Norfolk Birders

Norfolk Birdwatching and beyond!

4th August

I have spent the last few days trying to recover from my trip to Mongolia. My body clock is all out of sync and I have been falling asleep on the sofa in the evenings and waking up at some ludicrous hour which often found me out in the garden getting it back into shape whilst all my neighbours were still asleep just after dawn!

After my health check at my GP's surgery this morning I drove down to Snettisham and joined up with Patrick for the high tide. It was a glorious morning and together we watched all the Dunlin, Sanderling and a couple of Curlew Sandpipers (thanks Ash). I counted at least 150 Little Terns before they all took off along witha few Common Terns and a juvenile Black Tern. Ashley kindly kept a commentary going whilst I tried to get my lens on it. I also took a few photos of the leucistic Oystercatcher present. We walked to the hide and watched all the Black-tailed Godwits including the first of the year of a juvenile Islandica. Little Egrets and Common Terns were present along with a few Canada and Egyptian Geese. Our volunteers were doing an amazing job looking after the Ringed Plover chicks.

                      Juvenile Black Tern

                                     Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin

                               Leucistic Oystercatcher

                                  Ringed Plover chick

Fire damage at Snettisham Country Park

After the tide had dropped I walked along the inner seabank at Snettisham Country Park. It was good to see that already shoots of new reed growth were shooting up. I hope the area will soon recover to be the fabulous wildlife area that it is.

5th August

As Trevor and I are still on holiday we met up with Matt by the visitor centre at Titchwell to try and see the Pied Flycatcher that Ryan ahd let us know about very early this morning. We watched the trees on the courtyard (thanks Sally for the cups of tea) and wandered around the Meadow Trail and car parks but there was no sign of it. We stopped to watch two Moorhens having a fight using their enormous feet.Young Chiffchaff and a family party of Bullfinches flew over as well as two Kestrels. It was nice to see a Hobby in flight over the visitor centre too. 

I returned back home for lunch to make John a birthday cake and to finish off my trip report of Mongolia. Each one seems to get longer! I shall upload to this website shortly.

                            Moorhens and their enormous feet!

                                                  Moorhens fighting
6th August

Jim Lawrence and I started our day at Snettisham for the high tide where we trawled our way through all the terns but could not find the Black Tern again that I had seen two days ago but I did count over 100 Little Terns again . There were a few Common Terns and Sandwich Terns standing out on the mud. As the tide came in big flocks of Dunlin and Sanderling arrived and we were treated to a wader fest in glorious light in the hot summer sun right in front of us. We watched Redshank, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Shelduck and Little Egret with a couple of Red Kites and a Marsh Harrier in flight that kept us amused for a few hours before we left to drive to Cromer.

Cromer was heaving with tourists as we made our way down to the pier where the gulls were being fed by numerous children crab fishing as they caught their crabs and threw them back in the water. We were here to see some of the Caspian Gulls present, one of which is bearing a yellow ring. We grilled the juvenile gulls looking for a suite of characters; long primary projection over-hanging the tail, unmarked tertials, parallel bill giving a longish appearence, standing a bit taller, shallow angular head shape and a shawl-like appearence down the back of the neck. It was not easy as the gulls were constantly flying up on to the pier roof and back down to sit on the sea. Eventually we found one that fitted our criteria and after an hour or so I found the yellow-ringed gull too.

                                                Caspian Gull

                                              Caspian Gull

                                                    Yellow-ringed XUCT Caspian Gull

                                     Yellow-ringed XUCT Caspian Gull

7th August

John and I started our day at Minsmere where we watched a Little Gull, Hobby, Dunlin, 3 Little Ringed Plovers and a few Black-tailed Godwits when the mega alert went off with news of a Cape Gull, a sub species of Kelp Gull at Graffham Water. At first we were sceptical but as soon a photos started coming through on the WhatsApp groups we knew we had to go as it was a potential first for Britain. After getting diverted due to an accident completely blocking the road we eventaully arrived and luckily chose the Plummer Car Park where the walk was much shorter as the gull had flown down towards us. We could see all the diagnotic features and had it all to ourselves plus another couple of birders before the other birders up the other end came to join us. It was lovely to see so many friends that we haven't seen for sometime. It was a twitch just like old times, a really old-fashioned twitch in glorious weather as every birder who lists in the UK would have needed to be present. We stayed quite a while and caught up with news as we watched the gull feeding on a trout and watching a Yellow Wagtail flitting around. 

If this bird is accepted by BOURC it will be my 500th BOU British tick! I had a few glasses of wine with friends afterwards to celebrate this evening! What a lovely day it was.

                                              Cape Gull

                                                    Cape Gull

                                                      Cape Gull

                                           Yellow Wagtail

9th August

After working for the last two days I headed down the West Bank path where the Yellow-legged Gull hung on for me after our volunteers had seen it with some visitors earlier in the day. At 5pm it was still very hot and it was wonderful to be out in the sun on such a lovely evening. The Fresh Marsh was covered with birds. Many Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Dunlin, Ruff and Redshank were present along with Mallard, Shelduck and Greylag Geese whilst Reed Warblers dashed amongst the reeds. 

It was lovely to speak with you Chris and thank you for kind words today. I hope you caught your bus ok!

                   Yellow-legged Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Herring Gull.

10th August

I have now uploaded my trip report of my adventure across Mongolia to see a Snow Leopard to this website. It can be seen at: 

After uploading my Mongolia trip report to my website I set off to Warham Greens where it took me an hour to see the Hooded Crow present in the pig fields there. I had grilled every corvid but the Hooded Crow seemed to keep apart from them and was sitting entirely on its own. It was another glorious day and after attempting a phone-scope image I drove to Cley where I joined Tim and Roger on East Bank. Several hours later after grilling numerous Redshank and Dunlin, and walking down to the beach after inspecting all the birds on Arnold's Marsh too, Roger eventually located the Pectoral Sandpiper on the north end of the Serpentine lurking along one of the island edges along with several Common Snipe and a few Teal. It had not been there earlier and we wondered if it had been the bird that we could not see very well on one of the islands on Arnold's Marsh.We watched a Hobby and a Peregrine as we walked back to the car.

                                 Hooded Crow

                            Pectoral Sandpiper
After visiting the supermarket for a few essentials Jim and I drove to Snettisham where we watched the stunning dispaly of waders in the glorious evening hot sun. There were thousands of Knot, Oystercatcers, Dunlin and Sanderling as well as various gulls and terns. We were challenged by looking into the bright sunlight and we were a bit late as the tide was turning and the water was falling quickly, meaning the the mud was gleaming and the reflection too much to see the birds properly. We walked a bit further so that we could look back at the birds and not into the sunlight. Common Terns and Little Terns were out on the mud but we did not find anything unusual. We walked to Shore hide where eight Spoonbills were roosting on the bank in the pits as well as ten Spotted Redshanks keeping the Cormorants and Black-tailed Godwits company on one of the islands. Back out on the shore we were delighted as thousands of Knot and Black-tailed Godwits flew over us back out to the mud making their wonderful shapes as they flew over us. On the way home we watched a Little Owl in West Newton churchyard.

                    Three of the Eight Spoonbills at Snettisham

                                                               Little Owl

11th August

With the wonderful weather continuing Sally and I decided to head to Trimmingham where the bee-eaters are still in residence feeding their chicks. It is estimated that they should fledge around 17th August and so with only a few days left we decided that we had better go soon rather than later. The RSPB and the NE Norfolk bird club have done an amazing job manning the site around the clock to keep the Bee-eaters safe from egg collectors and predators as well as keeping photographers at a safe distance so as not to disturb the birds. It was good to see Mike ( we shared our Snow Leopard moments), Simon and Lin who have put in many volunteer hours talking to the public as well as Mike doing some of the night shifrts. With over 15 000 visitors it has been quite a task. It was also good to see Fabian from the RSPB who has been tasked with sorting out the rota too.

The Bee-eaters were very active and were constantly flying up onto the wires as well as perching on a dead bush across the quarry.

Sally and I then enjoyed a pub lunch at North Repps (thanks for the recommendation Simon) before walking the clifftop at Trimmingham. It has been a few years since I have done this. The sun was very hot as Sally and I took a rest on a bench overloooking Sidestrand and decided to retrace our steps. It was just glorious walking along the clifftop looking at the crystal blue sea gleaming down below us. We stopped to admire a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the beach before stopping in the village shop at Mundesley for a well-deserved ice-cream which we ate on the beach. A paddle was in order to cool ourselves down and I wished that I had brought a swimming costume as there were many others enjoying a swim on such a wonderful day.

Bee-eater thrashing a bee around



12th August

In between filling my car with fuel and getting it washed I nipped down to Lynn Point where the tide was just dropping. There was not much exposed mud but there were five Greenshank, six Lapwing, one Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Sandpier on the wader front as well as ten Canada Geese and forty-three Greylag Geese. Two Buzzards and a Kestrel added to the scene as I drove back home to pick some plums for crumbles later in the year. Six Swallows flew over my garden chattering as I humg out the washing before tackling the taking up of the Broad Beans and cutting out the old Raspberry canes. It is going to be a hot afternoon in the garden and I shall miss the lovely cool breeze blowing down at the Point.

                                             Sunset at Snettisham

                                Sunset at Snettisham

After finishing cutting out the Raspberry canes I had a quick shower and drove to Snettisham where I joined the rest of the staff and many volunteers for the Snettisham RSPB 50th birthday celebrations. Many visitors also joined us on a beautiful evening to watch the wader spectacular as they lifted off the mud, flew to the pits to roost for a while and later as the sun was setting fly in their thousands back over our heads. It was a magical sight to see them, a sight I shall never tire of. The sunset was just stunning as we all admired the scene. The staff were all in good spirits and after packing up we all enjoyed a drink or two at the Rose and Crown in the village.

August 13th

Willow Warbler

It was wonderful to be woken up by two Willow Warblers singing in my garden this morning.

14th August

It was the Nar Valley Fisheries WeBS count today carried out by members of NarVOS. We were back to our ususal team but met at an earlier time to try and beat some of the heat. However it was soon baking hot as we wandered around talking to the fishermen as we counted the birds It was a bit more challenging than usual as every birder knows ducks at this time of year are in eclipse and all become 'brown ducks'. We had a bit of banter about 'brown ducks' (usually Mallard or Tufted Ducks in our case) or 'Black Ducks' (Coot in our case ....yes I know they are a Rail) !!!!! We encountered our usual array of geese with big numbers of Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Egyptian Geese but it was nice to see young Great Crested Gebes and Mute Swan cygnets. Green Sandpipers were encountered as well as a Common Sandpiper. John was lucky enough to see a Kingfisher which the rest of us missed. We added Grey Heron, Long-tailed Tits and heard a few Chiffchaffs and Bullfinches too. The water levels were very low on some pits, probably as low as I have ever seen them.

                                         Great Crested Grebe

                   Great White Egret amongst Canada Geese

                              Grey Heron

                                                Migrant Hawker

                                         Low water levels at Priory Lake

                                        Low water levels at Priory Lake

John and I spent the rest of the afternoon planning a few foreign trips for next year as we both think we need to catch up after missing out for two years during the pandemic. There are still so many birds and mammals that we both still want to see. Lets hope that another pandemic does not get in the way!

15th August

Whooohooo! One of my two proposed winter birding holidays got confirmed today. I just love some hot sun when the UK is freezing!

16th August

Trevor and Sue

The summer at Titchwell is always fun for the children that we have on site as I spend some of my time encouraging them to go pond dipping and talking about some of the creatures that they find. However I needed an emergency covering when the torrential rain started this afternoon getting to the Welcome Hub! Trevor, Robin and I always have fun during the day................

17th August

                                          Roydon Common

                                            Roydon Common

Having had a busy day with chores and food shopping in preparation for the arrival of my family, I needed a break and took an early evening walk on Roydon Common. It has been a few weeks since I was last up on the common due to my adventures in Mongolia. Usually the common is beautiful at this time of year because all the heather is in flower and with the sun lower in the sky in the evening, it makes the common glow making it a wonderful sight. However the skies were moody this evening but 28 Mistle Thrushes in flight caught my eye as I listened to a Green Woodpecker calling somewhere in the distance. As I walked up to the top of the common I was shocked at the sight of many of te heather bushes as the drought had quite clearly had an impact as many bushes appeared to be dead and were all brown instead of thier usual purlple colour and flowering. It was a sad sight. 

                      Dead brown Heather bushes on Roydon Common

                       New signage on the common

I continued on my way to the quarry where 3 Green Woodpeckers were calling from different close Oak trees. One flew across the quarry as a Linnet flew out. A Kestrel flew over as I made my way along the path over the common back towards the carpark. The wind had got up as I walked back along the track and a Hobby flew infront of me scaring off what was probably the same party of Mistle Thrushes that were roosting in a tree. They all flew over to the wood. Near the wood I flushed a bird that was bathing in a puddle on the track. The young Sparrowhawk was drenched and sat in a tree and stared at me but sadly not long enough for me to get my camera out of its case that I had stupidly already put away! Meeting another birder back in the carpark I mentioned that I had not seen any of the usual kites this evening and with that he kindly pointed a Red Kite out to me that was behind me flying over the road!

18th August

With only the first part of the day available John and I started at Gramborough Hill at Salthouse where we watched a Pied Flycatcher flitting in the usual spot that seems to attract all the migrant birds. A couple of Stonechats and an array of Goldfinches sat in the bushes above and so we walked around the back of the bushes after I had taken a few photographs of the Pied Flyctcher and watched a Common Whitethroat chase a Hummingbird Hawkmoth around.


                                       Pied Flycatcher

                                                  Pied Flycatcher

We drove to the Iron Road at Salthouse where we met Allan, Ray and Neil who had been watching a Temminck's Stint on a pool to the left of the Iron Road. It was good to see Allan and Ray enjoying themselves and we had a bit of banter as is usually the case. Neil kindly directed us to the Temminck's Stint and we watched it for a while and were joined by Steve and Sue. A shame you forgot the Pimms Sue!!!!

                                                 Temminck's Stint

                                              Temminck's Stint

24th August

John and I had a quick walk and watched a Kingfisher flying down the river.

25th August

Snow Leopard picture of my photograph taken in Mongolia

It has been a busy few days with my daughter and family coming up to stay before my son and family arrive tomorrow. In between John and I have been sorting out several foreign birding trips and spending time down at Trailfinders trying to sort out complicated flight routes. We managed to book several but failed miserably on one of our planned routes as the two airlines that normally cover this route are either in trouble or haven't released schedulles yet. We hope that it is the latter.

When I returned home I had two very soggy packaged awaiting me; one of which contained a picture of the photo that I had taken on my recent trip to Mongolia. Even though I agreed with the printer that the image that I had phone/scoped was pixelated I am thrilled with what they have achieved and it now adorns pride of place on my lounge wall as it will be a lasting memory of the wonderful Snow Leopard that I was so fortunate to see closer than most people see one.

26th August

                                        Common Cranes

                                           Barn owl at Sunset

With my son's family unable to be with me as planned due to an operation, John and I headed to Hickling and joined all the ardent Norfolk listers on the Elenora's Falcon twitch. It was good to see everyone and catch up on recent news. We had a wonderful time and whilst we were there Justin was calling out all the waders flying over, these included Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits. Hobbies also put on a good performance and sat in the tree for us to admire as well as hunting over the reedbed. Two parties of Common Cranes flew over totalling 14 birds. We watched two Barn Owls hunting as the sun set and watched a Tawny Owl on the way home. An excellent evening all round!

27th August


With so many trips planned for the remaining of this year and next year involving flights which we booked on Thursday, John and I spent the morning sorting out accommodation and car hire etc. By lunchtime our heads were spinning and we needed a break. We had a quick bite to eat and headed for Buxton Heath for a walk. A Kestrel greeted us as it flew over and a Yellowhammer perched up on a bush and wanted its photograph taken. After admiring a few butterflies we watched a Green Woodpecker up by the Oak trees but it did not want its photograph taken and yaffled its way up high into one of the trees. We watched a family party of Stonechats perch up on a gorse bush and fly away from us before an ignorant dog walker let his dogs off a lead who came bounding up to me. 

I do not like dogs that are totally out of control and being a nature reserve with very clear signs about keeping dogs under very close control (there are animals on site) I made my feelings known to the owner! With some ground nesting species on third broods my blood boiled! Why is it people think it is ok to take dogs to nature reserves and let their dogs off leads? These people get all dog owners a bad name. If owners cannot keep a dog on a lead during nesting season then maybe they should not be allowed to own a dog!

We called into friends for a cup of tea who lived nearby, whereupon I managed to calm down!

28th August

                                                 Common Buzzard

                                             Red Kite


Having spent most of my day in the garden listening to a neighbour's car alarm going off every couple of minutes, knowing that they were away on holiday and another drunken person at a party singing at the top of his voice my patience was somewhat stretched. After some lunch and some more holiday sorting I decided to take myself off down to Lynn Point for some peace and quiet where I could not hear any music or car alarms!

I was met at Lynn Point with an array of signage as the banks are being re-modelled. However the peace was wonderful! I watched a male Marsh Harrier quartering the fields quickly followed by a female as a Buzzard took exception to it and mobbed it. Over the trees more Buzzards were hovering in the wind diving around as a juvenile Marsh Harrier joined in. Above me 3 Kestrels hovered as I made my way up the bank before a Red Kite flew right over my head. In the channel 17 Common Sandpipers flew along with 6 Teal and 12 Mallards.  Two groups of Swallows were in the air totalling about 70 birds. I love hearing their chatter. A charm of Goldfinches alighted in a nearby bush as I admired 10 Little Grebes. Three tiny Little Grebes were amongst them. 

The Great Ouse was very low exposing a huge bank at the side of the river and 4 pleasure craft were stuck on the mud. They had to sit it out for quite some time and wait for the tide to come in and lift them off.  Ten Redshank ran along the riverside and joined 4 Greenshank that were madly feeding in a frenzy as I watched the drama unfolding of the stuck boats.

30th August

Terrance, Nic, Lizzie, Sue, John, Trevor and Lucy.

Today was a special day at Tichwell Marsh RSPB as we unveiled a special plaque celebrating the life of Irene who was a much-loved volunteer at Titchwell who gave so much of her time. Her husband John also a volunteer, dug out the pond and almost single-handedly has developed a wonderful wildlife area much used by our birds at the back of the visitor centre. Our volunteers are very special people who give so much and make Titchwell the amazing place that it is for both our wildlife and our visitors who enjoy coming to visit.

31st August
Sue seawatching

After leaving work yesterday, John and I drove down to Cornwall to be at Porthgwarra before dawn. We arrived in time for a couple of hours sleep before walking up the cliff path and settled ourselves down for a seawatch. The winds were not ideal but we were amazed at the hundreds of Manx Shearwaters shearing by on the sea. We searched hard and found a few Balearic Shearwaters too. Choughs were calling overhead and soon landed in front of us.

It was a beautiful day as we walked back to the famous little cafe where we enjoyed a very tasty Cornish Pasty. Replete we drove to Pendeen where it was now very warm and I had a little snooze in the sun after putting on a pair of shorts to soak up the sun. We watched the birds for a while but we both wanted a walk down Kenidjack Valley which we both enjoyed as we watched more Choughs, Ravens and Rock Pipits. En route we stopped to take photos of two Hummingbird Hawk-moths which were not easy to photograph as all the butterflies, including a Painted Lady on the Buddleia kept chasing them off.

We now have a wonderful stay in a lovely little cabin in St Just and are looking forward to our evening meal in a local hostelry.
Hummingbird Hawk-moth