John and I started our day at the car park in Porthgwarra. We watched two Willow Warblers amongst a Long-tailed Tit and Blue Tit flock before joining Brett Richards for a seawatch. We watched a few Manx Shearwaters passing by before a Balearic Shearwater flew in front of the bouy. A bit later Brett called a few more Balearic Shearwaters as the wind dropped and the birds stopped shearing altogether. By the end of our session I had counted 6 Balearic Shearwaters and about 20 Manx Shearwaters. There were far fewer Gannets and Fulmars today. We bid Brett goodbye before driving to Pendeen that was also very quiet. As it was beautiful day we walked around Drift reservoir to the hide. We saw two Painted Ladies and a Clouded Butterfly before entering the hide where we saw a Greeshank and a few Ruff. Along the muddy edge of the reservoir we watched a few Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper.
The afternoon was spent at Pete and Angies who had kindly invited us to their house for a barbeque. It was nice to catch up with news and hopes for future birding trips.
John and I visited some Norfolk friends who have now moved to Cornwall before the long drive home last night but not before having another very tasty Pasty and a purchase of some clotted cream to accompany my home-made scones and my home-made raspberry jam. I love having more time to do these things!
The day was much hotter than I expected and I was over-dressed for the walk down to Kelling Water Meadows where the Wryneck was perching intermittently on brambles. It was good to see so many friends to hear about all their exciting birding trips that they have done this year. I shall add yet another trip to my ever-growing list of 'to do' ! I shall never understand why my 'to do' list just seems to get longer even though I work through the list as fast as I can.
Whinchats and family parties of Stonechats were all in the brambles and I aslo saw a Common Whitethroat as I attempted to get a photograph of the Wryneck. A Greenshank called overhead somewhere too.
Back up in Kelling village all the Swallows were perching up on the wires...........a sure sign that summer is coming to an end even though my car thermometer was reading 26 degrees. I was hungry and drove up to Salthouse Heath to have some lunch and was sad to see that a patch of gorse had been burnt. It was tinder dry up here.
Thanks to a message from Marcus Nash and help from Tim, I ran down the West Bank path at work today just in time to see an Osprey circling over Thornham Marsh. Tim was very helpful keeping track of it whilst I searched with him giving me instructions over the phone! Titchwell is just such a fantastic place to work even though it was extremely busy today. I am shattered!
After a bit of a circuitous route via Titchwell, John and I finally arrived at Winterton where we joined a few other birders watching a couple of family parties of Hobbies. After a while John picked out the Red-footed Falcon which we all managed to see but getting a photo was quite a different matter as it circled around up high along with other Hobbies, eventually going up even higher and disappearing into the stratosphere. It was now very hot and we paused for a sit down and lunch after watching two tail-less Stonechats. A couple of Green Woodpeckers flew noisily into two bushes back by the houses before we enjoyed a few drinks to quench our thirst in the local pub.
We drove onto Cantley Beet Factory and signed into the gate. With the new management here and restrictions of where we can and cannot walk I would appeal to all visiting birders to obey by the rules as we are in danger of losing access if the rules are broken. Having to park in the car park, it is now a longer walk down by the riverside on the public footpath to the far bank and not along any tracks to the left. However it is still possible to view the pools from the bank. Steve Smith had kindly sent me instructions on where to see the Spotted Crake and after quite a long wait John spotted the crake lurking inside the base of the reeds. It was not the best view that I have ever had of a Spotted Crake! On the pools 3 Little Stints were keeping a Ringed Plover company and Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits provided interest as we watced Mallard, Teal and a Hobby flying. Six Shoveler flew in whilst we watched Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper and two Common Sandpipers.
Later in the day our nation heard that Queen Elizabeth had died. RIP.
Once again I got my bike out and cycled towards Sandringham, picking several tubs of Blackberries on the way. Sandringham is crawling with police at every road junction. Some through routes have been closed and a one way system set up forcing everyone into paying car parks who are travelling in cars. At West Newton I passed a Jay calling from a telegraph wire. House Martins and Swallows were flying overhead as I retraced my steps. By the main road a Green Woodpecker flushed out from the field before I attempted the hill back up to my home.
John and I awoke to a foggy morning. Autumn has arrived! We wondered about the wisdom of an early start to the NarVOS WeBS count as we drove to Pentney and Nar Valley. Pentney lakes were still shrouded in mist when we arrived and we just about made out the 4 Mute Swans that were on the lake but nothing else.
Our usual merry little band of counters all arrived at Nar Valley Fisheries and parked up at our usual place. It was an interesting count at the start as we looked into the gloom across the lakes. Luckily the fog started to lift and Coot, Mallard, Great Crested Grebes, Black-headed Gulls and Mute Swans were counted. Little Egrets, Grey Herons, a Green Sandpiper, Teal, Wgeon, Gadwall, Little Grebe were all noted before we started on the geese. Oh how we all love counting the Canada, Egyptian and Greylag Geese!
We walked alongside one of the lakes and were amazed by a flock of 30+ Chiffchaff feeding on the ground and in one of the plants all alongside the lake. I don't think I have seen a 'flock' of Chiffchaff before of this number. Amongst them were Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Dunnock, Robin, Blackcap and Reed Buntings. A Cetti's Warbler called nearby as we encountered yet more Chiffchaff. It was lovely birding as we searched through the flock. We suspect that the Chiffchaff might have been migrants that had been disorientated by the fog. They appeared very brown birds.
Pat noted a Peregrine in flight as well as 6 Red Kites in the air. Another Peregrine sat on one of the pylons. We continued our count before enjoying a Sunday roast in the local pub.
Having been invited out to a restaurant meal with friends I changed and put a posh frock on with high heels after a busy day at work and drove towards Wells. As I was driving John phoned me and informed me that the Pallid Harrier was being watched by him and others at Wells and was flying over towards Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham where I would be driving by in a few minutes time. I arranged to meet John at Holkham and after a few minutes searching at various points along the road we both drove down Lady Anne's Drive and joined all the other birders scattered down the driveway and up on the bank behind The Lookout. It is not ideal twitching in high heels and a dress as I got my scope set up. We scanned and scanned and after a frustrating time and several phone calls from various birding friends all scattered around, Rob and I ended up running as the Pallid Harrier was spotted crossing Lady Anne's Drive yet again but we were still unsighted behind a tree that was obscuring our line of sight. I was extremely grateful to Sophie who picked it up in her scope and let me look through it. Thank you Sophie! The Pallid Harrier was flying like a bullet across the marsh as I ran in my heels and I was now late for my dinner date! (John having already left to placate our friends!)
It was a lovely meal and a very pleasant evening as we shared our tales of our various trips and how our families are progressing. Just what I needed after a busy exciting day. I'll look forward to our next meeting!.
I saw 3 Tawny Owls on my drive home as I passed Holkham and Burnham Market.
It was a lovely morning as Jim and I set off for Cromer where after a 2 minute stay in a car park we were informed that the Black Guillemot was being watched from West Runton slipway. We got back in the car and drove to the clifftop car park. After talking to another birder Jim eventually picked up the Black Guillemot not far out to sea. We watched it for a few seconds and it completely disappeared. We walked along the clifftop in the hot sun and eventually refound it close inshore. I even managed a few phone-scope images.
Next on our list was to revisit Holkham where we joined numerous other birders and watched the Pallid Harrier fly into a dead tree. (I was more suitably dressed today!) Lee Evans and Chris Lotz joined us and we enjoyed a lot of banter when the car park attendant enjoyed ticketing several birders' cars, not even giving anyone a chance to pay for the car park as they had got their telescopes out of the car first before paying for a ticket. We watched the Pallid Harrier flying out of the tree and flying over the fields before it flew over our heads and over to the west side of Lady Anne's Drive and over towards Burnham Overy Dunes.
Pallid Harrier sitting in the dead tree
Pallid Harier flying over towards Wells from Lady Anne's Drive
Flowers at Norwich Gate, Sandringham
John and I were up at 4am this morning to get a place in the shelter at Sheringham before first light. It was predicted to be one of the best sea-watching blows of the season so far. It was very still as I left home but the wind was blowing hard when I arrived at Sheringham but a little more to the west than the weather forecasters had predicted (it was meant to be NW). The sea was vey rough as we settled down with many others in the shelter. It was not particularly cold and I actually took my coat off but it didn't take long as dawn broke for me to put it back on again as the first Arctic Skuas and Gannets started appearing after about an hour or so. Soon Manx Shearwaters started to be called as Drew kept a log of numbers. A falcon was seen coming in off the sea and as it got closer we could see that it was a Hobby. Manx Shearwater numbers started to build and not long after a couple of Sooty Shearwaters flew along by the turbines. A steady stream of Little Gulls flew by all day along with Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns.
After a while a Long-tailed Skua could be seen clearly along with an Arctic Skua. Bonxies were in short supply, quite clearly affected by the avian flu that has so badly affected their numbers. Although we saw many Gannets, they were still not as numerous as I would expect on such a good blow. Red-throated Divers were also numerous and some flew by quite high up. Four Bonxies were also high up against a darkened sky. We had many squalls to contend with and I was glad that I was in the shelter at Sheringham rather than on the beach at Cley. Another couple of Long-tailed Skuas were called as well as a couple of Pomarine Skuas. We were joined by Chris Lotz and together we watched more Arctic Skuas and Bonxies before John and I decided to leave in the afternoon to see if we could find an all-day breakfast and a good cup of tea and coffee.
So after a busy day yesterday getting rid of an old Cotoneaster that had outgrown its space in the patio and replanting with butterfly-friendly shrubs, John and I went to see the congregation of Stone Curlews at Great Cressingham pig fields. However Oxburgh Hall was having a free Heritage Day so we popped in there, walked through the woods listening to a Nuthatch, Robin, Blue Tit and a Great Tit. We visited the hall and did the circular walk around the hall before enjoying Sunday lunch at The Old Windmill, which was delightful!
After trying to sort out a few issues with some prospective flights for some upcoming trips I drove to Salthouse and joined a few friends watching the Grey Phalarope. It was soon put up by a Peregrine that was having a tussle with a Merlin overhead. Having not taken any photographs with my camera I was a bit annoyed when I could not relocate the phalarope after the Merlin had perched on a distant post and the Peregrine had flown off. I walked to the next pool to look for it unsucessfully. Upon my return the Grey Phalarope had returned and I managed a few distant shots of it amongst many Wigeon and a white-headed Ruff. Shoveler were also adding to the scene just beginning to come out of eclipse.
I drove to the East Bank at Cley and rejoined Stew, Steve and Simon and together we watched 5 Little Stints at the north end of the Serpentine before I took a few photographs of Bearded Tits and a Little Egret all enjoying the sunny weather. A Snipe flew over as I walked along to Arnold's Marsh and re-found the Grey Phalarope there before walking down to the sea where with the exception of a few gulls I saw very little. I wandered back to Arnold's Marsh where Rachel and her parents were enjoying the phalarope, before once again the Peregrine had other ideas and flushed the phalarope and waders into the air once again! I watched a Little Grebe and a few Curlews as well as hundreds of Pink-footed Geese arriving from the north before returning back home.
The revamped flood defence seabank at Lynn Point
The marsh at Lynn Point
It was the annual Oriental Bird Club meeting at Cley today and so I was up early for an early morning seawatch before it started. I joined a hardy set of Cley locals and together we watched Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Common Scoter and a few Teal before John and I set off for the village hall where it was good to meet up with like-minded birders that enjoy their foreign travel. One story made my adventures in West Papua up wet muddy trails sound quite tame.
The meeting got underway and it made me realise what interesting lives some people have and how they are trying to make a conservation difference to our natural world and saving birds from almost certain extinction. I also realised that there are many more birds that I still want to see. After two talks we all spilled outside to eat our lunch in the sun and we were joined by another adventurer that had birded to yet another country that I still want to travel to. What an amazing life Francis had had. A few more talks did nothing to supress my appetite for adventure as some wonderful photos were shown of amazing birds in their habitat. Luckily it is not long before my next adventure!!
It was the NarVOS autumn bird count weekend but trying to squeeze it in was always going to be a challenge. However I thought I had better make and effort for an hour or so and so I was up early and managed to visit the Hardwick Flood Lagoon before doing my shopping. It is not a pleasant site to birdwatch from as the noise of the traffic on the A149 and having to walk a short distance alongside it is not a site of choice of mine but it does attract some good birds in this busy area if your time is limited and you don't have time to visit the coastline.
As I approached the main lagoon a raptor flew over and put up everything on the lagoon.............not ideal on on bird count! I raised my binoculars in time to see a rather large Peregrine, probably a female bird. A Common Sandpiper called as it objected to the Peregrine's visit. Gadwall and many Shoveler circled over the lagoon and I wondered if they were going to fly off altogether. Luckily after waiting for a while they all settled back down and I could start my count but goodness knows what other birds did not return. I counted the Teal, Wigeon, Greylag Goose, Shelduck and a lone Little Grebe. I noted all the gulls and watched a Kestrel, Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail, and the many Woodpigeons which also eventually flew off. As I walked back I flushed a Skylark out of the grass before the excitement of shopping!
A Marsh Harrier coming into roost at Roydon Common
After a busy day, including finding time to dig up all my potoatoes in the garden I had just enough time to get to the roost at Roydon Common at the end of the day. I was in time to see two Marsh Harriers fly in before they dived into the heather for roost. Two Common Snipe called and flew over as I listened to a Wren calling by the side of me. A flock of Meadow Pipits flew over me, followed by another flock and then another. Another two birds completed my count of 102 birds in total!
As I left the common the Royal helicopter flew over having come from the Sandringham direction.
Arriving at work early I joined Chris, Tim and Roger in the car park and together we watched one of the 3 Yellow-browed Warblers that were present on site. However none of the warblers were keen to have their photographs taken as they zipped around the trees. Later Roger radioed in to say that he had two Ravens sitting with the ponies out in the field looking towards Thornham. Lucy and I ran down the path and I managed a few very distant photographs of them.
It was good to see some NarVOS members today but they didn't stay long as they hurried over to Wantage to try and see the Common Nighthawk that was present. It brought back memories of the one that I had seen on St Agnes back in 1998. What a day that was!
As John was giving the talk this evening to Great Yarmouth
bird club about our wonderful birding trip to Tanzania we motored over to Great
Yarmouth after I had finished work. It was good to see the photographs once
again of all the wonderful birds and animals that we had been lucky enough to
see on this dedicated birding trip earlier in the year.
It was another busy day at work today but was nice to spend some time down the West Bank path looking at all tne Golden Plovers on the bund across the Freshmarsh. They are such speuctacular birds as the sun catches their their wonderful plumage and makes it glisten in the sunlight. A White-tailed Eagle flew over but I was not in time to see it!
Sue at East Hills
Wells from East Hills
John and I joined Patrick and Claire and enjoyed a visit to East Hills today. For years I have wondered what East Hills is like as it seems so close to Wells. We did not expect to see very much as the winds were in the completely the wrong direction for any eastern migrants but it was the only day that all four of us could manage together. East Hills was more extensive than it appears from Wells and has a few small patches of deciduous woodland and brambles. Some of the island is covered in pine which we wandered through but soon runs out into more extensive sand dunes much like Burnham Overy Dunes. We enjoyed our wanderings and saw a few common birds but bird-wise it was very quiet. After we had reached te end of the pine belt we retraced our steps and wandered back through some of the scrub and had a snack and a drink. We returned to the beach and watched a close pair of Red-throated Divers in the Wells channel.
The four of us returned back to the mainland and after a wander through Wells we enjoyed a wonderful meal out together at Warham. Later John and I attended the meeting at NarVOS in Swaffham as Allan Hale gave us his talk on Thunder Cape bird observatory once again with some in-hand photos of the birds that he had trapped as a ringer. It was a well-attended evening which we all enjoyed and as usual continued the banter in a local hostelry!
As John and I needed to obtain a few bits and pieces for some small maintenance on my bungalow in King's Lynn we spent the glorious sunny morning at Lynn Point where we had a bit of a raptorfest. We delighted in watching a pair of Peregrines interacting with a Kestrel as Common Buzzards soared overhead and Marsh Harriers quartered the fields. Red Kites flew over the river as a Sparrowhawk challeged another Red Kite. Eleven Little Egrets were around the River Babingley and on the River Great Ouse bank. Shelduck, Mallard and Teal added to the scene and a Grey Heron soaked up the sun. Waders included Redshank, Greenshank and Curlews as Meadow Pipits, Skylark and Linnets flew over us.
With news of a Common Rosefinch and Richard's Pipit at Holme this morning I joined many local birders in the search for both birds. It soon became apparent that it was not going to be an easy task as the day had started with an autumn fog which was gradually giving way to a breeze and eventually an increasing wind. I joined Keith, Karthryn and Gwynn and others and together we watched the Common Redstart that had taken shelter on the sheltered side of a Sea Buckthorn and Elder bush. The bird was keeping low down and flitting around before landing in the bushes or on the fenceline. After taking a few photos Jim, Rob and I then wandered around the forestry area but failed to find the rosefinch or Richard's Pipit. Pink-footed Geese were flying over the marsh as we made our way back to the Visitors Centre.