Patio flower bed planted with butterflies in mind
As I opened the blinds this morning two Red-legged Partridges were picking up all the fallen sunflower hearts from one of the bird feeders that the Greenfinches and Goldfinches were dropping down. A Red Kite was flying over a neighbour's garden and I envied its freedom as it glided around soaring on the wind. However I had planned a day's gardening as many crops needed harvesting before my final tidy up ready for the winter. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the warmth of the sun as I laboured in the garden.
I picked the rhubarb and chopped it up and made a crumble before harvesting the last of the runner beans that I put into a casserole along with some of the broad beans. My potato patch was dug over and I was surprised by how many potatoes there were still left given the drought this year. I picked some of the autumn raspberries and had to transplant some of the new raspberry canes into the fruit cage. My little Robin was singing, probably delighted at all the worms that I was digging up but it should have accompanied me at the compost heap as I turned it over as there were far more bugs and worms there! Every garden should have one for wildlife. I have never understood why people who have gardens put all their discarded vegetation into brown bins for the local council to take away when after rotting down the mulch is just so good for the garden.
It was our area team gathering at Welney today where all of our team learnt all about the amazing work that our team are doing in Norfolk and Lincolnshire to save nature. I am lucky to be able to work with such a wonderful team who are so passionate and work so hard to improve habitats and save species often against impossible odds. Given my age now, I am heartened that there are young people ready, willing and very able to see the way ahead to try their very best to protect as much nature as possible. Well done team on your achievements!
Along the road to Welney I stopped to admire some of the Whooper Swans that have already returned from northern climes to spend the winter with us.
Trevor and I listened to the talks and watched the feeders outside the windows where many House Sparrrows were enjoying the seed. A Moorhen made the most of the pickings underneath. Down at the main hide 13 Common Cranes flew by as 4 Cattle Egrets flew and landed by the cattle. A Great White Egret flew by as Marsh Harriers quartered the grasslands. Lizzie noticed 3 Common Snipe flying by as I watched two Pied Wagtails flitting around the newly dug area. Kestrels were hovering over the Mallards as we made our way back to the cafe. It was an excellent day and a big thank you to John for providing us with pizza at our end of day social.
I have spent the morning catching up with myself before my family arrive for a few days break. Having caught up with social media I am horrified at the appalling behaviour on Shetland this year and has reminded me why I do foreign bird trips instead where I can see far more birds. Some of the tales from friends on Shetland that have been appalled at the behaviour of some birders and are also enduring gale-force winds and horizontal rain for many of their days up there leaves me wondering at their sanity of spending so much money on such a trip. Each to their own I guess! Anyway I digress. My Twitter feed had me salivating over a post by Matthew Deans who had just returned from Borneo where he was SO lucky to have seen a Clouded Leopard. I have unfinished business in Borneo.......I can feel another animal being added to my bucket list as well as the desire to see a Borneo Peacock Pheasant at the same reserve! Let the dreams continue......................
The debacle on Shetland continues with the bad behaviour of some birders hitting the national news getting all of us a bad name. Some birders were even prepared to tick a moribund bird in the hand apparently having no care for its welfare. Fortunately one birder did the right thing and got it taken into care where sadly the Least Bittern died. I am just so glad that I am away from all this and have enjoyed having my family to stay for a few days and I shall be able to enjoy some proper birding later on in the year. My granddaughter and I enjoyed watching a Redshank, Turnstone, Little Egret and a Herring Gull down on Wells beach whilst we were looking for crabs and shells. We watched a Seal pop its head out of the water too. Later on Hannah and I heard a Tawny Owl in the garden.
Whilst playing with the grandchildren at Sandringham a Red Kite soared over whilst we watched and saw Coal Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits in the trees above us.
After a busy few days welcoming visitors and working in the shop with Trevor at Titchwell, seeing and talking to lots of friends, many of whom have been on exciting birding trips, I drove down to Lynn Point where it was much less busy and in fact except for one lone walker and the workers putting the final touches to the re-profiled seabank, I had the place all to myself. Two Greenshank alighted and flew across the river as I arrived and I was left counting 120 Lapwings as the river receded and was rushing out to sea. A small flock of Brent Geese were flying towards me as 50 Redwings flew over my head and flew straight inland. I could see a big flock of Starlings feeding on the marsh which I estimated to be 500 strong as they took off and flew across the river before returing back again. A Marsh Harrier flew over the farm land and was joined by two Common Buzzards and a Kestrel. Seventy Greylag Geese were flown over by a couple of Goldfinch before they flew towards me.
I stayed longer than I anticipated as I needed to get to the Vodafone shop to change my phone as I have been admiring friends' phones with better cameras to phone-scope with. I was rather shocked at spending 3 hours in the shop and relieved of far more money than I had intended!!!!! Now I need to sort out a phone-scope adapter for it!
John and I started our day at Holkham where after admiring a pair of Grey Partridge we made our way out onto the beach and were surprised at the sight that greeted us. Although I knew the tides were high we had not expected the path to have disappeared altogether. We paddled along the fenceline as best that we could but had to walk much further to reach the beach. We set up our scopes and I tried to take a photograph of a Snow Bunting that was determined to try and hide in the Marram Grass. We were soon watching many Red-throated Divers and Common Scoters as well as many Great Crested Grebes. A lone Slavonian Grebe and a lone Eider were found but try as we might we could not find the reported Black-throated Diver. A Great Northern Diver kept a Razorbill company before we decided to paddle back to the car. Luckily the tide had fallen a bit and the water was not quite as deep.
We drove back to Flitcham where we watched a Red Kite overhead but apart from Pheasants and a few Red-legged Partridges we saw very little. The hedgelines had a few Blue Tits in them but migrants are very scarce at the moment.
I am still not very well and after having had my booster jab, watched my beloved Cherry tree in my garden felled before another major branch with a split in it demolished the shed,coping with a cracked windscreen in my car from a stone erupting from a passing car, I decided that I needed a break and got my bike out for a bit of exercise. I realised that my aching limbs and very sore throat were going to impede me but I was in no hurry and had all day if I wished to. So after hanging out the washing I got out my bike, pumped up the tyres just in time to watch a flock of at least 100 Redwing fly over my house. They came from the north and headed southwest. I set off at a slow pace and arrived along the West Newton lane where another flock of Redwings flew over me. A Kestrel was hovering as two Shoveler flew the other way before a large flock of Mallard flew over. As I cycled past the mill more Redwing alighted in the trees but did not pause for very long. Goldfinch were twittering but the Redwing were also calling overhead. Down at the shooting lake there were over 200 Teal pesent along with a couple of Greylag Geese. A Grey Heron flew in as a Red Kite soared overhead.
The breeze was picking up and I decided to head back home. I saw another Red Kite but there were no Buzzards today which was very unusual. Back at home a party of Long-tailed Tits, Geat Tits, Blue Tits and Greenfinch were all tucking into my sunflower hearts as I started on repairing my damaged lawn from the tree-felling. Hopefully it won't take long to recover as I decide what to do around the area left blank from my absent tree.
With a weather forecast of rain all day and still not being very well, I was looking forward to hibernating at home on the sofa all day and letting the world go on by. However my plan was soon wrecked as an unfamiliar noise next door at 8am had me scurrying to the kitchen on the pretext of making a cup of tea. I was just in time to see a crane lifting my next door neighbour's boat onto a lorry. It did not take long and I decided to get up and head for B and Q to obtain some paint for my shed which needs a repaint. I was not in there long before I received a phone call from John telling me to get moving myself along the A47 ASAP. There was a Blue Rock Thrush at Winterton, a Norfolk tick! I paid for my paint and was soon on my way.
Blue Rock Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush
John, Trevor Ellery and I walked up East Bank at Cley and enjoyed good views of the Long-billed Dowitcher that was keeping a couple of Black-tailed Godwits company. Beaded Tits were 'pinging' behind us but I was not quick enough to take their photograph. We then drove to Holkham where we walked along to the west end of the pines and joined many famialir faces. It took a while before Richard Preston picked out the Wood Warbler which we were to see several times over the next few hours. However the Pallas's Warbler had other ideas as my incompetence kept failing to locate it as others saw its brief showings. After several attempts I eventually saw it after Stu Elsom relocated it and Jim gave me some good location instructions. Thank you both! A Firecrest was also present but it was too brief for a photo. It was a lovely day out and wonderfu to see so many friends as we all sat and enjoyed the birds coming and going in the Sycamore trees.
My evening was spent at Lizzie's leaving 'do'. We shall miss her at Titchwell.
As I stepped outside the back door this morning I was just in time to hear and watch 50 Pink-footed Geese flying over. Numbers in west Norfolk have dwindled over the last few years as the farmers are ploughing all the sugarbeet tops straight back in to the soil now and the geese have had to shift over to the Holkham area to feed on the grass there. There are a few fields with sugarbeet tops in but not as many and I miss the sight of all the skeins of geese that used to fly over to The Wash against the setting sun that I used to watch years ago.
Since I have had my Cherry tree felled I needed to repaint my shed, preferably on s sunny day. Today looked as if it was going to be sunny for most of the day and so I mixed up two pots of paint to get the shade of paint that I required as I was unable to find a shade that I liked in the DIY shops. I did not want my shed to look like an ice-cream hut that so many sheds/summer houses seem to be painted like nowadays! As I was busy painting the flocks of Jackdaws that are frequently flying over my house appeared but I could hear the distinctive call of a Raven amongst them. As they now breed close to my home this was not a surprise.
I wish to thank all of you that have sent me messages or liked my photographs of the last two days on the various social media platforms.
I was eager to finish painting my shed today but the rain said otherwise as I opened my curtains this morning. I ventured to do some grocery shopping in readiness for my forthcoming visitors. Once back at home I walked into the back garden as a flock of twenty Siskin flew over me calling and landed in one of the Silver Birch trees. There were also Greenfinch and Goldfinch already in the tree. Luckily the sun appeared and I managed to continue with my shed painting before helping my poorly neighbours with some more shopping and baking a cake for tea!
With poor light and more rain threatened I abandoned my painting and came inside to peruse Twitter to see what everyone has been seeing today. There are always some impressive photographs to admire. I looked through all the usuals that are seen in the UK at this time of year until I got to Alex Berryman's photographs which blew me away. He had photos of Wallace's Standardwing at a lek taken on the island of Bacan, Halmahera (which is not far from the island of Waigeo where I was birding a few years ago). His photos were just stunning! It reminded me what a fabulous area this is for birding. The leks which had hides/platforms/screens set up where we could watch these wonderful displays of the birds of paradise were just magical. I need to get back there.......I'm not at all envious Alex! There are still so many places to visit where birds are still abundant and colourful and put on wonderful displays..........I just need to get there! Still not long now until my next adventure! Meanwhile I shall have to be content with the UK for a few more weeks! Luckily I still enjoy my garden birds too!
Birdguides review of the week
I was contacted by Birdguides who asked if I could upload my photos of the Blue Rock Thrush that I took at Winterton on Thursday to their website. As they write a rarity review of the week it was nice to see that one of my photos has been used.
As I opened the bedroom curtains this morning I could hear Pink-footed Geese calling. In many different skeins I counted 440 birds flying over probably coming out of roost from The Wash in search of a suitable field to feed upon during the day.
It was a busy day at work as it is half term and I had great fun explaining the Halloween wildlife trail to the children!
After an anxious fortnight of being unwell, working and entertaining my son and family, I finally managed to find some time to travel down to The Scilly Isles where a Blackburnian Warbler had taken up residence on the island of Bryher. My son and family had departed this morning, so after a few domestics, John and Richard picked me up and together we drove down to Penzance overnight. We parked in Penzance harbour car park and boarded the minibus that took us to the airfield at St. Just where we boarded our flight to St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly. It was a glorious morning as we flew over the Cornish coastline and over the sea to the islands.
I travelled by minibus down to the harbour in Hugh Town whilst John and Richard travelled by a golf buggy and arrived at the quayside. We watched a Red-rumped Swallow flying along the rocks below the harbour wall along with a Barn Swallow, whilst 4 Black Redstarts hopped around the rocks. A Rock Pipit on landed on the harbour wall whilst we were waiting for the boat to Bryher. The weather could not have been better as we joined all the other birders on the boat. We were soon off to Bryher where 26 of us walked down to the fields where the Blackburnian had been last seen at Popplestone. The birders spread out taking a section each in the enclosed small Pitosporum tree-lined field. After a tense half an hour a whistle went up from the next section to where I had been standing and we all rushed to where a few birders were obvioulsy watching. It didn't take long for all the birders to get a quick view of the Blackburnian Warbler as it flicked along the top of the trees. The bird then showed really well to those of us that had made the journey over.
John, Richard and I were delighted and enjoyed good views before the bird suddenly flew over the trees and disappeared. We decided that a cup of tea was in order and walked back up to the cafe where we enjoyed tea and cake. Richard and I fancied another look at the Blackburnian Warbler in Popplestone fields and walked back down to join the few remaining birders. It was a real treat to see the bird perform very well giving me an opportunity to take lots of photographs of the bird. It was now very warm as we made our way back up to John who was looking after all our gear in the cafe. We watched a Song Thrush taking a bath in a puddle and admired a Fieldfare at the top of a bush, the first of the Autumn here. All too soon it was time to get back down to the quayside where some very happy birders got on the boat back to St Mary's and boarded the Scilloinan which was waiting for us in the harbour. We said goodbye to St Mary's once again and sailed to Penzance. We had been warned that it was going to be rough, which it wasn't at all so I made myself at home and enjoyed some food and drinks from the cafe on board.
After docking in Penzance we found some B and B near the railway station and had a celebratory meal and drink in Penzance. What a day it’s been with some wonderful company with the like-minded birders. It was one of those days that went really well with a UK tick, excellent company, well-behaved birders and glorious weather with a flight, a trip on the Scillonian all celebrated in style!
Sue on Bryher
After travelling back from Penzance yesterday I was rather tired this morning and spent the 'extra' hour gained with Vodafone trying to get my phones back working after accepting their amazing discounted deal on my broadband/telephone package. Thank goodness I had extra cables and filters as between the helpline and my efforts all is fine now. However this meant that I was late leaving the house for my birding day at Cley.
John and I had walked up the east bank at Cley watching Little Egrets and listening to Bearded Tits when we were met with Mike Edgecombe coming the other way. He said to turn around and get ourselves up to Blakeney Point as there was an Alpine Accentor there. John and I had a quick discussion as I did not want a long day as I still had a lot to do at home after my departing family and I wanted to do some baking. Luckily I did not need Alpine Accentor for Norfolk as I had seen one at Overstrand in 2004. As John needed it as a Norfolk tick I told him to join Mike and I would stay at the beach and make my own way home. By the time I joined the others who had decided to stay and not walk to the point I managed to miss the Desert Wheatear as the birders were unsure where it had gone in the confusion of who was doing what. Grrrr..... I stayed a while and with the few of us left but we failed to find the Desert Wheatear.
Back by the road I joined Carl Chapman who kindly relocated the Jack Snipe on Snipe's Marsh for me. We watched the many Marsh Harriers over the marsh and reedbed as well as two Swallows that were flying around. Carl and I spent time watching but I needed to leave before roost time in order to get all my chores and baking done.
Norfolk Bird Report 2021
I bought a Norfolk Bird Report 2021 today and was surprised to see this in it. A big thanks to Mark Golley and Richard Millington. I will report more on this tomorrow! (1st November)