Happy New Year!
As the weather forecast was not good for this afternoon, we thought that we had better get up fairly early and do as much birding as possible before the rain set in. We started off our list for 2014 as it got light watching from our kitchen window at all our bird feeders. Once the list had reached 20 or so we set off for Edgefield where we met up with some familiar faces as mad as us! After a wait we had Parrot Crossbill on our list as well as Common Crossbill. A few minutes later we all reassembled in a field behind Edgefield tip where Neil Bostock already had the Glaucous Gull lined up for us in his scope sitting along with hundreds of other gulls. It had apparently flown over his head as he had arrived! A Red Kite was also good to see but the news that 3 Red kites have recently been shot in the area was not good to hear.
Paul and I then motored onto Weybourne where we failed to find the reported Slavonian Grebe. I only added a Red-throated Diver to my list. By the time we reached Salthouse it was raining hard and so we added Redshank to our lists without getting out of the car. A couple of Black-tailed Godwits were by the duck pond as we added Common Teal and Mallard to our lists. From the Visitor Centre at Cley we scoped a few Avocets as well as Brent Goose, Pintail, Shoveler and a Common Snipe flew up as I was tucking into my fruit scone. A distant Marsh Harrier put a few Wigeon up as we headed for Holkham. We were surprised to locate a lone Bean Goose as well a decent number of White-fronted Geese. A Common Buzzard was feeling all wet and bedraggled sitting on a fence post as we headed for home. Four Little Egrets flew over as we left.
As I needed my computer to be serviced in Swaffham I stopped at Pentney on my way home where I noted Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Egyptian Goose, Pochard, Great-crested Grebe and a Mistle Thtrush for my year list.
Paul and I pottered around the NARvos area where in Nar Valley Fisheries we added Redpoll, Siskin, Green Woodpecker, Goldeneye and a few other common birds to our year list. At Narford Lake, Paul located a Mediterranean Gull amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Nearby we chanced upon a big flock of finches including Brambling, Yellowhammer, Linnet and Reed Bunting. We motored on adding Red-legged Partridge and a Coal Tit at Flitcham and West Acre.
I spent the morning at Titchwell birding (a bit of a busman's holiday for me) where it was good to see 4 Velevet Scoter close inshore. A Great Northern Diver showed well as did a Greenshank on the Freshmarsh.
A Glossy Ibis had been reported at Titchwell as I was arriving for work and so a quick run down West Bank before work soon had me out of breath. Needless to say I did not see it and it was not seen again. I noted a Water Rail in the ditch and several Spotted Redshank on the Lavender Pool.
Paul and I spent the day touring various sites in NARvos starting in the Brecks. We added Treecreeper, Willow Tit, Woodlark and Woodcock to our year lists before watching a Cetti's Warbler at Boughton Fen. A Great White Egret was at Nar Valley Fisheries. At Setchey we saw a Green Sandpiper that was not there the following day! At West Newton our local Barn owl was wonderful to see as it flew over hedgerows. We finished with a Bulfinch at the tailsluice in King's Lynn.
Taking part in the NarVOS bird race is usually fun but the day was lost almost as soon as it had begun as the birds just did not seem to wake up at Sandringham. Our team have never had such a slow start to a day's birding. It seemed such hard work. I know how I have always grumbled about the lack of fairness (other teams have access to private land that we haven't) but we really did do badly this year. I was ready to go home by 9.30 am! At Sandringham common birds were not singing and we took far too long, making Paul's schedule an impossible task. A Nuthatch eventually called and it was only my hearing that eventually picked out a Treecreeper that we all saw. At Wolferton our Little Owl decided to hide for the day and at Flicham the hide was already packed with people when we arrived. We added Barn Owl and Common Buzzard here before failing to find our usual Tree Sparrows. We lucked in on a Peregrine here though (the only luck that we had all day!)
At Narford Lake I picked out the Mediterranean Gull amongst the gulls as we added Pochard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Mute Swan and Egyptian Goose. By the time we reached Nar Valley Fisheries we were 2 hours behind schedule and although we had a good flock of Redpoll there was not a single Siskin to be seen. We reached Lynn Point far too late in the day as it was high tide with almost no mud available for any waders, except for Tutnstone by the Fisherfleet. We gave ourselves no time for the harrier roost and so the race was well and truly lost! A big thank you must go to Phil who drove all day. Please will someone remind me to stay in bed next year!
With Paul away in Manchester,I made my way up to Stiffkey Fen to look out over Blakeney Harbour. A Kingfisher flew away in front of me as I climbed up to the seabank. On a falling tide I eventaully saw 2 Black-throated Divers, 3 Great Northern Divers, Guillemot, Razorbill and after a long wait 6 Long-tailed Ducks emerged from under the bank and into the channel. As I walked back a Green Sandpiper was feeding on Stiffkey Fen.
I had lunch in the beach car park at Cley where an American family was just about to set off along the seabank with a bunch of yellow roses. Although I do not approve of low flying aircraft over a nature reserve my heart went out to the relatives of the American Sevicemen and woman who lost their lives in the helicopter crash near East Bank.
A Stonechat alighted on a post just in front of my car as I ate and I cursed that my camera was in the boot of my car. After lunch I walked between Kelling, the Quags and eastwards towards Salthouse where it was sad to see bits of North Hide still amongst the debris from the tidal surge. Another Stonechat kept me company.
At the campsite car park at Stiffkey I joined a couple of birders and we watched 3 Marsh Harriers a ring-tail Hen Harrier before a Peregrine gave us a show along with a Barn Owl.
Wasting my time at Wolferton the Queen paid me a visit as she drove by!
Later at North Wootton I watched a Marsh Harrier and a ring-tail Hen Harrier. At Lynn Point 40+ Twite put in an appearence over the rough ground as well as a Marsh Harrier and a Barn Owl over the farmland. Down at the riverside Brent Geese, Little Egret and Redshank were in abundance.
A very foggy morning made birding difficult and at Lynn Point almost impossible. In the Fisher Fleet Turnstones were running around and a lone Sanderling was amongst them. We saw little from the hide at Flitcham and were sad to learn that the resident Little Owl has not been seen since last August. We went to our usual spot for Tree Sparrows and after much searching eventually saw 2 sitting in the roadside bush before 9 flew out and over our heads only to disappear!
I joined John and Judy looking for Goshawks with out success. A Woodlark sang above us but we did not see it! At Downham Market we watched 8 drake Goosander and 4 redheads from the bridge near Heygates roundabout.
With an unpromising weather forecast I have decided to hibernate for the day and did the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch watching my garden birds for an hour. I can't say my results were stunning. Ten Wood Pigeons just sit around in my Cherry tree and wait for me every morning so they can hoover up my bird seed. My usual House Spaarows must have had a Sunday morning lie-in as they were nowhere to be seen!
Paul and I started the day at Snettisham where I had been asked to check out a report of a Black-necked Grebe. There had been one before Christmas and there was a possibility that it may have stayed. However all we could find were two Little Grebes at the location. Moving on to Wolferton we failed again on the Golden Pheasant but Princess Anne drove by. I really should start a collecton of Royals that I see whilst waiting here!
At Cley we spotted a Pale-bellied Brent Goose amongst the Brent Geese. At Sheringham we had to wait for the tide to come in before the groynes were covered. At sea we watched a Gannet, Fulmar and lots of gulls until Paul got all excited as he located a passing Sabine's Gull. It took me a while to get onto it but I was struck by the different flight pattern compared to all other gulls we watched, once I did. We watched the Turnstones come onto the groynes once the tide was high enough and I soon located a Purple Sandpiper on the groyne just below The Crown pub.
Starting the day at Lynford Arboretum we soon had several Common Crossbill in the trees by the hut. Meeting up with John and Judy we watched the controversial Two-barred Crossbill and debated the issues. John was keen to get to the 'not so secret now' Goshawk site and we were soon watching Common Buzzards and Wood Lark before two male Goshawks appeared together. Later two immature Goshawks appeared and it was good to have such good views in the sun.
Back at Lynford Arboretum we walked down to the paddocks where Ben picked out a Hawfinch across the other side of the paddocks on top of a tree. We all wandered back up to the folly where Ian, Paul and Major had located a pair of Firecrests nearby.
Paul and I walked along the river bank near Watlington and watched a hunting Barn Owl in the sun.
On the way home we stopped at one of our Little Owl spots just in time to watch a Barn Owl fly over the road. The Little Owl was sat in one of its usual trees. It had been a good day and we had enjoyed seeing all the target species and sharing time with friends.
At lunch time I walked down the West bank Path at Titchwell to see the female Scaup that was present down the channel just before the Freshmarsh.
Although not a working day I spent the evening at Titchwell attending the 'Heavens Event'. King's Lynn astronomical society brought along their big astronomical telescopes for visitors to see the planets and stars. However before this we were treated to 5 Marsh Harrier, 1 Hen Harrier, 2 Bittern, 30+ Pied Wagtail and 17 Magpie all coming into roost in the reedbed. We also saw Jupiter and 3 of its moons before cold made us retreat back indoors to the visitor centre for a hot cup of tea.
Paul and I joined the NarVOS outing to WWT Welney on the Ouse Washes. I have never seen the water levels so high so that the warden had to feed the swans in waist-deep water from his wheelbarrow just below the hide. We watched a ringtail Hen Harrier with wingtags before the swan feed and countless Pochards. There were very few Whooper Swans on view and no Bewick Swans at all. We saw a few Pintail, Great Crested Grebe, a single Little Egret, Curlew and Redshank. In all a very disappointing visit for the time of year when there should be far more birds here.
Paul and I braved the windy weather but stayed firmly in the car at Lynn Point. After quite a wait we eventually saw the Rough-legged Buzzard over Admiralty Point, the Terrington side of the River Great Ouse. A couple of Common Buzzards were 'hanging' in the wind on the North Wootton side of the river. A Barn Owl also braved the wind along with some Marsh Harriers and 2 Meadow Pipits.
In the evening my first grandchild was born to my son Mark and his wife Suzy. Welcome to the world Isla Isabella Bryan.
As I arrived at work yesterday, one of the workers working on the bank at Thornham came into the visitor centre with a box. Inside was a Short-eared Owl that he had picked up from the Thornham Bank looking very confused. After assessment and consultation with the RSPCA it was let go outside and it flew away!
On the train on the way to London to see my grand-daughter Isla for the first time, I saw a group of Bewick Swans close to Littleport.
My beautiful grand-daughter Isla (6 days old)
After a week of terrible stormy weather Paul and I ventured out down to Lynn Point where a Barn Owl and a Marsh Harrier were the only birds of note.
I called into Sculthorpe Mill on my way to Salthouse where there was a Grey Wagtail on the roof of the mill. Later at Salthouse I failed to find the Richard's Pipit as I walked by Gramborough Hill through to Kelling. This has been my third attempt to find this bird. I was amazed at the lack of birds seen. Where are they all hiding? A few Little Egrets popped out of ditches and I had a final count of 6 Linnets and one female Stonechat as well as a few singing Skylark. By the coffee van a few Turnstone were picking up morsels but there were no Snow Bunting at all. I suspect the moving of the shingle bank has covered their food supply. Nice to see you John (Miller) today.
I walked along the beach at Holme today from the golf course end, in the hope of seeing some Snow Buntings. However after battling winds and watching a few Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling the heavens opened and I got drenched!
A short stay at Flitcham left me admiring the Little Owl sheltering in the root of the old Oak tree in its usual spot. I walked along the lane and counted at least 30 Bramblings in the hedgeline.
Busy packing bags for our trip for Venezuela! Two Siskins are visiting my feeders as I pack.
We left Heathrow at some unearthly hour this morning and flew via Madrid to Caracas in Venezuela. It is hot as we descend the steps of the plane and get taken to our hotel ten minutes from the airport by the sea. After a quick unloading of suitcases in our room, Paul and I venture out to the back of the hotel and down to the harbour where a Magnificent Tropicbird sails over our head. Brown Pelican, Tripical Mockingbird and Black Vulture are all added to the list and well as a Scaled Dove before nightfall.
Back at the airport at another unearthly hour and we take a flight south to Puerto Ordaz. Our international group jump into a minibus and we drive to a local park where we search for the Black-collared Swallow at a rapid on the river. We soon spot a few...our life-ticking begins! We bundle back into the bus and drive on to El Palmar near the Guianan Border. Eventually the Sunbird group led by David Fisher and Trevor Ellery arrive at El Palmar and we off-load our luggage into our rooms before jumping back into the bus for a short excursion up the road. I add a few lifers in the way of Ruby Topaz Hummingbird, White-chested Emerald and Long-billed Starthroat. Tufted Coquette was god to see before night falls. I added nearly 100 trip ticks but very few lifers as the real adventure begins tomorrow.
The goldmine access track into the forest The tower by the Harpy Eagle nest
At dawn we drove down an access track to an illegal goldmine deep in the Imataca Forest Reserve. It was a bumpy ride where birds were all around us. A Black Nunbird perched close by as we walked and picked our way to a clearing in the forest where chillies were being grown. A Purple-throated Fruitcrow sat and watched us as we trekked down the narrow path. At the end of the path we were surprised to see a tower that the BBC had erected for filming. Just behind it was a huge tree with a HUGE HARPY EAGLE chick sat in it! The 8 month-old chick was stunning!
Paul climbing the tower for a better look at the Harpy Eagle
We were surrounded by many forest birds, including Black-spotted Barbet, Squirrel Cuckoo, Dusky Antbird, Black-throated Trogon, Dusky-billed Parrolet, Red-rumped Cacique,Yellow-headed Vulture, White-crowned Manakin and Boat-billed Flycatcher but none could surpass the awesomeness of the Harpy! Paul and Trevor decided to climb up to getter views of the Harpy Eagle from the top of the tower but as much as I would have liked to have joined them I am now too old/unfit for such activites!
After leaving our cabins Paul and I sat in the 4x4 once again and after admiring a Pale-throated Three-toed Sloth in a village tree we drove towards the Imataca Forest Reserve once again. This time we took a different muddy trackway which was very rough, however the birds were fantastic. We stopped at a local river where the locals were bathing and walked along the bankside where we located a Neotropic River Warbler. It started to rain and birding in thick jungle forest with an umbrella and binoculars is not easy! After our quest was done we motored on and added many new species in the forest to my list, which I will eventually add to my trip reports page when I get around to it!
A Streaked Flycatcher had its picture taken today!
Paul and I were up at 5.15am and packed the bus after breakfast. We left El Palmar and settled in for a 5 hour Journey south to Las Claritas on a good tarmaced road. We stopped for coffee at a Marsh where we added Black-crested Antshrike, a funky little bird which was a lifer for me. Along the route there was a sudden shout as a Horned Screamer was spotted sitting atop a bush. We stopped to take some photos before realising that its female was sitting below on a nest with 3 eggs in it. We backed away and left them in the glorious sun.
Many hours later we birded a pylon route that had made its way through the forest 17km from El Dorado. Spotted Puffbird was a good sighting as well as Dusky Purpletuft. We arrived in Las Claritas, a noisy town where our accommodation awaited us in the dark.
La Escalera up to Gran Sabana White-tailed Trogon
We left Las Claritas early to climb La Escalera up through the jungle. The road to the Tepui endemics is tarmaced all the way which was very fortuitous through the thick jungle. We stopped at a spot known locally as the Rock of the Virgin to admire a White-tailed Trogon, Cliff Flycatcher , and Waved Woodpecker. Later I was delighted to see Guianan Cock of the Rock. We saw many birds today which I shall put in my trip report. We made it all the way to the Soldier's Monument at the top of the Gran Sabana before birding our way back down again.
We started the day watching at the Escalera in the forest where I picked out a Red-necked Woodpecker. However our birding was soon hampered by a tropical downpour and we decided to head on up to the Gran Sabana to get out above the cloud and rain. We drove to the top where the weather was better. It was good to see what was up at the top and we admired the views. However the birding was a bit slow but it was nice to have a change from forest birding.
After lunch we headed back down the Escalera stopping at various spots. By the end of the day we had seen many Tepui endemics.
I was excited today as Paul managed to get a stunning perched male Guianan Cock-of the-Rock in his scope for me to look at. Unfortunately these birds have a habit of sitting in dense vegetation out of view. So I was thrilled at seeing one perched in full view.
Our group continued birding the Escalera today as the weather was better. Once again we added many Tepui endemics which were all lifers for Paul and I. Paul also managed to pick out a distant perched Black and White Hawk Eagle which got him a few brownie points from the group! Photograpy was difficult in the poor light but I did manage a few shots of a Yellow-bellied Tanager when we stopped in a more open area free from over-hanging vegetation.
We started the day 18km from Las Claritas alsongside a trackway full of smelly rubbish. It certainly attracted the Black Vultures. Our search for Cappuchin Bird was all in vain but we did see a good view of Black-tailed Trogon and added a Short-tailed Hawk to our list too.
Up at the Escalera a Golden-spagled Piculet played difficult to see whilst we spent the rest of the day searching for more endemics.
We were up early as we had a flight to catch at the end of the day. However we still had pleanty of birding time to enjoy on our way back to Puerto Ordaz. We stopped once again at the pylon line route at Km18 south of Eldorado. Here we encountered a snake on the track that was still just about alive having been squished by something! Although we had no life ticks it was good to be in the hot sun in early March. I took photos of White-browed Antbird with a huge amount of difficulty as it lurked in the undergrowth.
Later Trevor spotted a Pearl Kite as we neared Puerto Ordaz and the mighty Orinoco River, just before we got to the airport to board our flight back to Caracas.
We said our goodbyes to David and Trevor who were taking the rest of the group onto the Andes and four of us joined up with two local birders who took us to Avila National Park in two 4x4 vehicles. The steep climb up a concrete road took over an hour to reach somewhere near the top of the coastal mountain that overlooks Caracas.
After admiring Golden-breasted Fruiteater and Caracas Tapaculo (oh how I love tapaculos!) we were soon on our hands and knees for a view of Chestnut-crowned Antpitta!
All too soon we had to leave for the hotel and airport but not before we finished on a grand view of White-tipped Quetzal. What a way to end a trip!
Not to sure that I saw much at Madrid airport..............I was far too tired after very little sleep on the overnight flight!
Too jet-lagged and full of cold for any meaningful birding. I shall now start my trip report for Venezuela which will eventually be uploaded to my trip reports page.
Paul and I walked the length of Snettisham RSPB reserve where the CITB have done a magnificent job in putting back the roost bank. It was a lovely sunny day but very cold after the tropical heat of Venezuela! With the exception of Greylag Geese, Black-headed Gulls and Avocet there was little to see. We could not find the reported Black-necked Grebe but there were two Little Grebe on the pits.
I spent the day recruiting in the car park at Titchwell where a huge passage of Redwing, Greenfinch and surprisingly Goldfinch flew over. I lost count of the number of Redwing!
Happy birthday to my son Mark, 31 today! I spent the day writing up my Venezuelan trip report.
As the weather was miserable and cold with few migrants around I spent the day finishing off my trip report. It is now being added (bit by bit) to my trip reports page. Unfotunately because our broadband is slow the photos take forever to upload!
I have now finished my Venezuelan trip report. Have a look at http://www.freewebs.com/suebryan/venezuela2014.htm . Phew.........now to sort out the rest of the photos and start dreaming of where Paul and I shall go next!
I saw a Ring Ouzel fly into the scrub whilst working in the car park at Titchwell this morning. Amazingly Dave Hawkings saw it from near the Island hide as it flew towards me!
Kathryn and Chris came to see me for Mother's Day. We went for a walk before lunch along Burnham Overy seawall. A Bearded Tit was collecting nesting material as a Sedge Warbler sang from deep inside a bramble bush. As we reached the bend Kathryn spotted a Red Kite in the air. Well Done Kathryn......I'll make a birder out of you yet!
Before work I stopped at Brairfields where I watched a Black Redstart sitting on a post near the dining room before it flew to the side of the building. It sat on the wall of the cottages before I had to leave for work.
I spent the day recruiting in the Tichwell car park listening to a Blackcap singing for most of the day. However I did not see it until near the end of the day !
At lunch-time I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell where Dave Holman kindly pointed out the Little Gull to me that had been flying around the Freshmarsh for the last 24 hours.
Paul and I spent some time at Lynn Point where we expected to see a few migrants. However there were none! A lone Marsh Harrier flew over the marsh and two Avocets stood on the riverbank. A few Redshank flew around as the tide dropped and the Brent Geese came closer. We moved onto Pentney and once again did not see any migrants. Two Pink-footed Geese seemed out of place here.
At Ashwicken we at last had some migrants in the way of four Little Ringed Plovers. Such a shame that this wonderful newly flooded area will be turned into yet another jet-ski/expensive holiday cabin area.
After work I walked down the main path at Titchwell and had a Swallow fly over my head. Although very cold it was beautiful on the beach which I had all to myself in the sun. Back by the broken boardwalk there were two Wheatears running around catching insects.
I raced to Holme after work and managed to miss the reported Raven by just a few minutes. Three Sand Martins and a lone Swallow flew over my head as I joined Robert and Penny searching for the Raven from Gore Point.
Simon and I searched the Freshmarsh after work at Titchwell and soon saw the pair of Garganey before they flew up and over the east bank. A pair of Yellow Wagtail landed on the spit in front of the hide as we watched all the Avocet.
As Paul and I returned from a meal out in the evening a Tawny Owl was sat in the hedgeline 1/2 mile from our house.
John, Judy, Paul and I wandered along the inner seabank at Snettisham country park where we saw Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all singing. in the gorse by the outer seabank we watched a Lesser Whitethroat before admiring a Wheatear on the flat area of grass. A few Swallows and Sand Martin flew over our heads. At Titchwell we added Little Ringed Plover and Sandwich Tern to our migrant list.
Whilst working in the carpark at Titchwell two Red Kites flew over.
Three Corn Buntings were singing by the barns at Choseley as I drove home from work.
Northern Wheatear Linnet
Paul and I walked the inner seabank at Snettisham where we almost got blown away by the bitterly cold northerly wind. Paul picked out a Whimbrel feeding in the field along with a few Curlew. Further along the bank there were 100+ Curlew feeding in the damp field. Whitethroat and Sedge Warblers were battling to make themselves heard in the wind. We remarked how few hirundines there were. There were a couple of Northern Wheatear running around the flat area and a Linnet sang from a nearby bush.
We walked up the path at Roydon Common and over into Grimston Warren and onto The Delft. A Woodlark sang on Grimston Warren but The Delft held very little. We cut back to the top perimeter fence at Roydon Common where three Ring Ouzel flew off the small cliff-line and into a small tree.
In the afternoon I walked the inner seabank of Snettisham Country Park again where two Cuckoo were calling. One constantly flew infront of me as I walked up the bank stopping off for short periods to call from bushes.
It was bitterly cold in the northerly wind and I did not stop long.
A lady arrived in the car park at Titchwell and told me that she had seen a Hoopoe at Thornham. Although a bit sceptical at first, I radioed the Visitor Centre and asked them to inform some of the volunteers. The claim was checked out and it was soon confirmed that there was indeed a Hoopoe in the park by the delicatessen. Simon and I had a short lunch-break but the bird had flown into a nearby garden and we had to wait again until after work to see it.
Once again I walked the bank at Snettisham and was almost to the boundary of the Heacham bank until I saw my first Grasshopper Warbler. I heard five 'groppers' in all this morning, all reeling in the murky conditions. The Country Park was alive with Common Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers as well as a few Lesser Whitethroats. A lone House Martin was a year tick for me.
A short lunch-break produced a Common Sandpiper on Patsy's reed bed at Titchwell today.
Driving home from Titchwell, Mick stopped at Choseley drying barns where a Turtle Dove sat on the wires.
After buying my new car I gave it an afternoon out by driving to Chalkpit Road at Titchwell. Here I watched 4 Dotterel that Paul had found running around the field.
Rob, Jane and I started the day at Snettisham in the RSPB carpark where Common and Lesser Whitethroats were in full song. By the road another Turtle Dove sat on the wires. We walked the inner seabank where Grasshopper Warblers were reeling. On hearing our third bird we finally had excellent views of it trying to attract a mate. The weather was being kind and Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff were all in full song. I heard a Whimbrel call but was unable to loacte it, likewise the Cuckoo that was calling. As we walked back along the seabank we watched on female Ring Ouzel on the grass in the flat area before watching a male Ring Ouzel fly over the scrub. A Wheatear was also searching for insects on the grass. We had a brief search for the reported Wryneck before driving up to Choseley where Grey Partridge were lurking in the edge of one of the fields.
At Titchwell we joined a few birders watching the Common Redstart before we realised that there was also a Whinchat to be seen as well further along the fenceline. Two Common Sandpipers were on Patsy's Pool along with a Little Ringed Plover. Down on the Freshmarsh I added Sandwich Tern, Common Tern amd Little Tern to my yearlist as well a fellow birder delighting Jane with a Yellow Wagtail that showed well for only just a few minutes or so before flying off. Two Mediterranean Gulls emerged from hiding in the vegetation just before we made our way back up to Choseley barns where walking the hedgeline produced three Corn Buntings. We had had a very enjoyable day together!
The first Swift of the year for Titchwell flew over the car park as I was standing watching the skies!
Mark, Suzy and my little granddaughter Isla and I walked down to the lifeboat station at Wells. Isla soon had Mediterranean Gull on her list. Not bad for a 3 month-old!
Sue and Isla
After saying goodbye to my little granddaughter Isla, Mark and Suzy who had been visiting, Paul and I went to Nar Valley Fisheries where a Nightingale was in full song. Soon a second bird was also seen. We heard a Garden Warbler in full song and Paul located it singing high up in a tree. It was a beautiful day and soon I called to Paul as a Hobby was flying overhead. Common Whitethroats were in abundance in hawthorn bushes. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from an Oak Tree as Paul and I made our way back to the car. A Cuckoo could be heard calling but we did not see it.
At Ashwicken there were at least five Little Ringed Plovers and a Greenshank. Lapwings flew around as Paul scanned the banks. A Common Buzzard flew over as I was watching a pair of Egyptian Geese landing on the water's edge
Greenshank Little Ringed Plover
Paul Eele radioed from the reserve at Titchwell to say that there was an Osprey flying over the reserve towards Thornham. Luckily I had just come back to the centre from the car park and with Laurence's help I was able to watch it fly over Thornham just in time before it disapperared.
Later from the concrete pad near Choseley Barns I was joined by Simon, Ian, Justin, Trevor, Peter and Mark and we all watched 3 Dotterel running around the fields along with a few hares. I also managed to pick out the Stone Curlew with the help of Ashley Saunders who had seen it earlier in the day.
Peter, Justin and I drove to Holme where we failed miserably to connect with the reported Yellow-browed Warbler. Lots of Swallows were amassing for roost as we tried in vain to locate it.
I had just moved my tables to be in the sun whilst recruiting in the carpark at Titchwell when I spotted an Osprey being mobbed by a gull. I quickly radioed the Visitor Centre and luckily the news was put out immediately for people to see it as it flew over. I managed to grab my camera and take a few shots of it. Four Common Buzzards came to inspect it quicly followed by a Hobby.
After work I admired all the Common Swifts, Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins flying over the reedbed.
Towards the end of my working day at Titchwell I walked down the west bank path to the Island Hide where a Spotted Flycatcher had been reported. A visitor kindly let me look through his scope as the Spotted Flycatcher was de-winging a Tortoishell Butterfly before eating it.
Paul and I started the day at Cley in Bishop's Hide where a drake garganey was just in front of the hide. Further out on the mud a Curlew Sandpiper was feeding. However there was no sign of the reported Temminck's Stints. The hide was rather crowded and we decided to walk to Dauke's hide where there were less people. We watched for a while as a microlight aircraft cae over far too low and put all the birds up on North scape and then did the same over Simmond's scrape and Pat's pool. Once all the birds had settled we saw 2 Little Stints in summer plumage on Pat's pool.
The Birdfair at Mannington Hall was our next stop. It was a beautiful setting but very few people were there. We walked the grounds and spent time watching the Spotted Flycathers near the cafe as well as the food carrying Pied Wagtails. We then walked through the avenue of trees and admired the nesting Kestrel. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was heard twice calling but we failed to see it. Others had seen it on several occasions but the foliage was making life difficult.
At Sculthorpe Mill we had a meal and I admired the cygnets and Grey Wagtails by the river. Two Cuckoos were present over the fields sitting on fence posts.
Grey Wagtail Cygnet
Later at Sandringham we joined Ashley and his group and watched at least four Nightjars and two Woodcock as they flew around at dusk.
At lunchtime at Titchwell I ran down to the Parrinder hide where Colin had kindly located the Wood Sandpiper for me. It was just as well I arrived when I did as a minute later I would not have seen it as it took to flight and disappeared.
I spent the day in agony today after my back gave way at work and went into some kind of spasm. During the night whilst trying to get out of bed I fainted. Luckily Paul caught me and just managed to save my head from hitting the nearby dressing table. When I came round the pain in my back was indescribable!
A bit better today and have managed a bit of pottering around the house. I don't do sitting around very well!!! Paul took me to the hide at Flitcham this evening where I could sit and watch a few birds. We were surprised to see a Yellow-legged Gull on the pond. Because I only had binoculars with me the photo is taken through them with my mobile phone camera!
A quick dash to West Runton after work this evening had me watching the female Black-headed Bunting by the disused pig farm. It was fairly distant in the hedgeline but reasonable views were obtained. We were all entertained by good views of a Barn Owl whilst we waited for the Black-headed Bunting to appear.
I heard a Bee-eater call as I was sitting in the car park at Titchwell.Upon looking up, I was just in time to see it disappearing over the trees towards Choseley. I had at least a 2 second view! Grrrrrr........
Another visit to West Runton was in order today so that Paul could gain the female Black-headed Bunting onto his Norfolk list. We had quite a wait! However, Andrew and I went in search of it but failed to find it. Later Glyn spotted it in exactly the same place as it had been on Thursday night. Luckily it flew a bit closer so that photos were possible.
Since it was quite sunny we decided to go for a walk on Kelling Heath. Two Woodlark flew over us as we were walking one of the tracks and Common Whitethroat were still singing and displaying from many trees and bushes. It was now quite warm and we shed a few layers. We crossed over the railway line and walked the tracks commenting at the poor state the heather seemed to be in. A Jay flew around and a few corvids flew over. We were surprised at the lack of any Stonechat. After a while I though I heard a Darford Warbler singing but was not sure. We scanned the gorse and heather before I located a distant bird. All too soon it flew but luckily we relocated it. It eventually hid in a Silver Birch tree.
We were also treated to numerous sightings of the North Norfolk steam engine pulling carriages full of tourists enoying their rides along the short piece of railway line that bisects the heath.
Stopping by the A149 at Holkham we watched two Spoonbill in flight.
Dartford Warbler Train at Kelling Heath
The mega alert went off on my pager as I was working in the car park at Titchwell. Spectacled Warbler, Burnham Overy dunes, it said!!!! This would be a Norfolk tick for me as I had last seen one in Suffolk in 1997. I radioed Dave Hawkins, who was on site as I knew he would be interested. Dave duly left site for it leaving me to sweat it out until the end of the day!
As the bird was at Gun Hill, at least a mile along the seawall from Burnham Overy Staithe, I was a bit concerned as to how my back would be considering how bad it had been a week ago. Luckily walking has been less painful than sitting or standing still. I decided that it would not stand carrying the scope and I hoped that some kind soul would let me look through their scope upon arrival. After a few minutes wait the bird appeared and Steve let me look through his scope. Spectacled Warblers are very similar to Common Whitethroats but the lores are darker. The overcast skies did not help but I decided to take a few photos even though I knew they would be poor quality given the distance and poor light. The crowd was well behaved, if a little noisy, but it was still good to hear the bird singing.
On my way back along the seawall two Spoonbills flew by and a Little Tern was fishing in the channel.
I am taking part in the bat survey in Norfolk and so spent the evening reading the instructions and setting up the recording equipment in my front garden. We keep the equipment at Titchwell Marsh RSPB and are looking for more volunteers to survey 1km squares in Norfolk. If you would like to take part, register at http://www.batsurvey.org/ choose your kilometre square, wait for a response and fill in your e-mail address on the link and then come and borrow the equipment from us. You need to find 3 locations in your kilometre square for 3 consecutive nights.
Delighted to find that I had some bat activity in my garden last night according to the recording equipment! So after work I waited until dusk and set the recording equipment up in my local churchyard.
Up at 4.30am to retrieve the bat recording equipment from the local churchyard. It was a beautiful morning with red skies. The birds were singing well. At home it would seem that there were many recordings from the bats last night.
As Paul had been working away in Leicester we made our way in pouring rain to Gun Hill at Burnham Overy. We were absolutely saturated. Once the rain had stopped the wind dried us out and we watched the Spectacled Warbler flitting around in the suaeda bushes. it was nice to see David Fisher that we had been to Venezuela with. We walked back along the bank and watched a Spoonbill fly over us. Luckily we made it back to the car before the rain started again. At Home we dipped the Montagu's Harrier by a few minutes and went to have a pub lunch. Just after 3pm we were back again and tis time we had good views of the Montagu's Harrier quartering the Lavender Marsh before it gained considerable height and drifted off eastwards.
At Choseley barns we watched two Turtle Doves feeding on the ground and by the bend after the dip in the road I listened to a Quail calling. Off to set up the bat equipment now for the last night of recording!
Up at 4.15am to pick up the bat recording equipment from a local field. (If you would like to take part please register at http://www.batsurvey.org/ ) I was a bit disappointed as there were not many recordings as last night.
Grey Wagtail Grey Wagtail with two fledglings
After doing some gardening I wandered to West Newton mill where the Grey Wagtails had some newly fledged young. The adults were certainly kept busy catching flies to satiate their hunger!
In the evening Paul and I visited the loacl pub at Congham where we sat in the garden. A Hummingbird Hawmoth appeared on the flowers and all I had with me was my phone with which to take a picture. I was thrilled and told the landlord who was somewhat bemused. I forget sometimes that not everyone is as interested in wildlife as most of my friends are!
Trying out a different lens on my camera I took a picture of a Wood Pigeon under my feeder at Roydon.
Bearded Tit Sedge Warbler
Reed Bunting Avocet
One of the joys of working at Titchwell is the opportunity to go birding after work after most of the visitors have gone. On a summer's evening you can more or less have the place to yourself. A walk after work before our volunteers' barbeque produced views of Bearded Tit, Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Avocet all enjoying the sunlight.
Common Blue Butterfly Speckled Wood Butterfly
After a morning of doing chores, Paul and I decided to walk to the old Dragonfly Pool on Roydon Common. This is now sadly virtually dried up. I do not know what has happed to the hydrology of the place. It is very sad to have lost the habitat for dragonflies. However we did manage to see the first White Admiral of the year, Speckled Wood and Common Blue butterflies as well as a Four-spotted Chaser.
I now have the results of my bat survey back. I was very pleased at the results. The numbers relate to the number of bat passes
5th June: 25 Common Pipistrelle, 7 Soprana Pipistrelle,Ý possible Daubenton and 1 possible Whiskered Bat
6th June: 185 Common Pipistelle, 4 Serotine, 5 Myotis species (Possibly Natterer, Daubenton, Whiskered or Brandt's) 4 possible Daubentons, 7 possible Serotine and 2 possible Whiskered Bat
7th June: 2 Brown Long-eared, 27 Common Pipistrelle, 11 Noctule,10 Soprano Pipistrelle, 5 possible Daubenton and 1 possible Whiskered Bat
I have found it really interesting to know what is flying around my home and within 1 km of my house. If you would like to take part contact the following website http://www.batsurvey.org/ and select a square of your choosing. You need to put up the kit for 3 consecutive nights which can be borrowed from Titchwell Marsh RSPB.
Large Red-eyed Damselfly Marsh Harrier
I drove to Filby Broad where I was hoping to see a Lesser Emperor Dragonfly. It was not to be. I watched many large Red-eyed Damselflies before watching several Marsh Harriers at Horsey.
Great Crested Grebe Marsh Harrier with a gull in hot pursuit!
Once again I drove to Filby Broad where I was more hopeful of seeing the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly as there were some breaks in the cloud when the sun appeared. I saw two Norfolk Hawkers and a brief view of what could have been the Lesser Emperor but I did not have a good enough view before it disappeared into the vegetation. Large Red-eyed damselflies were around again and a Great Crested Grebe came visiting the boardwalk before a Marsh Harrier was chased by a gull.
Goldfinch Juvenile Stonechats
I decided to go for a walk at Hickling where two juvenile Stonechats sat on a fencepost as I surveyed the marshes. A north wind was blowing and it was colder than I expected for June!
Third time lucky! or so I hoped as I set off for Felbrigg in the hope of seeing Lesser Emperor Dragonfly. Once I had arrived at Felbrigg Hall I walked down to the lake where Simon Chadwick had set up vigil, like me in the hope of having good views of the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly. The good news was that Simon had already seen it and was hopeful that it would put in another appearence. After about half an hour wait Simon spotted it heading towards us. Bingo! at last I had it in sight. Getting a photo of it was quite a different matter as it whizzed past us at speed. It did a circuit of the lake and disappeared before repaeting the performance once more. we waited in vain for another couple of hours but it did not reappear. We were almost dismayed when a Hobby flew over the lake taking a dragonfly with it!
Little Owl Mandarin Duck
I walked back up to the hall admiring a Little Owl and Mandarin Duck en route.
Paul and I stopped at Hillborough where we saw two Red Kites, one of which looked like a newly-fledged juvenile. At Cockley Cley we admired a Tree Pipit.
On my walk this evening I came across a Lesser Butterfly Orchid. It was wonderful to see such a beautiful orchid not too far from my home. The orchids have been wonderful this year.
Lesser Butterfly Orchid
Paul and I left home shortly before 5am and motored on up to Seahouses in Northumberland. Here we booked onto and afternoon trip to Inner Farne with Billy Shiels boats only to find that the wardens had closed the island due to bad weather. The birders amongst us pleaded with Billy Shiels and they agreed to put on a boat so that we could remain just offshore to give us a chance of seeing the Bridled Tern. The decision to close the island was absolutely right, as tourists walking around the island would put adult Arctic Terns off the nests and baby chicks would get wet and sodden and die. In fact the wardens spent the day drying out chicks with a hair dryer! The afternoon was bright and sunny fortunately for us.
Arctic Tern Sandwich Tern
Once we arrived just after midday the boat tied up at the jetty on Inner Farne and we stayed aboard and started the long vigil of watching the terns coming andgoing from the rocks and beach. Arctic Terns were everywhere and there we lots of Sandwich Terns too. We spotted a few Roseate Terns on the small beach and delighted at the antics of the delightful Puffins.
Roseate Tern Puffin
Razorbill and Eider were also present as we amused ourselves taking photos as the hours rolled by.
As early evening approached the boatman said he could stay no longer and we sailed back to harbour. We asked Billy Shiels if they would put a boat on the following morning for us, which they said they would consider. Paul and I found a room for the night at the youth hostel in Alnwick which provided a good breakfast in the morning.
At 9.15am several birders gathered for the Billy Shiels boats and we sailed once again for Inner Farne and watched two Manx Shearwater fly by us. We had agreed to 'boat hop' so that we could spend as much time as possible at Inner Farne. Now and again we had to cross to Staple Island and were treated to good views of all the breeding seabirds. Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot and Shag were occupying every available rock ledge and it was a joy to see a young Guillemot take its first plunge into the sea along with its parent.
Guillemot chick taking its first plunge
David Roche Shag
On our first crossing to Staple Island we were surprised to see David Roche, who I used to work with at Titchwell helping to tie up the arriving boats. He is spending the summer on the island.
We took on board many tourists and transported them to Inner Farne. We remained on board and spent a few more hours waiting before crossing back once more toStaple Island to pick up more tourists. As we approached Inner farne Carl Chapman picked out the Bridled Tern sitting on the rocks. Bingo!
Panic ensued amongst the birders as we all tried to see the Bridled Tern as we all knew it could fly off at any moment. This tme we were allowed off the boat and onto the jetty. We all enjoyed good views of the Bridled Tern but it decided to fly futher away and into a gully. Curses!
I took the decision to have a quick walk around the island to admire all the Arctic Terns and Puffins breeding there. The Arctic Terns did their best to dive-bomb my hat, which is essential if you are visiting the island.
I was fascinated by an Arctic Tern trying to feed its young through a fence. It didn't seem to know how to get the fish through the chicken wire.
St Cuthbert's Tower Arctic Tern
I always enjoy a trip to the Farnes and this year was no exception. The Bridled Tern was just the icing on the cake though!
In pouring rain I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell to watch a Black Tern flying around Thornham Pool. Thanks to Dave who found it on his very wet guided walk. At 5.15pm the bird flew off towards Thornham.
After taking Paul to a non-existent beer festival at Sheringham (it is apparently next week!) I drove to Cley where we eventually stood on the pillbox on the beach so that we could look across the Eye field to view Billy's Wash. Through my scope Paul and I could just about make out the Pectoral Sandpiper and a Ruff.
I left home and drove to Breydon Water at Great Yarmouth where I joined many other birders standing on the bank just the other side of the hide after walking underneath the A12 bridge. Luckily the Great Knot had just flown in and another birder had it all lined up in his scope for me to see. It was certainly closer than the last Great Knot that I saw in Britain (which we all christened 'The Great Dot') at Cleveland. The bird stood amongst the sea lavender with the Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Dunlin. We admired the 200+ Avocet as well.
An early evening visit to Cley produced 6 Common Sandpiper, 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 100+ Dunlin and plenty of Ruff, many of which were still looking fairly smart. Reed Warbler were still singing in the reedbed and a Sedge Warbler was sitting at the top of one of the bushes en route to the hides. I met Eddie as I left the hides as Swallow and House Martin were flying overhead. One Marsh Harrier was also seen.
Wood Sandpiper Garganey
A quick walk down the West Bank path at Titchwell after work produced 2 Wood Sandpiper and a Garganey. The Freshmarsh looked fantastic covered in Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit.
A walk on the reserve after work and Peter kindly re-found two Little Stint that he had seen earlier for me. The Freshmarsh was looking stunning covered in waders.
Manning the information desk at work I heard on the radio that Dave had found a Spotted Crake in the reedbed by Island hide. I was allowed a few minutes to try to see it but needed a second attempt after it did not play ball! Luckily on my second attempt it popped out and gave good views. Thanks Paul for manning the desk whilst I ran down to see it. Later on in the day whilst I was out recruiting I heard about the adult Long-tailed Skua that was flying around our Freshmarsh and Thornham Point. Oh the agony of having to wait until after work to see it.
I walked down to Thornham Point along with Marcus Nash and Peter Dalton, where we had stunning views of the Long-tailed Skua and at least eleven Arctic Skuas. A Hobby also flew over the sea. It was an amazing view of an adult Long-tailed Skua. The best I have ever seen.
Back by Island hide I managed a photo of the Spotted Crake. It was a shame that the light was so poor. The two Wood Sandpipers also came in front of the hide. What an evening! Stunning!
I drove across to Leicester where Paul was working and saw 3 Red Kite near Peterborough.
Driving back from Leicester I saw a lone Red Kite near Peterborough.
Silver-washed Fritillary and Comma valezina morph of Silver-washed Fritillary
At my third attempt of visiting Holt Country Park I eventually managed to see the Valezina morph of the Silver-washed Fritillary on a Buddleia by the toilet park after a two hour wait. I had had a brief glimpse soon after my arrival of a male Silver-washed Fritillary chasing a valezina across the car park but not good enough to photograph. The Buddleias by the car park were full of butterflies including Comma, Red Amiral, White Admiral, Large White and Silver-washed Fritillary. Meadow Brown and Ringlet were also in the park.
I continued to Cley where on North Scrape I had distant views of the Temminck's Stint. Thirteen Spoonbill were also present.
Wall Painted Lady
After work I stopped at 'Quail corner' at Choseley to watch at least 3 Clouded Yellow Butterflies in a cover crop by the road. I also saw Wall and Painted Lady here too. A Lattice Heath moth was also present.
I ran down the West bank path during my break at Titchwell just in time to see the Pied Flycatcher sitting on the fence near the Island hide. Unfortunately I was surrounded by visitors so photography was challenging to say the least as they continually flushed the bird!
A dayout at Birdfair with John and Judy. Always impressed by the excellent organisation so that we can all enjoy meeting up with 'old' friends and enjoy the stands and talks that take place. It does me no good however as I dream about all the places left in the world that I need to visit birding!
Another day at Birdfair with Paul and Trevor Girling.This time I go to more talks and add to my list of countries still to do. Paul and I spend a while with Trevor Ellery and contemplate Colombia for next year!
Paul and I spend an evening at Cley where we see 5 Manx Shearwater and 2 Arctic Skua on the sea. We dipped on the Franklin's Gull though and I felt sorry for Paul as he did not see the bird at Titchwell that I saw many years ago.
Paul and I had motored through the night to arrive in Aviemore at 0218hrs. We slept in the car up the Cairngorm road until the little cafe opened where we had a delightful breakfast watching a Red Squirrel climbing the tree just outside. Siskin, Coal Tit joined many common birds coming to the feeders before we moved onto Feshiebridge. Here we found Spotted Flycatcher, Crested Tit, and a ready supply of Swallow and Meadow Pipit.
I had booked a trip in a glider and for a while we watched others being winched on a sleep incline up into the sky. Soon it was my turn. I was strapped in very tightly and given bail-out instructions just in case the worst happened! With no engine it was not a good thought! The winch launch was certainly steep, much steeper than going up in a plane. The views of the Cairngorms and the lochs below were amazing. We glided around in a loop but thermals were hard to find and all too soon it was time to land. Having landed on many grass strips in small planes in pursuit of birds the landing was not too bad at all. I was back to earth all safe and sound.
Sue being strapped into the glider The glide around the Cairngorms and lochs
Barn Swallow Meadow Pipit
After my new experience of flying we drove towards Nethybridge stopping to admire at least two Dippers near Boat-of-Garten on the River Spey. A Grey Wagtail was also present. We failed to find any Hooded Crows which surprised us.
We added more common birds to our list before driving to our accommodation at Newtonmore as Aviemore was heaving with a Harley Davidson rally. Motorbikes were everywhere. What a noise.....so totally out of place here! I was glad that we had booked a hotel somewhere peaceful.
After a good cooked breakfast at the hotel we drove to the Findhorn Valley where we met up with Gordon and Chris Hamlett. We stopped along the river to admire seven Goosander before continuing to the carpark at the end of the public road. Here we watched a juvenile White-tailed Eagle over towards Tomintoul before turning our attentions further up the valley. A flock of Raven were mobbing a Golden Eagle before a Common Buzzard appeared mobbing another golden eagle.
Chris found a Peregrine over the other side of the valley which we watched in delight as it flew along the mountainside. We noted a Northern Wheatear and a Kestrel too.
Red Grouse Slavonian Grebe
We bade our farewell to Gordon and Chris and made our way over the top to Loch Ruthven. En route we noted a Red Kite and a couple of Red Grouse. At Loch Ruthven we walked alongside the loch and made our way to the hide. We were lucky to see a Slavonian Grebe in front of the hide before it disappeared into the tangle of reeds. Tufted Duck and Little Grebe were also present.
Continuing to Loch Duntelchaig we saw very little except a pair of Stonechat. Re-tracing our steps we made our way to Lochindorb where we found a pair of Red-throated Diver in summer plumage. Sadly they were too distant for my lens. A lone Oystercatcher and Greylag Goose added to the triplist.
We returned to Feisiebridge where we watched a Common Redstart and more Crested Tit before returning to our hotel.
In previous years Paul and I have made sure we have been in the first chair-lift of the day to ascend Cairngorm to ensure that you see Ptarmigan before all the tourists scare them away. So today we were up early and drove to the end of the road at Cairngorm. Now they have a funicular railway that takes you to the top station on the mountain. However I was informed that I would not be allowed out of the restaurant at the top unless I joined an escorted walk at a cost of £6 each. I was not a happy bunny at this enforcement as I did not need the birds pointing out to me! Initially we just paid to go up in the funicular and once in the restaurant I felt like a caged animal. I grudgingly paid my dues. I have to say the guide was excellent and it made for an enjoyable walk to the top of the mountain with his interesting information We noted 5+ Ptarmigan in the wonderful weather.
After enjoying a late lunch break back at Aviemore we drove to Loch Garten where we just missed the last departure of the Ospreys. Crested Tit were calling around the roadside trees as was a Treecreeper. We enjoyed a siesta in the sun before having another meal back at Aviemore.
Crested Tit Treecreeper
Pine Marten Wood Mouse
At 8.20pm we followed Speyside Wildlife's instructions and met a guide a short distance from Aviemore where we walked to a heated hide. Just after it got dark we were delighted when a Pine Marten came to feed on a few raisins and peanuts. I cursed as I realised that my lens was too big and I could have done with a much smaller lens. I did not realise that the Marten was going to be so close! A second Pine Marten soon appeared as did 3 Badgers. Several Wood Mice kept us entertained in the dark too.
I ran down the path whilst at work at Titchwell to see a Great White Egret being mobbed by a Little Egret.
Wryneck Rose-coloured Starling
After lunch, Paul and I made our way to Stiffkey where we walked from the campsite towards Stiffkey Fen. We followed Richard's instructions but it soon became apparent that we would have to find the reported Wryneck ourselves as it had not been seen for several hours. I walked futher along the hedgeline before I eventually re-found it. I called to Paul and John who quickly joined me. A Common Redstart and a Whinchat also showed in the hedgeline as well as a few Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat.
Later at Weybourne we delighted at seeing the Rose-coloured Starling as we listened to wonderful stories of the police getting called because it was seen as a few birders standing around and sitting on a piece of playground equipment, could be a threat to the local community!!!!
Kingfisher Willow Emerald Damselfly
I joined John and Judy and together we visited Strumpshaw RSPB reserve. Just outside the reception centre we delighted in watching 3 Kingfishers chasing around the broad. A Marsh Harrier flew over and eventually sat in a distant tree. Several Herons also perched in dead trees overlooking the broad as a Kestrel surveyed the scene. We walked past the doctor's garden and followed the pathway along towards the small bridge, stopping off looking at view points into the small patches of water under the Sallows. Here Judy spotted a female Willow Emerald Damselfly. We soon spotted two of them but could not find a male.
I made my way out to Burnham Overy dunes in the hope of seeing a Barred Warbler and a Black-necked Grebe but it was not to be. Neither birds showed whilst I was there. A handful of Whinchat adorned some Elder bushes and a few Wheatear were present. Little Egret were in flight as well as Buzzard. On the pool a couple of Greenshank flew around.
At Blakeney I walked out along the footpath where extensive repairs after the tidal surge are being done. Here a juvenile Red-backed Shrike lurked in an Elder bush behaving very unlike a shrike as it sat motionless.
What a difference a day can make! Once again I walked out to Burnham Overy dunes along the seawall. The Black-necked Grebe was on show as I arrived in the large pool alongside the path. Thankfully I met up with Ben Rackstraw who kindly let me look through his scope at it along with several Little Grebe. I continued out to the dunes and had to walk further than yesterday. Dave Holman, Christine and Pete Clements were already in position and the Barred Warbler showed itself in the Elder bush. Several Whinchat perched on top of the brambles before a Garden Warbler also popped out. We watched a Pied Flycatcher flit around before Pete and I left to drive to Warham Greens. Here a Red-breasted Flycatcher accompanied two more Pied Flycatchers and a Spotted Flycatcher. Pete was quick enough to see a Brambling too. I made my way back along Garden Drove and picked two tubs of Blackberries!
Whilst serving in the café at Titchwell I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling. Unfortunately there was a queue of people at the hatch and I could not get outside to look for it. Grrrrrr....
After work I drove to Brancaster Staithe where I joined Penny and together we walked along the boardwalk to just past the first house where Dave Appleton had found a Yellow-browed Warbler earlier on. Luckily we did not have to wait too long as amongst, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Chaffinch and Great Tit we soon saw the Yellow-browed Warbler. Unfortunately it was too high in the Holm Oak for a photograph in very poor light.
Picked up my new 400mm lens today after work. I hope the weather will improve so that I can try it out!
Olive-backed Pipit Barred Warbler
Making my way to Wells I soon located the Olive-backed Pipit. Mike Edgecombe and myself struggled with the lack of light and far too many blades of grass in the way for any decent photos. We listened to Siskins calling overhead as many familiar faces joined us. I left and travelled to Salthouse where a Barred Warbler showed well in between disturbances from runners going by every few seconds. At Walsey Hills, Cley I had a very brief view of a Yellow-browed Warbler but enjoyed the two Hobbies overhead much more. It was a shame that the weather was so murky!
Paul and I sat on the shingle at Salthouse and got buffeted in the strong Northerly wind. We saw two Sooty Shearwater and four Manx Shearwater as well as seventeen Great Skua that passed through in two parties of ten and seven. At Walsey Hills despite hearing theYellow-browed Warbler, we did not see it. I saw several Chiffhaff, Garden Warbler and a Hobby.
Paul and I walked down to The Delft at Roydon Common where lurking in the Juncus was a Jack Snipe along with 20+ Common Snipe. Later up on the common we saw seven Stonechat in one group. One had a grey colour ring over the BTO ring.
On our way home from a lovely meal out at Harpley we saw a Tawny Owl sat on the road just half a mile from our home at Roydon.
Paul and I sat at Lynn Point at 7.30am and watched the tide come in on the River Great Ouse. Three Common Sandpipers flew across the river as they were pushed off the mud and a Marsh Harrier flew over towards Terrington. Four Ruff flew along the river before settling in the grass. We noted two Greenshank as well. Several Little Egrets fed at the water's edge before we decided to walk to the sluice. It was an eerily still day and as it did not feel 'birdy' I decided to leave my camera behind. How I cursed as we approached the sluice. I could see a kingfisher sat on the handrail and it was not at all bothered by us. They normally fly off well before we get there. Paul set up his scope and I peered through at the wonderful little bird. Every so often it would dive down to the water for a fish. I remembered that I had my phone with me and managed these shots through Paul's scope. Although I say it myself, I was pleased with the results!
On a beautiful late September day I walked out onto Holme beach for a seawatch where I soon located a Red-necked Grebe. Unfortunately it spent more time under water than showing well. Not too far away a Slavonian Grebe kept a Guillemot company for a while. However the best bird on show was a stunning Red-throated Diver still in its summer plumage. Out in the distance there were many Gannets diving for fish. A couple of Sanderling landed at the tide edge but neither wanter their photos taken! The bushes on the NWT reserve were dead as far as birds were concerned but I enjoyed Pink-footed Geese flying back from thier summering grounds and watched the Wigeon on Redwell Marsh grazing amongst the Teal and Mallard. A Lesser Whitethroat was the only bird of note along the track as I walked back to my car.
I spent today in Somerset at Ham Hill taking my Dad out for his 90th birthday celebrations. It was lovely as all his grandchildren, Mark, Jonathan and Kathryn came too. Paul, Suzy and Chris helped make my Dad a very happy man.
Four generations! Dad (Alfred Pound), me holding my grand-daughter Isla and Mark, my son.
A few Red Kites were enjoyed on the journey back to Norfolk in Hampshire.
Arriving too late last night to join the masses at Burnham Norton I had a nail-biting day at work hoping that the Steppe Shrike would stay until after work. I endured all the birders arriving at Titchwell telling me all about the bird all day long until I could escape at 5pm. It was pouring with rain as I sped along the A149 in the gloom. I just hope the bird would not go to roost early. Arriving on site I quickly put on my waterproofs and headed out along the track where I could see ben Rackshaw looking throgh his scope. I knew that if the bird was showing Ben would surely know where to look. Another birder kindly let me look through his scope before I subjected mine to the pouring rain. The Steppe Shrike was distant but I enjoyed watching it fly and perch taking shelter from the wind. It felt good to have another Norfolk tick!
I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler call 3 times in the car park at Titchwell today but because we had so many visitors I had very little time to look for it. Grrrr.......
Paul and I headed up to the Steppe Shrike at Burnham Norton. Walking down the track on a very misty morning we had good views of Bearded Tit. It was a shame that it was so misty making it difficult to photograph. It gave it a wistful look though!
Paul had been working in Swindon all week and so had had a nail-biting week hoping that the shrike would hang on for a Norfolk tick for him. Luckily the area had been baited with meal worms and so the shrike knew it had a good food supply and no reason to leave. We joined the masses and had good views. It certainly had a good audience with all the photographers present.
Steppe Shrike (and mealworm)
After we had had good views we wandered down the West bank at Titchwell where we admired a Black-throated Diver as well as several Red-throated Divers. There were at least twenty Great Crested Grebes on the sea along with Razorbills and Guillemots. On the Freshmarsh two Little Stints kept some Dunlin company and twelve Spotted Redshanks were roosting along with Black-tailed Godwits. Ruff, Avocet, Common Redshank, Golden Plover and Grey Plover added to the wader tally. There were many Wigeon and Teal present along with a lonely Pintail. Walking back up the path we joined Richard and Dave looking at a Yellow-browed Warbler near Island hide before it flew towards the trees near the Visitor Centre.
Brent Geese Pink-footed Geese
Later at Burnham Overy we admired all the newly arriving geese as skeins of Pink-footed Geese arrived along with Brent Geese. A Rock Pipit was standing on the mud as the tide went out and we watched Redshank, Turnstone and a Grey Plover making the most of the good feeding condition. We chatted to Dave Appleton and he showed us a picture of a Californian Quail that he had found further along the boardwalk. I don't suppose he will be adding that to his list though!
Work can really get in the way of birding at time and this was one of those days! I had watched the easterly winds and the rain all day yesterday which bode well for a stunning fall of birds today. And so it was............but I had to endure working all day! Grrrrr..........
At 5pm after work I raced to Holme where the Pallas's Warbler was still flitting around in the Sycamores along with numerous Goldcrests. After failing to get a photograph I jumped back in the car and raced to Brancaster. I ran along the coastal boardwalk yards and joined a few others where together we had a few brief glimpses of the Radde's Warbler. We heard it calling a few times before it showed itself in a tree. Just before dusk it sat on the fence and gave us brilliant views. Luck was on my side this evening!
Having watched the pager all day yesterday I was itching to have a day off to go birding. I started the day at Stiffkey in the hope of seeing the Red-flanked Bluetail but it was not to be, the bird had gone. I admired the Great Grey Shrike present and looked at the Tawny Owl being mobbed by Chaffinches tucked up in a Beech Tree. I relocated to Warham Greens and walked down Garden Drove. I was surprised at the lack of birders as the bushes were alive with Goldcrest, Robin, Redwing and Blackbirds. A Common Redstart flitted along by the side of me as I arrived at the end of the Drove. The sun appeared and I watched a Chiffchaff flycatching.
I walked the coastal path as many Blackbird, Redwing and more Goldcrest emerged from the vegetation. There seemed to be Robins everywhere. By the time I returned back up garden Drove all the Goldcrest had disappeared there was hardly a bird left.
I stopped at Burnham Overy where Steve had located a Little Owl in a distant hedge. We both enjoyed watching two Red Kites displaying overhead. A Common Buzzard also enjoyed the sun as it flew over Holkham.
At Burnham Norton I joined other birders watching not only the Steppe Shrike but another Great Grey Shrike. There was some amusement as voles and mealworms were fed to the Steppe Shrike. It took a vole to its larder in a nearby hedgeline.
Steppe Shrike and vole
I made my way to Brancaster Staithe in the hope of some Twite but I was soon heading back to Stiffkey and Warham Greens as an Isabelline Shrike had been found. Many birders had gathered and we had some tense waiting as the bird had disappeared. We all moved out to the marsh and soon had views of the shrike. The walk back to the carpark made me realise how lucky we are to live in Norfolk
At lunchtime I walked down the West bank path at Titchwell where I timed it perfectly to see a Bittern fly out of the reeds and fly towards the East bank.
I arrived at Titchwell fairly early but not early enough it would seem as a lone birder on his way back from Thornham Point told me that he had seen the Shorelark fly off as he had approached it. It was blowing a strong breeze and I decided that since I was already half way to the point that I would continue to it. The exercise would do me good. Another birder joined me and together we searched through all the Meadow Pipits and Linnets at the point. I found a couple of Rock Pipits and admired Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Robin and Blackbird. I pointed two Great Skua out that were flying high over the sea to my companion who seemed very pleased.
After lunch I drove to Burnham Overy where I watched a couple of Common Buzzard and two Marsh Harrier whilst Skylark played around the field next to me. I moved further along the main A149 and pulled into a gateway where I set up my scope and watched the Rough-legged Buzzard. I thought I might get better views from Lady Anne's Drive and so pulled into it. After a couple of minutes the pager alerted me to a Surf Scoter out in the bay. That's handy............I'm already here! I set out across the sand towards the sea where there was not another birder in sight. I found a small group of scoter but the sea was very rough and made viewing extremely difficult. Steve and Sue Gantlett joined me and we tried our best to watch the scoter. Phil also arrived and together we kept scanning. Soon other birders arrived but went further up the beach. We also moved a bit further and Phil annnounced that he thought he had it just as I thought that I had glimpsed it too. It was difficult to keep on it and I phoned Penny to let her know that we had located it. Soon we were surrounded by other birders who all saw it eventually.
Paul, Dylan and I drove to Salthouse where we saw the Grey Phalarope swirling around on the pool behind the duck pond.The light was good and it was a shame that it was too far away for a photograph. From here we walked out to the beach at Holkham where we watched the distant Surf Scoter and a Velvet Scoter. Three Red-throated Divers were also on the two two of which were still in summer plumage. Before arriving at the beach we met Penny and together we delighted in watching 2 Red Kites above our heads.
Paul and I set off for Cart Gap along the Norfolk coastline and joined several others already watching the Humpback Whale. Carl Chapman kindly gave instructions where to start looking and I soon saw the animal's humpback breach the surface. It has been a few years since I have seen a Humpback Whale and it was good to see one just off the Norfolk coastline. Many Gannets were amassing overhead of the Humpback and I guess they too were feeding off the same Herring shoal that Yarmouth is famed for.
We then drove to Gorlestone and joined Sue and Steve Gantlettt taking photographs of the Desert Wheatear. Unfortunately the sun disappeared as soon as I arrived and the sand blowing along the beach did not help. However the bird was very confiding and seemed to enjoy its mealworms.
After an unsuccessful search for the Black Redstarts we made a brief walk along the beach at South Denes. A few Meditterranean gulls added to the otherwise lack-lustre seawatch.
Great Grey Shrike
I walked up the path at Roydon Common admiring Redwing, Long-tailed Tit, Mistle Thrush, Starling and a lone Blackbird before arriving on Sandy Lane adjacent to Grimston Warren. Here I was horrified to see 3 people with ten dogs off leads running all over the warren chasing after a Chinese Water Deer. The people had no control over the dogs. I get so mad at the lack of concern by these people about wildlife. I continued on up to the folly where in a nearby tree a Great Grey Shrike sat. It was not keen to have its photo taken as I could not get anywhere near it.
After driving to London, Paul and I boarded a flight to Madrid at Heathrow airport.
At Madrid we changed planes and flew to Lima in Peru. After a few hours wait we flew onto Santa Cruz in Bolivia where we were met by Eduardo and Herman. After a quick change into birding gear we were soon on our way into some forest habit where we saw a Chestnut-eared Aricari.
As you all know I will write a more in-depth trip report that I shall eventually upload to my Trip Reports page, so these next few days reports are just enough to whet your appetite!
We spent the morning around the airport in search of Red-winged Tinamou which we eventually found. Paul, Eduardo and I then boarded a flight to Trinidad in Bolivia where we were greeted by Hosea, a university lecturer. We enjoyed watching Blue and Yellow Macaw together.
Blue and Yellow Macaw
Hosea had gained special permission for us to enter private land to try and see the critically endanged Blue-throated Macaw, down to the last 87 birds left in the wild. A small NGO group are putting up nest boxes in the hope of helping them to breed more successfully. We were thrilled at seeing 6 individuals.
After yesterday's success we birded around the marshes of the town of Trinidad.We were treated with good views Peach-fronted Parakeet.
Later in the afternoon we flew back to Santa Cruz on a small plane, saying goodbye to Hosea and being picked up by Herman again at the airport.
Today was a long drive from Santa Cruz to Camiri and I was in a lot of pain from my back. Herman picked us up from the airport and drove us to the JR hotel (I kid you not!) in Camiri. Along the way we admired a Toco Toucan.
Eduardo, Herman preparing breakfast and Paul
We spent today searching for Black-legged Seriema, not that we saw it. We did add White-fronted Woodpecker to our list though.
After lots of searching along the track to Paraguay, Herman spotted a Black-legged Seriema standing by the side of the road in vegetation. It ran as soon as we stopped the vehicle back deeper into the vegetation, never to be seen again! Back towards Santa Cruz we admired a White-browed Blackbird.
The day started well as we drove along the old road from Santa Cruz to Refugio los Volcanes. However all was not well when a traffic queue ahead made me curious to see what the hold up was, as everything had come to a halt. I walked around the corner just in time to see a massive landslide of rocks completely blocking the road. Then amazingly two people risked their lives by walking underneath it as rocks were still falling!
We had no option but to wait it out until a digger and a workteam arrived to clear the debris so that we could continue our journey. We birded the canyon watching a Black Phoebe on the river as well as a Two-banded Warbler.
It's a tough life at Refugio los Volcanes watching Blue-crowned Trogon.
We left Refugio los Volcanes and drove through Samaipata and took a side road near the village where Che Guevara was eventaully found and killed. Here we watched Chaco (Spot-backed) Puffbird and searched for Grey-crested Finch near the chicken farms.
Chaco (Spot-backed) Puffbird
San Carlos Reserve Red-fronted Macaw
An early start at 4am meant we arrived at the San Carlso Reserve just after first light where we saw the critically endanged Red-fronted Macaw which are down to the last 130 birds left in the wild. The despicable parrot trade and hunting pressures from locals have nearly seen the end of the wonderful macaw.
We now began our climb up to high altitude along the old Cochabamba road. In Siberia we watched Bolivian Brushfinch and many high altitude species.
Sue and Paul on the old Cochabamba road
We started the day at Tablas Monte but rain stopped play relatively early in the day and we drove back to Cochabamba where we went birding down by the lake. We watched White-tufted Grebe reasonably close to the shore but many of the ducks although viewable through the scope were too far away for photography.
Hosea joined us once again from his break from lecturing at university and we drove up the Cerro Tunari mountain. Here we admired overhead Andean Condor as well as seeing one that was to be realeased in a crate in the back of a truck! Andean Parakeet fed in bushes nearby as we located Olive-crowned Crescentchest.
We left Cochabamba and drove to La Paz via Oruro where we saw many wetland species including Puna Plover Andean Avocet and Chilean Flamingo.
Andean Gull Eduardo and Sue walking Death Road
After an incident at the hotel involving our vehicle in La Paz we arrived at Death Road. I am sure many of you have seen the Youtube clips of this most dangerous road in the world. Well I can ensure you it is not a ride for the feint-hearted! The birding was excellent and at over 4600m high today we had a good day.....more in my trip report which I will upload to the trip reports page soon!
Sue and Paul at Lake Titicaca Andean Coot and Titicaca (short-winged)Flightless Grebe
We left La Paz for the climb up to Lake Titicaca which was shrouded in fog as we arrived. Once cleared we watched the Short-winged Grebe from the lake edge. The thiness of air was telling at this height and we walked very slowly. After breakfast we drove back to the airport for our flight back to Santa Cruz and then onto Lima in Peru after thanking Eduardo and Herman for another wonderful trip.
We left Lima for our flight to Madrid.
We flew from Madrid back to Heathrow where we stayed the night in an airport hotel.
Drove back home to Norfolk.
I will upload my trip report to the trip reports page as soon as I am able.