Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sheringham Sea Watch

Suitable sea watching days have been very limited so far this so with an all be it moderate northerly wind forecast and a day off i rose early and headed to Sheringham, meeting James at Norwich station and Gary in Sheringham. The sea was surprisingly choppy when we arrived at 6.15am, and more surprisingly the shelter was empty of birders. Around 8am the tide turned the sea became quite calm and the birds also slowed up. During the 2 hours or so we watched Skua numbers were quite good but Shearwater and Auk were disappointingly almost non-existent. The Arctic Skua included a nice mix of light and dark morph birds with a couple of full plumage adult birds complete with full tail feathers. Sandwich Tern flew through in large numbers which i gave up trying to count quite quickly. A few waders flew through and a Razorbill was the lone auk, which flew through just off the breakers.

Great Skua 5(e) 5(w) Arctic Skua 12(e) 4(w) Sandwich Tern c250(e) c30(w) Gannet 54(e) 18(w)Oystercatcher 2(e) 9(w) Red-throated Diver 2(e) Dunlin c10(w) Razorbill 1(e) Turnstone 3(w) Fulmer 1(w) Common Scoter 3(e) Canada Goose 12(e) Skua sp. 2(e) Shearwater sp. 3(e).

By 8.15am the sea was quiet so we walked up and over Beeston Bump, the scrubby land beyond the hill gave up a few small birds. A Lesser Whitethroat was probably the pick of the bunch before we walked back and waited for the train.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Warblers in Brief

James called me on Friday to tell me he was going to look for the Greenish Warbler at Cromer, but with rain chucking down and other things to do i decided to try on Saturday. Again on a tight schedule me and Laura arrived at Warren Wood but could only stay about an hour. The Greenish and W Bonelli's both had been heard but only briefly seen. 3 Chiffchaff flitted about in the bushes bordering Happy Valley along with a family of Chaffinch, 2 Blackcap and a lone Whitethroat, while 5 Swifts and a few Sand Martins flew overhead. Just before we had to leave the tit flock came through the area we were watching, complete with the Bonelli's Warbler it tow. I only got brief views before the bird was chased off by the male Blackcap but this was enough for me to see it's very pale underside and yellow tinge to the wing. After physio i returned mid-afternoon with Gary, and it didn't take long for us to hear the Greenish Warbler call in the Holm Oak on the hilltop, the same place Gary saw the bird in pouring rain on Friday. Gary found the bird but no sooner had he located it a Chiffchaff arrived and chased it up higher into the canopy. Despite waiting around another hour and half we only heard the Greenish Warbler once more and probably heard the Bonelli's Warbler also. As another storm threatened we headed back to North Walsham. Brief views of both birds, but many people will struggle to even see them in the leafly sycamore, and hopefully if this mini influx of Greenish continues and i'll catch up with another bird.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Around Holt

Last Sunday Laura and I decided to have a look around Holt and get a bite to eat. James' recent trip to Baconsthorpe inspired me to visit while nearby. The Ruins of Baconsthorpe Castle are down a long track and we had the site to ourselves. The nearby farmyard and Castle mere provided us with a selection of avian delights. We watched a family of 6 Little Grebe fed on the mere along with Coot, Moorhen and Mallard. 3 Grey Heron flew over as we walked back towards the car and a small group of Stock Dove were in the area. Back at the car i noticed a large group of small bird son the nearby wires, and getting out the scope i was delighted to ID them as c30 Corn Bunting. We had our wander around Holt before calling into Cley NWT for a cup of tea and cake. We didn't wander to far but still scanned over the scrapes and marshes, noting Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Sandwich Tern and 2 Spoonbill, as well as the more common waders.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Upper Yare Valley

The coast is still quite a trek on public transport, so even with the prospect of a few early migrant on the coast i decided to stay local and walk the River Yare between Eaton and Bowthorpe. By Cringleford Mill i spent awhile looking at the Dragonflies and Damselflies in the area, mulling over the identification of a few. Banded and Emerald Damoiselles, Ruddy Darter, Migrant and Brown Hawker were all in the area along with a few butterflies enjoying the sun's early warmth. Not far along the riverside path and i had the best bird of the day a Honey Buzzard flew low over the meadows, before drifted south out of sight. Although the best bird of the day had shown up early there was plenty more to see. Before reaching the UEA i had seen 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Sedge Warbler amongst other common birds. The UEA Broad was quiet with a lone family of Great Crested Grebe and a few Mallard. The playing fields offered more with a large group of Starling on the pylons, c30 Goldfinch, 2 Stock Dove and female Kestrel. Pied Wagtails often gather here in winter and i was surprised to count 41 on the cricket pitch nearest the hospital. A lone Common Tern and Swallow passed over head as i approached Earlham Park, where a Kingfisher perched up and then whizzed past me. On Bowthorpe Marshes a helicopter flushed a family of Red-legged Partridge and almost everything else. Walking the grazing marshes and riverbank i found a further 6 Green Woodpecker and 2 more Great Spotted Woodpecker, a large group of Long-tailed Tit, 2 family groups of Linnet and a lone Bullfinch. At Bowthorpe as the sun once again emerged from the clouds dragonflies zoomed about, a mixture of Ruddy and Common Darter, Migrant Hawker and singles of Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly. As well as more Banded Demoiselle and Common Blue Damselfly. I also saw 2 Mink on the river near the ponds, with Jim seeing them at Surlingham does this mean they are increasing in number once again? On the subject of 'pests' i counted over 30 Magpie at Bowthorpe! The final bird of the walk was a Sparrowhawk which flew across Earlham Park as i started to walk home along Earlham Road. 44 species of bird, 8 species of dragonfly/damselfly and 9 species of Butterfly was much more than i had hoped for when setting out.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Waders at Thorpe

From experience I've learnt not to be at Cley when rain in forecast, the only sure thing is you'll get soaked. So despite my initial intention to look for the Pectoral Sandpiper, Spoonbill and Little Stints, i decided to keep nearer home and went down to Thorpe Station Marsh. Approaching the footbridge over the railway i noticed a family of Linnet and a Whitethroat on the rough ground. From the cattle pen the mashes and scrape were deserted so i walked along the river bank to view the spit and shingle. I soon found the Lapwing that recently have been gathering on the scrape area, I counted 46, but also 5 Greenshank, 4 Oystercatcher and 2 Green Sandpiper. The most waders I've seen on site at once. Walking the rest of the circuit I flushed c30 Stock Doves from the grazing marsh, but saw little else, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Wren and a few Carrion Crow. though I did think i heard a Yellow Wagtail overhead.