White-tailed Eagle Roy Dennis Foundation
I was very pleased to have been contacted by the Roy Dennis foundation a few days ago to gain permission to use my photograph of the White-tailed Eagle G801 that I took at Titchwell Marsh RSPB on May 8th. Yesterday I was even more surprised when the Tweet popped up again on my Twitter feed to see that 581 of you have enjoyed seeing my photograph of the bird and made the kind comments that you have. Thank you very much and a big thanks to those of you that have either called in to Titchwell to see me or have sent me lovely messages.
Today I reached a mile stone in my slimming campaign! Like many people I put on rather a lot of weight during the pandemic (nearly 2 stone!) even though I was cycling and walking many miles during my birding. After having a lovely treat, staying at a country house hotel, I was shocked that I could not get into any of my dresses and so drastic measures were called for. So for the last 3 months I have been on a strict diet and the weight has fallen off again. Gosh its been hard! However I can now fit into all my clothes once again and feel so much better for it. I was shocked last week whilst attending a birder's funeral to see that I was not alone when a birder that I have not seen since the beginning of pandemic had developed a massive beer gut and also put on a lot of weight (obviously down the pub every night instead of birding)! Very sad. Our health is just so important. Hopefully I shall now be able to walk a little quicker without puffing and panting now that my lungs are beginning to recover from the covid that I had over Christmas. Bring on the birds!
After a morning of chores it was too nice to stay at home and I fancied a walk. I started by heading down to Snettisham where the Great Reed Warbler was still singing. I passed three Turtle Doves as I walked along. It was my first visit where the sun had deigned come out and the wind had subsided a little bit. I took far too many photos as I sat and watched all the birds on the marsh. A Barn Owl flew by as Oystercatchers, Mediterranean Gulls and Black-headed Gulls flew over us. A Reed Bunting sang as we watched Avocets, Shelduck, Little Egrets and Swallows flying around. After meeting Mike I drove to West Newton where I heard a Cuckoo but failed to find the Spotted Flycatchers. At Flitcham I watched a pair of Stone Curlews with their chick as well as a Barn Owl. What a lovely evening it had been in the warm evening sun!
Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
After working in the garden for most of the day after packing my suitcase, if the airports sort themselves out in time for our flights and watching the raising of the Union Jack down at the village new flag pole for the Jubilee celebrations, I fancied a walk. I wasn't too sure where to go as I wanted to stay local and avoid the coastline as I suspect it would be heaving with tourists. I decided upon Massingham Heath as I have not been there for a walk for quite a few years. I was overjoyed to see that it has been restored to heathland from when it was ploughed up for aranble crops. The Ox-eye daisies were amazing to see. Yellowhammers, a Linnet, a Meadow Pipit and a Tree Pipit were all singing. I saw at least ten Skylarks up in the air as well as a Common Buzzard. I could hear a Common Whitethroat singing but did not see it. It was wonderfully warm at last and so peaceful up on the top of the heath and a delight to be able to hear all the bird song.
In the morning, Jim and I drove to the old Great Ryburgh watchpoint where we set up our scopes to see how many species we could see from this point for a few hours. We soon clocked 40 species either seen or heard. The more interesting species included Hobby, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk in the raptor category as well as Barnacle Geese, Little Egrets and a Nuthatch for other species.
Clare and Sue
My village has been putting on various events over the Jubilee weekend and so Clare and I, with thanks to Mark and Suzy spent a delightful time at Congham Hall Country Hotel where we enjoyed a Jubilee afternoon tea in the sun on their beautiful terrace overlooking the meadow, which was full of flowers. We had a wonderful time relaxing and enjoying the fantastic service and delightful smoked salmon sandwiches, lemon drizzle cakes, scones with cream and jam as well as an alcoholic jelly and cream. The macaroons were wonderful as were the chocolate cakes! Not a word about my diet was mentioned! We followed this up with a Pimms ..........what else on a hot summer's day??????
A report of a Black Tern at Snettisham had me scurrying out the door this morning but despite me leaving within minutes of the report of when the bird was present and as a member of staff being able to drive down to the first hide, there was no sign of the tern. There were many Common Terns, Black-headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls on the islands but the Black Tern was not amongst them. Avocets were nesting and there were many Black-headed Gulls chicks running around. Shelduck were present on the mud in The Wash and Oystercatchers were still sitting tight on nests. I watched a Cuckoo fly along the hedgeline making its bubbling sound as a Lesser Whitethroat called from the scrub. I stopped to watch a Turtle Dove display as I drove back along the track.
After attending an event in the village and mowing my lawn I returned back home where I am still trying to catch up with all my bird recording before John and I fly off once again next week! Can't wait!
It didn't feel like a summer's day as I woke up to rain and with my original plans all scuppered I wondered what I was going to do, as most of the work I need to do is out in the garden. However it wasn't long before Jim and I were making a mad dash up to Trimmingham where a few Norfolk birders were gathered in a very wet field. Thank goodness that I had put my boots on. Two European Bee-eaters were sitting on top of a hedge but I could only just see over the top of the near hedge. Oh to be another few inches taller! I moved along the hedgeline to be nearer Jim but the Bee-eaters flew off and we had to shift back out into the lane to go and look for them. Ian thought that they had flown behind a yard further down the lane and so we all moved there where the owner gave us permission to enter his yard. Luckily four European Bee-eaters had settled there and were catching insects constantly flying up and then sitting back down on the hedge top. What better birds to see to brighten up the day. It was a lovely social gathering as many friends joined us who also enjoy being out and about birding in Norfolk.
Timing my walk out to Burnham Overy Dunes to perfection as the rain stopped I watched a Little Tern fishing in the channel as I listened to Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings singing. Three Spoonbills flew over the fields as two Little Egrets took off and flew towards Holkham. Out in the dunes Meadow Pipits were perched on the fence posts and Stonechats were obviously feeding young in the Hawthorn bushes. I watched a Hobby at Burnham Market as I drove back. Tim offered me a cup of tea, when the phone rang and Trevor told us about a Red-backed Shrike at Titchwell. We flew out of the door and joined him and Ryan on the Old Tank Road where the Red-backed Shrike was flying up and down catching Bumble Bees. After the news was put out we were joined by a few Titchwell stalwarts where we all enjoyed watching the shrike.
A big thanks to the 131 of you that enjoyed my bee-eater photos on the Norfolk Birding Facebook page.
Sue by the Adriatic on the Dalmatian coastline
John and I set off with great trepidation early this morning wondering if the combination of EasyJet and Gatwick was the best idea that we had had yet! Ryanair had already cancelled our flights and so we re-booked with EastJet and spent the last few weeks listening to the tales of horror that travellers have had recently. However we had difficulty getting to Gatwich as a petrol tanker had broken down on the Dartford bridge causing miles of tailbacks. Luckily we had left extra early and made it to the airport only to find out that our flight was delayed. Luckily not by much. Anyway long story short, we had a wonderful meal sitting by the Adriatic on the Dalamtian coastline in Croatia in the wonderfully warm evening sipping lagers! Pallid Swifts greeted us at the airport and young Swallows were already on the wing as Common Swifts and House Martins flew overhead as we travelled along admiring the beautiful scenery in the hot sun.
After a good breakfast in our hotel John and I set out trying to find a small narrow road up to the mountains behind us which took a bit of time and a few false starts. Eventually after stopping to ask in a local shop we found the right road and made our way up the road with the car complaining and frequently stalling due to the steepness. Nightingales seemed to be everywhere singing. I took over the driving and we made better progress. With Jim having shown me a useful little App on my phone, I used it and it told me what birds were singing around me. Magical! Subalpine Warblers, Nightingales, Greenfinches and Blackbirds apparently! We stopped to look at all the butterflies and I added a few more to my European list. The Scarce Swallowtail was most impressive! We eventually reached the end of the road and I climbed up the loose scree to watch 3 Eastern Subalpine Warblers. They did not want their photographs taken! We spent most of out time photographing butterflies and trying to identify them. Blue-spot Hairstreak was new for me.
As I intend to write a trip report I will keep this brief. Eventually we descended the mountain and drove to Pag Island where we spent most of the time birding. Bee-eaters were just stunning as usual and who could fail to be impressed by the flocks of Rose-coloured Starlings migrating through, often stopping on bushes around us. We watched a Golden Eagle and several Montagu's Harriers hunting as well as Crested Larks and Tawny Pipits on the limestone rocky terrain. Corn Buntings were singing from various perches as we encountered Woodchat Shrikes and a lone Red-backed Shrike. Photography was challenging due to distance and heat haze! We had an amazing day and returned to the hotel tired and hungry! After an evening meal and beer, a walk down to the harbourside in the warm evening was necessary to enjoy another super ice-cream!
Our hosts were really helpful this morning and gave us a map so that we could access the Velebit Mountains so that we could find new areas condusive for our birding and butterflying quests. The scenery was stunning as we climbed up high and stopped to watch the birds singing from the roadside. Black-headed Buntings became more abundant as we left the Corn Buntings behind in the lower valleys. We stopped to join a Naturetrek group listening to a Rock Partridge singing but despite all of our efforts we could not locate it despite it being relatively close by. Woodlarks and Greater Short-toed Larks were singing as well as Nightingales as we climbed up even higher. The Eastern Black-eared Wheatears sat and posed but always a bit distant for my camera. We found a suitable meadow for searching for butterflies and John counted 17 species here. I took photos of Great Sooty Satyr, Spotted Fritillary, Lulworth Skipper as well as High-brown Fritillary and Dark-green Fritillary but was distracted by the six Golden Orioles flying around. Taking a comfort stop I noticed a Woodland Grayling resting on a tree trunk as a Golden Oriole perched on a branch beside me! I didn't know what to contend with first!
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
Great Sooty Satyr
We watched Orphean Warblers chasing around as well as Ortolan Bunings before the tarmaced road ran out and became a track. Up we climbed and stopped for lunch overlooking stunning scenery. The temperature was falling and I sought to put a light-weight fleece on as I watched various butterflies and a dark cloud approaching. It was clear that mist was approaching that soon turned to rain. Before long we could not see a thing and we chose to turn around and descend the mountain. Once back down the mountain we stopped in a village for a tea and coffee before returning to the hotel after watching a Montagu's Harrier hunting over the area we had stopped in the morning. We continued back to our base where we watched Serin and Hawfinch in the hotel grounds. It had been another good day with some good sightings.
It was a very windy day as we set out this morning. After a short detour watching Little Ringed Plovers we toured Pag Island, Croatia once again and marvelled at all the flocks of Rose-coloured Starlings migrating through. We went to a bird reserve where we watched Crested Larks and Tawny Pipits before motoring on and walked around an abandoned building where we added Southern Grayling and Mallow Skipper to my butterfly list. Spanish Sparrows and Little Egrets were seen here as well as a Marsh Harrier. We stopped to watch a Woodchat Shrike and more Rose-coloured Starlings.
We drove to Zadar to play tourist and enjoyed an evening meal sitting outside in the warm evening sun.
John and I were up early to drive to the airport in Split, Croatia. We returned our hire car and after a short wait boarded our flight to Gatwick. We were processed quickly at Gatwick, bussed to our car and were on our way back home. Once home it was a quick cup of tea and we drove to Titchwell where a Spotted Sandpiper awaited us on the Fresh Marsh. It was a Norfolk tick for me so I was very pleased not to have missed it whilst I was away on holiday once again! What a good job the ticks wait for me to get back home. Jammy or what?
Jim joined me on the bench and we took a few photos as the Spotted Sandpiper flew around the Fresh Marsh. A Peregrine flew over spooking eleven Little Gulls into the air as Sandwich Terns, Common Terns and Little Terns harried it. Avocet chicks were everywhere and I thought the Common Tern chicks were very cute as the little balls of fluff begged food from their parents. Two Spoonbills flew over as a dozen Black-tailed Godwits flew over.
Common Tern chicks with Avocet chicks
Following my luck at seeing the Spotted Sandpiper yesterday evening rather than waiting for my day at work today, I spent the day telling birders that the Spotted Sandpiper had gone. There were many disappointed birders. However Robin and I had an excellent day as we welcomed several friends and many visitors to Titchwell. As it was such a lovely day I wandered round to Patsy's Pool during my lunch break and watched a male Marsh Harrier delivering food to its mate on the nest. The pool was covered in ducks all in various stages of eclipse and sat amogst them was a Red-crested Pochard asleep.
My feet have hardly touched the ground in the last few weeks and after my latest holiday and the mad dash up to see the Spotted Sandpiper (I have been amused by all your comments as you have come through TitchwelI) have been back to work where several of our staff have succumbed to the dreaded lurgy meaning that I am having to double up on my duties. Still it makes for an interesting working life but wears me out! With another mini trip away to try and complete my British dragonfly list I rushed home to mow the lawns and get my washing out. However I was totally distracted by all the baby Blue Tits and Great Tits in the garden. I know my boxes were not used this year so am puzzled where they have all come from? Obviously not far as they are all in close proximity of each other.
I am in the process of writing a trip report of Croatia and sincerely hope that I can get it done before I board the next long haul flight soon! Trying to cram in all the cancelled holidays for the last two years whilst I have such a generous (carried over) holiday allowance has been such fun to re-organise!
Sue at the undercliff at Kingsdown
Small Blue Butterfly
I love the 'mini holidays' that I have between the big foreign trips as the UK has so much to offer if you look at other wildlife besides birds (which will always be my main focus). We had an amazing time talking to the local birders at Kingsdown who shared information and the experts on the walk at Sandwich Bay. What could be better than a day in the sun with fellow-minded people, wonderful nature to see with friends, pub evening meal sat out in the sun and a few days break away from home!
Greater Butterfly Orchid
Late Spider Orchid
Sue at Wye and Crandale Downs
Later back in Norfolk, John and I attended the Wensum Valley Bird Society talk on Borneo. Having travelled for a birding holiday here in 2019 the talk was going to cover Danum Valley, Kinabatangan and Kinabalu. I don't often want to re-visit places in the world where I have visited for birding before (because there are just so many other places still left to see) but Danum Valley is an exception and I would love to visit here again one day. The talk brought back so many memories of our wonderful stay there and the birds that we encountered but there are still so many still to see. Being an expensive up-market place to stay I don't suppose it is going to be anytime soon! The meeting was very well attended and it was good to see so many friends to talk about all our recent adventures and about the birds that we have all seen recently. The banter is always good here as it is a nice friendly club.
With covid still playing havoc with staffing both at work and with my friends who help with bird surveys our WeBS count team were down to two this morning. So it was only Alan and I who were left to count the birds at Nar Valley Fisheries this morning. We were hoping for a quick count given the time of year but the geese had other ideas as they returned in post-breeding numbers with all the goslings! We ran out of fingers and toes to count with! A Garden Warbler was in full song as we greeted the fishermen who were also back in good numbers! Sadly I was not quick enough with my camera as the bird sat and posed. Wrens, Chiffchaff and Blackcaps were singing as we counted the Coot, Tufted Duck and Mallard.The Black-headed Gulls had had a good breeding year with many young birds sat on the island. Common Terns flew backwards and forwards between the lakes. Little stripey young Great Cresed Grebes were good to see as they slid of their parents backs. We watched a Reed Bunting as we walked back to the car.
Two Hobbies put in an appearance but were far too distant for my lens as I made an attempt to photograph them. As we moved up to the western lakes we watched a Kingfisher diving for fish as we noted a Little Grebe. A Common Buzzard kept us puzzled for a while until it got near enough to see what it actually was. The vegetation was nearly up to our heads as we tried to ascertain where we could find any wading birds. Four Grey herons were noted as we counted Greylag, Canada and Egyptian Geese in their hundreds. I heard a Little Ringed Plover call but it took me ages to locate it. The sun had now come out and we were both very warm as we made our way up to High Bridge where we saw very little except gulls.
Great Crested Grebe
It was a glorious evening as John and I wandered down the West Bank path at Titchwell after work today. We watched a Great White Egret in flight and watched the many Avocet chicks and Common Tern chicks enjoying life. Reed Warblers and Beared Tits were singing in the reedbed as we walked down to the sea. Someone had stupidly bought a helium balloon which was now floating across our marsh.....why oh why do they allow these infernal things be sold to mindless people. Don't they know how many birds get tangled up int hem and die?
Down on the beach we watched 3 Spoonbills feeding out in the pools by the tideline. One was a juvenile begging for food. Walking back up the path I spotted a Painted Lady by the Island Hide which settled on the rail. What a glorious evening to enjoy a meal at the pub afterwards.
Great White Egret
Balloon causing issues for our birds
On a completely different note it was good to hear on the world news today that the Mountain Gorilla population is growing thanks to the efforts of conservation oranisations. A case that ecotourism can work if it is done right. I feel very privileged to have visited the Bwindi Impeneterable Forest in Uganda where the news item was filmed from and where I saw a family of Montain Gorillas. If we support conservation organisations to lobby our governments we can stop species going extinct!
One of the delights of working where I do at Titchwell Marsh RSPB is being able to walk out to reserve at varoius times of days to see the wildlife on offer. One of the nicest times of day is after work on a sunny summer's evening when the sun is behind you looking out over the reserve. Just lately a Bittern has been putting on a good show and I joined Chris and a few visitors watching a Bittern fly backwards and forwards to its nest after catching fish. This evening I took my camera and watched as a Bittern gave us all a lesson on how to catch a fish by stealthily creeping up on it and with a sudden jab catch it with one quick movement!
Bittern........steady does it....................
One of our volunteers has been working hard digging out a new pool by the Visitor Centre and this afternoon Sally and I watched a juvenile Grey Wagtail enjoying it. Later Chris and I watched a Norfolk Hawker, expanding its range out from the Norfolk Broads in a pool by the West Bank path. What a wonderful evening it was in the warmth of the day.
As my daughter is ill I drove to Oxford to help look after my two small granddaughters. It was a glorious day as I drove down to be with them with numrerous Red Kites airborne also enjoying the weather. After doing a few chores and going to fetch some groceries I sat down in the hot sun for a few minutes before tackling the mountain of ironing and as my daughter's house backs onto fields sat with a cup of tea listening to the Skylarks singing. Lucy soon had other ideas to me sitting down as a sicky baby soon needed a bath! Oh the joys of being a grandparent! (I love it really!)
The last two days have gone by in a bit of a whirl as I've coped with sicky babies, dirty nappies and pants and a lot of grizzles and very little sleep. My poor daughter and husband have had almost no sleep at all. However after I had sent my daugter back to bed this morning for a couple of hours sleep I sneaked out when she woke up and had a break at RSPB Otmoor where I watched Little Egret, Reed Bunting, Marsh Harrier and several Red Kites and Common Buzzards. However after watching Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Large White and Comma butterflies my biggest surprise was a Purple Emperor which a kind lady pointed out to me as I was hurrying back to my car to cope with the next onslaught. I shall need a holiday and some sleep soon!
As I approached work this morning at Choseley there were 4 Red Kites feeding on a dead rabbit in the middle of the road. It was quite a spectacle as I approached them and flew off.
This evening was an evening that I have been looking forward to for quite a while as Paul Noakes was giving a talk to Great Yarmouth bird club about his recent trip to Gabon. It wasn't long before all the birders in the room were dribbling at his amazing photographs taken with his new Canon R5 camera. The footage he had of the River Martins were superb! No doubt this destination will be added to the ever-growing bucket list as this country still has pristine rain forest which is still intact from the ravages that other rain forest countries are suffering from.
After a day of illness I was still not very well, but a British tick in the shape of a Red-tailed Shrike had been seen at Bempton Cliffs yesterday. (Unfortunately the possible Red-tailed Shrike or Turkestan Shrike that I saw at Buckton in 2007 was only accepted as an Isabelline Shrike sp as it was a first winter bird) I took as much medication as I could and hoped for the best as John picked me up at some unearthly hour and I dozed in the car for the journey up to Bempton. Luckily the bird was on view down a track as soon as we arrived and there were not very many birders present. Another kind birder let me look through his scope as the bird was perched low down in a Willow tree at the side of the track and I could only just about see it over the tall vegetation. Luckily the bird soon flew across the track where I managed a few phone-scoped photos in the murky conditions. The rain soon stopped and we watched the bird as it flew backwards and forwards across the track but left after a while to make space for newly-arriving birders so that they could see down the narrow track.
Gannet collecting nest material
Sue receiving her bus pass
I had a very busy start to my day as it was my 66th birthday and received phone calls and birthday wishes from my family and friends. Thank you all. When the post arrived amongst the cards was a letter from Norfolk County Council and inside was my bus pass. I suppose I am now officially an Old Age Pensioner!!! Goodness knows how I got here..............I never thought I would! So thank you all who have helped me along the way. I am still in one piece and am still the same adventurous Sue with still so many places in the world still to see who is so appreciative of my family and friends.
After opening various cards and presents I ventured to Swanton Novers and arrrived to an almost full car park. There were many familiar faces and I joined Pete, Mike, Steve and Simon and watched many Common Buzzards, Red Kites, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Linnets and Yellowhammers. Simon had turned around, which alerted us and we all watched a Honey Buzzard that had sneaked behind us.
My lunchtime was shared with Sally who had invited me to her home and together we sat on her decking outside in the warmth of the day letting the world go by, sharing our news.