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Monday, 14 June 2010

April 2010

April turned out to be a great month. The migrants came in thick and fast including a few goodies.
    The first Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Willow Warblers showed early in the month alongside a miriad of mixed hirundines. A pair of Black Necked Grebes at Welney on the 9th were very nice. A weekend in Northumberland produced Garganey, Sandwich Terns and several Purple Sandpipers. A visit to Saltholme Pools gave distant views of the long staying Hooded Merganser.
    The second half of April gave some fine birds, the 29th being particularly noteworthy. A trip to Winterton for the Woodchat Shrike was worthwhile and a female, wing tagged Montagu's Harrier did several flypasts at Waxham. News of an Iberian Chiffchaff led me to Titchwell that evening where the bird showed well. A fine bonus bird was discovered over the visitor centre in the form of a stunning Bee-eater.
    Welney gave up it's territorial White Spotted Bluethroat on the 24th.

Garganey - St. Mary's Island

White Spotted Bluethroat - Welney WWT

Woodchat Shrike - Winterton

Iberian Chiffchaff - Titchwell
Iberian Chiffchaff - Titchwell

Saturday, 3 April 2010

2nd April

A day out at Minsmere today. Charlie Dobbs, Robert Williamson and myself were hoping that the Lesser Kestrel would reappear. Our first stop, however, was the Pallid Swift, it came so low we probably could have caught it with a butterfly net. It was very obliging. Also seen was a male Blackcap singing and we also heard a Sedge Warbler.
The only news on the Lesser Kestrel was negative. We walked around Westleton and Dunwich Heaths and saw a few Stonechats and Dartford Warblers, a Goldcrest also showed itself, not too many of these about at the moment.
On Minsmere reserve there were a lot of birds including Black Tailed Godwit, Avocet and 21 Mediterranean Gulls. Migrants were few and far between. We did see Red Fox in the reed beds. Marsh Harrier count was 17 for the day. The only Kestrel we saw was a fine male Eurasian.
Pallid Swift - Kessingland

Dartford Warbler - Dunwich Heath

Little Egret - Minsmere

Kestrel - Minsmere

31st March

A catch up day chasing the Pallid Swift. The exotic location was Kessingland sewerage works in the rain. The weather kept the bird hidden for a while but finally showed well and then another Alpine Swift appeared taking my total to 5 for this year, previously I have only seen 2 in the UK! The works held 15 White Wagtails and a very early female Redstart. A Swallow flew past. No pics today.

30th March

It's a no brainer today. Left very early for work so I could visit Westleton Heath. What a fantastic hour well spent. Star bird was obviously the male Lesser Kestrel, only the 16th recorded in the British Isles. Also on view was a Great Grey Shrike and a Stone Curlew. I had all 3 in the view finder at the same time. There were also a few Dartford Warblers and Woodlark close by.
On my way north to Great Yarmouth I passed through Lowestoft and saw 2 Alpine Swifts along the sea front. Unfortunately I missed the Pallid Swift which came on the pager later in the day.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

March 28th Titchwell

  A couple of hours at Titchwell today. Sunny but breezy but some nice birds. A pair of Bullfinches were in the car park, always a lovely bird to watch. The Water Rails were in their usual place by the footpath to the beach and Cettis Warbler seemed to call everywhere.
 The current work being carried out on the reserve always makes me wish I was elsewhere! The new glass in the Fen Hide makes it impossible to focus on anything without seeing double and it seems impossible to drain the Freshwater marsh to make it suitable for anything but wildfowl and the hardiest waders. OK moan over.
 The small drier areas of the Freshwater marsh gave 27 Avocet and 70 Black Tailed Godwits. 2 Bearded Tits were in the reeds. 5 Marsh Harriers displayed overhead and a male Peregrine upset everything.
 The Brackish Marsh held very few birds. There were 2 Greenland Wheatear by the board walk. The sea was much better with several Red Breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye. Also there were 3000 Common Scoter, when they flew there were 21 Velvet Scoter with them. A summer plumaged Red Necked Grebe was a very pleasant surprise.

  Red Necked Grebe

"Greenland" Wheatear

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

24th March 2010 - Alpine Swift Day !

With Alpine Swift appearing all over the UK it was inevitable that one would show up in Norfolk. Now it seems there were at least 3 yesterday with twitchable birds at Cromer and Hunstanton. Having failed to connect with the Hunstanton bird last night I was there again this morning. No swift while I was there but it turned up again while I travelled to Great Yarmouth. However I did see 12 Crossbills in bushes by Hunstanton Lighthouse along with a few Tree Sparrows. A Sand Martin flew past and Chiff Chaff were calling frequently.
So...having left the Hunstanton swift I went to work in Great Yarmouth; Lo & Behold! I park the car and an Alpine Swift flew around the carpark at Tesco and stayed for 2 minutes before flying toward Gorleston. I spent an hour in Tesco and when I came back at 11am the Swift reappeared over B&Q, again only staying a minute or 2 before flying toward Belton. End of story?? ... not likely.
The Alpine Swift reappeared at Hunstanton and stayed all afternoon. I got there at about 3:30 and there was this amazing bird shaped like a cigar with 2 sickles sticking out the side. It continued to show until it went to roost on the cliffs. Photographs and video galore.
Alpine Swift - Hunstanton

Chiff Chaff - Hunstanton

Kestrel - Hunstanton

March 22nd

I was working along the Suffolk coast today so obviously I had to try for the Penduline Tits at Minsmere only to "dip" for the first time this year. There was some consolation in the form of 2 Jack Snipe and Cetti's Warbler singing from every bush.
Decided then to spend a little time at Dunwich Heath, I found my 1st moth of the year, a nice Yellow Horned and then a lovely Firecrest next to the toilet block. Walked over the Heath and came across 30 Red Deer just lounging about, seemingly unconcerned with me. Looking up there were 4 Mediterranean Gulls overhead. There were also several pairs of Stonechats on the heather but the star birds had to be the beautiful Dartford Warblers, I counted 11, it's amazing how they survived the winter.
Yellow Horned - Dunwich Heath

Red Deer - Dunwich Heath

Firecrest - Dunwich Heath

Friday, 19 March 2010

19th March 2010

Headed back to the Lion's Mouth this morning to try for pics of the Firecrest (see below). Again the 2 birds showed very well. The Tawny's were calling again but out of sight. There were plenty of Crossbills today with over 30 seen in the tops of the pines. There were also 3 Redpolls, 1 of which was definately Mealy Redpoll, the other 2 may also have been.
Firecrest, Lions Mouth, Felbrigg Hall.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

18th March 2010

Today I spent an hour before work at the Lion's Head carpark at Felbrigg Hall. My target was the Firecrests which had been reported recently.  Imagine how pleased I was when one of these gems perched in a fir in front of me as I parked the car. For the next hour there were at least 3 Firecrests chasing each other around this tiny car park. Also on view was a Jay with a fair sized lizard in its beak, a Great Spotted woodpecker and a few Common Crossbills overhead. Out of view but quite vocal were 2 Tawny Owls duetting and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming.

Monday, 15 March 2010

March 15th

Not a lot happening today. Stopped for lunch at the RAF memorial between Wolferton & Snettisham Pumping station. Lots of commoner species about but a glimpse of Goshawk above the cliff was nice. Two other, less expected, raptors also made an appearance. Two Red Kites appeared from nowhere. 1 flew over the fields east of the southern part of Snettisham RSPB while the other came from the direction of Dersingham Bog and glided over Wolferton for about 15 minutes before moving North. Both Kites were showing marked moulting of the flight feathers.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Plastic Ducks!

March 13th 2010
Off to Dorset today with a special duck in mind.
A 1:30 am start saw us (myself, Robert Williamson & Charlie Dobbs) at the Moonfleet Manor hotel, west of Weymouth by first light. Not much to see on the journey down except a Tawny Owl nearly took the paint off the car roof.
From the hotel car park we walked west for a few minutes and there it was... a fantastic drake Bufflehead. The bird swam and fed happily on the south side of The Fleet allowing some poor photographs and video. Also present were roughly 40 Red Breasted Mergansers but I didn't think I should tick the 7 Black Swans.
We then travelled to Radipole Lake where the Hooded Merganser put on a great show. We also had the surreal experience of watching Cetti's Warbler singing from bushes in Curry's and McDonalds car park!
Well, it all went to pot after that. We decided to travel to the New Forest to see the Great Grey Shrike, or rather, NOT see the afore mentioned shrike. Lots of Common Buzzards and a few Sparrowhawks but no shrike; until we left, that is.
The drive back gave us so many Buzzards that I lost count. The journey also gave us 17 Red Kites, 7 between Newbury and Oxford and 10 between Thrapston and Peterborough.
We stopped at Eldernel briefly, there were small numbers of both Bewicks and Whooper Swans present alongside huge numbers of other wildfowl.
Just a word on a new garden tick before I finish. A drake Mandarin took up temporary residence for an hour or so. Great bird for the centre of King's Lynn.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A week of ticks.

Sunday March 7th.
Took myself off to Snettisham for a walk in the morning. Nice day but I was feeling too lazy to walk to the hides. Fortunately the two Shorelarks were very obliging as were 4 Twite about 200 yds south of the chalets. Out on the flats the mud seemed to be covered with a myriad of waders and wildfowl. A new year tick flew past in the form of 4 Whimbrel.

Monday 8th March
Spent the day working around Norwich and Loddon so I took full advantage. Norwich gave me 5 Waxwings at Earlham fire station, one of my favourite birds. Later, while waiting for my Loddon appointment, I spent an hour looking over Thorpe Marshes. My luck held as raptors appeared to be everywhere. The Rough Legged Buzzard proved difficult but I saw it eventually. Also on view were 5 Marsh Harriers, 3 Hen Harriers, Peregrine, Merlin, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and to cap it all a lovely Red Kite. Raptor Heaven!

Thursday 11th March
Up in Sheringham and Cromer today. Had to spend an hour on the promenade at Sheringham and it was worth while. The Glaucous Gull was very kind and shared the beach with an adult Yellow Legged Gull  and a  Purple Sandpiper.
A Red Necked Grebe was on the sea, amazingly, a summer plumaged Black Guillemot sped past at the same moment...a Norfolk tick.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

G is for Goshawk!

Lunch time around Lynn & Sandringham again. Went to the Fisher Fleet for a few moments where 1 adult and 2 1st winter Yellow Legged Gulls squabbled with the Herring Gulls. The female Peregrine was perched atop the Porvair tower while the male scared the local pigeons witless just by it's mere presence overhead.
At Sandringham the local Tits and Nuthatches chased each other amongst the feeders. A flurry of strange calls made me look up to see Crossbills in the Pines above me. I counted 27 of which 11 were males. As I was packing up there was an exodus of birds in all directions, pigeons, Jays, Wrens... everything flew off at max speed. Looking up there seemed to be a large dark raptor just gliding past. At first I thought it was a Buzzard but it soon proved to be a female Goshawk. This thing was plain HUGE but it was gone toward the A149 too quickly to appreciate it fully. Great bird.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Golden Delight

With my job taking all across Norfolk each day, I get a choice of where I want to have lunch. Today it was Sandringham.
I started with a slow drive along the West Newton Road where a pair of Bullfinches played Hide & Seek in the bushes. Just beyond the old Water Mill were a half dozen Lesser Redpolls in the Silver Birches and a mixed bag of Fieldfares and Redwings were by the barns.
I decided on a slow drive around Wolferton Triangle. 7 Common Crossbill were feeding in the conifers there. While watching them a male Golden Pheasant walked past a gap in the Rhododendrons...and posed. It stayed for about 5 minutes allowing several photographs which turned out well, despite shutter speeds of 1/5 sec. All 3 males showed themselves eventually.
Later at the feeders there were the usual mixed tits then a grey and orange blur. A male Sparrowhawk took a Great Tit straight off the bird table, dropped it in a bramble and dived right in after it, got it and flew away, all within 10 seconds.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Saturday 20th Feb 2010

Well this is a first! my first ever blog.

I spent the day birding with Robert Williamson. It started poorly with a wasted effort for Caspian Gull at the Great Massingham pig fields and the Grey Wagtails near Walsingham.
We had better luck at Wells boating lake where 4 Scaup showed well. There were no Brents on the Pitch n Putt so we went to Lady Annes Drive. 200 Eurasian White Fronted Geese were a good start but they soon went. A trek out to Holkham Gap failed to produce Shorelark but we had fine views of Rock Pipit. Seawatching produced Great Northern and Red Throated Diver, Red Breasted Merganser but only a few Common Scoter and Eider. Robert found a single Snow Bunting just a few yards from where we stood. Back to the car and there were at least 4 Barn Owls flying but most of the Wildfowl were distant though the weird looking leucistic Pink Footed Goose was obliging.
A return to Wells gave us at least 1 of the Black Brants despite the "would be golfers".
We had a brief look at the Snow Goose south of Titchwell Village and finished with Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer at Choseley Barns.
Not a bad day but could have been better.