Norfolk Birders

Norfolk Birdwatching and beyond!

A very Happy New Year to all my friends, family and followers. I hope your adventures, health and happiness will be as exciting as I am planning mine to be and with three new grandchildren expected and many birding trips planned for the coming year it could be a busy one!


January 1st


As I stepped outside my door and started driving in the semi-dark a beautiful Barn Owl was sat on the fence by the church in Roydon. What am amazing omen for the year to come. I always reckoned that if I saw a Barn Owl at the start of the day/year/bird race I was in for a good one! Skeins of Pink-footed Geese flew over my car at Sandringham as I headed for Titchwell. We were organising a 'beat the pro' at Titchwell today for a good start to anyone's year list to see how many species could be seen on the day. Trevor had a busy day writing them all down but before ratification I think the 'Titchwell Pros' finished the day on 101 species for the reserve for the day. Not bad for a single reserve! I smiled as the day before we had had a complaint from a visitor saying to us that there were no birds about on the reserve!!! (I'm sure that I could sell him a better pair of binoculars if he were to open his eyes!)


Later in the day I drove to Overstrand to join many Norfolk Birders at the traditional New Year's day party where the food was delicious and the company excellent as we are all widely travelled and regaled each other with our adventures. I thought I was reasonably adventurous but listening to one tale of of cycling around the world birding had me drooling over some of the wildlife sightings seen en-route! Like us, many of my friends are just about to board planes to leap off to foreign climes to add to their world lists. I wish them well as we are all so lucky to have birding partners with which to share our enthusiasm.


January 2nd


Upon opening the curtains this morning I knew I had a busy day ahead as I've some pre-packing to do and birthday presents to order on my only completely free day off that I have nothing organised for, before I go away on holiday. However as usual I was distracted by my bird feeder and noticed a Redpoll on it. I rarely get them in my garden as they prefer my neighbour's feeder!


Two of my bird clubs have races/counts this weekend but sadly they have organised them for the same day leaving a bit of a quandary!! Decisions// Decisions????


January 4th


Well the decision was quite an easy one as John and I drove down to Heathrow to save us the hassle in the morning


January 5th


John and I flew to Amsterdam and onto Mauritius.


January 6th


This holiday was quite a change for us as I have been quite ill recently and in need of some R and R so what could be better than some winter sun on an Indian Ocean island?


After a lengthy wait in immigration we picked up our car and drove to Ferney Valley to the Mauritius Kestrel recovery programme. We sat and waited until a pair of kestrels flew in and promptly mated in front of us. Back in 1974 the Mauritius Kestrel was down to the last 4 birds with only one female. With a species recovery programme in place there are now over 300 Mauritius Kestrels in the wild on the island.



























                                             Mauritius Kestrels mating

































                            Sue

Laguna Beach Hotel


After watching White-tailed Tropicbirds sailing overhead, John and I spent the rest of the day swimming in the sea and pool all washed down with a few cocktails. Bliss!!!!




























January 7th



Pink Pigeon


John and I drove to the Black River Gorges where poor signage meant we missed the entrance and we wasted valuable early morning time trying to find the Visitor Centre and the start of the Macchabee Trail where we hoped to see the Mauritius Cuckooshrike. A Pink Pigeon a Mauritius endemic was flying around the Visitor Centre and a Village Weaver was building a nest. A Mauritius Grey White-eye was also observed here. We set off along the 11km trail with ominous-looking clouds. We were very high up here and seemed to be in the clouds. We watched Echo Parakeets and Mauritius Bulbuls but failed miserably to find the cuckooshrike. We did however have a close encounter with a White-tailed Tropicbird as it landed in front of us as poked its head in a hole in a nearby tree.


Back at the car we were tired as the humidity had been exhausting. We drove back to the hotel where it was wonderful to relax in the swimming pool  before enjoying a few glasses of wine and beer.


January 8th


John and I drove to Pointe d’Esny where we caught the boat to take us across to Ile aux Aigrettes, a coral island where we were hoping to see two of the endemic species of Mauritius. There is nothing quite like a boat trip across a dazzling turquoise sea under a sunny sky in the wonderful heat of the tropics. John and I were enjoying every minute of it. After landing we made our way into the interior of the island where we saw several Aldabra Giant Tortoises. We soon saw the Mauritius Fody but the Mauritius Olive White-eye was quite a different matter as we had been warned that this would be difficult. We heard one but it was sometime before John spotted one near the feeders. All too soon it fitted away. I saw one another but my camera refused to cooperate.


We sailed back to the mainland and investigated another reserve where we failed to see the endemic flycatcher. We did some sea-watching from a beach and saw many Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.




































                                         Ile aux Aigrettes


































                                       Aldabra Giant Tortoise
Mauritius Fody

January 9th


We started our day on the West coast of Mauritius at the Rivulet Terre Rouge Bird Sanctuary over-looking the River Terre Rouge estuary. Here on the mud we saw, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Curlew, Sandpipier, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Greenshank, Whimbrel and Grey Plover as well as a Saunders's Tern.


After booking our boat trip for Friday we spent the rest of the day swimming and enjoying ourselves with a few beers on the beach.


































Boeuf Bain Beach


























                                       Saunders's Tern

January 10th


John and I drove to Bras d'Eau National park once again to arrive soon after breakfast as we had been promised a ranger would be present to help us with some site information, as they had closed  up very early on our last visit. This seems to be a common problem at this reserve. We thought we might be in luck this time because at least the doors were open. However the lady inside knew nothing about the reserve or the birds present and took us two policemen outside on the road who might be able to help us !!!!!! She could not even provide a map and the notice board outside with a diagrammatic map on it bore no resemblance to the trailmap that I had gleaned off the internet before our arrival. I got my map out and the policeman pointed vaguely in the direction of the forest that we might start our search for the trail. Finding the Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher was going to be all down to us. A tiny bird in rather a large forest!


The heat was oppressive with a high level of humidity and we were soon reaching for water. Underfoot was difficult and certainly not the 'easy' grading that the park had suggested. The volcanic lava had us looking at every step as we picked our way through it. Friends had made a few suggestions to us where the bird could be seen but had all missed the bird on the loop despite walking the whole loop. After walking for two hours we had completed one of the loops with very little reward in terms of  birds seen except for a Scaly-breasted Munia and a few Zebra Doves and we were getting despondent and struggling with the heat. We stopped for a rest and some water at the picnic spot and saw a couple of Madagasgar Red Fodys before continuing back along the main trail. After climbing the steps I shouted to John as two birds had passed right in front of him without him seeing them. I raised my binoculars and had a magnificent view of a displaying pair of Mascarene Paradise Flycatchers. I was desperate for a chance of a quick photograph as well as trying to get John onto them at the same time.


Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher

I actually think that there were three birds around as they darted form tree to tree, one of the males displaying to a female but none of them stayed very long and I only managed a few quick photos. It was another hour of walking in the heat before we got back to the visitor centre and they were not interested in our sightings.

Because of the heat we decided to return to the hotel where the infinity swimming pool was beckoning us in!

















January 11th

Today was a day that I had been looking forward to. I just love boat rides and sailing across to small Indian Ocean Islands in such fantastic weather over a turquoise sea. It was days like this, that dreams are made of. We drove to Grand Baie at the northerly end of Mauritius and waited on the beach for the catamaran to set sail. Our crew loaded up the food and drink and we climbed aboard. We were soon sailing across the ocean watching White-tailed Tropicbirds flying overhead as well as Lesser Noddy and Brown Noddy flying by us. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were in their hundreds as we neared the small island of Gunner's Quoin. It was a tough search but we eventually found a Red-tailed Tropicbird amongst the White-tailed Tropicbirds. Luckily I managed to get a photo which was a challenge with all the ropes and wires of the catamaran in the way.




























Red-tailed Tropicbird





















White-tailed Tropicbird
We had a wonderful day birding, swimming, snorkelling with turtles, and taken to several small islands where the turquoise warm seas are just amazing but as I will do a trip report I will put more photos in this when I get time.

January 12th

John and I drove to Grand Bassin where there are Hindu Temples for a second attempt to see Mascarene Martin which we had failed to find on our last visit. We parked the car and noticed two Mascarene Martins sitting on overhead wires. They were soon joined by seven others. After taking several photos we tried to visit Ebony Woods but we had limited time and didn't want to pay the high entrance charge. Instead with fresh information from Steve and Dot we tried the Machabee Trail once more after having been given a lift for part of the way by forest wardens. We admired several Echo Parakeets before I talked the cuckooshrike up as it was the last of the endemics that we needed to see. We knew it was always going to be difficult as most birders miss it hat visit the island but I was hopeful with the fresh information. We got to the junction that Dot and Steve had said and I told John it would be just round the corner as I could feel it in my waters! We looked around and all of a sudden John saw the Mauritius Cuckooshrike fly in. Panic set in as I couldn't see it! It flew across to another tree and I managed a quick snatch of a photo before it flew out at the back of the tree. Celebratory hugs all round!!! We had cleaned up with no time left to spare as we headed back to the Visitor Centre where the wardens kindly invited us in for cold drinks before we drove back to the airport for our flight home.

































Echo Parakeet


























Mauritius Cuckooshrike

14th January


After a long flight home I was still a bit tired this morning as Carrie picked me up for work but as I was in charge of the shop today at Titchwell, I thought I had better get up early and make an effort to look as best as I could. As we left Docking towards Choseley a beautiful Barn Owl flew down the lane in front of us. The only camera that I had with me was my phone and so I took some video footage of it before it perched on the hedge where Carrie and I stopped to admire it.

Barn Owl 


As I will be away for some lengthy birding trips this year there is very little point on me making my usual effort to try to get a good year list..............however that's not to say that I won't be out and about as usual looking at birds, butterflies, dragonflies and any other wildlife that I am interested in! I also expect to be quite a busy Nanny this year too!

17th January


As I had a couple of hours to spare I kept local and made my way to Snettisham RSPB to see if the construction had started on the base for the new hide as well as trying to add one or two species to my paltry year list. A Sparrowhawk flew up the lane in front of me as I drove up the lane in Roydon and I watched a Jay in Sandringham Woods.


At Snettisham the tide was a long way out and a huge flock of Golden Plover were sitting on the mud. I watched Goldeneye displaying as well as Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Little Grebe and Tufted Duck on the pits as well as Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Curlew, Shelduck all out on the mud. I was struggling in the bitterly cold wind and so cut short my visit.


In the evening I attended Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society meeting at Lenwade where Jason Moss gave an excellent talk on various British Islands. It was good to catch up with many friends present.


18th January


An unexpected visit from Vicky and Dave was a lovely surprise and John and I enjoyed a wonderful meal out with them as we shared our tales of our recent travels to Sichuan, Colombia and Venezuela.


19th January


At Titchwell we have been trialling’ Breakfast with Harriers’ and so I had agreed to meet up with Ryan and Matthew and our visitors who had paid to accompany us to our two monitoring hides, which are not open to the public to watch the Marsh Harriers come out of roost. We were in position before sunrise and before long we had 26 Marsh Harriers in the air together. It was an amazing sight. I counted 35 Marsh Harriers coming out of roost as it got light. Unfortunately I had to return to open up the shop and so missed the bacon butties!



13 of the 26 Marsh Harriers in the air together

Sunrise at Titchwell Marsh RSPB

20th January


Thank you to those of you that have donated old binoculars to me for young people in Uganda which I am trying to encourage and support into birding and conservation with the help of Harriet my guide in Uganda. Yesterday my friends Jean and Roger gave the binoculars that were suitable to Harriet who will see that they get given to young enthusiastic Ugandan birders. A big thank you to all of you that so kindly helped.

Jean giving the binoculars to Harriet

Harriet giving the binoculars to young enthusiastic birders

22nd January


John and set off for Titchwell and as we were travelling between Choseley and Thornham saw a ring-tail Hen Harrier over the fields. We joined Trevor, Chris and Peter down at the beach at Titchwell and watched several Long-tailed Duck, Red-throated Diver, Eider, Shag, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Great Crested Grebe, Goldeneye, Razorbill, Common Scoter as well as Sanderling, Oystercather and Bar-tailed Godwits on the sand.


We walked up the path and watched a Spotted Redshank amongst the Common Redshank before making our way to the Parrinder Hide where we saw a Water Pipit on one of the islands.


At Holkham we admired the Snow Buntings and Shorelark as well as the Dartford Warbler in the Sea Buckthorn keeping the company of a Stonechat. On the marsh a Great White Egret was not far from some White-fronted Geese as well as many Wigeon, Egyptian Geese, Little Egret and Grey Heron.
























                                     Snow Buntings
























                                     Snow Bunting

Stonechat

Glaucous Gull with a Shelduck in the background


We moved on the East Bank at Cley where we watched the Glaucous Gull on Arnold's Marsh. Back in the car park we admired another Barn Owl.


Later at Stiffkey I watched a littoralis race of a Rock Pipit in one of the channels.

23rd January


John and I started our day at Ormesby Little Broad where after watching a Kingfisher fly up the boardwalk in front of us, we soon located two female Smew present amongst the Gadwall and Shoveler on the far side of the broad keeping away from the ice. We had to walk back to the road-bridge before I located the Red-necked Grebe which was lurking in the reeds. The mist didn't help our efforts and there were several Great Crested Grebes present to add to the confusion with their necks all folded down.






















                                              Smew

















                                   Common Crane

We drove to Thurne where, thanks to Tony we located eleven Common Cranes.


At Ludham we found 28 Bewick's Swans and 88 Whooper Swans.
























                                     Bewick's Swans

























                                       Whooper Swans

At Barton Broad we saw two Scaup amongst many Coot before driving onto Waveney Forest where we saw three Short-eared Owls, a Barn Owl, a kestrel as well as a very distant Rough-legged Buzzard. There were many Common Buzzard present so it was good to see the Rough-legged Buzzrd in flight as well as sitting on the ground.













Two Scaup amongst the Coot





















A distant Rough-legged Buzzard

January 26th


A beautiful Barn Owl flew across the road as I drove to work this morning.


January 27th


After a wonderful meal out last night, with one of the best cheesecakes that I have ever had, I had to be up early for work. It was the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, one of the most popular birdwatching event in the whole country. As I was responsible for the shop at Titchwell today after opening up, I was lucky in that being a Sunday morning and most people like a lie-in, it was not busy so that I could use the front feeeders and do an hour's birdwatch. It would be 'my garden' for the event. I counted the maximum number of each species at any given point in the hour. I saw 3 Moorhen, 29 Chaffinch, 4 Dunnock, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Blackbird, 3 Brambling, 3 Woodpigeon, 2 Pheasant, 20 Goldfinch,Great Tit, Robin, Greenfinch and a Blue Tit. I entered the results on the RSPB's website to contribute to the 40 years of data that they have collected to see how trends in our garden birds are going.


As I arrived home in a howling gale I discovered to my horror that I had no electricity. It was cold and dark. It's amazing how much we take for granted living in the developed world as I struggled to get myself warm. By using my phone and powernetwoks website, it soon became apparent that the electricity supply would be off for some time. So there was nothing for it but to spend the time catching up on some of my non-computerised bird records from my last few adventures! It reminded me of the days that I spent writing my physics A-level essays during the miners' strikes back in the '70s !

My candle-lit work station.

Working by candlelight

January 28th


After work I attended the Great Yarmouth bird club member's night. It was an excellent evening with many active birders at the meeting. Justin Lansdell gave us an excellent talk about the various sub-species of Jays and what we should be looking for to distinguish between our resident birds and migratory birds. All very interesting. John gave a short talk about our trip to Greece with Bob giving a talk on 2018 and the interesting birds that he had taken photos of. During the interval I had a skim through Darren Rees's book 'Icebound' with his beautiful artwork which was a raffle prize.


January 29th

























                                 Common Crossbill























                            Common Crossbill

John and I started our day at Santon Downham where we failed to see the Great Grey Shrike. Nuthatch and Marsh Tit were calling and there seemed to be plenty of Blue Tits around. At Lynford Arboretum we watched six Crossbill stripping the cones of their seeds as well as many Siskins. We drove onto Grimes Graves where John spotted a Goshawk which we watched for sometime before motoring onto the layby south of Swaffham Forest where I picked out four Goshawk, 3 males and one large female. One of the males gave us a marvellous wing-clapping and rolling display.


January 30th


Having spent some time trying to keep pace with my world list, having swopped from a Clement's list to IOC, which the BOU adopt nowadays, I note that all British listers that have seen Steppe Grey Shrike on their lists have lost a tick as this has been lumped back with Great Grey Shrike. I will have to spend some time sorting out white-eyes too that I saw on my 2010 world trip and other trips to the far east in subsequent years. Grrrrrr...... It's a good job that I have a validation facility on my database to help! 


Thank you to all of you that have come in to see me at Titchwell and commented on my recent trip reports. It's nice to know that my efforts are appreciated as they do take quite a considerable amount of time to do. 


Panic set in yesterday as I realised that a few of my innoculations are out of date and it's not many weeks until my next trip. Trying to get a nurse appointment that works with my rota can sometimes be very difficult as I often have to book weeks ahead as my surgery is so busy. However over the years things change as many of the vaccinations that we used to have are now considered ineffective.


I had a lovely walk on Roydon Common on a beautiful winter’s morning where I saw a Common Snipe, two Common Buzzard, a Kestrel, 20 Skylark  and six Meadow Pipit.

 

The new car park is now open but is very muddy, so bring your boots. I was disappointed to find that that it is fractionally too low down to sit in a car to watch the Hen Harrier roost on a winter’s evening as a gate to the track where we used to watch from is now locked. There is now a new access route to the common across the former model airplane field. It was good to see a notice on the access gate about dog walking but sadly I saw seven dogs off their leads whilst I was there. Probably not too much of a problem at this time of year but I suspect that dog owners will need some reading lessons before nesting season!


Roydon Common

2nd February


With news of a Little Bunting at Weybourne, John and I made sure that we were parked up early in the car park there. It was good to see so many friends present as we all walked to the fisherman's gate where Moss Taylor greeted us and took our donations. Once we were all through the gate, he locked it and we walked to the back of the trees and up through the wood. We walked through a strip in the fodder crop and organised a flush through. The Little Bunting was seen in flight several times but it was quite a while before it settled along with Chaffinches at the side of the wood. Many people had unfortunately made a wrong decision and went he wrong side of the wood and unfortunately missed the bird as we all had to leave by 10.30am when the gate was locked once again. Thanks must go to Moss for organising the access for us all.























                        Little Bunting



























Some of the crowd waiting patiently for the Little Bunting

We drove to Thornham Harbour where along with Jim Lawrence we watched thirteen Twite feeding on Sea Aster before moving on to Snettisham where we watched a Little Stint amongst the Dunlin out in Wash with Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwith, Knot and Shelduck.


We walked over the causeway  at Snettisham and found the Short-eared Owl in its usual spot. It was now very cold so we were pleased to find the Smew on pit two so that we could return home and the warm!





























                                       Twite


















                               Short-eared Owl

















                                       Smew

3rd February


John and I started our day at Flitcham where we watched four Tree Sparrows by the cowshed before driving onto Sculthorpe Moor where three Mealy Redpolls were amongst a small group of Lesser Redpoll. From one of the hides we watched Bullfinch and Brambling before walking to the hides by the river where we watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two Sparrowhawks fighting. It was a beautiful day with clear-blue skies but not quite the same temperature that we had enjoyed in Mauritius a few weeks ago! In fact the boardwalk was covered in ice and made for a treacherous walk. Never mind....only a few more weeks until we shall be hot again!


























                                          Tree Sparrow































             Common (Mealy) Redpoll and Lesser Redpoll








































                     

                           Great Spotted Woodpecker



























                                           



                                    Sparrowhawk

We drove to Swanton Novers Watch Point where we watched three Goshawk, one Common Buzzard as well as eight Red Deer and after a quick chat to Marcus we enjoyed a lovely lunch in a local hostellry. On returning to Flitcham the Little Owl was perched in its usual tree.





















                                                            Red Deer




















                   Spot the Little Owl !

5th February


Such an exciting day as my twin grandsons were born to my son Jonathan and his wife Sarah Bryan. Welcome to the world Edward Keith Bryan and George Alfie Bryan. They are just gorgeous and lucky to have such wonderful parents. I now have 5 grandchildren...it's getting to be quite a dynasty or half a hockey team at least!!! (My family were/are all hockey players at one stage in our lives).






























           Teddy, Sarah, George and Jonathan Bryan




























                             Teddy and George

6th February


After the exciting events of yesterday I opened the blinds to see two unusual birds on my sunflower feeders that had me reaching for my binoculars. A bright red male Lesser Redpoll was quite clearly needing a closer inspection as it was greyer toned than I would expect of a Lesser Redpoll with brighter-white underparts of the more usual buffy tones of a Lesser Redpoll. The bird spent much of its time around the back of the feeder, much to my frustration and I decided to get my camera but the two birds did not hang around and soon flew off before I could get a photo. It will have to be logged as a Lesser Redpoll but I suspect it was an intergrade Mealy Redpoll. Several Goldfinch, Greenfinch and a lone Coal Tit kept the feeder busy as I left to buy some presents for the twins in town.


After my shopping purchases I drove down to Lynn Point where the Herring Gulls were having a feast in the mud from the cockle shed outflow in the docks as I passed by. Down at the point eight Yellowhammer sat in a bush along with two Reed Bunting. Two Marsh Harriers were flying over the marsh as eight Grey Herons were standing on the mud or on the marsh. A group of 30+ Teal flew out from the Babingley channel as I watched a lone Common Redshank picking its way along the channel as well.


This evening we booked Rod Stewart concert tickets! Whoop whoop! Can't wait to see him!

7th February


On a very blustery winter's day John, Richard and I walked down the riverside at Santon Downham where we failed miserably to see anything much at all. The birds obviously had more sense than we did and stayed well sheltered and hidden away. It seemed pointless staying for long as the wind was ferocious. After passing the reedbed on the way back John spotted the Great Grey Shrike in a Hawthorn bush and I was just quick enoughto see it before it flew off. We walked to the path by the railwayline and luckily Richard saw it just before it flew across the river and out of sight. After a fruitless searh of the churchyard we drove to Lynford Arboretum where we watched ten Hawfinch feeding on the ground underneath the Hornbeam tree. We watched Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit and many Blue Tit as well as a few Goldcrest in the shrubs along the pathways.


















                                       Hawfinch
























         Yellow-legged Gull (top right)

We motored onto Thetford where we watched a Yellow-legged Gull on a roof in Burrell Way before being invited out to a meal with friends for the evening.


8th February


A big thank you to all of you that have contacted me in various ways about the safe arrival of the twins. It has been an amazing few months and with one more baby still to arrive and another amazing birding trip on the horizon I have been able to ignore the horrible,wet and windy weather outside and the usual doldrums associated with it!


10th February


It has been another horrible wet and windy day at Titchwell but it always surprises me just how many visitors we get on such a day.  Life inside visitor centre was very upbeat because of the wonderful staff and volunteers that we have and today we had a lot of laughs whilst helping our visitors. Many of our visitors enjoyed watching two Barn Owls, one of which I could see hunting over Thornham Marsh from the visitor centre. On my way home I saw three more Barn Owls. I always think of them as a good omen for things to come! They are just so beautiful as they hunt along the hedgerows and I slowed down to watch one of them.


12th February

Goosander


John and I drove to Deeping Lakes but stopped to admire two pairs of Goosander on the River Welland.A Barn Owl was sat on a post and we stopped to watch it hunting. It caught a field vole and swooped down to eat it in the long grass at the side of the river.

















                                   


                                      Barn Owl




















                         Barn Owl with a Field Vole

Long-eared Owl


At Deeping Lakes we watched seven Goosander, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Kingfisher as well as listening to a Song Thrush singing at the top of a tree. Two Long-earedOwls were sitting in the scrub on one of the islands.

Merlin


At Frampton Marsh RSPB we watched a Merlin, a gorgeous male Hen Harier, Marsh Harrier as well as thousands of Golden Plover and Lapwing feeding on the fields along with many Wigeon, Teal and Pintail. Small numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Curlew were also present. From the Visitor Centre we watched 3 Barnacle Geese and a few Pochard.

Corn Bunting


Liz and David had invited us for tea and cakes at Sutton Bridge as Liz has a small colony of Corn Bunting that she has had for a few years and wanted us to see them. They perched in a tall tree a short walk from her house. She showed us where her Tawny Owl nests as well as where she feeds her bee colony in her lovely garden. John and David admired all the unusual trees that Liz's father had planted many years ago as we wandered around.


It was lovely to round off the day with friends sitting by a huge fire in the lounge of her farm house eating a lovely home-made sponge sharing our past tales of years gone by. Thanks Liz, the cake and tea were delicious!

13th February


I saw three Barn Owls on my home from work this evening and a Woodcock flying along my road just before my house.


14th February


A lovely Long-eared Owl Valentine's card today! Goodness knows who from???


15th February


Mick and I arrived at work early because of shop changing hours that gave me enough time to have a walk down the West Bank path before I needed to open the shop. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and many birds singing as if it was Spring. I wandered down to have a look at the Freshmarsh where a Mediterranean Gull was sitting on the water. My first one of the year. I rather suspect it will be joined by many others quite soon.


16th February


I drove down to Horsham to see my newly-born grandson, Brodie and the grand new extension to Mark's house. My son's family greeted me and after a quick cup of tea we were back out of the door to take Isla swimming. We enjoyed a cooked breakfast in Horsham before donning our boots where Mark, Isla, Finlay and I went for a walk in the woods that back onto their house. We saw Marsh Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Treecreeper as well as having lots of fun in the mud and puddles.
































                   

Sue with her hands full!
































                          Fun in the woods!

17th February


After a good night's sleep (I was surprised at this with a new baby in the house) Isla crept into my room to wake me up for a cuddle. It was time to get up to play apparently! Mark was busy sorting out the car to make it into 3 rows so that we could all go down to Worthing for the day. It was certainly a task and a half getting us all ready and all safely strapped into seat belts and car seats! Once again it was a beautiful day and Common Buzzards were soaring over woodlands as Mark drove us to Worthing. Isla added Herring Gull to her birdlist as we arrived at the sea. I added Red-throated Diver to my day-list but sadly too distant for Isla to see. She is getting really keen now and has her own binoculars and looks after her field guide. We enjoyed picking up shells on the beach and it was fun trying to explain to Finlay why we were not too keen to go for a swim in the sea.
































                          

The Bryan girls

































                                The Bryan boys

18th February


Aghhhh.............A painful arm today after a Typhoid injection ready for my next trip!


19th February


John and I started at Santon Downham where we saw a Grey Wagtail along the river along with Marsh Tit, Brambling, Siskin and Marsh Tit. We admired the Snowfalkes in the wood by the church before watching a singing Firecrest at Lynford as well as a Goshawk.





















                                                  Firecrest




































                                                 Snowflakes

Nunnery Lakes


We motored on to Nunnery Lakes where Dawn Balmer and Nick Moran had given us permission to enter the Nunnery Lakes reserve to see the Jack Snipe along with two Common Snipe.


Down at Lackford Lake I saw a Caspian Gull along with Marcus Nash.

20th February


Frances and I watched two Barn Owls from the Titchwell Visitor Centre window today.


21st February


I was up early and walked down to the sea at Titchwell where I joined Colin and watched 4 Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, 10 Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, 8 Eider, Long-tailed Duck along with many Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe. On Patsy's pool I joined Andy Clements where we saw a Red-crested Pochard amongst Common Pochard and Greylag Geese as well as a Stonechat.


Darren Rees has kindly sent me his artist book, 'Ice Bound' of his recent trip to Antarctica as well as an original doodle. It will bring back some wonderful memories, I'm sure. Thanks Darren!


I attended the Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society talk this evening, given by Gary Hibberd about Holme Dunes nature reserve. Many of you will remember me working at Holme years ago and it was good to see the fascinating photos Gary had of the reserve and the wildlife there. It was an excellent talk. Thanks Gary. Meeting up with friends is always good and it was good to see Lucy fit and well again.


22nd February


Mick and I saw a Little Owl sitting on top of a telegraph pole in Bircham on our way home this evening.


24th February


Arriving at work early it was a beautiful day for a walk at Titchwell before work. I heard 4 Cetti's Warbler singing and a Chiffchaff in full song as I walked along the trails in the sunlight.


25th February


I started at Holme where it was a beautiful day with a flat-calm sea. I watched 4 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Red-necked Grebe, 6 Great Northern Diver, 22 Long-tailed Duck, a small group of Eider, a few Goldeneye and many Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser. I then drove to Sculthorpe and met up with Graham Sherwin, who has taken on the task of being the NarVOS recorder and making a very good job of it. Tony Gray joined us and together we watched the Coue's Arctic Redpoll along with several Mealy and Lesser Redpoll. After listening to Graham's tales of the life of being a recorder, I drove to John's to enjoy the last rays of the sun in his back garden with a glass of wine or two before being driven to the Great Yarmouth Bird Club talk. Here I was able to obtain a replacement from a fellow bird club member, for a small donation of the Colombian field guide that I had taken months to acquire, that I had had stolen from me. 


Steve Smith presented Bob Cobbold with his award for the 'best find' of the year. The Black-bellied Dipper at Briggate.


Slavonian Grebe

































Steve Smith presenting Bob Cobbold with his award for the best find of the year






























                          Colombian field guide

26th February


After a very busy day working in the cafe at Titchwell, I drove to NarVOS where we had a very interesting talk about the Denver Sluice and Welmore sluice complex and how it drains and supplies water to all East Anglia. The talk finished early enough for all the old stalwarts of the club to meet up in our usual pub to enjoy a drink or two together. It was good to catch up with all the news. On the way home a Tawny Owl was sitting on a branch above the road at Gayton as I drove underneath. 


27th February


It was Titchwell's 46th birthday and Clare had baked a cake to celebrate the anniversary of the RSPB paying £53000 to buy Titchwell Marsh to try and protect nesting Montagu's Harriers. What a wonderful investment it has been for birds and wildlife since that day.

























Ryan, John, Lucy, Trevor, Hayley,,matthew, Lizzie, Trish, Nikki, Clare, Jim, sue, Jeannie,Carrie, Les and Ray


some of the staff and volunteers of Titchwell

























                   46th birthday cake baked by Clare

Titchwell Marsh RSPB

During the day Ryan radioed in to tell me that there was a Red Kite flying over the visitor centre. I was just in time to see 2 Common Buzzards and a Red Kite fly over.


28th February


Carrie and I watched a Red Kite at Choseley flying over the pig fields on our way to work this morning. Later in the day Dave Hawkins radioed in to tell us that he had 3 Hen Harriers over Thornham Marsh. I spotted Ray Gribble on the path and managed to alert him of their presence. The volunteers and I managed good views of one of the ringtails from the visitor centre as it flew close by the path.


1st March


There are times in life when as a parent you just beam with pride at the achievements of your offspring. I have always been very proud of all my children as I count myself extremely lucky that they have all turned out to be decent hard-working adults. I have just learned that my second son Jonathan has been picked for the England over 35s hockey team. Well done darling.


Today I had a frustrating drive to Gloucestershire after having got diverted off my usual route but eventually arrived safe and sound to meet my newly-born twin grandsons Teddy (Edward) and George. As I was rocking Teddy to sleep I watched Red Kites from Jonathan's new extension being mobbed by crows. The twins are just so adorable and were beautifully behaved as I enjoyed cuddling them both. 

Nanny Sue with Teddy and George

2nd March


Whilst watching my son Jonathan play hockey in Cheltenham, I watched a Red Kite tumbling in the increasing wind above my head. I also saw more Red Kites on my way to Oxford to see my daughter before she has her baby soon. 


4th March


John and I took a short walk toLynn Point this afternoon after storm Freya had passed through where 4 male Reed Buntings were sitting in a bush as we walked to the point. Once there we watched a thousand Brent Geese take off and land on the fields the other side of the river. Six Redshank were on the riverside as two Grey Heron flew over the river. We watched a Marsh Harrier flying in the distance the otherside of the seabank and a Barn Owl quartering the bank by the Poplar Trees. As it was very cold and windy we beat a hasty retreat back home.


5th March


John and I had brief views of the Black Redstart at Choseley barns this morning.


6th March


John and I met up with Patrick and Claire and drove to Herringfleet in Suffolk where we soon found the Green-winged Teal amongst the Common Teal. However because of the trees surrounding the pools of water it was difficult to find a spot where I could take a photo from.

Green-winged Teal


We walked the bank and saw Ruff, Common Snipe, Gadwall,a Water Pipit, Greylag Geese as well as Lapwing and many more Teal.


We returned to Patrick and Claire's home and enjoyed a wonderful evening meal with them. Thank you both!

8th March


John and I started at Santon Downham where we didn't have to wait very long for the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker to show itself as it drummed away on on of the dead trees.


































                            Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
































                       Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

We watched a Water Rail swimming alongside us as we walked back before crossing back over the road to look for the Mandarin Ducks. Two female Mandarins flew up the river as we watched a Kingfisher and several Grey Wagtails.





















                                          


                                                Grey Wagtail























                                                Kingfisher

We drove to Drymere where we watched several Woodlark and a Yellowhammer singing. Common Buzzards were spiralling in the air as we searched several areas for Willow Tit without success.























                                              Woodlark
























                                   Yellowhammer

10th March


Loving my new laptop which is so much quicker than my old second-hand laptop and my thanks must go to Trevor and David for advice given on the purchase and setting up. I can now miracast all my photos onto my TV wirelessly once again.


It was a miserable day at Titchwell with very few visitors today in the gale-force winds and rain. In the afternoon I walked to Patsy's pool to check the boardwalks etc where a few Greylag and Canada Geese were sheltering along with Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot and Teal. A Marsh Harrier went whizzing by in the wind as I made my way to the driveway where 7 Curlew were feeding in the field alongside the main road. The feeders were busy all day with Goldfinch, Brambling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch with Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Pheasant and a Moorhen underneath on the very soggy mud.

Fair Isle Bird Obsevatory


(picture from news services)


The birding community will be sad to learn of the total destruction of the bird observatory on Fair Isle by fire this afternoon.  My understanding is that everyone is safe and no-one hurt or injured.

11th March


John and I started the day in NW Norfolk where we watched 2 Ravens and a Buzzard interacting with each other. After a spot of shopping waiting for the tide to drop at Hunstanton we drove to the sailing club and after a brief search of the seafront examining all the groynes I located a Purple Sandpiper sitting on groyne number 4. There were numerous Turnstone and Oystercatcher on the beach in the gale-force winds. 
























                                 Purple Sandpiper























                                              Turnstone




















                                                Oystercatcher
























Sue on a very cold blustery Hunstanton beach

13th March



I watched a Red Kite by Choseley barns as I drove to work this morning. After a very blustery day at Titchwell I drove to Holt, passing a Barn Owl at Letheringsett to join John for a meal before meeting up with Ann and Andrew at the Cley Bird club meeting. Here we joined with friends to listen to John's presentation of his trip to NW Argentina. He followed some of the route that I had taken back in 2010 and it was nice to see some of the photos of the sites and birds that I had seen back then. However some of the shallow lakes that I had seen so many birds on were just dust bowls which would have been so disappointing for John after the wonderful birds that I had seen there. Ann and Andrew recounted some of their tales of their recent Japanese trip which also brought back memories and we will all be meeting up again soon for our next exciting adventure! I had better get my suitcase out!


15th March


Mick East and I watched  2 Red Kites from my kitchen window before left for Titchwell today. Was it so long ago that we used to travel all the way to Wales to see these wonderful birds?


17th March


After passing the police catching unsuspecting speeding motorists through West Rudham, it was good to see a Red Kite flying overhead.


John and I started at Blakeney where we had been invited by Richard to sit in his house and watch his neighbour's back garden where there was a Turtle Dove frequenting it. Enjoying a cup of tea and biscuits we waited without a lot of luck to be begin with, except for a Sparrowhawk that has taken a liking to Richard's small passerines. Richard gave us instructions on where to see a roosting Tawny Owl and so we went to see it before returning to his neighbour's house where we were invited in to see the Turtle Dove. It was too close for my lens but flew to a nearby tree where it sat hiding up as best it could!




















                                             Sparrowhawk




















                                      Turtle Dove





















                                                Tawny Owl

























                                 Tawny Owl

At Cley we wandered down East Bank and watched a Slavonian Grebe along with Lin and Phil on a pool west of the East Bank before adding a Spoonbill to my yearlist back near the road. We motored to coastguards and Dot and Steve told us where they had seen the Wheatear running on Eye Field.

Northern Wheatear

I'm loving my new laptop which is making life so much easier and has the quickest start-up and close down that I have ever had in a computer. Yesterday I uploaded and got running Wildlife Recorder too. The quickest I have ever done it. Thanks Jack! I am informed a new version of this is just about to be launched. Good job I have a current subscription as the upgrade will be free for those of us that have this. In a few weeks time I am hoping to add to my world list!


18th March


I had decided to have a day at home to finalise my packing for my next adventure but when I saw that the wind had dropped and the sun was shining, I did what I always want to do and went birding! Not too sure which way to head at first but eventually I decided to head for the Brecks and wandered along some of the Swaffham forest rides. A Nuthatch was calling and Blue and Great Tits were on show. Siskin and Chaffinch were in the tree tops as a Goldcrest landed in front of me too close for my lens. Several Mistle Thrush sang as I listened to a distant Woodlark but could not find it. I retraced my steps and listened to a Willow Tit singing. It was not at all keen to have its photo taken as it landed partially hidden by twigs making it impossible for my camera to focus. Another bird flew in but only briefly before I manged a couple of snaps of the original bird. I continued to another area where a female Goshawk flew across the tops of trees quickly followed by several sightings of  Common Buzzards.


I drove to the now well-known layby in Swaffham forest and joined Peter Dolton and together we watched another Goshawk, Peregrine and several more Common Buzzards. I scanned the local fields for Stone Curlew without any luck. They will have to w

Willow Tit