Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Rufous Tailed Rock Thrush

Meeting Gary for lunch during my Breydon walk meant i was aware of the Rock Thrush that had been found earlier that day in Kilnsea on Spurn. Gary had meetings that afternoon and the forecast looked good for the bird to head off overnight. Friday Morning however the bird was still there and after rearranging a meeting Gary picked me up just after 10am for a whistle stop trip to Yorkshire. The traffic wasn't too bad and we arrived a little after 2pm. Initially the bird couldn't be located but was soon re-found in its favored area. We watched the bird for about an hour at times it came quite close, before some people got too close and if flew back to a post at the back of the paddock, annoyingly each time before i had managed a photo. A nice bird to see a shame about the morons that wanted to pounce on it. Just before we left i quickly popped into a nearby hide to look at a Long-eared Owl perched up in the hedge, before we dashed back home.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Breydon Storks and Migrants

Today i caught the train to Berney Arms, one of the most isolated station in Britain,being 3.5 miles from the nearest road. From the station its a short walk to the edge of Breydon Water, from here you can walk to Great Yarmouth about 6 miles along the north wall, its isolation makes for a very quiet walk (today i encountered just 1 person on the whole route). Before i got off the train though i had seen what i thought was a Rough-legged Buzzard on a post from the train, but now i'm aware of a very pale Common Buzzard in the area, which sadly it probably was.

Getting off the train i soon heard and located Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Bearded Tit, Curlew, Skylark and Chiffchaff. Walking towards the Wind pump 12 Whimbrel flew over my head (a group of almost 50 was seen later)  and 2 Marsh Harrier were close by. My first rather tired looking Swallow was on the wires and a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling but could not be seen. A Cuckoo was calling and was found just east of the Berney Arms Pub, along with 2 Whitethroat and slightly further along the wall a Lesser Whitethroat. For the next 40 minutes or so heavy drizzle was frustrating but was brightened by 3 Yellow Wagtail . By the Breydon Pump House, 5 Swallow and a House Martin flew around the sluice and a lonely Wheatear watched me from its perch on a footpath marker post.

Since my last walk along this route two pools have been dug and these held lots of Shelduck (one group of 58 and one of 72) as well as Avocet and lingering Wigeon. My attention was soon distracted by two White Stork that flew in and then came closer and closer. If these birds are excepted as wild they will be a 'lifer' and my first of the spring. I watched the Stork for 15 minutes or so before the flew off north. I then scanned the pools for 'migrant' waders without success until i stumbled upon a Gargany. Part of the North Wall is closed for flood defense work so i detoured via the back of the Vauxhall Holiday Park. My first Reed Warbler of the year was in a reedy dyke and 2 additional Yellow Wagtail were flitting about. Peacock, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies had started to emerge as the sun finally broke through.

I next walked through both the old and new cemeteries in Yarmouth, but with lots of the old scrub removed i only managed to find a single Blackcap. On North Denes i found a female Wheatear and on the beach numerous Ringed Plover and singles of Greenshank and Grey Plover. 2 Sandwich Tern headed north before i headed into town to meet Gary for lunch.

Back on the train home i got one final surprise for  the day. Not far from the old Pontiac Roadhouse a Glossy Ibis was flushed into the air by the train from a flooded pool, it flew away from the line before characteristically gliding down into the marsh again.

The Missing Post

Last week i was having internet issues so my post failed to upload. As it was a while ago i'll keep it brief. Tuesday 16th i started again at The Cock in Lakenham but this time walked out towards Arminghall, around High Ash Farm and then the old Roman Town at Caister St Edmund. It was much breezier than the previous day and that was reflected in a surprising lack of warblers compared to the previous day, i only saw 2 Chiffchaff and a single Willow Warbler. The area by the chalk pit often has Swallow and Sand Martin but none as yet, but a lone Fieldfare lingered. High Ash Farm had loads of singing Sky Lark and 6+ Green Woodpecker but little else of note. The burial site opposite the Roman Town held probably the birds of the day with two Whimbel on the grassy fields. By the sewage works i had up to 15 Swallow and 4 House Martin in the air together before they all passed off, a couple of Swallow later may have been extras. A Kingfisher whizzed passed on the River Tas and two Oystercatcher just about rounded off the birds seen despite walking home via Markshall, Keswick and Eaton.

Monday, 15 April 2013

'Chiffchaff, chiffchaff, chiffchaff'

Having waited to hear a Chiffchaff for ages today i could not escape them. Laura dropped me off at Lakenham Cock, the same as a few weeks ago, before she went to work. By the pub i could hear 2 Chiffchaff  and soon saw one by the old mill. A Grey Wagtail was by the second channel and a Kingfisher whizzed by. Just over the railway bridge i saw two Swallows skimming over the field and once in the meadow two Willow Warbler were chasing each other along the river bank. More Chiffchaff sang as i approached the electricity compound, before i was given a reminder of winter when 15 Redwing gathered in the trees. The gentle bird calls were then shattered by a Cetti's Warbler calling only feet away from my ear, a call i haven't heard for ages despite the birds no doubt being here all winter. The Riverside bushes seemed to have lots of warblers moving through, mainly 'quiet' Chiffchaff, feeding and moving on, by the time i reached Trowse Mill i had seen 9 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warbler and 2 Cetti's Warbler, with 34 species seen.

Today i decided to approach Whitlingham from a different direction, walking through the Trowse village and woods, via Whitlingham Hall and walking down the Lime Tree Avenue. 2 Common Buzzard circled over head by the Hall and a pair of Coal Tit were collecting nesting materials by the top of the Avenue. By the Great Broad i saw the two remaining young Egyptian Geese and also two broods of Moorhen. No hindrines were over the Broad, but three Pochard lingered and a Marsh Tit was near the Rea Platform. Just past the Picnic Meadow a group of 3 Jay made plenty of noise and a lone Mistle Thrush was on the wires. The sound of Chiffchaffs was a constant. In Whitlingham Woods 3 Goldcrest were in the company of a Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tit appeared all over the place. By the line of telegraph posts a male Blackcap was singing and a Chiifchaff was singing on the ground and then hopped up towards my feet!

Scanning Thorpe Station Marsh from the woods initially i saw nothing, but eventually found a Little-ringed Plover and a couple of Teal, while a Sparrowhawk circled overhead. From my normal view point at the east-end of the Great Broad, i found a Green Sandpiper on Thorpe and 2 Reed Bunting. Back to the Great Broad a pair of Blackcap were near the pumping house and a Sedge Warbler was near the conservation area along with two Cetti's Warbler and a Willow Warbler. Whitlingham held at least 12 Chiffchaff i think the most I've heard singing at once. 63

During my walk i also saw my first butterflies of the year. With 2 Comma and a Peacock at Whitlingham, 3 further Peacock at Trowse Water Meadows and a Small White and Tortoiseshell on my walk home. Also of note was a Chinese Water Deer in the open on the grass by Whitlingham Woods Car park.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Is it Spring now?

This morning with an uncertain forecast for the afternoon i headed out early to Marston Mashes to track down Spring, though as i type this at 12.30 i can see only blue sky! The walk along Unthank Road and through Eaton was pleasant wit lots of common birds calling and flitting about, it felt like spring. And just past the golf course gates i heard my first Chiffchaff of the day, Walking the meadow parallel to Marston Lane i saw 3 Green Woodpecker, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Reed Bunting and the fore mentioned Chiffchaff. All drumming and singing to attract a mate, even more spring like. Reaching the river 2 Kingfisher whizzed past, always nice to see and i spooked a Snipe from a nearby dyke. By the central cluster of trees i watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming for a while, but it was rather camera shy. In the muddy river margin in the trees i found a Common Sandpiper, but no sooner i had seen it it saw me and disappeared into one of the dykes across the river. A Grey Heron and Little Egret both with breeding plumes sat on the river bank as i walked towards Keswick Mill. I was just about to pronounce the arrival of spring when i was drawn to a commotion similar to a flock of Starling between the golf course and river. Closer inspection revealed a large flock of Redwing and a few Fieldfare, both in the few odd trees and on the marsh itself probably numbering close to 250 birds. Winter hasn't quiet given up yet. I spooked another Snipe by the railway line before crossing over to Eaton Common.

Just inside the gate i was taken by surprise when a Woodcock came up from under my feet, the Redwing flock then appeared drowning out the call of a Nuthatch nearby. By the weir another Kingfisher flew past and i spent a while enjoying the calls of a Song Thrush. I then noticed a dead Woodcock floating in the margin before finding a 3rd bird in the scrubby corner of the Common, this one much 'redder' than the first. A small flock of Siskin were in the Alders, a Grey Wagtail was on a fallen log blocking the river and a Sparrowhawk circled high above me. As i was leaving two very glossy Marsh Tit held my attention before i headed home. Just before i reach the house a noted a Nuthatch singing only a few doors away.

As i have been typing James has text to say 2 Little Ringed Plover have returned to Thorpe Station Marsh along with 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Chiffchaff and 5 Sand Martin passing through, if Spring isn't hear Winter is losing its grip fast! I also found a Common Quaker moth in the garden my first moth for months.

Mid Yare 'Spring' Ramble

Every Spring for the last few years around the end of March I have caught the bus to Rockland and walked back to Norwich via the Wherryman's Way. This is normally one of my first opportunities to pick up a few spring migrants, but despite being a couple of weeks later than last year James and i were not optimistic when we climbed on the bus last Friday.

The car park by Rockland Staithe often holds my first Chiffchaff of the year, the area only held a few commoner residents, Linnet, a female Blackcap and a couple of Fieldfare. Rockland Broad itself was rather quiet, a displaying pair of Great Crested Grebe and some singing Skylark at least gave the illusion of spring Walking back past the Staithe i noticed a Wood Duck, though sadly on a garden pond along with a few other ornamental ducks. Following the footpath across the fields we saw Chinese Water Deer and a pair of Brown Hare, a large flock of Linnet the only birds of note. The wood along the side of Wheatfen often holds numerous Great Spotted Woodpecker but was ominously quiet. And in the meadows nearby we found more winter Thrushes with a mixed flock of Redwing, Fieldfare and Starling. A nice Marsh Tit feeding in a garden close to the road didn't really lift the wintery feel.

Surlingham Church Marsh always looks good for Waders and passing wildfowl but i never seem to find any here. Today was no exception, Gadwell, Malllard, Teal, Canada Goose and Tufted Duck offer little to write about, although we did spook two more Chinese Water Deer. Taking the path past the gun club, the Little Owl were hiding out of sight, the only surprise was a group of Red-legged Partridge running around the conifers. A pair of Coal Tit were also close by.

From here the path takes you on past Bramerton and onto Whitlingham. Scanning from a high point across the marshes i found a Curlew and Green Sandpiper on a flooded pool and also 2 Stock Dove. Again woods often alive with woodpecker drumming seemed quiet and it was only when we reached the Sewage Works things 'picked up' again, firstly with an usual gathering of 84 Lapwing, a pair of Oystercatcher and a Herring Gull added to the days total. Before a Water Rail and Sparrowhawk close to Whitlingham Marsh became the last real birds of the walk as Whitlingham CP and woods were busy with people enjoying the Easter holiday and a little bit of sun. Spring must be around the corner very soon!

NB. Finally on Saturday i heard and saw my first Chiffchaff of the spring, harrah!