I often see Red Kites on my way to work and have often stopped to watch a Red Kite that sits in the same tree. I have stopped on many occasions to take its photograph but it always flies off before I can press the shutter. However today there were two Red Kites in the tree and I stopped once again. Today they both just sat and watched me. So have they got used to me stopping? I don't suppose I will know but it was a delight to see them.
Arriving at Choseley, I stopped once again as I drove with my windows down and could hear a Corn Bunting singing. They usually fly off before I can get a photograph but today the Corn Bunting did not budge as it was far more concerned to keep its singing going!
Arriving at work, the reserve was alive with Blackcaps singing along with Willow Warbler song.
After a busy few days at work I felt in need of a walk after work today and wandered down to Snettisham where I bumped into Lee Evans who was on a quest to see Turtle Dove. We wandered around the bushes without success but I did see my first Swift of the year. I took a few photos of some Swallows that were sat on the wires that obviously felt much the same as me. Shattered! I also enjoyed watching some Goldfinches that were twittering near my car. They are such pretty little birds.
I woke up before dawn and decided to make an early start on my trip report writing for Tanzania but after I had my beakfast I changed my mind and the lure of an early-morning walk pulled me back down to Snettisham where I walked through to Heacham. Whilst talking to Steve a Turtle Dove flew by. I heard a Cuckoo call and found it sitting on a bush over by the inner sea-bank, sadly too far for my lens. A bit later it flew right past me calling. Down at the camp site a Wheatear was running around. I listened to many Whitehroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warblers singing as well as watching Meadow Pipits and several pairs of Stonechats.
As I walked back I watched a Whimbrel on a shorter piece of turf and heard a Turtle Dove purring which was sat next to a Woodpigeon for some company. A few hirundines flew along and a lone Swift.
Out on the sea a pair of Great Crested Grebes and several hundred Oystercatchers were gathered. Luckily I managed to avoid most dog walkers until I was nearly back at my car where a dog was totally out of control and off its lead. What is it with these people? What don't they understand about keeping dogs on a lead during nesting season? Grrrrrrr!
John and I were up early and made our way to Maidscross Hill in Suffolk where Garden Warblers and Nightingales were singing in profusion. It was a wonderful calm sunny morning ideal for birdwatching in early May to see some of the migrant birds. We were a bit perturbed when we arrived as there was a large group of birders in the car park, just what we did not want but luckily they were all just leaving. We walked across the heath and saw a Nightingale sitting out singing away as soon as we arrived with a Garden Warbler keeping it company in an Oak tree nearby. We took some photos and watched several other Nightingales as we walked around the heath. Common Whitethroats were also singing as were Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff and Yellowhammers.
We carried onto Lakenheath RSPB where after seeing two Common Terns on Hockwold Washes we walked down to Joist Fen where there were over twenty Hobbies in the air together. As we walked back a Bittern flew by us.
At Weeting Heath two Stone Curlews were keeping watch over two newly-hatched chicks.
I have finally finished my trip reort to Tanzania. It's been a bit of a slog to get it done because I took SO many photos which all had to be re-sized and labelled.
It can be seen at: https://suebryan.webs.com/tanzania-2022 or view from the tab at the top of the website (until I move it into the trip reports tab when I write my next trip report!)
After a morning of chores I looked at my phone and saw that Dave Holman had reported a Whinchat and Common Redstart at Snettisham to the Norfolk WhatsApp group. I grabbed a quick lunch and set off and joined him, Christine and Jim on the inner seabank. Neither bird was showing. Swifts and Hobbies were flying overhead whilst a Whimbrel was in the field with a Turtle Dove sat on the wire. We listened to another Turtle Dove and saw a very brief view of the Common Redstart as it flitted around the back of the Hawthorn bush. We were joined by Geoff, Pat, Tim and Chris Lotz. but the Common Redstart was not keen to show itself. After a while Dave re-found the Whinchat that was very distant in the field. Geoff ,Pat , Dave and Christine left and Lee Evans joined us. A few of us realised that it would be more sheltered around the otherside of the bush and it was here that we had good views of the Common Redstart. Lee and I had a few laughs about old times as he pulled my leg about various issues! It was lovely to enjoy a bit of banter with Lee, Jim and Tim as all of us have been birding a long time. It was a good afternoon with some wonderful birds and good company.
Another exciting day at work as I managed to gather up lots of visitors to the courtyard at Titchwell after Dawn Balmer alerted me to a White-tailed Eagle (G801 2CY) that was flying over the visitor centre. After gathering up the visitors I ran and grabbed my camera and thanks to Trevor who had kept an eye on the bird, quickly took a few photos before it drifted over the trees. The eagle was being mobbed by 2 Red Kites and a Buzzard that were dwarfed by the White-tailed Eagle making us all realise how big they are. Les rang Tim Mackrill of the White-tailed Eagle re-introduction scheme who told us it was G801 2CY that has recently been in Poole Harbour. We have now had 9 different White-tailed Eagles from the scheme in Norfolk. Thank you all who have messaged me about my photos. I was just lucky to be in the right palce at the right time!
White-tailed Eagle (G801 2CY)
White-tailed Eagle (G801 2CY)
After work I called in to West Newton and had a lovely conversation with the owner of the cottage at the mill. We shared some lovely tales about birdwatching on various Scottish islands and Norway. At the mill two Grey Wagtails were resting on the platform as Swallows and House Martins flew over us.
I was sad to learn of the passing of Alwyn Jackson from Covid who was a friend as well as a volunteer at Titchwell. He was a true gentleman who gave so many hours helping others on the reserve. R.I.P Alwyn. You will be missed.
I had a walk down the West Bank path at lunchtime where several terns had arrived. I watched a few Common Terns on the Fresh Marsh along with an Arctic Tern. John lined up two Little Terns in his scope for me as Chris and John kept track of the Arctic Tern. As I walked back up the path a Sandwich Tern flew by me as Swifts flew overhead.
Down at Dersingham Bog in the evening I met up with Tim and Keith and watched ten Woodcock flying around. It took some time before we heard Nightjars churring, one near the boardwalk which Keith managed to see and one behind us somewhere up the bank. It was sometime before we heard another and I joined Keith on the path towards the Scissors car park which we both managed to see. Tim and I returned to the boardwalk where a Nightjar could be heard flying around us but sadly it was now too dark to see it! We heard both Cuckoo and a Green Woodpecker during the evening and watched a pair of Stonechats with a juvenile.
I had good intentions to walk a track where I had been given a tip-off but the horrible weather dictated otherwise and I stayed at home all day. I spent the morning wrestling with a website to apply for an e-visa for my next big birding trip. The number of documents that I needed was mind-blowing. They all had to be adjusted to fit the file format specification and file size. After many emails, WhatsApp messages and requests for documents from various organisations, 5 hours later I could hit the submit button! The payment section was not easy either. Enter card details...........ok.........open Bank App on smart phone ...........and wait......nothing.......... Close App down, re-enter details and all was well! A couple of hours later, in my junk mail folder, there was my visa........in an unsupported file format! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.............Thank goodness for my smart phone which came to the rescue!
My birding consisted of watching a Red Kite out of my kitchen drifting over the houses opposite me and swooping down from time to time. I thought about racing up to the coast for the rarities but decided to finish off getting my notebook, checklist and wildlife recorder to agree with one another on my 438 Tanzanian bird list that I saw last month. Why am I always one out????????
Common Cranes with chicks hiding in the reeds
The day started badly for John and I when Tim and Roger announced that the Osprey had just flown as we arrived at Ormesby Little Broad. Not the news we wanted to hear! We watched some Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Mute Swans in a courtship display and drove to Potter Heigham where we walked the bank and watched a Common Whitethroat and listened to a Sedge Warbler and a Cetti's Warbler before driving onto Hickling. Here we joined Tim and Roger agian and watched two Wood Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plover, a Temminck's Stint, eight Hobbies, four Black-winged Stilts, six Common Cranes, two with chicks, Marsh Harriers and listened to a Bittern booming. After lunch we returned to Potter Heigham where we saw a Cuckoo but could not find the Glossy Ibis.
Our afternoon was spent with me trying to sort out John's visa as he had been unsuccesful with the website that had caused me many problems yesterday. For whatever reason it did not like John's email address. After many unsucessful attempts I eventually got the visa application sorted but now we both had laptop problems as something had affected them during the application process. Grrrrrr. John's laptop did not take me too long to sort out after consulting a website for instructions but my laptop problem was more serious as all my data from my Wildlife Recorder system for recording all my birds sightings from the last 30 years had been destroyed. I was not a happy bunny! After doing a system restore, unistalling the programme, re-installing Wildlife Recorder I was able to add my data once again from a back-up I had done only a few days ago. Thank goodness I had a back-up on a memory stick. I had had my computer wilfully destroyed many years ago and have learnt to back up anything vital!
After work today all staff and volunteers had been invited to a social meeting with the RSPB Council and Trustees to thank us for all our hard work in making Titchwell such a fabulous reserve that it is. Our volunteers are just amazing and without them we would not be able to run the reserve. So it was really nice to see Chris and Asia get their long-service awards this evening. Well done to both of you. I think we all enjoyed the meal and drink that was provided for us all.
I had an hour's break between the end of work and the social starting so I wandered down the West Bank path along with some volunteers and staff where Avocets, Common Terns, a Little Gull, Red Kite, two Little Ringed Plovers and many fluffy Greylag Geese Goslings posed for my camera. I watched Bearded Tits flying over the reedbed as I walked back up the path.
Greylag Goose Gosling
Little Ringed Plover
Tha day started at Pentney where I watched two Common Sandpipers, two Little Ringed Plovers and seven Common terns.
It was the Nar Valley WeBS count today done by NarVOS members that hold permits to this series of lakes that Middleton Aggregates have left after extracing the sand. We are a merry little band of birders that enjoy our birdwatching and are dedicated to help the recording of wetland birds in this inland site. Numbers of wetland birds vary throughtout the seasons and of course we also enjoy seeing the other birds on the site too. During the winter months there are many ducks and geese to be counted but very few in the summer months. We counted Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck as well as feral Greylag Geese with goslings, Canada Geese and Egyptian Geese. Little Ringed Plovers were flying around as Oystercatchers were flying across the pits. Counts of other water birds did not take long! This morning we enjoyed our wanderings and musings and Pat and I enjoyed listening and watching the newly arrived Garden Warblers. Blackcaps seemed to be in abundance as we also noted Cetti's Warblers singing.
Later at Wormegay High Bridge we watched Banded Demoiselles on the River Nar before sharing a lovely lunch at a local pub.
Great Reed Warbler
I left work not feeling too well and went home for some tea. However Jim encouraged me out again to join all the local birders along the Snettisham bank where a Great Reed Warbler was singing. It was a frustrating twitch as the bird was obviously there but was on the back edge of the reeds along the channel. However now and again we could just see the Great Reed Warbler through the reeds but getting a photograph was virtually impossible. We watched a couple of Spoonbills fly by us as we listened to a Turtle Dove singing. We walked back along the bank as the sun was setting and could see a Cuckoo calling on the wires by the road as dusk approached.
An early morning message from Chris had me getting up early and driving to Titchwell where I joined several others around the Visitor Centre at Titchwell looking for the Spotted Flycatchers. It took sometime before I saw one by which time I had started work! I spent much of my day welcoming visitors and then taking them outside to join in the excitement of watching the Spotted Flycatcher as it flitted from tree to tree. It was good to see their enjoyment.
After work Jim phoned me to tell me that our local Spotted Flycatchers were also back and so I joined Keith and together we watched the pair flit around the trees along with Chaffinches also catching flies. We also watched a Coal Tit and Blue Tit whilst listening to Blackcaps singing.
I found it a bit sad that one of my bird clubs newsletters published photos of birds taken at a captive bird park. Being long in the tooth I am increasingly concerned at the decline in our bird population compared to the abundance of birds when I was a child. It is getting harder and harder to find once common birds, like the Spotted Flycatcher. It is a desperate birder that feels that it is now necessary to visit a captive bird park just to get a photo of a bird but if we continue to destroy habitats the way that we are in farming and making all gardens neat and tidy and kill every living insect with chemicals using plastic lawns and decking just maybe we will only have birds in captive bird parks and we will all be like that desperate birder.
Being constrained by events on John's car needing to have a new windscreen again, we only had a few hours spare to try to see the Caspian Tern. At Potter Heigham we watched a Swallowtail Butterfly, Garden Tiger caterpillars and Four Spotted Chasers. There were several Ringed Plovers, Avocets, Redshank and Dunlin on the scrape amongst the Greylag Geese. A Glossy Ibis flew in as Dave Holman rang us to tell us about a Striped Hawk-moth at Lingwood. Matt Wilkinson kindly let us in his garden to see it where the hospitality was fantastic. Thanks Matt! I'm told that this is a rare moth which John has never seen in Britain but there has been a small influx this year at a few locations.
This evening was spent at the Wensum Valley bird club where RSPB staff gave a good talk on the perils that our beach-nesting birds face. Our fabulous volunteers do a fantastic job putting up cordons, educating people, collecting data on lots of colonies of Little Terns, Ringed Plovers, Avocets and Oystercatchers around the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline trying to protect the birds. However rising sea-levels and spring tides washing out nests, Kestrels and Hobbies predating the chicks as well as people taking dogs on the beaches (goodness knows why people do this in nesting season is beyond me) all play a part in the desertion of colonies and failure of chicks being able to fledge. It was a fascinating talk and I was full of admiration for the hard work that goes on trying to help some of our wonderful birds around the coast.
I drove to Oxford early this morning and watched Red Kites on the way. Once I had arrived at my daughter's, my granddaughter was quick to point out a Red Kite flying and told me all about the Great Tit that is nesting in a bird box that I gave my daughter as a present, now residing in her plum tree.
Jonathan Chris Hannah Sue Teddy Sarah George Lucy and Kathryn
It was an exhausting day today as I was meeting up with my son's family and my daughter's family. Four children under the age of four takes a lot of pushing on swings, see-saws, roundabouts and digging in sandpits. One of the twins has an interest in nature and I was very pleased to sit down with him for a while whilst we studied beetles and ants!!!! At least I got a bit of a rest!
Meeting up with Westminster College, Oxford friends 45 years after we left at our old haunt in The Fishes.
It was to be another full-on day today as I had two events to attend that unfortunately clashed at the same time. My son-in-law was riding in the annual Westminster to Islip Bike Ride which finishes at Islip playing field where my granddaughter was taking part in Tykes and Trikes race. With a bouncy castle and food stalls, road closures as people clap the arriving finishing cyclists and beautiful weather, Red Kites swoop down low over the playing field here and are such a delight to watch.
I also managed to squeeze in a college reunion in Oxford today as well. The cider went down well at our old pub as we all gathered in the pub garden in the hot sun. It was such a joy to see everyone. Life seems to be such a whirl at the moment.......who said that us oldies are meant to slow down?
I was back at work this morning very blurry-eyed after a late night but was soon thrown into a tizzy as Paul sent out a message for me as to whether I would be shooting off to Hickling. As we were very busy in the Welcome Hub and I assumed that Paul was referring to the Caspian Tern that I had dipped on Thursday. So I waited until I had a spare moment to look at my phone. As soon as I did, I was amazed at what I read. The White-tailed Plover was back! I had endured the teasing of many friends that I had missed a Norfolk tick due to having an amazing birding holiday in Tanzania, where I had been delighted to add many world ticks to my world list as well as seeing Crab Plover in Zanzibar. I never thought I would get another chance of seeing this very rare bird in Norfolk again. However the gods, staff, volunteers and my boss were on my side!
After leaving work I drove very slowly/patiently/fast (delete the ones you think I did not do) to John's and together we drove straight away to Hickling and walked/ran down towards the view point, stopping for a brief view of the Caspian Tern sat on the mud, to where Drew kindly let me look through his scope at the viewing point as soon as I arrived, just in time to see the White-tailed Plover running towards the reeds and promptly disappear. Thanks Drew! Phew! How lucky was that? Lee was just behind me and we waited for a few minutes for another brief view before eventually the White-tailed Plover came out to let us take a few phone-scope photos of it. Lee, John and I were estatic! This is what makes birding so much fun. Sharing good birds with friends who appreciate them too.
After having our fill we wandered back up to the raised platform and watched Little Ringed Plovers and Black-tailed Godwits as well as a summer-plumaged Ruff. Drew sent a message to say that he was by the woods at the back of the visitor centre and was listening to a Golden Oriole. I shouted to Lee and John and we quickened our pace to join him. We heard the Oriole calling but could not locate it in the Oak trees.
Drew was giving a talk to the Great Yarmouth bird club this evening and so we all had to leave to be on time. At the club meeting we all dived into the free books that were on offer and listened to an excellent talk by Justin Lansdell about a twitch to Finland to see an Azure Tit as well as all the other birds on offer in mid-winter. He gave the talk with such humour we were all laughing at the antics and it brought back such memories of my trip there.
Drew also gave an excellent talk about his trip to Cyprus which once again brought back memories of my two trips there. I love going to the Great Yarmouth bird club meetings as they are all active birders and keen to share their knowledge. After a couple of drinks it was another late night!
Sue celebrating a Norfolk Tick!
Even at work today my life was still in a whirl as Lizzie and I ran down the West Bank path at Titchwell after a radio message from John just in time to see a Glossy Ibis fly over from the Freshmarsh to Thornham Marsh and head off towards the village. Later in the day Ashley kindly gave me a tip-off and so on my way home I called into Dersingham Bog where following Ashley's excellent directions we located a Nightjar sat out in the open churring above our heads in the late afternoon sun. Unfortunately thunder was rumbling and I soon lost the light as the storm approached. It's not often you get to see a Nightjar sat out in daylight.
Upon opening my curtains this morning I was surprised to see a Muntjac hiding in my hedge in the garden. It seemed very content to be there. I hope it does not eat all my vegetables that I have planted again this year!. I have enough trouble from the free-ranging chickens that roam around my garden.
I met up with Jill and we walked along Snettisham Country Park where a Sedge Warbler sat up and sang to us whilst a Cetti's Warbler also sang out. I stopped to take a photograph when a couple of Turtle Doves flew by. We were also entertained by a pair of Stonechats that were carrying food. A Turtle Dove perched up as I crept over to take its photograph. Later two more Turtle Doves flew into the bushes.
We crossed over to the inner seabank at the dam and joined birders watching the Great Reed Warbler singing. The wind was still very strong but at least the bird was showing a bit better than it was yesterday. We continued onto Heacham and watched many Little Egrets, Grey Herons flying, Marsh Harriiers, Greylag Geese, and Redshank before enjoying an all-day breakfast in the cafe at Heacham. The cup of tea went down well! It was quite a battle against the wind but at least the exercise will have used up some of the high-calorific breakfast!
Great Reed Warbler
A big thank you to the many of you who have sent me messages about my postings on Facebook/Twitter/Website recently. I have been overwhelmed by your kind comments. The birding community is a fabulous community who continue to help one another to enjoy our hobby.
Today was rather a sad day as birding friends and I said goodbye to Alwyne, who was not only a friend that many of us knew through bird clubs that we attended, but was a fantastic volunteer at Titchwell who helped so many visitors who came to the reserve. He was a kind and gentle man who had a dry wit who spent so much time helping others. Alwyne spent a lot of time out on the reserve at Titchwell and I always looked forward to seeing him as he could tell me what birds were on the reserve as well as other news about friends that we both knew. He set up the Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society along with others which I still enjoy attending. The church was packed and many of us attended the wake in the village hall afterwards, where I was able to pas on the card which the Titchwell staff and volunteers that worked with him, to his widow Carole who kindly told me that he was very reluctant to give up his volunteering at Titchwell when he became ill, as he enjoyed it so much. If only there were more people like Alywne in the world! R.I.P.
John and I had a change of plan and drove through the night to Kent where an Eleonora's Falcon had been showing rather well at RSPB Worth Marshes. Neither of us had been to this RSPB reserve before and following the excellent Bird Guides and Casual Twitchers WhatsApp group's maps, parked up and grabbed a few hours sleep in the car. By dawn we joined a throng of birders and watched five Hobbies feeding at 4am with a backdrop of a red sky. I have never watched Hobbies feeding at dawn before. As the Eleonora's Falcon was obviously not amongst them we joined forces with a delightful young local birder and walked around to the Pinnock Wall track where it did not take long for a birder to pick out both the Red-footed Falcon and the Eleonora's Falcon sitting with its back to us distantly by the railwayline. Luckily after a bit of a debate and watching a short video of the bird with its longer wings the bird was identified and we entered the long wait for the bird to fly. We walked to the otherside of the railwayline to get a front view.
I decided to go and grab a breakfast at a local cafe, a yummy smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast before returning just in time to watch both the Eleonora's Falcon and the Red-footed Falcon fly around. By now birders had arrived in their hundreds and many familiar faces were good to see and have a chat to. The excellent weather made for a wonderful day out. Thanks must go to the RSPB staff who made parking available for us all.
Later John and I enjoyed a walk beneath the White Cliffs of Dover where was saw the last flower spike of Early Spider Orchid along with several Common Spotted Orchids.
After the excitement of yesterday and the company of many friends it was back to work today where an escaped Harris Hawk with jessies on was perched and flying over the visitor centre at Titchwell. However it did not not want its photo taken! On my way to a wonderful Sunday roast with a friend after work I stopped to admire a Marsh Harrier quartering a field before dropping down into the crop.
I awoke to a cacophony of sound coming from my garden this morning. On opening the curtains my two parent Jackdaws were in the trees squawking and two young Jackdaws were flapping around the owl nest box. They had obviously just fledged. A third young Jackdaw took a flight for a few metres to a nearby tree and landed as the parent bird looked on. The squawking continued as each youngster flew a few short metres from tree to tree. For the last few years my Jackdaws have entertained me as I have sat in the garden watching my owl box, but this year because of the cold weather I have had to watch from the upstairs window or whilst I have been gardening. The Jackdaws are quite shy and have often sat and watched me on the hammock in previous years. They have been very entertaining.
At work Lucy and I went to inspect the Island Hide at work and looked at what needed improving. There is always more to be done at this wonderful reserve as we struggle to raise funds for improvement. So if you have any spare money please send it to Titchwell Marsh RSPB so that we can refurbish Island Hide! So many of you love sitting in this hide and watch our wonderful birds.
Down at Parrinder Hide we sat and watched all the little Avocet chicks feeding everywhere. A Greylag Gosling had the temerity to approach an Avocet chick and the parent Avocet kept dive-bombing it making it submerge beneath the water to escape the sharp-pointed bill that was being directed at it. It was some battle and the gosling took some while to escape. A Meadow Pipit flew in and ran around the new bund as we inspected the hide and wound up all the windows that visitors had left open. We watched Marsh Harriers and all the Shelduck present. Avocets were everywhere and we think we have a record count this year.