Sunday, 28 May 2017

Bird Race and May Update

This was going to be a brief post about a couple of birds seen since my last post about our 24 hour bird race mid month, but it appears that post never updated and was lost. So i will start with a brief (ish) summary of that first.

On the 13th May 'Team Loon' (Gary, James, Lis and myself) woke early leaving Norwich by 1am. As this was a formal competition with other team, we dispenced with our normal 'within Norfolk' rule and headed for the Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire. As it was dark it was alabout what we could hear. It was amazing the number of birds calling at such and early hour, but amongst the commoner species we heard both target species for the site Corncrake and Spotted Crake. 19 species mainly heard as we headed back to Norfolk and Santon Downham.

Lots of woodland bird were soon added and a few heard birds upgraded to seen. The Mandarin didnt fail us showing well with duckling in tow. Lesser Redpoll and Cuckoo were goid bird too see but no sign of the resident Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Nearby Tree Pipit and Woodlark saved us some time so we headed off to Lynford. Checking Lynford Water then the arboretum. 2 Spotted Flycatcher were nice to see a bird often missed and just as we were leaving a singing Firecrest took the tally to 71 and it was only just past 8am.

We headed south into Suffolk adding extra birds on route before we wasted a bit to long looking fir and failing to see Golden Pheasent. Great Livermere was our next stop. We initally struggled to find the lake but added Tree Sparrow and Grey Partridge while 'lost', finding the lake we added a few gull species and Gary found us a Lesser Whitethoat but not the hoped for Black-necked Grebe. Not to far away was Elvedon and a White Stork which took a while to locate but eventually went on the list. Still in Suffolk but looking across the boarder at Lakenheath Fen we added Glossy Ibis, 2 Black-winged Stilt, Common Tern and Hobby before again moving on.

We were already maybe a hour befind our ideal schedule, but a Yellow Wagtail on route was bird 100. Arriving at Welney my collegues were fleeced for enterence fees and then we proceeded to see very little missing most of the hoped for birds as the site was so dry. We did add summering Bewick and Whooper Swan and Red-crested Pochard. We headed north towards the coast, Flitcham another 'banker site' failed to deliver with only Med Gull and Red Kite added. Hunstanton cliffs gave us a bonus 5 wader species as well as the targeted Fulmar. A detour to Holme for a spurious Pied Flycatcher only wasted time. The now annual Dotterel were in the heat haze at Choseley and we finslly arrived at Titchwell at 4pm.

Behind on time and species, Titchwell started well with a Norfolk lifer for me in the carpark a singing Wood Warbler. Brent Goose was species 120 seen on route to the beach. Sandwich Tern and Velvet Scoter the pick of a brief sea watch. We had too pick up the pace. A flyby stop at Holkham added Great White Egret and great views of a Bittern in flight, but no Spoonbill or lingering geese. The day was petering out we made the bold decicion too head for Minsmere as locally sites would only hold the odd extra species.

It was 7.20pm we arrived at Dunwich Heath we soon added Sand Martin 130 before adding Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. From the cliffs we added Barnacle Goose and Kittewake, before hearing a Water Rail. Arriving at Minsmere the light was starting to fade. Short-eared Owl was a bonus before we heard Bearded Tit and added a few species from the east hide. Caspian Gull was 140. I managed to pick out a distant Stone Curlew in very poor light. In the dark at island mere we added calling Little and Tawny Owl but no Savi's Warbler. Back at Dunwich we heard a Nightjar and then a Nightingale at Westleton Heath. A brief listen for Quail on the way too the finish line in Halesworth failed to add a final bird so we finished on 145 species. A cup of tea at the HQ of The World Land Trust was wecolme, here we meet the 2 offical teams. Being a affiliated 'virtual team' it was an honour to be invited back for the presentation and to share a glass of bubby with the winning team. We also go to see the very special trophy a Ne-ne egg signed by Sir Peter Scott.

A brief update for rest of May, while boat fishing off Bacton on 16th I got great very close views of Gannet a more distant view of probable Sooty Shearwater. Sunday 21st a Honey Buzzard was seen while driving back from Great Yarmouth. 28th I visited the patch near Mundesley in the hope of a fly though Bee Eater, Osprey or Honey Buzzard with all seen along the coast. But the best bird was only a Stock Dove. What will June hold.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Daddy & Daughter Birding

With Laura away in Barcelona, the car was free so I decided to take Agnes out on her first twitch, our second birding trip after a walk on the patch a few months ago. A pair of Black-wing Stilt were near Potter Heigham, so after have breakfast we headed out.

Parking at Latham's we walked north along the bank of the River Thurne, with Agnes on my back I couldn't take me scope so was relying on the generosity of others if the the birds were at a distance. Walking down to the flood, i saw my first Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Common Tern of the year. We heard a distant Cuckoo and Swift seem to be back in numbers all of a sudden. Reaching the first pool, i could pick out Dunlin, Grey Plover, Avocet, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and a Wood Sandpiper with ease, and with a little help soon saw Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Gargany. The middle pool held a few ducks more common waders and a Spoonbill. It was on the end pool we saw our target birds the pair of Black-winged Stilt a little distant but borrowing a scope I got good views, a summer plumage Spotted Redshank was nearby and I saw a second drake Gargany. An Arctic Tern briefly alighted on the marsh, 2 more Spoonbill were around and we had totaled 11 Wood Sandpiper, before the cool breeze and being stationary had started to test Agnes's patience. A brief look for the Wryneck seen Friday by the mill only enabled use to see the Cuckoo from earlier.

I let Agnes walk back from the bridge to the car and she got very excited by a brood of freshly hatched Egyptian Geese although the parents seemed less than amused, especially as she was calling them ducks. After a quick bottle in the car (milk for Agnes, not beer for me), Agnes started to doze, so any thought of a further walk from Potter church to Rush Hill's and looking for the Savi's Warbler was put on hold. And in all honestly was a bit optimistic on my part. Writing this we are sitting at Nanna's anticipating a roast, not a bad Sunday Morning.

 Our first Birding trip in Feb

Friday, 5 May 2017

A chance Eagle

Commuting home from work on Monday I spotted what I thought was a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaw, but getting closer it was actually a much larger bird being mobbed by the resident pair of Buzzard I see most days going to and from work. I could only have been the juv White-tailed Eagle that's been seen in and around the Broads of late. Sadly we couldn't easily stop but I see the Eagle has resurfaced at Buckenham so I may get a chance for better views this weekend somewhere nearby.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Finally some Migrants

News of a Hoopoe on the edge of my patch was to good to ignore, so this morning dad and I headed for Mundesley cliffs. No sign of the Hoopoe, I suspect the news was released late with the bird in a private garden. Lots of other migrants were about finally making it seem like spring.

First walking towards the village it was clear hindrines were on the move we had over 30 Swallow, 6 House Martin and 2 Sand Martin all passing north. Checking the paddocks I spotted 6 Wheatear and while counting them a Short eared Owl got up out of the long grass just a few feet away. We continued up to the lifeboat shed with a large flock of Linnet, numerous Skylark and  small group of Meadow Pipit flitting about. Back towards the gas terminal I heard a Ring Ouzel and eventually located two on the cliff face. Another 7 Wheatear were in the fields and a Tree Pipit flew over. Walking back to the car 2 or 3 Whitethroat called from the brambles. Back at my parents a Willow Warbler seemed out of place in the two small rose bushes in their front garden.

Stopping get off at dad's allotment for some greens on my way home I found the two best birds of the day, a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker perched above the car before flying off calling to each other.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Common Lifer

We have been spending the Easter weekend in South Wales with family and although early in the Spring I decided I was worth a walk out from the house to look for Wood Warbler, the commonest bird missing from my new life list. I saw them when much younger but not listing.

I walked an nice area of woodland by the river soon seeing Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and hearing a rather vocal Song Thrush. I then heard a Wood Warbler,a called I'd brush up on. Dispite the trees still being a bit sparse of leaves it took me a while to locate this little lemon gem high in the canopy. I walked further onto an area of scruby heath which I suspect was old slag from the local mines. Here I disturbed a Ring Ouzel and saw my first Whitethroat of the year as well as various other common species all in spring song. I was perplexed by one call I didn't recognise which turned out to be the Ring Ouzel I've only heard alert and contact calls in Norfolk.

On Saturday dispenser some drizzly rain we all went for tea, cake and a short walk. The wildlife was limited but we all enjoyed watching two Dipper displaying and then feeding from the bridge.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Sunday stroll

Last Sunday I visited Sheringham Park for the second time in a week as we meet friend staying nearby before having lunch. Being overcast it was much quitter both in terms of birds and butterflies. But I did get some really nice views of a Firecrest by the main path. During the week I saw my dirt Orange tip of the year and a Red kite over while at dad's allotment.

Today being my only day off this week I planned to continue with making a playhouse for my daughter at home. We did make time for a short walk at Walcott where 2 Sandwich Tern and a Little Tern briefly alighted on the groyne before continuing West.  2 Meadow Pipit appeared to come in off the sea, a White Wagtail was nearby and offshore a Skua was mobbing 2 further Sandwich Tern but with only binoculars it was most like an Arctic Skua. The Kentish Plover would have been nice to see but being mid afternoon, Easter holidays and in Great Yarmouth I decided just to get the paint brush out! A good decision it turns out as the bird disappeared for a number of hours.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Mothering Sunday Weekend

On Saturday I met mum and dad for an early mothers day lunch in Bacton and then had a sunny jaunt along the river at Ebridge.  Not a lot was along the river but 2 Red Kite circled overhead with two Common Buzzard. My first Red Kite of the year. Numerous Chiffchaff called along with a vocal Yellowhammer.

On Sunday Laura, Agnes and I had a picnic in Sheringham Park, somewhere I haven't visited since a child. Near the information center I spotted a female Brambling the only bird of note. The common birds were numerous in their song and while atop the Gazebo watch tower a Nuthatch called within a few feet at eye level. But was too quick for a photo. I also saw my first butterflies of the year two Brimstone and a Small Tortoiseshell.

Moving onto Salthouse to feed the ducks I scanned the marshes for early migrants without luck but driving on towards Cley a Swallow was on the wires another first for the year.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Railway Woods Norwich

Walking to work via the River Wensum and Railway Woods proved very productive as well as a pleasant way to start the day. The wood was alive with bird song calling Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Blackbird making up most of the chorus. I heard and finally saw a singing Willow Warbler,  most likely my earliest record and then also saw my first Blackcap of the year. But the strangest bird of all was a Red-legged Partridge sitting on the woodland path before flying over the river into the reclamation yard a very unexpected city bird. Between the sluice gates and anchor brewery bridge a pair of Kingfisher whizzed back and forth and at least 3 Grey Wagtail bobbed along the waters edge. I guess it's now time to start work.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Sunny Morning Patch

After having her breakfast Agnes and I went for our first ever patch walk together, with her on my back we saw quite a bit in just a short walk. We walked from home around the quiet lanes behind the house. By the railway paddock we saw 6 fieldfare, 2 mistle thrush and a song thrush. We also heard the first of at least 5 singing chiffchaff. Not far away I saw my first yellowhammer of the year, blasting out a tune atop a tree and a large flock of c.50 linnet. We didn't walk beyond the hump back bridge but from this view point we watched a otter in the river, the pair of little grebe that bred last year had returned, a pair of bullfinch were nice to see and I heard my first willow warbler of the year. Back at home 4 buzzard circled above the house before drifting West.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Posting again!

It's almost two years since my last post and I'm not quite sure I can place all the blame on my 16 month old daughter, but now she's old enough to join me hopefully I'll get out more. So let's start blogging again ready for the spring migration.

February has been quiet with a trip to Felbrigg with James my only trip out. All the normal species seen but nice too get out birding with an old friend. Over the last week I have tried to do a bit of pre work birding. Finally seeing my first barn owl of the year at Coltishall along with a little egret. Along the Wensum in the city centre I saw 3 Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtail on Friday. Yesterday I caught up with the Waxwing on Union Street and this morning detoured via the cathedral see the Peregrine on the spire.