Norfolk Birders

Norfolk Birdwatching and beyond!

1st March

I enjoyed a walk down the West Bank path at Titchwell at lunchtime and looked across the Freshmarsh where there was a gathering of gulls. Amongst the many Black-headed Gulls there was a Mediterranean Gull that was busy preening. Many Avocets have arrived and were busy feeding whilst Marsh Harriers were coming and going. It was a glorious day but the wind was cold as I stopped to talk to visitors. Back by the Visitor Centre Bramblings were enjoying the sunflower seeds that I had put on the bird tables earlier in the day.

                                            Mediterranean Gull

                                             Marsh Harrier

2nd March

After a fruitless search along the River Tiffey at Wymondham for a Kingfisher, John and I bought our new printers and returned to a stressful time applying for our visas for our forthcoming trip. We did see a pair of Treecreepers though. The system had changed since our last application for visas and it took far longer than we anticipated, so it was late before we returned to walk the riverside again for another attempt. However whilst John was coping with yet another dog off a lead, a stupid poodle that was going beserk and barking at everyone and everything......(why can't owners keep their dogs on a lead if they can't control them?), I was watching a Kingfisher that was sat quietly at the side of the river. It soon got spooked and flew up river. A little later (after we remonstrated with the dog owner who eventually apologised) I managed to relocate the Kingfisher and took a few photographs of it in the gloom.



On the way home we stopped and walked another section of the River Tiffey where we saw a Little Owl. By then it was too gloomy for a photograph.

3rd February

Being badly affected by a migraine as I wolke up there was nothing for it but to stay in bed meaning that I lost my morning altogether. After some shopping I sat and ate my very late lunch on Roydon Common and tried my best to avoid all the dogs, which luckily were mostly on leads today. Two Red Kites and two Common Buzzards were in the air and the Skylarks were up above me singing thier little hearts out as the sun came out. Up on the top of the common four Lapwings were setting up territories as yet more Skylarks took to the air. I still felt very fatigued from my migraine and so did not venture as far as I usually do and so turned back along the sandy track where I saw 3 Stonechats. Overhead two Kestrels were hovering and diving down into the heather after prey. Back in the woodland a Yellowhammer was singing.



4th March

Having received a personal invitaion to test drive an all electric Volvo car at Hylton Gott this morning I thought I would take up the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. I have owned several Volvo cars before my present one over the years and have always been impressed by them. I was surprised that the salesman was willing to let me take the car out on my own but when I saw that several familiar controls appeared to be missing I played safe and invited him to stay with me! With no ignition and nowhere to put the key I soon had problems! I also seemed to be missing a pedal and a gear stick too! The salesman was soon asking me for options about the option I certainly did not like as I nearly sent both of us through the windscreen! Several miles later, with both of us still in one piece I thought I would test the acceleration out...............and boy it was good! After a bit of fun on the road and with both of us still alive I drove back to the garage for a few facts. I'm not sure that the 180 mile range on a full charge will get me to Scotland for that overnight twitch. At least two half-hour stops would be necessary for a fast charge assuming that I could find somewhere away from the motorway network once I have arrived in Scotland. Apparently if you drive fast the range drops even more. Hmmmmm!!!!!! Perhaps I will wait a bit until the range improves somewhat!

After my morning's entertainment I stopped on my way home at Setchey pits where two Great Crested Grebes were in courtship mood. Pochards, Tufted Ducks and Coot were the dominant species. On another pit a Little Grebe was calling as more Pochards and Tufted Ducks were swimming around. The drizzle was now getting worse and I beat a hasty retreat back home. The trees in my garden were alive with song. I counted nine Siskins and a few of each Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin and Blackbird. On my feeders the Blue Tits and Great Tits are eating me out of house and home. Dunnock and Woodpigeons were also hopping around underneath the feeders.

5th March

With a weather forecast of rain all day and a booking for a pub lunch at Sculthorpe, John and I decided that we would be able to try and dodge some of the rain in the morning at Sculthorpe Moor by sitting in the hides and attempting to keep dry. Sculthorpe Moor is still developing and many new board walks have been put in over the last few years. It was good to see Jackie still manning the visitor cente as we arrived. Sadly much of the reserve is out of the NarVOS area for recording purposes as there were big numbers of Chaffinches and Blackbirds present in the first section as well as many Blue Tits and Great Tits. A Pheasant was making the most of the free food supply that other birds were dropping underneath one of the feeders. As we wandered from hide to hide the gloomy weather did not make for many photographic opportuniies and so I restricted myself to just taking photos from the hides where I could prop my camera and hopefully have better stability for such low light conditions. I can't wait for a  few weeks time where hopefully light conditions will be so much better! From the various hides I managed to take photos of Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Marsh Tit and Treecreeper. I heard a Nuthatch calling from near the river as well as another Treecreeper. Down by the river we watched six Gadwall and two Red Kites and John saw a Great White Egret which I missed.

I was starting to get cold and we headed for the pub where we had a delicious seafood lunch. Our host was most accommodating as we sat and sorted out a few issues that have cropped up with our forth-coming birding trip on John's laptop. Travelling has become a minefield with all the extra regulations in place but where there is a will there is a way! 





                                                       Marsh Tit

                           Reed Bunting

7th March

Matt and I wandered down the West Bank path after work at Titchwell. It had been a glorious day but extremely cold once again with the wind chill going right through you. We were soon listening to Mediterranean Gulls calling overhead and watched two birds in amongst the Black-headed Gulls on the Freshmarsh. Avocets were feeding in the water as we walked on down to the sea. We stopped to look at the Tidal Pool where a Curlew was feeding and a few Common Redshank were working the edge of the pool. The sea seemed to be deserted but Oystercatcher, Curlew, Dunlin and Sanderling were making the most of the tideline. We didn't stay long as the cold was getting to us both. The sun was beginning to set as we made our way back up to join Chris who was looking over the Freshmarsh at the gulls. Shoveler had congregated into one group and were chasing one another around as we admired all the Golden Plover overhead in thier large group in the setting sun. What a wonderful sight it was to watch them all swirling around making thier patterns in the pink/red sky as we listened to a Cetti's Warbler call out. The evenings are magical at Titchwell when the sun is setting. We watched the sun set and saw all the Brent Geese in the field next to the entrance road. Matt picked out a pale-bellied Brent Goose as I left for home.

8th March

I called in at the Abbey Farm hide at Flitcham on my way home from work where there were 16 Oystercatchers at the water's edge enjoying the last rays of sunlight bathing the scene. Teal, Gadwall and Mallard were swimming around with a pair of Tufted Ducks. I had a look in the book that is kept in the hide which is sadly now falling apart. It would be sad to lose the records written in the book. The Little Owls that used to be a regular feature here are no more and there were only a few days in the last 4 months that they were recorded. The Kingfisher bank has been covered up for many years now and it would seem that ts is now a very uncared for area. Such a shame as it used to be a fabulous little farm hide where I have spent many happy hours watching the birds here.



9th March

The order of my day's plans were altered when through lack of staff meant that various places that I visited were closed and I ended up in unexpected places. However I joined David and together we watched a Red Kite on the barn West Newton. Siskins were around the mill and I eventually managed a photograph of the Grey Wagtail there but I missed the Kingfisher that David saw. I listened to a Woodlark singing as a Red Kite flew over my head. Common Buzzards were busy bulding a nest and kept calling to one another as they carried nesting material. I watched a Marsh Harrier glide over one of the fields before I walked back to my car. Later in the day after shopping and getting my car washed in the centre of King's Lynn I stopped off to look at the silo in King's Lynn docks. On the top railing a Peregrine was perched looking a bit forlorn but now and again it looked at passing pigeons. A new box has been made for the silo but its installation was held up due to the pandemic.

                                            Grey Wagtail

                                             Red Kite


10th March

After a long wait to get over Sutton Bridge, John and I arrived at Frampton Marsh RSPB where we joined the other birders waiting to see the White-tailed Plover. Eventually the bird appeared from its hiding place and walked in and out of the reeds. The crowd were delighted. There were many Wigeon present on the marsh feeding. We didn't stay long as we wanted to get to Swine Moor in East Yorkshire. Nathan had given us detailed instructions on where to look from but we couldn't find the bird amongst the multitude of Wigeon and Teal present. There were a few Shoveler in the mix too. We back-tracked to the pub and walked down to the other side of the canal where after a bit of a bit of a hike down the bank against the wind I eventually managed to find the Baikal Teal on the far water's edge by the bridge.

                                    White-tailed Plover

                                         Baikal Teal

11th March

After a wonderful overnight stay in North Linconshire, John and I met up with Alan Schpot at Frampton Marsh RSPB. John and I had already visited the reservoir where we watched Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Brent Geese and a Little Grebe as well as watching Redshank, Ruff and Dunlin on the wetlands busily feeding. It was very windy as we walked along the seabank so Alan, John and I crept down the bank and out of the wind where we studied all of the Wigeon but failed to find the American Wigeon. There were Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Dunlin, Avocet, Redshank, Goldfinch and Meadow Pipits out on the marsh. We had a wry smile to ourselves watching someone taking photos of some plastic Spoonbills (to try and persuade Spoonbills to nest on ready-made nests) who didn't realise that they were plastic! What a lovely couple of days it has been with some excellent birding and a wonderful overnight stay.

12th March

With John wanting to watch the international rugby I planned to have the day in the garden to get my back garden ready for the vegetable growing season. This entails sorting out the compost heap as I am a firm believer in composting and returning nutrients to the soil. I have never understood why people put garden waste in brown bins. If you have a garden you should have a compost heap! Good for the wildlife too! My little Robin kept me company throughout and enjoyed the extra food that I was digging up. Whilst I was working I could hear a Goldcrest above me and looked up in time to see two Siskins landing in the tree too. Goldfinch were twittering as a Blue Tit sought out small insects from the branches. A Mistle Thrush was singing as a Wren went into full song.

It was a beautiful day and although I was working hard moving well-rotted compost onto my vegetable plot it was a joy to be outside. My little Tete-a-Tetes (mini daffodils to most people) were so pretty in the sun on my rockery as were the daffodils now in full bloom. It was good to hear a Greenfinch rasping in my Cherry tree as another one responded from somewhere in the garden. It is pleasing to see Greenfinches making a bit of a comeback after years of decline due to Trichomonosis. A Chaffinch joined the birds in my Cherry Tree as my pair of Jackdaws kept an eye on the owl box. 

Eventually I needed a rest and I grabbbed my binoculars and sat on the hammock leaning back in the warmth of the sun. I looked up and saw two Mediterranean Gulls overhead. Their translucent all-white wings just glowed in the sun compared to the Black-headed Gulls swirling overhead. My neighbour spotted a raptor heading our way and thought it could be a Red Kite. As it got nearer I could see it was a Common Buzzard with another one higher up in the clear-blue sky. I am now shattered and glad that John and I did all the form-filling for our forthcoming trip this morning. We still have many hurdles to negotiate to get where we want to be!

13th March

                          Siberian Chiffchaff (tristis)

                              Siberian Chiffchaff (tristis)

           Probable Stejneger's Stonechat

Today was a working day but working at Titchwell gives me the opportunity to go birding before and after work on prime habitat close on several reserves. Before starting my day, Ryan, Chris, Tymore and I wandered along the Fen Trail where we joined Tim watching the Siberian Chiffchaff. It was highly mobile and very difficult to photograph as it was continually in and out of small branches and twigs. I almost gave up as I had countless out of focus images but then the bird suddenly perched for a micro-second and I obtailed a couple of photos.

I spent the day welcoming visitors and birders. It was good to see so many friends that had been to see the probable Stejneger's Sonechat, some of whom I have not seen for many years. It was good to swap news. After work I scuttled along to Holme where thanks to Penny Clarke I was able to see the probable Stejneger's Stonechat. Sadly by the time I arrived it was distant and the light was poor. Watching all the Marsh Harriers was pure delight here.

14th March

I was sad to hear about the passing of Pete Milford today. Pete used to be regular attendee of the very many twitches that I was on in my early days of birding in Norfolk. He was a keen birder with whom I spent many hours looking at birds or chatting to whilst waiting for a bird to show. Pete's amiable personality will be missed. R I P.

As it was such a beautiful day and with the report of a Little Ringed Plover on the Freshmarsh at Titchwell I walked down the West bank path with Chris during my lunchbreak. We could hear Cetti's Warblers calling as we walked down the path but despite my best efforts I did not see it. Neither did I see the Bearded Tit that Chris saw. Avocets were feeding as were many Shoveler and Dunlin. I walked back up the path to continue working only for Chris to contact me a few minutes later to say that he had found the Little Ringed Plover asleep in front of the Parrinder hide. There was nothing for it but for me to walk down the path once again after work with Chris, where this time I saw it! Thanks to Chris and Jim for their good banter and company. It was such a wonderful sunny evening with a beautiful sunset. What a wonderful place to be! 

15th March

Bearded Tit

It was a very busy day at Titchwell today with the glorious weather bringing people out in their droves. I was kept on my toes this morning dealing with various issues that the visitors brought with them. I could hear a male Marsh Harrier calling away above me as it went into its dancing display. What a spectacle! I tried to show Trevor and Bruce, but all of a sudden it plummeted down at huge speed and I was left listening to all the Bramblings that have been in the trees all week. A Mediterranean Gull called above us, its wings gleaming in the sun as it flew over us. 

By lunchtime I needed a break.....where better to go but down on the reserve where it was so warm I did not need a coat! I stopped just before Island hide as I could hear Bearded Tits calling. A crowd gathered around me and I advised them where to stand and wait. Luckily I got it right and we were treated to lovely views of 3 Bearded Tits. It was nice to have so many thankful visitors who were all so pleased to see a Bearded Tit at last! (So was I !!!)

Nearing the end of my lunchbreak time I walked back up the path. I listened to a Little Grebe bubbling away in the reeds and when I reached the channel there it was swimming towards me making a wonderful pattern in the water. Back near the woods a couple were wondering what the strange bird was sitting at the top of the trees. I stopped to help them identify a Reed Bunting.

                                                    Little Grebe

                                               Reed Bunting

16th March


John and I were spending the morning repairing my fence that had come adrift during the recent storm, snapping off a fence post. This meant digging the old post out and putting a new one in. Siskins were twittering in the trees as we did so and the first Chiffchaff of the year singing in my garden was also seen. After a lot of effort by John the post was installed and the panel re-connected to it. Whilst I was repainting the panels John noted that the top edges needed replacing and so we drove down to the Hardwick estate to get some new tops for the panels, stopping by the Hardwick Flood Lagoon en-route.

We counted the Teal, Gadwall, Shelduck, Coot and Tufted Duck noting Great Crested Grebe, Shelduck and a lone Barnacle Goose amongst the Greylag Geese. On the spit a Little Ringed Plover ran around with a Redshank which being a migrant was good to see. Eight Common Snipe were on one of the edges of the pool. A Meadow Pipit flew as we listened to a Skylark singing as two Grey Herons alighted and flew across the water. On the far bank a Little Egret stood looking forlorn at the impending grey clouds and impending rain.

17th March

                                                    Mediterranean Gulls
It looked a beautiful morning and John and I felt we deserved a day's birding after all our hard work yesterday. We headed for Titchwell but stopped at Choseley where a Corn Bunting was singing on top of a hedge. Sadly it did not want its photo taken and so we headed for Titchwell and headed for the beach but stopped to admire the Water Pipit on Thornham Pool that John needed for a year tick. It was not keen to show itself but with a bit of patience it eventally crept out of the vegetation.

Down at the beach a Wheatear was running around but kept flying off making keeping track of it difficult for observers keen to see it for their year tick. We walked back up the path listening to Mediterranean Gulls calling overhead and watched a pair on one of the islands amongst the Black-headed Gulls and surrounded by Brent Geese. Cetti's Warblers were calling as we watched Golden Plover, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin on the Fresh Marsh. There were plenty of Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler to admire as Linnets came and went. A pair of Red Kites were flying over Thornham Marsh.

Later at Snettisham we walked the inner seabank where I have never seen so much water on the marsh. What a fabulous habitat. I just hope the water can be retained during the breeding season. We watched a Marsh Harrier try to catch a Coot, it was very dramatic as the Coot tried to defend itself. Little Egret, Grey Heron, Curlew and many Wigeon, Teal and Gadwall were looked at before we returned home.

The evening was spent at Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society meeting at Great Witchingham where Carl Chapman was giving a talk. He had some interesting photos and I certainly enjoyed his talk and learnt a thing or two! I think we all enjoyed his tales of Scilly. It was good to see folks after so many zoom talks. I even won a raffle prize!

18th March

I had planned to have a day of chores but upon opening of the curtains this morning it was far too nice to be cooped up indoors. I drove to Snettisham where I joined Mark and Tracy and we walked along the inner seabank together. The marsh was heaving with birds. Once again there was a predominance of Teal and Wigeon but there were plenty of Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Shelduck too. There were many Greylag Geesese but they were joined by Canada Geese and two Barnacle Geese. There were good numbers of Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Curlew at the back of the pools. We watched several Little Egrets as well as a Great White Egret. A Marsh Harrier dropped into the reedbed as a Red Kite flew over. Further up the bank I stopped to watch a gathering of Starlings and wondered what the squawking was all about. A male Sparrowhawk had flown into the group but I was unsighted to see what was going on at the back of the bush. 

The sun was beating down and we were all hot. So many Chiffchaff were singing and I don't think there was a moment when I could not hear one as I walked along the bank. A Reed Warbler perched in a bush as I neared the last pool where I watched several Pintail. They are such a smart duck. Coot,  Moorhen and Cormorants added to the scene as a Grey Heron sat as still as a statue. The sun continued to shine as Brimstone and Small Tortoishell butterflies flew by. I was stopped by some walkers who picked my brain on the birds but they were a bit late to see their hoped-for White-tailed Eagle!

19th March


                                  Ring Ouzel

Whilst working at Titchwell I was informed of a Kingfisher sitting at Dragonfly Pond. I grabbed my camera and joined Rob and other visitors trying to see it from the Fen Trail. It was not easy to locate as it was buried deep inside the bushes. Taking a photograph of it was even more difficullt! Denzil and I had a glorious day with constant Bramblings around feeding on the bird tables by the Visitor Centre and many Redwings flying overhead. At lunchtime I drove up to Chosely and watched a Marsh Harrier whilst eating my lunch.

After work I had a quick dash along the coast road to Holkham where Mark relocated the Ring Ouzel by the water trough in the field 100m past the Lookout Cafe at Holkham.

20th March

                                            Lesser Redpoll

                                          Lesser Redpoll

On another lovely sunny morning I met up with the usual crew for the monthly WeBS count at Nar Valley Fisheries. We usually meet beforehand at Pentney gravel pit that was almost bare of any notable birds except for a Great Crested Grebe and a pair of Oystercatchers plus an assortment of gulls. We discussed where we were going to walk as Nar Valley was heaving with fishermen this morning. I have never seen so many here before. The good weather had obviously brought them out. We counted Coot, Mallard, Mute Swans and Tufted Ducks on the first lakes but it didn't take long! Chiffchaff were singing as were Robins and Wrens. We heard a Cetti's Warbler as we walked around. Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and a flock of fifteen Brambling flew out from the feeders area as we made our way down to continue our count. 

The lakes at the west end were a little more interesting as we spotted a pair of Goldeneye along with Egyptian Geese, Greylag Geese and Canada Geese. Fifteen Common Snipe were seen as we continued our count of Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe. In the field we had a strange pairing of a Barnacle Goose (Right leg Yellow over metal ring, Left leg Blue J22) and a hybrid Barnacle Goose x Canada Goose (Left leg Blue C94) ? If anyone can help with the details of where these birds have been rung or have been please let me know.

(Update to the geese..........the pair were ringed at Pensthorpe as part of the National Project on Barnacle Geese last summer. Thank you to all those of you that responded to my request on Twitter. Such an amazing birding resource!) 

After the count was over John and I wandered to the chalets and listened to a Blackcap singing. However it did not want to show itself!

John and I spent the afternoon at West Acre Hall where we wandered around the beautiful gardens in the sun watching and listening to the Rooks building the rookery. What a place to live, deep in the Norfolk countryside. It was so peaceful here being able to hear nothing but bird song. Just as I like it!


A strange pairing of a Barnacle Goose (Right leg Yellow over metal ring, Left leg Blue J22) and a hybrid Barnacle Goose x Canada (Cackling) Goose (Left leg Blue C94) ?

21st March

Little Ringed Plover

After a day at work watching Bramblings for most of the day whilst answering visitors' questions, Chris and I wandered down the West Bank path at Titchwell. We watched Avocets, Shovelersand Teal whilst Pied Wagtails flitted around. We were actually waiting for the large gulls to appear as we have had a couple of Caspian Gulls coming in on some evenings.However it was not to be, but there was a good showing of Mediterranean Gulls. We watched two Little Ringed Plovers on the mud running around too. 

22nd March

                                      Escaped White Stork

                                                    Bearded Tit

I got up early and went via South Wootton on my way to work to take a few photos of the escaped White Stork that was in a field at South Wootton. At first I could not find it but after a couple of phone calls to Chris Lotz and Jim Lawrence I realised that it had not gone far. I spoke to a dog walker who said it was in the field behind the hedge. I waited a few minutes and it flew back towards me. I did not stay very long as I wanted to get to work early to walk down the West Bank path at Titchwell. It was a beautiful sunny morning and Titchwell was resplendent in all its glory. Bearded Tits and Cetti's Warblers were calling from the reedbed and Mediterranean Gulls were competing with the Chiffchaffs for the constant calling as I walked down the path. I watched the Bearded Tits and took a few photographs. I stopped in wonderment at the stunning morning that it was and admired all the wildlife around me.

After a very busy day dealing with all the visitors I was keen to get home and get myself sorted ready for tomorrow. I parked the car on the driveway and watched two Red Kites swooping low over me. They circled around me and seemed to be watching me as I unloaded my car.

25th March

                                           Sue and Lucy

                         Hannah Sue and Lucy

                       Lucy Kathryn and Hannah

Having had a wonderful few days with my daughter Kathryn, son-in-law Chris and my granddaughters Hannah and Lucy near Oxford I drove back home stopping off at Summer Leys Nature Reserve en-route. I was fed up of the horrendous traffic and as it was such a lovely day decided that I could do with a walk with a bit of birding as well. It has been almost 30 years since I was last birding here. I met a wonderful gentleman in the car park who very kindly helped me with the carpark machine and walked with me to the hide that looked out over the scrape and main lagoon. Here we saw 4 drake Garganey and a duck Garganey lurking in the vegetation. A lady kindly also told us about a Little Gull that was flying over te main lagoon. It didn't take long before we saw it dipping in and out of the water. They always seem to have a more buoyant flight to other gulls.

There were several Common Snipe feeding on the scrape as well as Redshank and a Black-tailed Godwit. Teal and Wigeon were present as were several pairs of Shoveler. On the island in the main lagoon Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls were in courtship mode. A Great White Egret flew in but was attacked by a Black-headed Gull as a Little Egret flew away.

                                                A pair of Garganey

                                     A Black-headed Gull atacks a Great White Egret

After a surprise meeting with a friend I stood and watched several butterflies that incuded Red Admiral, Comma and a Small White butterfly. I knew I needed better photos of a Small White and it duly obliged with a top side view and an underside view sitting on the brambles. What a lovely nature reserve it is. I really enjoyed my visit in the warm sun. I shall have to stop by more often as it is only a couple of miles off my route.

                               Small White Butterfly

                               Small White Butterfly

26th March

Having not spent much time at home this week I needed a day to sort myself out and get on with some chores. However the day was too nice to spend inside and so I tackled my lawns getting some of the moss out and mowing them. A Chiffchaff was singing which unbeknown to me at the time was going to keep me company for most of the day. Goldfinches and Greenfinch sang along with a Robin and a couple of Dunnocks. I washed the car and gave it a nice shine whilst the Pied Wagtails flitted around above me somewhere. I stopped to chat to my neighbour and together we watched the now familiar Red Kite that almost seems to be a constant fixture here now. As I am typing this up I can see it from my lounge window swooping down low over the road. They are such beautiful birds. Butterflies flitted around my garden and seemed to like a particular spot on the lawn. A Peackcock Butterfly kept appearing and then disappearing but returned to the same spot all the time. I wonder what it found so attractive at the spot it chose?

27th March


Wanting to make the most of the day before all the activities that were coming my way, I was up bright and early hoping to avoid all the dog walkers that plague Drymere in Swaffham forest. Although I was early it was not to be, as several cars drew up alongside me as I parked and let out hoards of dogs, all totally out of control that immediately ran through the ground nesting areas of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Woodlark. Why oh why can't these irresponsible people put their dogs on a lead before they open the car doors? Years ago this area used to be a really nice area to walk; now it is totally blighted by recent dog owners that have acquired dogs during the pandemic who have no idea about wildlife and let their dogs run amok disturbing any ground nesting bird that is trying its best to breed at this time of year.

Once my frustration and anger had subsided I let the irresponsible people get well ahead of me and I ventured along the track. Bird song was everywhere and I enjoyed listening to Skylark, Chiffchaff, Siskin, Wren, Robin, Mistle Thrush and even Herring Gulls singing and calling. Further along the track I stopped to watch a Nuthatch calling and a Yellowhammer singing away at the top of a tree. A pair of Great Tit singing were also joined by a pair of Blue Tits. I could hear many Siskin in the trees but only counted seven of them during my walk. Overhead I stopped to try and count all the Brambling that were up high in a few trees as they were being quite noisy as they fed. Eleven Redwing flew in to join them which didn't make life easy on the count as there were a few Chaffinches amongst them. I could see a Red Kite further down the track in the sky and hoped that it would head my way...which it didn't!

I was stopped in my tracks as a Roe Deer suddenly appeared from nowhere and I soon found out why as a revolting dog came bounding out from the trees and tried to attack me and then chase the deer again. I could hear the owners far away shouting for it with no control over the dog whatsoever. There is only one answer for this but is unprintable here! 

I rounded a corner where a Song Thrush and a Yellowhammer sat and posed for me and I could not resist a photograph of them. Walking back to the car a couple of Shelduck flew by along with a couple of Greylag Geese.

At Pentney I watched six Great Crested Grebes, two Oystercatchers along with a few Teal, Tufted Ducks, Wigeon, Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls. 

                               Song Thush



                                                                           Roe Deer

March 28th

After waiting for six years John and I were finally on our way to Heathrow where we boarded a flight to Doha in Qatar.

March 29th

Six years ago I wanted to go to Tanzania on a dedicated birdwatching tour to see the Ngorongoro Crater the largest intact volcanic crater in the world. However I was not prepared to go with non-birders sharing safari vehicles with general tourists as this would have been a holiday from hell as I prefer to either guide myself or go with knowledgeable birders or birding guides. Events overtook me and my holiday did not take place but several years later I am now flying from Doha to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania where I hope to fulfil a dream to see the crater and fill in a few gaps in my world list.

John and I landed at Kilimanjaro after an overnight flight and taken to Kia Lodge where we birded the grounds of the lodge before meeting up with our guide later in the evening. As I intend to write up a comprehensive trip report as usual my diary page will be brief.

                                      View of Mount Kilimanjaro from our lodge

                                             Long-tailed Fiscal

30th March

                                                                  John and Sue in Arusha National Park

                                                    Narina Trogon

We had an early start and set off for Arusha National Park where by the end of the day we had logged 132 species of birds as well as stopping to enjoy all the animals, Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Warthog and Baboons etc as well as various antelopes.

31st March

                                 Rosy-patched Bushshrike

                                         Hildebrandt's Starling

Today was a travelling day but we stopped off at various places en-route to Tarangire National Park. The birding was excellent in the sun and heat amongst the Acaia bushes. By the end of the day our tally had reached 212 species. I was thrilled at how many lifers I had given the fact I had birded nearby in Kenya.