th different Barny of the day, outstanding!! At the end of the day two happy but knackered birders dined well on takeaway Pizza from Hadleighís Pizzatown!!
A fantastic days birding with great company. Taking me back to the days when our trip outs were a bit more regular, must try to do it more often in the future!!
So no Green-winged Teal today, though not expecting one, even so I scoured every flock of Teal we found in a vain attempt to find my own!! Sadly, to no avail! Tomorrow is the best chance a trip to Minsmere beckons! Where a GWT has been reported regularly for the last couple of weeks, even Gary has managed to see it!!

A few pics from our Trip to Norfolk can be found at the link below


https://onedrive.live.com/?id=6356FB...56FB2BA7828F28
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Old Thursday 23rd January 2020, 20:00   #7
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Minsmere

Day 3

Minsmere

After two 5am starts and walking a yearsí worth of steps in two days, a bit of a lay in was the order of the day and as such, having picked up my Sister on the way we arrived at Minsmere at 11 Am, the GWT had been reported the day before and I was full of optimism ,raring to go, this was slightly dented when the guy on the desk announced that it hadnít been seen so far today, started at North Hide ,and once again the enormity of the task struck me, the scrape was dotted with Teal mostly asleep and tucked up against the islands or buried in the reeds, I got to work examining every Teal I came across, after 20 minutes with no luck we headed out around the scrape ,the North Wall was very quiet with only a Muntjac and a Stonechat of interest, East Hide once again I got to work, once again large number of Teal scanned once again no sign of the target, onwards again not much about around the sluice although a couple of wild horses posed well and some Beardies pinged along the path but failed to show, South Hide once again more Teal scanned, so engrossed was I on GWT finding that it wasnít until my sister asked what kind of Swans they were I realised the 7 Swans right in the middle of the scrape were Whoopers!! Once again GWT disappointment! West Hide was much the same story loads of Teal present of those I could see none had that tell-tale vertical stripe. :( Feeling the pace, we adjourned back to the visitor centre, nothing on the board, so we indulged in a Chilli baked Potato and a slice of Carrot and Walnut Cake. While Jinxie, for that is my sisters new name browsed the shop I nipped out to the new viewpoint near the dipping pond to grab a quick look at the reported Smew which showed well in nice light.
Once again defeated we headed back to Hadleigh, dropping off Jinxie I headed out to the surrounding villages to try and find a Little Owl in the haunts they used to frequent. No luck with these either!! Back to Colbyís where Gary had produced an excellent meal of Linda Macartney Mozzarella Burgers which were excellent , although the whacking great bit of Christmas pudding and Custard might have been a mistake bearing in mind my Fodmapian Tendencies!!
So birding wise a disappointing day, Minsmere was as quiet as Iíve known it with very little about except millions of Teal obviously!! But an enjoyable day with good company and cracking weather and the scenery around there is worth the trip on its own. Although the news that the Green-winged Teal had shown late afternoon was particular galling!!!One day left, confidence at rock bottom, I got a bad feeling about this!!

A few pics from Minsmere at the link below

https://onedrive.live.com/?id=6356FB...56FB2BA7828F28

Cheers
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Old Friday 24th January 2020, 01:02   #8
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Well you sure know how to keep is in suspense. The main target aside some very nice winter birding!

Love the contrast between being harder than Vinnie Jones with the Robin and then completely manipulated by the girly blubbing of your mate Gary!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Friday 24th January 2020, 07:09   #9
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Well you sure know how to keep is in suspense. The main target aside some very nice winter birding!

Love the contrast between being harder than Vinnie Jones with the Robin and then completely manipulated by the girly blubbing of your mate Gary!

Cheers
Mike
There was a Bacon and Sausage Bap at stake with the Robin!! But I'm a softie at heart!! Yes the winter birding was excellent 4 days of Blue Skies and sunshine a rarity this winter!!

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Old Friday 24th January 2020, 17:21   #10
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Nice write up Paul. I’ll be following in your footsteps in just over a weeks time.

Rich
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Old Friday 24th January 2020, 18:16   #11
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Nice write up Paul. Iíll be following in your footsteps in just over a weeks time.

Rich
Cheers Rich, Hopefully you will have the Blue Skies and excellent Birds we had!!

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Old Friday 24th January 2020, 18:44   #12
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https://www.google.com/search?biw=13...4dUDCAc&uact=5

Whole page of images here if that helps ... oops!
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Old Friday 24th January 2020, 19:00   #13
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https://www.google.com/search?biw=13...4dUDCAc&uact=5

Whole page of images here if that helps ... oops!
Quality!! Help for the Dyslexic birder!!
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Old Friday 24th January 2020, 19:07   #14
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Last Chance Saloon

Day 4

Last Chance Saloon

Bidding my hosts, goodbye I started the long journey home, my only chance a return visit to Abberton, the GWT not the only lure all the good birds I missed on my first visit would be nice to! Arrived at the Layer Bretton causeway at about 8 am to find most of the water frozen ,although a group of Goldeneye were displaying to each other fairly close in , I managed to find the White-fronted Geese by the simple means of walking 50yrds further along the path than I had on Saturday and looking in the next field Duh! Scanned another few thousand Teal to no avail, although many were in and amongst the tree branches.
Moved on to the Billets farm viewing screen the light here was truly atrocious and the water frozen, although plenty of wildfowl mostly distant and narrowing it down to species was difficult let alone picking out the American vagrant! Bonus birds were the 4 Bewick Swans whose diminutive size picked them out against the much larger Mute Swans, luckily one did stick itís head up to confirm the ID.
I didnít stay long here and moved on to the Layer De le Haye causeway, viewing conditions were much better, a distant Male Scaup , loads of Pochard, Tufties and Shoveller were notable, a close Redhead Smew showed well as did 2 Long-tailed Ducks which flew in while I was there, probably the highlight were the Goldeneye swimming in groups doing there head back display!! Also had a Kingfisher which is always good though it buried itself in a willow, so pics were difficult, far less Goosander than Saturday as well, though Thousands of Teal which got the treatment but again no sign of the target.
Giving up I headed to the visitor center ,an excellent Egg and Bacon Sarnie and a coffee revived my spirits and I headed out and visited the hides, every single one had views of numerous Teal, most however were tucked into the bank so despite my best efforts could not be turned into a rarity!! This again highlighted the difficulty of the task, a huge area with only a few viewing points and all sorts of cover for the bird to hide in. (I know excuses excuses!!) After another hour of trying I finally decided to give up!! Another glorious failure but not for the want of trying and the fabulous birds I did see in the magnificent sunshine more than made up for it!!

So in summation over 4 days, 1.5 million Teal scanned (Approx 😊certainly seemed like it!!) Green-winged Teals seen 0 but an excellent trip, with great birds seen in superb weather with great company.

You win this time GWT but Iíll get you next time (probably)!!

Many thanks to Gary and Sally for their hospitality. hope to return the favour in the spring!

Some pics from the final day can be seen at the link below

https://onedrive.live.com/?id=6356FB...56FB2BA7828F28

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Old Saturday 25th January 2020, 01:36   #15
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Great write-up Paul!

Sorry you missed the GWT, but no shortage of compensation.

Just a thought . . . How much would it annoy you if someone found a GWT in one of your photos?

Cheers
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Old Saturday 25th January 2020, 08:32   #16
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Great write-up Paul!

Sorry you missed the GWT, but no shortage of compensation.

Just a thought . . . How much would it annoy you if someone found a GWT in one of your photos?

Cheers
Mike
Yes lots of compensation was a great trip especially Norfolk.as for finding the GWT in my photos I'm hoping that's a Rhetorical question ???? Could I tick it !!!? :)
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Old Saturday 25th January 2020, 09:24   #17
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Sorry Paul - couldn't resist!

I did have a look, so if someone does find it I'll really look like a prize prune.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Saturday 25th January 2020, 13:30   #18
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Sorry Paul - couldn't resist!

I did have a look, so if someone does find it I'll really look like a prize prune.

Cheers
Mike
Now off to recheck the 1000s of pics I took !!
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