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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Hawfinches & Two-barred Crossbills!

Hawfinch, male, Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
You know how it goes, just on your way home and you think "I'll just stop here and look around for a while". So there I was, on my way back from Ipswich, and the drag of the Two-barred Crossbills became too much. Parked the car and grabbed my gear, I had barely walked to the entrance when a strange trumpeting call made look up. Just in time to see 3 Two-barred Crossbills land in the top of the trees. There were two males and a female, one of the males was seen trying to mate with the female! She was having none of it and gave him the elbow.
Two other birders told me they were watching Hawfinches by the feeders at the south wall of the nearby garden. Normally the Hawfinches here are seen on the Hornbeams in the paddocks, I can't recall the last time I had seen one feeding on the floor. The birders said that they had seen six but I was very happy with the two, a male and a female. This little feeding station also gave up a male Brambling, male Lesser Redpoll, Treecreeper (strange to see them on a feeder) and Nuthatch.

Two-barred Crossbills, Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk
During my travels through Suffolk, earlier in the day, I found a total of 7 Stone Curlew at various places. While at Euston village, just south of Thetford, I had stopped to watch a Little Owl on a fence and a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker appeared on the tree next to it. What a great day. I love my job!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Stone Curlew & Woodlark

Stone Curlews, Norfolk
I found these two Stone Curlews on my way to work during the week (that white wing bar sticks out a mile!). They didn't seem bothered with the passing traffic, probably too tired from a long flight.

Woodlark, Roydon Common

Stonechat pair collecting nesting material, Roydon Common
Red Grouse, Upper Teesdale

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Distant Drums

Nuthatch, Santon Downham
        What a difference the Sun makes!
        Saturday was limited to a couple of hours at Titchwell & Thornham Harbour. I headed straight for the beach to have a gander on the sea. A huge raft of Common & Velvet Scoter  seemed to stretch from horizon to horizon. There were literally thousands of birds. It was surprising to find what was mixed in with them, for example, Shoveler &  Pintail. There was also a fair number of gulls present. Best amongst them was an immaculate juvenile Iceland Gull. That was Saturday.
         On the advice of some friends I took off to Santon Downham on the Norfolk Suffolk border. An absolutely amazing Sunday.
         First of all I walked downstream about a mile to a well watched stand of Poplars. Birds everywhere. Long-tailed Tits, Treecreepers and Nuthatch all seemed to be collecting nesting material. While the Great Spotted Woodpeckers drummed everywhere. There were two pairs of duck chasing each other around the area and these turned out to be Mandarin.
         Then a different, quite distant, drumming was heard...weaker and longer...and it got closer. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker! it played hide and seek for about 15 minutes allowing a few, brief, views. Still smilin'.
          I walked back along the river stopping now and then to look at Lesser Redpoll & Siskin. Then I saw a bird, I thought was a crossbill, land in a tree in front of me. I scoped it only to find it was a Hawfinch. Very nice and unexpected. As I got to the bridge at Santon Downham I had a taste of spring with a Chiffchaff in full song. Only a few feet further on a Redwing and a pair of Brambling made me stop. I looked at a pair of Goldcrests and discovered, to my delight, that they were Firecrests. I knew they were around but I had never seen them here.
           And to finish off? Well, you can't beat a Goshawk for that.
Nuthatch, Santon Downham
Wren, Santon Downham
Little Owl, Abbey Farm, Norfolk

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Common Cranes & Velvet Scoters

Common Crane, Billockby, Norfolk
It's good to get some decent weather for a change. During the past week I worked  East Norfolk & Suffolk so I was able to snap a few photographs during lunch break. Cranes near Acle, some Med Gulls in Lowestoft and a nice flock of Bullfinches at Ipswich Rd Tesco in Norwich.
Mediterranean Gull, 2nd winter, Links car park, Lowestoft
Mediterranean Gull, 2nd winter (injured),  Links car park, Lowestoft
Great Crested Grebe, Little Ormesby Broad, Norfolk
Eurasian Bullfinch, Ipswich Rd Tesco, Norwich, Norfolk
Today I took my daughter to Titchwell for a stroll on the beach (at least that's what she thinks). The regular Water Rail was in the ditch by the main path. Lots of birds proclaiming territory including Chaffinchs, Robins & Wrens. There was not much variety to the waders today although there was a good flock of Avocets and both Black- and Bar-tailed Godwits.
However, the main target was the possible White-winged Scoter off the beach. The sea was flat calm and I don't think I have ever seen a scoter flock this close to Titchwell beach. I have to say that none of the 18+ Velvet Scoters stood out as anything different and the facial markings were variable. Still very nice to see.
Back at the visitor centre and after a bacon sarny we went along to Patsy's Pool to look for the Red-crested Pochard though we dipped badly. The female Scaup was present though.

Velvet Scoters, Titchwell, Norfolk

Velvet & Common Scoter, Titchwell, Norfolk