Happy New Year to all my family, friends and readers of my website. I hope that 2018 will be all that you hope it will be and that together we will see many birds and other wildlife!
I was working today in the car park at Titchwell and as usual for January 1st the birdwatchers were out in force scurrying around to add to their new year list and had arrived at Titchwell early. I would have liked to have joined them but it is important that someone has to try to bring in the money so that the RSPB can run the wonderful reserves like Titchwell for the birds and wildlife that it supports. So I spent my day welcoming visitors and persuading non-members to become members whist keeping an eye on the birds for my new year list. I had a successful day recruiting new members but my year list finished on 24 species! I watched Brent Geese flying around and listened to Bullfinch and Treecreeper even though I did not see either. A Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Robin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch were all noted as well as Redwing, Fieldfare, Starling and Blackbird but other more exotic species will have to wait for another day.
In the evening I had been invited to the Norfolk birders party at Overstrand where many of Norfolk's finest birders had gathered. I saw a Woodcock at Felbrigg in flight on my way there. Once at the party, I was enthralled listening to the birders tales of birding and their travels all around the globe and made a note in my diary for a future trip that interested me with a few fellow birders. The food that Val had provided was scrumptious and I rather greedily tucked in as I had forgotten my lunchbox today and was starving! It was a wonderful party and was also nice to meet up with some prominent names that I had not met before.
I have several trips booked and in the planning stage this year which will hopefully keep my birding dream going and am looking forward to them. I hope your birding year will also be successful!
I was once again out in the car park at Titchwell and had a delightful chat to the now-retired head of the RSPB's head of international affairs dept. We shared some great travel tales. It was nice to meet you Tim. I added Treecreeper and Pink-footed Goose to my list as well as a few other common species before rain stopped play!
I made my way over to Cley Spy where Andrew kindly rebuilt my tripod which had fallen apart in the back of the vehicle whilst travelling on the bumpy roads in Uganda. A big thanks to him for his excellent customer service.
It was the day of the NarVOS January bird count and we had been told to register with Jasmine the area we were going to cover. I told Jasmine that John and I would be birding the NW ten kms squares around my home. We stopped in King's Lynn docks where two Peregrines were sitting on the white tower in their usual spots. In past years we have done a bird race to contribute to the bird count but as the number of teams have fallen in recent years, very sadly it was decided to just have a leisurely day instead and hope some members will just count birds in an area that they wish to. So with this in mind John and I went for a walk at Lynn Point. We watched many common species including Common Snipe, Little Grebe, Golden Plover, Reed Bunting, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and Mute Swan. There were many Fieldfare passing overhead as well as Shelduck, Brent Geese, Pinkfeet and Little Egret on the river edge. We were surprised at the number of Meadow Pipits that were around.
After visiting several other areas en route to Sandringham we watched many Common Buzzards displaying over Wolferton, where Redwings and Mistle Thrushes were running around the grassy areas. The walk at Sandringham only added a Treecreeper to our day list. A visit to Flitcham added Gadwall and Canada Goose but it was good to see the Kingfisher bank being rebuilt. A Little Owl was sat out in the sun at Ashwicken and we had a short visit to Pentney where Great Crested Grebe was added to the list. We met up with other teams at Roydon Common and we all decided to adjourn to the pub early where we had an enjoyable recount of the days events. Allan showed us photos of some of the redpolls that he had ringed in his garden recently as Ian did a composite sheet of all our sightings. Ian conveyed our total count to the Wensum group who were also counting today and would seem that our totals were similar. A lovely leisurely day's walking just noting down the birds that we saw!
It's been a busy few days and I have finally finished my trip report to Uganda. http://suebryan.webs.com/uganda-2017 I shall eventually move it to the trip reports page. I have made a start on the Greece and Bulgarian trip report but it all takes time as I am also planning my next trip!
Along with Tony Gray, I sped along the A149 from Titchwell during our lunch break to the orchards at Thornham. We met up with lots of birders and watched the two Waxwings sitting in a tree. It was good to see a few friends that I had not seen for a while to wish them happy new year. My evening was spent having a delightful meal planning our next few trips together. I just wish there were more hours in the day!
After seeing a Barn Owl at Bircham, I made a quick dash before work and joined several other birders who were enjoying watching the Twite in Thornham harbour.
Flights booked for my next trip in a few weeks time as amazingly I have some holiday allowance left!
John and I staked out the car park at Santon Downham. Eventually after a bit of a wait we saw 14 Parrot Crossbills arriving to drink in the puddles just north of the level crossing. We also admired a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Marsh Tits whilst we were waiting. After a walk to try and see the otters we made our way to Lynford Arboretum where the high winds had brought down two trees narrowly missing the Visitor Centre landing either side of it.
The high winds bringing down two trees either side of the Visitor Centre at Lynford Arboretum.
We walked down to the paddocks where scanning over the trees a Hawfinch was sitting at the top of one of them. It reminded us of our recent trip to Northern Greece and Bulgaria where we had seen so many of them. There were many Coal Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits using the feeders on the bridge as we walked back to the car.
Stopping at Great Cressingham we watched a Brambling and Two Tree Sparrows amongst many Chaffinch in the hedgeline.
A flock of Pink-footed geese flew from The Wash over Flitcham as Mick and I travelled along the Anmer road on the Sandringham Estate this morning against the backdrop of the sunrise this morning.
I was super-excited this evening as I received some good news about a prospective birding trip next year. A family of birds that I have always wanted to see more of (I only have a single example of one currently on my world list) should be available in this foreign country! My next couple of years are going to be super-busy with 3 foreign birding trips planned and another foreign trip with my daughter looming as well as wildlife holidays in this country planned. Goodness knows where my open invitation of a foreign RSPB birding trip is going to fit in ???
My son Jonathan and I enjoyed a walk along Holme beach where the tide was going out. Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Grester Black-backed Gulls, Common Gulls, Herring Gulls were all seaching for food. A Curlew flew over the sea as we walked along. On Broadwater Mallard were present as Wigeon called from the marsh.The rain set in so we returned to the car.
I have uploaded my trip report to the website. It can be seen at http://suebryan.webs.com/greece-and-bulgaria-2017
After waving goodbye to my son Jonathan who was off to play indoor reality golf (whatever that is?) with a friend the snow had already started falling. So plan B was to stay indoors and sort out my Colombia trip report which has mysteriously lost all its photos on my trip reports page. Having contacted freewebs, my website host, it would seem that I am going to have to re-do the whole page! Grrrr...So this afternoon seems an ideal opportunity to do it and my birding is confined to watching from the windows of my house. The feeders are busy with Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Blackbirds pecking underneath keeping a Pheasant company whilst Henrietta (my chicken that has adopted me) has attracted the cockerel once again that has been wandering around the road for a few years now. I do hope he doesn't stay..........otherwise I could be in for a few more early-morning wake up calls again!!! Joy of joys!
After a report of a Hawfinch in the churchyard at Great Massingham yesterday and contacting a friend I started my day just after first light there. There was light rain falling and it was still very murky but I made my way to the back of the churchyard where there was a Hawfinch sat at the top of a tree. I tried to attach my phone to my scope but all of a sudden another nine Hawfinch flew in and landed. They only stopped for a short while before flying off, calling as they went. I cursed as I wasn't quite set up for a photo. I walked round to the side of the church where there was another Hawfinch sat. It too flew off before I was set up. After waiting for a few minutes another Hawfinch flew and I managed to get a poor phone-scoped photo of it the poor light before it too disappeared.
I continued to Sheringham where I met John and together we watched the Black Redstart that was hopping around the lifeboat car park in the rain. We walked down to the rocks in front of the Funky Mackerel cafe where there was a Purple Sandpiper running around the rocks along with a Turnstone.
We made our way to Mundsley where after parking in the clifftop car park John located the Glaucous Gull sitting on top of one of the groyne baskets. We then drove to the practice green of the Cromer Golf Club (actually in Overstrand) where the Iceland Gull was busy feeding along with a Black-headed Gull.
At Upper Sheringham we had a Red Kite fly over the car.
Our next stop was Kelling where we admired the Mealy Redpoll flock that was present. It was good to see the very controversial two 'grey-toned' birds that have been reported as Coue's Arctic Redpolls.
After having a Snow Bunting fly over our heads at the beach at Salthouse we failed to find the Snow Bunting flock that had been spooked out into the marsh by a military helicopter a few minutes earlier. We drove to Stiffkey and joined Ashley and Marcus that both had groups with them and admired a male Hen Harrier, a couple of Marsh Harriers, a Merlin and a Barn Owl all hunting out on the marsh. We finished our day with a lovely evening meal in a local pub where we thought how lucky we were to live in Norfolk where even on a Winter's day good birding could be had.
I paid a quick visit to Great Massingham Churchyard where at least 4 Hawfinch were still lingering in much better weather today. On my way home I watched 50+ Fiiedlfare and 2 Kestrels on Massingham Heath.
Great White Egret
I joined Terry and Joy Elliott and together we watched the Great White Egret that has been at Nar Valley Fisheries for a few years now. There was a male Goosander on the pit too. From Wormegay High Bridge we saw 8 Whooper Swans on the fields. We drove to Tottenhill where we watched a pair of Goldeneye displaying and at Watlington I joined Tony Prater where we also had a Goldeneye. Later at the Tail Sluice in King's Lynn a Green Woodpecker flew from the grass as a Bullfinch disappeared into the hedge.
This evening NarVOS had an excellent talk about the work of the Cape May bird observatory in the USA. Having visited there many years ago it was good to see so many wonderful photos of some of the species of the birds that I saw whilst I was there.
I joined several other walkers and made my way down onto Holkham beach where a group of nine Shorelarks were very flighty on the beach. They really didn't settle very well so it was difficult to take any photos of them through my scope as they were constantly on the move. Trevor and I then walked to Holkham park lake where we failed to find the reported Scaup. Worryingly we did see a scaup-faced Tufted Duck amongst the many Tufted Duck, Pochard. Shoveler and a lone Red-crested Pochard. I stopped by the pull-in where I could scan the Holkham marshes where I watched a Great White Egret and a large group of White-fronted Geese.
Walking down to the RSPB reserve at Snettisham I crossed over the concrete strip so that I could look inland to watch the flocks of Fieldfare flying over my head. I also scanned the the scrub between the two hides where there were two Short-eared Owls roosting. Unfortunately my migraine thatI had woken up meant that I had to return home for more medication instead of carrying on around the pits where Goldeneye, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Cormorants and Greylag Geese were gathering.
After a busy day at home I drove to North Elmham where Mike Edgecome was giving a talk at Elmham House to raise money for the church. It was an all ticket affair with a superb buffet afterwards. I was entranced as Mike regaled us with his tales of his trip to Ladakh to see Snow Leopards. His photographs and video clips of Snow Leopards were amazing and awe inspiring. I fear my bucket list has just grown by one more mammal still to see!
Harriet and Constance
This is Harriet, my guide in Uganda with Constance, a little girl that we are trying to support in Bwindi. Constance is ten years old and is an amazing birdwatcher who can already identify 100 birds in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. She has my field guide and some binoculars that I hope will start her on her journey as she wants to be a bird guide like Hariet when she grows up. Harriet and I would like to encourage more children into birdwatching and I am hoping that if any of my readers have any old binoculars lurking in a drawer or cupboard and you would like to make a difference to a child who faces many issues with poverty, where funding a pair of binoculars would be extremely difficult, would you please be kind enough to give me at Titchwell and I will make sure that Harriet receives them in Uganda.
Thank you so much.
Starting early I drove to Ringstead where I arrived at the flock of Pink-footed Geese. After the events of yesterday when a birder arrived after me, got out of his car wandered up to the flock and was then surprised when they all flew off, I was determined to be early before any bafoons arrived. I scanned the flock, staying in my car and eventually found a lone Tundra Bean Goose. It had the brightest orange legs that I have seen on a Bean Goose but perhaps it was just the way the early-morning light was catching them. I looked for the Hooded Crow at Choseley without sucess and continued on my way to work. I watched a Barn Owl from the Visitor Centre at Titchwell and enjoyed a young boy's delight at seeing one. His joy was delightful. Getting children to enjoy birds and nature is the only hope we have for protecting our natural world in the future.
It was a glorious sunny Winter's day with a very light breeze and so ideal Goshawk watching conditions. I joined Marcus and Peter and together we watched two Goshawk over Swaffham Forest. A Red Kite flew over our heads and a Sparrowhawk flew along the treeline. Eight Common Buzzards added to the scene. After a walk at Santon Downham I returned to Beachamwell where six Lesser Redpoll sat in a tree in Allan's back garden.
It was a glorious Winter's day as I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell. After watching a few Meadow Pipits on Thornham pool, I made my way to the Parrinder hide where Tony and Jenny were helping visitors. A Rock Pipit was bathing in the water. After a while a pipit called flying by the open window. Luckily it landed and together we had good views of a Water Pipit. A Mediterranean Gull was amongst the Black-headed Gulls and Avocets.
I made my way down to the sea where I added Eider to my my year list. There were mant Great Crested Grebes on the sea but as the tide was a long way out I followed Dave back up the path and into the warmth of the staffroom for a cup of tea.
After watching four Siskin on my garden feeder I drove to Santon Downham and joined Kathryn and Gwyn along the river where after a short wait Kathryn spotted the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flying in. We watched it searching out nest holes before we walked back up the path.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
We watched a Treecreeper actively feeding by the church.
Later at Drymere I watched three Marsh Tit, three Goldcrest, Green Woodpecker and a Woodlark singing.
Having the morning spare I made my way over to Natural Surroundings at Glandford where after parking up I walked through the gate to the flooded area alongside the River Glaven. I scanned the area and noted a few Mallard but little else. I decided to walk the very muddy path towards the church but didn't get far as there was an Otter in the river just a few feet away. I could not believe my luck as I was here all by myself and could take photos without upsetting anyone. The Otter was not a bit bothered by my presence at all and just kept swimming and diving catching fish. The River was in full spate and I wondered how the Otter could see in the murky water. However the Otter was extremely successful as it caught many fish. Eventually the Otter swam upstream and I walked back along the path not realising I was walking right beside the Bittern that had been loitering in the flooded field. By now Steve and Sue as well as Bob had arrived and I joined them taking some photos of the bird.
Cryptic camouflage of the Bittern!
Can you see it?
Otter catching fish
Otter catching fish
Muntjac watching me with some curiosity
The evening was spent at NarVOS watching Chris Knight's talk about birding in Norfolk. He had some wonderful photos but we were all keen to get home early because of the snow.
I spent the day catching up with my data in my records since I had been given the day off because of the snow. I also enjoyed watching my garden birds.
I had been invited to join in with a trip to Fuerteventura to twitch a Dwarf Bittern, a Western Palearctic tick that many Western Palearctic listers were all going to see on the Canary Island. It seemed a good opportunity to get away from all the snow and so a very early morning flight was taken from Stansted to Fuerteventura. Once we had landed, we drove to the Barranco a few miles from the airport and walked across the plain in sunny weather and descended into the gorge. Thanks must go to Dot and Steve who had twitched the bird the previous weekend as without your help and instructions I doubt we would have found it! Lesser Short-toed Larks, Plain Swifts and Berthelot's Pipits were flying around as an Egyptian Vulture soared overhead. We soon settled down watching a pair of Fuerteventura Chats, another world tick for me as well as Spectacled Warblers and Hoopoes. After two hours we saw the Dwarf Bittern in flight and for today had to be satisfied with those views of the bird. We drove to the Tindaya Plains and watched a Houbara Bustard displaying , another world tick for me having been split from the Israeli McQueen's Bustards. Black-bellied Sandgrouse were good to see as well as Cream-coloured Coursers running around. It was good to be in the sun and away from all the snow in England. It seemed that we had timed our trip perfectly!
As usual I will be writing a trip report so I will only be brief in my diary pages.
Displaying Houbara Bustard
We were up early and returned to the Tindaya Plain to get better views of Houbara Bustard as we had only had distant views yesterday. We were not to be disappointed as Houbara Bustards were not at all shy as they came closer and closer to our car. A Berthelot's Pipiy posed for the camera too.
As we had only got flight views of the Dwarf Bittern yesterday we returned to the Barranco near Puerto del Rosario to stake it out. After a bit of a wait with us perched on the cliff-face the Dwarf Bittern emerged from the vegetation for us to get better views than yesterday. After we had taken a few photographs we drove to Costa Calma in the south of the island and walked the wood admiring Little Buntings, Serin and Olive-backed Pipits. We motored on to a reservoir, Embalse de los Molinos where we admired Pallid Swift and Marbled Teal before making our way back to Oliva for an evening meal and our accommodation.
As the gorge was such excellent birding we returned once again admiring Trumpeter Finch, Hoopoe, Canary Island Chiffchaff and Spectacled Warbler before driving to Salians del Carmen where w watched Sardinian Warblers and Laughing Doves.
Laughing (Palm) Dove
Mealy Redpoll (left-hand bird) showing a white supercilium
Siskin and Mealy Redpoll (showing a white supercilium and white background colour to the dark streaks on the flanks)
Snowy Owl (a rubbish hand-held phone/scope photo but you get the idea)
Working at Titchwell certainly has its advantages as we had a 'heads up' message about a Snowy owl sitting out on Scolt Head and could be viewed from Burnham Deepdale. Lizzie and I went to investigate.
Lizzie and I sped along the A149 and joined ten other birders, luckily before the masses arrived to see the Snowy Owl sat out on Scolt Head. John and Marcus let us look through their scopes at the Snowy Owl and I attempted a phone/scope hand held photo. We didn't stay long and soon got back to work to let other staff see the bird too! (Great team effort guys!) I was very pleased at this long-overdue Norfolk tick and Lizzie was pleased at a British tick. We were both very happy bunnies!
Now I must pack my suitcase ready for my flight tomorrow morning!
Sue at Lake Bled Slovenia.
Kathryn and I flew to Ljubljana in Slovenia for a Mother's Day treat for a few days. After picking up the car we motored to Lake Bled where we had booked a lovely hotel right next to the lake so that we could spend a few days walking and relaxing in the mountains together as well as enjoying some good food and time together. We could not believe our luck at the location as the hotel was in a beautiful setting. However there was rather more snow than we were expecting and I was glad of a winter coat!
Lake Bled was a magnet for birds and I noted Mallard, Mute Swan, a pair of Gosander, Hookded Crow, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Rock Dove, White Wagtail, Common Buzzard and Starling before we delighted ourselves partaking of the local cream cakes and tea at a wonderful cafe overlooking the lake. We both enjoyed the serenity of it all as we both have very hectic lives and it was good to have some chill-down time.
Sue beside Lake Bled
Breakfast was accompanied by a Hooded Crow sat in a tree outside the window. It a meal fit for a king and we both felt that we needed to walk. Looking at my weather app on my phone it was clear this had to be a morning activity as rain was due later in the day. The perimeter of Lake Bled was 4 miles and seemed a option.We set off and I was rather surprised to see a Swallow circling around one of the trees. A Nuthatch was calling as we left and I added Great Tit and Robin early in the walk.
Black Redstart sitting on the stump
Island castle in Lake Bled
Kathryn and I continued our walk around Lake Bled admiring the views. I heard a Willow Tit call to its mate and watched the pair actively feeding in the trees. I had not brought a camera with me and only had my phone so even though I tried to take a photo of one of the birds the results were not good! At the same point a Black Redstart appeared sitting on a tree stump. You can just about make out the bird with a bit of imagination!! Blue Tit and Magpie were also added to the list as we completed the circum-navigation of the lake.
Kathryn at Vintgar Gorge
Kathryn at Vintgar Gorge
We had raided some food at the sumptious breakfast and drove to Vintgar Gorge where we had a picnic lunch. We were a bit surprised at the amount of snow here as the roads were clear except for last few hundred metres down into the gorge itself along a track. The path looked a bit slippery to say the least and we were joined by another adventurous couple. We slipped and slithered along the track and boardwalk admiring the scenery of the gorge. It was birdless however except for a couple of Blue Tits.
On arriving back in Lake Bled we found a liqueur shop where we were offered a tasting session. We can both recommend Fig and Honey Liqueur, Blueberry Liqueur and Cherry Liqueur. We bought several bottles and ceratinly had a merry evening after our meal!!!!!
We awoke to pouring rain and after another big breakfast decided to make the most of it and drive to Bohinjsko Jezero lake set up in the moutains near a ski resort.
Sue at Mala Savica
Arriving up in the mountains the snow got deeper and following a trail to a waterfall was probably not the best idea that we have had in pouring rain! However we both have an adventurous spirit but after walking up a steep snow and ice covered trail common sense prevailed and we did not make it to the top as we realised getting back down was going to be more difficult. We actually could have done with a set of crampons and walking poles. After a slithery experience and a twisted ankle we both made it back to the car and drove to Lake Bohinjsko, where we found a hotel that served a delicious hot chocolate and yes, another creamy cheesecake! The rain had now eased off aand after consulting the map and advice from the local tourist office we decide to return to Lake Bled up and over a mountain pass on alternative much longer route back. I was assured that road had been cleared of snow and as long as I took it slowly it would be driveable. Since we had all afternoon at our disposal we decided to go for it.
Bohinjsko Jezero lake
After watching Blacl-necked Grebes and a pair of Goosander on the lake Kathryn spotted a Grey Heron, another addition to my Slovenian list! We admired the hardiness of the people living in villages up in the mountains and the amount of snow that had to be cleared to keep the roads open. I drove up to 4000 ft up many hair-pin bends and although the small minor mountain road had suffered from land slip in many places was completely clear of snow. we wanted to stop to show how deep the snow had been and take a couple of photos.
Sue at Bohinjska Bela
After taking a couple of photos of the deep snow I heard Crossbills calling. All of a sudden a flock of Crssbills landed in the tree right above my head. How I cursed at not having a decent camera with me. There were some stunning red males in the flock too! A Coal Tit was also an addition to the list here.
We motored on and arrived back at lake Bled where we drove to a vantage point overlooking Lake Bled before the sun set.
Kathryn and I flew back to England and drove home. We had really enjoyed our visit, even if we had been caught out by the 'Beast from the East' affecting Slovenia's weather as well as here. Sharing time with my children has always been a delight for me as I realise how lucky I am to have three of them that I am very proud of.
On my way home from Stansted I called in at Welney as it was a beautiful day and I was gasping for a cup of tea! Several fields had just been harvested for sugar beet and the Whooper Swans were making the most of the sugar beet tops. Down at the Visitor Centre I was surprised at the number of Tree Sparrows coming to the feeders.
Whooper Swans feeding on Sugar Beet
I made my way home and was very pleased to receive an email confirming my next trip away in a few weeks time. Hopefully I can add to my world list once again!
Having been invited to a party at Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club, I was concerned about the snow that had been falling all day and the driving wind as I had to drive from Titchwell after work. Snow had begun to accumulate along the A1067 as I approached Fakenham and I was surprised to see ten Kestrels along the stretch of road from Fakenham to Lenwade so late in the day. I think the birds must be having a hard time finding food/prey in the awful weather conditions that we have been experiencing just lately.
John, Stu and I walked down the main path at Titchwell in the gale-force, bitterly cold wind. It was very unpleasant but we staggered down to Thornham Pool where two Little Ringed Plovers were running around. We had difficulty watching them as they were either running too fast or kept hiding up behind the Juncus. I managed a very poor photo of them but had such difficulty in keeping my scope still I will not inflict the results of my efforts on you! Down at the sea the waves made any sea-watching impossible, especially as sand was whipping up into our eyes. Stu soon gave in and we made our way back to the Parrinder hide where 5 Mediterranean Gulls were amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Most of the Freshmarsh was frozen and the reeds had ice-collars on them. After a chat with Trevor and Chris we had an early lunch and drove to Snettisham after a few brief stops in Hunstanton where there seemed be a huge number of gulls feasting on the wrecks of Razor shells.
At Snettisham we watched Goldeneye and very little else for our efforts except for a few Avocet, Cormorant, Moorhen, Greylag Geese, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon with a few Dunlin and Bar-tailed Godwit out on the mud in the Wash.
I am very busy with my trip report to Fuerteventura, which is almost finished. I have started to upload it to my website and you will find the page at the top. I have moved my last two trip reports to the trip reports page. I am struggling to keep up with all my photos but will hopefully get them all processed soon, hopefully before my next trip!
I have uploaded my trip report on my 'twitch' to Fuerteventura. It can be seen at http://suebryan.webs.com/fuerteventura-2018
It was a beautiful day and so John and I were up early and set out for Welney where we searched the fields for Bewick's Swans amongst the hundreds of Whooper Swans still present. After driving for several miles we failed miserably but enjoyed the Spring-like morning. We called into the Visitor Centre at Welney and John located a Bewick's Swan having a good wash and preening session on one of the pools. We admired the Tree Sparrows in the car park and saw a Common Crane in one of the distant fields as well as a Great White Egret and a Little Egret.
We drove onto Lakenheath and watched Pintail, Tufted Duck, Shoveler on Hockwold Washes as well as watching a Bank Vole whilst we chatted to Dave Jackson.
We walked 110 at Cockley Cley and stood and waited for a sighting of a lone Willow Tit. It took quite a while until we saw one but were entertained by a Treecreeper, Nuthatch, and many Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Great Tit whilst we were there. We also saw 2 Red Kite as well as two Common Buzzard. After failing on Stone Curlew we drove to Pentney where we saw Tutfted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Reshank and a Dunlin. It was a delight to have a Spriing-like day after all the cold winds and snow that we have endured lately!
We had a dead Marsh Harrier brought into the office today that had been picked up on the beach at Titchwell. It was such a shame to see such a beautiful bird with no life left in it but all covered in sand.
It was a beautiful day and I had been assigned to be outside in the car park recruiting. For once the weather was on my side and I had a lovely day talking to visitors and birders, one of whom I will be sharing a customised trip with next year. We were both very excited about it.
Chiffchaff were singing most of the day and were joined by Brambling calling above my head. I could hear Mediterranean Gulls on the Freshmarsh joining in with Black-headed Gulls all calling probably all competeing for nesting spots. Long-tailed Ducks were reported by visitors on the sea but sadly I did not have time to see them. A bit of sun makes all the difference to the mood of visitors and I had so many compliments about how wonderful Titchwell is. There are big plans ahead for Titchwell and all the staff are working hard to try and raise the funds. Let's hope we can achieve our aims!
Bearded Tit (female)
John and I were once again up early and drove to Eastbridge where we failed to find any sign of the Glossy Ibis that had been present in the area for weeks. Cutting our losses we drove to Minsmere and walked towards the sluice stopping off in South hide where there were at least 60+ Mediterranean Gulls fighting for space on the islands amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Along with a a few Dunlin we located a winter-plumaged Little Stint feeding along the edge of one of the islands near the beach edge. A Redshank flew by just as we were leaving to walk to the sluice.It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying the sun as the pager alerted us to the fact that the Glossy Ibis had reappeared back at Eastbridge. We retraced our steps and were concerned by the fact that we had not heard or seen a single Cetti's Warbler. We wondered if the snow had had an impact on them.
Sue at Eastbridge
Sue on Westleton Heath
Back at Eastbridge I located the Glossy Ibis on one of the fields by the side of the road and after taking a few photos we watched Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards before returning to Minsmere where we met up with Jill and Richard. Together we enjoyed good views of the Firecrest at the entrance track to the Island Mere hide. In the hide two red-head (female) Smew were out in the middle of the water but a pair of Mute Swan right in front of the hide kept distracting us with their beauty.
We drove to Westleton Heath we we saw a DartfordWarbler even before we got out of the car ! Two Woodlarks were singing above our heads as we walked to some gorse and watched several pairs of Dartford Warblers zipping about. However none wanted to pose on the gorse today.
Sue watching from 'the mound' at Waveney Forest
John drove to Waveney Forest via a back route around Lowestoft through Somerleyton where we were delighted with views of three Short-eared Owls, two Barn Owls, three Common Buzzards and a host of hovering Kestrels. Later we had a delightful meal in St. Olave's before meeting up with Ann and Andrew for John's talk on birding in NW Argentina at the Great Yarmouth Bird Club.
Mick East and I noticed 16 Curlew in a field at West Newton as we drove into work at Titchwell today. Around the staff car park we have had a big flock of Brambling all week. The noise from them as we left this evening was incredible.
We often get dead or injured birds brought into the Visitor Centre and today it was the turn of a Kittiwake which will hopefully survive to be released back to sea. The recent bad weather has had a terrible effect on our birds with many birds washing up dead on the tideline and beach. We have still not heard a Cetti's Warbler on the reserve since the snow.
John and I started the day at Heacham in the hope that there would be a few migrants around for us to see. How wrong could we be?? We met up with Paul Fisher who was similarly perplexed at the lack of summer migrants. With the exception of Linnets, Reed Buntings,Curlews and Gulls it was almost birdless. We heard a Cetti's Warbler but did not see it.
At Thornham harbour we watched a few Common Redshank, Common Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and Brent Geese but little else. At Ringstead we found two Corn Buntings amongst a flock of Yellowhammers. We decided to try inland and drove to Houghton where we watched a Red Kite and two Common Buzzards. Later at Great Massingham churchyard a Nuthatch called and flew to a feeder recently put up there. Three Redwing sat at the top of a tree whilst we listened to a Mistle Thrush singing across the field.
Very sadly the Kittiwake that was brought into the Visitor Centre yesterday died.
John, Ed and I visited Lowestoft today at Leathes' Ham to see a Penduline Tit. It was nice to have some Spring-like weather at long last. We also enjoyed watching three Chiffchaff.
At Breydon Water there were good numbers of Avocet, Curlew, Pintail and Shelduck as well as a Peregrine sitting on one of the wooden structures.
I stopped off at Guist on my way home where I was surprised to see the high water levels. The field by the river was completely submerged. Greylag Geese, Black-headed Gulls, Coot and Tufted Ducks were all enjoying the water. I walked to Bintree Mill where two Grey Wagtails landed on some floating debris in the fast-flowing stream as Tufted Duck swam on the lake with some Coot. In one of the fields a Little Egret stood still whilst a Grey Heron stood on one of the banks. It has been lovely to enjoy some birding in the sun in Britain.
After spending the day on the garden setting out my raspberry canes and laying some new paving slabs I went for a short walk on Roydon Common where I saw a pair of Stonechat collecting nesting material. Further up on the common another male Stonechat sat watching my movements before flying off.
There was a lone Swallow feeding over the field as I drove into work this morning.
John and I worked the dunes of east Norfolk with little result and went onto Strumpshaw where we added Common Tern, Sand Martin and Blackcap to our yearlists. John also added Swallow to his year list. At Buckenham we watched Pintail, Wigeon, Ruff and Avocet.
Passing through Guist this morning, I stopped off to look at the flooded field south of the river. I joined Dave Appleton and we watched a pair of Garganey swim across what was left of the flood. The female settled on an island whilst the male swam around her. A Black-tailed Godwit was also present.
During my lunch break at work Jenny alerted me to a Garganey on Patsy's Pool. I made my way round and joined Trevor, Kathryn and Gwynn to admire it.
Garganey at Guist
Garganey asleep on the bank with Mallard, Shoveller and Greylag Goose.
John and I started early and met up with Alan to stand on the little wooden bridge at Carlton Marshes in Suffolk. As we were some of the first there we had a good view across the reeds and fields towards the Juncus. John walked to the bank where a few others joined him so that they could see the area down the lines of Juncus with the idea that we could communicate between us as there were not as many birders here as we expected. It didn't take long before the American Bittern flew a long flight right the way across the marsh for us all to see. We were all delighted as it was a British tick for me and I don't get many of those a year now! We walked back and watched a Cetti's Warbler and were all back in the car park by 9am which meant that I then had plenty of time to go shopping ready for my dinner party tonight to discuss another birding adventure being planned for next year.
On my way home I saw a Red Kite at Gayton. Opening my post a field guide had arrived that I ordered many weeks ago readery for my forth-coming trip. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to do a birding trip with a general guide for the area. I'm certainly hoping that the weather is going to be better than here!
I made my way up to the top of Roydon Common and was hugely relieved that there were not any dog walkers in sight. These are a huge nuisance on the common as dog owners will let their dogs off from their leads causing disturbance to gound nesting birds as they scamper through the heather. I watched ground-nesting Lapwings chasing off Crows that were on the hunt for eggs and chicks. I followed the fence-line and turned the corner, slowly walking in case there were any Ring Ouzel close by. There weren't! However raising my binoculars I could see a pair of Ring Ouzel ahead of me on the short grass. I took a few distant photos before the birds flew to join three other Ring Ouzel sitting in a distant tree. A pair of Woodlark flew over me calling as they went. I walked back towards the car and watched a pair of Stonechat but could not see any colour rings on them. A dog owner then appeared with both his dogs totally out of control running all over the common. The owner quite clearly did not read the signs on the gate. Needless to say he incurred my wrath!!
It started as a misty unpromising day at work today, where because of the weather made it pointless being out in the car park at Titchwell recruiting new members. It was delivery day so I helped Sally and Kieren restock the shop. However shortly after lunch a visitor came into the shop with a photograph of a Hawfinch that he had taken near the Island Hide. Some of the staff went down to see it but as I already had Hawfinch as a Titchwell tick I stayed to man the shop and went down last. I dipped it as the Hawfinch flew before I got there! Curses! Lizzie was soon on the radio as the Hawfinch had flown to the Visitor Centre and our kitchen volunteer, Mandy had spotted it on one of the feeders at the front of the Visitor Centre.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in great excitement as the staff showed visitor after visitor the bird. At one point the Hawfinch sat on top of one of our bird tables that was within six inches of our window staring in at us all !!!! Magical!
Hawfinch looking into the Visitor Centre (taken from inside the VC)
Hawfinch tucking into Black Sunflower seeds
The Hawfinch was still present at work today. It was very foggy on the reserve but the staff knew it was going to be an interesting day as we were having new displays fitted. The Hawfinch was just as confiding as it had been yesterday coming within inches of the Visitor Centre. Sally and I remained busy and enjoyed the visitors arriving to see the Hawfinch. In the afternoon I walked down the West Bank path to see the Little Gull present on the Fresh Marsh. Whilst I walked back two Spoonbills flew over Thornham Marsh.
As Mick arrived to pick me up for work this morning a Lesser Redpoll alighted on my garden feeder. I was delighted as I don't often get Lesser Redpolls in my garden. After work Mick and I watched two Red Kites and a Common Buzzard over Sandringham.
John arrived for tea before we set off and headed for Scotland.
At first light John and I were in position at Musselburgh, Scotland. We thought we would have a weekend 'Scoter Fest'. It was evident that the tide was out and so we went in search of a Ring-necked dick in Edinburgh which we could not find. However a Goosander on the island was good to see. We returned to Musselburgh and walked alongside the River Esk and followed the seawall. Mallard, Curlew, Turnstone, Redshank Mute Swan and Shelduck were all feeding on the river bed as we made our way out to the river mouth. Gazing out to sea we could see many small flocks of Velvet Scoter, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Eider, and four Red-breasted Mergansers. We soon located the Surf Scoter but could not find our quarry of White-winged Scoter. A few other birders arrived and we located Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, several Long-tailed Duck and three Slavonian Grebe in Summer plumage. We were to be in for a long day and hunger had set in, so after swopping a few phone numbers we made our way to a local cafe for a magnificent Scottish breakfast of Haggis along with the more traditional fare.
We returned to the seawall and sat on the bench that Justin Lansdell had said that most birders had viewed the White-winged Scoter from. We had Sandwich Terns, Fulmars and Gannets fly by as Swallow, Sand Martin and Reed Bunting all added themselves to the day list. A Shag and Bar-tailed Godwit were viewed as we wandered along the seafront searching every Velvet Scoter flock. By 5.30pm I made arrangements for our accommodation for the night as it seemed that we were not going to see the scoter. We started driving but hadn't got far as Bill Unwin phoned to say a local had relocated the White-winged Scoter further along the coastal path. I phoned other birders who had also left and with a quick U-turn and a mile's hike along the seawall John and I joined a small group of delighted birders. Hugs all round! We admired the White-winged Scoter as it got gradually nearer so thatI could attempt a few phone-scoped photos. It was a sunny evening as John and I walked back to the car. We had a celebratory meal and drink in the wonderful Laird and Dog pub where the Chicken stuffed with Haggis cooked in a white wine sauce comes highly recommended!
Surf Scoter with fish
River Esk at Musselburgh
After a delightful breakfast in the pub where we stayed the night, we motored on down to Lindisfarne where the sun had come out. We crossed the causeway and met up with Bill and Chris again and some of the birders that we had met at Musselburgh. We parked at the end of the causeway and walked over the dunes. We soon located the Black Scoter along with a few Common Scoter. Eider graced the sea as we celebrated seeing, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter and Black Scoter all in one weekend! It's been a longtime since I've had two British ticks in one week!
John and Sue on Lindisfarne
I met up with Allan, Brian and Phil at Nar Valley Fisheries who were going to do the WEBS count. After a brief chat I walked the track up to the lodges where five Blackcap were competing with each other for territory. They were all males. Chiffchaff were also in full song. I did not want to stay long as I have lots to organise back at home. I saw many Tufted Duck, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Great-crested Grebe but little of any consequence.
At Derby Fen a Willow Warbler was singing heartily alongside a Chiffchaff, whilst a Mistle Thrush was in full song at the top of a tree using the full capacity of his lungs!
On Roydon Common there was the usual problem of dogs off from leads tearing all over the place disturbing the ground-nesting birds. A Woodlark sang above my head before setting back near the cars. A lone Wheatear was chased about by a dog that would not let it settle to feed. Back by the car I watched a pair of Woodlark feeding in the long grass as a Stonechat sat on the fence.
Woodlark singing above my head
Woodlark feeding by the car park
John and I had been invited by Patrick and Claire for lunch to see photos of their recent Antarctic trip taken from New Zealand down to the Ross Ice shelf via the NZ islands. They had already done the Antartic trip that I had done from Ushuia taking in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands and so I was interested to see the alternative trip. Their photos of New Zealand brought memories flooding back of my 2010 visit there but the photos of Emperor Penguins and the other islands certainly had me drooling. It gave me yet more ideas!
John and I walked Rockland Broad but apart from the House Martin that flew over Barnham Broom golf club we added no new year ticks. Three Marsh Harriers flew over the reeds and a Cetti's Warbler called from the side of us. Two Blackcaps sang from the Willow trees but the only other migrant was a lone Willow Warbler that was singing near the car park.
What a beautiful day it was to be out birding along with friends! I started at Snettisham where there were newly arrived migrants. I could hear Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat as soon as I started to walk along the bank and it did not take long to locate them. I joined Dave and Christine and together we watched Yellow Wagtail, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff building a nest and Whimbrel. I walked to Heacham where a Red Kite and a Swallow flew over as well as watching Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards displaying. I retraced my steps and rejoined Dave and Christine and watched a Grasshopper Warbler reeling. A Willow Warbler sang as I walked back to the car. At Desingham Bog I saw my first Cuckoo of the year before catching up with Marcus and John.
Grasshopper Warbler reeling
A walk after work down the West Bank path at Titchwell after work made me realise what a beautiul place that it is and how lucky I am to live here in Norfolk. The reserve was almost deserted and I had the whole of the beach to myself as I scanned the sea. Great Crested Grebes were pairing up as Red-breasted Merganzers dived for food. A flock of Common Scoter had a Red-throated Diver amongst them. I walked back up the path and listened to the cacophony of sound coming from the Black-headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls on the Freshmarsh. Several Ruff were feeding along with a few Dunlin. Avocet and Mute Swan were also present but it did seem weird not to hear any Cetti's Warblers. Sedge Warblers were testing thier lungs as they alighted from the brambles and Willows behind the reeds.
As I was running an errand along with a colleague for Titchwell in the reserve vehicle, a Marsh Harrier flew right in front of us across the road carrying a pigeon. It was incredibly close and we were lucky not to hit it as it swooped across the hedge.
At lunch time I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell as it was such a beautiful day. There were over a hundred Mediterranean Gulls on the Freshmarsh. A Common Tern was a fresh arrival as along with others we searched through the multitude of birds present.
After lunch I got called down to the West Bank path again to help a visitor and to sort out a technical problem. A Great Grey Shrike had been reported but along with several others I coluld not find it. Mick located a Short-eared Owl flying over Thornham Marsh. Several Ruff were looking very smart in their summer plumage as I enjoyed the sun and the amazing place that Titchwell is.
After a very successful day at work, John and I walked down the West Bank path where over two hundred Sandwich Terns had dropped into the Freshmarsh earlier in the day. Now there were only ten pairs left but the sound from the 130+ Mediterranean Gulls present was amazing. Sedge Warblers were singing from the iand the Blackcap that had sung on our way down was still singing on our return back up along the path. We finished our evening after a delightful meal in a local pub planning yet another trip that fulfill another target species of mine.
By 6am John and I were down at Dersingham Bog where two Grasshopper Warblers were reeling. A pair of Stonechat were keeping one of the Grasshopper Warblers company. It was a beautilful morning as we watched the early morning sun rise in the sky.
Dersingham Bog in the early morning looking from the John Denver seat
John and I started the day at the Babcock Hide at Cley where the Black-necked Grebe was swimming and diving, often behind the reeds on the far island. It was extremely dificult to photograph as it was spending most of its time beneath the water. A Spoonbill was amongst the Greylag Geese as Pochard swam around the pool.
Stew's Winter and Summer plumage!
We met up with Stew at the Cley Visitor Centre and saw three Yellow Wagtails at Gramborough Hill plus a Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail. Sand Martins were flying around as we admired several Wheatear. At Warham Greens we saw seven more Wheatear before watching Great White Egret, Glaucous Gull, Dunlin, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit and summer-plumaged Ruff at Cley. Our first Swifts of the year also flew over.