In Ghana I was woken up by an alarm clock at mid-night, I wondered if I had to start birding straight away. As I could not get to sleep again I wish I had. The air-conditioner was still keeping us cool but outside was still hot and humid. At first light my first bird was a Pied Crow followed by a Village Weaver. Not the usual birds that I have on my year list on January the first. Here in Ghana a Western Plantain Eater was ticked before breakfast. However this was our last day of our trip before returning to a cold grey England.
A Bronze Mannikin lurked in the reeds as we sat and ate our breakfast. We made our way to Elmina which was the centre of the slave trade many years ago. A visit around the castle was a grim reminder of the atrocities that took place here. Overhead Yellow-billed Kites were wheeling around as were Hooded Vultures. On the salt pans Marsh Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts were poking around.
All too soon we headed for the airport for our flight home.
Arriving at Heathrow as expected it was cold. Common Buzzard and Carrion Crow makes it on to my British Year List. Back in Norfolk, I stop near Downham Market where a field full of swans yield Bewick's and Whooper Swans feeding. Tottenhill adds all the usual ducks to my list but no Smew or Ruddy Duck. At home a mass of Golden Plover fly by the kitchen window.
At Anmer I watch a Lesser Snow Goose and Egyptian Geese amongst the thousands of Pink-footed Geese that are a winter delight around North-west Norfolk. At Roydon Common a Green Woodpecker and a Kestrel flew across whilst I failed to find any Hen Harriers at their normal roost.
In the garden I added a few common birds to my year list before heading to Brancaster to see 3 Banacle Geese with the flock of Pink-feet. At Titchwell I was delighted at a Lesser Redpoll in the picnic area and I made a mental note of many year-ticks as I walked down the main path. There was very little on the sea but a couple of Red-throated Divers flew past. Back at Roydon Common the Great Grey Shrike was on the field side of the trackway by the common. A Stonechat perched on a fence post as we looked at a Hen Harrier going to roost.
A Barn Owl flew over the car at Flitcham as Paul and I headed to Holkham. We searched in vain for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but added a few year ticks as well as the Smew that was at the end of the footpath passing by the monument. At Wells 2 Shags were in the harbour with a Little Egret. Stopping at Morston a couple of Rock Pipits lurked around the boats. At the Cley visitor centre two Water Pipits were in the field with Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. It was here that luck came our way as we were told not to leave Cley as a mega was to be announced later in the day. We had promised to delay a little before making our way to the Three Swallows Pub. Here about a dozen locals congregated and Paul and I saw the White-crowned Sparrow before it became public knowledge. Having seen many before in the USA it was still a stunning bird to get on to our British Lists. We soon left when the pager sprung into action as we knew what the ensuing melee would be like with such limited viewing. Down at Salthouse I cursed at having left my camera at home as the light was fantastic for photography of the Lapland and Snow Buntings that were showing well on the shingle. We walked down kelling Quags where a Common Snipe and a Grey Heron were added to our year lists. On our journey home we watched the Ross's Goose at Docking.
A blustery afternoon saw John, Judy Geeson and myself trudging out to Terrington Marsh where a Richard's Pipit had been reported. I can't say it was exactly the most pleasurable search that any of us had had. We tramped up and down the sea-ward side of the sea wall where eventually John and I flushed out a large pipit. We were lucky enough to see the Richard's Pipit several times before we returned to the car drenched.
At Flitcham there was little to be seen from the hide except lots of teal and a lonely Common Snipe. I drove a little further to my usual spot for Tree Sparrows. Carrying on to Sculthorpe Moor I admired the new visitor centre and watched Bramblings from the seat just past the original hide. A new extension has been opened since my last visit and I sat in the new hide watching a confiding Water Rail beneath a feeder with marsh and Willow Tits visiting it . It was good to see the comparison.
Although bitterly cold at Thornham I enjoyed the walk along the sea bank in the sun watching a flock of Skylarks. Linnets were also flying around in a flock of 30+ birds before a small flock of Twite descended near a pool of water. Huge numbers of Pink-footed Geese were feeding on the Marsh as Redshanks were feeding in the channel.
Walking over the golf course at Holme and onto the beach near Gore Point I scoped 3 Long-tailed Ducks on the sea as well as 2 Great Crested Grebes. Along the by-pass at Snettisham a Woodcock flew over the car as I drove home.
Starting at Cromer a Waxwing was sitting in a roadside tree at the Rainbow Stores. Paul and I drove on around the coastline where a Peregrine flew above our car at Trimmingham. At Walcott a Great Northern Diver sat on the sea as Sanderlings and Turnstones fed on supplied food on the seawall. Stopping at Waxham a Gannet and Fulmar were added to my yearlist but there were no Purple Sandpipers on the groynes.
Nearly running out of petrol were stopped to watch Mediterraneans Gulls being fed bread on the sea-front at Great Yarmouth.
The wind had picked up and we struggled along the side of Breydon Water to watch thousands of waders and Wigeon. At Buckenham Marshes the Taiga Bean Geese were feeding near the railwayline with Barnacle, Greylag and Canada Geese. Thousands of Wigeon were also feeding as were many Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails. A couple of White Wagtails were also present. We finished the day in murky light at Pentney Gravel Pit where many duck were amongst Great Crested Grebes on the water.
Friends from Yorkshire kindly picked me up for a day's birding on the coastline. After seeing the White-crowned Sparrow sitting in the hedge by the Three Swallows Pub at Cley, we headed to Salthouse where we watched the Snow Buntings on the seabank. Back at Wells, Steve kindly bought me a bag of chips as we watched a Shag in the harbour. Andrew drove to the football pitch where we failed to locate any Black Brants amongst the Brent Geese. At Holkham, however, we found one from the roadside. In the park at Holkham Steve and Andrew went to find the Smew as Nick, my friend from Antarctic days, called me over to show me 100+ Bramblings feeding in the trees by the monument. Alas once again there were no Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. Looking from the road Andrew located some White-fronted Geese. Back at Roydon we located the Great Grey Shrike and watched as a Hen Harrier came into roost. After a meal out with Paul, two Tawny were sheltering from the rain in a roadside tree.
A leisurely start saw Paul and myself at Lynford Arboretum. Waiting just beyond the bridge we saw very little. Back up in the Arboretum Paul located a Hawfinch sitting at the top of a tree. On the pits a Goosander was swimming on the far side opposite the new hide. We drove to Santon Downham, where, just before the railway crossing 5 Crossbills were drinking from a puddle. After an emergeny stop we were amazed as the Crossbills came back down to drink at our feet. I cursed as I did not have my camera with me.
We motored onto Welney passing 20+ Corn Buntings sitting on the wires at Ten Mile Bank. I met two of my former pupils, James and Simeon at Welney who had located three Tundra Bean Geese from the visitor centre. Thousands of Golden Plover and Lapwings were putting on an arial display and I joked that there might be an American Golden Plover amongst them which if I had looked harder there was!
A walk at Wolferton in the sun produced a big tit flock with a few Golcrests amongst them. Later at Roydon Common I parked by one of the roadside gates as a Hen Harrier came sailing over my head to join two other harriers already flying over the common. One was a stunning male. I waited watching the sun set and almost gave up hope as a Merlin perched on nearby dead bracken before frightening a few Meadow Pipits as it took off to fly to the east end of the common.
After a day in London to see my son and daughter, Paul and I had a late start. We wandered along the pits at Snettisham and watched in delight as male Goldeneyes displayed to a few females. A lone Purple Sandpiper picked its way amongst Wigeon and Oystercatchers on one of the islands. On our walk back to the car Paul picked out a Scaup preening itself. We remarked how years ago Scaup were commonplace here. At Hunstanton clifftop there was very little to be seen except a couple of female Eiders. We retraced our steps to one of my survey tetrads where I had previously seen Little Owl. It was well hidden in his favourite tree. At Nar Valley Fisheries a Green Sandpiper was watched as 12 Common Snipe flew to roost. Back at my tetrad the Little Owl was calling, hoping for its mate no doubt!
Needing some peace at lunchtime, I drove to the Wolferton Triangle where luck was on my side in that there were no vehicles on the road. Two young male Golden Pheasants strode across the road before disappearing into the Rhodedendrons.
After attending a hospital appointment Paul and I arrived at Holkham Park once again, where we met Allan Livingstone who told us that he had just been watching a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker down by the lake. As we walked to the lake a Common Buzzard flew over our heads. We joined Carol and Tim Inskipp and a couple of birders from Kent who soon located an extremely busy Lesser Spotted Woodpecker feeding in the trees. It also dropped down into a tangled pile of wood on the ground at one stage. We all watched it for several minutes before it was lost to view.
As we arrived at Walsey Hills, Peter Snook told us that a Rough-legged Buzzard had just been seen at Stiffkey and so we re-traced our steps. At Stiffkey several birders had already gathered and the Rough-legged Buzzard was soon located flying over East Hills. Paul and I watched and decided as it was so distant that we might get a better view at Wells. However at Wells it was still distant but it was good to see the interaction with Marsh Harriers. A male Hen Harrier flew over the river as we watched.
Starting at Lynn Point, Paul and I saw a Hen Harrier and Barn Owl before moving onto Boal Quay in King's Lynn where a Kingfisher flew across the river. At Saddlebow we watched the gulls as a Grey Wagtail and Common Snipe flew out of a drainage ditch. The rest of the afternoon was spent at various sites where all our efforts amounted to very little in the windy conditions.
After another migraine and being confined for a few days I needed some fresh air and decided that a short walk in the afternoon sun to Blackborough End Tip would do me good. Thousands of gulls were loafing around as I joined Rob Gordon and David Austin in an attempt to see the Glaucous Gull that had been reported here. I soon found a Yellow-legged Gull and managed to show David and Rob. Working through the gulls was quite a task and I eventually found a Caspian Gull. It was good to compare it with two adjacent Herring Gulls with its smaller, sloping head. However the Glaucous Gull was not co-operating and was not seen by any of us.
I returned to the tip at Blackborough End after lunch and started the daunting task of working through the thousands of gulls in search of the Glaucous Gull. I was soon joined by a fellow birder and after half an hour I located it. After pointing it out to my fellow birder and John Lambourne who was wandering by, all the gulls were disturbed by a worker on the tip just as Rob, David and David walked up the trackway. However the bird was soon re-located and our little throng were all pleased with the year tick after all our efforts yesterday.
Glaucous Gull (centre)
Off to Cheltenham to watch my son Jonathan play hockey in the warm and unseasonal wonderful weather. The team won 6-2 but I was kept company by some Rooks and Common Gulls on the field behind.
Rook Common Gull
After arriving home from Cheltenham I whizzed down to Titchwell in the warm sun. It was like a warm Spring day. Red-breated Merganzers and Scaup were keeping Goldeneye company out on the sea. Avocets were wading amongst the wintering ducks. I drove onto Binham Priory where up above the bell tower a Black Redstart was hunting for midges and flies in the warm sun.
I had made arriangements for Carol Inskipp to accompany me for the day and we headed to Cley to take some photos of the White-crowned Sparrow. However it was not on show and so we headed to Beeston Regis where the Bittern delighted us all as it fed on a frog. It was amazing to see how well camouflaged it was amongst the reeds.
Later we walked around the lakeside at Felbrigg Hall where 5 Mandarins were underneath an over-hanging tree.
Bittern eating a frog
After a walk down East Bank to the sea where two Red-throated Divers were were feeding offshore we returned to the village to take photos of the White-crowned Sparrow busily feeding amongst the Chaffinches. It was good to hear that over ? had been raised towards the repair of the church roof kindly donated by the birders in appreciation of watching the sparrow.
Paul and I visited Wacton Common where a Dark-breasted Barn Owl was roosting in an old barn by a cottage called the White Cottage. Towards dusk it flew out and hunted the common revealing it orangey-buff plumage. It soon caught its evening meal and returned to the barn to digest it. It was certainly a dark bird, darker than the bird at Welney a few years ago.
Paul and I started the day at Pentney where Great-crested Grebes were displaying to one another in a mating ritual before we headed off into The Brecks. A walk around Cockley Cley revealed little on the lake except a large flock of ferel Greylag Geese. A Willow Tit called briefly as it flew above our heads as Goldcrests flitted in the trees around us. We returned to Wacton to see the Dark-breasted Barn Owl again before returning to The Brecks where we flushed several Wood larks and Meadow Pipits at Grimes Graves. At Tottenhill we commented at the lack of ducks given the time of year and wondered why numbers were so low. Finally at Lynn Point the high tide meant waders were also missing, but it was a joy to watch two Barn Owls hunting and a Little Egret in flight.
A grey blustery day found me at Holme sea-watching. I met Connor Rand at the observatory who had already been watching for an hour with little seen. At first glance on arrival at the dunes, it seemed he was right but I persevered and picked up 6 Common Scoters mid distance. Norfolk is used to having large scoter flocks off shore at Holme and Titchwell but not this winter. Has something happened to the mussels on which they feed? There were Great Crested Grebes scattered around in small numbers. One group was joined by a Red-necked Grebe before it flew off towards Titchwell. Eight Red-breasted Merganzers moved from different points on the sea as six Eider flew by. Connor ventured back out and joined me. A Long-tailed Duck flew west before I managed to put Connor onto a lone Velvet Scoter that also flew west.
Moving on to Titchwell I joined many interested members of the public watching the Woodcock along side the pathway to the Visitors' Centre. A couple of Lesser Redpoll were amongst the Goldfinches in the picnic area. A Collared Dove kept us amused as it fed from the feeders. On the pathway to the Fen Hide Common Toads were getting ready for spring. Snow Buntings were on the freshmarsh which are usually on the beach.
Collared Dove Common Toad
At a well known spot in Thetford Forest, Paul and I joined Peter and David where we watched a Buzzard and a Kestrel. Wood Lark were singing and displaying as several Crossbill flew over. All of a sudden a Goshawk came out from behind the trees before disappearing. Luckily it came out again giving us all good views.
Paul and I drove to Dover where we arrived at 5.30am to be greeted with the news that due to adverse weather conditions and that Sea France Ferries were on strike our P and O ferry would not be sailing until 9.30am. This meant that with France being an hour ahead of us, we did not arrive at Wimereux in France until mid-day. A Wallcreeper had been reported near the old World War Two Fort. Despite a four hour search we failed to locate it. Two Black Redstarts and a Mediterranean Gull were our best finds. We returned home very disappointed.
Driving betweem Andover and Oxford two Red Kites drifted above me.
An early morning visit to Cley found me searching the seabank for Shore Larks. After a little sea-watching three Shore Larks were located feeding about 150 metres east from the end of East Bank. Walking back to the car along the bank two Bearded Tits flew into the reeds as a Marsh Harrier hunted for food. At Holkham, Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits fed amongst the pines.
Unable to sleep well, I got up early and returned to Holkham, which was deserted. A Ross's Goose was feeding amongst the Pink-footed Geese close to the entrance. Continuing down the driveway I watched as Wigeon, Teal and Lapwing made the most of the morning sun. I made my way along the trackway at the end of the drive and I stopped by the first seat where a Firecrest had been reported, However after quite a search amongst Goldcrests, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Blackbirds, Wrens and Long-tailed Tits I decided to continue walking. Just before the pond in a Holm Oak a Firecrest was actively feeding. I watched it for a couple of minutes before it disappeared.
Making my way to the Washington Hide I was mesmesised as six Marsh Harriers hunted over the marsh. A male bird flew right in front of the hide. Above the church spiralling up high a total of six Common Buzzards could also be seen.
An outing to Strumpshaw with John and Judy found us wandering along the new paths in the woods. Marsh, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits kept us amused before we stopped to admire a Bumble Bee, the first I have seen this spring on the wild Plum bushes all in flower.
After scouring Gapton Marshes for birds we admired two Barn Owls quartering the ground. Two Grey Herons flew from the dyke as a Cetti's Warbler called without showing itself. Driving back along the Acle Straight I spotted a Short-eared Owl hunting along the railwayline. John managed to pull over as we watched it disappear in the dyke.
After a dull start to the day I needed to get out for a while and drove to Boughton Fen where a Common Snipe was probing in the flooded field near the road. I had managed to locate another snipe that was well hidden in amongst the weedy fringes of the flood. With patience a Jack Snipe emerged and bobbed up and down revealing its distinctive head pattern in the sunlight. Driving onto Pentney, Fieldfares were running around on the far side of the lake as a Redshank ran around on the nearside along with two Oystercatchers. At least fifty Wigeon were preening their feathers on the water.
A walk on Grimston Warren produced two Common Buzzards, two Common Snipe and at least seven Stonechats.
After watching the three Shore Larks on Cley seabank it became clear that there was obviously a movement of Stonechats taking place. Six Stonechats were at various location along East Bank. In one of the ditches a Water Vole kept us all amused for a while. At a heath in North Norfolk a Great Grey Shrike put on a good show as well as yet more Stonechats. A Dartford Warbler was in full song in the sun. Along the pathway at Morston eight Stonechats perched on a fenceline as nineteen Twite twittered away in a bush. A Scandinavian Rock Pipit wandered around one of the boats in the harbour. At Burnham Deepdale Marshes another four Stonechats flitted amongst the vegetation.
A morning visit to Holme yielded a Ruddy Duck on the Broadwater. As it was high tide I sat for an hour seawatching. Red-breasted Mergansers were flying west along with a few Goldeneye. As the tide dropped waders also flew west including Sanderlings, Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers. In the village along one of the pathways, a Barn Owl flew out of a bush.
A walk at Grimston Carr yielded 25 Siskins in the treetops as I walked along one of the trackways. A couple of Long-tailed Tits fed busily as a Coal Tit called noisily overhead.
As I walked towards the Fen Hide at Titchwell, a Common Buzzard flew close over my head as a Water Rail ran amongst the sodden undergrowth. After waiting patiently in the Fen Hide, I eventually saw two Cetti's Warblers in the brambles surrounding the reed bed. A Marsh Harrier spiralled up into the blue sky as Norman Sills surveyed water levels out to the right of the hide. Over sixty Avocet flew up over the freshmarsh. Walking down to the beach a Spotted Redshank fed close to the path. On the sea Red-breasted Mergansers mixed with a few Goldeneye. At Thrornham Point, three Stonechats flitted in the Sea Buckthorn. After walking back a Long-tailed Duck Flew past on the sea.
Driving up towards Choseley two Little Owls sat in their tree.
A wet and miserable day made birdwatching difficult so after a little sea-watching from the top of Hunstanton cliffs watching a Kittiwake, Fulmar and a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers we drove down to Lynn Point where at high tide there was little of note to be seen except a few Cormorants. At Pentney the usual gathering of Wigeon were complemented by a few Great-crested Grebes and Coot.
I stopped briefly at Tottenhill in the cold and blustery wind. I watched a few Tufted Ducks and Goldeneye as two Sand Martins flew over the water. These were the first migrants of the spring that I have seen.
Paul and I met up with Lee Evans and Robert Fuge at Stansted to fly to Tel Aviv in Israel. We got almost no sleep on the plane during the night flight.
Driving through Nazareth, we made our way north to Mount Hermon. Stopping off en-route an Armenian Gull and Syrian Woodpecker were added to my world list. Mount Hermon gave me an opportunity to put a foot into The Lebanon as we watched Syrian Serins and Lesser-spotted Eagles. At Hula fish ponds I added Pygmy Cormorant to my list.
Staying in a local hotel we were up early to walk the Hula Bird Reserve. The ditches were alive with birds singing. Red-throated Pipits were every where as an Eastern Imperial Eagle drifted overhead. We watched the 800 Common Cranes feeding in a nearby field. We drove alongside The Sea of Galilee before climbing up Mount Gilboa. We continued through a derserted Palestine adding Fan-tailed Raven to our lists. A tough walk up a Wadi in the searing heat added Striated House Buntings to our lists. At Hazeba we watched Desert Finches before driving on in search of 3 Caspian Plovers at Yotvata. It was a frustrating search before Paul located the 3 stunning birds in the fileld just before nightfall.
We stayed in a hostel in Eilat which was clean and comfortable. On north beach in Eilat, located on the Red Sea, the day was set for an excellent day's birding. Slender-billed Gulls were in front of the fish cages as Greater Sand Plovers were running aroud on the beach. White-eyed Gulls were giving good views as Western Reef Herons mixed with Little Egrets and Grey Herons eying up the fish on offer in the cages. Standing on the beach was akin to Scilly as it was a meeting place for all the birders exchanging information. Belgian, Finnish, Dutch, Israeli, German and British birders all helped one another with up to date information. Lee scribble down the information we needed and set off for the date palms.
After several hours of searching the date palms we watched Olive-backed Pipits amongst Indian Silverbills. We flushed out a couple of Quails but did not find the bird we were looking for. Andy Clifton and Alan Clews arrived who had seen the star bird the day before and joined us in our systematic search. With six of us walking through the date palms Alan managed to locate the Oriental (Crested) Honey Buzzard lurking at the top of one of the palms.
With huge relief from Lee (and us) we breathed easy and drove to the K20 ponds. Here there were good numbers of waders particularly Little Stints and Black-winged Stilts.
Crested Honey Buzzard
After another night at the hostel in Eilat it was down to the beach for information before heading up to a high point overlooking Eilat. Here is one of the birding world's spectacle. If you have never seen it, you should!! In the spring thousands of raptors passover Eilat on their migration north from Africa to Europe. Up above our heads thousands of Steppe Buzzards were spiralling up in thermals forming huge kettles of birds before getting to the top and gliding to the next thermal only to rise up again. It was a spectacular sight. In amongst Steppe Buzzards we watched Steppe Eagles, Egyptian Vutures, Black Storks and Black Kites. In the evening we setteled down to watch Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse at one of the K20 ponds come in to drink.
At the cemetary in Eilat we watched Sand Partridge and a Blue Rock Thrush before moving on to the Bird Centre where we joined a twitch for a Black Bush Robin. It seemed to like displaying its magnificent tail before scurrying off into the undergrowth and we were asked to leave.
At K152 we eventually located an Arabian Warbler after a lengthy search.
Black Bush Robin
Arriving at Nazana after stopping on the 40 road at K60 for Trumpeter Finch, Desert Wheatear and Mourning Wheatear we started our search for Houbara (McQueen's) Bustard. This was a bird I had longed to see. It was to prove a seven hour search! However it was good birding in the desert, even in the searing heat.Cream-coloured Coursers, Spotted and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse were either running in front of us or flying over our heads. Stone Curlews, Desert Little Owl and Southern Grey Shrikes kept us enthralled. After several hours we needed a short nap as we were all exhausted from the heat. We chose a picnic spot where every tree had Lesser Whitethroats in them. This gave us a much-needed break before we decided on one last try. Just before dusk, Lee amazingly picked out a displaying McQueen's Bustard. Lee, Robert and myself enjoyed the spectacle and rang Paul who was down in the wadi. After a lengthy walk back he too enjoyed a flight view as the bustard took off infront of us.
Dawn found us back at Bet She'an after driving back up north. We had been refused entry to the quickest route at a road barrier as being too dangerous. Israeli maps can be frustrating as there is no indication as to which roads will be closed because of the troubles. Some roads that are open during the day are closed at night. Accommodation is non-existent in many of the birding hot-spots so sleeping in the car is the only option. However at our second attempt we finally had a singing display of a Long-billed Pipit before driving around some fish ponds watching a Clamourous Reed Warbler singing his heart out, staking his claim for a mate. An uneventful flight home finished an enjoyable holiday with excellent company and good birding.
After opening my curtains it seemed to be a beautiful day so I made my way to Titchwell where several Chiffchaffs were singing their hearts out in the carpark. Walking down to the beach, I was accompanied by the most Bearded Tits that I have ever seen. The sun had obviously brought them out in abundance. After looking at a blank sea, I made my way back up the path to locate a singing Sedge Warbler, the first of the year that I have seen in Norfolk for the year.
Driving on to Holkham I pulled into a gateway at the west end and located the Spoonbill asleep on the island in one of the flooded pools. As I pulled away a lone Swallow was resting on an overhead wire, obviously tired from its long migration from Africa.
Mowing my lawn I received a text from David Norgate that he had just seen a Red Kite over Guist. I decided that I had better do the lawn as snow was forecast for the weekend. How fortuitous it was then that my motor mower ran out of petrol and I could go and search for the Kite instead. After watching 2 Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, at least 10 Swallows and being filmed by a low flying helicopter David joined me on the bridge with a few other birders as we watched the Red Kite come into view behind us. It gave us good views before disappearing.
Deciding to check out some information that I had received yesterday, Paul and I walked a site that we used to regularly use for our bird races years ago. A shout from Paul further along the track revealed a Great White Egret in flight. We watched as it disappeared from view. Walking back to the car a few early migrants were in full song in the bushes.
Later in the morning we returned to Guist and watched the Red Kite and a Marsh Harrier do battle in the sky before driving up to the North Norfolk coastline where we battled with the wind in several locations. At Holme I watched a Brambling compete with a rat on the peanut feeders by the NOA observatory as Long-tailed Tits took their turn to feed in the shelter of the pine trees.
Feeling sorry for the lack of bird records in TF82 for NARvos (an inland area around West Raynham) as most birders tend to visit the coast, Paul and I decided to spend the day rectifying this. Starting at Rudham Common we saw 4 Brambling 75 Chaffinch and 2 Shelduck. Further on at West Raynam Airfield 2 Oystercatcher were sitting on top of an old concrete structure. We stopped at the bridge by West Raynam Lake. A Kingfisher flew over the road right in fornt of the car. A Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing well as snowflakes fell. A walk around the lake after walking through the farmyard by the cowshed produced 16 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, another Chiffchaff, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Marsh Harrier doing a marvellous display, 4 Lapwings, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Mute Swan, 17 Egyptian Geese and 8 Tufted Ducks. At Southwall Farm Tatterford 4 Common Buzzard flew overhead as 4 Common Snipe an 2 Cormorants were in the rank grass. At Doughton 5 Tree Sparrows joined Chaffinches on feeders at the old railway cottage. A Little Grebe swam in a drainage ditch. At Shereford we watched a Barn Owl and Kestrel in flight and at Tatterford 60 Golden Plover made a good sight. After looking in at the new Sculthorpe Moor visitor centre, part of the south board walk is just inside the NARvos recording area. Here we watched 3 Marsh Harriers calling to one another as they tumbled in the sky.
An early morning walk at Heacham produced my first Northern Wheatear in Norfolk this year. A Black Kite was reported flying west along the north Norfolk coastline. When it was reported at Burnham Overy dunes I waited at Brancaster without successs. I assumed that I had already missed it, so drove further west to Thornham Harbour when another pager message assured me that it was still on its way. Along with other birders a Black Kite came into view. It was mobbed by a Common Buzzard before flying over Holme Marshes and lost to view. However there has been news that London Zoo has lost four Black Kites, two Gyr Falcons and one hybrid Gyr/Saker Falcon recently. Oh dear! However early April is a known time for Black Kites to move north and previous records at Holme show early April records of Black Kites.
Driving on to Stiffkey I chanced upon Ann and Tony who told me exactly where to walk to see the Cattle Egret. Parking by the church and crossing the road, there is a path just past the village sign of Stiffkey that goes through the hedge up into the woods (Camping Hill). Following this and turning right just past the wooden gate through the trees for about hundred metres gives views through the trees to the flooded area where the Cattle Egret is lurking, merrily gorging itself on frogs!
Driving on the A148 at Houghton a Red Kite flew over my car. I seem to be having a Kite bonaza at the moment. At Kelling Quags a pair of Egyptian Geese had five goslings.
A late afternoon walk at Snettisham along the old railway embankment was serenaded by a Willow Warbler in the dyke bushes and overhead Pink-footed Geese. The usual variety of ducks were paired up as hundreds of Woodpigeons fed on the field. Two Curlews kept them company.
I was blasted out of the hides at Weeting by freezing winds as I felt sorry for the Stone Curlew trying to shelter by the fence. A superb Mistle Thrush looked stunning in its spring plumage.
Paul and I were full of hope as we arrived at Holme and saw a pair of Red-crested Pochards on the Broadwater. We spent a while at the NOA and Connor kindly showed us where he had seen the Firecrest earlier on. Luckily it showed well again for Paul to gain a year tick. After leaving Connor we walked the whole length of Holme through the dunes with only a Wheatear and a few Meadow Pipits for our trouble.
Paul and I decided to walk out at Lynn Point this morning pausing at the horse paddocks wher we had a couple of Blackbirds. In the river channel there were thirty-four Avocets on the mud. Walking to the sluice a Water Rail swam across one of the ditches as 3 Marsh Harriers called overhead. A Green Woodpecker called incessantly in the poplar trees. Driving back along the track a stunning male Ring Ousel fed in the horse paddock. I had joked earlier that I was going to post Paul there for the next four weeks so that he could ring me when one arrived (always a good spot for them here!)
At Pentney two Little Ringed Plovers and a vivid Yellow Wagtail brightened up our day. At Nar Valley Fisheries a Green Sandpiper flew to the far edge of one pit as Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff sang their hearts out.
An early morning walk at Snettisham was colder than I thought. I met up with Mark and Tracy and together we eventually located a Grasshopper Warbler reeling in the country park. I decided to go around the other side of the bush where I had good views of the reeling bird. It was determined to show off to me as it sang.
Starting at Holme the wind soon bit through me. In the paddocks behind the house that has been done up by the entrance hut, a couple of Common Redstarts were dashing about in the gale-force winds. I went back to the car to warm up before searching the forestry area. Dunnocks and Blackbirds were keeping a low profile. After talking with Dave Jackson, I met Robin Able and we had another look at the Common Redstarts before heading to Snettisham where a Pallid Harrier had been reported. Robin and I raced along the bank to a small gathering of birders, some of whom had seen the bird. The description sounded good but the bird had flown north over an hour ago. We looked at several Marsh Harriers in the bitter howling wind. Alan Livingstone had a Garganey nicely lined up in his scope for me that was asleep on the water's edge. Thanks Alan. Robin and I returned to where we had heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling but it had given up in the cold wind and was hiding. (I don't blame it!)
After a short visit to Great Yarmouth where we failed to see the Glaucous Gull, Paul and I walked around Martham Broad where we had two different Bitterns in flight. A Spoonbill was sitting on the muddy spit with Greylag Geese as Cetti's Warblers sang all around us.
After some refreshment in The Nelson's Head we started to drive to the north coast as a Whimbrel flew into a field calling near Waxham Barn. Nearing Felbrigg I received a phone call that made me retrace our steps to Winterton Dunes. Upon arrival with only a few birders present, we watched a BLACK LARK fly over the dunes towards the sea. Wow! It was temporarily lost to view when all of a sudden it flew back giving us great views in the scope as it walked amongst the marram grass.
Black Lark Twitch
In the evening we walked to Rush Hills Scrape at Hickling where David kindly pointed out eight Little Gulls flying over the Black-headed Gulls at the back of the scrape.
An early morning walk at Snettisham brought my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year feeding amongst the bushes. A flock of Pinkfeet were still around flying over three Little Egrets. Several Grasshopper Warblers were reeling away as I walked by them. I also heard my first Cuckoo of the year. Now I know spring has arrived at last.
A late morning walk at Snettisham had the bushes full of migrants singing. I added Common Whitethroat to my yearlist that was busy collecting nesting material.
Starting at Ranworth Broad I climbed the steps of the new lookout as an Osprey flew over the trees at the back of the broad. Common Terns had newly arrived and were probably going to have to compete with Black-headed Gulls that have taken over all of the nesting platforms. At Sea Palling I met Tim Allwood and Ilya Maclean who shared all the recent bird news. We had a quick discussion about the Blue-headed Yellow Wagtails present in the horse paddocks. A particularly pale-headed one seemed to fit the 'Channel Wagtail' type. A female Redstart was flitting in a small Horse Chestnut tree opposite the paddock. Back on the main road, twelve Whimbrels were feeding in a roadside field.
Mallard ducklings at Ranworth
Paul and I decided to head towards the north Norfolk coast where the weather deteriorated. At Salthouse Sandwich Terns whizzed past us in the wind as a Whinchat was flushed from a small reedbed as walkers passed by. The returning Little Gull posed on the fence for us for its fourth year running.
Heading west we noted our first Swifts of the year at Brancaster before stopping at Choseley at the bend south of the drying barns to admire eight Dotterels in the huge dip in the field. From here we drove to a well known site to admire a beautiful male Montagu's Harrier flying over a field of Rape. On our way home we could not believe our luck as we located another male Montagu's Harrier flying alongside our vehicle. We just had to stop to admire it.
Montagu's Harrier Little Gull
Back at home in our shed we have been trying to tidy the shed. But our Robins had other ideas. As fast as we cleared out leaves they brought them back in. The result ......................... baby Robins!!
Baby Robin in our shed!
I had been working at home when the pager indicated that I needed to make my way to Holkham. Once there a magnificent summer plumaged Whiskered Tern was feeding over a pool in front of Meals House as I stood in Lady Ann's Drive. A multitude of Yellow Wagtails were the other side of the driveway as they flitted in amongst the cattle.
An early morning walk along the old Roydon railway line produced a pair of Blackcaps. A Cuckoo flew over my head calling as I watched a baby white rabbit scuttle away at the side of me. Later at Pentney Gravel Pit two Common Sandpipers walked the lake edge as eight Common Terns flew around the jetskis.
After meeting up with Rob Gordon at Choseley we made our way to Titchwell, where after a short wait a pair of Reed Warblers decided to show themselves well. A Marsh Harrier dived into the reed bed as we made our way down the main track. Two Little Terns were sitting on one of the islands on the Brackish Marsh amongst the many Avocets pairing up for the nesting season. On the sea hundreds of Common Scoter were strug out with three very close in shore. After a deluge of rain with me well and truly soaked, I made my way to Stiffkey where a Greenshank was wading on its own. Further round a group of Black-tailed Godwits were looking very smart in their summer plumage.
After lunch I responded to a pager report of a Tawny Pipit at Kelling. However after learning that it was a Richard's Pipit I went instead to Stiffkey where once again I got wet. After walking down the pathway by the hedge I could hear a Turtle Dove purring but could not see it. Continuing to the fen i watched a Black Tern, firstly sitting on a fence post and then in flight. It was accompanied by a Common Tern. Walking back up the pathway the Turtle Dove was still calling, so I walked back down the road and peered through the hedgeline. I eventually located the dove sitting high in one of the trees in full view.
At Salthouse, Julian kindly told me where to stand to see a Nightingale. After several hours of listening a Nightingale eventually sang but the briefest of views made it untickable!
At last it was a windless sunny morning, so I decided to try for the 'umpteenth' time at Pentney for Nightingale. At long last two Nightingales showed themselves one of which sat in full view out in the sunlight for all (well me anyway) to see. In the early morning sun it sang beautifully as Sand Martins called overhead and Common Terns wheeled around the lake.
A walk along the old railway line at North Wootton brought some peace and quiet to a Norfolk Bank Holiday mayhem on the coastline. Holly Blues and Specked Wood Butterflies danced along the trackway in and out of the brambles ahead of me. A pair of Marsh Harriers were giving a pair of Lapwings a hard time as they desperately tried to distract them from their tiny chicks in the field beside me. Out in the pools a pair of Avocets were parading as a Little Egret took flight.
Starting at Snettisham, Paul and I watched Garden Warblers and Common Whitethroats before we drove to Stiffkey, passing a Black Tern on the flood. At Cley we got delayed as we listened to what we thought was a good redition from a Marsh Warbler singing in the reed bed the songs of at least 10 different birds. Others dismissed it as a Reed Warbler with an abberant plumage and song. Hey ho.
At Salthouse I walked to the sea along the Iron Road where after a while the Green-winged Teal flew in. Driving back to Stiffkey Fen I joined others to watch a Temminck's Stint, three Black Terns, Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover.
After an early morning wander along local tracks watching Common Buzzards and a pair of Kestrels mating, Paul and I made our way to Hockwold Washes where 2 drake Garganey accompanied other ducks. Hobbies flew overhead. We then walked along the riverbank at Lakenheath (in Suffolk) and walked around the back of the Poplar plantation where we saw 3 Golden Orioles searching out their territories.
A morning visit to Pentney produced 2 Arctic Terns, 10 Common Terns and a Little Gull flying around the island that a Little Ringed Plover was running around on.
A trip 'up north' to Neumann's Flash to see a breeding pair of Black-winged Stilts. I think I have only seen 'Sammy' as a representative of this species in Britain so it is good to see a breeding pair so at home in England.
A late afternoon visit to Stiffkey Fen to see a Wood Sandpiper and another 8 Black Terns. It has been such a good year for them in Norfolk. Two Greenshanks, two Little Ringed Plovers and a Temminck's Stint were also present along with many Black-tailed Godwits.
Paul and I started at Great Ryburgh as there had been claims of Honey Buzzard here. On checking my previous years diaries I have never seen them in Norfolk before the 18th May. As we know Robert Baker (the warden) well we sat and discussed this with him and he agreed that all the claimed sightings had been optimistic. Moving on to Cley 3 Temminck's Stints were close to Dauke's hide. We walked to Kelling Quags where we watched a Whinchat and lots of Sand Martins before having a snooze in the sun on the seabank. At Salthouse Heath I watched a Green Hairstreak Butterfly before we drove by Sharrington where two Ruddy Shelducks were by the edge of a flooded field.
Starting out at Holt with friends we managed to get directions from the warden for the best location for Bird's Nest Orchid.After much searching we eventually located many flowering spikes. A wonderful sunny afternoon at Lakenheath with both Red-footed Falcons perching in the dead trees so that I could see them both in the binoculars together from the riverbank in Norfolk. One chap nearly had the female land on his head it was that close to him! Hobbies flew around as I watched the female Red-footed Falcon catch and eat insects whilst in flight. A Kingfisher flew in front of me. The drove had a pair of Grey Partridges and a Yellow Wagtail making use of it.
At Weeting I watched a pair of Stone Curlews displaying in front of the hide and before reaching home I had a Barn Owl fly alongside my car at Marham.
Bird's Nest Orchid
At Foulden Common with Adrian Riley and Pete Milford we soon located Dingy and Grizzled Skippers.
Later at Weeting a Spotted Flycatcher flew amongst the trees. It is so sad that this delightful bird is declining so rapidy in Britain.
Dingy Skipper Grizzled Skipper
After walking out to Burnham Overy Dunes I chanced upon Mark Golly and Richard Millington 'pishing ' a bush. I was lucky enough to get some brief views of a Subalpine Warbler before inadvertently flushing out a Ring Ouzel from another bush flying infront of Mark that I did not see! Mark thanked me and I set off back along the path. On the way back home I had a male Marsh Harrirer fly really low over my car.
During another trek to Burnham Overy Dunes along with David Norgate, he was lucky to receive a phone call from Ian Brittain who told us that he watching the reported Hoopoe on the ground. At this point we both headed down the dunes just in time to see the Hoopoe fly in front of us towards the cows in the marsh. After alerting other birders around we saw the Hoopoe flying low over the marsh and eventually land on the back edge of one of the pools which could be seen in the scopes.
I spent the afternoon at Great Ryburgh where I got extremely cold in the bitter wind. Plenty of Common Buzzards were in flight along with a few Hobbies. After a several hours of watching we watched a couple of Goshawks displaying whilst three Common Cranes flew around us.
After a walk around Wolferton and Snettisham seeing very little Paul and I made our way to Great Ryburgh once again just in time to watch a marvellous display of wing clapping by a male Honey Buzzard. It was in the air displaying for quite sometime just before a pair of Swifts mated in flight just in front of us, a sight that I have never seen in Swifts before in all my years of birding. Paul was eager to see the Hoopoe so once again we treked to Burnham Overy Dunes where we watched Meadow and Tree Pipits as well as many Little Egrets out on the Marsh, but unfortunately no Hoopoe.
A late start after not feeling too well I made my way to Titchwell where two Wood Sandpipers performed well on the Fresh Marsh.
Starting the day at Overstrand the pager soon has us on our way to Cley where a Great Reed Warbler was reported alongside East Bank in the reedbed. We watched as Bearded Tits, Sedge and Reed Warblers performed infront of us as a Marsh Harrier hunted overhead. After a short while the Great Reed Warbler flew in front of us as we all waited patiently for it to show in the biting wind.
Later at Westwick Lake south of North Walsham, we watched Downy Emerald Dragonfly patrol its territory in a small bay by the roadside.
As most people were glued to the T V watching a football game I spent the evening wandering around Sandringham where Nightjar and Woodcock were flying around as Glow Worms were adding to the sparkle of the event.
After domestic duties Paul and I made our way to High Kelling where we joined a few birders in Bodham Common Wood. We could hear a Wood Warbler singing long before we reached where it was singing fairly low down in the trees. It was not as bright as I would normally expect to see a spring male but delighted us with its display flight. Driving to Sheringham sea front we watched a passage of Gannets, Fulmars, Guillemots and Razorbills before we set off for Upton Fen as Paul needed Red-footed Falcon for a year tick. We were eventually rewarded with good overhead views as it flew with a couple of Hobbies.
Meeting up at Luton Airport, Paul and I met up with Lee Evans and Mike Robinson to fly to Madrid in Spain. After landing we heeaded for the hi;;s where the rain made birding difficuly. However Citril Finches and Iberian Pied Flycatchers made it worthwhile. We abandoned the hills and headed south where the weather improved and Great and Little Bustards were added to my world life list.
Heading into Extremadura and Monfrague National Park, we watched Spanish Imperial Eagles and White-rumped Swifts as well as Griffon Vultures and Eagle Owls.
After watching Red-necked Nightjars, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Nightjars we headed towards Coto Donana.
After an overnight stay in Donana we watched Greater Flamingos before heading west. Western Olivaceous Warblers were watched before we headed to Chipiona fish factory where Little Swifts were breeding.
Many miles later we arrived in Portugalwhere we watched Azure-winged Magpies and Spotless Starlings.Little Bitterns flew around Barrocca D'Alva as Yellow-crowned Bishops and Black-headed Weavers inhabited the Papyrus Reeds.
Starting at Rio Caldo Lagoons it took me sometime before I spotted the Pied-billed Grebe. We motored on to Fuente De where Mike, Paul and I took the cable car to the top of the mountain. After a search we located 7 different Snow Finches, a Rock Thrush and many Alpine Choughs.
In the Pyrenees at Astun Water and Tree Pipits added to our list before we watched Lammergeiers flew overhead before disappearing over the mountain tops. Lee drove on to a spot near Belchite where we located 2 Dupont's Larks singinging amongst Thekla and Calandra Larks.
Starting at Cley at midday I walked along the seaward-side of Blakeney Point. I would have liked to have made my way out here the day berfore but as we did not atrrive home until the early hours that morning I was simply too tired. My target bird was a Trumpeter Finch which was a first for Norfolk and so was a popular bird for all Norfolk listers to see. After a forty-five minute walk I arrived to the news that the bird had just flown but hopefully not too far. After a nervous wait another birder spotted the finch to the left of us. We watched it slowly make its way back to its favourite spot before it was chased about by a Skylark. The Oystercatchers seemed unconcerned by our presence. I took a fifty minute walk back before driving to Waxham.
The weather brightened up and I enjoyed the walk to the pipe dump where I joined some holidaying birders taking photos of the Tawny Pipit running around the back of a flattened area tucked into the dunes. Linnets were resplendent in their summer plumage as Lesser Whitethroats were still rolling their mating calls.
After a visit to Chester, Paul and I called into Neumann's Flash where a pair of Black-winged Stilts have nested this year. All three eggs had hatched but unfortunately 2 of the chicks did not survive. However it was lovely to see that one young chick was running about on the mud just in front where the RSPB have set up a viewing point and volunteers were on hand to answer questions from visiting birdwatchers.
A message on the pager had Paul and I scurrying across Norfolk in the pouring rain to see a Bee-eater that had been found on wires behind the church at North Repps near Cromer. Luckily when we arrived it had stopped raining but we had a quick dash from the community centre car park to the church where it had been re-located. As a Bee-eater was a Norfolk tick for both Paul and I, having missed countless others over the years we were relieved to find it sat on wires where we could view it with ease through the scope. We watched it catch bees and do several aerial performances before leaving.
Apologies to those who read my updates but I have been laid low with a mega migraine and so have been unable to function!
Anyway, today I ventured out with Adrian across the border into Suffolk to see Lizard Orchid. I have always loved flowers and never cease to admire their complexity but this orchid was a stunner. We found plants that were both fully open and with their 'tongues' still to unfurl.
A walk at Holkham produced 38 Crossbills in flight 'chipping away' above the west end of the pines. A Dark Green Fritilliary had also freshly emerged in the dune slacks but was too quick for me to photograph.
It seemed like a good day to go birding with a forecast of some good weather, so I made my way to Cley. After initially parking near Daukes Hide I soon changed my mind when a pager message said that there was a Roseate Tern showing on Arnold's Marsh. Knowing how small the NWT have now made the car-park at the end of east bank when it could have been left to accommodate a lot more cars I got there as fast as I could. A brisk walk along the bank soon had along the other end to Arnold's Marsh. Many terns were a delight to watch as they were constantly coming and going about their business and bringing in fish. Two Little Terns put on a courtship display as I peered through my scope at a wonderful Roseate Tern. It was later joined by two other Roseate Terns, one of which had both legs ringed. A Little Gull also joined the Common and Sandwich Terns.
Driving on to Sea Palling I was dismayed to find three birders telling me that they could not find the Red-backed Shrike that had been present for a few days. They had been looking for an hour and a half and drove away. I decided to wander the lane and eventually climbed up into the dunes. By searching up the road now I had a good view I located the shrike further up the road. Two other birders were thankful that I had re-located it and we all had good views of it perched on brambles. Out on the reefs, four Mediterranean Gulls were amongst the Black-headed Gulls in full Summer plumage.
My son, Mark and I headed to Hickling following directions on the pager where a Lesser Grey Shrike had been found. Luckily I had a vague idea where I was going as I have often looked for Common Cranes down this little lane to Eastfield Farm. We walked down the track where a few assembled birders were watching the shrike perching on a fence post. My son took the picture of it using my mobile phone camera through my scope.
Lesser Grey Shrike
Mark and I continued to another spot in East Norfolk where we enjoyed a walk. We enjoyed views of orchids including a Fen Orchid.
Whilst walking with Adrian in West Norfolk we heard a Whimbrel calling. Upon looking it flew in front of us. Soon a pair of Stonechats caught our eye as the male sang his heart out on a nearby bush. We found some Spotted Heath Orchids and a lone Lesser Butterfly Orchid. After sometime of taking photographs another Lesser Butterfly Orchid was found.
Heath Spotted Orchid Lesser Butterfly Orchid
A walk along East Bank at Cley produced 2 Roseate Terns and an Arctic Tern amongst the Sandwich and Common Terns on Arnold's Marsh. Paul and I then walked to Daukes Hide where a Lesser Yellowlegs was feeding on Simmond's Scrape amongst the Avocets. After a picnic on Salthouse Heath we returned to Cley to watch one of the Spoonbills that had flown in to Simmond's Scrape. Back at home we decided to clean the pond out which was long overdue whilst Siskins kept us company in the garden.
As it was my birthday, Paul treated me to a wonderful meal at Congham Hall where we sat on the terrace on a beautiful summer evening watching a Barn Owl hunting over the horse paddocks.
A visit to mid Norfolk saw Adrian and I looking for Small Red Damselfly. After admiring Marsh Helleborine and Marsh Fragrant Orcid we eventually found a teneral. Continuing our search we eventually found ten specimens of this scarce Damselfly for Norfolk.
Small Red Damselfly Marsh Fragrant Orchid Marsh Helleborine
A walk to Dersingham Bog with John and Judy Geeson brought a couple of Siskins calling overhead. Whilst watching Four-spotted Chasers and Broad-bodied Chasers, a Garden Warbler was feeding quietly in nearby bushes. On our return walk a couple of Roe Deer added to the enjoyment of our walk. Later at Roydon Common we watched two Hobbies hawking for insects whilst a Kestrel hovered in the sun. There were many Meadow Brown and Ringlet Butterflies on the wing all enjoying the warm sunny weather.
I flew to Madeira for a few days break with Lee, Rob and Joan. This was to be a short break for some special birds and some sun with friends. After landing in Funchal amid wonderful sun we soon saw Plain Swift aand Canary. Up in the hills we had swirling mist but soon located Madeiran Kinglet (Firecrest) and Madeiran Chaffinch. A Berthelot's Pipit was seen in the fields as a Common Buzzard appeared on the horizon. At Ribeira da Janela it took a short while until a Trocaz Pigeon appeared far below us flying from the trees. At Porto Moniz we found a hotel where we watched Cory's Shearwaters from the hotel balcony.
We booked onto a pelagic trip going to the Desertas Islands. Unfortunately this turned out to be more of a tourist boat than we anticipated but nethertheless we had a good day watching Fea's Petrels and ashore we had Bulwer's Petrel in the hand.
In the evening we had a magical trip to Pico do Ariero, an old volcano 6000 feet high. In the dark (more in my trip report to follow) we watched Zino's Petrels flying around our heads.
At a lovely view point on the coast at Gara Hugo I managed to persuade a Spectacled Warbler to show well on a nearby bush. as Pallid Swifts flew around. At Canico Spanish Sparrows flitted about an old garden that had alluded us elsewhere. Later at Ponta de la Lorenco a Pallid harrier had been reported. We were unsure of its identification and felt it had possibly been mis-identified. It certainly was an intriguing bird that after photos had been studied was re-identified as a Montagu's Harrier. Back at Porto Moniz we watched a Green-winged Teal before an evening seawatch produced a Little Shearwater at Machico.
A visit to Cley produced a Curlew Sandpiper and an Arctic Skua.
Birding around West Norfolk I took a photo of a Black Redstart as it flitted around a good habitat for it.
Another visit to Cley saw 5 Spoonbills flying towards Pat's Pool. On North Scrape a White-rumped Sandpiper kept us on our toes as we sorted through the Dunlin and a Curlew Sandpipier.
Another hot day in Roydon as Siskins flew around my garden. In the afternoon I made my way to Titchwell where it was considerably cooler. A sea mist had apparently made viewing conditions difficult in the morning but it had cleared now and revealed a Pectoral Sandpiper in front of Parrinder Hide with a summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper. There were many Oysterxcatchers loafing about on the mud.
A visit to Northants for a Purple Emperor brought disappointing results as I did not see one. However we did see a lot of other butterflies including this White Admiral.
It was another hot day in Norfolk as I made my way to Cley. Helping visitors in Daukes Hide we were fortunate to identify a Wood Sandpiper right in front of the hide. Two Curlew sandpipers were amongst the many Dunlin as were a couple of Little Stints. A Little Ringed plover was busy preening as several Ruff kept us entertained amongst many Black-tailed Godwits. On Simmond's Scrape a Common Sandpiper called as a Green Sandpiper flew towards Salthouse. A Common Snipe looked gorgeous in the sunlight. Three Golden Plovers stood near a Ringed Plover. Quite a wader bonaza for all the visitors to feast their eyes on!
A mooch around East Norfolk produced no Green-flowered Helleborines but we did find Broad-leaved Helleborines near Felthorpe.
A very slow amble down the pathway with my elderly father to the beach at Titchwell, where the tide had been very high up on the beach, an hour of sea watching produced very little except for 5 Common Eider, 4 Great Crested Grebes and a few Sandwich Terns. At the water's edge Sanderling were running like clockwork toys with a few Oystercatchers.
I took my father for a visit to Pensthorpe. Pushing him in his wheelchair we managed it to the wader scrape where we saw a Green Sandpiper, Common Tern and a Common Snipe. I was also fascinated with the Corncrakes being reared for release somewhere locally in a cage on the reserve.
A seawatch at Cley produced very little as I only had the afternoon available. However Peter Snook and I watched a few Arctic Skuas chasing terns for their food items.
A seawatch at Holme produced very little again but a Crossbill flew over my head towards the pines.
A walk at Hickling along Wever's Way with John and Judy produced 8 Green Sandpipers with over 50 Ruff. We watched a Hobby fly through as a Kingfisher called as it to flew by.
(Trip report in preparation)
Paul and I left Gatwick bound for Mexico. However we had to fly to Philadelphia in the USA first. Whilst waiting for our flight to Cancun we watched an Eastern Kingbird and a Ring-billed Gull from the airport window. We were in for along day, as flying this way around the world we gained an extra six hours. We landed in the Yucatan penisula in the evening and after sorting out a hire car headed to Playa Del Carmen and a hotel.
After a taxing time trying to work out how to start our hire car we made it to the ferry terminal but not after a false start of being sent to the wrong one 30 miles away! Not all was lost as I enjoyed a swim whilst whiling away 3 hours in the warm sea. We boarded an evening car-ferry to Cozumel Island and made it to a very expensive hotel! (This is US tourist island) Magnificent Frigatebirds, Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures in the sky kept us amused as we crossed over to Cozumel Island.
Turkey Vulture Magnificent Frigatebird
Using Steve Howell's excellent 'Where to watch birds in Mexico' book we spent time at the various sites to try to see as many endemics as we could. It was not easy birding as it was so hot. We saw Cozumel Vireo and were amazed at the number of Lesser Nighthawks still on the wing in the early morning light. I soon begged for some relief from the sun and after a tour of the island (one perimeter coastal route) spent several hours marvelling at the tropical fish as I snorkelled in the sea near our hotel.
We spent the early morning at another hotel with good gardens and watched a migrant Ovenbird rummaging amongst the leaves as a Yucatan Flycatcher perched overhead. We boarded the return ferry and made our way to Rio Lagartos on the north coast of Yucatan. Here we added many waders to our list as well as seeing many American Flamingoes on the saltpans.
An exceedingly hot day well in excess of 100 degrees soon had me suffering from heatstroke. However, Paul was pleased with a sighting of Lesser Roadrunner and we were both pleaed with the sighting of Mangrove Cuckoo. Orioles abounded as we added Orange, Orchard and Yellow-backed to our lists. A Wood Stork over our heads was a pleasing sight. More dips in the sea were needed to cool us down and we also managed to find a shack where two freshly caught fish were prepared for lunch that would certainly not have passed any health and safety rules. The meal was delicious.
At Tizimini we saw Turquoise-browed Motmot before proceeding to Chichen Itza. The Mayan Temples in the Yucutan are excellent birding spots and I felt a bit like a heathen almost ignoring them being really only interested in the birds that were to be found in the surrounding vegetation.
Paul and Sue at Chichen Itza
We continued to Felipe
We awoke in Felipe Carrillo Puerto and realised that Paul was too ill with sickness for him to go out birding. I birded the Vigia Choco Road by myself.
Another day by myself along the Vigia Choco Road
Nursing an invalid we had a quick tour of the best spots of the Vigia Chico Road before moving on to Palenque. Not far into the journey I began to feel very unwell and was soon very sick. Luckily Paul had recovered enough to complete the 9 hour journey to Palenque.
We had both recovered enough to appreciate the ruins at Palenque. After a morning's birding we drove to the Usumacinte marshes. Here we admired a Laughing Falcon on an electricity pylon. A White-tailed Kite added to our delight.
Laughing Falcon White-tailed Kite
After a jungle trail walk watching Pygmy Kingfisher we once again headed for the marshes that we visited yesterday finishing at dusk on the bridge admiring a pair of Bat Falcons.
We drove up the Occasingo Road out of Palenque to view some canopy species in Palenque. Here we encountered some Red-lored Parrots.
After another jungle trail walk, we spent the day relocating to Coba where in the darkness we watched a Northern Potoo at the top of a tree in our hotel grounds after another 9 hour drive.
After much searching for new birds in the grounds of the ruins at Coba and searching the lakeside too we only added 3 species to our trip list. We ended the day with a wonderful swim in the warm hotel pool and wished we could stay for a little longer.
All too soon we boared the flight bound for the USA. However it was a bumpy ride as we ahd to circuit around hurricane Faye wreaking havoc in the Gulf of Mexico.
Arrived a little dishevelled at Gatwick in guess what .............rain!
Arriving at lunchtime I sit amongst sea-watchers at Sheringham, where Arctic and Great Skuas are passing. We watch transfixed as two Hobbies chase a wheatear across the sea. Luckily the wheatear just made it ashore in time!
Up early, I make way to Sheringham again where this time Manx and Balearic Shearwaters keep a few Arctic and Great Skuas company. At Kelling Water Meadows I join a few birders to admire 2 Common Redstarts flitting around in the hedgeline. Later at Mundsley a Pied Flycatcher hides in a bush as we search in vain for an Alpine Swift.
My son Mark and his girlfriend Suzi joined me for a walk from Gore Point at Holme to Thornham and back. As soon as we entered the bushes on the coastal boardwalk it was clear that there had been a fall of migrant birds. We watched a Common Redstart amongst Chiffchaffs and Lesser Whitethroats. After a wonderful bowl of mussels all washed down with some cider we returned along Thornham bank where Mark spotted a Pied Flycatcher quite clearly dishevelled after its long flight. We failed however to see any Honey Buzzards that were being reported right the way along the coastline.
After a walk at Leziate and Holme, Mark, Suzi, Paul and I joined the heaving masses at Titchwell where we joined John and Judy watching the Red-necked Phalarope whizzing around catching flies on the freshmarsh. John kindly lined up the Pectoral Sandpiper in his scope amongst the many Ruff by the reeds. Curlew Sandpipers were busily feeding along with juvenile Dunlins on the freshmarsh too.
With yet another migraine starting I was unable to sleep and so made my way at first light to Holme. There I joined Jed and Sophie and established what a beautiful morning it was but all was quiet birdwise with little being seen with the exception of a Willow Warbler that flitted up the pathway in front of me. After a short while I decided to join another birder who was staking out the Wryneck from the public pathway that runs along the top of the dunes overlooking the NWT reserve. It truly was a beautiful morning. We watched as the local Kestrel hunted for breakfast and a Northern Wheatear gave us a couple of moments heart stoppage as it sat distantly in bushes too far for my binoculars to identify. With the use of a scope we soon sorted it out. Turning to look back the other way I saw another bird sitting much closer by the grass path on top of a bush. We were both delighted as the Wryneck turned its head so that we could get a good look. We had both spent several hours the day before looking for it and here it was on a wonderful sunny morning perched up beautifully for the two of us. I was not keen to leave to make my way to work at all!
Paul and I made our way to Lynn Point where the tide was at its highest. A Common Sandpiper flew up one of the channels but there was little else of note. We made our way to Pentney but after counting Coot we ventured into Nar Valley Fisheries where the best option seemed to be to call it a day and pick blackberries in the adjoining lane for tea!
Keeping an eye on the weather forecast all day yesterday I made my way to Sheringham for early morning as the wind was in the North-East. On arrival Dave Holman said the shelter was already full but I may be able to squeeze in. Luckily John and Judy had a space next to them and provided a warm blanket to sit on. I cannot believe how quickly the hours passed as we had a continual passage of birds to watch. Great Skuas and Gannets were pouring past. Judy reckoned that 400 Gannets had passed by in one hour alone and John had a count of over 200 Great Skuas by the time I left. Sooty Shearwaters were shearing on the horizon as well as a few closer in. Balearic Shearwaters and Manxs gave good views much closer in. I got all excited before disappointment reigned as I missed a Puffin. This bird has long been a bogey bird as a Norfolk tick for me and I was very frustrated, as I seemed to be the only birder present that could not pick it up. However a few minutes later I had reason to celebrate as another Puffin graced itself for several minutes in my scope. YES AT LONG LAST, YIPPEE!
News of a Leach's Petrel passing Cley had us all on the lookout and sure enough after much shouting out of flags that it was by, most of us had good views of it. We commented about the lack of Arctic Skuas amongst all the Bonxies, when all of a sudden Kevin called a Long-tailed Skua. We were treated to a close view amongst 3 Arctic Skuas. A Little Gull kept our interest during a brief lull when another Leach's Petrel put in another scramble for folks to see it. I helped John get 'on to it' as he had failed to see the first one. Two Pomarine Skuas flew past as John tallied up over 50 Red-throated Divers. Two Shags were of interest as well as a few Guillemots. There were very few ducks but a couple of Eider close inshore were good to see. All in all a wonderful day!
After standing for 3 hours not seeing a Blyth's Reed Warbler at West Runton, Paul and I drove to Walsey Hills ay Cley where we watched a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers flitting around over our heads in the thick scrub. We had our fill and drove onto Burnham Overy where we watched a Great Grey Shrike in the glorious sunlight. It was very warm as we walked onto the bank where we watched a Red-backed Shrike on top of a bush as it eyed up various insects for its lunch. Walking on over the dunes we remarked on the summer-like weather at long last as I counted at least 4 Stonechats sitting on Blackberry brambles. Once into the pines we joined birders once again for a long vigil before finally hearing the Radde's calling after it probably responded to Penny's audobon bird caller. The Radde's Warbler flitted about in the bracken as it made its way back to its favoured spot before we finally called it a day and joined a few birding friends for a lovely meal in the Orange Tree at Thornham, where we shared all our birding tales of the last few months.
Starting at Holkham it was good to show some visitors the returning Pink-footed Geese that were arriving in their hundreds in the early morning mist. After watching common woodland birds we made our way to Burnham Overy where I showed Phil and Sheila Great Grey and Red-backed Shrikes. Later at Cley we watched a Little Stint amongst the many Dunlin on Pat's Pool. before the rain set in. After the rain cleared Paul and I walked up over the clifftop at Weybourne where the Lesser Grey Shrike put on a good performance catching many Bumble Bees.
It was a lovely morning and I made my way to Beeston Bump where a Woodchat Shrike was giving good views to all the birders present.
After a frustrating morning at the bank (why do they never employ enough cutomer services people?) I arrived late at Wells Woods and stood next to Julian who was busy photographing the Blyth's Reed Warbler. He tried his best to give directions to me but I just could not see the bird even though those around me could. We all heard it chacking but somehow it managed to move right in front of me twice without me seeing it. Grrrrrrrrr. After several hours listening to it calling I walked back to the car filling myself with blackberries instead!
The pager had me jumping to attention as it announced a Wilson's Phalarope at Cley. I arrived at the beach car park just as the assembled birders were all telling me it had just flown towards Billy's Wash. I spent sometime in Dauke's Hide along with several other disappointed birders to no avail.
Paul and I were within a couple of miles of Cley when the pager brought some joyous news that the Wilson's Phalarope had been relocated at Walsey Hills. We were there within minutes and climbed around the back of the NOA hut where we had good views of the marshes. We scanned all the pools without success when other birders announced that it had been flushed and had flown over East Bank towards Cley. Paul decided our best bet was to look from Irene Hide (now renamed Bishop Hide). I think he had a premonition as we were only a few sprinting steps away as the pager went off announcing it was on Pat's Pool. What Luck! In a few seconds we were watching it amongst the Golden Plover and Ruff. It didn't take long before the hide filled up and we left to give others waiting outside some space to see it.
At Salthouse we watched a couple of Red-throated Divers on the sea and a pair of Stonechats at Gramborough Hill along with John Furze. By the ice-cream van in the village, we joined John and Judy as we watched the local Black Swan taking bread from tourists as a juvenile Hobbly flew past.
After buying bird seed for my garden birds I ambled down to the beach at Titchwell. All the usual waders were amassing on the shore as a Northern Wheatear fed in the dunes.
Turnstone Red Knot
Paul and I birded Lynn Point where Redwings and Fieldfares were pouring in off the North Sea. Goldcrests could also be heard in the hedgerows. A Little Egret stood by the river as 2 Kingfishers flew low over the water. Later Paul flushed a Barn Owl as he dived in under the trees. Later at Titchwell we watched a Great Northern Diver on the sea and a Purple Sandpiper feeding at our feet at the end of the boardwalk. It was so tame that it would walk right up to us withinn 2 metres.
An early morning start in the blustery conditions had me looking out to sea again at Titchwell. This time the Slavonian Grebe showed well on the high tide as did the Great Northern Diver. Great Crested Grebes flew as Common Scoters changed feeding positions on the sea. Later at Holkham the wind was too noisy to listen for woodland species but large numbers of Curlews settled on the marsh as a Marsh Harrier sat around admiring all the Pink-footed Geese.
After a few chores I made my way to Kelling Quags where a Grey Phalarope was spinning around on the water in the warm sun. However the wind was chilly. Two Bearded Tits flew up and down the ditch line as I made my way to the sea where a lonely Common Scoter was the only bird present on the sea. Linnets flew calling noisily as I walked behind the seabank in competition with a single Meadow Pipit. Returning back up the path a Grey Heron disappeared into the reeds.
Starting at East Harling I was dismayed to find no Golden Plovers or birders at the heath. However after turning the car around I noticed a few 'goldies' dropping into a field with some Lapwings as Geoff and Jen arrived. Together we worked through the birds until Geoff picked out an American Golden Plover. After admiring it for a while I re-started my search and picked out a poorly marked Dotterel feeding at the top right of the field.
Retracing my steps I made my way to Holme where a Barred Warbler and Pallas's Warbler were on show. I was torn with which bird I should try to see first but after standing by the Sycamore tree putting on my boots with not a single bird showing I made my way to the NOA. After a brief conversation with Irene she put me on to the Barred Warbler. After a while I made my way back down to the NWT car park. Five Crossbills alighted in a nearby tree as we watched the Pallas's. All of a sudden a thrush landed at the top of the tree before flying off towards the pines. None of us recognised the call it made. Several of us had a discussion about it being a Black-throated Thrush. Peter, Connor, another birder and myself went in search of it whilst Trevor stayed in phone contact in case it returned. A Woodcock was flushed out of the undergrowth but we failed to re-locate the thrush. The light was getting poor and we hoped that it would be re-located tomorrow.
Just after first light I joined John and Judy at Sheringham for a sea-watch. Many Wigeon were on the move as were Gannets, Kittiwakes and Little Gulls. Three Great Northern Divers flew by as well as four Velvet Scoters. After a few hours we walked around The Dell at Wells and after a long search saw a Yellow-browed Warbler in amongst the Goldcrests and a beautiful Pallas's Warbler which was feeding all on its own. All of a sudden the pager seemed to suggest that we should move onto Muckleburgh Hill at Weybourne.
After parking up we made our way along the footpath at Muckleburgh Hill to be met by birders searching all over the hill. The Red-flanked Bluetail had been harassed by the local Robins and had gone missing. We had several false alarms in the wonderful sunlight but after an hour or so one birder managed to re-locate it. The Red-flanked Bluetail put on a good show for all the assembled birders. John, Judy and I all had good views before we made our way to Cley for a celebratory bowl of soup! From a mythical bird that this bird once was, I have now seen 3 of these beauties in Norfolk. Back at home it was good news on the pager as the Black-throated Thrush had been re-located at Holme as well as the Pallas's Warblers.
Paul wanted to see the Red-flanked Bluetail so we made our way in the early morning to Muckleburgh Hill where there were only a few birders present. Paul and I searched around for the bluetail when Peter called to say he was watching it. Paul and I ran back down the hill where we had excellent views of it showing off under the trees. We searched the hill for other migrants before making our way to Kelling to watch 19 Waxwings being flushed by a Sparrowhawk.
We then made our way to Glandford where we walked the riverside along with several Cley listers in the hope of seeing a reported Black-bellied Dipper. After a couple of hours of searching in vain we drove to both Letheringsett and Glandford Ford to check the river locations out. After passing Richard Millington driving quickly the other way we made our way back to Natural Surroundings where the Black-bellied Dipper was posing nicely for all to see. Unfortunately I had left my camera in the van!
After watching the bushes along Lynn Point heaving under the weight of Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Redwings, Paul and I drove to Holme that was heaving under the weight of Goldcrests. It was obviously a day of a big fall of birds. Robins were also in abundance. Paul watched the Pallas's Warbler before joining me for the search for the Long-eared Owl that had been reported as flying into the pines. As I made my way along the back edge I was just descending down the path towards the NWT visitor centre when Jill called out to me that the Long-eared Owl was in flight over the marsh having just come out of the pines! We all watched it fly towards the village and land somewhere nearby. It was good to see, especially as a little later on Paul and I had crippling views of a Short-eared Owl up the other end of the reserve.
A very early morning start was necessary as I had to be back home by mid-morning. Arriving on Muckleburgh Hill with just one other birder who was keen to see the Red-flanked Bluetail meant I was a little uncertain where the Dusky Warbler had been heard the afternoon before. After some searching and not hearing anything like a 'chacking' sound I met up with Richard and Baz who knew where to stand as they had heard the bird the evening before and had returned in hope this morning to see it. We searched below the hill but then heard voices and we returned to the top of the hill where a few returning birders from the evening before were watching the Dusky Warbler. After some brief views the Dusky Warbler put on a marvellous show right in front of us as it flitted around the Elder, Hawthorn and Bracken. It was a shame that I could not stay longer.
A blustery day saw my daughter Kathryn and I walk along the tide-line from Old Hunstanton towards Holme. Hundreds of Common Scoters were flying out at sea as large group of Starlings were flying in off the sea but choosing to fly straight into the head wind. Sanderling, Dunlin, Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding in the mud and sand as we were dodging the incomimg tide (or in Kathryn's case paddling in the sea). We returned back through the dunes next to the golf course but saw very little except the odd Linnet or two and a Pied Wagtail as we battled against the strong wind.
Tawny Owls have begun calling in our garden at night again.
A late start found Paul and I at Whitlingham Country Park. After a walk around to the far side of the broad viewing was difficult across the water due to the glare from the sun. After examining all the ducks the Ring-necked Duck could not be found. We drove to Thorpe End where I had an interesting talk with the post-master of the post office. The Ring-necked Parakeets were obviously long gone and so we reurned to the Country Park as Paul was more hopeful the the Ring-necked Duck would appear in the afternoon. We walked around the bottom end of the broad once again after delighting in the view of 2 Waxwings sat in the Alder trees en-route. This time the light was more favourable for viewing and Paul soon picked out the Ring-necked Duck amongst the Pochards, Coots and Tufted Ducks. Nearing where we had parked the van we watched a finch flock in flight that setted on a nearby tree. It was a mixed flock of Siskins, Lesser Redpolls and a Mealy Redpoll. We felt sure we could also hear more Waxwings as we continued back to the van but did not see them.
John and Judy joined us for the day and we started driving through Ringstead where we had a late Swallow fly over the houses. At Gore Point there was little on the sea. Eight Snow Buntings kept us amused as Paul picked out a Peregrine flying in off the sea. At Titchwell there was also little on the sea despite being told of the range of 'goodies' that were supposedly there. We failed dismally to locate any of them. Feeling the chill of the north wind we retired to the hide to view another Peregrine perching in a tree. Later near Flitcham we watched a Tree Sparrow in a Lilac Bush.
Another late start as I wasn't feeling too well meant that Paul drove us to Cley as we left the A47 after watching the gulls in the field where an Iceland Gull was present. At Cley it was blustery to say the least. We joined Penny and Peter by the shelter on the beach and watched Common Scoter and various gulls whipping by at great speed. A Long-tailed Duck also zipped by. All too soon we could see the approaching snow and ended up in the visitor centre where blizzard conditions soon obliterated the window. We had an interesting journey home sliding around the roads on compacted icy/snowy roads.
Starting at Lynn Point after midday Paul and I scrunched our way around the sea bank in the snow. Early morning had been spent watching 2 Bramblings in the snow in our garden. It was a lovely scene at Lynn Point as 4 Whooper Swans flew overhead. Nearing the Babingley River I watched a Spoonbill standing forlornly on the ice. As Paul approached in order to take a photograph it flew off in the direction of The Wash. Three Little Egrets made us wonder which country we were in. Back at the van a female Blackcap put in an appearance in the hedge.
(Photo courtesy of PaulJeffery)
At Blackborough End we had excellent views of a Glaucous Gull on the water. Paul managed a photograph before the gulls returned to feed on the tip. Later at Pentney we counted 12 Common Snipe on the lake edge as well as 210 Lapwings. A count of 48 Skylarks the other side of the road in one flock was good to see.
(Photo courtesy of Paul Jeffery)
After leaving home early we arrived at Stansted airport for our flight to Kerry in south-west Ireland. It was a cold but beautiful sunny day. We admired the whole of the Bristol channel and southern coastline including Portland from our position 5 miles high. After landing at Kerry airport we hired acar and made our way to Annascaul on the Dingle Peninsula. Stopping at Inch beach we watched 3 Great Northern Divers close inshore. We soon found the memorial to Tom Crean the Antarctic Explorer. This was a birthday treat for Paul who like me has had a fascination with Antartica for many years. We made our way to the family grave where he was buried above the village a very strange graveyard indeed, with its graves all above ground level.
After leaving our B and B we wandered around Castlemaine Harbour where fifty other Irish birders eventually gathered. We watched an Otter in the harbour as well as 2 Greenshanks amongst Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed Godwits and Dunlin. A wisp of Common Snipe alighted as we walked the embankment as well as a Jack Snipe that flew just above our head. It was a glorious day with stunning scenery of the peninsula.
Just after midday Alan Mee arrived with a falcon under his arm. A Gyr Falcon had been rescued from a trawler out at sea and Alan was going to release it back to the wild after being taken into care for a while.
Alan Mee with the Gyr Falcon
Unfortunately the Gyr was not keen to fly and after walking down an embankment it was decided to recapture it and take it back into care. After a little more sight seeing we flew back to Stansted and drove back to Norfolk.
A local walk around the lanes between Roydon and West Newton made me wonder where all the birds go in the cold, misty,damp weather. They certainly were not keen to show themselves today. Ten Egyptian Geese stood forlornly in fields as I could hear shooting taking place on the Sandringham Estate. Birds were not keen to fly in the cold and would have made easy targets for the guns. How this is described as a sport is beyond me! A Hare gamely ran in a zig-zag path as it saw me approach. Two Bullfinches made a short flight along a hedgeline keeping a Robin company. A few Chaffinches were spooked from a Sunflower crop as a couple of cyclists went by. On pools a Mute Swan family stayed put as a few Gadwall flew to the far end. On my return a Goldcrest accompanied two Coal Tits and four Great Tits in the woods.
A land-mark day as I have taken early retirement from teaching! Hooray! More time for birding !
After driving back from town fed up with the crush of people under my feet it was lovely to see a Green Sandpiper feeding in a ditch by the Roydon Crossroads. I tried to take a photo but it didn't want to appear on here!
A walk along the Castle Rising Cycle Track produced 67 Curlews standing in a flooded field. The beaters were out in force making all the duck and partridges fly towards the Royal guns. For once I did not see a bird fall. However a Roe Deer ran for its life, alerting 6 other Roe Deer that they too should make haste. Two Common Buzzards risked their lives flying over the area.
Arriving in New York, Paul and I identified a Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, Laughing Gull as well as the usual House Sparrow at Newark Airport.
In bitterly cold weather consisting of snow blowing horizontally it was as much as I could do to identify a Bufflehead on water in the district of Queens in New York. We also identified a Tufted Titmouse at the back of four apartments that Paul's brother is building in Brooklyn. The habitat amongst the high-rise block looked desperate and I felt sorry for the birds sheltering from the bitingly cold winds. A Dark-eyed Junco and Ring-billed Gull finished off our year.
Happy New Year to all.