Lesser Spotted Woodpecker are a rarity where ever you are these days and after Sundays dip in The Brecks i was not optimistic about catching up one one this year. Luckily dad is friendly with a few local farmers and on Wednesday we visited a private site where he heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker last week. Standing by the car we soon heard a LSW drumming, but i had seen 2 Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, a lone Brambling and various other Tits, before a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew in. The bird alighted on a nearby tree before 3 squabbling Great Tit disturbed it and it flew out of sight. A great 45 min spent before heading off to do a food shop.
On Sunday Gary, his dad Paul and myself headed out into the Brecks for Gary's 'Birthday Bird-Day'. We started off looking for raptors, and once an early shower had passed the birds started to appear above the trees. Firstly a few Buzzard, 2 to start with but up to 7 were up together. A Red Kite was then seen (later joined by a second), before 2 and then 3 Goshawk appeared. Initially distant, but moving closer as they displayed. At least 1 Sparrowhawk and 3 Kestrel completed a large raptor haul in less than an hour. Lots of Skylark and Siskin were around and also a lone Crossbill was of note. But no Woodlark as reported from the same site a week or so ago.
Our next stop for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker proved less productive, with two hours spent and only a handful of commoner birds seen, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin and most of the Tits although a probable Willow Tit lightened the mood.
The long staying Black-bellied Dipper at Thetford decided to go AWOL while we visited but while there we did get crippling views of one of the now famous otters. Finishing on a high note we did then catch up with a flock of 22 Waxwing in Thetford. Feeding close to the road they allowed us to approach very closely, not noticing us in their frenzy to feed. (annoyingly i was so close the camera wouldn't focus).
Yesterday Laura dropped me off early in Lakenham and i walked along the river to Trowse, and on to a lap of Whitlingham. By the Cock Inn 3 Kingfisher flew back and forth along the river, surprisingly often perching near the top of a nearby tall tree. 4 or 5 Song Thrush sang between here and Trowse which is nice to hear and a single Teal was on the river. A flock of Redwing (c20) were near the flyover and a Grey Wagtail whizzed past at Trowse Mill.
Since reading a report that Mistle Thrush are declining I've seen them in more places than ever, 2 where in the Jenny Lind Park on Sunday morning, 1 near the house on Sunday evening, 2 by the Trowse Sub-station and finally 2 more off Whitlingham Lane.
Whitlingham is now in a rather quiet stage with many ducks having left but spring migrants yet to arrive. Still the mixed flock of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll remain by the Little Broad with at least 2 Treecreeper and a Goldcrest in tow, and there was still a large group of Pochard on Thorpe Broad. Spring is obviously on its way with lots of birds starting to call with Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Robin seemingly in every tree. A lone Marsh Tit near the Flint Barn was nice to see and a Coal Tit uncommon for Whitlingham also nearby.
With the broad-side path closed while ditches are dug out i walked along the wooded trail just past the picnic meadow, here a Green Woodpecker was feeding in a clearing and a large flock of Linnet (38) feed on the adjoining stubble field (i tried to get some pictures but the camera wouldn't focus!). Scanning across to Thorpe Broad apart from the fore mentioned Pochard only a few Tufties remain. With the water level having fallen i recorded my first waders of the year on the shingle spit, 1 Redshank, 4 Oystercatcher, 6 Lapwing and a Common Snipe. The walk back along the north shore was uneventful with a Great Black-backed Gull in the conservation area the only bird of note.
I recently moved back to North Walsham and needing a new local patch, I soon settled on a few of my old favourite sites, but they were spread around town. All are close to the old railways track beds and my new house sits at the apex of all 5 lines that once radiated out from North Walsham, these form the arteries joining everything up. My 'Birding Alone Old Lines' patch was born, revisiting the old birding sites of youth, via the Old Railway Newtworks.