Monday, 9 March 2015

February Update

With the days starting to lengthen I can once again look out for birds while travelling to work. On the 3rd while walking along the River Wensum, I saw my first Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail of the year, and I have seen the wagtails several mornings since.
 By the 6th Feb Gary and I had waited long enough and gave in to the callings of the Harlequin Duck in Aberdeen. Leaving North Walsham at Midnight we arrived at Seaton Park in Aberdeen around 9.15am after a short breakfast stop near Glasgow. Following the river Don upstream we were soon watching Goosander and some displaying Goldeneye. And after negotiating around a building site found the Harlequin Duck preening further upstream. We watched the bird at times diving at quite close quarters for around an hour before heading off through the Caingorms in search of some specialist Scottish wildlife. Looking at the map Glen Muick looks a good place to try as we have little knowledge of sites in the southern Cairngorms. We soon saw Raven, Red Grouse, Dipper, Hooded Crow, Mountain Hare and Red Deer. Not only were the views stunning but we also stumbled upon a Black Grouse lek to round it off. Driving back via Glen Shee ski centre we soon found a group of Ptarmigan and 40 + Red Grouse close to the road, despite the large numbers of people taking advantage of the snowy conditions. We then started the long drive home.

On the 8th Laura and I had a stroll around Felbrigg NT before a welcome hot soup in the cafe. Not a lot to report from the lake and meadows, the usual tits and finches, a group of c10 Skylark, 4 Mistle Thrush and a Snipe by the inlet stream.

Driving to work on the 18th a Woodcock flew through the lights outside the house as we waited, and on the 19th a Barn Owl was quartering the meadows just over the Coltishall Bridge. We are also now returning home in the semi-dusk and on 24th a total of 5 Woodcock were seen on the route home.

On the 27th after pottering at home I decided to walk a little bit of the patch but it was 11.00 before I headed off towards Pigney’s Wood. The Paston way along the railway line was rather quiet bar a few Blue and Great Tit. Behind the ‘Bluebell Wood’ quite a few Blackbird were about along with 3 Song Thrush. There’s been quite a bit of work at Pigney’s since my last visit with an area of Heathland creation, lots of work around the scrapes and the river has been dug out again. Because of this everywhere seemed muddy and few birds were about. The highlight of the walk was a flock of thrushes in a horse paddock off Little London with 10+ Redwing, 4 Mistle Thrush, 2 Song Thrush and numerous Blackbird.

Driving back from Cromer on 28th along a short stretch of road we saw a Kestrel, 2 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine, quite a raptor fest. I also spotted my first Grey Partridge of the year in the same area.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

January Update

January proved to be almost as quiet as December, the only upside was that everything was new for 2015. As always Gary and I started the year with a days listing on January the first providing 103 species, and I also went for a couple of walks locally but very ventured far. 

January 1st proved to be a rather testing day, arriving at Titchwell for our normal start time we had to wait over 30 minutes for the light to improve to start seeing birds rather than trying to ID silhouettes. Having already spotted a Robin and Blackbird in the dark at North Walsham, we managed an additional 67 species at Titchwell despite the gloom. A Peregrine low along the beach spotted by Paul and a male Hen Harrier spotted by me where probably the highlights, although i did see Spotted Redshank a bird i managed to miss all of 2014. Choseley in recent times has been quiet and a Red-legged Partridge was all we added here. Thornham also proved to be a one bird stop, but it was the hoped for Twite. Calling in at home we added Snow Bunting and Stonechat in the dunes, before finding some thrushes and garden birds near the toilet block to take the total up to 80.

Snettisham was quite a long walk, with the target, Black-necked Grebe and Glaucous Gull near the far end, but an additional 8 species where added while there. At Roydon we added three species but not the hoped for Great Grey Shrike (turns out we went to the wrong end of the common). Flitcham was alive with a massive mixed flock around the farm and hedgerows, from which we picked Brambling, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Marsh Tit, Jay and GSWood to take the tally to 97.

The light had been poor all day so we decided to ditch the usual route back towards East Norfolk and to finish at Stubb Mill, opting to stay in North Norfolk. A Tundra Bean Goose to Brancaster edged to total towards 100. But it was Barn Owl at Gun Hill and White-fronted Goose at Holkham that got us to the ton barrier. We finished off by watching the roost from Stiffkey Campsite, adding Short-eared Owl and Sparrowhawk. Desperatelytrying to increase the list we looked for an Egyptian or Canada Goose by car headlight at Salhouse but unsurprisingly failed! So the total was 102, well not quite as driving back through Northrepps a Tawny Owl was perched above the road.

While missing Pied Wagtail on the 1st Jan i wasn’t quite expecting one to turn up at work. Well on my desk to be more precise, it had someone got into the shop and spend around 30 minutes perched on and around the beds and wardrobes near my desk, before leaving via the windows I had opened.

On the 5th/6th I spent time helping dad clear firewood from a private wood near North Walsham, skeins of geese came over both days and we flushed a couple of Woodcock, but the woods were surprisingly quite.

On 21st walked part of the patch for the first time in 2015, wandering to Antingham Pond and back. The fields behind the industrial estate have been planted with mustard and walking the footpath, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing all flew out along with a couple of Yellowhammer. From Lyngate to Antingham Pond it was rather quiet, with a few tits and finches; however I did add Bullfinch and Siskin to the year list with the latter in the Alder by the pond. Back near the mustard field nearly home I then counted 16 Yellowhammer perch on the wires, a pleasant end to the walk.

The 27th I was again clearing firewood but the woods were much livelier, again some geese passed over and also a Red Kite. 2/3 Great Spotted Woodpecker were calling but the bird was the day was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, an all too rare occurrence now. In amongst the mixed tit and finch flock I also saw 2 Goldcrest and my first Treecreeper of the year.