On the 2nd May i went for a wander around the UEA and Bowthorpe in the hunt for a few more spring arrivals. Starting at Eaton i walked along the river towards the UEA, lots of birds were calling and i got close views of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Wren oblivious to me as they sang out. Near the UEA Broad two Kingfisher whizzed by but the main Broad was very quiet. Behind the UEA playing fields i was delighted to see two Little Owl foraging in the meadow and then perching up once they spotted me.
Bowthorpe Marshes were quiet but Swallow, House Martin and a pair of Sand Martin hawked overhead. Two Oystercatcher were on the pools and near the Car Park two Garden Warbler sung in the Hawthorn thicket along with 3 Reed Bunting and 2 Song Thrush. Over Colney Gravel Pits i spotted my first two Swift of the year.
Sunday 5th May was 'May Day Bird Race' Gary and myself whizzed around Norfolk to see if we could beat the 142 species seen/heard last year. Gary collected me before 4am and we headed for the Brecks, but not before a Blackbird perched up outside my house. A Tawny Owl near Snetterton was seen before we arrived at Santon Downham. We spent quite a while walking alone the Little Ouse and St Helen's Car Park area, reaching 50 specie before leaving. Highlights included an nonseasonal Fieldfare, Willow Tit, a pair of Manderin, 4 Crossbill, Lesser Redpoll, Grey Wagtail and the best bird a male Ring Ouzel perched atop a tree by the Car Park.
Near Grimes Graves it was great to see 6+ Tree Pipit as well as a Willow Warbler. Driving past Weeting Heath NWT we saw a Stone Curlew close the the road so didn't even have to stop on our way to Lakenheath RSPB. Although the reserve is not in Norfolk you can scan back across the river to Nelson's County, and from this view point we added some of the common wildfowl and also Barn Owl, Sand Martin and Reed Warbler.
Arriving at Welney WWT just before they opened at 9.30 we had 73 species seen and three other heard with Whooper Swan and a few gulls in the field approaching the reserve. Great White Egret was out target bird and took a little finding, but we added both Godwit Sp. Yellow Wagtail and Common Sandpiper among others while searching, however we did fail to see the Gargany that was present. We added Red Kite near Nordelph before arriving at Pentney Gravel Pits. Here a Lesser Whitethroat was in a the roadside hedge, we found Mistle Thrush and Oystercatcher on the meadow and Actic Tern, LRP and Egyptian Goose on the Pits. Leaving the area a female Redstart flew across in front of the car bringing the total seen to 97.
In North West Norfolk we added Whimbel, Cuckoo, Wheatear, Curlew, Stonechat and Sparrowhawk at Roydon Common, but spent too long hunting for Wood Lark. Flitcham was offered up Tree Sparrow, Grey Partridge and Marsh Harrier, but the resident Little Owl hid out of sight. A quick stop at Chosely added only two species, but both good birds, Corn Bunting and Turtle Dove. Titchwell was the last big site that offered the prospect of a good specie haul. We duly added 20 species highlights included Common Scoter, Gannet, Eider and 2 Long-tailed Duck on the sea. And Little Tern, Red-crested Pochard, Cetti's Warbler and Bearded Tit on the reserve.
The rest of the day would be spent popping into a few sites hoping for the odd addition hear and there. A Spoonbill flew through, with a brief roadside stop at Holkham. A long walk on Kelling Heath was a little disappointing with only Bullfinch and Green Woodpecker added. From Cley Marshes NWT Car Park we scanned out Gary finding a distant Green Sandpiper and myself a Short-eared Owl flying off towards Blakeney. We finished the evening on Salthouse Heath listening to Nightingale before a surprise Hobby flew over us. As the sun fell we sat hoping for an early Nightjar without success, but our second Ring Ouzel of the day was as unexpected as the first.
136 Species had been seen along with 4 extra heard brought he total to 140. Two less than last year, but rather surprising last years list included 17 specie snot seen this year, so maybe next year will bring us 150 species in one day.
Breezy seawatch at Winterton
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