Happy New Year to all my family, friends and readers of my website. I hope that 2018 will be all that you hope it will be and that together we will see many birds and other wildlife!
I was working today in the car park at Titchwell and as usual for January 1st the birdwatchers were out in force scurrying around to add to their new year list and had arrived at Titchwell early. I would have liked to have joined them but it is important that someone has to try to bring in the money so that the RSPB can run the wonderful reserves like Titchwell for the birds and wildlife that it supports. So I spent my day welcoming visitors and persuading non-members to become members whist keeping an eye on the birds for my new year list. I had a successful day recruiting new members but my year list finished on 24 species! I watched Brent Geese flying around and listened to Bullfinch and Treecreeper even though I did not see either. A Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Robin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch were all noted as well as Redwing, Fieldfare, Starling and Blackbird but other more exotic species will have to wait for another day.
In the evening I had been invited to the Norfolk birders party at Overstrand where many of Norfolk's finest birders had gathered. I saw a Woodcock at Felbrigg in flight on my way there. Once at the party, I was enthralled listening to the birders tales of birding and their travels all around the globe and made a note in my diary for a future trip that interested me with a few fellow birders. The food that Val had provided was scrumptious and I rather greedily tucked in as I had forgotten my lunchbox today and was starving! It was a wonderful party and was also nice to meet up with some prominent names that I had not met before.
I have several trips booked and in the planning stage this year which will hopefully keep my birding dream going and am looking forward to them. I hope your birding year will also be successful!
I was once again out in the car park at Titchwell and had a delightful chat to the now-retired head of the RSPB's head of international affairs dept. We shared some great travel tales. It was nice to meet you Tim. I added Treecreeper and Pink-footed Goose to my list as well as a few other common species before rain stopped play!
I made my way over to Cley Spy where Andrew kindly rebuilt my tripod which had fallen apart in the back of the vehicle whilst travelling on the bumpy roads in Uganda. A big thanks to him for his excellent customer service.
It was the day of the NarVOS January bird count and we had been told to register with Jasmine the area we were going to cover. I told Jasmine that John and I would be birding the NW ten kms squares around my home. We stopped in King's Lynn docks where two Peregrines were sitting on the white tower in their usual spots. In past years we have done a bird race to contribute to the bird count but as the number of teams have fallen in recent years, very sadly it was decided to just have a leisurely day instead and hope some members will just count birds in an area that they wish to. So with this in mind John and I went for a walk at Lynn Point. We watched many common species including Common Snipe, Little Grebe, Golden Plover, Reed Bunting, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and Mute Swan. There were many Fieldfare passing overhead as well as Shelduck, Brent Geese, Pinkfeet and Little Egret on the river edge. We were surprised at the number of Meadow Pipits that were around.
After visiting several other areas en route to Sandringham we watched many Common Buzzards displaying over Wolferton, where Redwings and Mistle Thrushes were running around the grassy areas. The walk at Sandringham only added a Treecreeper to our day list. A visit to Flitcham added Gadwall and Canada Goose but it was good to see the Kingfisher bank being rebuilt. A Little Owl was sat out in the sun at Ashwicken and we had a short visit to Pentney where Great Crested Grebe was added to the list. We met up with other teams at Roydon Common and we all decided to adjourn to the pub early where we had an enjoyable recount of the days events. Allan showed us photos of some of the redpolls that he had ringed in his garden recently as Ian did a composite sheet of all our sightings. Ian conveyed our total count to the Wensum group who were also counting today and would seem that our totals were similar. A lovely leisurely day's walking just noting down the birds that we saw!
It's been a busy few days and I have finally finished my trip report to Uganda. http://suebryan.webs.com/uganda-2017 I shall eventually move it to the trip reports page. I have made a start on the Greece and Bulgarian trip report but it all takes time as I am also planning my next trip!
Along with Tony Gray, I sped along the A149 from Titchwell during our lunch break to the orchards at Thornham. We met up with lots of birders and watched the two Waxwings sitting in a tree. It was good to see a few friends that I had not seen for a while to wish them happy new year. My evening was spent having a delightful meal planning our next few trips together. I just wish there were more hours in the day!
After seeing a Barn Owl at Bircham, I made a quick dash before work and joined several other birders who were enjoying watching the Twite in Thornham harbour.
Flights booked for my next trip in a few weeks time as amazingly I have some holiday allowance left!
John and I staked out the car park at Santon Downham. Eventually after a bit of a wait we saw 14 Parrot Crossbills arriving to drink in the puddles just north of the level crossing. We also admired a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Marsh Tits whilst we were waiting. After a walk to try and see the otters we made our way to Lynford Arboretum where the high winds had brought down two trees narrowly missing the Visitor Centre landing either side of it.
The high winds bringing down two trees either side of the Visitor Centre at Lynford Arboretum.
We walked down to the paddocks where scanning over the trees a Hawfinch was sitting at the top of one of them. It reminded us of our recent trip to Northern Greece and Bulgaria where we had seen so many of them. There were many Coal Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits using the feeders on the bridge as we walked back to the car.
Stopping at Great Cressingham we watched a Brambling and Two Tree Sparrows amongst many Chaffinch in the hedgeline.
A flock of Pink-footed geese flew from The Wash over Flitcham as Mick and I travelled along the Anmer road on the Sandringham Estate this morning against the backdrop of the sunrise this morning.
I was super-excited this evening as I received some good news about a prospective birding trip next year. A family of birds that I have always wanted to see more of (I only have a single example of one currently on my world list) should be available in this foreign country! My next couple of years are going to be super-busy with 3 foreign birding trips planned and another foreign trip with my daughter looming as well as wildlife holidays in this country planned. Goodness knows where my open invitation of a foreign RSPB birding trip is going to fit in ???
My son Jonathan and I enjoyed a walk along Holme beach where the tide was going out. Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Grester Black-backed Gulls, Common Gulls, Herring Gulls were all seaching for food. A Curlew flew over the sea as we walked along. On Broadwater Mallard were present as Wigeon called from the marsh.The rain set in so we returned to the car.
I have uploaded my trip report to the website. It can be seen at http://suebryan.webs.com/greece-and-bulgaria-2017
After waving goodbye to my son Jonathan who was off to play indoor reality golf (whatever that is?) with a friend the snow had already started falling. So plan B was to stay indoors and sort out my Colombia trip report which has mysteriously lost all its photos on my trip reports page. Having contacted freewebs, my website host, it would seem that I am going to have to re-do the whole page! Grrrr...So this afternoon seems an ideal opportunity to do it and my birding is confined to watching from the windows of my house. The feeders are busy with Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Blackbirds pecking underneath keeping a Pheasant company whilst Henrietta (my chicken that has adopted me) has attracted the cockerel once again that has been wandering around the road for a few years now. I do hope he doesn't stay..........otherwise I could be in for a few more early-morning wake up calls again!!! Joy of joys!
After a report of a Hawfinch in the churchyard at Great Massingham yesterday and contacting a friend I started my day just after first light there. There was light rain falling and it was still very murky but I made my way to the back of the churchyard where there was a Hawfinch sat at the top of a tree. I tried to attach my phone to my scope but all of a sudden another nine Hawfinch flew in and landed. They only stopped for a short while before flying off, calling as they went. I cursed as I wasn't quite set up for a photo. I walked round to the side of the church where there was another Hawfinch sat. It too flew off before I was set up. After waiting for a few minutes another Hawfinch flew and I managed to get a poor phone-scoped photo of it the poor light before it too disappeared.
I continued to Sheringham where I met John and together we watched the Black Redstart that was hopping around the lifeboat car park in the rain. We walked down to the rocks in front of the Funky Mackerel cafe where there was a Purple Sandpiper running around the rocks along with a Turnstone.
We made our way to Mundsley where after parking in the clifftop car park John located the Glaucous Gull sitting on top of one of the groyne baskets. We then drove to the practice green of the Cromer Golf Club (actually in Overstrand) where the Iceland Gull was busy feeding along with a Black-headed Gull.
At Upper Sheringham we had a Red Kite fly over the car.
Our next stop was Kelling where we admired the Mealy Redpoll flock that was present. It was good to see the very controversial two 'grey-toned' birds that have been reported as Coue's Arctic Redpolls.
After having a Snow Bunting fly over our heads at the beach at Salthouse we failed to find the Snow Bunting flock that had been spooked out into the marsh by a military helicopter a few minutes earlier. We drove to Stiffkey and joined Ashley and Marcus that both had groups with them and admired a male Hen Harrier, a couple of Marsh Harriers, a Merlin and a Barn Owl all hunting out on the marsh. We finished our day with a lovely evening meal in a local pub where we thought how lucky we were to live in Norfolk where even on a Winter's day good birding could be had.
I paid a quick visit to Great Massingham Churchyard where at least 4 Hawfinch were still lingering in much better weather today. On my way home I watched 50+ Fieldfare and 2 Kestrels on Massingham Heath.
Great White Egret
I joined Terry and Joy Elliott and together we watched the Great White Egret that has been at Nar Valley Fisheries for a few years now. There was a male Goosander on the pit too. From Wormegay High Bridge we saw 8 Whooper Swans on the fields. We drove to Tottenhill where we watched a pair of Goldeneye displaying and at Watlington I joined Tony Prater where we also had a Goldeneye. Later at the Tail Sluice in King's Lynn a Green Woodpecker flew from the grass as a Bullfinch disappeared into the hedge.
This evening NarVOS had an excellent talk about the work of the Cape May bird observatory in the USA. Having visited there many years ago it was good to see so many wonderful photos of some of the species of the birds that I saw whilst I was there.
I joined several other walkers and made my way down onto Holkham beach where a group of nine Shorelarks were very flighty on the beach. They really didn't settle very well so it was difficult to take any photos of them through my scope as they were constantly on the move. Trevor and I then walked to Holkham park lake where we failed to find the reported Scaup. Worryingly we did see a scaup-faced Tufted Duck amongst the many Tufted Duck, Pochard. Shoveler and a lone Red-crested Pochard. I stopped by the pull-in where I could scan the Holkham marshes where I watched a Great White Egret and a large group of White-fronted Geese.
Walking down to the RSPB reserve at Snettisham I crossed over the concrete strip so that I could look inland to watch the flocks of Fieldfare flying over my head. I also scanned the the scrub between the two hides where there were two Short-eared Owls roosting. Unfortunately my migraine thatI had woken up meant that I had to return home for more medication instead of carrying on around the pits where Goldeneye, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Cormorants and Greylag Geese were gathering.
After a busy day at home I drove to North Elmham where Mike Edgecome was giving a talk at Elmham House to raise money for the church. It was an all ticket affair with a superb buffet afterwards. I was entranced as Mike regaled us with his tales of his trip to Ladakh to see Snow Leopards. His photographs and video clips of Snow Leopards were amazing and awe inspiring. I fear my bucket list has just grown by one more mammal still to see!
Harriet and Constance
This is Harriet, my guide in Uganda with Constance, a little girl that we are trying to support in Bwindi. Constance is ten years old and is an amazing birdwatcher who can already identify 100 birds in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. She has my field guide and some binoculars that I hope will start her on her journey as she wants to be a bird guide like Hariet when she grows up. Harriet and I would like to encourage more children into birdwatching and I am hoping that if any of my readers have any old binoculars lurking in a drawer or cupboard and you would like to make a difference to a child who faces many issues with poverty, where funding a pair of binoculars would be extremely difficult, would you please be kind enough to give me at Titchwell and I will make sure that Harriet receives them in Uganda.
Thank you so much.
Starting early I drove to Ringstead where I arrived at the flock of Pink-footed Geese. After the events of yesterday when a birder arrived after me, got out of his car wandered up to the flock and was then surprised when they all flew off, I was determined to be early before any bafoons arrived. I scanned the flock, staying in my car and eventually found a lone Tundra Bean Goose. It had the brightest orange legs that I have seen on a Bean Goose but perhaps it was just the way the early-morning light was catching them. I looked for the Hooded Crow at Choseley without sucess and continued on my way to work. I watched a Barn Owl from the Visitor Centre at Titchwell and enjoyed a young boy's delight at seeing one. His joy was delightful. Getting children to enjoy birds and nature is the only hope we have for protecting our natural world in the future.
It was a glorious sunny Winter's day with a very light breeze and so ideal Goshawk watching conditions. I joined Marcus and Peter and together we watched two Goshawk over Swaffham Forest. A Red Kite flew over our heads and a Sparrowhawk flew along the treeline. Eight Common Buzzards added to the scene. After a walk at Santon Downham I returned to Beachamwell where six Lesser Redpoll sat in a tree in Allan's back garden.
It was a glorious Winter's day as I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell. After watching a few Meadow Pipits on Thornham pool, I made my way to the Parrinder hide where Tony and Jenny were helping visitors. A Rock Pipit was bathing in the water. After a while a pipit called flying by the open window. Luckily it landed and together we had good views of a Water Pipit. A Mediterranean Gull was amongst the Black-headed Gulls and Avocets.
I made my way down to the sea where I added Eider to my my year list. There were mant Great Crested Grebes on the sea but as the tide was a long way out I followed Dave back up the path and into the warmth of the staffroom for a cup of tea.
After watching four Siskin on my garden feeder I drove to Santon Downham and joined Kathryn and Gwyn along the river where after a short wait Kathryn spotted the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flying in. We watched it searching out nest holes before we walked back up the path.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
We watched a Treecreeper actively feeding by the church.
Later at Drymere I watched three Marsh Tit, three Goldcrest, Green Woodpecker and a Woodlark singing.
Having the morning spare I made my way over to Natural Surroundings at Glandford where after parking up I walked through the gate to the flooded area alongside the River Glaven. I scanned the area and noted a few Mallard but little else. I decided to walk the very muddy path towards the church but didn't get far as there was an Otter in the river just a few feet away. I could not believe my luck as I was here all by myself and could take photos without upsetting anyone. The Otter was not a bit bothered by my presence at all and just kept swimming and diving catching fish. The River was in full spate and I wondered how the Otter could see in the murky water. However the Otter was extremely successful as it caught many fish. Eventually the Otter swam upstream and I walked back along the path not realising I was walking right beside the Bittern that had been loitering in the flooded field. By now Steve and Sue as well as Bob had arrived and I joined them taking some photos of the bird.
Cryptic camouflage of the Bittern!
Can you see it?
Otter catching fish
Otter catching fish
Muntjac watching me with some curiosity
The evening was spent at NarVOS watching Chris Knight's talk about birding in Norfolk. He had some wonderful photos but we were all keen to get home early because of the snow.
I spent the day catching up with my data in my records since I had been given the day off because of the snow. I also enjoyed watching my garden birds.
I had been invited to join in with a trip to Fuerteventura to twitch a Dwarf Bittern, a Western Palearctic tick that many Western Palearctic listers were all going to see on the Canary Island. It seemed a good opportunity to get away from all the snow and so a very early morning flight was taken from Stansted to Fuerteventura. Once we had landed, we drove to the Barranco a few miles from the airport and walked across the plain in sunny weather and descended into the gorge. Thanks must go to Dot and Steve who had twitched the bird the previous weekend as without your help and instructions I doubt we would have found it! Lesser Short-toed Larks, Plain Swifts and Berthelot's Pipits were flying around as an Egyptian Vulture soared overhead. We soon settled down watching a pair of Fuerteventura Chats, another world tick for me as well as Spectacled Warblers and Hoopoes. After two hours we saw the Dwarf Bittern in flight and for today had to be satisfied with those views of the bird. We drove to the Tindaya Plains and watched a Houbara Bustard displaying , another world tick for me having been split from the Israeli McQueen's Bustards. Black-bellied Sandgrouse were good to see as well as Cream-coloured Coursers running around. It was good to be in the sun and away from all the snow in England. It seemed that we had timed our trip perfectly!
As usual I will be writing a trip report so I will only be brief in my diary pages.
Displaying Houbara Bustard
We were up early and returned to the Tindaya Plain to get better views of Houbara Bustard as we had only had distant views yesterday. We were not to be disappointed as Houbara Bustards were not at all shy as they came closer and closer to our car. A Berthelot's Pipiy posed for the camera too.
As we had only got flight views of the Dwarf Bittern yesterday we returned to the Barranco near Puerto del Rosario to stake it out. After a bit of a wait with us perched on the cliff-face the Dwarf Bittern emerged from the vegetation for us to get better views than yesterday. After we had taken a few photographs we drove to Costa Calma in the south of the island and walked the wood admiring Little Buntings, Serin and Olive-backed Pipits. We motored on to a reservoir, Embalse de los Molinos where we admired Pallid Swift and Marbled Teal before making our way back to Oliva for an evening meal and our accommodation.
As the gorge was such excellent birding we returned once again admiring Trumpeter Finch, Hoopoe, Canary Island Chiffchaff and Spectacled Warbler before driving to Salians del Carmen where w watched Sardinian Warblers and Laughing Doves.
Laughing (Palm) Dove
Mealy Redpoll (left-hand bird) showing a white supercilium
Siskin and Mealy Redpoll (showing a white supercilium and white background colour to the dark streaks on the flanks)
Snowy Owl (a rubbish hand-held phone/scope photo but you get the idea)
Working at Titchwell certainly has its advantages as we had a 'heads up' message about a Snowy owl sitting out on Scolt Head and could be viewed from Burnham Deepdale. Lizzie and I went to investigate.
Lizzie and I sped along the A149 and joined ten other birders, luckily before the masses arrived to see the Snowy Owl sat out on Scolt Head. John and Marcus let us look through their scopes at the Snowy Owl and I attempted a phone/scope hand held photo. We didn't stay long and soon got back to work to let other staff see the bird too! (Great team effort guys!) I was very pleased at this long-overdue Norfolk tick and Lizzie was pleased at a British tick. We were both very happy bunnies!
Now I must pack my suitcase ready for my flight tomorrow morning!
Sue at Lake Bled Slovenia.
Kathryn and I flew to Ljubljana in Slovenia for a Mother's Day treat for a few days. After picking up the car we motored to Lake Bled where we had booked a lovely hotel right next to the lake so that we could spend a few days walking and relaxing in the mountains together as well as enjoying some good food and time together. We could not believe our luck at the location as the hotel was in a beautiful setting. However there was rather more snow than we were expecting and I was glad of a winter coat!
Lake Bled was a magnet for birds and I noted Mallard, Mute Swan, a pair of Gosander, Hookded Crow, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Rock Dove, White Wagtail, Common Buzzard and Starling before we delighted ourselves partaking of the local cream cakes and tea at a wonderful cafe overlooking the lake. We both enjoyed the serenity of it all as we both have very hectic lives and it was good to have some chill-down time.
Sue beside Lake Bled
Breakfast was accompanied by a Hooded Crow sat in a tree outside the window. It a meal fit for a king and we both felt that we needed to walk. Looking at my weather app on my phone it was clear this had to be a morning activity as rain was due later in the day. The perimeter of Lake Bled was 4 miles and seemed like a good option.We set off and I was rather surprised to see a Swallow circling around one of the trees. A Nuthatch was calling as we left and I added Great Tit and Robin early in the walk.
Black Redstart sitting on the stump
Island castle in Lake Bled
Kathryn and I continued our walk around Lake Bled admiring the views. I heard a Willow Tit call to its mate and watched the pair actively feeding in the trees. I had not brought a camera with me and only had my phone so even though I tried to take a photo of one of the birds the results were not good! At the same point a Black Redstart appeared sitting on a tree stump. You can just about make out the bird with a bit of imagination!! Blue Tit and Magpie were also added to the list as we completed the circum-navigation of the lake.
Kathryn at Vintgar Gorge
Kathryn at Vintgar Gorge
We had raided some food at the sumptious breakfast and drove to Vintgar Gorge where we had a picnic lunch. We were a bit surprised at the amount of snow here as the roads were clear except for last few hundred metres down into the gorge itself along a track. The path looked a bit slippery to say the least and we were joined by another adventurous couple. We slipped and slithered along the track and boardwalk admiring the scenery of the gorge. It was birdless however except for a couple of Blue Tits.
On arriving back in Lake Bled we found a liqueur shop where we were offered a tasting session. We can both recommend Fig and Honey Liqueur, Blueberry Liqueur and Cherry Liqueur. We bought several bottles and ceratinly had a merry evening after our meal!!!!!
We awoke to pouring rain and after another big breakfast decided to make the most of it and drive to Bohinjsko Jezero lake set up in the moutains near a ski resort.
Sue at Mala Savica
Arriving up in the mountains the snow got deeper and following a trail to a waterfall was probably not the best idea that we have had in pouring rain! However we both have an adventurous spirit but after walking up a steep snow and ice covered trail common sense prevailed and we did not make it to the top as we realised getting back down was going to be more difficult. We actually could have done with a set of crampons and walking poles. After a slithery experience and a twisted ankle we both made it back to the car and drove to Lake Bohinjsko, where we found a hotel that served a delicious hot chocolate and yes, another creamy cheesecake! The rain had now eased off aand after consulting the map and advice from the local tourist office we decide to return to Lake Bled up and over a mountain pass on alternative much longer route back. I was assured that road had been cleared of snow and as long as I took it slowly it would be driveable. Since we had all afternoon at our disposal we decided to go for it.
Bohinjsko Jezero lake
After watching Blacl-necked Grebes and a pair of Goosander on the lake Kathryn spotted a Grey Heron, another addition to my Slovenian list! We admired the hardiness of the people living in villages up in the mountains and the amount of snow that had to be cleared to keep the roads open. I drove up to 4000 ft up many hair-pin bends and although the small minor mountain road had suffered from land slip in many places was completely clear of snow. We wanted to stop to show how deep the snow had been and take a couple of photos.
Sue at Bohinjska Bela
After taking a couple of photos of the deep snow I heard Crossbills calling. All of a sudden a flock of Crssbills landed in the tree right above my head. How I cursed at not having a decent camera with me. There were some stunning red males in the flock too! A Coal Tit was also an addition to the list here.
We motored on and arrived back at lake Bled where we drove to a vantage point overlooking Lake Bled before the sun set.
Kathryn and I flew back to England and drove home. We had really enjoyed our visit, even if we had been caught out by the 'Beast from the East' affecting Slovenia's weather as well as here. Sharing time with my children has always been a delight for me as I realise how lucky I am to have three of them that I am very proud of.
On my way home from Stansted I called in at Welney as it was a beautiful day and I was gasping for a cup of tea! Several fields had just been harvested for sugar beet and the Whooper Swans were making the most of the sugar beet tops. Down at the Visitor Centre I was surprised at the number of Tree Sparrows coming to the feeders.
Whooper Swans feeding on Sugar Beet
I made my way home and was very pleased to receive an email confirming my next trip away in a few weeks time. Hopefully I can add to my world list once again!
Having been invited to a party at Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club, I was concerned about the snow that had been falling all day and the driving wind as I had to drive from Titchwell after work. Snow had begun to accumulate along the A1067 as I approached Fakenham and I was surprised to see ten Kestrels along the stretch of road from Fakenham to Lenwade so late in the day. I think the birds must be having a hard time finding food/prey in the awful weather conditions that we have been experiencing just lately.
John, Stu and I walked down the main path at Titchwell in the gale-force, bitterly cold wind. It was very unpleasant but we staggered down to Thornham Pool where two Little Ringed Plovers were running around. We had difficulty watching them as they were either running too fast or kept hiding up behind the Juncus. I managed a very poor photo of them but had such difficulty in keeping my scope still I will not inflict the results of my efforts on you! Down at the sea the waves made any sea-watching impossible, especially as sand was whipping up into our eyes. Stu soon gave in and we made our way back to the Parrinder hide where 5 Mediterranean Gulls were amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Most of the Freshmarsh was frozen and the reeds had ice-collars on them. After a chat with Trevor and Chris we had an early lunch and drove to Snettisham after a few brief stops in Hunstanton where there seemed be a huge number of gulls feasting on the wrecks of Razor shells.
At Snettisham we watched Goldeneye and very little else for our efforts except for a few Avocet, Cormorant, Moorhen, Greylag Geese, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon with a few Dunlin and Bar-tailed Godwit out on the mud in the Wash.
I am very busy with my trip report to Fuerteventura, which is almost finished. I have started to upload it to my website and you will find the page at the top. I have moved my last two trip reports to the trip reports page. I am struggling to keep up with all my photos but will hopefully get them all processed soon, hopefully before my next trip!
I have uploaded my trip report on my 'twitch' to Fuerteventura. It can be seen at http://suebryan.webs.com/fuerteventura-2018
It was a beautiful day and so John and I were up early and set out for Welney where we searched the fields for Bewick's Swans amongst the hundreds of Whooper Swans still present. After driving for several miles we failed miserably but enjoyed the Spring-like morning. We called into the Visitor Centre at Welney and John located a Bewick's Swan having a good wash and preening session on one of the pools. We admired the Tree Sparrows in the car park and saw a Common Crane in one of the distant fields as well as a Great White Egret and a Little Egret.
We drove onto Lakenheath and watched Pintail, Tufted Duck, Shoveler on Hockwold Washes as well as watching a Bank Vole whilst we chatted to Dave Jackson.
We walked 110 at Cockley Cley and stood and waited for a sighting of a lone Willow Tit. It took quite a while until we saw one but were entertained by a Treecreeper, Nuthatch, and many Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Great Tit whilst we were there. We also saw 2 Red Kite as well as two Common Buzzard. After failing on Stone Curlew we drove to Pentney where we saw Tutfted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Reshank and a Dunlin. It was a delight to have a Spriing-like day after all the cold winds and snow that we have endured lately!
We had a dead Marsh Harrier brought into the office today that had been picked up on the beach at Titchwell. It was such a shame to see such a beautiful bird with no life left in it but all covered in sand.
It was a beautiful day and I had been assigned to be outside in the car park recruiting. For once the weather was on my side and I had a lovely day talking to visitors and birders, one of whom I will be sharing a customised trip with next year. We were both very excited about it.
Chiffchaff were singing most of the day and were joined by Brambling calling above my head. I could hear Mediterranean Gulls on the Freshmarsh joining in with Black-headed Gulls all calling probably all competeing for nesting spots. Long-tailed Ducks were reported by visitors on the sea but sadly I did not have time to see them. A bit of sun makes all the difference to the mood of visitors and I had so many compliments about how wonderful Titchwell is. There are big plans ahead for Titchwell and all the staff are working hard to try and raise the funds. Let's hope we can achieve our aims!
Bearded Tit (female)
John and I were once again up early and drove to Eastbridge where we failed to find any sign of the Glossy Ibis that had been present in the area for weeks. Cutting our losses we drove to Minsmere and walked towards the sluice stopping off in South hide where there were at least 60+ Mediterranean Gulls fighting for space on the islands amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Along with a a few Dunlin we located a winter-plumaged Little Stint feeding along the edge of one of the islands near the beach edge. A Redshank flew by just as we were leaving to walk to the sluice.It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying the sun as the pager alerted us to the fact that the Glossy Ibis had reappeared back at Eastbridge. We retraced our steps and were concerned by the fact that we had not heard or seen a single Cetti's Warbler. We wondered if the snow had had an impact on them.
Sue at Eastbridge
Sue on Westleton Heath
Back at Eastbridge I located the Glossy Ibis on one of the fields by the side of the road and after taking a few photos we watched Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards before returning to Minsmere where we met up with Jill and Richard. Together we enjoyed good views of the Firecrest at the entrance track to the Island Mere hide. In the hide two red-head (female) Smew were out in the middle of the water but a pair of Mute Swan right in front of the hide kept distracting us with their beauty.
We drove to Westleton Heath we we saw a DartfordWarbler even before we got out of the car ! Two Woodlarks were singing above our heads as we walked to some gorse and watched several pairs of Dartford Warblers zipping about. However none wanted to pose on the gorse today.
Sue watching from 'the mound' at Waveney Forest
John drove to Waveney Forest via a back route around Lowestoft through Somerleyton where we were delighted with views of three Short-eared Owls, two Barn Owls, three Common Buzzards and a host of hovering Kestrels. Later we had a delightful meal in St. Olave's before meeting up with Ann and Andrew for John's talk on birding in NW Argentina at the Great Yarmouth Bird Club.
Mick East and I noticed 16 Curlew in a field at West Newton as we drove into work at Titchwell today. Around the staff car park we have had a big flock of Brambling all week. The noise from them as we left this evening was incredible.
We often get dead or injured birds brought into the Visitor Centre and today it was the turn of a Kittiwake which will hopefully survive to be released back to sea. The recent bad weather has had a terrible effect on our birds with many birds washing up dead on the tideline and beach. We have still not heard a Cetti's Warbler on the reserve since the snow.
John and I started the day at Heacham in the hope that there would be a few migrants around for us to see. How wrong could we be?? We met up with Paul Fisher who was similarly perplexed at the lack of summer migrants. With the exception of Linnets, Reed Buntings,Curlews and Gulls it was almost birdless. We heard a Cetti's Warbler but did not see it.
At Thornham harbour we watched a few Common Redshank, Common Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and Brent Geese but little else. At Ringstead we found two Corn Buntings amongst a flock of Yellowhammers. We decided to try inland and drove to Houghton where we watched a Red Kite and two Common Buzzards. Later at Great Massingham churchyard a Nuthatch called and flew to a feeder recently put up there. Three Redwing sat at the top of a tree whilst we listened to a Mistle Thrush singing across the field.
Very sadly the Kittiwake that was brought into the Visitor Centre yesterday died.
John, Ed and I visited Lowestoft today at Leathes' Ham to see a Penduline Tit. It was nice to have some Spring-like weather at long last. We also enjoyed watching three Chiffchaff.
At Breydon Water there were good numbers of Avocet, Curlew, Pintail and Shelduck as well as a Peregrine sitting on one of the wooden structures.
I stopped off at Guist on my way home where I was surprised to see the high water levels. The field by the river was completely submerged. Greylag Geese, Black-headed Gulls, Coot and Tufted Ducks were all enjoying the water. I walked to Bintree Mill where two Grey Wagtails landed on some floating debris in the fast-flowing stream as Tufted Duck swam on the lake with some Coot. In one of the fields a Little Egret stood still whilst a Grey Heron stood on one of the banks. It has been lovely to enjoy some birding in the sun in Britain.
After spending the day on the garden setting out my raspberry canes and laying some new paving slabs I went for a short walk on Roydon Common where I saw a pair of Stonechat collecting nesting material. Further up on the common another male Stonechat sat watching my movements before flying off.
There was a lone Swallow feeding over the field as I drove into work this morning.
John and I worked the dunes of east Norfolk with little result and went onto Strumpshaw where we added Common Tern, Sand Martin and Blackcap to our yearlists. John also added Swallow to his year list. At Buckenham we watched Pintail, Wigeon, Ruff and Avocet.
Passing through Guist this morning, I stopped off to look at the flooded field south of the river. I joined Dave Appleton and we watched a pair of Garganey swim across what was left of the flood. The female settled on an island whilst the male swam around her. A Black-tailed Godwit was also present.
During my lunch break at work Jenny alerted me to a Garganey on Patsy's Pool. I made my way round and joined Trevor, Kathryn and Gwynn to admire it.
Garganey at Guist
Garganey asleep on the bank with Mallard, Shoveller and Greylag Goose.
John and I started early and met up with Alan to stand on the little wooden bridge at Carlton Marshes in Suffolk. As we were some of the first there we had a good view across the reeds and fields towards the Juncus. John walked to the bank where a few others joined him so that they could see the area down the lines of Juncus with the idea that we could communicate between us as there were not as many birders here as we expected. It didn't take long before the American Bittern flew a long flight right the way across the marsh for us all to see. We were all delighted as it was a British tick for me and I don't get many of those a year now! We walked back and watched a Cetti's Warbler and were all back in the car park by 9am which meant that I then had plenty of time to go shopping ready for my dinner party tonight to discuss another birding adventure being planned for next year.
On my way home I saw a Red Kite at Gayton. Opening my post a field guide had arrived that I ordered many weeks ago readery for my forth-coming trip. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to do a birding trip with a general guide for the area. I'm certainly hoping that the weather is going to be better than here!
I made my way up to the top of Roydon Common and was hugely relieved that there were not any dog walkers in sight. These are a huge nuisance on the common as dog owners will let their dogs off from their leads causing disturbance to gound nesting birds as they scamper through the heather. I watched ground-nesting Lapwings chasing off Crows that were on the hunt for eggs and chicks. I followed the fence-line and turned the corner, slowly walking in case there were any Ring Ouzel close by. There weren't! However raising my binoculars I could see a pair of Ring Ouzel ahead of me on the short grass. I took a few distant photos before the birds flew to join three other Ring Ouzel sitting in a distant tree. A pair of Woodlark flew over me calling as they went. I walked back towards the car and watched a pair of Stonechat but could not see any colour rings on them. A dog owner then appeared with both his dogs totally out of control running all over the common. The owner quite clearly did not read the signs on the gate. Needless to say he incurred my wrath!!
It started as a misty unpromising day at work today, where because of the weather made it pointless being out in the car park at Titchwell recruiting new members. It was delivery day so I helped Sally and Kieren restock the shop. However shortly after lunch a visitor came into the shop with a photograph of a Hawfinch that he had taken near the Island Hide. Some of the staff went down to see it but as I already had Hawfinch as a Titchwell tick I stayed to man the shop and went down last. I dipped it as the Hawfinch flew before I got there! Curses! Lizzie was soon on the radio as the Hawfinch had flown to the Visitor Centre and our kitchen volunteer, Mandy had spotted it on one of the feeders at the front of the Visitor Centre.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in great excitement as the staff showed visitor after visitor the bird. At one point the Hawfinch sat on top of one of our bird tables that was within six inches of our window staring in at us all !!!! Magical!
Hawfinch looking into the Visitor Centre (taken from inside the VC)
Hawfinch tucking into Black Sunflower seeds
The Hawfinch was still present at work today. It was very foggy on the reserve but the staff knew it was going to be an interesting day as we were having new displays fitted. The Hawfinch was just as confiding as it had been yesterday coming within inches of the Visitor Centre. Sally and I remained busy and enjoyed the visitors arriving to see the Hawfinch. In the afternoon I walked down the West Bank path to see the Little Gull present on the Fresh Marsh. Whilst I walked back two Spoonbills flew over Thornham Marsh.
As Mick arrived to pick me up for work this morning a Lesser Redpoll alighted on my garden feeder. I was delighted as I don't often get Lesser Redpolls in my garden. After work Mick and I watched two Red Kites and a Common Buzzard over Sandringham.
John arrived for tea before we set off and headed for Scotland.
At first light John and I were in position at Musselburgh, Scotland. We thought we would have a weekend 'Scoter Fest'. It was evident that the tide was out and so we went in search of a Ring-necked dick in Edinburgh which we could not find. However a Goosander on the island was good to see. We returned to Musselburgh and walked alongside the River Esk and followed the seawall. Mallard, Curlew, Turnstone, Redshank Mute Swan and Shelduck were all feeding on the river bed as we made our way out to the river mouth. Gazing out to sea we could see many small flocks of Velvet Scoter, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Eider, and four Red-breasted Mergansers. We soon located the Surf Scoter but could not find our quarry of White-winged Scoter. A few other birders arrived and we located Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, several Long-tailed Duck and three Slavonian Grebe in Summer plumage. We were to be in for a long day and hunger had set in, so after swopping a few phone numbers we made our way to a local cafe for a magnificent Scottish breakfast of Haggis along with the more traditional fare.
We returned to the seawall and sat on the bench that Justin Lansdell had said that most birders had viewed the White-winged Scoter from. We had Sandwich Terns, Fulmars and Gannets fly by as Swallow, Sand Martin and Reed Bunting all added themselves to the day list. A Shag and Bar-tailed Godwit were viewed as we wandered along the seafront searching every Velvet Scoter flock. By 5.30pm I made arrangements for our accommodation for the night as it seemed that we were not going to see the scoter. We started driving but hadn't got far as Bill Unwin phoned to say a local had relocated the White-winged Scoter further along the coastal path. I phoned other birders who had also left and with a quick U-turn and a mile's hike along the seawall John and I joined a small group of delighted birders. Hugs all round! We admired the White-winged Scoter as it got gradually nearer so thatI could attempt a few phone-scoped photos. It was a sunny evening as John and I walked back to the car. We had a celebratory meal and drink in the wonderful Laird and Dog pub where the Chicken stuffed with Haggis cooked in a white wine sauce comes highly recommended!
Surf Scoter with fish
River Esk at Musselburgh
After a delightful breakfast in the pub where we stayed the night, we motored on down to Lindisfarne where the sun had come out. We crossed the causeway and met up with Bill and Chris again and some of the birders that we had met at Musselburgh. We parked at the end of the causeway and walked over the dunes. We soon located the Black Scoter along with a few Common Scoter. Eider graced the sea as we celebrated seeing, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter and Black Scoter all in one weekend! It's been a longtime since I've had two British ticks in one week!
John and Sue on Lindisfarne
I met up with Allan, Brian and Phil at Nar Valley Fisheries who were going to do the WEBS count. After a brief chat I walked the track up to the lodges where five Blackcap were competing with each other for territory. They were all males. Chiffchaff were also in full song. I did not want to stay long as I have lots to organise back at home. I saw many Tufted Duck, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Great-crested Grebe but little of any consequence.
At Derby Fen a Willow Warbler was singing heartily alongside a Chiffchaff, whilst a Mistle Thrush was in full song at the top of a tree using the full capacity of his lungs!
On Roydon Common there was the usual problem of dogs off from leads tearing all over the place disturbing the ground-nesting birds. A Woodlark sang above my head before setting back near the cars. A lone Wheatear was chased about by a dog that would not let it settle to feed. Back by the car I watched a pair of Woodlark feeding in the long grass as a Stonechat sat on the fence.
Woodlark singing above my head
Woodlark feeding by the car park
John and I had been invited by Patrick and Claire for lunch to see photos of their recent Antarctic trip taken from New Zealand down to the Ross Ice shelf via the NZ islands. They had already done the Antartic trip that I had done from Ushuia taking in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands and so I was interested to see the alternative trip. Their photos of New Zealand brought memories flooding back of my 2010 visit there but the photos of Emperor Penguins and the other islands certainly had me drooling. It gave me yet more ideas!
John and I walked Rockland Broad but apart from the House Martin that flew over Barnham Broom golf club we added no new year ticks. Three Marsh Harriers flew over the reeds and a Cetti's Warbler called from the side of us. Two Blackcaps sang from the Willow trees but the only other migrant was a lone Willow Warbler that was singing near the car park.
What a beautiful day it was to be out birding along with friends! I started at Snettisham where there were newly arrived migrants. I could hear Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat as soon as I started to walk along the bank and it did not take long to locate them. I joined Dave and Christine and together we watched Yellow Wagtail, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff building a nest and Whimbrel. I walked to Heacham where a Red Kite and a Swallow flew over as well as watching Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards displaying. I retraced my steps and rejoined Dave and Christine and watched a Grasshopper Warbler reeling. A Willow Warbler sang as I walked back to the car. At Desingham Bog I saw my first Cuckoo of the year before catching up with Marcus and John.
Grasshopper Warbler reeling
A walk after work down the West Bank path at Titchwell after work made me realise what a beautiul place that it is and how lucky I am to live here in Norfolk. The reserve was almost deserted and I had the whole of the beach to myself as I scanned the sea. Great Crested Grebes were pairing up as Red-breasted Merganzers dived for food. A flock of Common Scoter had a Red-throated Diver amongst them. I walked back up the path and listened to the cacophony of sound coming from the Black-headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls on the Freshmarsh. Several Ruff were feeding along with a few Dunlin. Avocet and Mute Swan were also present but it did seem weird not to hear any Cetti's Warblers. Sedge Warblers were testing thier lungs as they alighted from the brambles and Willows behind the reeds.
As I was running an errand along with a colleague for Titchwell in the reserve vehicle, a Marsh Harrier flew right in front of us across the road carrying a pigeon. It was incredibly close and we were lucky not to hit it as it swooped across the hedge.
At lunch time I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell as it was such a beautiful day. There were over a hundred Mediterranean Gulls on the Freshmarsh. A Common Tern was a fresh arrival as along with others we searched through the multitude of birds present.
After lunch I got called down to the West Bank path again to help a visitor and to sort out a technical problem. A Great Grey Shrike had been reported but along with several others I coluld not find it. Mick located a Short-eared Owl flying over Thornham Marsh. Several Ruff were looking very smart in their summer plumage as I enjoyed the sun and the amazing place that Titchwell is.
After a very successful day at work, John and I walked down the West Bank path where over two hundred Sandwich Terns had dropped into the Freshmarsh earlier in the day. Now there were only ten pairs left but the sound from the 130+ Mediterranean Gulls present was amazing. Sedge Warblers were singing from the iand the Blackcap that had sung on our way down was still singing on our return back up along the path. We finished our evening after a delightful meal in a local pub planning yet another trip that fulfill another target species of mine.
By 6am John and I were down at Dersingham Bog where two Grasshopper Warblers were reeling. A pair of Stonechat were keeping one of the Grasshopper Warblers company. It was a beautilful morning as we watched the early morning sun rise in the sky.
Dersingham Bog in the early morning looking from the John Denver seat
John and I started the day at the Babcock Hide at Cley where the Black-necked Grebe was swimming and diving, often behind the reeds on the far island. It was extremely dificult to photograph as it was spending most of its time beneath the water. A Spoonbill was amongst the Greylag Geese as Pochard swam around the pool.
Stew's Winter and Summer plumage!
We met up with Stew at the Cley Visitor Centre and saw three Yellow Wagtails at Gramborough Hill plus a Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail. Sand Martins were flying around as we admired several Wheatear. At Warham Greens we saw seven more Wheatear before watching Great White Egret, Glaucous Gull, Dunlin, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit and summer-plumaged Ruff at Cley. Our first Swifts of the year also flew over.
The evening at Great Yarmouth bird club was entertaining as Steve rekindled memories of birding in the Western Sahara. It is good to belong to a club where all members are birders and share experiences.
It's been a frantic week as I have been out every night and with two solid days of RSPB training ahead it was nice to take a break and go birding on the reserve at Titchwell in the afternoon. The Sandwich Terns that have arrived and stayed en-masse are still with us and are a delight to listen to. Many Mediterranean Gulls are now nesting. It will be interesting to see how many stay and breed. Many Ruff were looking good in the summer plumage that they were attaining. I spoke to many visitors who were excited about the birds that they had seen today.
Having arrived in Horsham to see my son's new house I was delighted when I realised its setting. The house is set so that it has a wood as its back garden. The panoramic windows look directly onto the wood. How wonderful! My grandchildren and I spent much of our time watching all the birds in the trees. They will soon have a big bird list! We watched Blackbird, Robin, Jay, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Woodpigeon, Crow and Jackdaw besides an abundance of Grey Squirrels. They are going to be so lucky to just run out into the woods as well as playing in the stream that runs through their garden.
During the afternoon we went to the National Trust property Nymans where Finlay put his binoculars to good use!
Finlay needing a bit of tuition as to which end to use on his binoculars!
Finlay and Sue in the Bluebells
I had intended to spend the day gardening and doing the household chores but the lure of the sun was far too much so I started the day at Roydon crossroads where a Garden Warbler was singing. After a quick chat to the warden, and stopping for a few essential supplies I made my way down to Lynn Point where a Lesser Whitethroat was singing competing with a Common Whitethroat. Another Common Whitethroat soon joined in along with a Chiffchaff. Down at the point I watched a Common Buzzard soaring as two Little Egrets were feeding at the side of the river. Along the footpath there was a commotion in the bushes as four Blackcaps were chasing each other around. A Kestrel hovered as I made my way back to the car. Swallows were flying over the fields chasing insects as I left.
I made my way to another site within NarVOS away from the Brecks and met up with a friend who I have promised that I will not reveal and together we watched a Raven mobbing two Common Buzzards.
Later in the day I walked at Snettisham and along with Rob and Ann Gordon we watched a Common Redstart.
After meeting up with friends for a lovely pub lunch in Wilsford Lincolnshire, John and I came back home via Frampton Marsh RSPB. It was a beautiful afternoon and we were soon making our way along the footpath to the reservoir. Here a Wood Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper were keeping some summer-plumaged Ruff company. A Little Gull was dipping in and out of the water along with many Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swift. Over on the fields we watched a Garganey and Whimbrel along with many Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing and Dunlin. The probable escapee Carolina Wood Duck was swimming in one of the dykes before hauling itself out onto one of the banks. The flooded fields were full of birds. It was delightful birdwatching. The staff and volunteers have done an amazing job here. Driving down the road we admired the many Avocet nesting.
Carolina Wood Duck (probable escapee)
Carolina Wood Duck (probable escapee)
After being in charge of the shop all day at Titchwell, I was relieved to have a half-hour break in order to walk down the West Bank path where I watched a Reed Warbler singing in the reeds. I could not find the reported Pied Flycatcher.
After work I drove to Holme and after watching the Whinchat in the pony field, I joined Richard Brooks. He thought he had briiefly sighted the Wryneck flying towards a Bramble bush. After a short wait I spotted the Wryneck peeking out the bush. I took a quick phone-scoped photo and decided to return to my car for my camera. Billy Rand joined us and together along with a few other birders enjoyed watching the Wryneck feeding on the ground before a dog walker came along the board walk with Greyhound dogs off their leads and flushed the Wryneck which flew out of sight. Dogs are such a nuisance on bird reserves, why do people take dogs to them?? Ground nesting birds do not stand a chance. I felt sorry for a pair of Stonechats that were trying to feed their young near where the dogs were. Grrrr...
After a lovely evening meal spent with Stew and Tess I was a little worse for wear after sampling a little more than I should have done of Stew's pink Gin and so our early morning start was just a tinsy-wincy bit delayed! However after a bit of a prod and a cup of tea I was revived enough to face a small breakfast and John and I eventually made it to Potter Heigham where we walked around the lagoons which had a lot of water in them from all the rain that East Norfolk has had recently. A Spoonbill was sitting atop a tree and when it flew we realised that it was a bird from last year as it still had black wing-tips. Avocets were sitting on nests as a Cetii's Warbler called at the side of me. We watched Reed Warblers singing in the reeds and a Willow Warbler sang above us. On our way back to the car a Cuckoo perched and called as if it had a sore throat! It was a beautiful morning (what was left of it) and after a quick check of my iphone alert from RBA, made our way to Cley and joined many of our friends watching the Purple Heron. It was good to see everyone as we swapped information on various other species that we all wanted to see.
We motored on to Choseley and met up with other friends and thanks to Steve and Neil Bostock we located the heads of three Dotterel. It was some time before one of the birds stood up and revealed itself. There was a lot of banter and laughter amongst friends that we had not seen for a while and the sun had brought out.
Spot the Purple Heron
(let's play hide and seek!)
At lunchtime I ran from working in the cafe at Titchwell to the gate overlooking the horse paddocks joining Kathryn and Gwyn where 2 Hobbies were flying up high over the Freshmarsh. It was a busy bank holiday and Lucy, Maureen and I had our work cut out serving all our visitors on one of the busiest days of the year. After work Lucy and I made our way to the second car park to help visitors see one of the Turtle Doves that had arrived today. Luckily it was posing on one of its favourite trees that on the assumption it was a returning bird from last year it liked to pose on last year.
On my way home I stopped at Docking and admired 3 Dotterel in one of the fields. Later at Flitcham I watched the Little Owl perched in its usual tree.
John and I decided to spend the day in Suffolk but called into Santon Downham first to find Tree Pipit. It was already twenty degrees and rising fast. We watched a bird singing and displaying before calling into Weeting Heath for a few minutes to see the two pairs of Stone Curlew present in the heat haze.
Stone Curlew in the heat haze
It was a glorious day and we were full of hope to see the specatcle on offer at Lakenheath RSPB. For the last few years Lakenheath has amassed many Hobbies as they arrive from East Africa on their migration. Today we were not to be disappointed. In the sun and heat we walked to the Joist Fen watchpoint passing a singing Common Whitethroat en-route as well as a Bittern booming. When we arrived we listened to a calling Cetti's Warbler and admired all the Hobbies wheeling above our heads. I counted twenty-six at one point but there were obviously more over towards Botany Bay. All of a sudden two Bitterns got up and flew around making a most peculiar sound before being joined by a third Bittern.
A flock of Bitterns!
The views of Bitterns and Hobbies were amazing as we sat in the sun and enjoyed our picnic lunch in the heat of the day. We walked back to the car and drove to Great Livermere and joined Dave and Christine as well as Paul Varney enjoying the views of the White-winged Black Tern. We felt in need of a celebratory drink and found a delightful local pub where we could sit in the garden and enjoy a beer and a cider before making our way to New Buckenham to admire all the Green-winged Orchids on display. It had been a wonderful day made all the better by amazing birds and fantastic weather all shared with people who share the same passion for the natural history of our area.
White-winged Black Tern
Tree-perching White-winged Black Tern
Chiffchaff sp (reported as Iberian)
Chiffchaff sp (reported as Iberian)
The radio crackled into action as I was working out in the car park at Titchwell with Les saying that there was an American Wigeon on Patsy's Pool. I made a quick phone call to Dave Holman who was on site and he confirmed that he had found it before letting Les know. An early lunch break was taken and I met up with several staff all admiring the American Wigeon following a female Eurasian Wigeon around the pool.
Eurasian Wigeon with American Wigeon
It was a beautiful evening and after leaving work I met up with Peter Dolton and together we walked the seabank at Burnham Deepdale in the hope of seeing the reported Harrier sp that has now been sighted several times along this stretch of coastline. One of the visitors to Titchwell had managed a photo of it earlier in the day and I thought it was worth investigating. It was a beautiful evening as we watched Redshank, Shelduck, Curlew, Dunlin, Ruff, Little Tern diving in the channel in front of Scolt Head and a lone Spoonbill preening. Two Marsh Harriers were in the distance. One sitting on top of a bush feeding whilst a female quaretered the ground in seach of prey. Two more Spoobill were feeding in the channel as yet another four Spoonbill flew in.Two Little Egrets could be seen in the distance . It was a lovely still sunny evening as I blessed my good fortune of living and working and working in such an amazing place so that I am able to do these evening strolls with friends after work. Peter and I admired a Reed Bunting and a Skylark singing as we walked back along the bank.
John and I were up early prepared for a busy day birding and gardening. We visited several local sites, nurseries and landscapers eventually arriving back home armed with plants and delivery notes. However after one walk we needed to investigate further and after listening to a Raven calling we discovered a nest with a sitting bird and chick with another adult sitting higher up. The deep racous call left us in no doubt to the Raven we had just seen.
After enjoying a beautiful morning we stopped off at West Newton on our way back where an adult Grey Wagtail was feeding four juvenile Grey Wagtails. The male bird was certainly being kept busy as it flitted around catching the many flies to satisfy its youngsters' hunger.
Grey Wagtail chick being fed
Five Grey Wagtails
After a morning of chores, sorting out final details with John on our forth-coming adventure and a few more gardening tasks I took a ride to check on the Ravens. An adult was still present but as I was keen to motor on, I didn't stay long. At Pentney Lakes there were very few birds present, mostly Mute Swans, Coot and a Great Crested Grebe. I drove to Nar Valley where the sun came out and a few birds were singing. I could hear a Blackcap and a very close-by Cuckoo. I stopped to retrieve my camera from the boot of my car in the hope that I could creep up on it but I was too late as it flew across the track along with a Hobby. A Kestrel joined in the fun and also flew with them. I walked the track in the hope of a Nightingale but no luck as two Blackcaps competed with each other either side of the track. Down on the lakes a few Tufted Duck and Mallard were present but the lack of hirundines was worrying. Four Swift passed overhead as I listened to Long-tailed Tit in the hedge and a Reed Warbler calling as I made my way back to the track.
I started my day to check on the Raven's nest. The chick was still sitting tight but the adult birds were calling from the top of a tree a short distance away but I could not see them. The raucous call could be heard some distance away. I had already decided to check out another site for Spotted Flycatcher and so walked to where I had seen them before. The Ravens flew over my head calling as they went. Sadly despite searching I could not find any Spotted Flycatchers.
According to Birds of Norfolk (Taylor et al.) Ravens...."Fairly frequent breeding in the county into early/mid-19th C, but the usual persecution drove them back towards the W & N of Britain; the last nest was "taken" at Beechamwell in 1859". So finding a breeding pair of Ravens in the county has been quite exciting but I suspect they have been breeding for a few years now largely unnoticed! I know that they have been seen down in The Brecks fairly frequently this year.
John and I started the day at Potter Heigham where we noted three drake Garganey, four Common Crane that were calling and feeding in a distant field, several sitting Avocet and a few Redshank. There had been an arival of Common Swift and there were many birds screaming over our heads. We failed to find the reported Curlew Sandpiper but located two Ruff that were on the bit of mud where the Curlew Sandpiper had been reported from.
We walked to Rush Hill Scrape where apart from some Shoveler and a Shelduck there was little of note except for a few Common Terns. We returned to Potter Heigham for a final look and located six Curlew Sandpipers on the bit of mud that we had looked at earlier.
It was a busy day today as Bob, Sheila and I started the task of the start of landscaping the back garden. With Bob as foreman and both of us as labourers we achieved great things. John busied himself supervising the unloading of materials as Sheila stacked all the paving slabs up ready for use. A great team effort guy! Needless to sat with the exception of watching my little garden Robin there was very little birding done!
I was working at Titchwell when a Firecrest was claimed along the entrance path. Lizzie and I went to have a look and there at the top of one of the conifers was a singing Firecrest. What a shame that Idid not have my camera with me!
After work I visited the Raven's nest in North Norfolk to find that the two chicks had fledged and were sitting nearby being attended to by one of the parents who was flying in with food.
On returning home I watched a Long-tailed Tit bringing food into the nest that it has built in my hedge. It was such a joy to watch this delightful little bird.
After work and planning our next landscaping project, John and I drove to Sandringham where we watched two Woodcock and two male Nightjar displaying. We could hear their wing-clapping as they flew around us.
After watching Mediterranean Gulls flying overhead in the car park at Titchwell where I had a successful day it was nice to meet up with some old friends. I had permission to leave work early and headed for home.
I was meant to be packing for my next adventure but having the day off coinciding with some beautiful weather I could not resist a quick visit to Pentney, where there were eight Common Terns on the newly exposed island and a wonderful walk around Nar Valley Fisheries. Here too there were Common Terns and a Hobby flying out of the same tree that I have seen it in for the last few visits. Two Cuckoos flew across the track as I left. It was nice to meet you Sonja!
I returned home and packed my suitcase in earnest and got all my optical gear into my camera bag. I watched my Long-tailed Tit catch flies and take them to the nest in my hedge. It has been a real joy to watch its antics. However I needed to escape again and joined Ashley at Flitcham where besides a couple of House Martin, Lapwing, Pheasant, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Egyptian Goose, House Sparrow and a singing Yellowhammer there was little of note. I hope my notebook will be fuller next week!
John and I drove to Gatwick where we stayed the night. As we entered the hotel room we heard a familar sound. On looking out of the window I spotted a Ring-necked Parakeet sitting in the tree outside. It was soon joined by another.
John and I flew to Hong Kong where we later caught a flight to Taipei in Taiwan.
After clearing immigration at the airport Avis refused to let us have our booked car as they will not accept UK driving licences. In all my years of hiring cars around the world, I have never encountered this problem before. Luckily after getting a taxi to our hotel, Richard Foster arranged a guide and driver for us.
We spent the afternoon in the Botanical Gardens in Taipei.
Although I have been to many countries birding, my former partner had a dislike of Asia that prevented me from birding all round the world. I now intend to put this right and have several trips planned to fill the gaps.
John and I wanted to concentrate on the endemics and so with this in mind sought out the Taiwan Barbet and a tick that we both needed the Malay Night-heron. We saw both. As I will write my usual trip report, my diary will be brief.
After the disasterous start of yesterday, Richard Foster, whom we had met at Birdfair, arranged a local guide and driver to pick us up at our hotel. He had a look through our wants list and took us straight to the coast to show us the Asian Grey-headed Lapwing, a gap in my wader list that I was very pleased to see. A local park produced Taiwan Blue Magpie before we motored on to Dasyueshan for the two pheasants that are rather iconic Asian species. Patrick knew the spot and we soon had Swinhoe's Pheasant on our lists. We had an amazing day with Patrick as he knew all his calls and was very tuned into the species that we wanted to see and how important the endemics were to us.
Patrick decided to rearrange much of our booked accommodation so that it would put us in the best spots for the birds as he knew some places that did not appear on the internet. We stayed at the top of the mountain in Dasyueshan so that we could get some early morning birding in before being at the 43km mark for 7.30am. Sure enough just after this the Mikado Pheasant appeared with its female in tow. We had another amazing day with Patrick as he found us 15 endemic birds. Nearly all the birds that I saw today were lifers
We started the day walking over a big suspension bridge where we saw another two endemic birds in the shape of Chestnut-bellied Tit and Taiwan Scimitar Babbler. It was extremely hot and sunny. We drove back to the coast and birded the extensive fish ponds that were full of waders where Patrick knew had held Asiatic Dowitcher a few days previously as this was a lifer for John. The pools were full of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers but sadly no dowitchers. We admired the Great Knots and Lesser Sandplovers whilst admiring the Red-necked Stints on the bunds.
Sharp-tailed Sandpipers in the shimmering heat
After a night in a men's dormitory in a back-packers hostel on a top bunk, we were up early and drove to see a Golden Parrotbill. The altitude of 8500 feet was noticeable as we walked and waited for the birds to appear. We had delightful views of Collared Bush Robin as well as White-browed Shortwing and White-browed Bush Robin. The endemic Barwing took us much longer to find in the forested area although it was a relief to escape the extreme heat and sun for a while.
After adding a few more specialities we drove to Douliu where Patrick found an excellent sushi restaurant. Yummy!
Collared Bush Robin
Having stayed the night in Douliu John and I were very excited as Richard Foster had arranged for Mr Pitta to guide us today to find the Fairy Pitta and to help us locate the very difficult Taiwan Bamboo Partridge, the endemic that many birders fail to see on visits to Taiwan. We were hopeful that with Mr. Pitta to help with local knowledge we would be successful. Pittas can be very difficult to locate as they hop and lurk under vegetation completely out of view and so it was a great surprise to us both that after following Mr. Pitta on his motorbike into the forest we were greeted with the Fairy Pitta singing its heart out at the top of the tree as we arrived. We couldn't believe our luck having prepared ourselves for a long 'sitting it out' vigil. I needed to set up my scope so that I could phone-scope some photographs of it singing.
We watched the endemic Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler before the quest of the Taiwan Bamboo Partridge started. Mr Pitta heard one calling and so did we but after a stake out the bird did not move out of deep cover and we gave up. However Mr. PItta knew of another area for them and we had a stroke of luck as three birds appeared in front of us before flying away into the Bamboo. Result and high fives all round!
We drove to Budai on the coast for some more wader watching and then onto Pintung University to see a Savannah Nightjar nesting on a roof that Patrick had known about since his university days there.
Birding in mainland Taiwan had gone so well that we had nearly cleaned up on the endemics as well as gaining other lifers. We had motored from the north to the south of the island and I was keen to get to Lanyu Island to finish the clear up. Patrick had done us proud and was really good company. He arranged a ferry crossing for us as well as some accommodation. We set sail in the sweltering sun and heat early in the morning and had a very enjoyable crossing. John does not relish boats like I do but the flat-calm sailing and with it being so hot he was as thrilled as I was to see the seabirds and Flying Fish as we approached Lanyu Island. We watched Black-naped Terns, Bulwer's Petrels as well as Short-tailed Shearwaters before stepping off the boat. We had several lifers to get on the island and Patrick felt under pressure to show us them all on our short visit of a one night stay. We hired a car and were soon in the forest watching, Phillipine Cuckoo Dove, Whistling Green Pigeon and Ryukyu Scops Owl, a tick I was delighted with since I had missed it on Okinowa along with Gunnar last year. Japanese Paradise Flycatcher took a bit more effort as we had to climb up a forested gully and wait for a pair to show themselves, which after a bit of a wait they did.
Ryukyu Scops Owl
We had a few hours before catching the ferry back to the mainland and although we had cleaned up on the endemics, Patrick had a small surprise for us, as being a local he was constantly in touch with friends who had the latest gen on where birds were being seen. He constantly reviewed our wants-list and had had a tip off on where he could show us a another lifer. We walked up a little lane and disappeared into the forest once again, scrambling over rocks and looking up. All of a sudden Patrick found what he was searching for a Northern Boobock! I was thrilled, especially when a family party of Japanese Paradise Flycatchers were also flitting around above us.
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher
We sailed back to the mainland and Patrick had another surprise up his sleeve! We were invited to go snorkelling in the tropical seas. After putting on our lycra swimsuits we were supplied with snorkelling gear and taken out into the hot water where the tropical fish were just amazing. What a superb holiday this was turning out to be! John and I enjoyed our experience very much and realised just how lucky we had been to have Patrick as our guide, who not only stepped in at very short notice but had looked after us well, as well as being excellent company. He even indulged us in my request for finding as many sushi restaurants as he could find whilst we were travelling!
Sue and John in hot water snorkelling!
Sue admiring all the fish.
It's a great life!
Cuttlefish lurking as we swam around it
From the southern tip of the island we motored back up north stopping off at a temple en-route. Richard Foster had sent me a tip-off about going inside. Religious buildings are not my natural places of fascination. However there are times when I will get down on my knees! Using my telescope and pointing it up at the roof inside the temple we found a Collared Scops Owl! The officials inside the temple were so proud of their owl and even offered me a cup of tea to celebrate. The Taiwanese people have been absolutely delightful and so friendly throughout our visit.
Collared Scops Owl
After visiting a ceramics museum John and I wandered the road around Shimen Reservoir watching a Taiwan Barbet excavate a nest hole. We watched for some time as the pair knocked out more and more wood. Our time in Taiwan had come to an end and after thanking Patrick for being our guide for the duration of our holiday we flew to Hong Kong.
Once I am back home I will set about the task of writing up a my usual trip report. I am very much looking forward to my next trips and hope they will be as successful as this trip to Taiwan has been. John and I are both indebted to Richard Foster and Patrick Lee who with out their help at the fiasco that Avis Cars left us in at Taipei Airport our holiday would not have been as successful as it was. Needless to say Avis Cars will not be having our custom again! Thank you Richard and Patrick.
Arriving back at work extremely jet-lagged I needed some fresh air at lunchtime and wandered down the West bank path at Titchwell to see the Bee Orchid alongside the path. It was a wonder that no-one had stepped on it. Seven Little Gulls were flying over the Freshmarsh as Mediterranean Gulls were loafing around on the islands. A Summer-plumaged bar-tailed Godwit was a sight for sore eyes as it joined all the other waders on view.
Later in the day I joined Lizzie, our new warden and Chris Booth to watch the Tawny Owl that had been causing problems for the other birds on the back feeders. It was now sat resting in the trees. I realised how lucky I was to work on such a wonderful reserve as we wandered down the West bank path.
After wishing my son a happy birthday, John and I made our way down to Lynn Point where we enjoyed watching the Peregrine sat in King's Lynn docks before going for a walk. We enjoyed views of a couple of Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats whilst a Little Egret took off. Sedge and Reed warblers were singing as was a Reed Bunting that sat and posed for us. We felt sad at the lack of hirundines around for the time of year.
After completing a garage repair John and I drove to Flitcham where although NarVOS and Edward Cross have made an effort to attract Swifts to recently made and erected nest boxes, not a single Swift was seen. We enjoyed views of some Oystercatcher chicks and some Lapwing chicks being kept watched over by their parents.
Two Red Kites made my journey home from work more enjoyable this evening.
I have spent the last two days working on my trip report to Taiwan. I have made a start on uploading it to my website and if you look at the top bar you will be able to see the section that I have uploaded so far. Apologies that I have not had time yet to finish it!
John and I had a wonderful evening walk at Barnham Broom. Down at the bridge a Kingfisher was lurking and flew off up the river. On some of the floating vegetation a Grey Wagtail was busy collectig food for its young. We walked up the farm track to the church and watched Swallows and Swifts hunting insects and as we walked back a pair of Red Kites flew over us.
Starting at Wymondham John and I watched a pair of Spotted Flycatchers collecting insects. It was good to see this fast-disappearing bird from the UK. Such a delightful bird to watch in the Sunmmer.
Great White Egret
Round at Rush Hill Scrape John and I delighted in the Swallowtail Butterflies that were flying around. We saw several and had fun in the sun photographing them. A Great White Egret flew as a Black-tailed Skimmers and Norfolk Hawkers flew by us. ret White Egret
As it was so hot John and I decided that a visit to a local pub was in order to quench our thirst.
We motored onto Lodden where we saw a rare form of a Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera var. chlorantha ). I have never seen this white form before.
A text from Tim Allwood alerted me to a sighting of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Potter Heigham. Thanks Tim. We parked on the track and walked down the track to the mill where meeting up with Patrick, Dave , Christine and Richard we admired the Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the pool running around with the Avocets, Swans and Gadwall. On another pool a Greenshank joined a Summer- plumaged Ruff. It did look amazing. It had been a beautiful Summer's day and walking back to the car Patrick decided to join us on our next venture!
A white form of Bee Orchid
( Ophrys apifera var. chlorantha)
Tawny Owl chick
Curlew Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit in flight
With a major air and sea search underway at Titchwell for a missing person, I started my day walking to Thornham Point. With high tide expected at 9.45am there was not much beach left as I made my way along. LittleTerns were feeding offshore. I stopped and looked over Thornham Marsh at several points as the sea raced in covering much of the marsh. As I got nearer the point Ringed Plovers and 60+ Summer-plumaged Sanderling were feeding along the tideline along with a couple of Dunlin. I tracked inland to avoid them and gazed over the marsh again. The tide was now fully up as I rounded the point. Thornham Marsh was now completely underwater. I made my way to the brick-built pill box where Linnets and a lone Grey Partridge flushed out of the bushes. I tracked my way back along the inside of the dunes and more Linnet flew in front of me. A lone Meadow Pipit sat at the top of a bush as I made my way back to Titchwell.
This afternoon a police drone located the missing person trapped in the saltmarsh to the east of the East Bank. After being rescued by the emergency services I do hope that the missing person will recover.
Coal Barn from Thornham Point
The Coal Barn from Thornham Point at high tide
Titchwell from Thornham Point at high tide
After touring some garden centres with John, we made our way to Potter Heigham where John soon located the Black-winged Stilt. Waders abounded on the pools in the wonderful Summer weather. Three Green Sandpipers were feeding behind two Little Egrets as we watched a Greenshank busily running around feeding avidly. There were many Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin as well as a Summer plumaged Ruff resplendent in its white attire. A Spotted Redshank was also sporting its Summer plumage as Avocets actively fed. There were many Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard cygnets along with the Mute Swan parents. Marsh Harriers flew overhead as we admired the Norfolk Hawkers flying along the dykes. Thank goodness we could escape the football madness!
Patrick, John and I drove to Hockley Wood in Essex where following a set of instructions we soon found a small area of coppiced wood. Here we saw over 100 Heath Fritillaries. I have been adding to my British butterfly list for some years now and was pleased to add another one to it. It was good to see so many thriving here on such a lovely Summer's day.
Patrick and Sue at Hockley Wood
There were also one or two White Admirals around too but it was now so hot they were very flighty and quite difficult to photograph.
We continued onto Abberton where we watched not only Banded Damoisell but Beautiful Damoiselle too by a small stream.
Sue and John relaxing in the sun watching an abundance of Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles.
We spent about an hour at Fringringhoe Wick where we listened to Nightingale singing which only John saw.
We drove back north to just over the border at Creem's where after a bit of a search we found our next target species, a new dragonfly for me: a White-legged Damselfly. After braving head-high nettles we soon found about ten specimens. In the heat and sun we all felt we needed some sustenance and enjoyed a welcome meal and drink in al local hostellry!
At Titchwell the visitors have been delighted all week with an adult Tawny Owl and chick that have been sitting around the trees by the Visitor Centre. It has been a real joy watching the chick and adult interacting with each other.
Tawny Owl chick
John and I startred our day at Maids-cross Hill, Lakenheath where we heard two Nightingales singing. After a while we saw one in flight as it dived into the brambles. A Painted Lady Butterfly was still flitting around the path as we walked back. A few Essex Skippers were also present. We admired many of the specialist flowers at this site that were open in profusion, especially Viper's Bugloss.
A walk at East Wretham produced displaying Lapwing, Shelduck, Coal Tit, Great Tit and lots of Rabbits!
A wonderful evening was enjoyed by all the NarVOS members at its 'Summer Do'. After a couple of short presentations it was fascinating to see all the interesting exhibits on show. We enjoyed a social gathering with nibbles and drink and catch up with birding friends.
After an early morning of gardening and painting, John and I enjoyed a walk on Roydon Common where we saw a Woodlark and several Jays. However the sun was hot and we enjoyed a good showing of butterflies and dragonflies. We saw White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak, Ringlet, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Keeled Skimmer, Emperor Dragonfly, Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Comom Emerald Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly.
After meeting up with a friend for the evening after work and enjoying some fish and chips in Wells harbour over the high tide, I drove back to King's Lynn to watch the Fin Whale swimming up the River Great Ouse. I only had about half and hour of light left but it was good to see so many people worried about the plight of the injured animal. At oe point the animal was so close that I could not get all the whale in the photo!
A frustrating morning with my bank's website trying to make my international payment for my next trip. After two and a half hours with phone calls and chat-lines I finally achieve my aim! I wonder how many hours I have spent actually organising some of my trips? I spent the afternoon gardening and watching a juvenile Great Tit in the little stream in my pond. They are just so cute when they are newly fledged!
As it was my birthday, John was treating me to a weekend away where we could spend the time with friends watching birds, butterflies and dragonflies before enjoying a meal together in a restaurant that specialised in seafood or more specifically lobster!
The weather could not have been better as the sun came out and shone all day! After receiving phone calls fom my children, we started at Minsmere where we admired Stone Curlews, Marsh Harriers and Common Whitethroats singing before moving onto Westleton Heath where we watched Small Copper and Silver-studded Blue Butterflies. At Thebberton Woods we watched Purple Hairstreaks, Emperor Dragonflies, Norfolk Hawkers and Brown Hawkers. Lin offered me a Pimms for my birthday treat which was very kind of her as we sat and enjoyed our picnic in the sunny clearing in the wood. Phil had seen a Purple Emperor Butterfly but despite Claire joining in we failed to locate it. We followed Lin and Phil to Dunwich where Phil spotted several White-lettered Hairstreak Butterflies.
Small Copper Butterfly
Silver-studded Blue Butterfly
John and Sue celebrating Sue's birthday with a rather delicious meal!
After a full-English breakfast another hot and sunny day was before us as we made our way to Hollesley Heath where we watched Dartford Warblers and Woodlarks singing. We drove to Hollesley Marsh RSPB which was sadly all dried up before moving onto Boyton Marsh RSPB where 20 Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Avocet were finding food on the scrape. The walk at Hollesley was wonderful in the hot Summer sun as we looked over Orfordness watching all the gulls playing in the water as the tide raced in.
We stopped of at friends on the way back home where we enjoyed yet more Pimms! What a wonderful weekend it has been. A big thank you to John for making it so special.
Hollesley over-looking Orfordness
As we were going out for a meal and I had left work early and John and I wandered down the West bank path along with Chris Mills. We watched 9 Spotted Redshank in their Summer plumage along with hundreds of Summer-plumaged -tailed Godwits. It was an amazing sight to see so many waders adorning the Fresh marsh. Over 200 hundred Avocets were also present along with a small group of Knot and a couple of Dunlin. We listened to Meditteranean Gulls calling overhead as a Marsh Harrier flew over the reed bed. John and I motored onto Ken Hill Woods where we watched Silver-washed Fritillaries, Holly Blue, Comma, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and White Admiral butterflies.
With the news that my son-in-law Chris had been promoted to Oxforshire's Search and Rescue as Vice-Chairman, a voluntary position in the organisation that helps to search for missing people and it was their 10th anniversary, a celebratory Hog Roast and evening band was being held in a member of the team's garden that backs onto the River Isis in Oxford. I had driven to Oxford last night after work and after watching Red Kites drifting over Chris and Kathryn's garden in the wonderful Summer sun, shopping and attending the local village fete, the three of us joined the merriment for the afternoon and evening. I consider myself very lucky to have such wonderful children and partners of whom I am very proud.Chris gives up an enormous amount of his free time to help those in trouble and we are very lucky to have him as part of our family.
Kathryn, Chris and I went for a walk around Islip in the heat of the day and stopped by the weir where Banded Demoiselles and Azure Demoiselles were adding to the scene of Red Kites drifting overhead. We watched the Grand Prix on TV before my son Jonathan came over and joined us for a BBQ in the back garden. What could be better than Summer sun, family, Pimms and a wonderful relaxing time watching Red Kites drifting right overhead? Bliss!
A Tawny Owl kept me awake during the night before I saw it fly out of my Cherry tree.
Now back at work after a wonderful long weekend, I wandered down the West Bank path at Titchwell during my lunch break where the Temminck's Stint had gone missing from the Freshmarsh. I sat next to a visitor who was also looking for the stint. After a search with my binoculars I spotted the stint a fair way from where it had gone missing and asked the visitor if I could borrow his scope. He was delighted as I put his scope on the Temminck's Stint.
After work I met up with John, Ann and Andrew Duff at Holkham and found the small colony of Creeping Ladies Tresses. Andew showed us a small micro moth that inhabits the Holm Oaks and a colony of Ant-lions. We then went for a marvellous meal at a local restaurant to talk about our planned three week birding trip next year. Ann has done lots of research and work on the trip and with several internal flights it should be an amazing trip!
I met up with Kathryn and Gwyn after work and together we admired the Freshmarsh at Titchwell that was 'hooching' (an 'in'word for Titchwell staff) with birds. The Mediterranean Gull chicks are all fledging now along with the Black-headed Gull chicks and 628 Avocets covered the Freshmarsh. There were many Black-tailed Godwits and a Garganey kept the Mallard and Gadwall company. A juvenile SandwichTern flew in accompanied by and adult as Swifts were catching insects overhead.
On my way home I nearly ran over a Bullfinch at Bircham as it fed in the road near the pond. A Red Kite was also flying nearby.
As my neighbour's are away and I have no interest in the football I wandered outside to water my neighbour's garden. As I walked around I had to rescue a Hedgehog in the road before it got squished. It was a very thirsty little chap/chapess as I gave it some water. I thought it might drink the bowl dry! So please remember to put some water out for our wildlife!
It was the Wensum Valley Bird Club Summer do and so after work I joined all the other members for an evening of good food, good company and quizzes. Tim certainly impressed me with his knowledge. A big thanks to Lin for orgainising it.
Thanks to Carrie relieving me in the kitchen at Titchwell I ran down the West Bank path just in time to be told that the Lesser Yellowlegs had just flown off. I was not a happy bunny as I made way back up the path knowing that I had missed a Titchwell tick by a few minutes. Luckily the bird returned and Margaret let me have an early lunch and I ran down the West Bank path once again. Ray kindly let me look through his scope at the bird just in front of me standing next to a Spotted Redshank. Now I was a very happy bunny and the jinx of Friday 13th was dispelled! I managed a few photos hand held on my phone through Ray's scope. Thanks Ray!
The Freshmarsh was heaving with waders. Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Spotted Redshank and Redshank make it a wonderful sight along with a Garganey, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull and Swifts screaming overhead. What an amazing place to work!
John and I left home early and drove to Arnside in Cumbria. We had enjoyed the area last year and vowed to return in Summer to see the butterflies on Arnside Knott and to have a short holiday. We arrived in glorious weather and climbed up The Knott where we soon found a couple of people photographing a High Brown Fritillary. After taking lots of photos they told us about a Scotch Argus that they had seen earlier. John went in the direction that they had said and soon located it. We all enjoyed watching it and blessed our good fortune. We also saw Meadow Brown, Large White, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Peacock and Small Skipper butterflies. The weather could not have been better as we wandered around admiring the butterflies and wonderful scenery. What a wonderful place for peace and quiet to be away from all the madding crowd that seem to gather at Summer events.
The afternoon was spent wandering around Gait Barrows and Myer's Allotments where we saw similar butterflies and Brown Hawker dragonflies.
We walked along the promenade at Arnside and enjoyed an ice-cream over-looking the estuary before a very enjoyable meal in the local pub over-looking the estuary once again.
High Brown Fritillary
High Brown Fritillary
Pimms at its best!
John and I started the day at Fowlshaw Moss, Cumbria where we watched an adult Osprey and three juvenile Ospreys. After watching two juveniles being fed in the nest, we watched the adult attending one of the juveniles after its maiden flight in a nearby tree.
Moving onto Meathop Moss we watched another two Ospreys and a juvenile Osprey in a nest. We drove to Witherslack to investigate another butterfly site and watched a young Peregrine calling for food on the cliff edge.
We returned to our B and B at Arnside and sitting outside to have our lunch we heard the siren go to warn of the tidal bore surging up the River Kent estuary. It was an amazing sight to see the water completely cover the mud in less than a minute. We were totally taken aback at how quickly the whole estuary was completely filled up with water in such a short space of time. Anyone out on the mud would not have a chance of escape.
After lunch we climbed up to Arnside Knott once again where I located a Dark-green Fritillary to add to our ever-growing butterfly list.
The evening was spent once again in one of our favourite pubs over-looking the estuary.You cannot beat a Pimms and an excellent meal after a sucessful day over-looking the River kent estuary on a wondeful Summer's evening.
River Kent estuary at Arnside
The tidal bore racing up the estuary
Sue by the River Kent estuary at Arnside
John by the River Kent at Arnside
After a lovely pre-breakfast walk along the River Kent estuary where we watched Curlew and an Oystercatcher we bade farewell to our B and B and drove to Scandale Beck and Smardale where we walked along the old railway line. We admired many wild flowers and watched a family of Bullfinch in the vegetation.
Driving onto Langdon Beck we soon found two Black Grouse lurking in the grass on the lecking site after watching a Dipper on the river. Several Red Grouse were also watched in the area before we drove to Bishop Middleham Quarry in County Durham. It has been 16 years since I was last here watching Bee-eaters nesting at this site. I was now back to see the famous Dark-red Helleborine that the quarry is reknowned for. The proliferation of the species here was just wonderful as were all the other wild flowers that abounded here too. We admired the Fragrant Orchids here as well.
Sue by Scandal Beck
Common Fragrant Orchid
Marsh Fragrant Orchid
Six Spot Burnet
I must say a big thank you here to all those of you who send me nice messages about my website. I'm glad that you enjoy it and it gives lots of ideas to those of you that like to get out and about to enjoy nature and wildlife as I do.
I must also say a big thank you to John for helping me to increase my UK Butterfly List (now up to 51 species) , Dragonfly List and Orchid List! (still to work these out!)
I walked down the West bank path at Titchwell to be met with a stunning sight of a Freshmarsh covered with hundreds of waders. Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs and a Little Ringed Plover added to other birds gracing the reserve. Eight Spoonbill flew in and joined Bearded Tit, Mallard, Pied Wagtail, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Common Tern all present on the marsh. I joined the other birders admiring all the shapes that the starling pre-roost was making. I know I am biased but it is an amazing reserve!
Little Ringed Plover
I spent a lovely evening at the Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society's 'Summer Do'. It was good to meet up with friends and talk about our travels and birding. Thanks must go to Lin for organising the event and to all those who brought and provided food and drink. Once again the Pimms was fantastic Lin! (It's getting a bit of a habit Lin !)
Working out in the car park at Titchwell today along with Ian, we managed to add to our car park year list. We added Whimbrel, Grey Heron and Great Spotted Woodpecker to it. Mediteranaean Gulls are still a regular flyover bird, especially as some of the juveniles have fledged.
I am also a very proud mum as my daughter phoned to tell me that she had been informed that she hed been offered the job that she had been interviewed for a couple of weeks ago. It wll be quite a career promotion for her. Well done Kathryn! With my elder son having been made a director and now managing the UK arm of his company from their London office and my other son also having a new job with a bigger firm with more responsibility, I am extremely fortunate that all my three children have done so well. What a lucky mum I am!
John and I were in Norfolk searching for orchids. We found a few examples of Bog Orchid at a sensitive site. We also found a Lesser Butterfly Orchid.
Lesser Butterfly Orchid
After spending the morning and early afternoon gardening harvesting my Broad Beans that I have grown this year in my veg plot and picking my raspberries from my new fruit cage, I finished trimming the hedges and drove to John's and then together we attended Great Yarmouth bird club. Paul Noakes was giving a talk on Bolivia. He gave a very entertaining talk which brought back many happy memories of some of the wonderful birds that I saw there a few years ago.
I have had an exasperating few days with yet another Windows 10 upgrade causing my laptop issues with my photos and also with my website refusing to load them! Grrr!!
After a lunchtime walk down the West Bank path at Titchwell I decided to stay after work to walk down the path again as the Freshmarsh was crammed with birds. Over 600 Avocets were a wonderful sight. So after coping with the shop's delivery day I joined Tim and John and together we watched the Lesser Yellowlegs on the Tidal Pool and then studied all the birds on the Freshmarsh. Two Little Stints were amongst the Dunlin and several Knot in Summer plumage were amongst the Black-tailed Godwit. Three Curlew Sandpiper lurked amongst more Dunlin and Tim spotted a Common Sandpiper and a Common Snipe. I helped a visitor find a Mediterranean Gull as most of our Mediterranean Gulls have now left after breeding. Three Greenshank called above Tim and I and landed on the Freshmarsh. Some of the Turnstone were still in their resplendant Summer plumage. Ten Spoonbill all took flight as the whole of the Freshmarsh birds took to the air. What a magnificent sight it was as all the birds flew around before landing back down again. Many Black-tailed Godwit are still in their Summer plumage as the Ruff are beginning to moult theirs out. Spotted Redshank can also be seen as well as Common Redshank. Bearded Tit called as we watched several feeding on the mud. Titchwell is ceratinly a wonderful reserve!
The NarVOS members newsletter arrived by email early this morning. Many members will know that our sightings sheet has not been all that it could be for a couple of years now and there have been many complaints to both myself and the committee by various members, so it was good to have a much better version this month. I know the Norfolk recorder was aware of the situation so it was good to have Graham take up the task. Knowing how thorough Graham is with his data on Butterflies and Dragonflies and is a fountain of knowledge I am sure he will make a good job of the sightings sheet and at last the teddy that has been being thrown around lately can at last be put to bed!
John and I were soon on our way a John drove down to Canvey Island. It was slow going along the M11 in some places but at least we kept going! Patrick had given us some instructions but Google maps had other ideas! After a couple of unnecessary miles at the end we found the embankment and walked the dried out ditch beneath it. It was not long before we saw our first Southern Migrant Hawker. A Ruddy Darter landed in front of me but we were keen to photograph the rare Southern Migrant Hawker. For the last 3 years this migrant dragonfly has formed a small colony along with a few other places and is a potential colonist. We walked most of the length of the ditch and probably saw at least twenty specimens of Southern Migrant Hawker in total. It was a hot windy day and taking photographs was not east as we only saw male specimens that were chasing each other off territories.
Southern Migrant Hawker
Southern Migrant Hawker
A phone call this morning had me scurrying to Snettisham where I met up with Steve, Trevor, Ashley and Paul Nobbs. After Steve kindly let me look through his scope whilst Trevor kindly lined mine up for me I was soon watching the Semi-palmated Sandpiper along with about twenty other Norfolk birders. It was good to get yet another Norfolk tick and to be so close to home. After taking a few phone-scope photos I ran back to the car and fetched my camera but sadly the bird was a bit too distant for my lens. I contemplated joining Steve Gantlett who was sat much closer but the rain started and I was enjoying the banter with Steve and Paul.
Spot the bird !
and now to see the semi-palmations on feet of the Semi-palmated Sandpiper
Semi-palmations on the Semi-palmated Sandpiper
As I drove to work just beyond Anmer I was surprised by 4 Red Kites that flew over my car in close proximity to one another. One bird was in quite heavy moult. On my way back from work I had anorther Red Kite fly over my car in more or less in the same spot.
Alerted to an Alpine Swift flying along the coast at Titchwell as I arrived at work I ran down the West Bank path jut in time to see the flock of Swifts that it was with but could not pick the bird out as they flew towards Thornham Point. A little later the flock flew back and over our heads but sadly the Alpine Swift was not amongst the Common Swifts.
Leaving work early I walked down the West Bank path and joined the other birders in Island Hide where there was a Wood Sandpiper in front of the hide. The Lesser Yellowlegs was on the tip of one of the islands. There were many Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet on the Freshmarsh as well as good numbers of Curlew Sandpipers.
NarVOS members enjoyed a talk about Spanish birding and photography this evening. The film about Griffon Vultures stripping and eating a dead sheep was most entertaining if a little gory! A select group enjoyed a drink in the pub after the meeting too!
I went for a stroll at lunchtime down the West Bank path at Titchwell to get a breath of fresh air after being in the shop all morning. It was wonderful to see the Freshmarsh looking so good packed with waders. The Lesser Yellowlegs was still present but the spectacle of all the Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet was a sight for sore eyes. There were many Ruff and a few Curlew Sandpiper. It was a shame that I could not stay longer but someone has to man the shop!
John and I had an early start and drove down to Dorset to the Isle of Purbeck. It was a glorious day and we stopped at a small quarry face near Steeple where we found a few Lulworth Skippers. My Fifty-second species of butterfly for the UK.
We saw many Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Marbled White Butterflies before moving on to Lulworth Cove. Here tourists were abundant and I wish I could say the same for the butterflies but I can't as the grass was scorched brown as we walked the coastal path. We added Grayling and Wall Brown to our day list as well as Chalkhill Blue but sadly no more Lulworth Skippers.
Sue at Lulworth
John taking the perfect picture!
We motored onto Portland Bill where there were many Wall Browns and more Chalkhill Blues. A pair of Ravens kept us entertained as did a young Northern Wheatear. The heat was exhausting as the thermometer rose even higher. We were expected at Richard and Jen's for the evening at Sherborne where a gorgeous evening meal awaited us. Sitting in their wonderful garden it was lovely to share a gin or two as we admired the wonderful grand rockery that Richard had constructed.
Yesterday was my daughter's 30th birthday and she had invited many friends and family to a party that was due to take place in Islip village hall today. Once again it was a glorious day and a few of us had arrived early to help set up the proceedings. The temperature rose once again and we all had to drink copious amounts to keep hydrated. Red Kites flew over us as we all enjoyed the BBQ.
My children (and partners) and grandchildren
Sue with Jackdaw
Sitting on Kathryn's patio in Islip this morning just after breakfast we were all joined by a Jackdaw that grew rather friendly!
John, Carrie, Chris, Kathryn and I all went for a walk at the wonderful RSPB reserve at Otmoor. Here John spotted a couple of Common Cranes flying over as the rest of us admired all the Red Kites that were flying around before landing on the ground before sitting up in the trees.
Common Cranes at Otmoor
Red Kite at Otmoor
With the weather being so wonderful this Summer it has been a real treat to have weekends and weekdays away seeing birds, butterflies and dragonflies sharing time with family and friends.
Today was a day where there was nothing scheduled on my calendar and so I took the opportunity to get up early to prepare a checklist for my next big trip before the heat took its toll on my computer working area, as between the day of my departure and now I really don't have many spare days. Things were going well printing out my checklist until the ink ran out half way through. Grrrrr!! Shopping was done a little earlier than planned so that I could finish printing the checklist.
My garden was in desperate need of some attention and so most of the day was spent sorting it out before the big event tomorrow! No birding was done except for watching the development of the House Martins on my nextdoor neighbour's house. At least 3 chicks are near to fledging. I have been concerned about the nest drying out in the drought, but all seems well so far.
House Martin chicks
It was the big event today and many well-respected birders and friends all met up and had a very enjoyable evening swapping tales of travels all around the globe. We started on the terrace enjoying a drink or two before tucking in to a fantastic meal. Although I have several trips planned there seems to be an endless supply of other fantastic ideas of birding destinations. John gave a short speech before circulating yet more ideas of trips past and thoughts of future trips. It was good to meet up with friends that I have shared the last few years with again.
On my way back home this morning I stopped off at Pentney where the grass surrounding the lake has grown very long because of the lack of grazing this Summer. On the island the Egyptian Geese were keeping two Black-tailed Godwit company quite an unusual bird for here. Two Common Sandpipers were around the lake edge as House Martins were feeding in the air above the lake. A few Black-headed Gulls, Moorhen and Coot kept the Mallards and a Grey Heron company.
I have spent the afternoon sorting out my database on my computer along with IOC splits. It would seem that I have gained quite a few armchair ticks! It's a good job I have a validation facility as otherwise it would be an impossible task!
Waking up to rainit was good to see a Song Thrush on my lawn pulling up worms,a sight that I have ot seen at home for many months!
I had been invited to a meal at Snettisham sailing club along with friends that coinicided with the high tide. Although a little noisy for my liking it was fascinating watching all the seabirds flying by close as we ate.
After work today I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell and met up with Geoff and Pat. After I had watched 3 Water Rails and twelve Spoonbills we watched a Common Sandpiper and many Bearded Tits hopping around the base of the reeds by Island Hide. There were many Avocet on the Freshmarsh as well as many Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit. We all watched a Bittern fly over the reedbed towards Willow Wood.
House Martin chicks
My neighbour's House Martin chicks are now nearing the time when they will fledge and leave the nest. It has been fascinating to watch them this Summer witn real concerns that the nest would dry out during the drought. I hope they will survive and make it all the way to Africa for the Winter. I will miss their chatter.
After spending the afternoon continuing to update my world list with all the recent splits to conform to IOC listing, I made my way to birding friends for a dinner party where we discussed our past birding trips and our future ones planned for the coming year. With the Birdfair this weekend it's going to be a busy time getting around all the people that I need to see and meet the leaders of the trips. Birdfair is always a great event and not to missed. See you there!
NarVOS had a group field trip organised to Lynn Point this morning so John and I joined fellow members to witness one of the highest tides of the year. Stewart, Allan, Malcolm, Mick, Gill, Annie, Paul, Terri, Linda and two others all turned up to enjoy a morning's birding down at the point. We watched Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Ringed Plover, Common Tern and a plethora of fishing boats passing us by. Curlew and Whimbrel were all seen and so were some small passerines in the shape of Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch as well as hearing Yellow Wagtails. However Gill kept us all entertained and lowered the tone with his tales of bodily functions which Allan soon berated him for. Common Sandpipers were all soon flying out of the Babingley River as the tide rose and the challenge was soon on as to who could count the most. Goodness knows who won by the end of the morning as Stewart was keen to add a few more to the tally! Once the high tide had passed we made our way to the cafe and brunch was ordered, some ordering more than others! We played musical chairs for most of our time there so that a checklist could be done and if you ended in the chair that you started in you were certainly one of the lucky ones!!!
The junction of the River Great Ouse and the Babingley River at Lynn Point
NarVOS members enjoying brunch together
John and I set off for Birdfair early so that we would be in the queue ready for 9am ready for our meeting with Ann and Andrew at the Bird Tour Asia stand as soon as possible. We were lucky as we were one of the first through the entrance and did not get caught up in the traffic jam as others had done. James and Rob seemed to have our planned trip all in hand and after a few questions we departed to meet up with other guides. After a quick word with a very busy Gunnar we returned to Rob and James with Ron and Sue to sort out a few details of our other planned trip. A talk in one of the newly named lecture marquees was next which brought memories flooding back for us both before I made my way to the Art Gallery which I have always enjoyed. Stephen Message, Jan Wilczur, Chris Rose and Steve Cale have always been amongst my favourite artists and so I went to drool over their stands and wish I had more money and a bigger house to purchase and display more of their work! It was wonderful to meet up with so many friends at Birdfair as I walked around and I apologise to those of you that I dashed off from to keep appointments that John and I had made.
John and I met up again for lunch along with Patrick and Clare before I did a quick whizz around the marquees before John and I met up again to investigate another trip that we would both like to do. After collecting some information I went to speak to a friend on one of the stands in the Art Marquee who had been busy earlier in the day. Birdfair is always a good meeting point for friends that you have not seen for a while. I was now late for my next talk and luckily John and Ron had sensibly sat at the back and could catch me as I entered in the marquee in the dark. Luckily I had not missed much as all three of us drooled over the possibility of a visit one day! John and I had been invited to an event in one of the marquees at the end of the day where the champagne quickly went to my head as glasses were often topped up! A good job I was not driving! A wonderful meal followed and we returned home after another successful day with friends from all around the world.
Titchwell Scone and Gin jam
During the day I visited the food marquee where I purchased a jar of gin jam. I have to say with a little cream it goes brilliantly with the fruit scones made at Titchwell ! (John and I can recommend the spiced plum ice-creams too !)
The House Martin chicks on my neighbour's house have fledged and there is an empty nest left. They have joined their parents flying around and over the houses.
A young Common Buzzard was calling above us this morning. It has been calling on and off for a few days now and I wonder if it has just fledged from a nest nearby somewhere.
I seemed to have succumbed to a flu bug and so after a day of outside painting (John) and gardening (me) where my progress was slow to say the least, a short walk on Roydon Common on a beautiful day just about finished me off! A Common Whitethroat was chacking away in one of the Hawthorn bushes as a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly landed in front of us on the pathway.The corvids were playing about in the air as a Kestrel flew by. Up at the top of the hill the views were good as I struggled for some energy to return home.
The flu bug has laid me low and in bed yesterday but boredom kicks in and I have spent a few hours on the computer still trying to reconcile my world list of the last 20 years with IOC listing (having complied with Clements listing over the years). Luckily there is a validation facility on Wildlife Recorder and I am correcting as much as I can. It can be a frustrating process as I have gained many 'ticks' with splits but equally 'lost' a few species in 'lumping'. Several of the larks that I saw in South Africa that I spent many hours searching for in 2010 are no longer considered valid species. Grrrr....
The NarVOS newsletter arrived today. It was a bumper-packed edition with an excellent sightings sheet. Well done to all those who complied it.
I am still laid low with the flu bug and am now sneezing for a major trophy for the most sneezes in one day. I should have taken out shares in a tissue company for the amount of tissues that I am getting through!
Last night I was given my new pager by John who had collected it from RBA for me as well as collecting Ron John's. I have had a little play with it today and cannot say that I am very impressed. The little buttons are horrible to use and the screen very tiny. I have set it up for my liking by selecting my options. I need a larger format to be able to see the writing and so this involves a lot of scrolling to see the message. We have all been warned that the battery will last for only 5 to 7 days!!!!!! I shall have to investigate re-chargeables! By early afternoon Ron had phoned me to say that he is not getting any messages through and neither are lots of others. I feel sorry for Dick and the team as I think their problems are only just starting!!!
My juvenile Common Buzzard continues to call from a nearby tree as I sit here at my computer sneezing.
I have at last finished validating my world list to be compliant with the latest IOC list published in June. it has taken many hours of work and am now nearer to my target than I thought! Hopefully my next three trips will add quite a few species as well!
With the family arriving for the Bank Holiday I am looking forward the weekend.
John came to join my family this morning and we all became a hive of activity as they helped me with many maintenance jobs on the bungalow. My juvenile Common Buzzard kept us all entertained as it called directly overhead.
However there was a cause for celebration as I learnt that by this time next year I will be a grandmother to six, yes SIX grandchildren, including a set of twins!!!!! Perhaps I could convert the shed into a dormitory!!!
I am still suffering from the flu and so my progress in the garden was slow but we did manage a walk on Holme beach this afternoon where a few Oystercatchers and Dunlin were running around the shoreline. On our way back home a Green Woodpecker was feeding on the grass near Anmer.
With a forecast of rain the family and I walked the inner seabank at Snettisham before returning along the beach. A Little Egret was feeding close inshore along with Knot, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone whilst Whimbrel called overhead. We just made it back to the car before enjoying a meal together in a local pub. I was still feeling quite poorly and exhausting myself coughing and sneezing and so we all had a leisurely afternoon at home during the rain. A card game taking us around Britain soon became a matter of discussion!!!
I staggered into work but was soon sent back home as I was still unwell.
My children were still at home and were just getting ready to walk Jonathan's dog (Hettie). After a short walk along the old railway line at Roydon they were soon all on their way home. Saying goodbye to my children is never easy but with lots of grandchildren on the way no doubt my baby-sitting services will soon be called upon!
I had several emails from my South American company as my trip is getting close now. I'm hoping that I shall be fully recovered by then as I want to be fit!
After another day of absolutely no energy I made it to NarVOS where I collapsed into my seat and listened to a fascinating talk about the long-term making of the Great Fen between Peterborough and Cambridge. Joining up several smaller nature reserves and re-wilding farm land was certainly admired by the NarVOS group and praise must go to the visionaries who are driving the project through. Lots of members put money in the bucket afterwards after such an impelling talk outlining the hopes for the future.
I won a prize on the raffle and Ian thought this prize would be appropriate for me rather than some of the others on offer. He made me smile with his comment and I agreed!!
Great Crested Grebe with fish
After opening my post and finding a present from a Vicky, I was delighted with her wildlife guide of the Pantanal. I shall certainly make good use of that in a few weeks time. Thank you Vicky very thoughtful ! It cheered me up after nearly a fortnight now being ill with flu, still recovering and lacking in energy or motivation.
My neighbour invited me round for a cup of tea and after watching my juvenile Buzzard together calling overhead together, I made my way to Pentney where the lake was all but deserted with the exception of a few Mute Swans and Egyptian Geese. I continued onto Nar Valley Fisheries where the fishermen were out in full force. I stopped as one fisherman was across the track with his line and I found it difficult to work out exactly what he was doing with his rod and line. It didn't really matter as I used the time to watch a calling Greenshank flying over my head and started a count of some of the birds on the water. Coot and Tufted Duck seemed to be the main birds on show as a family party of Mute Swan swam along the River Nar.
Once the fisherman had finished messing around, I stopped to watch a Great Crested Grebe trying to swallow a rather large fish that it had caught. Quite clearly more successful than the fisherman had been! Dragonflies were flying around and I noticed a Brown Hawker amongst the Migrant Hawkers. I fancied a short walk and made my way to the cottages but was soon exhausted and returned to the car to continue my drive around the lakes. I counted 29 Mute Swans in total but I'm sure that there were more behind the island. A group of Lapwing arose from one of the fields before I drove back along the River Nar where Greylag Geese were blocking my route out.
Mick East and I admired 100+ House Martins and 50+ Swallows all gathering outside my bungalow this morning before we drove to Titchwell.
I walked down the West Bank path at Titchwell before I started work to watch a Red-necked Phalarope. It was a beautiful morning and I was glad to be working outside today.
Another morning with 150+ hirindines outside my bungalow, mostly House Martins!
After work I joined Kathryn and Gwynn and enjoyed all the Spoonbill and Greenshank on the Freshmarsh. Later a Glossy Ibis flew in and landed at the reedbed edge before taking off again to fly towards Patsy's Pool.
House Martins gathering outside my bungalow.
An invitation to join a small group of NarVOS members for a trip out to the River Ouse mouth this morning was an invitation that I could not refuse. Having birded the area for so many years, curiosity needed to be satisfied and so on a beautiful morning I joined several NarVOS stalwarts and together we boarded a boat at the South Quay and set off up river past the Custom House, Fisher Fleet, Babingley outfall and out past the river mouth and rounded the corner towards Snettisham. Here we came to grief as we got stuck on a sandbank! I enquired at how good Allan was at swimming or pushing and the answer was not at all favourable!! He suggested that we throw the fatter members overboard first. Phew that let me out and was glad that I have spent the last few months dieting!!! The state of our bladders came into question as there were no toilets on board. Ummm!!!!
We made good use of our time stuck as we watched Common Terns, Reshank and Common Seals all on the mud. We were surprised at how many Greenshank that we saw too. Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Common Sandpiper were seen as well as good numbers of Oystercatcher. Greylag Geese, Shelduck and many gulls were seen too. Eventually after a bit of coercion from the crew and us all rocking the boat from side to side we managed to get ourselves free from the mud and we turned around back down the river. We watched the Peregrines on the tower before we all enjoyed a meal together in the glorious sun in a riverside restaurant. Thanks must go to Allan for organising the trip.
Linda, Malcolm, Phil, Allan, Stewart, Mick, Ian and Sue all enjoying the trop to the River Great Ouse mouth
Redshank and Common Seals
Redshank and Common Seals
It was a sad day attending a funeral of a dear friend's father who used to bring such a lot of sunshine to my life as he arrived at Titchwell to give me a hug when he arrived. I shall miss his cheery smile and love of life.
It's not every day that I have a Guillemot on my driveway. It will be well cared for and if all goes well, will be released back out to sea.
Jim Scott and I hurtled down the West Bank path after being alerted that there was a Pallid Harrier flying along the coastline heading Titchwell's way. Unfortunately Jim got called back to deal with a medical emergency and I kept watch whilst Mick scanned the ridge. We both saw a harrier sp. fly along the Choseley ridge and out of sight. Luckily one of our volunteers Les is a good photographer and managed to connect with the bird at Ringstead. His photos seem to suggest that the bird could be a hybrid as the 5 primaries could be seen well on Les's photos. (5 primaries on a Hen harrier and 4 primaries on a Pallid Harrier)
After mowing the lawn Jill and I drove to Pott Row and walked up onto Roydon Common. We decided to turn onto Grimston Warren and make our way through to The Delft where I often wander in Winter months to find Jack Snipe. We passed a pair of Stonechat before a couple of Mistle Thrushes called as they flew out of a nearby tree and a Kestrel flew by us. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over our heads. We walked back up to the main track where another Stonechat was perched and another Kestrel was hovering. As we walked back down the track we had 6 Stonechats perched all together along the fence line. One of the males possessed a yellow ring. There were still plenty of Swallows around the farmland as we approached the car back down near the railway cottage.
Having trialled the new pager for 2 1/2 weeks now I really don't like it and have decided to return it. Dick at RBA was really helpful and I will continue with the app on my mobile phone.
I joined the NarVOS group for a walk at Lakenheath led by Allan. I was suprised when he said that he had only been to Lakenheath twice before. We started watching over The Washlands where Teal, Grey Herons, Mute Swans and Lapwings were all feeding and spotted a lone Ruff among the Lapwing. We listened to Cetti's Warblers and watched Goldfinch, Robins and Crows as we walked down the riverbank. A Hobby kept us entertained as we all tried to get everyone onto the bird. We continued down the riverbank where some of our group took the option of only going as far as the first viewpoint whilst the more intrepid of us continued down a bit further where a Kingfisher, more Hobbies and a Little Grebe kept us entertained. We walked to Joist Fen viewpoint where we watched a Marsh Harrier, more Hobbies and another Kingfisher. Walking back a Fen Weaver Orb spider was of interest until we watched several juvenile Hobbies swooping down in front of us before perching in nearby trees.
Fen Orb Weaver Spider
As I pulled into the car park at Titchwell this morning a Turtle Dove was sitting in a tree besides a Woodpigeon.
After making contact with my guide today it would seem that all is now in place for my forth-coming trip. I'm so looking forward to it and hope to see one of my much 'want-to-see' mammals! (as well as adding a few species to my world list of birds).
Simon Helen Flo Jill and Sue at Flo's wedding reception
John and I attended Flo's 40s themed wedding reception today along with other former Titchwell staff. It was good to see her looking so happy.
John and I started the day at Holme-next-Sea watching the sea. A Red-throated Diver in Summer plumage was sitting out and showing off its red throat. I kept scanning and after noting a Great Crested Grebe I spotted two grebes close together, one with an obvious red neck of similar size. Zooming in I could see that I had found two Red-necked Grebes. It took a while but John eventually got onto them. We watched 4 Arctic Skuas and many young Gannets.
After calling in to Titchwell to see my boss about some dates for our proposed New Year holiday, John and I walked down to the beach and met up with two friends and watched several Arctic Skuas harrying Sandwich Terns. I found a Bonxie which Paul was very pleased with as it was a year tick for him and I. On the Freshmarsh we noted a Curlew Sandpiper amongst the Ruff and Dunlin. There were many Black-tailed Godwits and a couple of Common Snipe as well as many Shelduck present. Avocets were fewer in number than they have been. Starlings were making many shapes as they whirled around.
John and I drove home and were soon at the computer booking another birding holiday. I don't think that I have ever had so many birding holidays booked and planned in advance before! Next year is looking very exciting.
After work I drove to Ormesby Little Broad where I joined John and friends to stay at The Boat House for the night.
Ormesby Little Broad
We awoke to a marvellous view over Ormesby Little Broad where Coot, Mallard and Black headed Gulls were all flying around. There were still quite a number of Swallows in flight too. After a sumptuous breakfast including smoked Salmon, fit to keep us all going for the rest of the day the eight of us left for the boat yard at Potter Heigham. After donning life jackets and boading the boat, Pete listened intently how to operate the boat. We were soon underway cruising down the River Thurne towards St. Benet's Abbey.
Mute Swans were curious and probably wanted feeding but Mallards soon moved out of the way as we approached. A Marsh Harrier flew over the marshes as we approached the abbey. We arrived at St Benets Abbey where I have never been before. It was good to see the marshes from a different perspective. We moored the boat and got off to admire the former abbey.
Twenty-four Common Cranes were in flight over towards Thurne and we pointed them out to the others as they landed.
Sue and John on board our cruiser
Sue and John at St Benet's Abbey gatehouse
Twenty-four Common Cranes in fields towards Thurne
After admiring the Common Cranes and watching Marsh Harriers we walked to the cross at the ruins of the abbey. The wind was a bit lively and we returned to the boat and continued on our way choosing to turn onto the River Bure and onto Ranworth Broad. With Pete's expertise we moored at Ranworh and Lorna prepared a wonderful picnic whilst the rest of us wandered around Ranworth. I admired the Great Crsted Grebes at the side of the boat. After we had had our fill we retraced our steps with several of us taking turns to pilot the boat. A few hours later we were back at Potter Heigham where we docked the boat before enjoying a fabulous meal back at The Boat House where we spent the night.
Great Crested Grebe
Pete and Sue
Potter Heigham Bridge
I spent the evening along with many friends at Great Witchingham village hall where Allan Hale was giving his talk on his trip to Colombia to the Wensum Valley Ornithological Group. He had been to many of the sites that John and I had been to on our trip. It brought many memories flooding back as Allan delivered his talk in his inimitable style that we all know and love. He often made us laugh as he poked fun on his fellow travellers.
Mick and I watched a Red Kite as we made our way to Titchwell this morning. I also got called outside the shop to watched Pinkfeet flying over.
Oriental Bird Club AGM Meeting agenda
John drove me to Cambridge where we met up with Ann and Andrew for the Oriental Bird Club Meeting. It was so good to meet up with friends from the birding world some of which I had not seen since the infamous White's Thrush Twitch on North Uist in 1998 and some since before that. There were so many people there that I have shared some amazing experiences of birding around the world with who still share the same passion as I do.
After being welcomed by Mike Edgecombe, John delivered his talk about the Tibetan Plateau including some photos of Sichuan birds which was another wonderful trip that I enjoyed. James Robinson, my former boss at the RSPB gave an excellent talk about the recovery programme for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and it was good to talk to him in the interval when he invited me over to Slimbridge. I may well take you up on that invite James! James is now director of conservation at WWT, based at Slimbridge.
Jim Scott and I were interested in the talk given by Pete Morris about Japan and he delighted us with his photos that brought memories flooding back for both Jim and myself of the wonderful trips that we had both made in Japan, Okinwa and Hachijojima.
Thanks must go to Mike for all the hard work that goes into organising such a wonderful meeting.
John, Ann, Andrew and I went out for a meal after the meeting to talk about one of our planned trips for next year and it was good to hear about Andrew's progress on his books.
Fifty-seven Pinkfeet flew over my bungalow as I arrived home this evening.
I spent this morning busily packing my suitcase once again ready for my next trip and mowing the lawn before heading over to John's for a lovely walk and a meal. Together we headed over to Great Yarmouth for our bird club talk given by James Lowen on Antarctica where the memories of my trip back in the nineties came flooding back. It was a fantastic talk and well delivered. Thanks James.
However the club had a buzz of excitement as Mick Davis showed us all the photos that he had taken of the birds off Winterton that afternoon including a possible albatross. There were lots of Gannet photos but one of the birds certainly seemed to have several features of an albatross sitting on the sea. Well done Mick for getting the news out to give others the chance of seeing it further around the coastline.
John and I started at Buckenham along with Tony Stride and together we watched the two Pectoral Sandpipers on the pools. There were many Lapwing, Teal, Ruff and a lone Dunlin. A Grey Heron was stalking some young Coot as Meadow Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail called. Many Goldfinch fed on the teasels as Canada and Greylag Geese flew over. It was a beautiful warm morning as we watched kettles of Buzzards fly above the trees as young Marsh Harriers played around the skies.
Later at Winterton we took a snooze in the dunes as it was so warm in the sun until some awful dogs started yapping away completely out of control. Why owners allow dogs to disturb others/wildlife is totally beyond me. After admiring a few Summer plumaged Red-throated Divers sitting on the sea and a few passing Gannets and Cormorants we watched several Mediterranean Gulls glistening in the sunlight above our heads before we left and made our way to the cafe on the front to enjoy a cup of tea.
In the evening we attended a packed house at NarVOS in Swaffham where I was bored by endless graphs put up on screen. It was a shame as it should have been an interesting talk about birds of The Brecks. I noted several people asleep in the audience. John and I, along with several others left at half time.
American Golden Plover
During a very busy day at Titchwell an American Golden Plover was reported at Titchwell. The conservation staff were quick to run down the West Bank path but were horrified to see a helium balloon drifting across the Freshmarsh which meant that all the waders had taken flight and hence the American Golden Plover had departed as well. It is about time that these dreadful things were banned as they cause so much damage to wildlife! Luckily the waders came back and once again the conservation staff went to see it and had a scope set up by the time I got down to join them. It was a glorious day and the American Golden Plover stood out against the rest of the European Golden Plover.
I flew from Norwich to Amsterdam and then to Sao Paulo, where I then flew o