Monday, 3 December 2018

Christmas shopping for Beans

Sea Palling - 24th November

On Saturday we visited a Christmas Fayre in Martham and Hicklong. We came back via Waxham and Sea Palling allowing me to look for the Tundra Bean Geese in the area. Luckily they were on the edge of the larger goose flock and not far from the road so only took a brief 10 minute stop between Fayres.

Wroxham/Buckenham - 29th November

By 9.30am on Thursday I had dropped Agnes at nursery, done a quick Lidl shop and brought some Christmas presents in Wroxham. I decided to check out Wroxham Broad, a few Tufties, Little and Great Crested Grebe were a litle disappointing. With plenty of time I decided to call in at Buckenham to look at the recently returned Taiga Bean Geese. Upon arrival the wind had whippied up something rotten and standing by the gate my scope was rocking. Luckily the small clump of bushes on the track gave enough shelter to scan the grazing marsh towards Cantley. 6 Pinkfeet initially excited me and 5 Barnacle geese were with the large flock of Canada Geese. However at the back of the marsh I spotted a dark head appear followed by a second. Eventally 7 Taiga Bean Geese appeared from behind a bank/grassy hollow, distant but distinct.

Sheringham - 3rd December

Today I headed for Sheringham after the Nursery run for a couple more presents, but as most shops opened at 9.30 I had almost an hour sea watching. The sea was quite calm, good for viability but not good for close in birds. I managed c25 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Brent Geese and a decent number of auks. Many where distant and mainly Guillemots, but at least 2 Razorbill could be IDed and a surprise Puffin briefly landed just beyond the pots. Also a delight to see was the returning Black Redstart, wintering again by the old hotel. While I was there it spent most of its time on the railings and hopping about on the prom at times only a few meters away as I sea watched.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Barton Birdfest

Yesterday (22nd) despite the overcast weather I decided on a morning jaunt around Barton Turf, as I hadn't been out for a week or so. Walking down the lane between the carpark and board walk, a large group of thrushes passed over mainly being Redwing but also a few Fieldfare, good numbers of Chaffinch and Blue/Great Tit where in the road side hedge. The carr woodland was rather quite but a group of Siskin/Redpoll flitting about the Alders were worth note. Scanning the Broad most of the ducks seemed distant but after a while a boat passed through and many came closer. 50+ Goldeneye were surprisingly the dominant wildfowl, but also 3 Scaup, 16 Great Crested Grebe, a Long-tailed Duck and lone Pochard, plus the expected Mallard, Tufties and Teal. A Kingfisher whizzed past and just as I was about to leave when two female Goosander drifted into flew before flying towards the back of the Broad. Walking back the lane was even busier than before. The Redwing had settled in the ivy by the board walk entrance along with 3 Song Thrush and I followed a family of Long-tailed Tit along the hedge. A Roe deer then ran across the road heading into a strip of maize, birds scattered. I counted 8 Bullfinch (6 male), 30+ Brambling, Siskin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, 2 Reed Bunting, Blue Tit and Great Tit, as the birds settled in the hedge. A Marsh Tit also called and the Thrush flock (or another) joined the throng. I had a quick drive/wander around the village/staithe area finding to further large Redwing/Fieldfare flocks but little else.

Monday, 12 November 2018

A Little Birthday Birding

On Thursday (8th), my Birthday  Laura and I started off at Sheringham having a full English Breakfast. Before this we had a quick look for the King Eider from the Lifeboat slope. It didn't take us long to locate the bird on a calm flat sea, we both had good scope views before heading off for breakfast. Walking back to the car a Red-throated diver was seen close in and a Purple Sandpiper flew past.

Next stop was Felbrigg, and parking up by the back gate we first had a wander in the woods seeing the usual suspects. We then bumped into some old neighbours, so had a coffee and a chat, sitting it the warm sun of the courtyard before walking the lake loop. A female Mandarin on the water meadows was the only note worthy bird.

Walking to work in the morning I have started to see wildlife and birds start to move back into the city centre for the Winter. On the 26th October I saw a dog Otter near New Mills Yard and in the same area a Water Rail on 5th November. The Grey Wagtail are now a regular sight but not so the regular Kingfishers of last year. Also on the 5th November a Black Redstart was seen singing at the top of Lower Goat Lane.

Today (12th) after the Nursery drop off I headed to Horsford to see if I could catch up with the Parrot Crossbill as I,m busy for the next few days. After a short while I heard and located a small group of Crossbill in the pines. Among their called I could hear a deeper sounding call and after 30 minutes of watching in the dense tree tops got brief views of a male Parrot Crossbill. I continued my wander hoping to locate a larger group of Crossbill that might hold the additional reported Parrot Crossbill and hopefully better views. This I failed to do however the woods were full of interesting fungi and numerous groups of small birds including a lone Brambling and a Siskin flock.

After typing up this post I noticed that yesterday's Pallid Swift from Sheringham had been relocated near Overstrand, and with 55 minutes before pickup at Nursery I decided to attempt a 'Swift' Twitch in more than once sense. Driving towards Cromer I got stuck behind a bus and then a tractor, so it was almost 11.30am when I parked. A quick jog across the golf course and I was viewing the Pallid Swift cutting along the cliff edge in the company of a House Martin. Five minutes of decent views and I had to rush off again. This bird would be a Norfolk Tick hence the rush, having seen one other Pallid Swift in Suffolk, but half way home I remembered seeing a Pallid Swift at Cley, whoops! 

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Late October Update

Salthouse - 22nd October

On Monday I collect James from Norwich for our regular half-term bird watching catch up. With two new birds for Norfolk in the Weybourne/Salthouse area we knew where we were heading. Weybourne's Brown Shrike of the previous day had not been relocated so we first stopped at Salthouse. Parking by the Duck Pond we soon found ourselves looking at the probable Stejneger's Stonechat, if a little distant. Over the next 15 minutes the bird showed well in the scope but never came to close, perching in the reeds and sheltering from the worst of the blustery wind. A Wheatear also flitted about the marshes. We decided to move onto Weybourne despite no news on the Brown Shrike, parking up we were met by a stream of returning birders. No only had the bird not been re-found but access to the core of the site had been temporarily at least revoked. It is a military and tank demonstration area so I guess you don't want to get in the way! James and I spent a short while looking in from the periphery, but after further news the finder had given the site a good walk though decided, it had probably moved on over night and we moved on to.

Gun Hill - 22nd October

James and I decided to head towards Holkham always a hot spot for migrant, parking up on the Coast Road we headed down towards Gun Hill. Surprising the hedgerows alongside the track often bristling with Thrushes held few birds, but a few Pink-feet and Brent Geese head in the meadows. By the board walk a Stonechat was chirping and we could see a few birds along the saltmarsh margins. Made up of Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting the little group came and went when walkers passed by, but among them one bird drew our attention. With strong chestnut head colours and quite a clean breast a juvenile bunting had us debating Rustic Bunting, unable to get a photo and on balance we decided it was most likely a Reed Bunting. A late Whinchat uncharacteristically skulked around the sueada, before perching up as we had a snack lunch. A few Redwing flew over and a Chiffchaff was the only migrant warbler seen as we walked West. Walking back along the seaward side, we spent time looking for specialist dune fungi and insects.

A quick stop at a favoured site for Tree Sparrow was fruitless, with extensive development on site likely to moved the birds on. Also the nearly set a side fields, often full of wintering birds as yet seemed quiet.

Paston Cliffs - 28th October

With the clock changing we dove to Great Yarmouth along the coast waiting for the shops to open. Between Hickling and Potter Heigham a pale looking buzzard flew over the car and pulling over we could clearly see it was of the Rough-legged flavour. While shopping I heard of a King Eider at Sea Palling, a bird I've missed a couple of times and it looked like I would be missed again as it had flown off by the time I returned home.

I decided to call in at Walcott in the hope the King Eider may still be in the area. The waves were still rolling in and I soon realised with my low elevation by the sea wall I was probably missing many birds between the waves. Gannets steamed through and a few auks were seem cutting through the waves, I was about to leave when I saw a small bird disappear behind a wave, I was surprised to see a Leach's Petrel emerge, an not the half expected Little Auk.

Despite this success I still packed up the scope and headed to Paston Cliffs in the hope of finding a migrant Owl perched up. Upon arriving I could see a heavy shower hanging offshore and heading my way, so I stayed in the car, and sea watched from the back seat! This higher elevation made seeing the bird much easier and I could see large numbers of Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill passing distantly, also smaller numbers of Kittewake and Red-throated Diver. A Great Northern Diver was my first of the Autumn, before I got very lucky. The King Eider earlier seen at Sea Palling flew through heading North and to help with identification was followed 5 minutes later by a group of 17 Eider, a mixture of juvenile and adult bird. 2 Little Auk also flew through close to the breakers completing a rather hectic 40 minutes or so of sea watching. A quick lap of the scrub and holiday camp gave up little, the hoped for migrant owls were not seen but the sea watching more than made up for that. A group of 12 GBB Gull on the beach were of note along with c600 Starling new in. Just before I left a Rainbow appeared out to sea, slowly drifting toward the cliffs with a rain shower and appeared to pass right through me!

Paston Cliffs - 3rd November

A late afternoon walk offered little bird life in the quickly gathering dusk. The resident Linnet and Dunnock bar a few gulls the only birds until 3 Redpoll flew over calling. As I left a mass of corvids gathered by the windmill ready to roost.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

More North East Norfolk Birding

Norwich - 14th Oct

In my last post I failed to mention my flying visit too Cotessey to see the Rosie Starling. Having to visit Longwater Retail park it would have been silly not to look despite the light drizzle in the air. I got out of the car and Laura parked just around the corner. Within seconds the bird popped up over a rooftop ridge. I watched for a minute before realising Laura could see just as clearly from the opposite side of the house. So we watched for 5 minutes from the car before the bird dropped from view and we went shopping.

Trimingham/Paston Cliffs - 16th Oct
See previous post.

Happisburgh - 17th Oct

After the success of Tuesday I felt optermistic about Wednesday so after finishing physio at 10am I killed two hours at Happisburgh. Parking by the village hall, the cricket pitch hedge held a couple of Goldcrest and the church yard 2 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and mixed tit flock. I took a slow walk along get beach road knowing a Pallas Warbler was nearby on Tuesday, I probably took 45 minutes to walk 150m. But picking through the tits and finches present I was rewarded with my favourite stripy sprite, a Pallas Warbler near the Manor's orchard gates. 2 Blackcap, 4+ Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff were nearby. Redwing streamed overhead just as on Tuesday and grounded Blackbird were evident. By the track to the long gone lifeboat shed c15 Brambling fed in the sycamores and a skulky Dunnock held my attention too long. Along the cliffs by the old coastguard's a good number of Skylark and Meadow Pipit were probably mainly migrants. A smallish looking bunting among these drew my attention but I was a ready running late to collect Agnes. I did however manage a grainy record shot which on reviewing at home looked larger and was probably just a strangely marked Reed Bunting, rather than something rarer.

Paston Cliffs - 18th Oct

A flying visit found the cliff top patch surprisingly quite. Tuesdays 2 Lapland Bunting flying over again the only highlight. A 20 minute sea watch only produced a steady stream of Gannet East, a few lingering Red-throated Diver off shore and few Wigeon West. Friday meant a return to work and the deminished chance of more autumn migrants.