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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.