Dodging the rain showers this morning I made my way to West Newton where Fieldfare and Redwing had flown up into the trees after I had located them all squeezed down into one corner of the sheep field where days ago I had watched many more of them running around with the sheep. The sheep were also huddled togther in another corner. I wondered if someone or something had run amok in the field just before my arrival. I heard a Woodlark singing but could not locate it despite my best efforts. A couple of Nuthatches were calling as well as Goldfinch and long-tailed Tits but it was cold and another shower was soon upon me as I hurried back to the car.
I did not want to spend all day birding as I have been asked to put a talk together about Mongolia for one of my bird clubs. Looking through the photos will bring back many happy memories of my trip to see a Snow Leopard as well as some of the amazing birds that I saw. After bidding a couple of close friends happy travels, who are just about to leave on a birding trip to Costa Rica I am green with envy, as I love my foreign travel and would not want to be without it. I am already counting the weeks to my next trip and cannot wait!
I seemed to have resolved some issues with my website host, at least for a few months before the new platform takes over. So I will have to wait and see what happens!
Lacking any photos today on this grey, dull winter's day I thought I would brighten up the day by using a couple of photos that I took a while back earlier in the year of some Mandarins. Enjoy! I love the reflections in the water of the second photo.
My day started at the dentist....always a joy! Luckily I escaped with just a brush and clean-up! After negotiating several sets of roadworks, traffic lights and queues I stopped off once again at West Newton on my way home where a couple of Woodlarks were singing. This time I actually managed to see them! Once at home I could not believe that my bird feeder was empty once again. Yesterday I counted 15 Greenfinches as well as an array of Chaffinch, Siskin, Robins, Blue Tits and Great Tits all enjoying the feast. I topped it up and a couple of hours later it is nearly half-empty again!
I managed to finish of my power-point Mongolian talk which I shall be giving in April before booking a couple of flights for a short trip for John and I in the spring.
It was fantastic to be back with one of my birding pals from over 20 years ago. Paul and I made our way down to Aldeburgh where we parked up at the Martello Tower at Orfordness. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were flying up and out of the grass as we braved the cold and the wind and enquired from local birdwatchers where the recent sighting of the Glossy Ibis had been seen. We walked along the bank of the River Alde and watched Mute Swans, White-fronted Geese, Canada Geese, Redshank, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon and Mallard. There was no sign of the Glossy Ibis and so we retraced our steps and took the advice of a local birder and made our way back towards the path towards the Town Marsh. Paul then spotted the Glossy Ibis in flight that landed on a pool on the Town Marsh. We quickened our step and stopped to admire the bird through our scopes and took a few photos. After a few minutes a couple of people appeared with a dog off a lead. Yes you guessed it.....the dog ran straight at the Glossy Ibis deliberately flushing it. How stupid can people be? The dog was completely out of control. I remonstrated with the owners and after apologising they put the dog on a lead which is where it should have been in the first place!
Paul and I walked back along the bank and watched Dunlin and Ringed Plover as the tide had now dropped a bit exposing some mud. A Little Egret flew alongside us as we headed for the car and lunch.
At Westleton Heath Paul and I watched a Woodlark in flight before driving to Minsmere where we had a good catch up in the cafe accompanied with a beverage and cake in the warm. We ventured towards the beach after admiring 3 Stonechats along the path. A new boardwalk to East Hide looked wonderful where a Wren flew across the path before we sat in the extenteded hide. We watched 4 Goosander, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits, Teal, Gadwall, Shelduck, Pintail, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black -headed Gull when I heard a Mediterranean Gull calling which flew down and sat on the water in front of us. Paul spotted a Barn Owl flying over near the woods which we both enjoyed watching. We continued our walk along the beach and watched more Stonechats and a Barn Owl flying towards us before walking back along the path towards the woods. We watched a Grey Heron and a Little Egret on a pool before returning to the car park where Blue Tits, Great Tits and a Robin were finishing off the bird feed in the feeders. It had been an excellent day and so good to catch up with an old friend. Thanks Paul!
During the afternoon I received some news which I shared with John this evening which made us both laugh and grin from ear to ear! Some people never learn that if your life has slid into a hole you stop digging! Life is what you make it and after a wonderful day like today I am glad that I have friends with a common interest to enjoy a day's birding with.
On opening my kitchen blind this morning my bird feeder was completely empty once again. As I filled it up a Red Kite flew over and as I looked up a Mediterranean Gull called. I dashed back for my binoculars in time to see it along with a few Black-headed Gulls. I was due at a funeral this morning at Cromer and as I drove along my lane a Barn Owl was flying in the roadside field. I met up with several birders at the crematorium in Cromer and together we said goodbye to our friend.
After the wake John and I walked down to the seafront at Sheringham and watched two Purple Sandpipers and some Ruddy Turnstones picking up tasty meals from the rocks as the tide was coming in and splashing the rocks. Later we watched a flock of Lesser Redpoll and two mealy Redpolls at Letheringsett. Returning back home John kindly put up a new birdbox for me to replace one that had come crashing down during a winter storm and had broken. I so hope it will get used!
Before we went out for Sunday lunch at a local hostellry, John and I met up with Les and Ann at West Newton. Here we watched 2 pairs of Woodlark feeding on the ground before they flew up and disappeared. Two Red Kites were interacting with each other along with some Common Buzzards. Three Mistle Thrushes were along the lane with a Song Thrush and a few Blackbirds. A Goldcrest was busy picking up insects in the ivy along the hedgeline. There was little on the shooting pool except a lone Mute Swan and a Tufted Duck. Les and Ann are experienced Yellowstone NP visitors and they shared information of their trips there. We cannot wait! We drove onto Sandringham where we watched two Ravens before making our way to lunch.
The afternoon was still grey and cold but John kindly put my owl box back up after it was taken down from my Cherry tree last year. It proved a more difficult task than we thought and we had a few false starts. However it now back up and so is a new tit box! Let's hope they are both sucessful! We also manged to find a slot to have a short visit to Scotland. It's going to be another busy year!
It was a cold but beautiful day as I drove to work this morning. Corn Buntings were singing in the sun on the wires as I arrived at the corner at Choseley and there were many gulls following the plough as I looked towards the wondeful view of Titchwell in the distance. It is a view that I have loved over the years as I had the little lane all to myself and admired the beauty of the scene in front of me. It may have been chilly but what more could you want on your way to work.............Corn Buntings singing, gulls following the plough, the sun shining and a work place as wonderful as Titchwell Masrh RSPB.
I stopped my car and grabbed my camera. I was too distant from the Corn Bunting and edged a bit nearer but the Corn Buntings flew a lttle further along the wire. This happened twice and I had to settle for a distant photo which I had to crop heavily for the website. I arrived at work and set up the Welcome Hub. Trevor and Bruce arrived and I set about filling up the bird feeders. Both glass feeders had fallen off the windows as our squirrels also get hungry and are too heavy for them. I tried to put them back together and stick them back on the windows but the dirty glass was having none of it. There was nothing for it but to clean the windows. As we had few visitors to welcome so I decided to clean them all. It was a glorious morning and I was glad to be outside. It took quite a while as most of the windows are also full-length glass doors. Eventually they were all clean and luckily the stickers stuck and I re-filled the feeders which attracted Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches and Dunnocks all day long.
I was now into the swing of cleaning and it was still glorious outside so our outdoor cafe tables also got a clean! I could talk to visitors as I cleaned and it was nice to see some friends arrive too. After lunch the skies clouded over and I retreated to the Welcome Hub. The skies darkened and visitors were telling us that snow was falling at Brancaster. It didn't take long before snow was falling at Titchwell too which had our visitors scampering for shelter into the shop and cafe for some much-needed warmth. I left Trevor and Bruce in the hub and went to work in the back office where i could see a Barn Owl hunting over Thornham Marsh as I sat down to work. The sun was now out again and it was just wonderful to watch it with the light shining through its primaries.
After a lovely working day I watched a Barn Owl at Flitcham hunting along a hedgeline on my way home.
Sue in the snow at Titchwell Marsh RSPB
It was another cold day as I picked Paul up and drove to Buckenham where we met up with Murray and a few other birders who were looking for the Dotterel amongst the Golden Plover. Wigeon and Lapwing were spread all over the marsh that was looking fabulous for wetland birds. Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Pink-footed Geese were also present along with Teal. A Sylark rose upinto the air as I scanned through a few Golden Plover and Ruff, one with a white head. A small flock of Golden Plover flew around with a small wader amongst them. It turned out to be a Dunlin. Eight Black-tailed Godwits flew around near the woods as a Marsh Harrier sat on a gate post and watched for its next meal.
We stopped at several points along the river bank as various river boats went by. Whilst we were beyond the mill a huge flock of Golden Plover flew up into the air, far more than we had been watching on the ground. Goodness knows where they had been hiding. A couple of Common Snipe were probing the mud as we tried to keep an eye on where the plover would land. Eventually they landed infront of the pub and we scurried back to see them. The Dotterel was not amongst them even though we had excellent light conditions to view them.
We walked back to the hide and watched a Green Sandpiper and a few Ruff before the snow showers called an end to our birding for the day.
Greenfinch and Siskin on my garden feeder taken with my phone though the kitchen window
Having to wait in for the Sky TV engineer who was going to replace my whole Sky TV set-up including the dish, cable and box, I was up early and prepared to spend the day at home. I filled up the bird feeders and watched the snow flurries whilst I sorted out a mountain of correspondence that I had collected that did not require an immediate response. Luckily most of it could be put in the recycle bin but some photos that had been posted to me made me smile.
The engineer arrived and I felt sorry for him as he climbed up the ladder to my old Sky dish to get it down as the snow was falling quite heavily now. Luckily it did not take long for him to replace the cable and he came inside to install the Q box and show me how the new handset worked. All was well and he left. The snow flurries continued and my garden feeders were very busy. At one point I had 6 Siskins on them as well as 10 Greenfinches waiting in the bushes along with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Blackbirds and Dunnocks. Underneath the feeders were a pair of Red-legged Partridges, Woodpigeons, some domestic doves from my neighbours dovecot and a Chicken! Just after lunchtime my bird feeder was nearly empty and I had to brave the snow flurries and re-fill them!
The weather continued to be horrible all afternoon, which when I am left inside on my own to my own devices is dangerous! My insatiable propensity to think about travel is always present. So there was nothing for it to scan the internet to see where I could get to for a mini-break as my new work rota lets me have several days in a row in which to take mini holidays. Easyjet and Ryanair were perused and after some hours of scanning various airport options I managed a cheap European trip for a few days. I won't get any bird ticks but I might get a mammal tick!
Great White Egret
Great White Egret
Grey Heron and two Great White Egrets
After spending the day making a summer dress for one of my granddaughters yesterday during the miserable weather from some material that I had bought in Hawaii, today dawned bright and sunny and I joined the merry little bunch of NarVOS members for the monthly WeBS count. It was much warmer than I expected and actually very pleasant wandering around the lakes. We noted all the usual ducks but as expected numbers were well down from the winter. Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Eyptian Geese were all noted as we enjoyed Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebes displaying in their courtship mode.
Three Great White Egrets were joined by two Grey Herons on one of the lakes. This seems to be a regular spot for them in winter but they disappear in summer.
Passerine numbers were also well down which was a bit of a surprise given what a beautiful day it was. We watched Siskin, Blue Tit, Wren, Skylark and Robin before John flushed out a Woodcock from under his feet. We noted a few Common Snipe but no other waders at all. A Grey Wagtail caused a moment of excitement as it was initially thought to be a Yellow Wagtail as it flew towards us, albeit an early date for one of these!
As my daughter had arrived yesterday afternoon for the weekend there was no birding done today. Kathryn liked the dress that I have been busy making for my granddaughter and we were just discussing measurements for one for her other daughter when two Siskins landed on my garden feeder. Siskins have been regular visitors to the feeders in the last few weeks as they often are between February and April.
The view towards Titchwell
Scarlet Elf Cap
I just love my journey to work. Today was no exception as I admired all the Red Kites in the air gliding on the wind. I sometimes see Corn Buntings singing on the wires on sunny mornings as I round the corner at Choseley. A Kestrel is often sitting here too along with Yellowhammers and Chaffinches. Grey Partridges sometimes run across the fields as Stock Doves are feeding head down. Today though was different as I was taken by surprise as a male Hen Harrier flew low over the hedge infront of my car and up and over the hedge the other side of the road. I stopped the car in hope of a photo and stood in the gap inthe hedge but the bird was now too distant for a picture.
I continued on to work where I had a busy day working outside, in the Welcome Hub and in the cafe! Along the entrance path Scarlet Elf Caps were making a very pretty show, resplendent in their beautiful colouration. Visitors came to see me to tell me that a Little Ringed Plover had arrived on the Tidal Pool, the first summer migrant for the reserve this year and a sign that spring is on its way. Later in the day at a meeting I watched a Barn Owl hunting over Thornham Masrh with some of the staff before driving back up to Choseley where another Barn Owl was sitting on a post.
It was a bright, sunny, still morning when John and I arrived at Titchwell this morning. It had been thick fog at home and we wondered whether we were going to see anything as we left but the fog had kept people away and we had Titchwell all to ourselves in the sun as we walked down the West Bank path. The Golden Plover were covering the bank and Black-tailed Godwits were keeping the Avocets company on the Fresh Marsh. A Spoonbill flew out a channel on Thornham Marsh with a juvenile Spoonbill in flight as well shortly afterwards. We arrived at the beach and watched a few Red-breasted Mergansers flying around as well as another pair sitting on the sea. A Red-throated Diver flew by as several Eider flew towards Brancaster. A lone Great Crsted Grebe flew by as a Meadow Pipit landed at our feet. Along the tideline Oystercatcher, Sanderling and Cormorants were present. We chatted to Ryan about the probelem that Foxes were causing the reserve and the possible solutions.
We walked back up to the Fresh Marsh, passing Redshank and Curlews on the way as well as a skein of Brent Geese. Together with Les we admired four Spoonbills on one of the islands which were carrying nesting materials. We are so hoping that they will stay and breed as our wardens have been working so hard to provide suitable nesting areas for them.
We drove to Holme where we saw Fulmars and more Red-breasted Mergansers before driving into King's Lynn for lunch and to PC World to sort out John's laptop. Outside the shop a Pied Wagtail was lookin all forlorn as it let me take its photo with my phone. It was obviously cold as it was all puffed up. Poor little bird. I felt very sorry for it.
John and I spent the morning booking hotels and boats for some more holidays to fulfil some bucket list wishes, mostly wildlife orientated. A couple of Siskins flew over my garden whilst I was hanging out the washing and John was filling up the feeders. The Greenfinches are just feeding from them for most of the day. I drove to to West Newton where Red Kites, Kestrels and Buzzards were displaying over the woods and Skylarks were filling the air with song. A small flock of Chaffinch were sat in a tree above the cover crop.
This evening Drew Lyness gave us an insight to the birds of Strumpshaw Fen at the Wensum Valley Bird Society. His sightings at night with a thermal imager produced some interesting results for the reserve. The meeting was well attended and it is always good to meet up with fellow birders for a few laughs. It was lovely to be individually thanked for my article writing for the newsletter.
With an adverse weather forecast for the afternoon, I decided to have an early start for a walk on Roydon Common mainly to avoid the plague of dog walkers that now blight the common most days. As I left the car Skylark song filled the air. I watched two pairs in courtship mode on the former model airplane field before stopping to admire a Yellowhammer singing as well. A Red Kite flew by as I made my way to the top of the common whilst I watched another pair over the top of the woods. Several Common Buzzards were noted as I watched Linnets and a pair of Stonechats. I dropped down into the quarry but the Little Owl was not present. On the pond a couple of Mallard were present but flew off as I approached. A Reed Bunting was singing at the top of one of the bushes and I attempted a photo in the poor light.
Back along the path I met up with a couple that owned a farm, that I knew when I lived in Long Sutton; they had asked me to visit them along with a friend of mine to advise them on how to attract birds to their farm as they were keen to put in a scape. I was thrilled to hear that many years later the scrape has been a great success and they have Avocets breeding on it. I had often wondered how it had fared and now I know! After a long talk together sharing some memories of people that we knew I watched another pair of Stonechats before making my way back home.
Paul and I started our day at Heacham where a Slavonian Grebe has been present in a channel by the old green toilet block on the campground for a couple of days. It spent its time alongside Tufted Ducks swimming up and down the channel where two Little Grebes and a Great Crested Grebe were also present. A Stonechat sat atop a nearby bush as we looked for other migrant birds without success. A Barn Owl flew up and down the otherside of the bank.
After a walk along the clifftop at Sheringham we stopped at Weybourne and admired a Black Redstart on a boat on the pebble beach. We motored on to Salthouse where Neil Bostock helped us find a Wheatear. Later at Cley in Dauke's Hide we were to see two more that dropped in on Simmond's Scrape ahead of a rain front. The Long-billed Dowitcher appeared from out of underneath the nearby bank and posed for a short while enabling me to take a few photographs.
Meeting up with Paul and Richard we walked to Bishop's Hide where we watched a Little Ringed Plover, Pintail, Shoveler, Avocet, Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Greylag Geese. A Marsh Harrier and a Barn Owl flew over whilst a Cetti's Warbler called from the reedbed.
Up on Kelling Heath we listened to Woodlark and Skylark singing and watched many Linnets before we headed for home.
With the morning available for birding, John and I made a very early start and met up with Paul at Santon Downham in the hope of seeing the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker down the riverside. Sadly there has only been a female seen spasmodically and often not seen at all but claims of some drumming has been reported. It has not been reliably seen for some weeks now. We thought we would give it a couple of hours of watching but we only saw Great Spotted Woodpeckers. We enjoyed watching three Mandarins, two Kingfishers, two Marsh Tits as well as many Blue Tits and Great Tits. After searching for Crossbills fruitlessly we motored onto Lakenheath where we watched a Garganey whilst listening to Cetti's Warblers calling from behind us. There were many Shoveler and Teal on Hockwold Washes as well as a few Shelduck and Mute Swan.
We called into Weeting Heath where we watched a lone Stone Curlew and two Curlews whilst Lapwing displayed in front of us.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Rain put many visitors off visiting Titchwell this morning which was a shame as we had many good birds on site. After my meeting with my line-manager Lucy I walked down the West Bank path and joined Matt for a bit of seawatching before walking back up to the Visitor Centre where a Barn Owl was flying close to the path.
The NarVOS newsletter arrived today with many interesting articles and February's sightings. The editor does a good job getting it all together. The articles were a mix of local interest and reports of exciting foreign birding talks as well as identification articles followed by the sighting's sheet of club members' sightings during the month. February is always cold and grey and not exactly exciting birding in the UK. The sightings were much as expected and I suppose I should feel sorry for those left counting feral Greylag Geese on a cold winter's day (Is this what UK birders have sunk to?) ; but I don't as I just love my birding in hot foreign climes at that time of year (Let me think...............to stay in the UK in February or....................enjoying helicopter rides in the Grand Canyon, birding in Hawaii and Los Angeles watching exciting birds, swimming in tropical seas watching Manta Rays with Humpback Whales leaping out of the water whilst watching a Bristle-thighed Curlew...............it's a difficult choice isn't it?) As my next foreign holiday is rapidly approaching, I am hoping that it will be a bit warmer there and the UK will have some decent migrant birds to look at by the time I get back!
A big thanks to those of you that have sent me messages via Facebook (Birding in Norfolk-Reare and Scarce bird page), Twitter and come to Titchwell to thank me for my recent photos that I have posted on my website.
Mark at 40
A very Happy 40th Birthday to my son Mark.
I cannot believe that my eldest son is 40 years old today. How time flies! From a little baby that used to keep me awake at night and mostly exhausted during the day I watched him grow into a well-balanced adult who is now a director of a multi-national company with a wonderful family of his own. I could not be more proud of his career achievements and sporting achievements as well as a loving son. Happy birthday darling xx
I had a very early start today and headed to Sheringham where I watched one of the Alpine Swifts flying over Beeston. I watched it for a short while and jumped in the car and drove to Beeston Common but sadly the swift had moved on by the time I had got there so sadly no photos of it today! After a spending time with a few friends I headed back home and cut my lawn for the first time this year, admiring all my little tete-a-tetes (mini daffodils) that were making my garden look so pretty. My bird feeders were alive with Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Robins and Siskins. Gosh they are so greedy.....I cannot keep up with the filling up of the feeder!
I had allocated today for packing for my upcoming foreign holiday as I have a few more work days to complete before I go and a busy schedule at the weekend. However I was disappointed with my poor views of the Alpine Swifts the other day and as the weather was sunny and the swifts were apparently showing well I jumped in the car and drove to Cromer Golf Course where I met up with lots of friends who were watching the two Alpine Swits zooming around at a great rate of knots over their heads. How different from the other day when there were only a couple of birders looking for them.
The next challlenge was to try and get a photograph. It was an almost impossible task! I hate to think of the speed that the Alpine Swifts were doing as they zoomed over our heads. None of us could turn around quick enough let alone get them in the camera! I tried and tried; I either could not find them in the lens, the camera would not focus or the shutter would not press as there was too little contrast. After numerous attempts I decided that the only way I was going to get a photo was to zoom right back and try for a very small image, which eventually I managed. So here is a very heavily cropped image. The best that I could do. I envy all those that have the tracking cameras who have managed some wonderful photos!
Later John and I had a wander around West Newton where the sky was full of Raptors. Red Kites seemed to be everywhere with 3 interacting together at one point. Common Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier flew overhead when I noticed a Goshawk displaying over the woods towards Sandringham. I watched it for sometime before continuing up the lane. Stock Doves were sat on the old barn as I listened to a Goldcrest calling. Mistle Thrushes and Chiffchaff were singing as we walked by the pool where Gadwall, Mallard, Teal and Greylag Geese were swimming. A Kestrel flew over the woods before we walked up the track where Fleldfare, Redwing and Mistle Thrushes were feeding on the ground. We retraced our steps and a Grey Wagtail had arrived by the mill. Two Red Kites came down low to investigate us as we neared the car.
John and I had a wonderful day out in Oxfordshire today when we met up with Ian Lewington at his house who was going to show us a Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertianum ) not far from his house. Last year was the first time that this orchid was found growing in the wild in the U.K. We knew we were privileged to be able to see several plants along a grassy slope. Ian is a well-respected bird artist and has shown us rarer butterflies and dragonflies in the past so it was good to see him again. We walked together in the countryside and after descending a steep slope saw several orchids in the sun.
After taking Ian back to his house, John and I found a lovely pub for a pub lunch before driving to Farmoor Reservoir where we walked around the perimeter of the reservoir and found a Lesser Scaup amongst a group of Tufted Ducks. The breezy conditions made for difficult conditions but we were lucky when the ducks suddenly came close to the edge and gave me an opportunity for a few photographs. We walked back to the cafe to warm up and evade a squall of rain that passed through. As my daughter lives close by it was nice to share to spend some time with her and my grandchildren, husband and his parents before driving back home.
I was up early to try and avoid the many irresponsible dog walkers that plague Roydon Common nowadays. I parked in the west car park and was delighted with all the Skylarks that were singing. Pure delight! A Red Kite was flying overhead as I made my way through the trees where there was a Chiffchaff singing. A flock of Goldfinches alighted in the Silver Birches. I scanned the old model plane area and noted just one Fieldfare that sat on a small gorse bush. I walked across the top fence line and saw more Red Kites and Common Buzzards swirling around in the wind. Over the common Lapwings were seeing off the Carrion Crows and a lone Marsh Harrier. A couple of Shelduck kept the Black-headed Gulls compnay on the pools as I listened to a Wren singing. A Stonechat posed on a fence, the only bird I got close enough to photograph today.
I did not want to walk far this morning as I have a lot to accomplish before my holiday and on returning to my car I was horrified to see all the dog walkers had arrived, most with their dogs off a lead! What is it that they don't understand? This is a nature reserve with ground-nesting birds with a huge big sign at the entrance about keeping dogs on a lead. Are dog walkers really that ignorant? They must know it's nesting season and ALL dogs should be on a lead at this time of year, no matter where they are? I just despair at times!
I returned home and finished my packing as far as I could ready for my holiday. I should be able to do this without thinking too much by now but it always seems to take longer than it should! After having a late lunch and a bit of a rest the sun came out and it was too nice to sit around and so I walked around the mill, tracks and lanes at West Newton.
The Little Owl was sat on the woodpile by the barn but was very distant for my little bridge camera as my decent camera was now all packed ready for my holiday. I tried to creep closer but it was having none of it and flew even further away! I watched Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits before trying to count all the Siskins in the trees that were very mobile. Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Greylag Geese and Moorhens were around or on the shooting lake and a lone Cormorant was watching over them all.
I retraced my steps and walked down to the other pool where I watched a flock of 30+ Lesser Redpoll. I cursed that I did not have my better camera with me. A few Siskin were amongst them too. A Yellowhammer and a Reed Bunting joined a few Chaffinch in the remnants of a cover crop as a Marsh Harrier put on a wonderful display above the reedbed. A Red Kite and several Buzzards were in the air along with a Sparrowhawk. The wind was beginning to get up again and it had clouded over again. It was time to go home but I had one last look at the Little Owl as it was flying around the woodpile. I shall be glad to have some nice warm sun at the end of next week as I think we are all a bit fed up of this cold weather here!
Two of the Lesser Redpoll hidden in the hedge
It was an extremely busy day at Titchwell yesterday. The weather forecast of sunny weather all day brought out many visitors as the rest of the week looks like being either very cold or wet and windy. I was shattered by the end of the day after welcoming so many visitors on site. After I finished work I drove to John's for tea and together we drove to Great Yarmouth for the Great Yarmouth monthly bird club meeting. It was well attended for Steve Smith's talk on Ghana. It was an almost replica of the short trip that I did in 2007 to see Yellow-headed (White-necked) Picathartes known as Rock Fowl, a strange hopping bird that puts its next hanging and clinging underneath a big rock. Back then we were not allowed to take cameras to the site but now this rule has cahnged and Steve had some memorable photos of them. Steve also had some photos of the famous canopy walk way constructed high up in the canopy. It is probably the highest and longest of all the canopy walkways that I have done anywhere in the world. It was lovely to be reminded of this wonderful, albeit short trip. I always enjoy this bird club meeting as it is much more informal than my other bird clubs as all the attendees are birders and are full of information. An excellent evening. Thanks Steve!
It was a very different day at work today as the weather closed in and once again it was cold and grey. This had an impact on the number of visitors to Titchwell giving me a bit of spare time. I had been given the task of writing the month's sightings blog for March and so I made the most of my time and collated the sightings. The round up can be seen here: https://community.rspb.org.uk/placestovisit/titchwellmarsh/b/titchwellmarsh-blog/posts/titchwell-s-march-sightings-2023
After lunch I had a quick walk to the junction of the Meadow Trail and Fen Trail where I met with some visitors and pointed out the arrival of a Sand Martin that was flying over one of the dragonfly pools. I felt sorry for it trying to find some insects in all the rain. Later I received another request for one of my talks. Goodness knows how I will fit it in!
After flying from Stansted in the early morning we arrived in Malaga, Spain by lunchtime but took an inordinate amount of time to clear passport control and sort out a hire car due to many planes, having been delayed by the French air-traffic controllers strike, all arriving at the same time. It was chaos! Once on our way we drove north to Sierra de Andajur watching Black Kites, Spotless Starlings and a Booted Eagle en-route and found our delightful converted farmhouse all nestled by itself up in the hills. Bee-eaters flew overhead and Dartford Warblers, Serins and Spotless Starlings kept us entertained as we sipped wine and beer on the terrace in the warm evening sunlight. The peacefuness was just wonderful. Not a dog in sight, no people, no cars, no music playing, no lawnmower going, just the sound of Bee-eaters and Serins singing! Absolute bliss!
We had a lazy get up this morning as it did not get light
until 8am and had a leisurely breakfast in the sun on the terrace. Bee-eaters
called above us as we listened to a Crested Tit even though we did not see it
despite searching for it. After breakfast we were soon on our way and drove up
to the well-known Lynx viewing track where a Lynx had been see two days before
our arrival. Although this is our target species, John and I just wanted to
escape the awful British weather and fancied a few days in the sun watching a
few nice birds. A cheap Ryanair flight was found and accommodation near where
we needed to be was also found that suited our needs. It was a wonderful recently converted farmouse in a remote area accessed down a track in an Olive grove.
We were soon watching Spanish Imperial Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Griffon Vulture and many Azure-winged Magpies. Corn Buntings were singing everywhere and hirundines included Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins. Pallid Swifts were also airborne as we admired all the cork Oaks that contained several Mistle Thrushes and Green Woodpeckers (Iberian). Two Little Owls caught us by surprise as they posed on a log. It was now very hot in the sun and we needed to take off a few layers of clothing. As we walked up and down the track we saw a few Sardinian Warblers and a lone Rock Bunting. A pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos were rather distant as I struggled to get a photo in the heat haze but a Woodchat Shrike posed whilst we had some lunch. We added more common birds to our list during the afternoon before enjoying an evening meal at Los Pinos.
After a short shopping trip we went birding around our converted farmhouse where we watched Crested Tits, Serins, European Bee-eaters and Mistle Thrushes before driving back up to the Sierra de Andujar. We stopped en-route to watch Red-rumped Swallows, Spotless Starlings and Azure-winged Magpies but none were keen to have their photos taken! During the day we watched Spanish Imperial Eagles, Griffon Vultures, Little Owl, many more Bee-eaters and a multitude of Corn Buntings. A Great Spotted Cuckoo was chased off by a Magpie as we noted Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Carrion Crow and Red-billed Chough.