Happy New Year! I hope that you all have a succesful birding year and it is shared with friends and family no matter where you are. I will continue to post news and photographs of birds and wildlife that I see around the world and my major family events too! I want to thank the many of you that continue to send me lovely emails and come and talk to me both out in the field and at Titchwell about my website. I appreciate your lovely comments as it makes my time doing it all worthwhile!
Red Kite roost mid-Norfolk
I managed to resist the urge to go birding this morning (just!). So after starting my new 2020 notebook with the list of birds in my garden and completing my tasks for our forth-coming trips and whizzing to the supermarket for a contribution for tonight's party, I made my way across to John's where I studied our plans for our holiday. I had a quick doze before setting off to see the Red Kite roost in mid-Norfolk where 21 Red Kite came into roost. Unfortunately my photo does not do it justice as they just look like tea-leaves above the trees in the gloom!
John and I enjoyed the Cromer fireworks standing on top of Overstrand clifftop before joining the rest of the Norfolk birders at the traditional January 1st party. It was good to see everyone and to share tales of our past and forthcoming trips. What a well-travelled lot we are!
I woke up with a thumping headache and a very sore throat that gave me a very croaky voice. After swallowing a couple of paracetamol I called in at Boots in Swaffham for a few supplies and drove home via Nar Valley Fisheries where there were three Great White Egrets, three Little Egrets, a Goosander, and two flocks of Siskin and a few Redpoll. A lone Bullfinch flew along the hedge as I looked through the Chaffinch flock failing to find any Brambling amongst them. Three Grey Heron added to the scene and I noted two male and one female Goldeneye on the lake.
I am still feeling very grotty but decide some fresh air might actually do me some good, but this is what I thought until I looked outside and saw the rain as it got light. John and I decided to wait until the rain had stopped before we set off for Sedgeford. We walked along the track and joined the merry throng at the muck heap and watched a very bedraggled wet Eastern Yellow Wagtail in the gloom before driving to Fring where some numpty put many of the Pink-footed Geese that we were searching through to flight. Grrr...We left and drove to Holkham via Choseley where we searched through the goose flock before diving on and watched the Black-necked Grebe on the lake near the island by the house . We added a few year ticks as Redwing and Mistle Thrush were on the fences and on the ground feeding as we walked by the herd of Fallow Deer. I was certainly low on energy and was grateful to get back to the car.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
At Wells we watched the Rough-legged Buzzard perched in its usual place before driving down Lady Ann'e Drive. It was heaving with tourists and dogs, many dogs were off leads so we decided that we would wait until later in the winter to look for the Shorelarks. Why people bring dogs to nature reserves is still beyond me! We stopped along the main road to admire all the White-fronted Geese before stopping at the lay-by at Burnham Overy to watch the Cattle Egrets. The pager alerted us to the Grey-bellied Brant at Choseley so we drove back and joined the birders admiring the Grey-bellied Brant that had arrived from the Fring flock. I was soon struggling with coping with my cold/virus and returned back home early and just hope that I will be well enough for my holiday!
John and I walked the beach at Cart Gap where we joined many birders waiting to see the Desert Wheatear. The bird had flown over the concrete wall and over into the caravan park. Along with Dawn, Pete and Bethany we decided to go and look for it and so walked the track at the back and into the caravan park where we located the bird sitting on the steps. It flew onto a bramble and eventually flew back down to the beach where we had good views of it.
We drove along towards Sea Palling where we stopped and looked at Bewick's Swans and Whooper Swans in a roadside fields and a few more White-fronted Geese and Golden Plover a bit further along the road before driving to Billockby where along with several other birders we admired 20 Common Cranes behind the black barn. We didn't stop long as we wanted to get to Buckenham where 7 Taiga Bean Geese had been reported earlier. It didn't take long to find them as they were in the same spot where we had seen them a few weeks earlier. We met up with Patrick and admired the many White-fronted Geese also present. A Marsh Harrier and Red Kite were good to see as were several Ruff present along with a huge flock of Wigeon and Teal.
Taiga Bean Geese
John and I met up with Ian, Chris, Steve and Paul at Dereham Sewage Treatment works at 8 am this morning for the Wensum Valley Bird Race day. John and I were in one team and the others were another team, also taking part. We soon heard a Kingfisher along the stream as we watched a Grey Wagtail on the sewage beds. We parted company with the other team and John and I completed the loop, adding many species but not the Redpoll or Water Rail that we had targeted here. We watched a Little Egret which surprisingly was the only one we saw all day. We ticked off a few common species as we made our way up to Bittering where we knew some of the pits were out of bounds according to the rules. However we managed to see several species of duck here as well as a lone Shelduck. We dove up back lanes through to Bintree and Guist where we added Grey Heron and Shoveler as well as Redwing and a Mistle Thrush. At Sculthorpe they were kind to us and after explaining we were on a limited time they let us in for a small donation where we saw Brambling, Marsh Tit as well as a few more common species in the shape of Kestrel, Coal Tit and Collared Dove. A Cetti's Warbler called as we walked alongside the reeds but we did not see it. At Bylaugh we saw more Grey Wagtails and a Tritis Chiffchaff. Moving back through the valley we saw 200 Linnets at Honingham and eeked out a Reed Bunting in a cover crop near the end of the day after watching several Red Kite. We ended the day on 72 species, with sadly not an owl of any species!
Back at Great Witchingham Village Hall, Lin did a marvellous job collating all the species and scores. It was certainly entertaining for us all.
A great day all round. Thanks to Lin who had made some delicious cakes for us all to enjoy and kept us all on track.
I had a very cold day at work today but did enjoy being told exactly where to look to see the cryptically hidden Woodcock on the Meadow Trail. Thanks Les!
I wasn't the only staff member that was cold today as our conservation staff also had a cold day trying to mend/clear the pipes on the Freshmarsh sluice which have become blocked up and have collapsed meaning that we can't evacuate water from the Freshmarsh. This means that the water levels are now very high. Still at least the vegetation on the islands will get killed off which will be good for our breeding birds next year!
Whilst working at Titchwell I took a photo of wheat must be one of the most photographed Kestrels in the county. It certainly knows how to pose!
I am pleased to report that our amazing conservation team at Titchwell has managed to unblock the pipes and hopefully we will be able to evacuate some of the water off the Freshmarsh. However it will take some time and we intend to drop the water levels very low so that the predator fence can be repaired.
After driving to Gatwick and staying in an airport hotel overnight John and I boarded a flight to St. Lucia in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It was very warm and humid as we arrived at the airport on St. Lucia and we immediately ran into car hire problems once again as Sixt would not accept my international driving licence which I had gone to so much trouble to obtain as we had been warned that we would need one to drive on St. Lucia. Luckily John had his UK licence with him which they were quite happy to accept. After much paperwork filling we were upgraded to a bigger car at no extra cost. Result!
Collared Dove and Eared Dove were sitting by the car as we loaded up our cases
into the car in the car park. As I had forgotten my phone car adapter we headed
into Vieux Fort town where we watched two Magnificent Frigate birds flying
above our heads by the coast road.
En-route to the Marigot Beach and Dive resort we drove along a very twisty but good surface road and saw Grey Kingbird, American Kestrel, Broad-winged Hawk, Western Cattle Egret, Carib Grackle. Using google maps we navigated our way to the inlet and after parking the car boarded a little ferry across to our cabin overlooking the bay. What a wonderful view we had as the sun set and the lights came on. We enjoyed our evening meal in the warmth of the evening by the sea.
John and I birded the gardens of our accommodation where we watched a Brown Pelican fly across the bay along with a hovering Osprey and a Royal Tern. Lesser Antillean Bullfinches were common as were the St Lucia race of Bananaquit. We watched Brown Boobies out at sea.
After a late breakfast John and I drove to the forestry at Union where we were told all the trails had been closed to visitors because of the new construction taking place. Not a good start! However a nice official arranged access and a guide to another trail for us tomorrow. We birded in and around the visitor centre at the edge of the forest and saw Antillean Crested Hummingbirds as well as Purple-throated Caribs. Later at the Dennery we watched Green-throated Caribs.
As I will be writing a trip report I will keep my diary brief.
After a ferry ride across the bay we met up with our guide Canice and followed him to The Millet Trail where after fun getting the gates unlocked with hammer assistance we walked up to a view point over-looking the forest. We watched several St Lucia Black Finches on Coconuts that had been set up as feeders. After a bit of a wait we watched two St Lucia Parrots fly across in front of us as well as watching a perched one some distance away. We walked back down and started a forest trail where we soon saw Grey Trembler, more Black Finches and a St Lucia Oriole. The forest was very dark making photography almost impossible. We had brief views of St Lucia Warbler before proceeding up a steep, quite strenuous trail where we saw very little except more St Lucia Parrots flying across the valley. Near the end of the trail Canice and I watched a Pearly-eyed Thrasher on a Coconut feeder. It felt good to see some of the main endemics of the island, especially as we know that they are difficult to see and find.
Today was meant to be a non-birding day but John and I were still up early and birded the resort grounds where we found the St Lucia Pewee, a bird that we had failed to find yesterday. We were delighted as we were told it was a higher elevation bird.
After a lazy breakfast and noting a Red-billed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird and Brown Booby at sea, we drove to the Sulphur Springs, a volcano where you can drive right into the crater. We took a guided tour and watched the hot bubbling mud pools in the centre of the sulphur-smelling crater. After leaving our guide we birded above the crater and found a Black-whiskered Vireo.
We returned to our apartment where I enjoyed a swim in the sea.
After a lazy breakfast sitting by the sea on the decking in our resort restaurant watching the boats coming and going we set off for the high forest Descartiers Trail in the Quilesse Reserve. We followed the directions that we had found in various trip reports as the road was not on Google maps and differed from our road map. The road disintegrated into a track heading uphill eventually arriving at the start of the trail. Here we were lucky to find two workers who charged us an entrance fee and later along the trail we met Vision whom we had met at Birdfair. He kindly told us of the viewpoint that he recommended would be our best chance of seeing the birds we wanted to see.
We watched St Lucia Oriole, St Lucia, Warbler, Antillean Euphonia, Grey Trembler, St Lucia Parrot, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher and Purple-throated Carib as well as Pearly-eyed Thrasher on the walk up.
Today was to be another ‘non-birding’ day and so John and I drove to Pigeon Island where we enjoyed a free drink at the Sandals Beach Resort whilst watching Royal Terns, Brown Boobys and Magnificent Frigatebirds overhead. On the rocks Ruddy Turnstones were feeding. We both enjoyed a lovely swim in the aquamarine blue sea with the sun beating down on us. Bliss!
On our way back we called into the Union Forest Reserve once more where we saw Scaly-naped Pigeon and Grey Trembler once again.
John and I drove to a site near Praslin Bay that Vision, a guide that we had met at Birdfair had given us for White-breasted Thrasher and although we heard the bird a couple of times we failed to see it. We drove on to Mamiku Gardens where after following a trail where we watched a couple of St Lucia Warblers. I attempted a couple of photos but the birds were deep in vegetation on the forest floor and this made my attemptes very difficult. The resulting photo was the only one that I managed that was half-reasonable. We enjoyed a cup of tea overlooking the gardens. We watched Scaly-breasted Thrasher and Spectacled Thrush before leaving for Lumiere where we enjoyed a walk watching St Lucia Bulfinch, Common Grackle and Green Heron before leaving to enjoy a B B Q at our delightful accommodation over-looking the sea on a wonderful warm evening.
After a leisurely breakfast and settling our bills we had a slight problem as the ferry to take us back to the landing on the other side of the bay had been taken out of service for maintenance. Eventually another boat was called for and we trundled our cases to the beach on the other side of the promontory where we loaded them into a local boat that took us across the bay.
We loaded the cases into the car and set off for the west side of the island, stopping off to watch Frigate birds flying over various bays we encountered. At one estuary we watched Little Blue Heron, Great White Egret and a Green Heron. By late morning it was very hot and we sought an ice-cream at Soufriere. We were given the biggest bowl of Banana ice-cream I have ever seen. It took some effort to eat it all. We made our way to the Diamond botanical gardens where we walked up to the volcanic waterfall. John was in his element identifying plants for me. A Grey Trembler perched on a Ginger plant as a Purple-throated Hummingbird zipped around. Near the exit a St Lucia Black Finch posed for a photo but I only had my i-phone with me as my camera gear was all packed ready for our flight later on.
After lunch we drove to Aupicon near the airport where an exceptionally kind cafe owner at ‘Grill n Chill’ not only let us use his car park but supplied us with free alcoholic drinks too! We walked across to the lake where it was covered in Caribbean Coot and Blue-winged Teal. A Great Blue Heron flew across at the back of the lake as well as a few Snowy Egret and another Little Blue Heron.
All too soon in the heat of the day we returned our car to the airport and caught our evening flight back to Gatwick. I have to say the the people of St Lucia are the most friendliest people that I have met anywhere in the world. We were certainly looked after very well everywhere we went.
I shall be writing up my trip report, which I shall upload to my trip report tab on my website as soon as I can after coping with work and visits to my ever-expanding family.
We drove onto Holkham where we soon found 5 Shorelark and a big flock of Snow Bunting in the roped off area. I had words with an irresponsible dog owner who was letting their dog, that was off the lead and totally out of control disturbing the Shorelark and the buntings in the roped off area. Grrr.....
We looked at the sea where there was a a huge flock of scoter out on the sea. Amongst the Common Scoter there were a few Velvet Scoter. Luckily one of the flocks was relatively close . We watched Grey Partridge and a Black Brant hybrid amongst the Brent Geese by Lady Ann's Drive as we dove away. There were also many Wigeon present.
We returned via Sculthorpe Moor where there was a Waxwing in the car park.
At Roydon Common we waited for the raptor roost and watched 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Marsh Harrier and a wonderful sighting of a male Hen Harrier. It's been a while since I have seen a beautiful male hen Harrier. Gone are the days when we used to see several at Roydon Common at the end of our birding day.
Another good day at work where I watched a male Goldcrest display to a female Goldcrest for a long time by the recruiting hut. It was fascinating to watch as he sang away! A Barn Owl hunted over Thornham Marsh this morning adding itself to my year list. I need to sort out my butterfly page on my website and am going to try to fill the gaps this year so that I have a photograph of every British butterfly which I shall eventually upload to my website. John and I have plans to see my final British butterfly for my list this year if the weather behaves itself!
John and I were at Lynford Arboretum just after first light this morning to watch the Hawfinches come out of roost by the paddocks. One Hawfinch was already sitting at the top of the Holm Oaks as we arrived with another bird soon joining it. John saw several others leave the roost and fly away over the treetops and out of sight. We walked the loop watching a Treecreeper, Marsh Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and having another Hawfinch fly over our heads before joining Simon by the tumnnel and watching another three Hawfinch feeding on the ground along with Brambling, Yellowhammer, Dunnock, Robin and Blackbirds.
We admired the Snowdrops in the arboretum before driving to Brandon Country Park where we watched eight Mandarin Ducks swimming with Mallards.
Whilst working today manning the recruitment hut at Titchwell I took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch before it got busy for the first hour of my shift. I saw Blue Tit, Robin, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Songthrush, Long-tailed Tit.......a flyover Curlew and an unseasonal Chiffchaff. So many people enjoy doing the Big Garden Bird Watch and it was lovely to speak to a family that had brought their little girl to Titchwell to do it as they didn't have a garden. What a fantastic family! I had an interesting phone call this evening that left me grinning from ear to ear! I certainly get some hilarious entertainment from my birding sometimes!
John and I braved the weather and joined Bob at Wroxham Broad where upon the Slavonian Grebe had just sailed around the corner and out of sight! So we drove onto Ranworth Broad where the workers were burning the reeds and we disappeared into smoke. Not ideal viewing conditions. We stayed for a short while watching Teal, Wigeon and Tufted Ducks and a few Coot, Moorhen and Mute Swans but the smoke made uncomfortable viewing and so we returned to Wroxham Broad where the Slavonian Grebe was now on view albeit very distantly. After a quick lunch we drove to Buxton Heath where we watched a pair of Stonechat flitting about the gorse and reedmace.
We spent the evening at the Great Yarmouth Christmas members evening with a buffet at the Comfort Hotel in Great Yarmouth. It was a brilliant evening with several of us taking a few photos that would interest other members. After watching Mick give a short presentation on South Georgia and The Falklands, we had a short talk about Dartford Warblers in East Norfolk. I showed a few photos of the birds of paradise that John and I had seen in West Papua and John followed this with a few photos of game birds that we had seen in Borneo and Malaysia. We then had an interesting few slides from a member who had lived and birded on Bermuda for two years. Justin then gave us a fascinating identification talk about Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Black Brant, hybrid Black Brant and Grey-bellied Brent Geese that had appeared in Norfolk. It was a very late evening which we all enjoyed immensely. On the way back to John's we saw a Tawny Owl and a Barn Owl in flight.
I received some late but very grateful news whilst at work today and had to spend my evening in discussions. I have been awarded another degree and am very much looking forward to my graduation ceremony which will take place in September along with all my fellow students. It has been nearly 40 years since I graduated with my first degree so it will be fun to wear robes for the day once again! All that hard work finally pays off !
John and I spent some of our morning at the well-known watch-point south of Swaffham where we joined Pete, Marcus, Charlie and John and watched a male Goshawk displaying over the trees. Unfortunately there was a pheasant shoot about to start in the fields in front of us, which made my blood boil and so I could not stay and watch the slaughter and disturbance to our wildlife.It's about time this barbaric sport was stopped. I would not mind if they actually took them home to eat but the vast majority of introduced pheasants once shot or injured are simply buried in a hole. Grrrr.....
I spent the afternoon sorting out my butterfly photos. This has meant retrieving them from my main PC, 2 laptops and a tablet. Unfortunately I lost many of my photos when a laptop and PC were damaged by a previous partner. Thank goodness for my website, as I have managed to retrieve many of them, albeit in a reduced file size. I have managed to find photos of 54 of 58 species that I have seen in the UK. Hopefully I shall be able to update my now very old butterfly page when I have the time!
A lucky day today as I managed to see a Barn owl on my way to work at Shernborne and a Barn Owl on my way home from work at Anmer crossroads.
I have been working on my butterfly webpage but needed a break and so drove down to Snettisham, where on a very cold and blustery day I saw the two Short-eared Owls in their usual roost spot. I enjoyed watching Goldeneye on the pits but it was simply too cold and blustery to stay for very long. On the journey home I called into Flitcham where I watched a Tree Sparrow along with a Brambling amogst a flock of Chaffinch that were all feeding in a cover crop before flying up into the hedgeline.
Tree Sparrow with Chaffinch
John and I started our day at Winterton where after a long walk through the dunes we met up with Stew and Barry and sat atop the dunes looking inland. We almost got blown away! Although it was sunny the wind was fierce and it was difficult to look through the scope at all the corvids. John picked out the Hooded Crow and Stew picked out the Raven. After a bit of a chat all the corvids took to the air and it was easy to see the size difference of the Raven. It flew along with the Hooded Crow and underneath a Common Buzzard.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the Nelson's Head before heading back to Winterton village after dipping on the Scaup at Hickling that had been flushed by a boat moments before we got there. We also failed to see the Eagle Owl once again . Grrr
I have finally finished my butterfly page. It can be viewed at https://suebryan.webs.com/butterflies It has taken some hard work retrieving all my photos from various machines!
After spending the morning on admin and sorting out a new driving licence so that I can apply for yet another different international driving licence (there are at least 3 different ones depending on which country you want to drive in) for our forthcoming trip I needed some fresh air and some exercise. I did not want to drive far and so opted for Roydon Common. The car park was full when I arrived but luckily with my little car I could just squeeze it in a small spot. I set off across the common and except for a Skylark singing its heart out I saw nothing until 18 Meadow Pipits flew into a tree beside me. Another Skylark sang as I arrived on the top field and walked across it. A few corvids flew around as I arrived at The Delft where I saw just one Common Snipe. On my return journey a male Stonechat sat atop a post as a Common Buzzard flew over the trees in the distance.
I received some lovely emails today from people that I have helped find a few birds that have contacted me and have seen my website. Thank you so much, it is appreciated.
John and I decided to drive west today to Deeping Lakes where we saw two Long-eared Owls. One was hidden very deeply in the vegetation on the island in front of the hide but one was across the water on the right before you get to the hide. On the lake we watched Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye as well as Cormorants nesting in the trees. Coot were also present. Walking further on past the hide we kept going until we met the river bank. We walked along the bank to the right until the bend in the river where there was a bench. We looked across at the old Willow trees where we watched two Little Owls. There were several Goosander on the river.
Near Thorney we stopped to admire a Barn Owl hunting along the ditches before stopping by the A47 where there was a herd of Whooper Swans. At Eldernell we watched four Common Cranes.
I can't believe that it is a year since my twin grandsons were born. Happy birthday boys!
I had an amazing day at work in the sun greeting visitors and speaking with lots of friends today. I watched a Peregrine streak across the car park putting up 600 Golden Plover on the Freshmarsh and flying along with Lapwing over the car park. It was good to see friend Chris Lotz who owns Birding Ecoturs who has arranged several of my South Ameican bird trips today. We had arranged to meet up and talk over things and plans for the future. After work Chris and I walked down the West Bank path. I pointed out Bearded Tit, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Avocet, Teal, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen as we walked and watched a hunting Barn Owl together. We went to the Parrinder hide where we watched the harrier roost where 40+ harriers roosted in the reed bed and flew over the East Bank and into the reeds there. Thirty Pied Wagtails landed on the Freshmarsh as well as watching a flock of Pied Wagtails flying over. A Merlin was sat on one of the banks. We watched Shoveler, Shelduck, Redshank, Magpie and many Starlings flying to roost. The sky was amazing as the sun set displaying so many reds as we realised that it was time to leave.
My evening was also a busy one sorting out bird talks and forthcoming trips as well as helping several birders on where to see various birds with maps etc.
Another very busy day at work where the sun was out and I met some wonderful visitors who had so much to tell me. At lunchtime I walked down the West Bank path and joined the excited crowd watching the Bittern in the pool beside the path. As I had travelled with Carrie today I had no camera with me and so had to make use of my phone and by using Ian's scope I managed a poor record shot of the Bittern as it caught a few fish. Two Bearded Tits landed above it and perched on the reeds as a Marsh Harrier flew over in the blue sky. Sometimes there are magical moments at Titchwell and I'm lucky enough to work here too!
Bittern in the reeds
Can you see it? This photo shows how secretive they can be!
Another busy day at Titchwell as I greeted visitors and friends alike. I loved watching all the Golden Plover as they twinkled in the sky above me catching the sunlight as they flew. Several skeins of Pink-footed geese called as they too flew over. I don't suppose that they will be with us much longer as they start to head back north. A visitor reported an Orange-tip Butterfly in the car park this afternoon but I did not see it.
I have been sent a mouth-watering itinerary for a trip proposal for next year. Now I need to study it in detail and looking at Sunday's weather forecast I know just the time to do it!
Blast from the past
Trumpeter Finch Twitch Languard 21st May 2005 (photos courtesy of James Hanlon)
Whilst perusing a few websites last night I came across this photo taken by James of a twitch at Languard in which I am standing in the green jumper with my daughter behind me looking less enthusiatic at the Trumpeter Finch.
I went out into my garden with the intention of cleaning and re-filling my bird feeder this morning and had quite a surprise as I removed the top. There was a house mouse inside that refused to leave as it was so snug and well fed.
I met up with Alan and he drove to Deeping Lakes. On the river we watched several Goosander as a Kingfisher flew across the road and over the field. After parking in the car park we walked down the track where we watched two Long-eared Owls just before the hide. We continued on around to the river bank where Alan picked out the Little Owl sitting all alone on one of the split Willow trees. We walked down to the railway bridge as a Red Kite swooped over us and landed in a nearby tree until it was ousted by many Jackdaws that chased it away.
Alan drove onto Rutland Water at Egleton where the Visitor Centre was having a refurbishment and we could not go to the viewing gallery. Tim Appleton greeted us and kindly pointed out two Scaup amongst the Tufted Ducks. A male Smew was swimming along the back edge of the lagoon along with several Goosander. A Pintail was good to see too. Alan secreted a map of the reserve in one of his many pockets and we set off to the 360 hide where we saw three Green Sandpipers. There were many ducks on the lagoons including, Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall as well as Coot and Moorhen. We watched Great Egret, Grey Heron, Little Grebe as well as many Great Crested Grebes. The sun was out and we made our way around to the Lyndon Reserve where we saw a Red-necked Grebe to add to our day list as well Tree Sparrows in the bushes by the Visitor Centre. We had both had a fantastic day and after watching several more Red Kites on the way home we added a Common Buzzard, Kestrel and lots of Whooper Swans alongside the A47 at Thorney.
A fantastic Red Kite flew over my car as I drove to work this morning. It was a difficult journey home in the snow and wind.
Sally and I never know what we are going to be doing next at work at Titchwell. Today we had to pose as professionals using our HD range of binoculars that the RSPB sell. It was certainly cold and blustery as we stood to be photographed.
The winds have played havoc at home with my neighbour and I both losing shed and summer house roofing. So my plans for birding tomorrow have had to be changed. Grrrr.....
John and I were up early and drove to Wickes in King's Lynn to buy some roof felting and many other bits and pieces to repair my shed roof that had taken off in Storm Ciara. As my shed roof was only repaired two years ago it was all rather frustrating that the storm had wrecked havoc in my garden and that of my neighbour with both of us losing part of our shed roofs.
Whilst we were parking in the car park at Wickes we looked at the tower in King's Lynn and watched a Peregrine fly in to sit on the railings of the tower. On the way home there were 20 Curlew feeding in the field opposite Roydon Common. Whilst we were repairing the shed roof 200 Jackdaw and 200 Rooks flew over us making a very noisy passage as the flew.
Sue repairing the shed roof
Owl box and Blue Tit box with woodpecker alteration!
Once up on the roof I discovered to my horror that my Blue Tit box had had some modifications done to it. Quite clearly a woodpecker had come to predate the chicks and had enlarged the hole. Grrrr...
Driving back home from John's I watched a Red Kite flying over the Narborough bypass quickly followed by a Common Buzzard being mobbed by corvids. John was soon onto the task of finishing off the repair of my shed roof whilst I attended to a few domestics. We spent the afternoon booking flights, hotels and cars for another birding trip. It's going to be another jam-packed summer of adventure of birds and wildlife watching in various countries. Being valentine's night I was treated to an evening out where I was wined and dined and enjoyed a delicious meal of venison wellington. Whoever the chef was, should be commended as it was cooked to perfection! We eventually enjoyed the company of the couple sat next to us as we realised that we had friends in common. They came from a farming background and gave us a very different perspective on life!
So with a wet and windy weekend forecast with Storm Dennis on its way and my shed repaired it has given me the perfect opportunity to catch up on some birding admin that I have fallen behind with. Many of you ask me how I keep track of all my records. I use Wildlife Recorder for my computer data base, which I also use to produce checklists for countries that I will be visiting, but I also keep a hard copy in an old Clements Birds of the World Checklist book. The problem with this is that it is not only 20 years out of date but I have switched to I O C listing so it means lots of research using the I O C lists on their website. It does however bring back many happy memories as I am doing this. I have just entered all my St. Lucia records today but now need to enter all my West Papua records that I kept for such a cold, wet, windy day such as this!....Oh well as I had over 200 life ticks on this trip I had better make a start!
I spent this morning sorting out scans and photos in a suitable format for a visa application for our forthcoming birding trip. It took much longer than I expected and evaporated most of my morning! The afternoon was spent on entering more records for my West Papua trip finishing with a lovely meal with Patrick and Claire listening to their travels and plans for future trips. We have a lot in common!
I watched a Barn Owl from the office window today at Titchwell.
Carrie and I watched a Barn Owl on the way home this evening.
Chris Lotz joined John and I at Santon Downham today. It was a chance for John to meet him as Chris is busy organising a rather mouth-watering trip for us both for next year! It was a glorious winter's morning as we walked down the river. Once we reached the usual spot, about a mile downstream we joined Tim Stowe who was trying to locate the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that was drumming. We stood and looked and listened to it drumming several times but struggled to locate it. After a few hours John located it on the otherside of the river but we were looking into the sun making observation difficult. I watched it fly but despite all our best efforts we could not relocate it.
We watched Marsh Tits, Blue Tits and a Kestrel as well as a male Goshawk before setting off back to the car park along with Alan Schpot. I kept looking as we walked and spotted an Otter on the other bank across the river, which delighted us with its antics.
A walk at Dersingham Bog this windy morning produced very little in the way of birds except a singing Robin and a multitude of Wood Pigeons. At Wolferton I was shocked at the lack of birds running around the field in the middle of the village. It is normally covered in Redwing and Fieldfare at this time of year. I saw 3 Stock Dove and more Woodpigeons as a Buzzard called as it flew above me. It was nice to bump into some friends that I have not seen for a long time though and catch up with news. I did discover some nest building though during my walk in the area that will be interesting to keep an eye on!
I spent the afternoon writing in some of my West Papuan records to my old Clements book. It brought back so many good memories of the fabulous birds that I saw there.
Later I attended the Wensum Valley talk on owls. I do so wish that BTO speakers would not use so many graphs in their talks, one or two maybe but graph after graph does not make an interesting talk for a general audience (and I'm an ex maths teacher!) I'm not sure I learnt anything this evening and decided to leave early listening to a very interesting science programme on the radio on the way home. Luckily Wensum Valley Bird Club usually have excellent talks which I enjoy and are a very welcoming club to belong to.
One of the joys of my job at Titchwell is meeting lots visitors and lots of my birding friends as they arrive, some of whom I have not seen for a very long time. Today it was Chris Batty who works for Rare Bird Alert. In 1998 Chris was part of a twitch that I did driving up to Ullapool overnight where a small gang of us met up and concised into few cars as possible to catch the ferry to the Isle of Lewis where we spent all day looking for a White's Thrush. We got very wet and at the last minute saw the bird but arrived back at the ferry terminal just in time to see the ferry sailing out of the harbour. Chris found us a hostel where I became chief cook and rustled up a meal for the hungry gang. We had an amazing day birding the island the following day and spent another night in the hostel as the Isle of Lewis closes down on a Sunday. We caught the ferry back to Ullapool on Monday but as we were all motoring back down through Scotland the pager alerted us to an American Robin on St. Agnes in the Isles of Scilly. After surprising Richard Bonser's mother in Cheshire who fed us all, we continued down to St. Just in Cornwall where we caught the plane to St. Mary's. We were soon on the boat to St. Agnes and got saturated once again before finally seeing the bird. We managed to catch the boat back to St. Mary's but when we arrived at the airfield (we had twitched the Wilson's Snipe as well on St. Mary's) we found to our horror that all flights had been cancelled due to the appalling weather. Once again Chris sorted out some accommodation for us all as we all poured into a lady's bungalow where we managed to flood the bathroom floor! I finally returned home 5 days later still in the same clothes that I had left home in. Those were the days!
Chris and I reminisced about the good ol' days and how we miss them! It was good to see you Chris and have a chat.
My evening was spent with John, Vicky and Dave where we enjoyed a meal together at The Globe in Wells. Vicky and I shared a birding trip to Sichuan together and it was good to catch upon their birding tales.