I watched a Red Kite fly over my front lawn as I opened my kitchen blinds this morning.
After visiting the garage at Downham Market for a recall on my car I stopped off at Ashwicken where I watched a Jack Snipe, Common Snipe and a Little Egret. Many years ago I surveyed the land around here for the Norfolk Bird Atlas and meeting up with the land owner once again it was good to hear that the Little Owls and Barn Owls are still doing well. I was also pleased to hear about the Kingfishers that are seen regularly too although I didn't see one today. As I sit down to write this I am watching a Red Kite from my lounge window flying over the rooftops here. Such beautiful birds.
It was an excellent day's birding today. John and I started by walking along Burnham Overy sea bank and found the 4 Shorelarks on the beach at the end of the path. Skylarks and a big flock of Snow Buntings were also present. We walked along the beach to the channnel where 2 Long-tailed Ducks were swimming in the channel. A Great Northen Diver and Red-breasted Merganser were also present in the channel as a pair of Stonechats sat on a bush and watched me taking photographs. As we walked back a Spoonbill flew over and landed on Burnham Overy grazing marsh.
After a tiring walk back against the wind I drove to Cley where we joined many other Norfolk birders and tramped along the shingle to North Scrape where we could see the Red-breasted Goose amongst the Brent Geese. They took flight and landed in the Eye field where I managed a photograph before they all took off again. There was an Iceland Gull on the beach. A different individual to that I had seen earlier in the year.
I drove onto Titchwell where the evening light was gorgeous. We stopped a while with Cliff as he had seen a Bittern in the reeds. After a bit of a wait it appeared down the channel.
After booking our flights in Norwich for a forthcoming birding trip in a few weeks time that the pandemic caused to be cancelled not once but twice, John and I drove to Marston Marshes. Neither of us had been to this wonderful riverside walk in Norwich before. A Jay sat and posed for us as we went through the gate. This is a nature reserve and we were soon greeted with dogs off their leads. What is wrong with people? Irresponsible owners get the rest of dog owners a bad name. We stopped to chat to some young lads fishing and they gave us confidence that were in the right area after we spoke to them. We soon heard our target species but seeing them was quite a diffrent matter. How come these bright green birds can be so difficult to find when they are squawking right above our heads in bare trees?
Eventually one flew from in front of me and it joined another two Ring-necked Parakeeks. After taking a couple of photographs we were treated to quite a sight........I guess there will be more Ring-necked Parakeets soon!
Mating Ring-necked Parakeets
Teddy (Edward) and George
A very happy birthday to my twin grandsons Teddy and George who are 3 years old today. What handsome, funny and loving little boys you are!
Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since my return from Mozambique and it has taken a while to catch up with myself with the pressures of Covid, imprisonment in a quarantine hotel, Christmas, visiting family, grand-daughter's Christening, work, sorting out postponed foreign birding trips and starting a new yearlist for my birding year. So today it was nice to have a 'day off' to catch up with some necessary domestics. However not being one to stay at home all day I needed a bit of fresh air and a bit of exercise but did not want to go far. After seeing the effect of the wind on my washing on the line I only went as far as West Newton. It was breezy and very cold.
After watching a couple of Common Buzzards soaring over the wood at Sandringham, I walked the track by the pool. Here two Red Kites were flying over with the wind. Here I met up with David Clark and togther we watched a big flock of Fieldfare and Redwing. They alighted from the field and landed in the trees. As I approached they flew back to the field as I counted them. I estimated that there were about 100 birds per species.
Back at home four Siskins were singing in the trees. The noise suggested that tere were many more than four present!
I had a lovely day at work today and want to thank those of you that read my website and my Facebook postings on Birding in Norfolk -rare and scarce birds group, that came to Titchwell titchwell today, who stopped to call in and complimented me on the post that I put up on February 3rd. I did have an excellent day and was fortunate that I managed to photograph many of the scarce birds that I saw that day. Thank you all.
It was a cold and blustery day at work today and I felt sorry for those who had come to visit the reserve as they had to dodge the many showers that come whistling through. Although many of them were short-lived they would have been unpleasant if caught out in one far from one of the hides. Meanwhile Lisa and I were snug and warm inside the Welcome Hub as we listened to the wind in the trees. I filled up the bird tables with bird food and together we watched a procession of birds that was never-ending today. They must have been hungry! We watched Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Brambling, Wren, Robin, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Blackbird and Woodpigeons come and go as visitors enjoyed watching them too.
Brambling on the bird table at Titchwell
It was another lovely day at work and it wonderful to see Rob and Lisa that I have enjoyed several foreign birding trips with in the past. A walk was taken down the West Bank path at lunch time where Marsh Harriers were displaying over the reedbed. It was good to share the sight with friends. Although very cold it was a beautiful day. Outside the Welcome Hub the bird table was constantly busy once again but some of the Bramblings were attaining spring plumage.
Another day at work. Another day watching these beautiful Bramblings on the bird table.
One of my bird clubs had put in a request for articles for their newsletter. A few evenings before I was sorting out my photographic files and had come across a file which I had long forgotten about with raptor photographs in. I thought I could cobble together some short stories about some of them so I put them in I. O. C. order and chose 20 pf the photos and wrote a few sentences of the story behind each photograph and tonight was pleased when the newsletter was published with my article in.
Starting at first light John and I walked down the riverside, watching Little Grebes and listening to Marsh Tits singing at Santon Downham and heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling. A minute later John had it in his scope and I managed a few phone-scoped images of it. We watched it for a while before making our way back under the railwayline bridge and heard a Woodlark singing. It flew up from under our feet and flew up and over the trees.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
We drove to Lynford Arboretum and walked the riverside. A Firecrest sat and posed for its photograph to be taken as we watched Goldcrests in the trees and Gadwall feeding on the grass. A pair of Mute Swans were preening as we walked by. Back by the fence by the paddocks 14 Hawfinches were feeding under the Hornbeam. I took a few photographs before enjoying a delicious Snickers flapjack and cup of tea by the new Shepherds Baa. A Raven caught our eye as it 'cronked' its raucous call. A huge flock of Siskin were at the top of the fir trees. Brambling, Siskin and Chaffinch and Yellowhammers were in the drinking pool area.
We motored onto Brandon Country Park where 14 Mandarin were enjoying being fed along with many Mallard in the lake. back at St Helen's car park we walked the riverside and watched a Nuthatch calling but failed to see the Otters.
Seemingly constantly chasing my tail, I only had time for a short walk today. I chose to take a local walk at West Newton where I watched a pair of Marsh Harriers interacting with one another. Four Common Buzzards, Kestrel, Three Mute Swans and three Egyptian Geese were the best of the rest with a dearth of passerines.
John gave a Zoom talk this evening to a host of people about our amazing last few years travelling around the UK seeing all the British butterflies, dragonflies and as many orchids as we could whilst fitting in work and our birdwatching abroad and at home.
A beautiful day had been forecast and so John and I made our way over to Deeping Lakes where one of the Long-eared Owls was sat out in the sun. We watched a Reed Bunting singing on a reed head before watching Goosander, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks on the lakes and walked down the river to where the Little Owl was sat. Its head was behind a branch so I did not take any photographs. It was just so lovely to be out in the warm sun under a clear blue sky. After chatting to Tim and Irene Loseby who were also enjoying a day, I drove to Eldernell.
At Eldernell we walked the bank and watched Marsh Harriers flying over four Common Cranes before a Great White Egret flew in and landed by a Little Egret. Out on the grassland a Peregrine was sat on some old cut reeds as a Red Kite flew over before a Kestrel hovered in front of us.
Great White Egret
John and I spent the morning booking more flights, car rentals and hotels for a short break between our two booked birding trips that will now take place that were cancelled from previous years due to the pandemic and we were keen to resurrect another trip that also got cancelled in the spring of 2020. It took longer that I anticipated due to the way some websites misbehave when choosing the various options. Our chosen departure airports had no sensible arrival times when we arrived and so a lengthy journey will have to be taken undertaken in the UK. Grrrr
Later than planned I drove to West Runton where after a bit of a wait in the wind the Short-toed Lark deigned to show to those of us that were determined to see it. As it was only a few metres from Ann and Andrew's it was good to share a cup of tea with them and catch up on all their news. They also have exciting birding trips arranged. We all hope that this year all our trips can go ahead as planned as it is what the four of us enjoy.
I saw a Red Kite on my way to work and a Barn Owl on the way home. I see Red Kites almost daily now but it has been a while since I have seen a Barn Owl as they seem in short supply this winter.
After a dental appointment in Hunstanton I thought I would spend a couple of hours at Titchwell on the reserve before the two predicted storms set in and attended to more mundane domestic tasks. I wandered down the West Bank path and was staggered at the number of Golden Plover covering the Fresh Marsh. We have a had a big number of Golden Plover for most of the winter but the number must be a couple of thousand now and along with 800 Lapwing it is a sight for sore eyes. However I derive simple pleasures from just watching birds and today I was stopped in my tracks by a Meadow Pipit that was enjoying a good bath in a puddle. I watched for several minutes before another visitor flushed the bird.
Let's make sure I'm all clean!
All I need now are the candles whilst I soak!
I joined Tim, Chris and Mike and was assured that there was a Greenshank on the Tidal Pool but all I could find were a couple of Shelduck and a Curlew. By the time I walked back a few Redshank had joined the party. On the sea there were a few Goldeneye but little else of note save many Oystercatchers on the tide line. It was nice to see Mike again who had been a member of the West Norfolk RSPB group that I belonged to 30 years ago and we spent time reminiscing about friends that we knew from days back then. Some of the tales and adventures that we had kept Tim amused! We also talked about all the birds that were common then in the area that sadly are not here anymore. I drove to Hunstanton via Ringstead and watched a Red Kite swoop over my head as I walked along the lane that was bareft of any birds.
After completing my shopping in Hunstanton I stopped at West Newton but by now the strength of the wind had got up and I did not fancy another walk so sat in my car and watched a Marsh Harrier and six Common Buzzards flying over the woods. A couple of Stock Doves were at the barn.
I was keen to get away from all the dogs that seem to be being brought to so many of our nature reserves (why?), being let off leads and don't get me started on dog mess and small plastic bags being left for someone else to pick up and so being half term and wanting to get away from the crowds headed inland to a little know nature reserve not too far from Swaffham, called Boughton Fen. It has been many years since I have called in here and was expecting a peaceful walk in what should have been a peaceful rural Norfolk idyll. How wrong could I have been? The nature reserve is situated along a lane that starts from nowhere and goes to nowhere and years ago hardly had any traffic on it. Today the whole of Norfolk lorries, tractors and cars turned up along it and the nearby air bases wanted to test all of their planes out overhead. Living nearby here must be awful with the constant noise of the aircraft overhead.
Having arrived on a very windy day I put on my windproof and set off along the main footpath that follows the drain with my Muck Boots on as years ago it used to be squelchy in winter with water to navigate. Today it was not too bad as I tried to listen to a Cetti's Warbler that was doing its best to out-compete the aircraft noise. Overhead a male Marsh Harrier flew into the reedbed that I had seen as I had parked up by the bridge. I was disappointed that some scrub had been removed where I used to see Cetti's Warblers years ago. Cetti's Warblers often sing from scrub rather than the reeds themselves. I reached the Oxborough road where the traffic was once again a problem and I had to keep stepping off the lane but was glad to see that a new boardwalk has been put in enabling me to get off the road a lttle further up. The group of volunteers must have worked hard to get this installed. A Water Rail called from somewhere nearby as I stood and watched a tit flock move through. Two Great Tits sat and sang as many Long-tailed Tits moved through as well as some Blue Tits. Three Bullfinches enjoyed the sun in a sheltered spot as I made my way along the boardwalk. Crossing the road once again I stopped to admire all the Snowdrops and arrived where ringing nets used to be put up and I used to see what had been studied. Sadly the days of seeing Willow Tits and Nightingales here have long since passed.
I drove on to Cockley Cley and joined Chris Mills and his group where we stood and watched six Goshawk sightings but I suspect that there were only two different birds involved. I wish I had had a bigger lens as the interaction between the two birds was wonderful to watch.
It was a little breezy as I set off for my walk this morning but the raptors were loving it as I walked one of my usual walks at West Newton this morning. I waved to the game keeper who feeds the Red Kites and watched two Hares gambolling about the field. They spotted me and hunkered down as I tried to take a photograph thinking that I could not see them. Common Buzzards were in the air as was a Kestrel. I counted six Red Kites in the air together, quite a sight! A Skylark was singing as I made my way down to the pool. A Curlew flew over as I appraoched the pool. A female Marsh Harrier whizzed across in front of me before flying off but returned a little later as I walked back to the car as the rain set in.
It was a breezy start to our monthly WeBS count this morning. Twenty members of Nar Valley Ornithological Society have permits to visit this gravel pits owned by Middleton Agregates and it is a condition of having the permit that you help with the WeBS counts or submit records of birds seen on a regular basis. There are about six out of eight of us that regularly turn out for the monthly WeBS counts that usually have an excellent morning of birdwatcing and banter as we try to count all the wetland birds present as well as making a note of the other species present. Sometimes some of us end up in the local pub for a drink or an excellent Sunday meal too!
Whilst we watched Siskins in the trees, we watched Great White Egrets and wondered whether they would stay and breed this year. A Little Egret was also present as we counted the Tufted Ducks, Coots, Mallards and Gadwall. We were pleasantly surprised by three Whooper Swans that were later joined by another Whooper Swan completing the family party. After counting all the Geese we counted 13 Common Snipe that flew as we moved onto the small peninsular to continue our count. The feeders that Allan had put up held a bright Lesser Redpoll and two Brambling as well as a Marsh Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit. A line of six Grey Herons was also joined by another two Great White Egrets. A Red Kite flew overhead as a Robin hopped alongside one of the lakes.
Great White Egret and Grey Herons
During a pleasant day at work I set off down the West Bank path to re-engage with a family that had borrowed some pond dipping equipment. It was a joy to see the children's excitement at some of the things that they had found. It was a beautiful winter's day as I admired all the Avocets gleaming in the sunlight and the Lapwings that were enjoying the rest on one of the new bunds.
After work, Trevor, Lizzie, Ryan and I hot-footed it down the West Bank path where Leo had located the Dotterel that had been at Holme all day amongst the Golden Plover. Chris was good enough to put my scope on the Dotterel as we have over 2000 Golden Plover that roost on the new mud bund and I was eager to get a phone-scoped image before the sunlight disappeared. Tim joined us as we all let visitors have a look through our scopes so that they too could enjoy seeing the Dotterel. As the sun set we watched the Starling murmuration. What a place to work! Just stunning as the sun set and gave its golden gleam over the reedbed.
Dotterel with Golden Plover
Dotterel with Golden Plover
On the way home in the dark a Barn Owl was hunting along a hedgeline near Anmer crossroads.
I had a walk around West Acre today and was rather sad to see how Tallent's Meadow near West Acre has fallen even more into disrepair since my last visit. The access footpath is partially under water and the brambles have overgrown the access route down to the hide. The hide is now several inches deep in water and whilst it still overooks the water, rushes have grown up obscuring the view. Through the rushes I could see Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot and a pair of Mute Swans. In the trees Great Tit, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit called overhead and a Jay flew through but there was little else of note. I despair at how numbers of birds are falling fast in the UK and am just so grateful that I get to have foreign trips where birds abound. In the UK I just seem to work harder and harder to see fewer and fewer birds.
On my way home I stopped along the road between West Acre and East Walton and counted 88 Fieldfare in a roadside tree and feeding in a field.
Thank you to all of you that liked my photos of the Dotterel on Facebook and Twitter yesterday.
John and I started out in rain and headed for The Broads where we stopped to admire the Eurasian Eagle Owl in a churchyard sitting for all passerbys to admire. Once we had taken a few photographs we stopped at Rollesby Broad to watch the Red-necked Grebe now in its summer plumage and the Scaup present here. Several drake Goldeneyes were displaying to females here which were wonderful to watch. We stopped near Thurne and counted 19 Common Cranes that were never there in our previous visits.
Eurasian Eagle Owl
We drove round to Rockland St Mary where the Glossy Ibis was out in a field not far from the road before walking down the footpath down to the River Yare. The wind had got up but we watched a few Mute Swans and Tufted Ducks out on the broad before heading for a late Christmas treat in a country house hotel for the night.
After a lovely meal last night and a delicious breakfast (what's not to like about smoked Salmon with eggs royale?) in our country house hotel this morning, John and I set off for Kelling Heath where the sunlight was glorious. It did not take long before we found a pair of Dartford Warblers darting around the gorse bushes. Two male Stonechats were also present but they did not want their photographs taken unlike the Dartford Warblers that sat and posed for us. I heard a Raven call but despite searching we could not locate it. A Kestrel flew through before we continued our loop around the heath. Before long another 3 Dartford Warblers were busy feeding in front of us. With ideal viewing conditions we made our way back to the car park and joined several friends from one of my bird clubs and togther we watched and listened to the joyful song of the Woodlark singing high above our heads.
After a visit to The Dun Cow for a swift drink we drove to Cley and joined Graham for some seawatching. We watched 5 Red-throated Divers, Gannet and a few Kittiwakes before heading for home. With my car needing a wash I headed for car wash at a petrol station only to find that it had run out of fuel and the next petrol station had enormous queues. Luckily my local petrol staion had fuel at a staggeringly enormous price. Here we go again! Just as well I was in a good mood after such a lovely couple of days birding and being treated so well!
A Red Kite was soaring over the house opposite as I opened the kitchen blind this morning.It was a beautiful morning and after loading up the washing machine I decided to go for a walk whilst my clothes washed. Trying to find somewhere that I won't be plagued by dogs and dogs mess, little plastic bag carrying owners and plastic bags decorating trees is such an issue nowadays and birding and dogs don't mix well. I looked at my yearlist and there are not many gaps that I can reasonably see locally before the summer migrants arrive. I did not want to drive more than a couple of miles today and contemplated getting my bike out, but in the end decided to walk along the Babingley River after walking through the woods not far from home as I still need Kingfisher. The woods were full of bird song of common birds including Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits whilst a Robin, Wren and Blackbird crossed my path. I could hear a Green Woodpecker calling but did not see it.
A few Mallards alighted from the river as I followed its course before I crossed over the A149. Several trees have fallen down in the storm and the estate has taken a chain saw to them. At the bridge by the Castle Rising track a Song Thrush was in full song and there were a host of Wood Pigeons and corvids in the air as well as a few Greylag Geese. I followed the track and counted 88 Curlew in a field as well as 100+ Lapwing and many Starlings. A Grey Heron took off as did many Red-legged Partridge. Over the woods I stood and watched a pair of Red Kites and counted ten Common Buzzards in the air. Two Goshawks were displaying and were a joy to watch.
I retraced my steps and arrived at West Newton where I was surprised to see four Marsh Harriers, three of which were interacting together over the reed bed. One of the birds, a female flew off and over the road. The trees by the mill were alive with bird song but I could only see two Siskin and one Goldfinch. However there were obviously a lot more present. Back by my car a Long-tailed Tit sat in the hedgerow. They are such pretty little birds.
Marsh Harrier (f) flies off over the hedge.
i saw a Red Kite on my way to work this morning near Anmer. Later I stopped just before Choseley barns and heard Corn Bunting singing as three brightly-coloured Yellowhammers alighted on the top of the hedge and gleamed in the sunlight. It was a busy day at work but I was sad to see that the leaning trees over the Welcome Hub had been taken down for safety reasons. Where is my little Wren going to nest now? It has given us so much pleasure watching it over the years as it darted backwards and forwards to its nest.
Thank you to those of you that responded to my Dartford Warbler photos on the 'Birding in Norfolk- rare and scarce birds' Facebook page. Most kind.
I had a busy day at work and the only bird that I watched was my little Wren who sang its heart out on the felled tree. I so hope that it finds another tree to nest in this year as I shall miss watching it feed its young as I have done in other years.
My evening was spent listening to the Great Yarmouth bird club talk on Beidaihe, China given by Dave Russell. Being such a friendly club it is always good for the banter.