With some birding friends staying at Congham Hall, John and I had a delightful lunchtime meal with them but our later plans were thwarted by the weather and so we shared our birding stories and hopes for our future birding trips. I ended up with a bit of a headache in the afternoon as the wine was rather nice but I put it down to having had my booster jab yesterday.............at least that is the story that I am sticking to!
John and I had a late start but there was joy when our visa request was authorised for our forth-coming trip by email. I cannot believe how many hoops we are having to jump through to enable our trip. I have never sent off so much documentation before for a visa!
Once we had arrived at Frampton we made our way to the small reservoir along a little lane alongside the RSPB reserve where we looked through all the Wigeon and Gadwall present. We failed to find our quarry and so drove down the lane to the RSPB reserve where there were a lot more Wigeon present. There were thousands of them scattered everywhere continually flying around making our serach virtually impossible. We noted a few Black-tailed Godwits before a Kestrel put most of the Wigeon up again. Teal and a few Mallard also went up into the air along with a few Canada Geese and Greylag Geese and we soon threw in the towel as we were both hungry and sought out a fish and chip bar back in Kirton. On our way home we noted two Common Buzzards and two Red Kites.
Having planned to have a domestic day at home every birder knows that a sunny day with some good birds to see around, that is not going to happen. I started at Titchwell where it was quite a run-around the Meadow Trail as I tried to catch up with the Red-breasted Flycatcher. It kept being seen where I wasn't! Eventually after watching two Yellow-browed Warblers I managed to see it and managed a few photos as well. A real shame most were of leaves and out of focus birds! Jim, Tim and I made our way to Wells where the Dusky Warbler was also playing hard to see but we could hear it 'tacking' infrequently and after a bit of confusion with Wrens, Long-tailed Tits and a Robin all providing distractions we all saw it well several times as it made its way along the ditchline and back out to the path by the caravan track.
Woooo hooo....our visas have arrived! I saw a Red Kite on my way to work this morning. It was good to see a few friends too who had come to see the Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warblers on site. It was another busy day. I cannot believe that we still have so many visitors still visiting our fantastic reserve for the time of year. It is certainly keeping me busy!
It was a nice surprise when the regular NarVOS WeBS count members all met this morning at Nar Valley Fisheries when we walked around the back of the lakes to find some egrets in amongst the Redpoll Cattle. Being slightly ahead of the others I soon realised that they were Cattle Egrets and this was a significant record for NarVOS after I found one at Pentney on a bird race in January 2016. At first I counted 4 Cattle Egrets but when one of the cows moved another Cattle Egret appeared. There were also two Great White Egrets present on other parts of Nar Valley Fisheries. Six Common Snipe were also seen along with our usual Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Coot, Grey Herons, Moorhen, and Little Grebes. We saw many Siskin and Goldfinch as well as a few Long-tailed Tit, Buzzards and Robins.
Five Cattle Egrets
Great White Egret
I met up with the team Titchwell at 6.30am this morning in the pitch black! A Blackbird called as we made our way down the West Bank path watching a couple of Great White Egrets and flyover Little Egrets coming out of roost in the gloom. Trevor spotted a Hen Harrier coming out of roost and we watched it flying across the Freshmarsh spooking all the Teal as daybreak came. We wandered down to the sea and I was thrilled when Chris picked out a Red-necked Grebe as I needed this for a year tick. There was little on the sea but it was very calm and although it was misty on the horizon birds started arriving as the tide came in. Another Hen Harrier flew over the sea which surprised us. A few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes started to appear and there were a few Razorbills scattered around on the water. Tim called a Velvet Scoter flying by as we all scannned the sea. A Snow Bunting called over our heads at the same time as Trevor called a Great Northern Diver that was flying by. This was another year tick for me. Whoop whoop! Chris and I walked to Thornham Point where the tide was filling Thornham channel up. A Guillemot was enjoying the serenity as we counted 22 Red-breasted Mergansers lurking on the water. Sanderling, Knot, Ringed Plovers and Brent Geese were the predominant birds as walked back around the point.
We stopped for another look at the sea once we were back at the end of the West Bank path and admired a Black-necked Grebe and a close fly-by of a Merlin. We walked back up the West Bank path and admired a Jack Snipe not far from the island hide after Chris had spotted it lurking by the reeds. I went int the hide and helped others see it by staying as a hide helper for a while. I walked back to my car just pausing to admire a Beared Tit at the top of a reed head. How I wish I had my camera with me as it was too close to phone-scope.
On the way home I stopped to search through a flock of Pink-footed Geese but failed to find anything unusual.
After a day of chores and cooking ready for entertaining for dinner this evening the only birds that I noticed were skeins of Pink-footed Geese flying over my road totalling 80+ birds.
Hen Harrier (probably not the best photo of one that you have ever seen!)
It was a drizzly morning when I first wole up and so a lie-in was order of the day. However by about 9.30am the drizzle had stopped, so John and I went for a walk up the lane at Roydon behind the farm where we watched a couple of Bullfinches and ten Skylarks whilst a Common Buzzard was being mobbed by the local corvid gang. A Red Kite kept us entertained as we walked alongside the field before we crossed the road and over to Roydon Common. Here the usual dog walkers ignored all the new signage telling them to keep their dogs on a lead and immediately let them off the lead. Why is it dog owners think a nature reserve is the perfect place to disturb wildlife with their mongrels? We went through the gate and were met by a pile of plastic bags left lying on the ground containing............... I have no words for these disgusting people! I feel so sorry for the NWT staff that have to clear up after irresponsible dog owners to try and protect our wildlife. Grrrrr....
We decided to walk an alternative way to avoid me getting into a confrontation with the selfish people with dogs off their leads on a nature reserve before my blood boiled. I watched a Meadow Pipit alight from the ground and fly, calling as it went. We walked across the common watching a Marsh Harrier and a Kestrel hovering in front of us.
Over towards the eastern edge a beautiful male Hen Harrier was hunting. This ghostly vision was a wonder to see as it flew bouantly over the heather seeking out a prey item. We are just so lucky to have such a magnificent bird on our doorstep. How gamekeepers and the shooting fraternity can shoot them is beyond my comprehension. I only had my bridge camera with me and trying to locate the bird in it was not an easy task. I soon gave up and just enjoyed watching the bird. I haven't seen one here since last March and it was so good to see one again and was succour to the soul. The bird eventually flew up and over the trees and was lost to view.
We continued on our way and we watched another three Red Kites before another Meadow Pipit called and flew over us. Down along the track a small flock of Siskins alighted from the Alder trees as a couple of Blue Tits argued amongst themselves.The sun was now out and we enjoyed our walk back to home. It was good to be out and about in the fresh air and living in such a wonderful part of the county.
After a message from Steve I made my way down to Lynn Point where the tide was still coming in with about 45 minutes still to go untul high tide. A flock of Goldfinch flew ahead of me along the track down to the point. Steve was watching a Guillemot and I soon located it in my scope. It has been 20 years since I last saw one in NarVOS! There were two Marsh Harriers flying around one each side of the river. I counted 25 Redshanks lining the river edge and 15 Brent Geese. A party of Canada Geese flew off towards the river mouth where there was a gathering of Cormorants. On the far bank Mallards were congregating. I could see rain approaching and I drove back to Lynn docks where a Peregrine was sat on the communication dish on the tower.
John and I motored down to Heathrow where we caught an overnight flight to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
We arrived in Addis Ababa at the airport where is was hot and sunny. From the airport window we watched several Pied Crows and many Yellow-billed Kites. Two Dusky Turtle Doves sat on a nearby wall along with a Kestrel. We spotted an Egyptian Goose sat on a roof whilst several Sacred Ibis flew in the distance with an unidentified vulture. After a few hours we boarded our flight to Blantyre, Malawi and saw a Long-crested Eagle sitting on a small post as we took off up the runway.
After a few hours of admiring the scenery below we landed in Malawi where we watched Wire-tailed Swallows, House Sparrows and Pied Crows from the airport. We then flew to Beira in Mozambique where we were met by Dylan our guide and taken to our hotel for a quick change before heading out to the Rio Maria area where we watched many of the more common familiar African species. African Jananas, Black-headed Herons, and Yellow-billed Kites were frequent observations. A Grey-headed Kingfisher, Woolly-necked Stork and Yellow-billed Stork added themselves to the list. Before we had a meal back at the hotel.
We were up early and drove up to Mount Tsetserra, Mozambique where we had a fantastic day's birding seeking out African mountain specialities as this is where my lufe ticks will come from.
We were up early again in Mozambique where it was already hot at dawn! The sunrise was absolutely stunning by Lake Chicamba where our rondawel (chalet) is set. It boded well for an excellent day's birding. We drove once again to Mount Tsetserra but by a diffrent route along a very rough African track. The journey took over three hours but we stopped along the way to admire a few birds before ascending the mountain where we had breakfast. The scenery was spectacular. We watched Miombo Tit, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird and White-starrred Robin. I admired a party of African Paradise Flycatchers displaying. The male was showing off his skills with his long tail! On the way back we watched a pair of Red-throated Twinspots as well as a Miombi Blue-eared Starling. African birds are wonderful to watch in the warmth of t-shirts and shorts and I am not missing the British weather at all!
African Paradise Flycatcher