After yesterday's epic one-day journey, John and I were rather tired and wanted an easy day without driving any where far. We decided on a simple walk on Roydon Common without straying too far as we both wanted to get on with our photos and notes etc. The weather did not look too promising. It was cold and grey with a bit of a breeze blowing. We watched a few Common Buzzards soaring in the wind before watching the Little Owl posing for us. On the walk back a Linnet was singing well along with a Yellowhammer.
It was a cold wander at West Newton this morning but the birds were abundant as they sang in the trees this morning. There were many flocks of Crossbill, Siskin and Redpoll present accompanied by Linnet, Goldfinch, Blue Tit and Chiffchaff all singing. Tim alerted me to my first Willow Warbler of the year that did not want its photo taken in the poor light. We wandered down the tracks and and watched Common Buzzards, a Grey Heron and a lone Red Kite. On the shooting pool Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Shelduck, Mute Swans and Greylag Geese were swimmming around.
John and I had a wander around Whitlingham Country Park, where we watched a Blackcap as soon as we stepped out of the car singing its heart out. On the water a Little Gull had sat amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Later we watched a Sedge Warbler doing its parachuting before it sat in a nearby bush and sang to us. We also heard a second Sedge Warbler singing as well. As it was cold, grey and blustery we returned home for lunch.
It is just a joy to be back working at a wonderful reserve where I can go birding before and after work as well as nipping down the West Bank path when the need arises. It was a glorious day and so I got up early so that before work I could watch a Black Redstart in the horse paddocks along with a few friends. During my lunchtime break I walked down the West Bank path where I watched two Little Ringed Plovers running around the Lapwings. A Marsh Harrier was putting on a wonderful display over the reedbed. It called and dived in the air before climbing back up to repeat the process. I could hear a Bittern booming as I walked back up the path as a Mediterranean Gull flew over my head. Back in the Welcome Hub I listened to a Blackcap singing for most of the afternoon whilst watching a few Bramblings in the trees.
Parrinder Hide overlooking the Fresh Marsh at Titchwell
Little Ringed Plover
Leaving home in snow showers with a strong wind was perhaps not the ideal Bank Holiday Monday weather for making visitors welcome at Titchwell today. With trees on the wobble Lucy and I had an interesting start to the day. Our feeders were lying prostrate on the ground and Tim helped me resurrect them pinning them down with a few large stones to keep them stable. Down on the West Bank path passerines were keeping low but our Marsh Harriers were still hunting for food. A Little Ringed Plover was running around on one of the far islands amongst the Lapwings and Black-headed Gulls. Mediterranean Gulls were calling overhead as I made my way up the path. On the feeders a Brambling was present along with some Goldfinch. They were quite clearly very hungry!
The Welcome Hub was only 6 degrees when I arrived at work this morning. I was obviously in for a chilly day as the snow flurries came and went. Jim and Lizzie got the chain saw out to deal with a tree that was on the wobble and threatening the board walk. We had very few visitors today but my regular bunch are a hardy lot and soon came to tell me what they had seen down on the reserve. Lance arrived and I was able to have a walk on the reserve where the bitingly cold northerly wind was not conducive to me retaining any warmth that I once had! The Fen trail now looks a bit different as we are trying to get a bit of diversity into the woodland areas. I decided to walk to Patsy's reedbed where I was fascinated watching a Mute Swan chase a poor Canada Goose all around the pool. It would just not leave it alone. Over the reedbed several Marsh Harriers were coming and going and descending into a nesting area. A pair of Gadwall were swimming around as a Shelduck flew in as a pair of Coot scuttled around.
Mute Swan and Canada Goose
John and I started our day at Cley where the Grey Phalarope was swimming around the beach pool. It was here that I discovered that I had left my binoculars behind. Not a good prospect for a day's birdwatching. This is only the second time in my life that I have ever done this. I was bereft and felt totally inadequate without them. It was going to be a difficult day. Up on the shingle ridge we joined the usual throng of sea-watchers and luckily I had my scope and could at least hope to see something. I ticked Guillemot as a year tick with the naked eye as it flew along the waves close to the beach edge (just as well it was very close!)
We didn't stay long and motored to Happisburgh where we joined Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours to try and sort out what we we were going to do with our planned two foreign trips this year given the present Covid circumstances, coming up with contingences. We all agreed to cross our fingers very tightly and hope for the best! It must be many years since I have not had a foreign trip at all in a year. We were lucky last year at getting our foreign holiday in just before the pandemic struck us all. We watched a passage of Gannets being blown around by the wind as well as a few passing Sand Martins.
I managed to locate a party of seven Lapland Buntings in the coastal-edge field and then found another two. They were hunkering down in the newly planted field in the strong WNW wind. I battled with the scope and tried to take a few photos. They will not be the best photos that you have ever seen of a Lapland Bunting! Linnets and Skylarks were also present here
We came home via Whitlingham Country Park where a Mandarin was adding its colourful charm to all the ducks, swans and geese present. Goodness knows as to its provenance!
Lapland Bunting, probably not the best photo of one that you have ever seen!
With many chores to attend to I could only afford a quick walk on Roydon Common today. Having missed the early-morning slot I decided to try a lunchtime slot to try and avoid the plethora of dog walkers that seem to think a that a nature reserve is the place to let their animals use it as a toilet and let them roam off their leads. Unfortunately my walk was spoilt once again by poor literacy skills in the failure of dog owners failing to read the clearly marked signs to keep their dogs on a lead. A golden Labrador was running amok all over the common with a another Collie quite clearly totally out of control, off its lead and failing to respond to the owner's yells. My peace of trying to watch birds was shattered. I just despair. Grrrr
In the woods on the common a Chiffchaff was singing trying to attract a mate and it was still there when I returned....still singing! I walked to a quieter part of the common where I watched two Marsh Harriers battling against the warm winds but saw little else up on this part of the common. The Little Owl was in its usual spot but did not want its photo taken today. I watched two Meadow Pipits cavorting around that were quite happy running around a few mole hills.
After collecting one of my pairs of binoculars from Trevor I watched 3 Red Kites on my journey home.
I was having all my identifications challenged today as I met up with my daughter and granddaughter. At Stanwick Lakes the pair of Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall and Swans all became 'quack quacks'. They were all pointed out to me and we did try to count them but I just had to hope that there were never more than 5 as we ran out of fingers!
After months of no contact, other than phone calls or virtual meetings it was fantastic to see them. Hannah liked pointing the birds out and has a natural curiosity in the natural world. A bumble bee kept us entertained for quite a while as it buzzed around us. A family favourite has been the throwing of Pooh sticks and today was no exception as NannySue had to keep finding them so that we could throw them off the bridge into the river and watch them sail away. What a fun time we all had.
Sue and Hannah with our Pooh sticks
Great Crested Grebes at Stanwick Lakes
We had very few visitors at Titchwell today and so I went for a walk on the reserve. A Marsh Harrier was flying over Thornham Marsh as several Mediterranean Gulls flew over my head. Cetti's Warblers and Sedge Warblers were singing in the reedbed. There were many Brent Geese on the Freshmarsh that are still with us. A few Teal were squabbling in the shallow water and it was fascinating watching a bullying male trying to out-manoeuvre the others. He did not win! Round by the horse paddocks I could not find the Black Redstart but watched a pair of Goldfinches building a nest.
On another sunny day with a bitingly cold wind, John and I joined the merry band of NarVOS members, Alan, Stewart and Pat to perform the monthly WeBS count at Nar Valley Fisheries. As usual we enjoyed a lot of banter as we moved from pit to pit. As is usual at this time of year wildfowl numbers were low and thankfully it didn't take long to count the geese numbers that often keep us occupied for some time. Chiffchaff and Blackcaps provided the background song as we totalled up counts of Teal, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Egyptian Geese, Moorhen, Coot, Great Crested Grebes and Little Grebes. We noted down Little Egrets, Grey Herons and Common Buzzards that we saw along the way as we counted. One of the pits has been drained and had a nice edge for waders. Here we watched 4 Green Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plover and 2 Common Snipe. Along one of the ditches we watched a Jack Snipe and heard a Kingfisher but did not see it. Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows were flying over the pits as we walked. More Common Snipe were seen in flight as I looked at the nesting Oystercatchers.
On two of the fields over hundred Curlews were counted. I will have to wait for the final tally as we kept finding more of them. By the time we reached Womegay High Bridge we had a short snow storm which blew through quite quickly. On the flooded area we saw two Little Ringed Plovers along with a few Lapwings. Back by the cars another snow storm blew through and we had to take shelter to eat our teacakes and drink our tea whilst discussing recent events at our club and our hopes for future foreign trips.
At Snettisham Keith had found a Ring Ouzel which was showing distantly on the far edge of the Black-throated Thrush field until a dog off a lead scared everything off including all the feeding Curlews that were present. It's about time dog owners were prosecuted for disturbing wildlife.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions Titchwell was able to open its shop today which meant that more staff returned from being furloughed. It was good to see them back. Denzil and I manned the Welcome Hub but we were still without our tourists and so it was mainly birdwatchers that we saw today. It was good to see some familiar faces that I have not seen for quite a while and catch up with recent events. I went for a walk during my lunchtime and helped visitors locate the Black Redstart that was running around the paddocks. It was very mobile.
On Patsy's Reedbed Pool two male Red-crested Pochards were swimming around as many Mediterranean Gulls were calling overhead. It was good to be able to be out and enjoy the sun.
It was a busy day at Titchwell today as the sun stayed out all day and the wind had dropped. I started out admiring all the Blackcaps singing away as they hid in the shrubs and trees. I wandered around in the sun and enjoyed the song around me. At lunchtime I wandered down the West bank path and watched a distant Spoonbill keeping two Little Egrets company. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces today that I have not seen for months. Thanks Pete and Anna for the little gift too! It is always welcome. It was good to see Allan and Heidi too on such a lovely day getting out and about once again.
After my colleague and I had had such a successful day welcoming all the birders and visitors back, the staff carpark suddenly filled up with various vehicles and I wondered if I would be able to get out to go home. Apparently there is a bomb on the beach! The coastline here is littered with 2nd World War bombs and after storms they often emerge and we have to call the coastguards to get the bomb disposal unit in to deal with them. Fireworks tonight then! Its all fun at Titchwell! I just never know what is going to happen next. It's no wonder I love working here!
Little Egret and Spoonbill
It was another exciting day today as John and I had left home to drive overnight to Tenby where for the last few days a Walrus had been swimming around Tenby Bay and hauling itself up onto one of the lifeboat ramps entertaining many people that had travelled to see it. I never ever expected to see such an amazing creature in British waters and could not wait for the opportunity to go and see it before it swam away again. We had to wait for Wales to re-open its borders and for me to finish a few days of working before we could go. I have always enjoyed travelling to see rare birds and animals and have thoroughly enjoyed my last few years of travelling throughout the British Isles seeing the many species of birds, mammals, butterflies, dragonflies and flowers as it is possible to see. It all adds to life's great adventures and so with the pulses racing and a beautiful day ahead we arrived in Tenby and set about trying to find where we needed to be. Tenby's streets are very narrow and parking the car was going to be an issue as we did not want to be too far away with all our optical gear to carry down to the harbour. After a quick tour of the streets we were soon sorted and with dawn fast approaching followed our noses to the lifeboat station and set ourselves up.
The Walrus was busy swimming out in the bay and I took a few phone-scoped images in the glorious sunny weather. We watched as every ten minutes or so the Walrus surfaced to breathe before diving back down to use its tusks to dig up the various molluscs on the seabed to eat. We hoped to see it haul itself up on the ramp but it was obviously feeding well and so after watching a Rock Pipit went in search of the specialised Tenby Daffodil that the area is famous for.
Walrus. Our first view of the creature swimming
Tenby Daffodill (Narissus obvallaris)
Herring Gull with Starfish
Sue at Tenby Harbour
We went in search of Chough without success as we did not want to travel far knowing that we would see them later in the year and soon returned to Tenby where the Walrus had just hauled itself out of the water a few minutes earlier. We could now see it in all its glory as it led revealing its tusks for the assembled onlookers. What a magnificent day it had been in such lovely weather and with a few beers and ciders to celebrate I rounded it off with a well-deserved caramel ice-cream and chocholate flake. Yummy!
The Walrus hauling itself out of the sea
Snooze time for the Walrus
The Walrus waving at us
The Walrus admiring the people who have arrived to see it
After spending the morning sorting out a new laptop for John we made our way to try out my new camera before selling one of my present ones. A Peregrine was sat on its usual spot in the docks and many Herring Gulls were in the Fisher Fleet.
I listened to a Zoom talk given to the Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society this evening given by Allan Hale on a visit to Chile that he did back in 2008. His excellent photos reminded me of the amazing birds that I saw back in 2010 when I did my round the world trip. Allan had a wonderful photo of a Diademed Sandpiper Plover with all its reflection. A stunning little bird that breeds high up in the Andes. Thank you Allan for taking the time to prepare the talk. I know how long they take.
After missing the Osprey at Snettisham early this morning by less than two minutes I drove back to Dersingham Bog where there are now many wooden posts, 'no parking' signs and instructions on how to pay! So after driving down to Wolferton village to park I walked back up the hill and then to the Denver seat where I watched a couple of Linnets and listened to a Willow Warbler singing. The bog was birdless with the exception of a pair of Stonechats. I returned home where I cleared out my garage for its annual spring clean. I found it very cathartic! After mowing the lawn the weather was too nice to sit inside and so I had an evening walk on Roydon Common. It was bliss to find not a single dog-walker present which have been the scourge of this wonderful reserve lately as they ignore the signs and let their dogs off their leads.
On the common the Little Owl was sat in one of of the trees. It sat and watched me take its photo as I played around with the zoom lens. Three recently arrived Willow Warblers sang and flitted around the trees as a Chiffchaff sang. A pair of Stonechats flew from a gorse bush and over to a tree as I approached the car park watching three Pheasants cross the heath.
Spot the Little Owl
Here I am...............Little Owl
Kathryn, Sue and Hannah
What a fabulous day we all had today as six of us met to celebrate Hannah's 2nd birthday. It could not have been better as the weather was beautifully warm with wall to wall sun as Hannah enjoyed the swings and slide as well as taking a real interest in the flowers, butterflies and Red Kites that were constantly flying overhead at Fermyn Country Park. She enjoyed blowing out her birthday candles as we sang her 'Happy Birthday. After opening her presents we went for a walk in the woods where she showed what a determined young lady she is. What a funny and entertaining granddaughter she is!
A short visit this evening out on the reserve at Titchwell had me listening to a distant Cuckoo which I managed a very distant photo of before it took off and flew towards Holme. I joined many regulars and listened to the White-spotted Bluethroat singing but did not see it. It was only seen very briefly at 8am this morning by very few observers on the cut reed out on Thornham Marsh.
John and I joined several others very early this morning to try and see the White-spotted Bluethroat but with the exception of a small snatch of song it was not to be. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling from the Sallows and Bearded Tits were pinging in the reedbed. A Yellow Wagtail flew over us calling as a pair of Sandwich Terns were flying over. The Bittern was booming loudly as Marsh Harriers gave their wonderful displays. A Cuckoo was calling from the Holme direction. We watched a Cetti's Warbler sitting in the Sallows as it too called it loud call. A Reed Bunting caused a bit of excitement as it flitted around the Suaeda bush that the Bluethroat was in as a Swallow flew over us.
I arrived at work very early so that I could wander around the trails on this beautiful morning. The birds were singing in full song. Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers were calling from the meadow trail as I listened to Siskin high up in the trees. A Jay peered down at me before its skittishness got the better of it. Blackcaps appeared to be everywhere as I walked along the boardwalk. Down the West bank path a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling trying to out perform the Cetti's Warblers exploding into song. Sedge Warblers were as noisy as ever as the Greylag Goose eggs have hatched and some fluffy balls were now swimming amongst the reeds behind mum.
At lunch time I had another walk down the West bank path. It was a stunning day and so good to be outside mopping up the sun and watching the Marsh Harriers and the pair of Cetti's Warblers chasing around the Sallow bush. I stopped to answer visitor's questions who were just so excited at seeing a Marsh Harrier for the first time. Mediterranean Gulls were calling overhead as I made my way back up the path and back to work. I am so lucky to be able to work on such an amazing reserve. A Chiffchaff was still singing from the same branch as when I had walked down the path!
John and I set out for Snettisham stopping off on the way to admire some local Stone Curlews that were running around an uncultivated field. Once we were at Snettisham we parked the car and searched through the Curlews where we found 5 Whimbrel that were feeding alongside them. We started to walk the inner seabank and I heard a Common Whitethroat calling. I called John back and together we watched it flitting around the Hawthorns singing its scratchy song. Sedge Warblers and Cetti's Warblers were also singing as we walked along watching Teal, Grey Heron, Mallard and more Curlews. I looked for the Garganey that has been here for a week or so and soon found it asleep alongside a Teal. The wind was bitter as we made our way along crossing over by the dam end to see all the Oystercatchers out on the mud. Back amongst the bushes I heard a Lesser Whitethroat and we soon located it just as 4 Wheatear flitted along the path in front of us. A Meadow Pipit sat for ages on a Bramble in the wind.
We watched a Barn Owl fly along the bank as a Ring Ouzel flew over it and away to Ken Hill.
After some shopping John and I walked at Dersingham Bog where we watched 3 different Stonechats, 4 Common Buzzards, a pair of Shelduck and a Kestrel
With yet another bitterly cold day on the north Norfolk coastline I wasn't as busy at work as you would have expected for a weekend day. Luckily I was well sheltered in the new welcome hub with its heaters. I welcomed several friends who then departed only for them to return when the Jack Snipe was re-found. Tim alerted me to its presence and I joined him and others by the screen at Patsy's pool where he and Phil kindly directed me to its spot. It was not easy to see as it was well hidden behind the reeds. Only its constant bobbing gave its location away. The photos were not going to be impressive!
I have seen quite a few Jack Snipe this year at different locations but it is always nice to see a close one at Titchwell bobbing away. I helped a few visitors and reminded them about 'Jack is black' referring to its black patch at the crown of its head rather than the golden-yellow crown stripe that a Common Snipe would have.
Another cold but sunny day at Titchwell today with a few requests from birders to see the very obliging Jack Snipe which performed very well in front of the screen at Patsy's reedbed pool. I joined several staff at lunchtime to help visitors and explain the difference between it and a Common Snipe.
This evening John gave a zoom talk about hi birding adventures in Tibet to the Great Yarmouth bird club. This is such a friendly club and we had ample opportunity to talk and ask questions during the zoom meeting and to listen to various topics afterwards which were very informative for us all. A great evening's entertainment.
I had a wander to Patsy's pool during my lunch break at Titchwell where the Jack Snipe was still bobbing away delighting our visitors. A Common Sandpiper came to join it. However Lucy and I enjoyed watching a Blackbird even morethat was digging up our new wood-chippings on the path in the picnic area where it found several worms to take to its nest in the ivy, as we held our meeting.
After work I drove along with Trevor and Paul and met up with Jim. Together we watched 2 Dotterels running around the field by Choseley barns. As can be seen from my poor phone-scoped photo they were very distant in the rain and none of us stayed very long.
It was a NarVOS (Nar Valley Ornithological Society) zoom meeting tonight but I did not take part as once again it was not a talk about birds. Goodness knows what ornithological is taken to mean nowadays!
In glorious sun but with a bitingly cold wind that seems to have dominated our weather pattern just lately I wandered along the lanes and tracks at West Newton Mill and Sandringham. Hares and Muntjac were running around the woods and fields and Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats were calling in the hedges and scrub. There were several Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers singing but I thought I heard a call from a Crossbill. Looking up it took me a while as I was unsure which tree the call had come from. A Chaffinch flew out of one of the trees that diverted my attention but after a bit of a search a Crossbill was sat sunning itself in the sheltered tree.
After waiting in for Martin who installed a new tap for me and sorting out my seemingly on-going training shoe problem in town I drove to Pentney gravel pits where I was met with a really bright Yellow Wagtail running around the horses feet. It did not stop still for a second and trying to phone-scope it in the bitingly-cold wind was a challenge to say the least as my scope would also not stay still. As I was watching I noticed a cross over of two small waders running along the lake edge. I assumed them to be Little Ringed Plovers but on closer inspection discovered one was a Common Sandpiper. After watching them all for about ten minutes all three birds disappeared. I suspect that the waders had simply run along the lake edge and out of view. Over 200 Sand Martins were flying over the lake catching insects.
Little Ringed Plover
A very distant Purple Heron being chased by a dog
Purple Heron takes flight after being chased by a dog