Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Birding Along Changing Lines

It’s been 6 months since I moved back to North Walsham, so I thought I’d review my North Walsham patch. The area I decided on as my new patch always felt a bit big, but it contained most of the areas I regularly frequented 10 or so years ago, plus a few new ones.

However now I live on the other side of North Walsham, I have found the areas to the south/east of town (the areas I used to visit most) I have hardly visited at all. Only visiting these areas infrequently I feel I can’t class them as part of my ‘Patch’ and I feel I am better off focusing what free time I have more intensely on the areas closer to our new home.

I have therefore cut down my patch area, removing the Honing area and also the Southrepps/Trunch area which is just that too far to walk from the home. However the ‘lost patch’ areas will still be visited, and I have marked these (in blue) along with a few other sites that a visit but were excluded from my initial patch.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

More Clifftop Migrants

Leaving a Birthday gathering in Mundesley at 6.30pm on Saturday it seemed worth a quick stop off at the Holiday Camp as we were only a couple of minutes away. We initially looked around the horse paddocks to the west, but they failed to give up the hoped for Wagtail or Wheatear, but walking back my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year was in the clifftop brambles. There seemed to be quite a lot of House Martin heading through west with the odd Swallow. Looking over the cliff a group of Linnet flitted about and a couple of Common Whitethroat were defending territories. Back at the car 3 Whimbel flew over, appearing to have flown up from the fields and headed west. Walking the cliffs to the east of the camp a few more Common Whitethroat were about and a single Yellow Wagtail flew over. Driving home not far Pigny's Wood two Wheatear were a surprise, flying along the road in front of the car before perching in the hedge.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sounds of Spring

Yesterday while waiting for Laura to have a massage I went for a wander around Spa Common, it was late evening so I wasn't expecting much. By the Mill however I stumbled across the drake Mandarin Duck found last week at Pigny's Wood, not on the patch but still nice to catch up with it. A couple of Song Thrush provided a lovely sound track as the evening became dusk.

I decided today (24th) to head down to Pigny's Wood early, something I've intended but not managed over the last week. Walking along the old railway line, mist hung in the air pierced by the sound of Chiffchaff. Reaching the old bridge at Swafield, I could hear Whitethroat calling, along with Sedge Warbler in the riverside reeds. Among the calls I could hear a Grasshopper Warbler and after 10 minutes or so I managed brief views. Walking along the river a pair of Reed Bunting sang and I found my first Reed Warbler of the year. Before reaching Mike Thurston's a Willow Warbler completed quite a haul of warbers. I had a quick look out from the new hide at Pigny's hoping the Mandarin may have relocated, but only had 2 fly-through Egyptian Geese and a lone Swallow. A female Bullfinch was eating buds nearby and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was near the barn. I wandered up towards the hilltop wood and admired the Bluebells.

 The sound of warblers dominated the morning, by the time I was back in town I had seen no fewer than 8 Chiffchaff, 12 Sedge Warbler, 13 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap,1 Willow Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler. Just two weeks ago I may have heard 1/2 Chiffchaff, what a difference a few days of easterly wind can make.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Clifftop Migrants

After doing a few jobs around the house on Good Friday, Saturday and Sunday saw some free time to go bird watching. (Though on Friday morning at 6.30am I did go out on my bike to look for some reported Dotterel, before Laura awoke, but without success.)

Saturday morning Laura and I popped into Stalham calling at the farmers market and a few local shops. During this time Gary text me, firstly informing me that a Mandarin was at Pigny's Wood, then to tell me it had left and finally to say he had found a Ring Ouzel there. Two good patch birds, and I had planned an early start there too, but tired from spending Friday in the garden, unusually for me I had rolled back over and had a lay in. Feeling I had to make some sort of amends for my faux par, Laura and I called into Mundesley Camp / Paston Cliffs. With a blustery wind I wasn't too hopeful, but shortly after getting out of the car a Ring Ouzel called, before a Yellow Wagtail flew over. Walking towards the Gas Terminal a large flock of c100 hindrines appeared from nowhere, containing mainly Swallow and Sand Martin but with 5/6 House Martin for good measure. I still hadn't located the Ring Ouzel but thought I'd look for Wheatear on the short grass to the west of the Camp, and sure enough I found 2 male and 1 female. Walking back a bird caught my eye darting over the cliff edge, it was a female Ring Ouzel and while looking down towards the beach I notice an Arctic Tern on the Groyne posts. In the clifftop brambles lots of caterpillars had emerged, which I think maybe Yellow-tail or Brown-tail Moth? Getting into the car a further 2 Yellow Wagtail flew over and a Pied Wagtail was in the car park. If I'd have gone to Pigny's I wouldn't have bothered with the cliffs, some you win some you lose.

On Sunday, driving around looking for something to do, Laura and I eventually arrived at Ranworth. A walk down to the floating visitor center, proved to be rather quite but it was nice to see quite a lot of Common Tern wheeling away and starting to prepare to breed on the nest platforms. Arriving home a Coal Tit was a new garden tick, as we pulled into the yard.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Felbrigg Red-rumped Swallow

At 6.40pm I was sitting on the bus home from work, and nearly at my stop when my phone rang, 2 minutes later Gary had picked me up. A Red-rumped Swallow had been spotted among a mixture of hinderines over Felbrigg Hall Lake and after a quick dash over the meadows we were watching the RRS buzzing about with Swallow and Sand Martin. RRS is a bird that i have chased about on a couple of occasions only to fail to connect.

On the lake I also spotted a pair of Mandarin Duck and together with Sand Martin, Swallow and Red-rumped Swallow, I had added 4 year ticks including 1 lifer. And I was at home again by 7.30pm.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Arriving (and Leaving) Mirgants

Walking up to heavy rain i didn't think i would be going far but by 10.30am it was just the odd light shower so i headed out towards Antingham via the Quiet Lanes.

It was rather quiet with many birds no doubt taking cover from the brief but squally showers. By the bridge in Lyngate the trees where a buzz with tits and finches, 2 Chiffchaff made lots of noise and a distant Buzzard circled over towards Swafield. 4 Yellowhammer where near the meadows, but not the Yellow Wagtail that I hopped might be passing through, but i did find some other migrants. 12 Redwing flew over the chapel and then an early Whitethroat and singing Blackcap were in the hedgerow. Antingham Pond was very quiet with all the migrant ducks now gone but a Kingfisher was in the channel that feeds the River Ant. Back near Lyngate 5 Stock Dove were near Grammar School Farm and the drizzle had stopped enough for 3 Skylark to take to the air.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Wheatears in the mist. . . not today!

I had to wait in for the boiler repair man until 10.30am so couldn't get out early, and anyway a cold mist hung over everything when i got up. While waiting i dug over a small area of my garden and was followed along by a Robin, a Chiffchaff briefly gave a burst of song from the tree in the garden, the first new garden bird in a while.

Last week i gave my bike a once over, so today pulled it out of the shed. I decided I head out via Felmingham Heath, circle round via the Quiet lanes near Bradfield and head for Mundesley and Paston, hoping the morning mist may have grounded a few migrants. The mist looked like it would soon burn off, but as i got to Felmingham it seemed colder and duller than ever. The Heath held lots of Chiffchaff and i saw 2 Willow Warbler, a calling Blackcap was my first of the year but i could not see it, but that was about it even the tits and finches normally abundant seemed subdued.

Cycling off the Heath i noticed i had a puncture, so headed straight home along Weavers Way my Misty Wheatears would have to wait. On the way back I did stumble upon some migrants though in the form of 22 Fieldfare on the edge of North Walsham. Back at home while putting the bike away (I decided I didn't have the patience to repair the puncture), I scored my second garden bird of the day as a calling Mistle Thrush flew over the garden. I dug a bit more garden, before routing about in the pond trying to clear the pump, in the process I discovered we have Smooth Newts another new specie in the garden.

On Monday I noticed James' Blog reported a Black Redstart nr Bracondale in Norwich, so scurried off during my break to locate it. Initially I thought the bird had gone, but it appeared from over the roof top closely chased by a Blackbird. The Black Redstart briefly took refuge in the trees before returning, sadly I couldn't stay long as I was only meant to be having a 30min break!