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's 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 what 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 surfaced 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 a bit of 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 Magnificent 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! Someone I know has certainly made a complete fool of himself and left many of us laughing.
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 deliberately 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 amongst 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 birding 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 wood 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 database, 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.
I saw several Red Kites today as I drove to Oxford to stay with my daughter.
More Red Kites were seen today as I met up with all my old college friends at the Westminster College Oxford Reunion today in Oxford. It was wonderful to see some former house-mates that I have not seen for over 40 years since we all left to go our separate ways. We all had such tales to tell. A fabulous time was had by all. Thanks must go to Helen for organising it.
Another day of Red Kites as Kathryn, Hannah and I toured the garden centre at Biscester.
A Goldcrest called all day out in the car park at Titchwell. It was such a busy little bird as it flitted around. I fed my poorly little Robin that keeps me company for most of the day some sultanas and bird seed. It has a poorly leg and often has to squat on the ground to give its good leg a rest. It perches on my knee and begs for food and often waits for me in the morning to open up. A Mediterranean Gull called as it flew over the car park. A year tick for me.
John and I spent the evening at NarVOS where we watched a talk on Colombia. It included some of the areas that John and I had been to and brought back memories of some of the birds that we had seen until I received a message from a friend that had us all scurrying out of the door in haste!
This is my little Robin that so many of you know and love. I feed it every day when I am out in the car park at Titchwell. Just recently it has been poorly and it has hurt its foot and now can't stand on it. This means that by the afternoon it gets tired and has to squat down either on the Titchwell map board or on my knee!
I watched a male Marsh Harrier sky dancing out in the car park today. It was calling as it plummeted down showing off to a female Marsh Harrier.
I attended a lovely party this afternoon. It was very difficult to refuse the wonderful cakes on offer.
I have had a bad night and woken up with yet another dreadful migraine, this time affecting my stomach as well. It is about as much as I can do to spend the day marking up the checklist ready for our next adventure. Bed and sofa it is today! The only birds I have seen are my Blackbirds and Blue Tits on my feeders in the garden.
Having spent a wonderful long weekend in Gloucestershire with my son's family we had had some very blustery, snowy walks in various parks, arboretums and woods with the twins so it was rather nice to spend some time today with my daughter and granddaugter in calmer conditions. In Oxfordshire where my daughter lives, Red Kites seem to be everywhere. At one point driving through Yarton we had 5 Red Kites in the air together.
I have now updated my dragonfly page of my website. It can be viewed in the other species section of my website or here: https://suebryan.webs.com/dragonflies
Unfortunately due to malicious damage to three of my computers by a former partner I have lost many of my dragonfly photographs but hopefully in the coming years I will add to my collection and will be able to upload them to my dragonfly webpage.
I started my day at Fincham where I drove down Black Drove. Within seconds a Great Grey Shrike perched on the telegraph wires in front of me. I stayed for a few minutes and after greeting Les and Anne drove to Santon Downham where the river footpath after the new section was under water. I was so glad that I had worn my Muck Boots! Luck was on my side as a kind gentleman let me look through his scope as soon as I got there at a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker excavating a nest hole. It was fun to watch as the bird disappeared in the hole only to reappear with a beak full of wood that was soon disposed of.
Great Grey Shrike
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
I drove onto Swaffham forest where a Red Kite flew across the road as I turned down the lane where I watched a Goshawk along with many Common Buzzards. Skylarks were singing as was a Woodlark. I continued onto Drymere where a Woodlark sat on the wires behind my car.
John and I started our day at Sheringham where we watched two Purple Sandpipers hopping around the rocks as waves crashed over them bringing in fresh food. They were accompanied by several Ruddy Turnstones. We looked through the gulls but could not find any sign of the Caspian Gull. We drove to Cley to meet up with Mike Edgecombe at a local cafe for lunch to see his photos of a recent trip he has done that we are considering for next year. His photos were stunning and it certainly whetted our appetite for the trip.
At North Point, Wells there were 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls in Summer plumage amongst the Black-headed Gulls as well as 7 Common Snipe, 3 Redshank as well as many Lapwing, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Greylag Geese, Brent Geese and Canada Geese.
I stopped at Holkham and watched 2 Great White Egrets from the main road before driving back towards home. On my way I noticed a big black bird sitting on top of a tree with a rather large bill. It was good to be able to stop and take a photograph of a Raven which are appearing a bit more frequently now in our county.
Today was a catching up with myself day today and attending to a few domestics as I have hardly been at home for the last month, or so it seems! After some mundane shopping and washing I set off for Heacham to visit the little post office yet again for another international driving licence for our forth-coming trip. It wasn't as easy as I thought since the place we are going wasn't listed and the lady behind the counter got conflicting advice from Google!!!! Since I already had one international licence...there are several varieties....I purchased one of the others anyway in the hope that my little collection will suffice when we get there!
I motored on to Hunstanton where I failed miserably to get a decent photo of the Fulmars flying along the cliff-top. So there won't be any photos today! After mowing the lawn I upgraded my internet router, thanks to John, and so my internet is now whizzing, especially having a new cabinet in the road right opposite me!
John and I started at Cley where we watched 250+ Black-tailed Godwits on Simmond's Scrape as welll a a single Dunlin and a Redshank. There were many Avocets on Pat's Pool and Simmond's Scrape. Shelduck and Shoveler were present as well a a pair of Gadwall. Outside the hides a Cetti's Warbler was calling but we did not see it despite searching for it.
At Sheringham a Caspian Gull flew along the beach and settled on the sea in front of us with a few Herring Gulls.
After a lovely tea with Ann and Andrew we set off for Cley village hall where I had been asked to step in to replace the speaker who could not be present at Cley Bird Club to give one of my talks to them. My talk seemed to go well and I was thanked by several of the audience members afterwards. I enjoy giving talks and presentations as my photos bring back many happy memories of my birding trips, which I hope others enjoy too.
Knot's Landing Hide, Snettisham under construction
John and I drove down to Snettisham and watched the receeding tide reveal thousands of waders, including Dunlin, Knot, Redshank, Bar-tailled Godwit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Curlew and Avocet as well as many Shelduck. Linnet were flying around as we walked down to watch the Knot's Landing Hide being constructed. Skylark were singing in the sky above us as we walked down to the hide at the southern end of the pits. Three Stonechat perched on teasle heads as we neared the hide.
We were impressed by the workers who were working hard at putting the hide together in the very blustery conditions that they were faced with.
Roof joists being put in place on the hide
Knot's Landing Hide at Snettisham
With all sorts of issues affecting both my personal plans and work plans due to the corona virus and my grand-daughters illness I was actually quite glad to get outside at work to admire a Chiffchaff that was flitting around the trees in the car-park at Titchwell. Two flocks of Redwings flew over me as I put out some sultanas for my tame Blackbird and seed for my poorly little Robin by the recruiting shed.
It was a lovely Spring day as I walked on Roydon Common. The Skylarks were singing as I climbed up the hill. The dreadful wind had stopped and I admired the view from the top as a couple of Common Buzzard called and displayed above me. I heard a Woodlark singing but could not locate it. I continued over to Grimston Warren where a pair of Stonechat were flitting around on top of the bushes. A Goldcrest was singing in the pines as I followed the fence line towards the farm. Three Roe deer caught me by surprise as they were quite well camouflaged. Down on the wet part of the Common I could see a Little Egret and a Teal.
Back at the car park I stopped to talk to Ash Murray (good to see you again Ash!) who used to help me out with my bird watching club many years ago at Dersingham Bog who now works for Norfolk Wildlife Trust. We reminisced over some of the events that took place that took place all those years ago.
At Pentney I counted 15 Great Crested Grebes, whilst at Nar Valley there was little to be seen except Tufted Duck, Greylag Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Kestrel, Common Buzzard and a small flock of Goldfinch. I drove down to Lynn Point where Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Brent Geese accompanied a sleeping Cormorant and a Red Bunting in flight over the marsh.
I had an excellent day at work today, after feeding my little Robin and tame Blackbird at my hut in the car park at Titchwell greeting many first-time visitors as well as several friends. It rained at lunchtime and I had to man the information desk in the visitor centre as one of volunteers was unable to come in. All talk centrered around the Coronavirus and how it is going to affect our lives. Many clubs and organisations are now cancelling events and soon all our pubs and places of gatherings will be closed. How long businesses will remain open is open to conjecture. I can't say I am looking forward to the isolation that will certainly affect many of us.
I joined Tony down on the beach at Holme and together we watched 3 Eider, a flock of several hundred Common Scoter, 50 + Wigeon as well as a few Great Crested Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and Cormorants flying by. Keith Tinworth accompanied us along the driveway and together we watched many male Marsh Harriers putting on wonderful displays over the marsh as we saw Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, and Common Redshank in the pools. I saw a distant Barn Owl hunting alongside Greylag and Canada Geese.
I was back home for the late afternoon and one by one my children contacted me about how their working lives were all going to be at home for the foreseeable future due to the Corona virus outbreak. How they are going to accomplish this with young children running around is anyone's guess! I had called into a local supermarket today and it was mayhem with lots of empty shelves. One of the workers was in despair as he told me that their delivery had been a small one as the warehouse had run out of stock! Goodness knows what work is going to bring tomorrow?
Spot the Wheatear !
It was another lovely Spring day at Titchwell. I was staggered at just how many visitors we had today. Redwings were pouring over the car park in small flocks for most of the day. The over-wintering Chiffchaff was singing loudly as a Goldcrest was singing quietly too. Paul came out from the visitor centre and kindly stood in for me so that I could see the Wheatear in the horse paddocks. It took me a while to find it but it eventually popped up on top of the muck heap. The news that NWT had closed its visitor centre and hides from tomorrow makes me wonder what's in store for me tomorrow. The next few weeks are going to be interesting!
John and I started at Holme because ,after checking the NWT website, were assured that the reserve would be open, which after a quick call to head office it was. We walked along the boardwalk and I heard the two Common Cranes calling and watched them across the marsh. We walked across the reserve and John soon located a pair of Garganey along with a few Common Snipe. The pools were full of birds including, Black-headed Gulls, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck, Ruff, Redshank and Curlew. lapwing and Marsh Harriers were displaying overhead as Brent Geese flew towards Thornham. Linnets, Dunocks and Wrens were singing from top of bushes as Meadow Pipits were running around the grass. A Skylark was sitting on a post as we walked back to the car.
I called into the offices at Titchwell before walking down to join Trevor and Chris and watched a Peregrine fly over the Freshmarsh which was full of Avocet, Black-headed Gulls and a few Mediterranean Gulls. Black-tailed Godwit were looking resplendent in their summer plumage that is now appearing and Pied Wagtails were flitting around. Chris and I walked down to the beach where I added Sanderling to my yearlist. With the exception to a lone Common Scoter out on the sea and a few Cormorants flying through the sea was empty of birds. A Cetti's Warbler called as I talked to Kathryn and Gwin but I did not see it.
With news of my grandchildren finishing school this Friday I sent them a few bird-related activities that they could do that I had prepared for children at Titchwell which I thought might keep them occupied.
With the prospect of having to be confined to home at sometime I have enjoyed my garden this year and watching my garden birds. Who knows where this virus will end.
My little pretty rockery
Sue closing down the summer house
Today saw the end of an era. I have worked at Titchwell for the last nine years and although I have worked in the shop and cafe as well as running activities for children and leading guided walks, my role has chiefly been to greet visitors and recruit more members for the RSPB. Many of you will be familiar with the blue summer house that has almost been my second home where I have kept all the necessary stock and kept me dry in the rain, although sadly not warm in the winter! Soon at Titchwell we will have a new building in which visitors will be greeted and encouraged to become members. So today with the shop, cafe and Visitor Centre closed because of Covid 19, I spent the morning clearing the summer house out and closing it down. I was quite sad to see my little Robin that I have fed with seed and my sandwiches, my Blackbird that I have fed with sultanas and my little bank vole that lives under the summer house losing their food supply and friend!
After lunch I went to the Parrinder hide where I helped visitors, at a sensible distance, identify birds on the Fresh Marsh. I explained about food passes as a male Marsh Harrier flew above a female Marsh Harrier. Redshank, Turnstone, Meditteranean Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Pied Wagtails, Avocets, Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese were all present.
It was a beautiful day, the first day of Spring but with the pandemic of Covid 19 upon us, John and I needed to get out and find somewhere away from the crowds. We chose Drymere, in the Brecks and it was wonderful to hear a Yellowhammer, a Woodlark and a Chiffchaff singing as I stepped out of the car. We walked down several of the rides and watched Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Wren and Robin all with the joys of Spring in their singing. We walked down ride 109 , watching 3 Woodlark on the way and 110 until we saw the table that had been set up for putting food for the birds on. I had a bag of Sunflower hearts with me and put some on the table. It wasn't long before we had a host of birds arriving. We delighted in the Nuthatches, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits. We heard a Willow Tit calling but it took a while before it zipped in and took a Sunflower heart. We stayed some time and saw it several times on the table. I also saw it up in one of the dead trees but it did not stay long enough for a photo.
During our walk we saw a Peacock Butterfly and 3 Brimstone Butterflies. A Roe Deer sat in one of the rides as we walked back to the car.
Back at home it was a good opportunity to get my back lawn mowed and some weeding done ready for my sowing of seeds in my vegetable patch. My owl box has been cleared out but once again I have a pair of Jackdaws showing interest once again. Still I did enjoy watching their antics last year. I have ordered some more nest boxes and the garden at the back of me has been busy putting up lots of nest boxes. If we go into lock-down as a country at least I shall have some nesting birds to watch hopefully. I'm so glad that I enjoy my birding at any level!
Thank you for those of you that continue to send me emails and messages on Twitter about my website. I shall aim to keep it going but my birding may soon be about my garden birds only! Keep your chins up folks and stay safe!
It was me eldest son's birthday and also Mothering Sunday so it was hard to be separated form all my children. However some lovely flowers and presents arrived and I had 3 delightful phone calls from them all. Once this horrible virus is over we will make up for it.
I started my day with my weekly shop and was horrified and what greeted me as I waited outside at my local store. I could not believe the queues to get in. Empty shelves and so many of the requirements that I had on my list were unavailable and so I had lots of alternative foodstuffs in tins that is going to make my diet an interesting one in the coming week!
The rest of the day was spent in the garden sorting out my compost heap and getting my vegetable patch ready for planting. It was a beautiful day as I chatted to my neighbours who were also busy in their gardens. We all worked hard and by the end of the day I had the compost worked in and my Broad Beans planted. Strawberries were also planted and my fruit cage done.
Finishing a bit early I sat on my hammock and watched the birds in the sun. I suddenly saw a Treecreeper climbing up my neighbour's trees and heard a Mediterranean Gull calling. I looked up just in time to see it flying over the garden to the farm behind me. I love living where I do and felt so lucky to be sitting in peace and quiet in the sun watching the bees on the Cherry blossom and listening to all the Goldfinches singing and the Long-tailed Tits flying through the garden as I sat back and enjoyed my much-deserved cup of tea.
I had another busy day in the garden sorting out a holly bush, mowing lawns and putting up two new nest boxes.
As it was such a beautiful day I went for a local walk on my own. I heard a call that I recognised and looked up to see a Raven flying overhead. I managed just one quick photo before it landed out of sight.
Now at 9pm and having just watched the Prime Minister's announcement that we are in lock-down for all but essential shopping and only getting to and from work for those essential workers, I find that I shall have more time on my hands as my job is classified as non-essential. This is the right decision for our well-being.
Stay safe everyone!
24th March (Day 1 of lock-down)
I had another busy day in the garden after speaking to my friend in Australia who is also very isolated in her home on the outskirts of Sydney. What a year she has had of bush fires within 6km of her home, very bad polluted air quality, floods, storms and now Corona Virus.
After taking part in some work-related issues I finished off the gardening around my pond, which should set it up for the year. On a bird related note I had a spectator throughout but not quite the sort of bird you would expect from me. I currently share 6 chickens with my neighbours that wander in and out of our gardens. One of them sat and kept a watch over me as I worked today whilst the others pecked around my garden. I have a minor repair job to do in the pond tomorrow and hopefully I can then get the stream up and running once again.
My chicken keeping a watchful eye!
My pond all spruced up!
It was another beautiful day and the butterflies were all being attracted to my flowers. I got out my camera and had a play with the various lenses that I possess. It was a shame that some of the butterflies were not in the best condition but hey ho they were lovely to see in the sun. Peacock butterflies joined Brimstone butterflies, Tortoiseshell butterflies and one Small White Butterfly in my garden today. The bees were also about. Perhaps I should try and learn some of them since we are going to be largely confined to our homes for the coming months.
Small White Butterfly
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
The NarVOS newsletter pinged into my email inbox today. It is sad that we have had to cancel several of our talks. The sightings sheet was an interesting read this month! I wonder what next months will look like now that we are in lock-down?
So today being mindful of Gov. regulations I got out my bike from the garage. I had bought this from my neighbour a couple of years ago as she had bought it new and then had knee trouble. I have been watching my friend Stewart Betts post his rides on Facebook and thought that if he can get on a bike then so can I. I was full of optimism as I got the bike out. Then the problems started......just pumping up the tyres wore me out! I had forgotten that Stewart is very fit...I am quite clearly not. I looked at the handle bars....what were all these little levers for? I seemed to have them on both sides.....not like my old bike where I had the choice of 3 gears....1...2...or 3. Which side do I use?....and what do the others do? I put on the helmet and started peddling. Gosh my muscles ached...I didn't know I had muscles in some of the places now straining! A few metres down the road and I quite clearly needed to change gear...shall I use the right hand side ones or the left hand side ones? Another cyclist whizzed by me..........I asked for a tow......he obviously didn't share my sense of humour or was he just being sensible and wanted to put as much distance between us as possible? (I don't blame him!) After much fiddling with levers and experimenting I somehow managed it down to the main road (It's actually downhill most of the way and I freewheeled it!!! ) It was a glorious day and Chiffchaffs were singing for most of my ride.
Miraculously I arrived at West Newton Mill where I watched 2 Kingfishers and 2 Grey Wagtails on the Babingley River. I set off once more and stopped as I heard a Bramling calling. Two birds were in the trees above my head. Goldfinch, Blue Tits and Great Tits were singing too. I stopped by the gate by the wildfowlers pond at Sandringham. Fifteen Mallard ducklings were swimming all over the place as the mother kept watch. Two Oystercatchers were on the island and two Shelduck were also swimming around. Another Chiffchaff sang in the trees as a Brimstone butterfly settled on some foliage in front of me. I set off down a track and watched Hares gambolling around the fields as I enjoyed the sun. I disturbed two Red-legged Partridges from the ditch as I listened to several Chiffchaffs from both sides of the track. On my way back I watched a Pied Wagtail on a muck heap, whilst further down the road 36 Eurasian Curlews alighted from a nearby field as two Lapwings fed around a nearby flooded field.
I arrived back back home all in one piece having had a wonderful morning. I'm so lucky to have such wonderful nature all around me. Stay safe everyone!
West Newton Mill
Mallard with 15 ducklings
I heard from the Norfolk butterfly recorder today that my record of Small White butterfly may be the first record of this species for the year....unless you know differently!
I got quite excited in the garden this afternoon as I watched a Great Tit take in some moss to one of my bird boxes and two Blue Tits investigate both of my new bird boxes.
My bike at West Newton
Challenging was probably the best descriptive word for my permitted exercise ride on my bike today! I set off towards Congham and listened to Nuthatches calling in Jim Lawrence's garden but could not locate them. I walked down to the church and admired some of the beautiful gardens here before cycling along some of the track-ways that I used to walk on my survey work for the Norfolk Bird Atlas many years ago. I retraced my ride and followed the track across a field to Congham Hall and saw a few Red-legged Partridges and listened to several Skylark singing above me. Woodpigeons and corvids were everywhere all busily feeding in the fields.
Finding myself back
in Roydon I made my way up to the farm and cycled a track up towards Roydon
Common where I met a friend that I had not seen for a long time. Keeping our distance we watched Yellowhammers
and Reed Buntings in the field before I crossed over to Roydon Common which
I had all to myself. It was certainly joyous not to have to ask people to put their dogs on a lead for once! I watched a Common Buzzard, a Marsh Harrier and a Stonechat
before commencing the battle with the wind back home. I certainly enjoyed the
downhill stretch back down to the crossroads in Roydon!
With the wind coming from the north and significantly colder and stronger than yesterday, I delayed my bike ride today until I could pluck up the courage to brace myself against it. I kept within the parish boundaries and did not venture very far at all. I enjoyed the wildlife that I did see and felt sorry for all the Redwings trying to make their way back to Scandinavia in a northerly blast. The Rabbits did not seem at all bothered as they were sheltered by the many gorse bushes around as they played and hopped around.
Having kept myself amused today by giving some of my kitchen cupboards a spring clean, I also needed some fresh air and so my bike was fetched out of the garage again.
Once again it was bitterly cold but at least the wind had abated a bit. After cycling 600m it started to rain so I took shelter in a wood. I saw almost nothing here except for listening to a Robin singing somewhere. Luckily the shower was short lived and I heard a Woodlark singing. Crossing over the main road I heard another Woodlark singing but could not find it. Forty Redwings alighted into a tree in front of me and I managed a quick photo before they took flight and went into the wood. Hares and Red-legged Partridges ran around the field as a pair of Oystercathers lurked on the far side of the field. Six Common Buzzards swirled around above the wood along with a pair of Sparrowhawks.
I stopped to take a photo of the blossom in the hedgerow and a tree which has lost some of its branches which I thought was photogenic. The Green Sandpiper was back on one of the pools as I stopped to take a photo of some Pheasants. I watched some Mallards and a Moorhen on the river Babingley and admired some Brown Trout in the river. I could not find the Grey Wagtails today and more worryingly the 19 ducklings either that I had seen on previous visits to the pool. A Woodlark was singing above my head but my bridge camera was not interested in taking a photo of it. I watched a pair of Marsh Tits building a nest in a crevice in a tree. It was nice to see a few friends who were walking along the road who were also enjoying the wildlife. Keeping a suitable distance apart we watched a Red Kite together.
It was a beautiful morning and I was spoilt for choice on which route to take today on my bike for my 'permitted' exercise. I decided to head in the opposite direction this morning and cycled towards Roydon crossroads so that I could investigate the old railway-line. I listened to Chifchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird and a Mistle Thrush as I watched a pair of Long-tailed Tits and a Marsh Tit.
I continued along my way and up onto Roydon Common where I met a friend walking his dog. We watched a Stonechat and a Skylark together before I continued on up Sandy Lane where a few Buzzards were flying around. Lapwings were doing a display at the top of the hill and wheeling around. I stopped to watch a Hare before it ran away. A couple of Mallard flew by as I descended back down to watch some Roe Deer that were intent on watching me.
I cycled back to the lane, where I was far too slow getting my camera out to take photos of a Bullfinch and a Nuthatch that landed nearby me. Corvids were in the horse paddocks as I added Greylag and Egyptian Geese to my morning's list.
Tit box altered by a woodpecker
Tit box with a new entrance!
Cleaned out owl box
A busy day ahead meant that my bike ride was a short one today just riding up to the farm and back. However I do have a cobweb-free shed (yes I know I'm meant to be giving nature a home but not to every spider in the UK) that's now nicely organised and it was good to catch up with colleagues on the video conference today.
Heading up the lane it was nice to see so many House Sparrows, a bird in serious decline in the hedge before arriving at the church. I checked all the fence posts in the horse paddock but failed to find the Little Owl. Further up the lane there were several Chiffchaff singing and a Redwing flushed from the hedge into the tree. A pair of Oystercatchers were by a patch of water as I went up the track. I stopped to admire all the tulips here, in a week or so these will be a real show of colour. A Yellowhammer sang from the hedge as I turned around to head back home stopping to take photos of a Starling and a Jackdaw.
It was a cold ride today but I am enjoying taking more landscape photos than normal and having time to also take photos of the common birds that we are lucky to have around us on a daily basis.
Some days, the highlight of my day is not a bird but some other wildlife. Today was one of those days. As I was cycling along one of the little lanes a Stoat ran along the road towards me. I was lucky to not only stop in time but had to get my bridge camera out of its case and try to zoom and focus on the animal as it spotted me. Luckily it ran up the bank but returned to the road to get a second look at me before running up the bank once again.
At West Newton the Grey Wagtail was back at the mill and a Green Woodpecker was far too quick for me as it landed on the trunk of a tree at the side of me.
As my bike ride was so short yesterday I thought I had better do a bit further today and cycled little lanes and farm tracks to Flitcham. Here I watched a Common Buzzard raid a Lapwings nest and devour its contents. A Grey Partridge watched me as I enjoyed my cheese scone. At Abbey Farm Gadwall, Oystercatchers, Egyptian Geese, Canada Geese, Mallard, Jackdaw and Herring Gulls were all present. I heard a Mediterranean Gull call but I was challenged by the height of the hedge obscuring my view.
My journey home was tougher than my ride out as I had to head into the wind but once again it was very enjoyable.
I set a route that would take me along the Babingley River and down through the Castle Rising Estate on my bike ride this morning. It is a route that I used to walk many years ago but I have not been this way for some time now. The number of birds seen today was a lot less than yesterday and although I saw a few Common Buzzards they were not as plentiful as they had been yesterday as I rode along.
Chiffchaff were singing and I heard a Treecreeper as I walked through the woods but I could not locate it. I also heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Green Woodpecker but did not see those either. It was not going well for sightings today! I met my friend once again out on her walk purely by chance and we talked about all our foreign trips that we had enjoyed over the years. It would seem that we had both done the same Mountain Gorilla trek in Uganda a few years ago.
After bidding goodbye to my friend I went in search of Blackcaps and soon heard two singing but once again they were shy to show themselves. A pair of Kestrels mated on a fence-post as I rode towards Castle Rising. A Lapwing and a pair of Oystercatchers flew to a pool of water on the marsh as Woodpigeons and corvids fed on the fields. I rode back towards Roydon where I took a few photos of Red-legged Partridges, House Sparrows, Goldfinch and a Robin but the light quality was not good today. Never mind...there's always tomorrow!
The clear blue sky with the sun shining had me up and out early today and cycling to Derby Fen and another river walk. This time along the Gaywood River. I had the roads all to myself as I cycled along with just a couple of dog walkers being pulled along by their dogs.
I have driven this route so many times and had always assumed it was flat as a pancake. It's funny how you notice inclines and hills more on a bike. It seemed to be hard work this morning and I couldn't blame the wind either as there wasn't any. It was definitely uphill and I had to drop a gear. Oh well it will be easier on the way home!
I arrived at the fen in one piece and grabbed my camera quickly, a Wren was singing its heart out for me....well for a mate probably! The gorse was in flower and Robins, Dunnocks, Linnets and Wrens were singing from various perches. Chiffchaff were flitting around and singing too. I watched a Common Buzzard soaring in the distance as I scanned the fen. Only a single Magpie was feeding along with numerous Rabbits. Fifty Redwing flew over me before I stopped and sat on the seat and admired the beauty all around. It was just so peaceful here in the sun.
I reached the Gaywood River where I inadvertently disturbed a Little Egret. A Mallard flew over as I walked across to Leziate Fen. An incoming Mute Swan landed in the drain beside the fen. The iron-rich water had stained its plumage. I found little of note on Leziate Fen and retraced my steps watching a pair of Kestrels interact with one-another above my head and a Sparrowhawk swirled around me as I crossed Derby Fen once again back to my bike.
The Lesser Celandines were so pretty along the side of the lane as I cycled back home. And yes it was downhill all the way home!
Gaywood River, Derby Fen
With a good weather forecast there seemed little point in remaining in bed this morning. I should entitle this piece 'empty roads' as indeed this was certainly the situation first thing this morning. I headed towards West Newton and the Sandringham Estate on my bike. It was glorious and I was very thankful to live where I do.
The birds were singing well this morning as Woodlark, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were all serenading me as I watched a Red Kite over the Sandringham woods. I counted 8 Blackcaps singing as I stopped to watch a pair of Marsh Tits. I stopped to take a photo of a Blue Tit as a Wren scolded me from a nearby bush. I was keen not to linger for too long as I wanted to check on my local Ravens. Making a raucous call above me they were difficult to miss as they flew over me.
Butterflies were in profusion today and I logged my first Orange-Tip of the year. There were many Brimstone, Peacock, Small White, Large White and Tortoiseshell butterflies on my ride along the lanes.
Along one of the lanes I met up with Jim Lawrence and Wendy and we shared birding information and watched a Siskin fly over the road. It was good to see them both. I continued on my way and stopped to admire a Grey Wagtail by the mill. Moorhen and Mallard made a peaceful scene as I continued to the track where I watched a few Common Buzzards soaring in the wind.
Those of you that know me well, will know that I am a migraine sufferer and sometimes get completely knocked out by them. Today was one of those days. After a bad night, I managed to get a few hours sleep this morning and so waking up feeling completely drained and with a throbbing head, my usual bike ride was going to be out of the question. Feeling very sick but in need of a bit of fresh air I put on some dark glasses and managed to slump onto one of my hammocks. So I'm afraid my photos today are not of my adventures on my bike but of my wonderful garden birds that presented themselves over the space of about an hour that I could take a photo of from my position sitting on the hammock
After a good night's sleep I woke up early with my head still pounding with my migraine. They usually last for 3 days, however I at least had a bit more energy and decided that if I was going to achieve anything today I would get up and be on Roydon Common for just after dawn.
My bike was loaded up with my SLR camera today instead of my bridge camera as I knew if there were any Ring Ouzels around I would need to be quick. I set off on my bike on a glorious frosty morning and struggled up the hill. I was quite clearly not as well as I would have liked to have been as I struggle with co-ordination sometimes with a migraine. With virtually no traffic around I took my time and enjoyed the early morning mist views over the common as the sun rose.
I stopped to watch some Oystercatchers cavorting around in the field whilst listening to some Woodlark singing.My photos were poor as I struggled to hold the camera still enough, so they won't be appearing on here!
Once up on the common I fastened my bike to the fence and walked across the common where a lone thrush flew away strongly from out of one of the trees. It was almost certainly a Ring Ouzel but I was too slow to get it identified properly and could not rule out a Mistle Thrush. A couple of Stonechat were busy collecting nest material as I continued to Grimston Warren. I watched Skylarks singing as well as Yellowhammers chasing around whilst Muntjac and Roe Deer watched me!
Retracing my steps I spotted a Ring Ouzel at the top of one of the trees but they are easily spooked and it was not keen to have its photo taken. Another distant Ring Ouzel thought the same too as it flew from tree to tree.
Now back by my bike I spotted some Wheatear on the old model plane flying area. They were not there earlier on and so had only just arrived. A pair of Skylark were by the car park as I despaired of a newly-arrived dog-walker who immediately let her dog off the lead despite clear signs telling her that it is bird-nesting season and all dogs must be kept on a lead to protect the Skylarks which all nest on the ground here. Grrr...
I cycled back home along a farm track where all the tulips are just beginning to flower listening to the Skylarks singing. Spring is certainly a wonderful time of year!
Feeling more like my normal self, I set off in a different direction today and revisited one of my former Norfolk Bird Atlas survey tetrads. This was an area where many years ago I walked around 4 times, twice in the winter and twice in the summer counting every bird that I either heard or saw. It brought back many memories as I remember one of my visits was done in in snow blizzard as the survey had to be done between certain dates and as I was a full-time teacher back then with only the school Xmas break it was the only free date that I had after the family Christmas commitments. I do remember a very wet clipboard and very cold hands as I logged down every bird that was hunkering down.
Today was glorious as I listened to all the Chiffchaff and Skylarks singing almost incessantly as I cycled around Congham Heath in the sun. I was disappointed by the land-owner having erected 'private' signs along many of the footpaths and trackways that I once walked along enjoying the wildlife. A Stoat ran across the track as I listened to a Tawny Owl hooting, Despite my best efforts I could not locate it but two squabbling Coal Tits kept me amused for a while. Corvids, Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges were present in the fields and a Moorhen and a Coot were on the farm pond at Happy Valley. A Red kite and a Common Buzzard were flying above me as I cycled into Grimston and took a photo of a cheeky Jackdaw. At Roydon Crossroads I heard a Willow Warbler singing. My first one of the year! Welcome back little bird.
My bike at Congham Heath Wood
Congham Heath Wood
With no real urge to get up early I was a bit undecided as to which way to go this morning and so headed towards West Newton rather later than I should. The ride started badly as when I stopped to take a photograph of a Yellowhammer, I realised that there was no battery in the camera. I had left it on charge overnight in my home. I cursed as there was no choice but to head back home to retrieve it. After greeting my neighbour who thought my ride had been extremely short I headed out once again to find my phone ringing with a call from Jim Lawrence who was not far from where I was. My bike was soon heading in his direction and being pedalled a bit quicker than is good for an old lady like me!
Two Common Cranes were soon added to my 'lockdown' patch list. I continued on my way trying to keep up the pace with difficulty and was grateful of my luck to live in such a wonderful place where I can enjoy all the wildlife and birds within a few miles of home by cycling or walking. Skylarks were singing and Common Buzzards were flying above my head as a Great Tit was making a commotion in the trees above me. A Pheasant and a pair of Oystercatchers were wandering around the field as I cycled on.
I fastened my bike to a fence and was soon watching a male Common Redstart which was darting in and out of the Blackthorn bush. Unfortunately I only had my bridge camera with me and the bird was far to quick for a decent photo. Another bird flew across to an Oak tree which initially looked as though it could have been a female Common Redstart but its grey tones rang a few alarm bells as I realised it was a Black Redstart after a bit of early confusion.
Turning around 5 Ring Ouzels flew on top of a gorse bush. I continued on my way and watched a Linnet and a Stonechat before watching another Ring Ouzel takking away in a tree. I retraced my steps and a Red Kite flew over my head as well as a couple more Common Buzzards. It was very hot by now and I was glad of my bottle of water for a drink. I felt very lucky to live in a good birding area and not to have to flout the lockdown rules about non-essential driving. I am able to walk and cycle to do my birding as my exercise and not been stopped by the police who are able to track you using your mobile phone data if you are caught driving to go birding. Other birders beware! Big brother is watching you for the safety of us all. Hopefully no-one is stupid or selfish enough to drive to a birding site.
It had been a cracking morning's birding and good to be alive!
The forecast was good for today so once again I was up early and on my bike cycling along my little lanes from home. It was a bit chillier than I was expecting and so had to stop to put on another layer to prevent rapid freezing of my veins. I soon worked up a sweat on the first hill and was glad of the free-wheeling down to the main road which being an early-morning Sunday I had all to myself. I listened to Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing from the hedgerows and watched Red-legged Partridges in the fields as I cycled along. A pair of Lapwing were carrying stones as they wheeled above me in display.
I cycled along my usual track and watched a Kingfisher fly towards the pool by the Babingley River. A Greylag Goose was being very noisy as I tried to get a bit nearer but the Kingfisher soon flew as a Reed Bunting sat on one of the reeds. I walked along the river watching a Willow Warbler, a pair of Stonechat, a Mute Swan and listening to Blackcaps.
Ten years ago today I was standing on top of the Swartberg Pass in South Africa in the sun. Today I was meant to be back in Africa but it was not to be due to the Corona Virus pandemic. I am keeping the dream alive that one day I will get back there.
After a busy morning sewing seeds in my vegetable patch on a dull morning the sun came out after lunch and I decided to sit and watch my garden birds. I had cleaned all the nest boxes out earlier in the Spring and bought a couple of new ones which I had put up in the trees. I sat on the hammock and watched the pair of Jackdaws going in and out of the owl box. They would sit in the trees, swoop down into my neighbour's garden, sit back up in the tree again before going in to the nest box. One Great Tit is currently in an old nest box with its partner still providing nesting material which it is taking into it. Meanwhile a pair of Blue Tits were in courtship mode just outside the repaired nest box and were paying visits to it. It was nice to have the time just to sit and watch in the sun.
The Blue Tit investigating my nest box
Jackdaw using my owl box
Whilst on a telephone call this evening this little Wood Mouse raided one of my bird feeders.
The weather forecast was set fair for today and as each day passes, my fitness is getting a little better. This means that I can cycle a little bit further than the couple of miles that so exhausted me when my bikes rides for the 'lockdown' started.
I have been following some of my colleagues birding when they have been out for their permitted exercise and envied some of their sightings along the coastline. I studied the map and looked at where I could reasonably cycle to without exhausting myself, bearing in mind that I have to have enough energy left to get back home too! Unfortunately my shortest route to the coast is now denied to me due to issues surrounding the Sandringham estate where years ago we used to use a farm track that runs across the estate. I weighed up the various pros and cons of the alternative routes and decided to go through the villages on the way out and along the bypass and Sandringham woods on the way back giving me an enjoyable ride.
I set off early and did not stop to watch the Woodlark, Blackcap, Marsh Tit and Chiffchaff that were singing but enjoyed following a Green Woodpecker as it flew along the lane in front of me. I whizzed down the hill at Dersingham and was soon cycling through the villages and arrived in one piece at Snettisham beach.
I have not walked the inner seabank for some time and was amazed at the transformation the the Kenhill estate has made to the fields during the re-wilding project. The pools were alive with birds. Avocet, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Curlew, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Mallard were all present. I watched Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Linnet, Chiffchaff , Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and Sedge Warblers all singing. A Barn Owl posed for me as I joined Paul Fisher up on the seabank and keeping our social distance we watched Sandwich Tern, Brent Geese, Great Crested Grebe and Wigeon out at sea, whilst Knot, Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Ringed Plover fed on the mud. We watched a Marsh Harrier together and enjoyed the spectacle before sadly I had to pedal back home. What a beautiful day it has been today!
Feeling very lazy this morning after my adventures yesterday, I decided that I would stay very local and not venture very far. I usually get up early and go for my permitted exercise in the morning because this is when the birds are singing at their best and showing well. Today I felt like being different and go out when it was warmer. I also knew that the tulip fields would be in bloom right now and so decided to take the more interesting route up to the common. I was not disappointed as the fields were ablaze with colour. I stopped for a few photos before I continued up the track.
Arriving at the common I fastened my bike to the fence and set off walking across the common. A Little Owl surprised me as it flew across the heather and promptly disappeared. I sat quietly and waited. All of a sudden it burst from the heather and momentarily sat and watched me before disappearing once again. A pheasant came to say hello before I sat down once again to have a drink and eat my apple whilst admiring the view in the sun.
Whilst I was communicating with a friend I suddenly realised that two Ring Ouzels were running around the grass. I sat very still and bit by bit they came nearer. I had the common all to myself with no disturbance. It was sheer joy to be sitting in the sun admiring these wonderful migrants all by myself in peace and quiet. Two Red Kites flew behind them whilst Skylarks were singing and Lapwings were chasing off the crows. A real sight to behold! What a wonderful spectacle
With light rain falling as I woke up this morning there seemed little point in rushing out of the door and so I spent some time looking at some of the photos and videos that my children had sent me of my grandchildren. After a few domestic chores and looking at my weather app it seemed that the rain would not last long and so I set off for Roydon Common. It was still very gloomy and the was a cold northerly breeze blowing.
Skylarks were singing and Lapwings were dancing around the skies as I scanned the old model plane flying area of the common for wheatears. I found 3 Northern Wheatear amongst the Skylarks but they seemed very adept at disappearing down the rabbit holes. A Roe Deer stood and watched me. After fastening my bike to the fence two Red kikes flew over my head. There were no Ring Ouzels today but two Common Buzzards were flying in the distance. A Curlew called as it flew over as I reached the quarry where a stag Roe Deer was wandering through.
At the top of the common Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers were singing as was a Blackcap.
I was awake before dawn this morning and so was up and dressed and out of the house by 6.30am. My little legs pedalled as hard as they could and headed for Dersingham Bog via West Newton and Sandringham. Chiffchaff were still singing as were Blackcap and Nuthatches as I cycled along. It seemed hard work this morning and I stopped to check my tyres. They both needed some air.! Luckily I had put my pump in the basket and so after a quick remedial fix I was soon on my way again. Signs were on the gates at Dersingham Bog reminding people not to drive to walk and to stay local.
I walked to the John Denver seat and soon heard my first distant Cuckoo calling for the year. I scanned the tree tops without success and walked down the steps. As soon as I was down at the bottom another Cuckoo called from the tree beside me,it was sitting at the top of it. Panic ensued as I tried to switch my camera on before it flew. I needn't have worried as it was quite happy sitting there singing. I watched a couple of Stonechats flitting around and walked a bit further before a strange call that I did not recognise came from the heather at the side of me. I stopped and waited and saw a small bird dart around at the bottom of the heather and quickly disappeared again. This little game of calling and disappearing carried on for 20 minutes or so. I could not place the sound at all. All of a sudden the bird flew across the track and started reeling. A Grasshopper Warbler emerged and I managed a couple of quick photos. A couple of Ravens flew over me calling as well as a Red Kite.
I walked back to my bike and cycled around Wolferton Village where a Swallow flew by before cycling down the lane towards Snettisham. I watched a few Roe Deer running in the fields before cycling back home again.
I want to thank the 700 people that have enjoyed and liked my photos on Facebook and Twitter of the Ring Ouzels. Thank you very much.
It is my granddaughter's first birthday today. Happy birthday Hannah. I hope you have a lovely day. Love Nanny Sue xx
I was up and out of the door by 5.30am this morning determined to pedal hard on my bike and be down at Snettisham Country Park early. These wonderful sunny days are beautiful here and I have always enjoyed them. Years ago when I taught at Dersingham I often used to get up for dawn and go for a walk before teaching for the day.
However today there was a bitingly cold easterly wind blowing making it hard to listen to the birds. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling along the bank and I soon had a few photos of it. Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warblers were singing as were distant Cetti's Warblers. I could hear a distant Cuckoo and Whimbrel but did not see either. Further along the bank I added Redshank, Reed Warbler and Common Snipe to my 'lockdown' list and a Swallow and then a Swift flew over. At the Heacham end a lone Whimbrel was walking in the grass along with the Curlew and a couple of Cetti's Warblers chased each other along the top of the bank.
I added Black-tailed Godwit to my list before reaching the beach where Bar-tailed Godwit and Common Scoter were added. I sat and ate my second breakfast of the day sheltered from the wind. It was wonderful to see the sea and all the birds on it as well as the waders on the sand. During my walk, I saw a few birding friends who were also out for their exercise. It was nice to see them all. Phill was watching Northern Wheatears, Stonechats and Linnets which were running around the area by the green toilet block in the campsite at Heacham.
All too soon it was time to leave to face the pedal home. Luckily it wasn't too bad but by the time I reached Sandringham I was shattered and was glad of a ten minute break to catch my breath whilst I searched for a Tawny Owl that had hooted nearby me. I didn't find it but admired the Rhodedendron that was out in flower. It has been another excellent day!
After my exhausting day yesterday and falling asleep on the sofa last night I knew my body needed a day off from my bike. The day dawned bright and sunny and I just could not stay in bed so I wandered along my road to the old railway line at Roydon Common where I could meander to my heart's delight at a very slow pace. Chifchaff and Blackcaps were still in full song and a female Blackcap sat on a sallow but with too many branches in the way there will be not be a photograph of it.
I wandered along one of the many newly-made pathways in the small wood at the end of my road and crossed the road and through the gate to the old railway line. A Garden Warbler was belting out his song as was another one just a few metres away. I stopped to admire them both and soon saw why there was a competition going on. Another Garden Warbler, presumably a female was sitting watching the musical event. A Robin was just as amused as she was.
I took the path to the old dragonfly pools through the trees and admired Orange-tipped Butterflies in the sun. I was very dismayed when I reached what I thought was going to be the pools. Over the years the area had become increasingly over-grown and NWT have quite clearly cleared the area out but they have removed the boardwalk over the squelchy area. The pools have all but dried out. Such a shame as it used to be such a wonderful wildlife area where I have spent many a happy hour photographing dragonflies in the past. It would be nice to think this area would be restored one day. A Common Buzzard flew over as Woodlark and Mistle Thrushes were singing.
I watched a Jay on my return route.
It was forecast to be another beautiful day and so my bike was fetched out from the garage again. I am lucky enough to hold a permit for Nar Valley Fisheries, a site in the Nar Valley that I have been birding at for over 20 years now. Just before 'lockdown' I had managed to miss the Little Ringed Plover at Titchwell twice and so thought I could combine going to Pentney Gravel Pits where this species is reasonably reliable at this time of year and then cycle around Nar Valley Fisheries before heading home.
Along with Oystercatchers there were two Little Ringed Plovers at Pentney but disappointingly no terns or Yellow Wagtails. After a quick drink I headed for Nar Valley Fisheries that I had all to myself. A Cuckoo flew over the trees as I watched Great Crested Grebes catching fish and Tufted Ducks diving. A Little Egret was sitting in the trees as a Grey Heron strode out into the water. There were many Mute Swans all gathered together on one of the lakes as Egyptian Geese swam around.
The staff at Titchwell all joined in on a guessing game on WhatsApp, all trying to guess where I was. We had some fun and eventually Lizzie won the prize for the correct answer. Well done Lizzie!
Blackcap , Chiffchaff and Garden Warbler were all singing as I headed by the chalets and into West Bilney Woods where I listened to Goldcrest and Coal Tits. I realise that I am very lucky to live where I do and have so much good habitat within cycling distance of my home.
Little Ringed Plovers
It was very chilly as I left home this morning and headed for Sandringham. I wanted an easier and shorter ride today as I needed to get to the supermarket for my first supermarket shop since we went into 'lockdown' before the scheduled catch-up with my colleagues. I stopped by West Newton Mill where some Mallards were loafing around on the Babingley River. A Chiffchaff was singing rather loudly as a Green Woodpecker called from somewhere nearby. I watched three Ravens on my route as I stopped for a rest after a bit of a hill climb, after listening to a Nuthatch calling from the trees.
I cycled along the 'Scenic Drive' at Sandringham where forestry operations are taking place felling many of the trees. The car parks are being transformed as are the Visitor Centre facilities. Great Tits, Blue Tits were all calling as a male Sparrowhawk dashed through the trees and caught a poor unsuspecting unidentified little bird. It all happened so quickly I never had a chance with my camera. There were Wood Pigeons everywhere.
A Jay hopped around and let me take its photo. These birds are usually so shy and I have failed on many occasions to get a photo of one since I have been cycling on my bike around my patch.
My lockdown list is now growing and its getting quite difficult to find new birds for it given the rstrictions that we are currently under.
On most days I have cycled from home. At first a mile was painful to do but as time has gone on I can now venture a bit further. I have spent most of today sat at my computer trying to rectify a problem with my bird data. I am pleased to say it was time well spent and I am well on the way to sorting it out. However the evening looked so lovely that I had an early tea and ventured out towards the King's Lynn bypass. Not a route I would choose to go on a bike with so much traffic in normal times. his evening tough I sped down the hill and cycled along the track by the Gaywood River towards Reffley.
Common Whitethroat seemed to be in every bush as I passed by and I also enjoyed watching several broods of Mallard ducklings. Swallows were skimming the fields looking for insects. A couple of Carrion Crows launched themselves and put up a Short-eared Owl. They harassed it before finally letting it land back down. One more for my list! The ride back up to Knight's Hill took its toll on my muscles but I enjoyed the ride back down to Roydon........................Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Common Snipe - probably not the best photo you've seen of a snipe but I like it!
It was another beautiful morning and being a Sunday the roads were deserted early on as I left home this morning. A Lesser Whitethroat was singing in the hedge as I cycled down my road with another one a little further on. As soon as I was in Flitcham there were birds everywhere. A Marsh Harrier flew over me that was soon joined by two Red Kites. Common Buzzards were in the air and sat in the fields. There were several Grey Partridge in the fields as I watched many Hares scampering around. Common Whitethroat and Blackcap were singing from the hedge as I cycled down the lane to watch a family party of Mallards on the wet meadow.
Edward who farms the land stopped to talk to me and kept me updated. We both appreciated all the wildlife around. A Roe Deer was sitting down enjoying the sun as much as I was. A lovely local lady stopped to have a chat before taking her two dogs for walk. Jim Lawrence arrived and keeping our social distance we watched Tree Sparrows together as well as more Red kites and Common Buzzards. Oystercatchers, Lapwings and Pheasants were also noted here. It was a wonderful morning to be out birding and enjoying my permitted exercise on my bike!
The weather did not look promising this morning and so with lots of time on my hand, there was a computer job that I never seemed to have time to sort out. As many birding friends will know we keep numerous lists and since the advent of computerisation, keeping our bird data up to date is time consuming. As I have now seen over half the world's birds (there are over 10,000 species in the world) I need to try to keep it as accurate as I can. Several years ago my computer ended up in a bath of water (don't ask!) and my data got corrupted. Luckily a colleague of mine came to the rescue and managed to salvage 97% of it but I never seem to have the time to sort out the corrupted files. The last few weeks have given me the time to sort it out and finally this morning I managed to finish putting right the corrupted files.
This meant that after an hour of gardening and mowing the lawns my 'permitted exercise' time on my bike was reduced today and it gave me enough time to cycle along a few lanes around my home this evening. Chiffchaff were still singing and Swallows were still twittering but besides a few Blackbirds calling there was little else singing. However the Rabbits were out in force as were the Hares and Pheasants.
A Red Kite came and checked me out circling over me several times. In a bare field Jim Lawrence and I watched a Stone Curlew sitting tight as Lapwing and Oystercatchers flew around whilst Red-legged and Grey Partridges were enjoying the evening sun.
I cycled up to Roydon Common today where Willow Warblers and Chiffcaff were singing at Roydon crossroads. Once I was on the common I watched a pony hiding in the trees as a Common Buzzard called its presence to me, before cycling up to the top of the common. A Skylark was displaying on a fence post as I arrived. Three Wheatear were running around the old model plane flying area as a Red Kite circled above me. The rain started once again and my visit was cut rather short. Grrr.......
With the summer migrants now arriving and having seen many of the common birds around the lanes whilst I have been on my daily exercise it was clear that I needed to cycle a little bit further to see some of the scarcer migrants. Looking at the forecast for today it was quite clear that it needed to be an early rise at 5 a.m. to be on the road for 5.30 am so that I could be back home again before the rain set in.
After cycling through the villages I walked the inner sea-bank at Snettisham and soon picked up a Spoonbill flying along the sea-bank. The wind began to blow a little more than I would have liked and I could not hear any Turtle Doves purring in their usual area. However further along the bank a Turtle Dove flew from the Heacham direction and made for one of the Hawthorn bushes where it promptly disappeared. A Greenshank was on one of the pools along with a Little Gull roosting with a couple of Black-headed Gulls. A Sedge Warbler sat up and posed for me whilst sing for a mate.
Sitting watching the tide come in there were many Oystercatchers on the tide-line along with Sanderling and Ringed Plover. A lone Common Tern flying over the sea added itself to my list. Back along the bank a Yellow Wagtail flew by along with several Swift, Sand Martin and Swallows. A Cuckoo flew by calling. It was good to see Tim who had also cycled down here. We will all be fit after this 'lockdown'! A couple of birders had been stopped by the police for attempting to drive here and were challenging people who had arrived in the car park.
On my battle home against the wind on my bike I saw four Ravens.
I was up early and headed towards Nar Valley. I have been a member of the Nar Valley Ornithological Society for more than 20 years now and hold a permit for the wonderful area of lakes and scrapes of the former gravel pits known as the Nar Valley Fisheries. It is an amazing place for winter birding but in Springtime it is fabulous.
Today in the Nar Valley I saw 2 Nightingales, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Common Whitethroat, heard a Blackcap singing, and watched a Whinchat amongst 5 Wheatears. Whilst stood by the River Nar a Goshawk flew over the woods along with several Common Buzzards. There were Sand Martin and Swift en-masse which 3 Hobbies were taking advantage of as they hunted them down. Four Common Terns were new arrivals as they called and caused some commotion as a Cuckoo flew over calling its familiar call known by all.
At Pentney lakes a Common Sandpiper accompanied a Little Ringed Plover as Tufted Duck swam and more Common Terns flew around.
It was a late start today so that I would time my arrival a couple of hours before high tide down at Snettisham. The RSPB reserve and hides are closed as are all RSPB reserves at the moment. However many years ago when I was still teaching I used to sneak down a farm track after school to get a couple of hours birding in during the spring and summer months to save myself walking all the way down by the chalets. Many years later this track is now gated but there is a right of way that locals cycle and walk down to the beach. So today I cycled down it in glorious sunny weather.
A Marsh Harrier flew over a field as Sedge and Reed Warblers called in drainage ditches as I pedalled my way down. Once I was at the beach it was obvious that I was in for a good afternoon's birding as thousands of waders were out on the mud. I watched Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and at last a Ruddy Turnstone that I needed for my 'lockdown' list. The tide raced in over the mud and I was soon having to move position so that I was not looking directly into the sun.
Soon the waders were performing their spectacular shapes in the air as they all swirled around over the sea. Although I have been watching this now for over 30 years it is a sight that I never tire of as it is absolutely stunning. It was good to see the Little Stint that has over-wintered here out on the mud too. On my way back a beautiful Barn Owl flew nearby hunting over one of the fields. What a way to end my 'permitted exercise' time!
My bike headed for Snettisham Country Park today as it was a glorious morning.
A Common Whitethroat was singing its heart out on the wires down Beach Road as were several others as I admired the Gorse and Hawthorn in full bloom. After fastening my bike up, I walked along the inner seabank. Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers and Common Whitethroats were all in full song as were Cetti's Warblers. Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Little Egret were on the pools as I watched 2 Grey Herons in flight over the fields. I continued on, stopping and scanning as I went. I saw Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit and a few Redshank. Lizzie phoned me and I walked further along the bank. The sun was now higher in the sky as I managed to pick out at least 4 Wood Sandpipers that were passage migrants along with a couple more Common Redshank.
I walked on to the Heacham inner seabank where a small flock of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin flew in onto the pools. A Greenshank was wandering amongst the Black-tailed Godwit. The Ken Hill re-wilding is amazing as there were so many birds to look at. I watched two Marsh Harriers flying over the marsh before I turned around listening once again to Cetti's Warblers and a Cuckoo calling.
One of the joys of living where I do in Norfolk is that I am spoilt for choice of several nature reserves that are within cycling distance. It was another beautiful morning as I pulled back the curtains this morning and after my adventures yesterday I decided to stay much closer to home and visit Roydon Common. A Woodlark was singing as I arrived at the lower end of the common by the crossroads. The ponies were surprised to see me but were soon happily munching away again as I departed for the slog up the hill to the top car park.
Walking across the top pathway a female Stonechat appeared on the fence as Lapwing were flying around protecting their nests as the Skylarks sang. Another pair of Stonechat objected to my presence as I made my way down the track, doing their alarm call, I suspect that there was a nest nearby so I did not linger. Down on The Delft, a female Marsh Harrier was quartering the ground as the cows were also munching away. It was a busy few minutes for raptors as a Common Buzzard was inspected by a newly-arrived Hobby as I made my way back over Grimston Warren.
Remembering today those that gave their lives so that I would have the freedom to enjoy the life that I have. I thank you.
It was a chilly start today as I set of for Dersingham Bog and I wondered if I had put enough clothing on. At West Newton I stopped to listen to the Garden Warbler, Goldcrest and Treecreeper singing. I watched the Treecreeper climb its tree and I did get a headless photo of it as it disappeared behind a branch. A Muntjac popped out to say 'good morning' before running away.
It was much warmer by the time I arrived at Dersingham Bog where a Woodlark was singing and a Raven croaking. I followed the path around and after a very brief view of a Tree Pipit I followed where I thought it had flown to. After several hours of searching it finally gave itself away by singing at the top of a tree. I watched several Stonechat perching at the top of bushes but my camera was not too keen to focus this morning.....a clean lens would have helped! After a quick rub with my T-shirt it behaved a bit better! There was a very odd-looking Stonechat present with a white cap. I have never seen one like this before. Two more Ravens flew over along with a pair of Marsh Harriers.
On my way back home after seeing Lizzie and Nathan on one of the lanes I watched a pair of Spotted Flycatchers. It was a joy to see them catching insects and posing for my camera.
Now for the VE day celebrations in my road.
This Stonechat had a rather strange appearence!
After a couple of phone calls this morning I made some enquiries regarding access and visited a local ruined church near my home that I have always wanted to visit but never have. A Quail was singing as I walked by a wheat field and made my way up to St. James church ruin at Bawsey. This year besides enjoying watching birds and other wildlife because I have been on my bike and walked so much, I have noticed the hedgerows much more. In the early spring the Blackthorn was very pretty but now the Hawthorn is absolutely spectacular.
A Hobby flew high in the sky above me and a Marsh Harrier quartered the fields to my left. A Common Whitethroat sang incessantly from the hedge whilst another competed from an overhead wire. Down in the ditch a Sedge Warbler was singing for a mate as a Large Red Damselfly perched beside me. Drama was taking place in the Gaywood River as a female Mallard was seeing off a Mute Swan that had dared to threaten her recently hatched ducklings. A Cuckoo flew along the hedgerow a bit too quick for my camera as I was watching the antics of the local Jackdaws on the ruined church.
With the Prime Minister announcing that the 'lockdown' rules are to be relaxed and from Wednesday we will be able to drive to areas to exercise, my time on my bike is probably going to come to an end. After getting out an Ordinance Survey map and doing some measuring I have calculated that I have walked and cycled around 350 miles since we were all 'locked down'. Overall I have enjoyed the experience and have been amazed at the wildlife that I have seen and heard with a few miles of my home. I have made some wonderful discoveries of birds that in the past I have driven miles to see when all the time they were right on my doorstep. A lesson to be learned I think. The animals, plants and flowers have been amazing too.
With the wind blowing 'a hooley' I set off for Roydon Common this afternoon with Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and a Mistle Thrush still singing in the woods as I set off up towards Knights Hill. Once on the common I saw a bird with a white rump fly away from me and knew immediately that it was a Northern Wheatear. As I stopped to take a photo three more appeared and was then joined by a male Stonechat. Photography was not easy in the gale-force wind as I struggled to hold the camera still enough. I continued my walk and saw another pair of Stonechat carrying food for their young. The wind eventually won and I started my walk back to my bike. I enjoyed my ride back down the hill as I scampered to get home in time to enable me to join the Zoom meeting with the Great Yarmouth Bird Club this evening.
I am also very grateful to the people who have commented that they have appreciated my efforts and also sent me many kind messages that they have enjoyed looking at the photographs that I have shared either on Facebook, Twitter or my website Norfolk Birders. https://suebryan.webs.com/sue-s-diary-2020 . I thank you all. Being kind has been one lesson that we all needed to learn during this crisis.
None of us would have wanted this pandemic and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. We have been lucky that our NHS staff and key workers have worked so hard to give some of us the opportunity to reconnect with nature and appreciate it so much more than we did before.
Stay safe everyone and take care.
A final ride on my bike before we are allowed to drive once again saw me riding around my local patch where I watched some wonderful birds. I enjoyed watching a male Marsh Harrier hunting over the fields whilst many Swifts swirled around catching insects.
The day had started bright and sunny but after a few hours the cloud covered the sky and the wind increased in strength. I felt sorry for the Turtle Dove purring away in the Hawthorn now faced with a cold spell instead of summer sun and warmth that you might expect for mid-May. My hands were chilled from the wind and I needed to wear my gloves and so I am sorry to say that I did not take many photos today. I watched many little ducklings that have hatched following their parents around and lots of young Blackbirds in the lanes being fed by their parents.
Back at home I was delighted to find a Siskin feeding on one of my feeders as Blackbirds, Blue Tits and Woodpigeons all fought for the food that I had out out earlier. A battle commenced between a Dunnock and a Robin over some suet which the Robin won.
I finished my day with a late evening walk at Sandringham where I watched a Nightjar in flight after it had spent a few minutes 'churring' along with two Woodcocks flying around.
My little legs had a rest from pedalling today and I drove to Nar Valley Fisheries where I walked around the lakes there for my permitted exercise. A Garden Warbler was in full song as I looked at the Common Terns that were flying around along with Sand Martins and House Martins over the lakes. At least 3 Cuckoos were flying around as I listened to two Nightingales singing. I managed to have a couple of views of one of the singing birds but I stood no chance of a photograph. Three Common Sandpipers were present as well as a pair of Little Ringed Plovers along the edge of the lakes.
A Peregrine had caught its lunch and was making slow progress overhead. As I walked up towards West Bilney Woods a Muntjac stood and stared at me. A few Poppies brightened up the day as well as lots of Azure Damselflies and a Scarce Chaser, which is a rarity in this part of the county. With summer approaching it will be wonderful to see the dragonflies on the wing again. As I walked back to the car I saw two Banded Damoiselles too.
I had a lazy start to the day as my target birds did not need to sing to me today. I have always enjoyed living near the coast so I headed this way so that I could go for a walk at Cley but stopped off at Wells too. Walking along East Bank I was enthralled by a Little Grebe that kept diving in a pool and eventually caught a small fish which it rapidly consumed. in the reeds Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers were singing as Bearded Tits flew over the reedbed. It was wonderful to hear their song as I made my way along the bank. A few birders that I knew were also enjoying their release from lockdown as we made our way to Arnold's Marsh. Here Little Terns and Sandwich Terns were asleep as Avocet and Little Ringed Plovers ran around. A Spoonbill landed on the marsh as two Little Egrets flew off.
I joined Neil Bostock to walk along the shingle to North Hide where we watched a Garganey along with a few Gadwall and Shelduck. Out at sea Sandwich Terns flew by as well as a few gulls and Cormorants.
At Wells, two Temminck's Stints were running around with a Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Redshank. It was lovely to see so many Avocet and Lapwing chicks.The little balls of fluff were so cute. Brent Geese were still present as were Egyptian Geese on the pools. On my way home I watched several Corn Buntings singing from the tops of the hedgerows. It was good to enjoy the sun and smell of the coastline today.
Temminck's Stint and Moorhen
John and I walked around Kelling Heath today and watched Dartford Warblers feeding their young. A Woodlark was singing as a Stonechat sat on top of a bush. At Cley Common Sandpipers, Greenshank and Avocets were busy as Lapwing chicks ran around. It was good to see several friends out and about too where we kept our social distance as we talked.
Today's posting has been added on 16th June because of Covid restrictions and Titchwell Marsh being officially closed. I was asked not to publish the record of the Lesser Yellowlegs that was present on site because of the issues that a rarity may cause. I am against suppression of rarities as I have always enjoyed sharing the beauty of our wonderful wildlife but appreciated the difficulties that the RSPB was in. Luckily the public footpath at Titchwell has been open during the restrictions and as I had been searching for Dotterel in the Choseley area took a wander down the West Bank path where a Lesser Yellowlegs was wandering around the Freshmarsh. It was a beautiful afternoon but I had not taken my camera so my only option was a few phone-scope images.
After yesterday's excitement I awoke with a migraine and was forced to stay at home for the first part of the day. Later in the afternoon I took a trip to the old Monty's site at North Wootton where I watched 7 Marsh Harriers in flight. There were many Swifts and House Martins feeding over the fields. In the drain a Mute Swan and a Little Egret were on show along with a few Mallard Ducks. A Kestrel hovered over me for a while before I headed back home.
Now that we can meet up with one other person, I drove to meet up with my daughter in a wood so that we could go for a walk together. It was just lovely to see her after weeks of being apart. As we were walking we listened to a Nightingale singing as well as Blackcaps and Garden Warblers. A Wren burst into song as we rounded a corner admiring some late Bluebells. Whilst enjoying our picnic lunch a Red Kite swirled around us overhead. I'm lucky to have a family who enjoy the great outdoors as much as I do. A magical day all round.
At Foulden Common there were several of my friends there all trying to find Grizzled Skipper and Dingy Skipper. It didn't take me long to find some.
Later in the day I was alerted by the Cley birds Whats App group of a Woodchat Shrike down at Kelling Water meadows. This is a lovely walk from Kelling down to the sea. What could be better on a beautiful day. There were lots of people that I recognised here and it was good to see them. The Woodchat Shrike posed well up the hedgeline and frequently sat on the posts. By the cows a Blue-headed Wagtail was flitting around. A 2nd calendar year Montagu's Harrier was hiding in a ditch and I had to climb the shingle sea bank to see it in the ditch. It was just glorious here by the sea. What a wonderful day!
I had a late start today and cycled up to Roydon Common vis the farm track. The Oystercatchers were still present on the field as I crossed over to the common. There were no cars here today, I guess everyone is at the coast!
On the common the Skylarks were singing as was a Common Whitethroat. I could see some distant Buzzards being mobbed by corvids in the heat haze. Lapwings were still in the top fields as Linnets flew over me. A Roe Deer popped its head our as I surveyed the scene. The serenity here was wonderful in the sun as the ponies nonchalantly ate the grass.
An Adder was on the road as I cycled back down the hill to home and lunch.
Along with a socially-distanced friend....yes you actually know what I mean, we madly walked in Snettisham Country Park. The wind was blowing an absolute hooley and the Swifts were zooming by. A Common Tern was the fist of the year for my friend. On the Ken Hill marshes there were many Shelduck hunkering down along with so many ducklings and goslings. I would have usually studied all the waders but quite frankly it was too windy and cold and so we both retreated back to the cars in a hurry!
After a lovely lunch and sharing some time outside, all socially distanced with a friend there was high drama at Flitcham. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the pool where a pair of Mallards were valiantly trying to defend their ducklings from it. It was fascinating to watch. Sadly there was a tree in the way preventing me taking photos of the moment of 'swoop-down' when the harrier made its attempt of grabbing one of the ducklings. The Marsh Harrier eventually sat and watched at the side of the pool and the Mallard parents gathered their young together and swam off.
A Little Owl was totally unaware of the scene going on behind it as it sat in the tree root. A Common Buzzard was being mobbed by corvids as two Red Kites were mobbed by Lapwings also defending their young on the fields in the distance. The Red Kites eventually gave up the hunt and flew over my head. Meanwhile two Shelduck sat and stood motionless completely ignoring all the events going on.
I never cease to be amazed by nature and the drama all happening within an easy reach of our homes and luckily we are all able to access it and enjoy it during these peculiar times.
With a promise of a good forecast I wanted to avoid the coast and crowds, so enjoyed a wonderful day with nature at Potter Heigham in Norfolk walking along Weaver's Way in the hot sun. It was a glorious walk and good to be out in the countryside enjoying the fresh air.
Swallowtail butterflies were on the wing and I was staggered at the number that I saw flitting along the path settling on Red Campion. They were joined by Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies also enjoying the sun. Dragonflies added to the delight as they whizzed over the reeds and sedges as well as the Milk Parsley that lined the path. I stopped to take photos of Hairy Dragonflies and Four-spotted Chasers as well as Red-eyed and Blue-tailed Damselflies. A Black-tailed Skimmer proved a little more difficult to get a photograph of as it kept taking off as soon as my camera found its focus.
A Grey Heron flew to join another two as I admired a family of Mute Swans with their 'polish cygnet' along with their other cygnets. Willow Warblers and Reed Buntings were in full song as Cetti's Warblers belted out their song without being seen. Overhead I could hear the bugling call of four Common Cranes. I looked up to watch them fly around in circles gaining height as they went. A Chinese Water Deer lurked in the reeds as I walked along the path totally unconcerned as it preened itself. The Norfolk Broads were at their best today....how lucky to be here on such a beautiful day.
Today I ventured out to walk through West Bilney Woods towards Womegay High Bridge passing through Nar Valley Fisheries following the public footpath. Once again it was a glorious day as Goldcrests were singing as I parked the car. Along the route Chiffchaff and Garden Warblers were singing and a Cuckoo was calling as a Muntjac crossed over the path in front of me. On one of the pits a Carrion Crow was causing some disturbance to the newly-hatched Little Ringed Plover chick, so much so the adult bird was having to run away from its chick to distract the crow from it. It has been many years since I have seen a Little Ringed Plover chick. Many Sand Martins flying over the lake gave the feel that Summer has arrived.
There were many Black-tailed Skimmer Dragonflies as well as Common Blue Damselflies. A Southern Hawker also flew over my head. I watched an Orange Tip Butterfly perch before stopping to watch a Kingfisher parent take a fish to its chicks in the nest in the bank. Such a privilege to witness this.
Kingfisher with fish
Orange Tip Butterfly
It was another gorgeous day in Norfolk and I was soon on my way to Cley after being alerted by the WhatsApp group of a Blyth's Reed Warbler at Walsey Hills. I walked the public footpath and could hear the Blyth's Reed Warbler singing in the bushes. It was soon chased out by a Chiffchaff and I saw it sitting in an oak tree before it soon disappeared back into the vegetation. A few Chaffinches accompanied it as well as a Lesser Whitethroat singing. I didn't stay long and wandered down East Bank.
It was a wonderful walk as I watched Lapwing defending their young against Carrion Crows and Sedge Warblers singing at the top of their voice. A Meadow Pipit was displaying over my head before parachuting down to the ditch by the marsh. I watched Avocets and Shelduck on the marsh in the sun. Down on the shingle a Little Ringed Plover was running around along with a Redshank.
It was now hot and I needed a rest. It was lovely just to sit and gaze out to sea. Sandwich Terns were coming and going as I led down soaking up the sun. A Little Tern flew over as I enjoyed the peace with just the sound of the lapping of the waves on the shingle. Bliss!
Back along the bank a little ball of fluff caught my eye as a Little Grebe chick dived for its food. I enjoyed the ambience of the afternoon as I returned to Walsey Hills to appreciate another session listening to the Blyth's Reed Warbler and seeing several of my friends also enjoying a walk along the footpath.
Another day in paradise! Well what an amazing day it was today...just perfect. The sun was shining, it was the ideal temperature and nature abounded all around me whilst I shared it with several friends that had also had the same idea as me to visit Hickling Broad and Norfolk Wildlife Trust's reserve there.
After parking the car I walked down a recently newly opened track and headed for a bank where there was a vista across a new wetland area. Redshank, Avocet, Ringed Plovers and Black-headed Gulls all looked at home here whilst Hobbies flew overhead, catching dragonflies. After studying a perched falcon in a distant tree a Red-footed Falcon flew in and sat in another tree. The first falcon certainly caused some issues but sadly the heat haze left it unidentified. Three Common Cranes bugled as they flew around before landing out of sight.
I walked down to the broad passing many Four Spotted Chaser dragonflies after watching two Peregrines flying around. Down near the broad Norfolk Hawkers and Swallowtail Butterflies were present making a wonderful scene as they flitted along and perching for photos.
Walking back a White Stork flew overhead which caused a bit of a panic amongst the birdwatchers present. It was still very hot and I was glad of the ice-cream to celebrate such a wonderful day and the nature on offer amongst several friends that I had met during my day here. (Thanks must also go to Jim for his help today)
John and I visited Glapthorn Cow Pastures today to photograph Black Hairstreak. It did not take long to find them on this beautiful day. We also visited to Wethay Wood where we saw Grizzled Skipper. Later at Bedford Purlieus we found some Fly Orchids.
Sue watching for Black Hairstreaks
This morning at Bayfield Lake, Glandford, a beautiful scene greeted me as an Otter swam in front of me as I stood socially distanced from friends in the Glaven Valley. Together we watched two Kingfishers, a Grey Wagtail, a Hobby, a Little Egret and a Banded Demoiselle before a Squacco Heron flew from the lakeside and landed in a nearby tree affording us all magnificent views as it preened itself. The sunny weather made the water in the lake glisten affording a really feel-good factor to all of those present as we enjoyed the morning together taking our photographs and watching the nature all around us.
Squacco Heron in flight
After a wonderful day out yesterday with my daughter and granddaughter I decided to have my exercise out of my beloved county of Norfolk now that our lockdown rules have been relaxed a bit, and walk along the clifftop at Bempton in Yorkshire.
It was yet another glorious day with almost perfect weather, not too hot and not too cold with the sun permanently out and just enough breeze for the birds to hover on. After parking the car and admiring a few Tree Sparrows I left the cheeky Jackdaws and headed for the cliff edge. The noise from all the nesting seabirds met me long before I reached the edge of the cliffs as did the smell which I soon got used to.
Gannets and Kittiwakes were gliding on the breeze as my camera swung into action. Down on the cliff edge Razorbills and Guillemots were clinging on for dear life as others attempted to knock them off. It didn't take long to spot a Puffin but getting a photograph was quite a challenge as it kept disappearing in its burrow. They say patience is a virtue but this Puffin quite clearly did not want to appear in my photo album and so I walked a bit further to find one that did!
A Fulmar was hiding on a ledge half asleep but woke up long enough for me to get a couple of photos before it tucked its head under its wing again. I walked further along the cliff top and heard a Corn Bunting singing as it sat on a concrete pillar too far for a photo unfortunately. Red Admirals were flitting along in front of me as I made my way along admiring the views. Down at the bottom of the cliff a Shag was drying its wings as Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills were leaving the ledges and flying out to sea in the hope of finding food.
I desperately tried to get some photos of the passing Gannets and Kittiwakes which was not an easy task and I now have hundreds of half-birds and out of focus photos to delete off my camera cards. A Meadow Pipit sat on one of the umbellifers after displaying and singing above me.
Today has been a bit of a mixed bag. I woke up with a terrible migraine and had to take my medication. I opened the curtains to find a Muntjac nibbling at my pond Irises. I stayed in bed until lunchtime by which time I felt much better.
I set off for Lynford Arboretum after a light lunch and walked down to the lake. A Little Grebe and a Grey Wagtail kept me entertained but neither wanted to have their photo taken, one diving at every opportunity and one just far too active catching insects. I walked along the path and watched 4 Firecrests flitting around the trees. The light was not good for photography and several dog walkers did not help my cause. With a bit of patience I eventually got a few photos and continued on my way. Chiffchaff, Siskin and Greenfinch were calling as walked on my way as a Common Whitethroat sat in the hedge.
I drove back to Whitehills Woods very near my home where a Wren was scolding me for disturbing its peace. Chiffchaff were singing and a Blackcap sang beside me. The Rhododendrons and Foxgloves were very pretty in the woods.
With an uncertain weather forecast I set off for Potter Heigham where I joined some familiar faces and watched the Broad-billed Sandpiper. Luckily I had taken a crate to stand on so that I could see over the top of the reeds. It was a very mobile bird and kept with all the Ringed Plovers present. After watching for a while the whole flock took off and flew towards Hickling. I watched some of the Avocets before heading to Horsford where I saw a flock of 15 Common Crossbills. A Blackcap hopped around a bush by the car and I listened to Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Garden Warbler all singing. Very uplifting!
The thunder cloud passes right overhead at Titchwell Marsh
With rain forecast all day and with rain falling as I woke up it seemed that I was destined for a day at home. However my phone sprang into life early on with news of two scarce birds in Norfolk. I was soon up up and out of the door and headed for Cromer where after a bit of a search the Rose-coloured Starling returned to its favourite feeder which the owner of the garden had kindly refilled. Dodging the showers it was good to see it.
After a chat with a few friends I drove on to Potter Heigham where John and I walked along the bank and joined the other birders watching the Caspian Tern. Avocets, Cormorants and Greylag Geese all wanted to be in the photo as I struggled with the reeds in the way, making photography rather challenging.
I drove on to Buckenham Marshes where I was quite sad to see the end of the hut where a railway member of staff used to reside to unlock the gates so that vehicles could drive over the railway line. It now has automated lights. A bit of railway history gone. On the marshes I watched a Marsh Harrier quartering the fields and a very wet Buzzard perched on a post.
Caspian Tern and Cormorant
Today I took part in the WeBS (water bird survey) count in the Nar Valley Fisheries along with some other volunteers from NarVOS, one of the bird clubs of which I am a member. Although the morning was quite cloudy and at times windy and cold we enjoyed some of the birds that we saw as we monitored the birds on the lakes.
Of course being birders we also enjoyed watching the other birds that we encountered including a Red Kite, Grey Heron and Buzzard that flew overhead as well as at least 4 Kingfishers that we saw. Three adult Little Ringed Plovers were seen and a chick that quickly disappeared into the vegetation.
The counting of Greylag Geese was quite a challenge as I ran out of fingers and toes as I neared 200 of them. I also felt sorry for Brian counting the Canada Geese, which also had high numbers. Mute Swan, Egyptian Geese, Coot and Tufted Duck were counted as Alan kept score. Our records are passed to the BTO and Middleton Aggregates that own the site and let us have permits to birdwatch here.
The track to Nar Valley was a beautiful sight as Poppies and Corn Marigolds were in full bloom. I just had to stop to admire them.
Little Ringed Plover
After a spot of gardening and cursing the chickens that had once again managed to get inside my protective netting to my flowerbed (they must be burrowing chickens) I got my bike out of the garage and set off for West Newton and the tracks across Sandringham land.
I stopped and walked in Whitehills Woods to admire all the Foxgloves that were putting on such a beautiful show. A Kestrel was hovering over the field and a Chiffchaff was still singing as I pedalled along. I heard a Treecreeper but did not see it. I kept stopping to admire all the Poppies and Chamomile in the fields.
I did a circuit along the tracks and lanes and a bird caught my eye as I got back near to West Newton Mill. I knew the jizz and it just had to be a Spotted Flycatcher. I grabbed my camera and luckily the bird sat long enough for a quick photo before flying across the road to perch on the top of a tall tree.
Having had a very bad night with yet another migraine and with rain forecast all day, I was feeling a bit worse for wear today and not full of the joys of spring. However a walk and some fresh air often does me good and so I donned the wet weather gear and headed for Pottrow Woods, a strip of woodland near my home that I have never walked in before.
With having to shelter my camera under an umbrella the gloom and rain were not perhaps the best conditions for photography. I set off along the track and was completely shocked at the number of Willow Warblers that I could hear singing. Willow Warbler numbers have fallen drastically over the last 10 years in Norfolk but this afternoon they seemed to be delighting in keeping me company for the whole length of my walk. A Garden Warbler and a Common Whitethroat could be heard singing but I did not see either bird.
I stopped to admire a small patch of Common Spotted Orchids as I turned along a narrow grassy track leading out to the farm land where horses were being kept. I scanned the gorse in vain but there were no birds present except for a few flyover corvids. My head was still thumping and I decided to return back along the track and head for home. A young Robin hopped up and posed on a small branch for its photo which made my day.
With a forecast of rain in the afternoon Sally and I met up for our socially distanced walk this morning along Burnham Norton sea wall. The wind was a bit stronger than we would have liked but we were well prepared and set off after stopping to admire a Common Redshank posing for its photo to be taken on a fence post. Reed Buntings seemed plentiful but posed a challenge for us both in the wind sitting precariously on top of reeds with neither of us able to keep our cameras still enough for a satisfactory close photo.
We watched Avocets and Marsh Harriers as well as Lapwings as flocks of Common Starlings flying overhead. I scanned through them for any pink ones but sadly I didn't find any. There were many Shoveler ducklings on the pools as well as a few Mallards and Mute Swans.
On our walk back a Great White Egret flew across the marsh but you will need a microscope to see it in one of my photos. A Spoonbill was a bit more co-operative as it fed. We watched a Grey Heron fly with a rather large eel before the rain set in and we had to depart for home.
John and I went for a potter around some of the Breckland meres in Norfolk. These are shallow lakes with fluctuating water levels that provide a unique flora and fauna in the area. It was very murky when we first arrived at Ringmere but the temperature suddenly rose and the humidly seemed to increase rapidly too. A Tree Pipit and a Woodlark were singing as we walked across the heath but we did not see either bird. Coots and Little Grebes were busy on Ringmere as we watched from a small hide.
At Fenmere we saw very little but listened to a Blackcap singing as well as a Wren calling from the bracken. Langmere was full of water, which has not been the case on my last few visits. A Mallard duck soon left as I approached. Lots of rabb