Happy New Year !
Birdwatch magazine have published a three page article that I wrote about birding at Hickling Broad and Stubb Mill in their January edition. I'm thrilled that they found my piece good enough for publication.
You will notice a slight difference in layout in my future postings as Freewebs have forced a new site builder upon me. It is a completely new way of uploading photos and texts and it will take me a while to learn how to use it!
Please bear with me as I grapple with the new way of manipulating my photos and text.
I hope that you all have a bird-filled year and enjoy birding as much as I do. I have several trips planned this year and am looking forward to adding to my world list!
With atrocious weather conditions all day I stayed in and caught up with myself after all my travelling. My new year list finished on 16 from the kitchen window!
I added a few more to my year list whilst working at Titchwell, my most exciting sightings were two Brambling on the back feeders by the Visitor Centre.
John and I watched a Water Rail in the ditch on the West Bank path at Titchwell. Down at the sea it took a while before we saw a flock of fourteen Long-tailed Duck flying towards us. We scanned through the Common Scoter and I spotted a Velvet Scoter in flight. Later we saw a second bird in flight. Red-breasted Mergansers were flying by as Sanderling and Turnstones were scurrying around on the tide line.
We drove to Holme and walked to the end of Broadwater, where John picked out the Glaucous Gull sitting on the sand in Thornham Harbour. From the NOA hide in the NOA car park we watched the Ferruginous Duck amongst the Mallard and Gadwall.
Later in Thornham Harbour we had more views of the Glaucous Gull as well as a Rock Pipit, Spotted Redshank and a flock of Twite.
Working in the car park at Titchwell I spotted a Chiffchaff overwintering amongst the woodland. Later a Redwing perched at the top of one of the trees.
Working in the shop I was alerted by a visitor that a Lesser Redpoll was at the top of one of the Alder trees. A Song Thrush flew across the path way.
John picked me up early and along with Stewart Betts and Phil Ethrington we drove to Beeley in Derbyshire. Here we met a few familiar faces and enjoyed watching the Dusky Thrush together. At Ashford in the Water we admired a Dipper which flew under the bridge we were standing on and landed just about within photographic reach. John drove to Beeley Triangle and we were soon watching the Great Grey Shrike which was sitting atop an evergreen Oak. After a fruitless search for Red Grouse we motored on to Rutland Water where at the dam end we enjoyed watching a Surf Scoter amongst many Tufted Ducks. We passed a sitting Red Kite en route. In the north arm we watched two Black-necked Grebes and two Slavonian Grebes. At Market Deeping Lakes we could not locate the reported 5 Long-eared Owls but did enjoy four Goosander present.
Phil Harvey, Stewart South, Brian Barret and I formed a team to take part in a winter bird count in a small area of NarVOS. We normally do a bird race at this time of year but due to falling number of teams the committee decided on a different approach to cover the winter count this year. It seemed strange to have such a laid back day but we certainly had a lot of banter and laughs at someone's expense (I shan't mention names). We started at Nar Valley Fisheries (eventually!!!) once we were all assembled adding many common species to our day list. Three Whooper Swan, a pair with one juvenile,were good to see along the the now almost resident Great White Egret. We were disappointed to find that a cover crop that usually holds a big finch flock no longer exists. At Pentney wildfowl numbers were low compared to other years and Phil drove along the track to the back end of Blackborough End Tip. Now that the tip is no longer used the gulls no longer use the lakes as they used to do and we only added Green Woodpecker and Common Snipe here. Shoveler was added at Tottenhill. Time was against us and after quick visits to Boal Quay we added the Peregrine to our list on the Silo in the docks before watching a perched Hen Harrier at Roydon Common plus the usual Stonechat and Woodcock.
We joined the other NarVOS members at Knight's Hill for a joint checklist before enjoying a fabulous meal together at Fincham along with a few other NarVOS members who joined us for the evening. Thanks to Phil for organising us and driving unexpectedly for the day!!!
After getting stuck behind two sugarbeet lorries I decided to spend a short while at Flitcham where after a short wait I saw two Sparrowhawks lurking in the hedgeline waiting for the numerous birds feeding in the cover crop by the cowshed. Eventually I spotted a Tree Sparrow, one Brambling and two Grey Partridge as well as at least 50 Chaffinch. As I headed up the road towards Anmer A Red Kite flew over the car.
I motored onto Holkham where the Shore Lark were performing well.
At Cley I walked the East Bank keeping an eye out for the reported Water Pipit which none of us saw! A red-head Smew came swimming out of a channel at the end of the Serpentine and eventually hauled itself out onto the bank. There were many Golden Plover in attendance as well as geese flying over the Eye Field. We checked through the geese but failed to find any Tundra Bean Geese amongst the mixed flock of Pink-footed Geese and Brent Geese present. A few Ruff were feeding in the Eye Field. Down at Salthouse John quickly showed me where the Glaucous Gull was and I admired a flock of Snow Bunting on the seabank as I approached the end of Gramborough Hill.
At Aylmerton Stewart spotted one of the Hawfinches present opposite a Trevor William's garden. Trevor invited us into his house for tea and cakes. John, Stewart and I really enjoyed birding and tea and cakes! Thank you Trevor! We watched two more Hawfinches before we left. I drove onto Sheringham where I soon located two Purple Sandpipers below the Funky Mackerel cafe but not before admiring the Turnstones running around the promenade.
As I sit writing this this evening I am sat listening to a Tawny owl calling in the garden whilst a Tortoiseshell Butterfly flies around me! I guess it has been disturbed from hibernation somewhere!
At Choseley I found a few Corn Buntings with a flock of Yellowhammers. A Marsh Harrier flew over the fields nearby.
On my drive down to my Grandson's Christening I watched a Barn Owl in the headlights as I approached Newmarket.
A Merlin was sat on the hedge near Titchwell on my drive to work.
I met up with John on the industrial estate in Thetford where the Iceland Gull soon put in an appearence amongst the gulls all sat on a rooftop overlooking a food waste processing unit. After watching for sometime a Glaucous Gull flew in and landed on the same rooftop. Two different Caspian Gulls appeared and I was glad of some expertise on the subject as the various plumage details were discussed!
Later at Flitcham I watched the usual Little Owl sat in its usual spot on the fallen tree in front of the hide.
Arriving early at work I walked down the West Bank at Titchwell just in time to see a Kingfisher fly alongside Thornham Pool.
John and I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell in the misty conditions wondering whether we had made the right choice of venue. A lone Spotted Redshank stood all forlorn at the edge of the freshmarsh as we made our way down to the sea. Once there it was certainly foggy and we could not see the horizon. However within minutes of setting up our scopes I had located a Great Crested Grebe with a Red-necked Grebe alongside it. John picked up a Black-throated Diver and we were treated to good views of it on the flat-calm sea. A Red-throated Diver was relatively close in as it swallowed a fish. We admired a Guillemot and the huge flock of Common Scoter. John then located a Great Northern Diver but try as I might I could not see it. I found four Long-tailed Duck and a Razorbill and after numerous attempts eventually located the Great Northern Diver. Goldeneye were flying around as were a small flock of Wigeon. A lone Eider Duck was lurking near the Brancaster end of the beach as Bar-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher were feeding along the tide edge. We walked back up to Thornham pool where along with two Meadow Pipit I located a Water Pipit.
At Creake Abbey we admired 291 White-fronted Geese. Towards Docking I watched a Barn Owl flying along a hedgeline before stopping off at Wolferton where the Golden Pheasant was wandering around.
John and I started out at Buckenham where after searching the Pink-footed Goose flock we located a Tundra Bean Goose, not what we were expecting! A small flock of Wigeon were unconcerned in the ditch in front of us as we kept up our search for the six Taiga Ben geese that were still left at this site. John shifted position as we were not having much luck. After a while John gave a shout as six Taiga Bean Geese appeared out of one of the ditches.We moved on to the station platform to gain some height for better views.
We stopped at Clippesby and I shouted to John as two Common Cranes flew over my head calling joining six others. we pulled into a layby, joining Marcus Nash and together we enjoyed good views of Four Common Cranes feeding in the marshes below us. Moving on, I drove to Mautby where we watched a Hooded Crow in some pig fields as well as watching two Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Black-headed Gulls.
Our next stop was Burgh Castle where John picked out a Rough-legged Buzzard sitting on the ground. We were treated to excellent views of it, albeit distant, as it flew and hovered in front of us. A Barn Owl flew along the reed edge as I picked out three Short-eared Owls quartering the ground. A Common Buzzard sat on a fence post as I listened to Bearded Tit just below us. A Sparrowhawk zipped through sending the nearby Long-tailed Tits into a dither.
Starting at Wells John, Stewart and I admired one of my favourite birds, a Lapwing showing off its colours in the morning sun. A Little Egret came to join it.
Next I had a quick walk in Holkham Park to add a few woodland species to my yearlist whilst John and Sewart went off in search of Shore Lark, which they failed to find. I admired the Red Deer in the park in the mist.
Red Deer Stag
Later at Titchwell we admired all the wonderful duck on the sea. Velvet Scoter were in abundance along with Common Scoter and the Long-tailed Ducks were just stunning. A Scaup was fraternising with a female Common Scoter! A Water Pipit was skating on the ice as a Water Rail was also having fun!
A quick stop at Heacham produced a Kingfisher and a Mandarin Duck
Red Crested Pochard
Later I joined Malcolm Almey and Neil Bostock at Holme and together we watched the possible eastern race Lesser Whitethroat in the bushes near the golf course on the beach.
Lesser Whitethroat (possible eastern race)
Today at Titchwell Marsh RSPB, staff and volunteers were given the opportunity of a walk into the reedbed along with warden Paul Eele to have a look at how the next Titchwell project is going to be done. There are exciting times ahead if funding can be secured for new reedbed areas to be created that would better serve our wildlife and add to the diversity of the site. New visitor access is also being planned along with the possibilty of a new hide overlooking much of the area. We all had a wonderful time and enjoyed Paul's explanation as we admired his enthusiasm for the future of Titchwell. Liz Appleton, our manager for North West Norfolk sites, kept us all in order and is being kept busy trying along with other staff in gaining funding as well as much of the 'behind the scenes work' with various permissions that are necessary.
Part of Titchwell reedbed that the public do not see!
A hidden pool in the Titchwell Reedbed
A hidden dyke at Titchwell
Another hidden pool at Titchwell
As I woke up it looked a bit murky outside and so I delayed the start of my day's birding. However by mid-morning the skies looked a bit brighter and so I made my way to Swaffham Forest where I joined Paul Varney and we settled in for raptor watching. We were soon watching a male Goshawk over to our left which was soon joined by a female bird. They were interacting together as we watched. The sun appeared and 5 Common Buzzards swirled around high up. The Goshawk disappeared whilst a Sparrowhawk flew across the tops of the trees. Another immature Goshawk appeared before we noted 3 Red Kites in the air together along with three more Common Buzzards. Soon after we were treated to a wonderful wing-clapping display from a male Goshawk who put on an amazing courtship performance. Its apparent slow deep wing beats kept us enthralled as it kept up its territorial display above the trees. For a while we had a backdrop sound of a Woodlark singing.
At Narford three Great Spotted Woodpeckers kept me amused as it was obvious that two males were arguing over a female in the same tree!
I ventured out today in the freezing gloom of an English February day and made my way to the Tesco car park in Hunstanton where six Waxwings had been seen yesterday. At first I was unsure of where to look but soon found them sitting in the Poplar trees overlooking the petrol station. I only had my little bridge camera with me and cursed as I could not fathom out how to alter the ISO settings. It was much too gloomy for the settings that the camera was insisting on using! My DSLR is so much easier to change the ISO settings. People were using the footpath and so the Waxwings were always being pushed off the Rosehips that they were feeding on.
Looking out of the window did not inspire me to do any birding at all today as a few scattered snowflakes were falling and the skies were grey and gloomy. However I had been following the Twitter feed yesterday on a possible Bluethroat in Lincolnshire that wasn't far from my old stamping grounds where I used to birdwatch in Lincolnshire. A Spring male is a very attractive bird so I set the Google maps on my phone and set off. Arriving in West Pinchbeck I was soon having doubts on the route I had taken along a small minor road with an 'Unsuitable for Motors' sign half way along it. Luckily for me I wasn't the only soul that arrived at a closed gate with little room to park except on a very muddy verge. The two of us found a map of Willow Tree Fen in a barn, acting as a Visitor Centre but we were less than sure where to go until we met a runner who told us about where other birders had gathered. Yes you guessed it, we had come in the wrong entrance! Never mind we soon had an advantage as the Bluethroat hopped its way towards us along the track as the other birders stood watching its back from the other side. How I wished that I had brought my DSLR with me once again but I am determined that I will master the bridge camera!
I drive to Norwich to catch my flight to Amsterdam, where I have a long day ahead as I will then fly to Tokyo, Japan overnight.
I take a flight from Tokyo to Okinawa island which is in the Pacific roughly half way between Japan and Taiwan.
As I intend to do a trip report I will keep this brief. Okinawa is a tropical island and I soon found myself too hot in the clothing that I had brought!
Pyer's (Okinawa) Woodpecker
One of the endemics to Okinawa, I was pleased to see this bird as it is an endangered species in a very restricted area.
Arriving just after dark I was pleased to see another speciality to the Ryukyu Islands, the Ryukyu Robin. As the photo was taken in almost pitch dark down a highly vegetated trail I was rather pleased how it came out!
Back in Tokyo, it had been many years since I had seen Black-faced Spoonbills. They are critically endangered and it brought memories flooding back to my time in Mai Po in the 90s when I saw them last.
Black-faced Spoonbills (and Grey Heron)
I boarded a ferry bound for Miyakejima , a small island that needed an overnight crossing out into the Pacific, but that wasn't quite what happened!!! (You will have to wait for the trip report to see!!)
I am all alone on Hachijojima island and in search of an endemic to these small Pacific Islands. I have only a limited time to find it.......yikes!!!
And here it is! The star bird. However time and the weather was against me and try as I might I failed to find the split Owston's Varied Tit. I cursed the now heavy rain as my brolly came out and a waiting boat that would sail without me if I failed to show up in time!
Today four of us caught the Bullet Train to Negano and taxied it to Jigokudani monkey park where Japanese Macaques swim in the hot spring waters of the volcanic mountains. Unfortunately it poured with rain and the snow and ice underfoot made walking conditions very difficult along the track. However the macaques were there and watching them in the hot water made many of us wish we could joim them!
Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey)
Another flight today as I flew to Hokkaido along with Gunnar, Marcel and Michael. Deep snow greeted us as did the cold! Thank goodness I had brought extra jumpers as I was going to need them! We drove to the Red-crowned Crane Centre where blue skies made for wonderful viewing conditions.
After spending a short time at the bridge where the cranes roost we drove to Kintappu for a spell of seawatching. Although the wind was a bit of a fight we managed to see several alcids that were new to me.
Sue with no feet at Kiritappu.
We were all delighted with our seawatching ticks and drove to Washi no Yado where there is a set-up for seeing Blakiston's Fish Owl. We joined lots of photographers from all around the world and after a wonderful Japanese meal we settled in for a very cold long night!
It was one of the coldest nights that I have known for waiting for a bird to show up. We were led to believe that the bird would probably show up between 10pm and midnight or not at all. A bit risky as we only had one night here. By 4am we had almost thrown in the towel as lots of others had done that had started the vigil with us. Now there were only a few hardy souls left. I saw no point giving up now as we had already lost our night's sleep. Only an hour of darkness left to go. It was now minus ten degrees and I had every available jumper on that I had brought along with thick tights underneath my ski trousers. Another 30 minutes passed by and hope was fading fast. All of a sudden the Blakiston's Fish Owl flew into a nearby tree. It was HUGE ! The few of us that remained grabbed our cameras and hoped for the best. I did not have a tripod for my camera and rested my camera on a window ledge. At 1/80 second setting for my shutter speed, I did not hold out for much hope for a photo but was advised that this was the best setting against the lighting that was being used to light up the small fish pond. I clicked away and am delighted at the images that I have obtained of this iconic owl. What a bird! After eleven hours staring at the same small little pond through the night at minus ten I think we all deserved the tick!
Blakiston's Fish Owl (a well deserved tick!)
We went to the accommodation that we had not actually used as we had been up all night to freshen up. We drove down to Rausu Harbour and boarded the boat that took us out to the sea ice. This was an amazing day! To see 200+ eagles, a mix of Steller's Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles is an experience I shall never forget. One of my top ten birding experiences!
Steller's Sea Eagle
Steller's Sea Eagle
We stayed in a birding lodge overnight where we had had a wonderful Japanese meal. I will miss all the sushi I have had this holiday...fabulous food! in the morning we watched the busy bird table in the deep snow before leaving for Nemuro where I made a very poor decision....one I bitterly regret. My own fault! Hindsight is a wonderful thing! I spent the time in Nemuro watching Black Scoter, Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Slaty-backed Gull, Glaucous Gull before sitting in a massage chair for an hour in order to warm up with a cup of Green tea!
I seem to have a very hectic schedule this year and although I only got to bed at 1am, I have an appointment in Oxford to get to and saw six Red Kites in the Peterborough/ Oundle/Thrapston area. I somehow managed to miss the whole early evening as I was so jet-lagged!
I saw two Common Buzzards and a Red Kite near Oundle on my way home and two Common Buzzards were soaring over Roydon Common.
After an early meeting at the Snettisham RSPB office I made my way to New Holkham where after a bit of a wait watching Common Buzzards, a Red Kite and a few Lapwing , Pete, Anna, Paul and myself listened to the Spring singing of Skylark. A Yellowhammer sat in a hedgeline as Anna kindly offered me a sandwich. We all knew this would mean that the harrier would put in an appearance whilst our hands were all busy! Sure enough a male Marsh Harrier appeared and a few minutes later it was in a tangle with another harrier. The orange that almost sparkled at us in the sunlight meant that it had to be the Pallid Harrier and sure enough it was! The birds were distant and I knew that I would struggle with a phonescope image. But never mind, better than nothing to get the idea!
Starting at Santon Downham with friends we walked down the river and admired two Mandarin Duck and didn't wait too long before we were watching the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flying from tree to tree in the Poplar tree area. Even more trees had come down in the recent storms. A lone Crossbill sat up at the top of a tree across the other side of the river. We enjoyed watching a Grey Wagtail sitting on a fallen tree as well as several Siskin calling above our heads. We moved to Grimes Graves where although we heard Wood Lark we did not see any.
At Lakenheath RSPB we walked up to the riverbank where Kathryn and Gwyn pointed out the pair of Garganey sitting on the otherside of Holkwold washes. It was very pleasant sitting on the seat along with friends, eating our lunch admiring all the birds on view. There were many Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted Duck on the water as a Stonechat sat on a dead twig in the grassy strip in front of us. A Little Egret flew along the river before landing on the bank. We watched Common Buzzards and many corvids spiralling over the trees.
At Cressingham did not see the Stone Curlew that were present on Sunday but one of my friends had seen three there this morning. There were many hundreds of corvids in the air as we watched at least seven Common Buzzards and another raptor pass through.
At another location we watched a Goshawk and yet more displaying Common Buzzards.
I have now finished my trip report to Japan but it will take sometime to upload to my trip reports page. As Freewebs now have a new system for uploading material I am still getting to grips with and because my diary is so hectic at the moment it may take a while! (How I wish there were more hours in the day!)
There were hundreds of Redwings flying west over the car park at Titchwell as I arrived at work this morning.
There was quite a passage of Common Buzzards over Titchwell car park as I was working. It was a beautiful day and most birds were flying really high up. A Red Kite joined in at one point.
I am still up loading my trip report to Japan on my trip reports page, but I have got to the Steller's Sea Eagles now!!!
A walk on Roydon Common and Grimston Warren was much breezier than I expected. I left the car and got distracted by the call of a Mediterranean Gull calling above my head. it did not take long for me to see it. I pointed it out to my companion. A little further on I saw a pair of Stonechat before watching 5 Meadow Pipits land on the model airplane field. A carried on and another pair of Stonechat were near the gate before I went on up the hill. I watched the nesting Lapwing before making my way to Grimston Warren. A Wood Lark sat on a tree stump and sang to me whilst yet anorther pair of Stonechat sat closely together watching my every move. Skylark were singing above my head as I walked back towards the Common. When I reached my car a lone male Stonechat sat in the field.
I have now finished my trip report to Japan which can be seen on my trip reports page or at : http://www.freewebs.com/suebryan/japan-2017
As I was working in the Titchwell car park, I watched seven Common Crane flying over today.
Seven Common Crane over Titchwell car park
At lunch-time at Titchwell I walked down the main footpath and watched two Little Ringed Plover running around Thornham pool. Chiffchaff were singing in the woodland area and Cetti's Warbler were singing in the reedbed as I made my way back to the shop.
John Geeson and I started early at Titchwell where we were surprised to only find one birder along the Meadow Trail. We decided to space ourselves out to give us the greatest chance of finding the Red-flanked Bluetail that had been present since Saturday morning. It wasn't long before I turned around to look behind me that a bird caught my eye that had a quivering tail. It had to be the bird but it was very obscured. A few seconds later it flew a short distance and I realised that I was indeed looking at a Red-flanked Bluetail. I called to John who came running along the board walk. Getting a photograph was quite a different matter with all the bare branches in the way and the heavy mist. With a little patience I managed a few shots as it flew across the boardwalk before disappearing once again.
John and I walked to the boardwalk platform and admired a Cetti's Warbler and a pair of Bullfinch along the way.
After a long day of stocktaking at work the staff and volunteers at Titchwell, all headed for Hunstanton for a well-earned meal and quiz. On the way Sally and I pulled over by the cliffs for a short while to watch the Fulmars circling around the clifftops.
John and I walked the length of Snettisham Country Park and on to Heacham. Adding migrants to our year lists was hard work even though it was a beautiful day. Several Willow Warblers were calling in the scrub as well as lots of Chiffchaff. We watched as they caught flies before moving on. We admired a few Stonechat but it was not until the green hut at Heacham that we added our next year tick in the shape of two Northern Wheatear. We watched a Common Buzzard over Ken Hill wood as well as a Marsh Harrier that was circling over the marsh. Walking back along the inner seabank we saw very little except a flock of Curlew, Shoveler, Greylag Geese as well as Canada Geese. We wandered into the scrub and eventually saw a Blackcap that was singing.
Nar Valley was equally hard work with the exception of Chiffchaff and Blackcap. It was a beautiful day and we did better for butterflies, seeing Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Orange Tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in Bilney Woods.
Meeting up with a few friends, I watched the Green-winged Teal in one of the dykes at Burnham Norton before it flew to one of the pools where a Little Ringed Plover was standing. Along another bank we watched a pair of Garganey.
It was a beautiful evening and so Sally and I decided to go for a walk after work on the reserve. Many of our visitors to Titchwell had told us throughout the day how well the Bearded Tits had been showing and so we decided to go and have a look too. They were right! Sally and I watched as a female Bearded Tit climbed up the reed stem by the West Bank path and we admired it in the evening sun. We walked on down to the Parrinder Hide where I counted at least 12 Mediterranean Gulls on the Freshmarsh. We helped four visitors identify various birds and they were thrilled to have some help as they were desperate to see the Mediterranean Gulls. Sally and I are so lucky to work at such a wonderful reserve.
My plans for the day were quickly altered when I realised what a beautiful day it was going to be, so after a quick bit of shopping I went to Derby Fen to see what migrants had arrived in the scrub bushes. a Willow Warbler was singing its heart out but it was not keen to have its photo taken as it moved from bush to bush. Several Chiffchaff were singing too but there were no other warblers singing. I wandered over to Leziate Fen where I saw two Common Snipe before making my way back home to hang out the washing. I tackled some gardening before deciding to wander along to West Newton where I watched a Grey Wagtail catching insects at the mill. Two Swallow flew over the mill and a Mistle Thrush scoured the ground looking for food. On the pool four male Mallard would not leave the poor female Mallard alone before she had had enough and flew off. A Buzzard flew over the A148.
A Red Kite sailed over me as I was working in Titchwell car park.
John and I wandered around Burnham Norton on a beautiful day hoping to see the Green-winged Teal again, but had to settle for watching several Marsh Harrier flying around the reed bed. Willow Warblers were singing as were Cetti's Warblers as we enjoyed our walk. We drove on to Kelling Heath where we had good views of Dartford Warblers posing in the sun. They were joined by Stonechats also posing on top of the gorse. After admiring the steam trains we watched an Adder slither across the path.
At Beeston bump, after admiring Swallows and Blackcaps, John and I enjoyed a cup of tea offered by Giles and Judy Dunmore who have a wonderful view across the valley from their patio. As we sat in the sun seven Common Crane flew across calling as they went! we could have sat there for the rest of the day but John was keen to return to Burnham Norton where the Green-winged Teal was now showing. It didn't take us long to locate it in one of the pools by the pathway. We finished the day with a scrumptious evening meal in a local pub.
With my companion we walked across Roydon Common where a lone Sand Martin flew overhead. I counted 11 Wheatear in total scattered across the common in areas of grass. Whilst we were admiring the displaying Lapwing a Stonechat came and perched on the fence in front of us. We carried on down to The Delft where we saw 1 Jack Snipe and 10 Common Snipe but no other waders at all.
A Whimbrel was sitting in the long grass on Roydon Common. I walked a little further to listen to a Woodlark that was singing high above me until it descended onto the ground in front of me.
A Whimbrel flew over the car park at Titchwell today.
Jill and I walked from Snettisham village, through Ken Hill woods, across the fields and down though the Country Park to the beach. It was a glorious day, not at all like the forecast had predicted. A Cuckoo called as we crossed the field and it didn't take us too long before we saw it flying. Sedge Warblers were singing from the Hawthorn bushes and a Common Whitethroat flew up and caught an insect a bit further on. We were surprised at the lack of hirundines still.
John, Sally and I started at Snettisham and immediately had a Lesser Whitethroat singing in the hedge as we got out of the car. A lone Swallow flew over the horse paddock as we walked to the Country Park where a Cuckoo was calling. Cetti’s Warblers, Willow Warblers were singing as we stopped to watch a Sedge Warbler. We walked through to Heacham where there was a Wheatear running around the grass near the tin hut. A Common Whitethroat was observed before we stopped to enjoy a cup of tea and Eccles cakes in the cafe at Heacham. We decided to walk the inner seabank back. Near one of the pools we counted seven Whimbrel and four Curlew feeding in the grass and admired a Summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit along with a couple of other Black-tailed Godwit. A Common Redshank was also in the pool.
Once we were back in the Snettisham end of the park we stopped to take photos of a Cuckoo sat in a bush. A little futher we stopped again to listen to a Grasshopper Warbler reeling before we saw it sitting quietly in a small hole in the Hawthorn bush. On the pools on the field-side of the bank, Shoveler, Shelduck, Teal, Mallard and Tufted Duck were all present as was a Little Egret. Another Cuckoo was spotted in the field just before we left the bank. Back at the car we admired the Lesser Whitethroat whilst we listened to a Blackcap singing.
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at home before setting out to Roydon Common where a pair of Stonechat kept us entertained as we watched a strange pairing of a Mistle Thrush and a Fieldfare that were keeping each other company. They were still together several hours later when we returned. A Kestrel hovered overhead as we watched Northern Wheatear pose for us. Down at The Delft we saw ten Common Snipe before watching a lone Whimbrel in the model aeroplane field.
A Turtle Dove was waiting for me as I drove into the car park for work this morning at RSPB Titchwell Marsh.
I started my day at Nar Valley Fisheries where the NarVOS group were meeting to repair the tern rafts. A Cuckoo flew over the track as I was making my way up to the lakes where they were meeting. Mick East , Paul Wilton and Jon Hall were busy fishing for the old rafts and managed to repair them. Alan, Stewart and Ian took to the dinghy and made their way out to the now half-submerged raft assessing what to do.
Alan wondering if they are still afloat
Smiling with relief!
' Come on Ian, the tide's coming in' !
Paul and Mick fishing for a raft
Jon assessing the damage
Jon making repairs
I enjoyed a walk before work on Roydon Common where a Blackcap was singing its heart out in the gorse bushes as I walked up to the ridge. A Whimbrel called as I walked up the hill from the model aeroplane field. I could see a Ring Ouzel on the ridge. When I was closer I could see that there were infact two Ring Ouzels present. However they weren't keen to have their photos taken.
During the afternoon at Titchwell one of our volunteers radioed the centre to say that there was a Black Tern present on the Freshmarsh. It wasn't long before we all had the bird on our yearlists!
After a few short visits to other sites I stopped at Hilborough where I joined a worker from the estate. I expressed a few concerns and he phoned the farm where he gained me some information. Sorted! A lone Stone Curlew ran into view whilst we were talking. Baz and Phil turned up and we enjoyed good views of the Stone Curlew and watched Tree Sparrows flying from the hedge.
I motored on and stopped en-route to Lakenheath where I only had to walk a few yards to watch two Tree Pipits singing away at the top of a tree. At Lakenheath the Glossy Ibis was feeding in Hockwold Washes. There were still no hirundines to be seen anywhere but I did add a Reed Warbler for a yeartick. Sedge Warbler and Cetti's Warblers were also calling. Dave and I walked around the bank but failed to find the reported Whinchat. Back at Pentney two Little Ringed Plovers were running on the nearside bank and two Yellow Wagtails were running around on the ground.
We stopped at Ormesby Broad where Common Terns were flying around and onto Filby Broad where a Common Kingfisher brightened up the scene. There were many hirundines flying over the water, including House Martin, Sand Martin and Swallow. Common terns were also flying around.
We finished the day at Great Yarmouth Bird Club where John gave an excellent talk.
It was a lovely evening and so after work I drove across to Pentney where there were four Yellow Wagtails running around the grass. A Common Tern was sat on the island.
I opened my kitchen blind this morning to see a Blackcap singing its
heart out on some dead Elder above my Laurel Bush. What a great start to
It took me four attempts to see the male Redstart at Titchwell today! But perseverance paid off in the end! On the Freshmarsh Eddie, Penny and I watched nearly 100 Mediterranean Gulls. What a fabulous reserve this is (yes I know I am biased!) Two Common Sandpipers were running around in front of a Ruff. We watched several gulls play with and finally eat a Pipefish that they had caught. Two Barnacle Geese were also on the island inside the fence.
A quick stop at Pentney revealed a Barnacle Goose. It was a bit of a surprise to see it there!
At Sparham Pools, John and I searched through all the Common Terns that were feeding over the deep pool. Arctic Terns had been reported but John, Dave Appleton and I could only find Common Terns. We walked on through to the other pools and had wonderful views of 8 Black Terns. They are such a delight to see. A Blackcap was singing from one of the bushes. We stopped along one of the paths as a Slow Worm slithered its way across it. Dave had a few micro moths to show us which looked interesting. We stopped at Swanton Moreley which has sadly been all locked up with access denied to birders.
John and I met up with Julian and Sarah Bhalero at Cley Visitor Centre. It was so good to see them both. Their determination has to be admired and John and I both hope that Julian's progress continues so that we can get him back out birding.
John and I walked down to Kelling Quags where John was keen to find a Yellow Wagtail. It took a while but I managed to locate one hiding at the side of some Juncus. We watched Stonechat, Reed Bunting and a host of Linnets all sitting atop bushes and fences. As we walked back up the track I heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling beside me. We had to wait a short while before we saw it.
At Friary Hills we watched a Barn Owl catch a vole as two Marsh Harriers flew over the marsh. On the way home I stopped to see a Red Kite.
I started at Pentney where there were at least ten Sand Martins flying over the water. I moved onto Nar Valley Fisheries where a Grey Heron and a Common buzzard flew over the car as I drove along the trackway. Down by the pylon lines a Garden Warbler was singing along with two Blackcap.
I drove onto Welney and nearly ran over a Yellow Wagtail as it flitted across the road. I stopped just before reaching the VIsitor Centre to view a pool from the roadside. Here 4 Black-winged Stilts were wading around the pool. I managed to phone-scope a pair mating. Just before I left Mike spotted a Garganey flying in.
Mating Black-winged Stilts
At Downham Market Sewage Treatment Works along by the railway line, I watched a Nightingale. As I walked back to my car a Common Whitethroat sang at the top of a bush.
Before work I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell to admire a Whinchat sitting in the hedgeline on Thornham Marsh.
After some exciting events Kathryn and I had a few hours left in the day and spent a few hours walking at RSPB Otmoor. Here we watched 4 Hobbies sat around on posts as well as Red Kites flying above our heads. We watched a close cuckoo in the hedge and I cursed at my lack of a camera with me.
Kathryn and I had an early start to the day as we were marshalling a cycling event in London raising money for Islip school. Chris and his Dad were going to cycle the 70 miles from Westminster to Islip along with 200 other riders. Kathryn and I had the first marshalling post in London and also had to organise the next marshalling post too. Luckily all went well and soon all the riders were through giving us plenty of time to return to the beautiful sunny weather in Oxford. At Stokenchurch on the way home I counted 19 Red Kites in the air together all enjoying the sun as they lifted on the thermals. We tracked Chris and his Dad and I realised that I would have a couple of hours spare to re-visit RSPB Otmoor which is close to Kathryn's home.
It was a wonderful sunny day and watching 18 Hobbies in the air here was stunning. Red Kites were also in abundance as I watched a Little Egret making a stab at a fish. A Turtle Dove purred away in a trackside tree and a Cuckoo flew by. I chatted to one of the wardens who enlightened me about the reserve. I certainly enjoyed the artwork of some of the signs.
The rest of the afternoon was spent imbibing beer, food and enjoying the sun along with the rest of the family and friends at the village hall watching all the cyclists arriving after their 70 miles of pleasure. It was certainly a good day for all in the sun!
Kathryn, Chris, Richard and Catherine after cycling and marshalling.
After work I drove up to Chalkpit Lane at Choseley to watch the four Dotterel hunkered down in the field of peas
Dotterel (distant phone-scope view)
Meeting up with friends it was good to see a variety of birds at Bintree this afternoon. A Greenshank was wading around the washland between the river and the road along with two Wood Sandpipers. As we were watching a Red Kite flew above our heads and back towards the woodland. We turned around as we heard a Cuckoo calling in the distance but could not see it. It was good that we faced that way as a Kingfisher was sitting on the fence down by the bridge by the white railings. We counted four Common Snipe as time drifted by and a Yellow Wagtail put in an appearance. A Cuckoo then flew over the trees by the house back towards Guist. We heard a Grey Wagtail calling above us but it disappeared before any of us saw it. There were several broods of Mallard ducklings as well as Lapwings possibly defending chicks. The Grey Heron looked decidedly hungry as it eyed them all up!
Mute Swan with a Wood Sandpiper in the foreground
John and I made our way down the West Bank path at Titchwell and sat in Island Hide. Here we watched two Little Tern alight onto one of the islands in front of the Parrinder Hide. Mediterranean Gulls were still in the fenced area along with Black-headed Gulls but not in the numbers that Penny, Eddie and I had seen last week. Avocets were busily feeding along with Black-tailed Godwits and a Marsh Harrier flew into the reedbed.
After a day serving in the shop at Titchwell I drove to Ludlow in Shropshire to join my daughter and friends at a converted barn deep in the Shropshire hills for Kathryn's hen party.
The barn for the hen party near Ludlow
The Shropshire views
Kathryn, the bride-to-be
A very proud mum Sue and Kathryn all ready to party!
I woke up after last night's games and alcohol to stunning views from the barn over the Shropshire hillside. A Pied Wagtail was running around the lawn and Swallows were hawking for insects calling as they flew. After a cooked breakfast, all the hens at the party decided that a walk was in order before the day's activities commenced. This seemed a good idea as we all were in need of some fresh air! Olympic games were on the menu and it soon became clear that Emma and Vicky were out to win! I thought I was competitive but the modern day generation of women certainly know how to win. Good on them! I admired their spirit. Later in the day I ventured into Ludlow where after chancing upon a beer festival at the castle I enjoyed views of a Red Kite and a Common Buzzard. In the evening after a scrumptious meal prepared by Izzy, I left the hens to their own devices as I could not stand the pace or keep up with the Pimms and Prosseco!
Some of the hens were a little jaded in the morning but a few of us were fit enough for a walk on Clee Hill. Kathryn, Emma and I left the others and drove up to near the summit where we watched Wheatear and Skylark probably near nests in the rocks. Common Buzzards flew along with Crows and we heard a Cuckoo calling which was a bit of a surprise up so high. The view from the top was stunning. Joined by Catherine and Richard (an invited hen for a few hours) we enjoyed a final meal together before departing for home. It had been a wonderful weekend and Kathryn is very lucky to have some amazing friends. It was also good to finally put a face to a name that I have heard so much about over the years.
Sue and Kathryn on Clee Hill
As I walked out to the hut in the car park at Titchwell this morning a Spotted Flycatcher flew across the path and landed in a tree above my head. I alerted a few birders who were delighted to see it. On my way home I called into Flitcham where I watched the Little Owl in its usual tree along with a Mediterranean Gull sitting amongst eight Black-headed Gulls. Two Red Kites flew over the fields at the back with one of the birds with another bird in its talons. A juvenile Pied Wagtail was on my lawn today being fed by its parent.
Pied Wagtail (juv)
At Walsey Hills Peter and I had the briefest of views of the Iberian Chiffchaff which was singing only occasionally after being trapped and rung that morning.
As it was such a glorious day we decided to go to Kelling Heath and after stopping to admire a Slow Worm, we watched a Woodlark and some Linnets posing in the sun. A party of newly-fledged Stonechats kept us entertained for quite a while as they enjoyed the hot sunny weather as we did too. Whitethroats were busy flitting around and singing at the top of several bushes.
An exciting day had been planned with John, Stew and I to meet up with Ian Lewington who was going to show us a few wildlife specials in the Goring area. It is an area that John and I have been to before to visit some of the sites but it was good to have someone as knowledgeable as Ian to act as a local guide. At Grimston the day started well with a Little Owl sitting on one of the telegraph posts. Once we had met up with Ian he took us down by the side of the Thames and showed us the area for Club-tailed Dragonfly. These beasts do not behave as other Dragonflies do and we were soon down on our hands and kness looking for exuvia on the bankside. We watched another Little Owl sitting on a fence post occasionally diving to the ground to catch its prey. Banded Demoiselles kept us entertained as they flew around.
Club-tailed Dragonfly exuvia
Banded Demoiselle (m)
Banded Demoiselle (f)
We moved onto Hartslock where we had an amazing display of Monkey Orchids, Lady Orchids and Monkey x Lady hybrid Orchids dispaying some real vigour in their hybridisation.
Monkey x Lady Orchid hybrid
We moved onto The Holies where the target species was Adonis Blue Butterfly. John and I had planned to do this last year but the weather had had other ideas. Soon Ian, John Stew and I were facing an uphill task (literally) as we climbed up the hillside. John soon found a Common Blue butterfly and after some searching he found an Adonis Blue Butterfly. Soon we all had 'our eye in' and knew what to look for. We saw several and were quite lucky in obtaining some images as they flitted around from flower to flower.
A wonderful display of Monkey x Lady Orchid hybrids
Common Blue Butterfly
Stew, Sue and Ian Lewington
Stew, Ian and John
Adonis Blue Butterfly (m)
Adonis Blue Butterfly (f)
All day long we had watched Red Kites flying above our heads. They are certainly numerous in this area. A Grass Snake slithered across the path as we made our way back to the cars. We had had an amazing day with Ian and it is so nice to be with knowledgeable people who share my passion for wildlife!
John and I had a lovely afternoon wandering the paths of Titchwell where the breeding birds were in full swing. Avocet chicks are beginning to wander now as their parents defend them to all comers. Male Marsh Harriers came and went as they delivered food to the females and Common Terns flew around the Fresh Marsh. Down near the beach Sandwich Terns flew over us as we established that there wasn't much to be seen on the sea.
Meeting up with Gary and Jenny again after our first meeting nineteen years ago, when we shared a cruise to Antarctica it was good to meet their twin sons, Ed and Alex for the first time. We all share a passion for birding and the boys were very excited as we were to watch a pair of Avocet take down a huge female Peregrine on the Fresh Marsh as it tried to take their chick. We had a couple of minutes of high drama as the female Peregrine struggled to cope with the attack as she lay on the mud in front of us from the Parrinder hide at Titchwell. We watched a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits scatter as the Peregrine scared everything off the Fresh Marsh before the attack. It was a beautiful evening as we made our way to the pub for a wonderful meal sharing all our tales of foreign travel over the years and listening to the boys share their tales. We were joined by a fellow diner who came to thank us for entertaining him whilst he had his meal. It was certainly an evening packed with laughter!
I am asked many times a day whilst working in the car park at Titchwell where visitors can see a Turtle Dove. I am lucky in that I get to see one of these beauties on a frequent basis and today was no exception.
After work, John picked me up and we headed north. It was a long night as we motored on to Scotland.
John and I arrived at Glasdrum, just north of Oban and found the site we were looking for. A Garden Warbler was in full song as we studied exactly the trail from the set of typed-out instructions that we had. We admired several Heath Spotted Orchids. However the weather was against us and after visiting Loch Creran where we watched Goosander we made our way back to Oban where we enjoyed a lovely meal.
Ferry to Oban
Joining forces with Norfolk birders I was lucky when I arrived at Church Norton in getting a spot in the car park. It meant the it was a short walk to join many birders lined up on the bank overlooking the shingle islands where Black-headed Gulls, Mediterranean Gulls, Little Terns and Sandwich Terns were nesting. We watched a Peregrine flying overhead which upset the terns a few times as they flew around giving us a chance to search through them for the Elegant Ten that we had all come to see. After a few false alarms the tern was spotted flying in to the colony. It wasn't long before a few of us managed to get a couple of short but good flight views of the bird. Along with the other Norfolk birders I moved to the hide where we gained some height where we could see the Elegant Tern sitting on the ground amongst the vegetation. It was too far for my 400mm lens but a distant phone-scope photo will have to do!
Elegant Tern (second bird to the left of the Valerian)