I had a morning visit to Santon Downham. As I parked my car 8 Crossbills flew over calling as they flew over the trees. I walked along the track towards the small bridge that goes under the railway line. It didn't take me long to locate a singing Tree Pipit on the cold grey day. Two Woodlark were walking alongside the track feeding amongst the scrub. As they took flight they sang their wonderful tuneful song above my head.
I drove to Wretham Heath where yet more Crossbills flew over the trees calling. I have never seen so much water in Langmere before. Tufted Duck, Greylag Geese, Shelduck, Shoveler and Coot were on the water. The Rooks were very noisy as they fought amongst themselves.
Langmere at Wretham Heath
As I descended the hill from Chosley barns this morning a Red Kite flew over my car. The view this morning was stunning as a clear blue sky on this glorious morning with views of a vividly blue sea glistening in the sunlightl and views of the reedbed and scapes made me realise just how lucky I was to work at Titchwell. With such good weather and being a Bank Holiday weekend we would surely be busy. I was early enough to go for a walk before work began and I made my way to Patsy's pool listening to Blackcaps, Common Whitethroats and Chiffchaff all singing in the bushes and trees. A Lesser Whitethroat was calling from the hedgeline as a Cetti's Warbler burst into song. I joined Kathryn and Gwinn as we admired Patsy's pool where Mute Swan, Coot and Moorhen were making the most of the wonderful good weather.
Denzil arrived and we greeted many visitors and explained what they could expect to see. We had a really good day and both enjoyed our lunchtime's walk. I walked down the West bank path where I watched a Spotted Redshank in all its dark summer plumage. It looked spectacular. A Little Ringed Plover was running around the mud as Avocets filtered their food from the marsh. A Little Egret stood on Thornham Marsh as I helped a family with their identification of various birds. I was delighted to show them a Bearded Tit and a Reed Bunting that posed for them. Sally and I watched a Common Buzzard as we drove home after a very successful day.
After just returning from work yesterday I didn't have the energy left to turn the car around and return to Choseley to try and find the reported Shore Lark in driving rain and wind. I took the chance that it would still be this morning and so it proved to be. After Jim Lawrence's excellent directions I found the bird straight away and managed a few photos before I had to go to work.
At work I watched a Blackcap from the window as it hid from the rain. What awful weather day day yet again with these strong northerly winds. I think we really are totally fed up with them. I was supposed to be in North Wales but with cold weather and my second jab appointment imminent we have postponed out trip until the weather warms up a bit!
A Crossbill eyes up a St Mark's fly
Snow in May
After last night's thunderstorm I was not expecting to wake up to a layer of snow on my garden this morning and was not expecting frequent hailstorms during the day either. It is meant to be May for goodness sake!
I had a lot to achieve today if I was to find any time for birdwatching later on. I started my day down at the post office after selling one of my cameras and posting it off. This was followed by going to vote in the local elections before returning home to order yet more bird food. Because of the cold weather my birds are eating me out of house and home at the moment. I seem to permanently have a pair of Starllngs on my nearest feeder that chase off anything else which is a shame as I have really enjoyed watching the variety of birds that used to visit which are now visiting the other feeders.
I drove to Snettisham to have my second Pfizer vaccination and was sad to learn that many people are not turning up for their second dose. I find this very sad as I'm sure many people in other poorer countries would love the opportunity to have the vaccination. I was advised to take it easy for a while and returned home to upgrade my bird recording system.
For many years I used Bird Recorder 32 which Jack Levene devised back in the early days of computers when I was a young teacher. The programme served me well until a low life wrecked two of my computers and I had to seek professional help to retrieve the data off my hard drive. I bought into Jack's new programme Wildlife Recorder 3 which was more advanced but because of the low life's actions meant that not all the data transferred correctly. Still I believe in Karma and an upside of being furloughed from work during the pandemic gave me the perfect amount of time to re-enter all the corrupt data so that my various sightings were now correct. I have travelled extensively in the last five years and I was keen to get things right. However life moves on and Jack has developed Wildlife Recorder 4 to be able to add media files, maps and keep up with IOC splits which being a world lister I need to do.
With great trepidation and after a phone call to Jack, I managed to download the new system and after a backup and restore using a memory stick have actually managed to get the new system up and running and have entered some new sightings. Result!
The hailstorms continued throughout the day but after consulting a radar weather app and with the sun shining later this afternoon I ventured to West Newton for a walk. Common Whitethroats were making a most peculiar sound from a Hawthorn hedge as Swallows and House Martins flew over the mill. I walked down to the small pool where I watched two Common Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier in the air. A pair of Lapwings were not happy with my presence as I walked the edge of the field. They were swooping and diving around trying to distract me. I suspect there were some young chicks hiding in the field somewhere. Two Mute Swans and five Teal were on the water as I watched another Common Whitethroat. I could hear Reed Warblers singing but could not see them.
An extremely distant Buff-breasted Sandpiper
After a diversion to Filby Broad where we did not see a Black-crowned Night Heron but I watched an escaped White Stork, we drove to Buckenham where we watched a Common Whitethroat and a Great White Egret but failed to find the reported Wood Sandpipers. Redshanks and Dunlin wee the only waders we could find.
Great White Egret
After fixing my guttering, baking a cake, doing the chores and spending time with my new system of bird recording I braved the elements and made my way to Wells North Point where I joined Jim watching a Wood Sandpiper on the west pool. Surprisingly I did not get my camera out in the pouring rain! Swifts were in abundance along with House Martins and Swallows as they whizzed by over the pools. Something disturbed all the Redshanks but I could not see what. A Male Marsh Harrier appeared later mobbed by the local corvids. After a good soaking I decide enough was enough and returned home to the warm and dry.
With migrants now flooding into the country I arrived at work early to wander around the reserve with Rob. Together we watched a Lesser Whitethroat singing in the hedgeline near Patsy's Pool. Swifts were migrating along the coastline and were feeding overhead. Turtle Doves had been reported but we did not see or hear any. Later Rob thought he had a Red-breasted Flycatcher but all I could find when I checked the spot at lunchtime was a Garden Warbler along with a Chiffchaff. A Willow Warbler was present along the Meadow Trail. It was a busy day meeting and greeting visitors after yesterday's appalling weather that brought them all out and many had a fantastic day listening to our booming Bitterns.
The last few moments of wearing my Fair Isle hat before the wind whipped it off and into the Atlantic Ocean at South Stack
Sue at Cemlyn Bay
After a day working from home and having to concentrate on my laptop all day I was eager for some fresh air. i made my way up to North Point at Wells where Jim had two Temminck's Stints lined up for me. They were running around a Common Sandpiper as two Little Ringed Plovers flew over us. We heard a Yellow Wagtail call but I did not see it.
I drove along the coastline where after watching three Marsh Harriers, two Grey Herons along with a Kestrel, Lapwings, Greylag Geese and Canada Geese I watched a Montagu's Harrier fly over my head. It has been a while since I have seen a male Montagu's Harrier and was wonderful to watch in the sunny warm, calm evening.
During another day of working from home I kept my eye on the bird feeder which has been overtaken by a pair of Starlings. They are eating me out of house and home! Whilst watching a presentation about the poisoning of Red Kites and the sad sight of a poisoned Red Kite sat on a nest with 3 unhatched eggs, a beautiful Red Kite chose that moment to fly low over my garden. I know why I fight so hard to support the RSPB in their work in the protection of species and I have no time for those low lives who poison our birds, vandalise and damage our reserves when our staff and volunteers are working so hard to save species and other wonderful wildlife. Our laws need to be much tougher and put these people who perpetrate these crimes behind bars where they belong!
After a morning of chores and gardening I drove to Snettisham where after a quick check with Mark I could hear a Turtle Dove purring. I made my way closer and soon saw a Turtle Dove but it was hiding up and obscured by vegetation. I started to walk back to my car and the Turtle Dove flew over me and landed on the telegraph wires where it was soon soon joined by a second bird. As I walked back I watched a Bullfinch and a Lesser Whirethroat whilst listening to a Grasshopper Warbler reeling as well as a Reed Warbler singing. Common Whitethroats could be heard whilst Swallows clicked and Swifts screamed overhead. It was nice to be birding without any wind for once. A Barn Owl sat and stared at me before taking off.
After attending a function and some more gardening I needed a walk and walked along another section of the River Nar. Here I heard a Nightingale singing as well as a Blackcap. A Whitethroat was displaying as I stood still and waited. The Nightingale flew across between bushes but was too quick for my camera as was the Blackcap. I turned around as I heard a Cetti's Warbler calling just as a Kingfisher flew along the river. There were at least ten Reed Warblers singing in the reeds as I walked along as well as a lone Sedge Warbler. Reed Buntings sat and posed on the reeds as Skylarks sang above me.
I stopped to watch a flooded pit where many hirundines and Swifts were feeding. They swooped all around me as I failed miserably to photograph any of them close up. They were simple flying too fast for me.
For several months now a pair of Red-legged Partridges have taken up residence in my garden. It is lovely to wake up every morning to see them scurrying about my garden. They spend a lot of time underneath my bird feeders eating the sunflower seeds and suet pellets that other bids drop
After a very pleasant morning at work, I wandered down the West Bank path at Titchwell and watched our Marsh Harriers during my lunch break. We are so lucky to have them at Titchwell as they provide countless hours of pleasure to our visitors who love watching them as much as I do. Out on the Fresh Marsh a Little Gull was sitting on the water not far from a Black-headed Gull. The size difference was easy to see. On my way back up the path I watched a parent Coot take such loving care of its youngster as it found weed to feed to it. It was a real joy to watch.
Coot and its youngster
Little Gull and Black-headed Gull
It was another very busy day at Titchwell with many visitors just coming out and about for the first time after being locked down or shielding. Our new Welcome Hub was a surprise for many and having to 'track and trace' before being admitted on site was a challenge for many. There are still so many people that have not downloaded the relevant app on their phone so I have become some sort of consultant for helping people do this. However a form can be filled in if visitors cannot cope with this, which all takes a bit more time than people are used to when arriving at Titchwell.
At lunch time Carrie and I needed a break and so we wandered down the West Bank path where a family of newly-hatched feral Greylag Geese were eliciting many ooohs and ahhhs from the visitors as the little goslings fell asleep on the path causing a bit of a traffic jam for a while! Bearded Tits were calling from the reedbed as Marsh Harriers were flying overhead. It was a beautiful day and Carrie and I enjoyed our walk.
Later John arrived and we walked down the West Bank path again and watched Avocets feeding and a few Swifts flying over. With the opening of the pubs it was so nice to enjoy a rather special meal out together afterwards. I have missed eating out as it is one of life's little treats!
Another wonderful walk at lunchtime down the West Bank path at Titchwell with the sun shining and an actual feeling of warmth, so much so that I had to shed several layers of clothing! Common Terns were loafing on one of the islands as our Bittern was booming and our Bearded Tits were pinging in the reedbead as the Swifts were screaming overhead. Marsh Harriers were delivering food to neasts as I pointed a Spoonbill flying away to Thornham to some of our visitors. They were so pleased to see one!
I had a treat today because I was doing a preliminary visit for the RSPB's search for local Turtle Doves. I had been allocated Hillington Hall near my home and after years of looking in from the boundary wall from over the Babingley River bridge I was given permission to walk around the estate. I met with the owner after driving up the 3/4 mile drive and he kindly talked me through the birds that he thought I might or might not see and the agricultural changes that have taken place on his land. I had a delightful few hours as the sun was shining and the Babingley River and woods made for a very pleasant walk around the estate. One of the workers also share some information about where I would be able to cross the river and get to the parts shown on my allocated map. It was now quite hot and not the best time for birding but I shall return for my survey much earlier in the day for more!
Looking out from my lounge window you would never guess it was May. The wind is howling, the rain is pouring down and I have seen very little in the way of garden birds except for my pair of Red-legged Partridges that seem to be living in my garden and a few Starlings, Blackbirds, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, Robins and Dunnocks. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to update my database. I am often asked how I keep my bird database. Many years ago I bought Bird Recorder 32 that morphed into Wildlife Recorder in later years. I was running Wildlife Recorder 3 but have recently upgraded to Wildlife Recorder 4 and needed to find some time to validate all the recent I.O.C taxonomic changes. As my database was 2 years out of date I knew it would take some time. Today was perfect opportunity to do so. So after Tim had kindly helped me and shown me some new features that I could not work out I spent the morning sorting out the taxonomic changes on the birds that I saw many years ago. It would seem that I have gained a few new world ticks from the splits that have taken place.
A vey productive day today at work welcoming visitors and then managing to sell some of my old camera lenses on ebay! It is a nail-biting experience to see if they sell well!
I had a pleasant morning's WeBS count at Nar Valley Fisheries along with John and Allan as we noted all the birds that we saw besides the waterfowl. As we expected for this time of year there really were not many birds on the water except for a few Mallard, Tufted Duck and Gadwall. The geese had some fluffy little jobs with them and so we listened to Garden Warblers and noted a few Blackcaps as well. Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers serenaded us as we walked along with Robins and Dunnocks. One growl from a Nightingale after it flew across the road and promptly buried itself in a dense bush did not provide us with much of a view of it. We had all the common birds that you would expect to see at this time of year whilst we listened to two Cuckoos and watched a couple of Little Egrets inflight. A roast lunch in the local pub was called for before making for home and writing the results up to send off.
It was yet another very busy day at work today and I managed to miss the two Spotted Flycatchers in the picnic area before work. However at lunchtime I saw one of them flick towards the Welcome Hub and so during the afternoon kept an eye out for them. Luckily I spotted one after Keith had seen one and managed a very quick photo before the next visitor arrived needing my attention. Later a Grey Wagtail came and sat on the Visitor Centre roof before flying off.
The Great Yarmouth's bird club Zoom meeting was excellent which was given by Justin Lansdell about birds that he thinks we should look out for as potential 'first for Britain' migrants. It was full of ID pointers of what to look out for that could easily be overlooked when compared to other species that appear more commonly as migrants. The Great Yarmouth talks are always about birds and are of a high standard given to a small audience who are active birders. I especially like the interaction so that we can question the speaker as the talk is progressing so that we all learn. Sadly one of my clubs has seemed to have lost its way recently and has forgotten that we are members who would be expecting talks about birds instead of any generalised topic more appropriate for a general interest audience. I know that I am not the only member who is just despairing, especially as there are many very competent members with fantastic bird photos that they would be only too willing to share.
A very mixed day at work watching the mayhem that dog walkers are causing to our breeding ground-nesting beach birds at Snettisham as well as the poor Ringed Plovers having idiots driving quad bikes over their nests, my poor colleagues are at the point of despair. Why dog walkers think that beaches are a good place for their uncontrolled dogs during nesting season is totally beyond me. Please if you see a dog off its lead on a beach disturbing wildlife PLEASE call the police. It is a crime and needs reporting. Our Ringed Plovers do not stand a chance. With many more people owning dogs, it has now got to plague proportions on the coastline as people think it is a free for all place to be.
My new lens for my camera has arrived and I cannot wait to have a play with it but with a busy schedule ahead it might be a while.
After noting that NarVOS had yet another zoom meeting that was not about birds I did not bother logging in and joined birding friends for a delightful meal out in a local pub. We are all well travelled and are so frustrated at not being able to travel. Our friends were meant to be in Russia at the moment but have decided to walk some of the Scottish mountains instead sleeping in a tent. I hope the weather will be kind!
I got up early on yet another very cold, grey, gloomy day with rain threatening to have a quick 20 minute play at West Newton with my new lens. The light conditions were about as bad as they could get! The only bird that it was possible to point my lens at was a singing Blackcap as a singing Reed Warbler was buried deep inside a stand of Bamboo. (I don't blame it) A Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff were also singing but not in a position for me to point my camera at.
Great Crested Grebe
It has been 27 years since I last visited Fordham looking for some rather special birds. I had forgotten how delightful this site is. I arrived early in the morning and was delighted to listen to the singing of so many of our migrant birds. It was a day however for bird song rather than sightings as now that the leaves have really burst out it made it rather difficult to locate where exactly the birds were perched. After walking a farm track and the riverbank and speaking to the game keeper I established a few facts and enjoyed watching a Great Crested Grebe that kept pace with me along the river as well as watching a Chiffchaff collecting caterpillars for its young. A pair of Mute Swans were also fascinating to watch as they took care of their nest.
After spending a wonderful couple of days with my daughter and granddaughter I returned to work on a very busy day full of tourists with their dogs. I have never seen so many on the reserve. I had to explain the importance of keeping their dogs on a lead but I rather suspect that many didn't when they got to our stunning beach. Poor Ringed Plovers. They have such a hard time of it.
I wandered down the West Bank path just in time to see two Great White Egrets flying around with a couple of Marsh Harriers and many Swifts. Cetti's Warblers were announcing their presence along with Bearded Tits and a Reed Warbler flew across and into the reed bed.
Great White Egret
Great White Egret
Trevor and I met up with Sean at Titchwell. It has been many years since Sean and I used to go twitching all around the British Isles together. We had such a fabulous time, often leaving on a Friday evening, driving through the night, seeing the bird (hopefully) on Saturday morning, having a huge fry-up breakfast in a cafe, followed up by more birding, having a drink or two and a meal in a pub somewhere in the evening, staying in a B and B (or sleeping in the car) and returning back home by Sunday evening. What good times they were! It was so nice to see him back in his birding gear. We chatted so much that I barely noticed the Cetti's Warblers and Reed Warblers singing but I did hear a Blackcap singing away as I loaded up my new lens and camera which I never even pointed at a bird!
Sue keeping the children entertained with the hiring of pond-dipping equipment.
Phew! What a day! With a forecast of good weather and no-one leaving the UK shores the team knew we would be busy today. The coastline heaved with people and Brancaster became grid-locked with traffic which meant all the beach-goers descended on Titchwell. Our visitors embraced what we had on offer and the many families that came to visit enjoyed a spot of pond dipping. It was so nice to hear the little children talk about the tadpoles with legs! They enjoyed watching the water boatmen too! It was fantastic to listen to one lady, after hiring a pair of binoculars, tell me that it was the first time that she had seen a Marsh Harrier through a pair of them. She was so excited and thrilled.
Stew and I were run off our feet trying to keep up with the deluge of visitors but we managed to process everyone with a bit of help now and then from the rest of the team. An excellent day and I now think I deserve a Pimms on my hammock. I'm shattered. Sadly I had to turn down an offer of a dinner out from one visitor!! Nothing like variety at Titchwell!