Driving to Titchwell and adding Pink-footed Geese and Common Buzzard to my new year list at Flitcham, I was soon out in the car park recruiting new RSPB members. After signing up 3 new members I learnt the sad news that my father had died peacefully in his sleep this morning. The rest of the day has been a bit of a blur.
Many of you have been very kind in sending messages to me after the death of my father. Thank you so much it has been appreciated. I have obviously not been motivated to go out birding but I am working at home on my Bolivain trip report which I am beginning to upload onto my trip reports page. Please bear with me.
We went over to see our friend John Geeson after his phone call, as Judy died early this morning. We felt so sad as you could not wish to meet a nicer person. Life seems so unfair at times. Paul and I will both miss her as we have shared so many happy times together.
On our way down to Somerset we stopped off at Eldenell to admire the Bewick and Whooper Swans in the roadside fields. A Barn Owl was at the carpark at Eldernell Nene Washes reserve.
My beloved Dad and I at Lyme Regis in 2011. R.I.P
Today was a very sad day as my beloved Dad was cremated in Yeovil Somerset. He will be sorely missed. My Dad used to take me on cycle rides as a child pointing out all the farmland birds, making me bird tables, buying bird books and giving me pocket money to buy monkey nuts that I used to thread together to hang off my bird table! At 80 years old he even came on the Portsmouth-Bilbao ferry run to watch the seabirds with my daughter Kathryn and I. Rest in peace Dad you will be forever in our memories.
I have uploaded my trip report to Bolivia on my trip reports page. Take a look! http://www.freewebs.com/suebryan/bolivia2014.htm
Back to work at Titchwell today. With my yearlist barely started I noted Brent Geese and Pink-footed Geese in the field at the bottom of the Chosely Road. It was dark by the time I left work!
Mick picked me up to go to Titchwell today and we were treated to views of a Merlin chasing some unfortunate bird near Docking. On the way home a Little Owl was sat on a telegraph post near Bircham.
Paul and I visited Narford Lake where we were surprised at the lack of duck present. There were small numbers of Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard and a single Shoveler but not the number that you might expect at this time of year. At Ashwicken Lake we saw three Common Snipe.
John Geeson arrived at home and together with Paul we walked over to Grimston Warren. Here we watched the Great Grey Shrike and a Stonechat in the early morning frost along with six or more Roe Deer. Down at The Delft area we located seven Jack Snipe and five Common Snipe. As we walked back up to the folly a lone Meadow Pipit flew over as a Common Buzzard made its way across to the trees. We helped several other birders locate the Great Grey Shrike again along Sandy Lane before making our way to Nar Valley Fisheries.
At Nar Valley we admired a lone Brambling amongst Chaffinch, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting, before stopping at the side of Lake Geneva where a flock of Siskin and 4 Redpoll were feeding on Alder trees. A Blue Tit was doing a good impression on Reedmace of a Penduline Tit! On Priory Lake we watched 3 Goldeneye before spotting a Great White Egret flying off from the marshy area near New Wood.
I started the day at Wolferton where for the first time ever I saw the Golden Pheasant run across the road at my first attempt for the year list. I didn't see it at all last year despite numerous attempts!
From Wolferton I drove to Dersingham where there was no sign of any Waxwings thathad been reported yesterday. I walked onto Holme beach in the glorious weather where after locating the cryptic Snow Buntings and waatching Knot I was joined by Marcus Nash who kindly let me look through his scope at the Long-tailed Duck that I had located on the sea. We both added Red-breasted Merganser and Fulmar to our yearlists. A Reed Bunting enjoyed its morning feed in the sun as I walked back to the car.
Amazing how cryptic Snow Bunting can be! Reed Bunting
Red Kite Short-eared Owl
I stopped at Thornham Harbour where a small group of Twite fed on thistle seeds as Skylarks wandered on the mud by my car. After taking a few photos I drove on towards Burnham Overy but stopped at Burnham Norton to admire a Red Kite by the side of the road. I was lucky as I pulled off the road as it flew right over my head and gave me just enough time to get my camera out. Arriving at Burnham Overy I joined other birders and we were amazed at the number of raptors on view. Eight Red Kite were visible along with two Rough-legged Buzzard, at least ten Common Buzzard, four Marsh Harrier and two Kestrels. I walked along the sea bank watching all the Brent Geese, Wigeon, Curlew, Dunlin, Shelduck, Redshank, Canada Geese and Lapwing keeping an eyeout for the reported Short-eared Owl. Marcus told me it would show at half past three. At three twenty-five it appeared! Thanks Marcus!!!
Back along the seabank Ashley Saunders was showing his group a male Hen Harrier . It was good to see such a fine bird.
On the way to work this morning I stopped off for a few minutes to admire a Waxwing feeding on Rosehips in the coach park opposite Tescos in Hunstanton.
A Song thrush was in full song as I arrived at work at Titchwell this morning
At lunch time I rushed down the West bank path at Titchwell where A Water Pipit was on show on the drained Thornham Pool.
A Tawny Owl flew out across the road at narborough as I made my way to the NarVOS meeting.
Today was spent at the woodland burial site at Colney where lots of Norfolk birders and friends had gathered to celebrate the life of my good friend Judy Geeson. Her kindness, friendship and knowledge of the natural world will be sorely missed by all those who knew her. R.I.P Judy.
Black-necked Grebe (phone-scoped image)
Starting at Snettisham, Paul and I quickly located the Black-necked Grebe in front of the Rotary Hide. Lots of Pink-footed Geese were out on the mud in The Wash. I admired the display of the male Goldeneye to the females. A Red-breasted Merganzer flew along the pits.
At Thornham we watched the flock of Twite disappear into the harbour as well as a Spotted Redshank before making our way to Titchwell for a bacon bap. On Thornham Pool six Common Snipe and several Ruff were feeding along with Dunlin and Sanderling. Several Meadow Pipits were present too as well as two Bearded Tit feeding at the back of the pool on the mud. We watched a brief flight view of a Bittern along with Black-tailed Godwit.
At Wells we watched 3 Little Grebe racing in with the tide before getting very wet at Sheringham needlessly as we failed to find the Purple Sandpiper. On our way home we watched two Grey Wagtail at Sculthorpe Mill.
Walking along the entrance path to Titchwell I spotted a Woodcock feeding amongst the leaf litter. It soon scurried off towards the Fen Trail.
A late afternoon walk on Roydon Common with Paul had us watching two ringtail Hen Harriers coming into roost. A Stonechat was the only other bird of note.
Paul and I joined Julian and Eddie taking photos of the very confiding Purple Sandpiper feeding on the rocks just below the end of the high street at Sheringham below the Crown Pub. By the lifeboat station we watched a Red-throated Diver fly by on the sea, before making our way to Cley.
Tundra Bean Geese and Garganey (both phone-scoped)
At Cley sitting in Daukes Hide we were lucky that someone had just found two Tundra Bean Geese and the Garganey. Paul also admired two White-fronted Geese whilst I persevered with trying to phone-scope the Garganey and Bean Geese. A few Pintail flew as we watched Lapwing and Golden Plover amongst the Wigeon present.
At Titchwell we failed to find the Water Pipit but did see a Meditteranean Gull on our way down to the sea where we watched Common Scoter and Velvet Scoter. Two Red-breasted Merganzer flew by as well.
Paul and I started our day at Lynford Arboretum where we soon saw Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. Unfortunately we had just missed the showing of two Hawfinches in the paddocks by 5 minutes. They had already flown off. We walked to the lake by the carpark where 3 Goosander were avoiding the ice. We drove to Santon Downham where after a bit of searching Paul found a Firecrest in the ivy around one of the trees not far from the church.
We drove to a spot nearby and had wonderful views of a male Goshawk displaying to a female Goshawk. We watched as it climbed and dived giving birders present a wonderful display. We also heard it call. Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were noted along with several Common Buzzard.Whilst there we heard Woodlark singing but despite several attempts we did not see the bird. We drove back to Lynford Arboretum where after a short wait we watched two Hawfinch in the trees near the wooden gate on the left hand side along the entrance track to the arboretum.
After a walk in the forest we had a quick drink in a local pub and ended the day at Boughton Fen to watch the Starling murmuration. I also watched a Bittern drop into the Fen as well as three Marsh Harriers. We are so lucky to live in Norfolk, having had a fantastic day's birding.
Whilst working in the shop at Titchwell I nipped out quickly to the West Bank path where Richard had a Peregrine lined up for me sitting on a post on Thornham Marsh.
John Geeson and I drove to Flitcham where we watched a mixed finch flock containing Brambling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and a few Tree Sparrows feeding on a cover crop. We walked around the Blackborough End area where we saw two Common Buzzard and a Treecreeper.
On Priory Lake at Nar Valley Fisheries, Paul and I saw three red-headed Smew before I needed to go home with a migraine.
Great White Egret
Feeling better I walked around Nar Valley Fisheries where two of the three red-headed Smew that were here yesterday remained on Priory Lake. I watched a pair of Great Crested Grebe and a Goldeneye here too. As I walked alongside Hobbs Lake a Great White Egret flew beside me and landed in the reeds at one end of the lake. Alongside the River Nar a Little Egret flew over to one of the lakes and a pair of Common Buzzard flew over the fields by the entrance trackway.
At Pentney there was a female Scaup lingering with a small group of Tufted Duck that will certainly cause some discussion!
Paul and I joined the rest of the NarVOS members and travelled to the Norfolk broads, where just after Martham on the Horsey Road we stopped to see what we could find. A Marsh Harrier was seen and soon after I spotted a Common Crane in flight. Two Pink-footed Geese were in the field as a Common Buzzard flew over. We watched as a Mistle Thrush heralded a small flock of Fieldfare flying on the opposite side of the road. We stopped further along the road by a muck heap which several Pied Wagtails were feeding upon insects. Two more Common Cranes were seen at the back of a church in flight. At Sea Palling we did some sea-watching where there was quite a movement of Red-throated Divers going North. Three Black-throated Divers were also seen as well as a Great Crested Grebe. We stopped for lunch at Hickling NWT where we walked to some of the hides. Unforturnately it was not the best of weather. We saw Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Egyptian Goose and Tufted Duck on the scrapes and broad. We walked to the raptor watch point ready for the roost but as the rain began we called it a day and retreated to our cars and drove home.
I drove to Heathrow and after leaving my car at an airport hotel I checked in an boarded a flight bound for Sri Lanka.
After an overnight flight I arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanak where I met up with Mark, Sally, Pura and Saman. Saman was a local guide for Naturetrek who I was hoping was going to show me all 33 Sri Lankan endemics. It was certainly hot as we jumped in the comfortable vehicle and drove to Kitulgala. En-route we saw Brahminy Kite, White-throated Kingfisher and Indian Pond Heron. Upon arrival at our first hotel we had our first endemic, Yellow-fronted Barbet. As I will do a trip report I will not go into depth here.
Crossing the bridge at Kitulgala Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill
After a pre-breakfast walk our small group crossed the river and birded the forest where we saw several endemic birds, including the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill.
Tea Plantation Yellow-eared Bulbul
After leaving Kitulgala we travelled on to Nuwara Eliya passing many tea plantations being picked by Tamil workers. We stopped at one of the plantations to buy a few samples to bring home. A good brew it is too! After a few trips to the loo, with three out of the four of us having gone down with food poisoning, we wandered the gum forest where we saw another four endemic birds including the Yellow-eared Bulbul. We were now up to 14 of the 33 endemics.
We started the morning at Horton Plain where we soon located Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, Indian Blackbird and Sri Lanka Bush Warbler but I was more interested in Indian Pitta which during a torrential downpour was not easy to see lurking at one of the corners of Victoria park at Nuwara Eliya. The Plain was an interesting spot where Sambar Deer and Sri lanka Junglefowl roamed but I hung my head in shame at the killing of all the elephants by the British many years ago.
Sambar Deer Sri Lanka Junglefowl
Luckily we had another walk in Victoria Park before we left and I managed a couple of photos in the shady vegetation of the park. Luckily the Indian Pitta hopped up in just enough light for a record shot. At Ella we saw a Legge's Hawk Eagle as we took (or not as in my case) lunch before arriving at Embilipitiya at dusk where an Indian Scops Owl was roosting.
Today was a bit of a treat at we piled into a safari truck for a ride around Uda Walawe National Park where Saman our guide is normally employed. We had a delightful morning seeing Sri Lanka Wood Shrike, Jerdon's Bushlark, Marshall's Iora, Blue-faced Malkoha as well as a range of bee-eaters.
This morning we were transported up a very rough road by an old jeep and I decided to leave my camera behind. How I regretted that decision. Right by the roadside was a nest with chicks of a Sri Lanka Frogmouth and I had nothing to take a picture with. Curses........A later scramble up a vegetated hillside produced a Serendip Scops Owl. We were shown the bird by the man who had first discovered this bird as a new bird to Science. Endemic number 32. Our 33rd endemic was a Sri Lanka Spurfowl running around at the back of someone's house who kindly let us in to view it from their window.
Serendib Scops Owl. (Photograph of image on Sally's camera)
Our last full day and all 33 endemics seen. We had a wander around the lodge and village enjoying the birds. A Brown Shrike posed nicely before we had to board our vehicle bound for the airport hotel for the night.
Mark, Sally, Pura and I wandered the hotel grounds before breakfast and admired a Shrika that was roosting overnight amongst the palms. Sadly there was not enough light for a photograph. After breakfast we were taken to the airport for our long flight home.
Mick picked me up and took me to Titchwell but not before we enjoyed good views of a singing Corn Bunting sat on wires near the Choseley drying barns.
Paul and I started the day at Weybourne where we joined several others enjoying the Lapland Bunting, Skylark and Snow Bunting present in the fields by the coastguard cottages. The Iceland Gull was fairly mobile but we saw it a couple of times sitting in the field.
We tried our luck at mannington Hall for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that had been reported as present last year with no luck. It was very cold and grey and we decided to call it a day missing the White-tailed Eagle that would have flown over our path had we stayed a bit later on our way home.
An afternoon walk on Roydon Common was a delight after all the cold wind of recent days. It was warm and sunny as I watched the Great Grey Shrike in the middle of the common. A Woodlark sat on a fence post near the pigfields. Fourteen Meadow Pipits flew into a tree as I approached. I heard a Buzzard calling and looking up I watched a Kestrel wheeling around it. Lapwings in the top field were displaying and Skylark were few in number.
After opening up the Visitor Centre at Titchwell I stepped outside the door just in time to see two Red Kite heading over towards the Freshmarsh. I took an early lunch and made my way down the West Bank path and showed many visitors the Jack Snipe that was sheltering at the base of the reeds on Thornham Pool. In the Reedbed Pool a drake Red-crested Pochard was showing well.
Several of you have asked about my trip report to Sri Lanka. I am still writing it and will upload it on to my trip reports page as soon as I am able to!
As we motored down to Oxford where my three children treated me to a late Motherng Sunday meal we saw a few Red Kite.
I have up-loaded my Sri Lanka trip report to my Trip Reports page or you can view it at http://www.freewebs.com/suebryan/srilanka2015.htm
After driving overnight Paul, John Geeson and myself arrived in Aberdeen at about 3am. We managed a couple of hours sleep before walking into Seaton Park and finding the river. We noticed a couple of other birders also searching the river edge. We swopped telephone numbers and walked in different directions along the bank. I had chosen to walk downstream along with John and Paul walked upstream along with the other birder. Soon John and I noticed two other birders staring intently through their telescopes. We hurried on and were soon watching the Harlequin Duck that had been on the River Don for many weeks now. I phoned the others and they soon joined us.
We enjoyed watching a Goosander on the river as well as an Otter.
After bidding farewell to the duck and other birders we drove onto Port Soy where we parked in the harbour and walked up the bank where after locating 5 Great Northern Divers I spotted a White-billed Diver preening. We admired small rafts of Long-tailed Duck as well as Razorbill and Guillemot. A scrumptious meal was had in a small cafe and bistro where we sampled delights of smoked salmon and scrambled egg on a crumpet. Unfortunately John left his coat behind and so the next few hours were spent travelling between Carrbridge and Port Soy a few more times than we had planned!! Never mind we saw a lovely close male Merlin sitting on a roadside fence post. At Carrbridge we watched a Dipper preening. By now we were tired and a lovely lady agreed to put us up in one of her houses at Nethybridge for the next two nights. This village is ideal as it is central for Speyside birding. As the lady was preparing our accomodation we took a short walk around the forest where although a delightful walk it really was too late in the day for any birds.
Starting at the Capercaillie watch at Loch Garten at 6am, we saw the recent arrival of EJ the Osprey sitting on her nest platform. However the Capercaillie did not show and more frustatingly, we failed to see any Crested Tits in the car park either. Siskin and Coal Tit were singing in the trees and Great Spotted Woodpecker were hammering out their territories. We watched a pair of Goldeneye courting on Loch Garten, which if you ask Paul, he will demonstrate what they do, much to the amusement of John and I.
EJ the Osprey on her nest
We drove onto the Findhorn Valley where after a two hour wait of watching Peregrine, Kestrel, Common Buzzard , Goosander and Raven we decided to drive onto Loch Ruthven. Paul was driving and soon I yelled at him to stop as I spotted 2 Golden Eagle over the ridgeline. As we all jumped out of the car we watched one of the birds glide further along the valley back to where we had just left flushing out several Red Grouse.
Golden Eagle Goshawk
We were all delighted to stand and stare at the Golden Eagle in the amazing hot weather. Just after this we watched three Goshawks displaying before stopping to photograph a pair of Red Grouse at the side of the road. We arrived at Loch Ruthven and were amazed that the temperature had reached 19 degrees. We had not expected it to be so hot. The path was alive with Common Toads and Common Frogs all doing what comes naturally!
Red Grouse Spot the Slavonian Grebe!
Common Frog Common Toad
Down at the small beach we scanned the Loch and besides a couple of Little Grebe and a Grey Heron we counted three Slavonian Grebe out in the middle. Eurasian Curlew were flying over the loch and we were sad at the demise of the Black Grouse lek that we used to watch from here years ago. We were really enjoying ourselves but Paul was determined to see Capercaillie and so we drove onto Grantown on Spey where we walked the forest near the golf course. It was now late afternoon but the weather was still warm and sunny. With the exception of Coal Tit and Robin we saw little for our efforts but a Red Squirrel added to my joy of the day.
We were now getting hungry and after a quick return to base to freshen up and change we headed into Carrbridge for an evening meal.
Once again we were up pre-breakfast for the Capercaillie watch held at Loch Garten. As there were no Capercaillie on show I wanted to stay in the car park to stake out Crested Tit. However, Paul decided that we would be better off doing the loop at the side of Loch Garten where we have seen Crested Tit in bygone years. Paul had soon bolted off in front of us and John and I returned to the car park where we were soon watching Crested Tit. Glyn had come out of the visitor centre and told us that a Capercaillie was on show. It was like the Le Mans formula one starting grid as John and I sprinted down the access track. It is a shame that we are both now so old, that we could not keep the pace up (although John's excuse is that one of his shoe-laces was undone) However we both arrived in time to see a Capercaillie through the narrowest of gaps in the trees through an rspb telescope that the rspb visitor information officer had set up (Thank you). I tried ringing Paul but he was not answering his phone so I drove to see if I could find him. Luckily I found him along the road and took him to the access track where he just missed the Capercaillie! Grrrr... However a bit later and our eternal thanks to the rspb staff Paul got to see the Capercaillie.
Capercaillie Crested Tit
Paul was then ordered to stay in the car park where upon he duly saw the Crested Tit. We were a happy bunch of bunnies but quite sad that two of us had to return to work in the morning as Scottish birding is a delight in such wonderful weather. So the long journey home began but not before we had invited ourselves to a wonderful roast lamb lunch at a friend of Paul's near Stirling. Darren is a wildlife artist and we delighted at some of his paintings of Antarctic wildlife. He had won a place to accompany the navy as artist in residence on an Antarctic trip. We however had really enjoyed our trip to Scotland. We will be back!
A quick walk at lunchtime and after work at Titchwell yielded four yearticks in the shape of Little Ringed Plover, Willow Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Swallow. At lunchtime a Spotted Redshank flew onto Thornham Marsh as I was watching the Little Ringed Plover on the freshmarsh. It was wonderful to watch all the Marsh Harriers over the reserve as they were displaying and flying around. A Mediterranean Gull landed in front of us amongst all the Avocet and Black-headed Gulls as I sat with Mark and Tracy in the warm evening light.
Mick and I watched a Blackcap singing in the carpark at Titchwell before we started work. The birds were in full song but there was a cool breeze blowing. During work in the car park I was treated to a wonderful skydance display by a male Marsh Harrier to a female Marsh Harrier flying below him. A trickle of Swallows flew over the car park during the day. It was a real treat to watch. As Mick and I left work we stopped by Quail corner at Choseley where I watched a Wheatear whilst looking for the Great Grey Shrike which I failed to locate. Golden Plover were 'hunkered down' in the cool breeze.
In the evening, Paul and I went to Houghton where we watched a Willow Tit singing. There are more of these around if only people would go and search for them away from 'known' spots.
Just after dawn I walked the length of Snettisham Coastal Park to Heacham and back. To be honest I wish I had stayed in bed as it was far colder and windier than I had anticipated. The park was full of singing Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. There was quite clearly a passage of Linnet taking place too. I heard Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler but did not see either in the wind. I joined Billy Rand and together we walked to Heacham where we were disappointed not to see any Ring Ouzels. In the distance a Marsh Harrier was interacting with four Little Egret near Ken Hill woods. The wind was picking up and we returned to Snettisham. I returned back home just before the rain set in.
After baking a carrot cake, Paul and I went for a walk on Roydon Common for another round of cold wind battering. A Kestrel was getting battered in the wind on a tree as we set off across the common. Three male Stonechats later we arrived at our intended point up by the trees on the top field and whilst Paul was scanning over towards The Warren I noticed 2 large thrushes flying across the field. We edged up towards the fence and managed to have scope views of two Ring Ouzel just before they disappeared into a dip. We walked back and I managed a couple of record distant photos of two of the 5 Ring Ouzels that were present as we rounded the corner of the fenceline.
My radio at work suddenly crackled and it was Paul Eele letting me know that there were 9 Dotterel at Chalk Pit Lane in Titchwell. So after I had finished work I drove up the lane to watch the 9 Dotterel running around the middle of the large field. If I had been five minutes earlier they would have been much closer apparently.
Not long after dawn I walked down by the side of the river at Santon Downham to try and see the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that has been on show here recently. After 3 hours of watching Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit and a pair of Mandarin Duck flying around I gave up.
From here I drove into The Brecks and watched a pair of Stone Curlew in a field from the roadside before returning home to do some chores.
Early in the morning John Geeson and I walked the bank at Snettisham. We soon heard and saw Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat but John was upset that he could not hear the Grasshopper Warbler reeling in the distance. A bit further along the bank I heard a much closer one and we soon enjoyed watching it. It was at this point that John discovered that he had lost his watch.....so if you find a watch with a black leather strap along the inner seabank please return to to me at Titchwell so that I may pass it on to John. After a search we resumed our birding and met up witn Trevor Girling. Together we watched 5 Barn Owls hinting over the fields as well as the Grasshopper Warbler reeling once again. Two Yellow Wagtails flew over our heads as well as Sand Martin, Swallow and a lone House Martin. We heard Whimbrel calling and watched two birds in flight as they flew into the fields behind us. A Cuckoo was calling but try as we might we could not locate it in the distance. We bid farewell to Trevor and went in search of a Redstart that the pager had reported as being present here. However we failed to locate it.
Grasshopper Warbler Grasshopper Warbler
As John was striding ahead of me I glanced sideways just in time to see what I thought might be a Ring Ouzel running along the grass on one of the tracks. I called John back and together we eventually watched 15 Ring Ouzels. I have never seen such a large flock all together before.
'raining' Ring Ouzels Ring Ouzel
Northern Wheatear Ring Ouzel
After admiring all the Ring Ouzel we drove to Holme where two Wheatear were on the short grass near the forestry. Once again we failed to locate another reported Redstart but admired yet another Ring Ouzel. After a quick pit stop at home John drove to Roydon Common where we were amazed by another 15+ Ring Ouzel. It was impossible to count them all as they were very mobile and kept disappearing into the heather. In all my years of birding I have never seen so many Ring Ouzel in one day. We finished our day at Pentney where three Common Tern were perching on the buoys on the lake and the female Scaup is still in residence.
During my lunch-break I walked quicly down the West Bank path at Titchwell to see the immature Spoonbill that was asleep on the Freshmarsh.
As Paul had been working all week, he had not yet seen any Ring Ouzel and so we went for a walk on Roydon Common and were soon confronted by small flocks of Ring Ouzel. They always have been a skittish bird but with a bit with patience and standing or sitting still the birds will come reasonably close to feed on the short turf .
We were all delighted at seeing so many and I suspect there were more than 30 birds present.
It was a beautiful morning and so I walked from Nar Valley Fisheries through to West Bilney woods. I'll call it 'My Walk on the Wildside!
After a Facebook conversation with Jim Lawrence I decided to walk the inner seabank at Snettisham just after dawn. As I walked I watched four Barn Owls hunting over the fields and listened to a distant Cuckoo towards Heacham and a Grasshopper Warbler reeling. Soon I saw a Lesser Whitethroat in a Hawthorn bush but it soon disappeared. Ther was still not enough light for photography anyway. I saw Dave Powell on the seabank and it was clear that neither of us had seen the Little Bunting that Dave Holman had reported yesterday. I walked to Heacham dam and watched the calling Cuckoo flying towards me as a male Marsh Harrier flew over my head. I crossed over to the sea bank where another Grasshopper Warber was reeling. Walking back I heard a yet another Grasshopper Warbler before meeting up with Dave Powell and Trevor Girling. They had both had fleeting glimpses of the Little Bunting and were convinced that the bird was still lurking in the bushes. Trevor was cross with himself as he had seen a small bunting at the same spot on Saturday. After a bit of a wait the Little Bunting appeared and immediately flew across the path a bit further down. We had several other brief views over the next two hours but the bird enjoyed lurking in the Hawthorn bushes or feeding amongst the vegetation on the ground almost totally obscured for most of the time.
Little Bunting Cuckoo
During our wait a Cuckoo called from behind us and I crept round to the back of the bushes just in time to watch a pair of them copulating. I returned to the Little Bunting bushes and managed a snatched shot of the Little Bunting just before it landed on the ground. Three other birders arrived and managed to see the bunting quite well. As other birders arrived I decided to leave. A few Swallow flew over my head as I returned to the car.
I drove to Pentney where an Arctic Tern accompanied three Common Tern on the lake. The female Scaup was still present too.
Arriving at Snettisham I walked with Neil Bostok to where the Little Bunting had been showing an hour earlier. Unfortunately the Little Bunting was nowhere to be seen and as I had already seen it on Thursday I went in search of other migrants. There had quite clearly been an arrival of Lesser Whitethroat as there were several singing in various bushes.
At Holme I watched a Whinchat across the fields far too distant to photograph. I scoured the forestry area but there was little moving. I did not see a single bird out on the sea. After watching a Cuckoo from the NOA I walked back along the track where I admired a Grasshopper Warbler reeling from bushes besides the track.
After meeting up with John we failed miserably at Wretham Heath to see any Redstarts. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were singing but considering it was a lovely sunny day there was little else singing. We birded some other areas in The Brecks and had a very brief view of a Garden Warbler after we had heard in singing and a nice view of a Tree Pipit. After John had departed another Tree Pipit flew to another closer tree where I managed to get a photo of it.
Paul and I left home at 7.40pm and drove to Penzance through the night. We had had no news of the Great Blue Heron all day but decided to go anyway.
Paul and I boarded the Scillonian in Penzance harbour early in the morning and arrived at St. Mary's in the Scilly Isles just after 11am. It had been raining as we crossed the sea but just about cleared up as we disembarked along with several other birders. St. Mary's was heaving with people as it was the Bank Holiday Gig races. About 3000 people had descended onto the islands. We are used to there being many birders on the islands but this was very different.
Paul and I made our way to Lower Moors and joined the other birders in the hides, We were relieved to find the Great Blue Heron standing on the other side of the pool. There were smiles all round as there had been no news on Friday.
Great Blue Heron
After enjoying the heron for a while we left to make room for birders just arriving. We headed for Old Town Bay where a Rock Pipit and a Wheatear were perched on the rocks. Out at sea a Manx Shearwater was shearing over the sea. We watched some close Song Thrush on the paths as we made our way to the churchyard before I retraced my steps to have another look at the heron whilst Paul walked over Peninnis Head.
Rock Pipit Northern Wheatear
Gig racers The tug boat pulling out the Scillonian, waiting for the gigs to cross the finish line
Paul and I met in The Atlantic Hotel for a celebratory drink and watched all the gigs coming in from the last race across from St Agnes. It was fascinating to be on St. Mary's at a dufferent time of year than we were used to. All too soon it was time to board the Scillonian back to Penzance but we were thrilled at watching another gig race. The tug boat waited patiently as all the gigs crossed the finish line in front of us.We cheered them on! We were soon out at sea and watched Manx Shearwaters flying alongside the boat. As the rain increased we went back inside and snoozed the rest of the journey back to Penzance before finding some B and B in Hayle where we spent the night.
We drove back to Somerset and found our way back to my old home of birding at Meare Heath NNR. We soon found the throng of birders all looking over the former peat diggings where Black-tailed Godwits were gathered . It took a while to pick out the Hudsonian Godwit amongst all the other godwits. It was asleep with its bill tucked under its wing at the back of the flock. We walked up the path and met up with Phil and Carol where together we admired Common Swift and several Hobby hunting insects. After waiting a while the sun disappeared and a heavy shower drenched most of us, but at least it woke the flock up so that we could see the Hudsonian Godwit feeding.
Black-tailed Godwit with one Hudsonian Godwit! Hudsonian Godwit (front bird!)
Over the car park we watched several more Hobby flying around before starting our long journey back home. It has been a long time since I have had two British ticks in one weekend!
I woke up with a migraine and so did not feel like going far but thought a bit of fresh air might do me good. I drove to Nar Valley Fisheries. Driving beside the first lake I stopped as I heard a Cuckoo calling. It was a shame I was a bit slow with my camera as four Cuckoo flew over the road and over the Poplar plantation together. By the time I got my camera sorted they were too far away. Grrr... I contined on round and parked in one of my usual spots. It was very different to the last time I was here as the bushes were alive with migrants all competing in song. Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat were the dominant species but Blackcap and Garden Warbler were singing too. A Garden Warbler flitted around for me to see as a Cuckoo kept up its calling. Wren were also busy competing against Robin and Blackbird. I stopped and listened but failed to hear the bird I was hoping to see. I walked a bit further and soon heard the distant song of a Nightingale. I quickened my step and soon had a Nightingale close by in the dense bushes. It took a while as this bird was not keen to show itself as it lurked deep inside the brambles. My patience was rewarded as I spotted it over the back of the bushes as it moved around giving its delightful call. The sun had disappeared behind some big black clouds and the Nighingale was certainly not prepared to sit and pose for me today! I walked on seeing more Common Whitethroat and a Grey Heron in the pool by the chalets.
Driving back I stopped to admire a Reed Warbler hopping through the reeds and a Hobby being harassed by a Black-headed Gull. A Sparrowhawk then flew up to investigate the Hobbyas well. By the first lake a Kingfisher darted across the road. I stopped as a Little Egret flew out of the Nar in time to hear another Nightingale singing by one of the fishermen's spots.
I drove to Pentney where there were lots of Common Tern flying over the lake. Two Little Ringed Plovers were standing at the edge amongst more Common Tern. A Great Crested Grebe added to the general scene of Tufted Duck, Mallard and Greylag Geese as well as many Black-headed Gull on the island.
After watching Fulmar at Hunstanton Cliffs and being amazed by the number of Common Swift and Barn Swallow pouring along the cliffs, I started the day at Holme where the wind was much stronger than I had anticipated. The passerines were not keen to show at all as I listened to Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat calling in the bushes. My target bird of Turtle Dove was a non-starter in this howling gale. I battled along to the paddocks and back again before watching two Greenland Wheatear in the forestry area. I looked over to the pools where a flock of Ringed Plover had just flown in. Four Ruff, one in a smart breeding plumage were feeding alongside a couple of Dunlin. A few Black-tailed Godwit were also present. I battled my way back to the car and drove up Chalk Pit lane at Titchwell and joined Chris Mills and Steve Gantlet admiring the Dotterel.
They soon ran down the field nearer to the hedgeline and I joined Chris and Steve watching them as they ran around the field. After taking some photos of them I drove to Titchwell and walked down the main path to the Parrinder hide to get out of the wind. A male Scaup was good to see on the Freshmarsh. Little Terns were skimming the water surface and Common Tern were resting on one of the islands. Two Common Sandpipers walked along the water's edge near the hide. It was odd to see two Sanderling in amongst a few Dunlin and some gorgeous summer plumaged Ruddy Turnstone. I watched Ringed Plover but failed to locate any Little Ringed Plover. A Common Snipe was probing the mud along one of the banks.
I walked down to the sea and watched three Common Scoter and two Eider duck on the sea as well as some spectacular Grey Plover on the tideline. There were many Sandwich Tern battling against the wind heading West. I soon had enough of the sand blowing into my eyes and walked back up the path where a Little Ringed Plover alighted on the nearest island by the path. I was now all too battered by the wind and decided to drive home!
The mega alert on the pager had both Paul and I racing to Burnham Overy where Marcus Nash had found a Citril Finch. We soon parked and walked along the seabank with David Norgate before joining the masses assembled near the North-West corner of Holkham Pines. After a short wait and a false alert flyover by a Siskin we were all looking skyward at a small finch calling over our heads and landing in some brambles in the dunes. It was a tense wait before the bird flew once again and landed on the ground for us all to admire. Phil Ethrington kindly let me look through his scope before I snatched a few photos of the bird which was really too far for my lens capability.
We stopped at Choseley to admire the Dotterel before calling into Flitcham where there was a Yellow-legged Gull in exactly the same spot as last year. A Lesser Black-backed Gull kept it company.
After having a really busy day working in the cafe at Titchwell I called in at Flitcham again where the Yellow-legged Gull was still in the same spot as yesterday.
John Geeson and I made our way to Totternhoe in Bedfordshire where we followed directions to a site for seeing Duke of Burgandy butterflies. After a short false start we eventually found the dis-used chalk quarry we were seeking. The weather was not as good as it could have been and we had to wait awhile for the sun to appear. It was a very windy day. Down in the botton of the gully we eventually found about six Duke of Burgundy Butterflies.
Duke of Burgundy Butterfly
Duke of Burgundy butterfly Bee Fly
Dingy Skipper Snails
Dingy Skippers were also present as was a marvellous show of Tway Blade. I found some of the snails rather attractive too! We met up with a fellow citizen from Norfolk who pointed us in the right direction of the Small Blue butterfly colony but we were a week too early for these. However we enjoyed watching Green Hairstreal whilst listening to Corn Bunting singing. On the walk back I watched an interaction between a Red Kite and a Raven.
During my lunch break at Titchwell I walked down the main path to the Parinder hide to watch a Little Gull sitting on one of the small islands.
A brief walk down the West Bank path before work failed to find me the reported Temminck's Stint. However by lunch time Dave Hawkins had one all lined up in his scope for me, so once again I managed to get from the Visitor Centre to the Parinder hide to view the elusive Temminck's Stint in eight minutes. I shall be fit after all the walking in the last few days! Four Little Gulls were on the Freshmarsh as I walked back and I also had a lovely view of a Short-eared Owl hunting over Thornham Marsh.
Grey Wagtail Dartford Warbler
After calling in to Sculthorpe Mill to watch Grey Wagtails I headed up to the East bank at Cley where after a few minutes wait the Wood Sandpiper showed well along with an Avocet on The Serpentine. as it was very windy I left and went to Kelling Heath where it was not as sheltered as I would have liked but a Dartford Warbler called in one of the gorse bushes. It took me some time before I managed a photograph!
My new bridge camera arrived today. Now how does this one work? Oh good there is a baby Pied Wagtail on my lawn that I can try it on. Open my lounge window and press the shutter!
Pied Wagtail newly fledged
It was good to see a Red-necked Phalarope at Titchwell today as it was a brightly coloured Spring-plumaged female bird. Little Gulls, Little Terns and Avocets also added to the scene in the evening.
John Geeson picked me up and drove to Chambers Wood Farm near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. We followed the footpath through the wood and out into a small meadow that is managed for Marsh Fritillary butterflies. It took a short amount of searching as butterrflies like the sun and we had intermittent sun and cloud. However after a while and more people arriving we soon had a few specimens to look at. Taking photos of insects is always difficult as amazing amounts of grass stalks get in the way. I also have a new bridge camera which I am not familiar with yet!
Chambers Wood Farm meadow Marsh Fritillary on my finger!
Marsh Fritillary female (egg bound) Marsh Fritillary male
The meadow had plenty of Devil's bit Scabious food plants as we searched. We saw a few males in flight but the females were egg-bound and were reluctant to take off. we also saw a couple of Dingy Skipper here too.
Marsh Fritillary underside Dingy Skipper
After a wonderful lunch kindly provided by John's sister we made our way to Frampton RSPB and walked along a hedgeline where we watched a Turtle Dove and then a Garganey on a flooded wetland. Black-tailed Godwits were also present. We wandered along the seawall where we admired Little Ringed Plover, Redshank and Avocet before the pager alerted us to a Black Stork over Hunstanton. It was a shame that it decided to stop in Norfolk and not fly over The Wash.
After dropping my daughter and boyfriend off in Sheringham, I was allowed an hour to quickly pop along to West Runton to see the Icterine Warbler that was singing in the Hedge near the caravan park.
I returned to Sheringham to pick up Kathryn and Chris and we walked along East Bank at Cley where a Spoonbill posed well. It is not often that they are close enough to photograph.
A short after work walk at Titchwell in the grey skies had me watching two Curlew Sandpiper out on the Freshmarsh. Sadly they were too distant for a photograph.
I drove over to the Hills and Holes Nature Reserve at Barnack, Lincolnshire, where after a bit of serching for some help I located some Man Orchids. The signs said that the reserve also had a colony of Pasque flowers that bloomed in April. As it has been such a cold Spring I was hopeful I could find some still flowering, and I did! I had taken my new camera with me and was going to try it out until I discovered that I had left the memory card in my laptop at home Grrrr.. So these photos have been taken on my phone camera! A Red Kite flew over the reserve as I was wandering around.
Man Orchid Pasque Flower
It was a beautiful day and so after work I went for a walk along the beach at Holme where I watched several Sanderling running along the tide line. Except for a few fishermen I had the beach and birds all to myself. I took my new bridge camera with me so that I could try it out. I was quite pleased with the results of the trial, given that the Sanderling were running so fast along the tideline and didn't allow for close approach.
Starting in Swaffham churchyard it didn't take me long to find a Spotted Flycatcher as it dashed around the headstones along with a Robin. Eventually it flew up into a nearby tree and allowed me to take a few photos of it with my new camera.
From here I drove to the Rex Graham Reserve not far from the Barton Mills roundabout where there is an extension that is open all year to see the Military Orchids.
The Rex Graham Reserve
I drove to Wretham Heath where once again I dipped on Common Redstart. Has anyone seen them here this year? I then went to Lakenheath missing the Little Bittern by 5 minutes. I did see two Hobbies though and enjoyed Pete Gluth's tales of his birding trips.
Needing to do something in the good weather with very few birds around I drove to Hoe Rough where I soon located a small colony of Green-winged Orchids. They were past their best but one or two spikes were still in reasonable condition.
I followed the footpath across the heath and then followed the river back whereupon I saw a Painted Lady Butterfly. I suspect there is an invasion of them this year.
Paul and I started at Holme where it took us sometime before a Lesser Whitethroat gave itself up to Paul for his year tick. We stopped at Blakeney where we failed to find any Bee Orchids but we did enjoy a crab sandwich in the garden at the Kings Arms sitting in the warm sun. Later at Cley we watched a Greenshank on Simmond's Scrape.
John Barrett called in to Titchwell and said he had heard a possible Marsh Warblet at Narborough. I contacted a couple of friends living nearby who said they would investigate!
Investigation by Ashley Banwell had me scurrying after altering my plans for the day to Narborough where there was indeed a Marsh Warbler singing. Ashley, Carl and myself listened to it singing a variety of song including Blackbird, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Sedge Warbler and Woodlark. Ashley and myself were certainly challenged trying to take photos but Ashley managed some good ones showing the primaries and has recorded some song too. Well done John Barrett for finding it!
I had the day off and drove down to Pagham Harbour where a Hudsonian Whimbrel had been identified.Unfortunately the car park at Church Norton had been roped off for a wedding and so I parked at the Visitor Centre at Pagham harbour. I walked along the footpath and up onto the bank alongside the harbour and joined the assembled crowd that had been watching it for a brief few moments ten minutes before I arrived. After half an hour Mark Thomas suggested we investigate a few distant Whimbrel the other side of the channel. Just as well he did, as although they were the European variety it did mean we investigated another closer bird that turned out to be the Hudsonian Whimbrel. We were treated to flight views so that we could see the dark rump as well as underwing views. We all watched for a while before a few rain spots suggested it might be a good time to leave.
Early in the week it was looking possible that Paul and I could 'twitch' Bardsey Island, North Wales for the Cretzschmar's Bunting if I could keep my finger on the pulse as to making arrangements for getting a place on the boat for Saturday. By Wednesday I rang Lee evans who secured a place on boat 2 leaving Porth Meudwy at 6.30am to travel across with Colin the boatman to Bardsay Island. Paul and I left home as soon as possible after work and had a tortuous journey, detouring around several night-time closures for road repairs arriving at Porth Meudwy at around 2.45am. We parked along with several other sleep-deprived twitchers and snoozed until it was our turn to board the boat at 6.30am. We climbed up the ladder and the tractor pushed us into the sea. En route we watched Manx Shearwater, Puffin, Gannet, Razorbill and Guillemot all busy flying back and forth to the island after feeding in the sea. After 25 minutes we arrived on Bardsey where because of low tide Colin had a tough time getting us out of the water and up onto the slipway.
Colin had had a busy week ferrying birders 12 at a time across for the 3 hour stay on the island. We were lucky though as we had been allotted a 6 hour stay as it was turn around day for the visitors in the observatory. We were met by the observatory staff who explained the routine and walked up to the lighthouse where silence was being observed by the birders. We had a tense hour's wait watching House Martins building nests and Linnets feeding on the food put down by the observatory staff. All of a sudden the Cretzschmar's Bunting landed on the wall and then flew down to the ground and fed amongst the Thrift before popping up onto the concrete pads where we could all see it.
Light conditions were poor and I had to put the ISO up, so I knew my shots would be grainy. The bird was also too distant for my 400mm lens. Although the Thrift were very pretty they did obscure the bird as it fed amongst the flowers and pulled the camera out of focus as I tried desperately to get a photo. The bird was very wary and did not stay long before flying off. The early boats were asked to leave to give later arriving boatloads a chance to see the bird and so Paul and I went for a walk to the other end of the island after having a cup of tea and coffee at the small cafe. A family of Wheatear had just fledged on the beach and Linnet and Meadow Pipit were everywhere.
Colin's boat being pulled up the slipway by tractor. Me at the cafe (lighthouse in the distance where the Cretzschmar's Bunting was being fed)
Northern Wheatear (juv) Meadow Pipit
Paul and I admired a Chough on the cliff edge as we walked to the other end of the island to admire, Razorbill, Puffin and Guillemot. We failed to find the Black Guillemot that had been seen by the obsevatory staff. We were just commenting on the sun's arrival whereupon the heavens opened and we got drenched! Now saturated, we made our way to the observatory to dry out a bit. Back at the quayside we returned to Porth Meudwy where after being alerted to a Geater Butterfly Orchid somehere up the trackwayI kept my eyes opened. In such a lot of vegetation and a long trackway I thought I did well to locate it!
Greater Butterfly Orchid
We had a tortuous journey home, being diverted several times because of road accidents but I would like to thank Lee Evans, Colin Evans and the observatory staff for making such a wonderful 'twitch go well. We had a very enjoyable day out.
I aimed to spend the day at Strumpshaw Fen but a migraine meant that I had a later start than I had planned. I stopped off en-route to admire a Lizard Orchid.
Once I arrived at Strumpshaw the sun had disappeared and I was to be disappointed in my search for Swallowtail Butterflies. I tried all the usual spots but no-one that I spoke to had seen any that day. I admired a Common Lizard resting on one of the boardwalks.
I went to the meadow and looked along the ditches. Here I found a few Norfolk Hawkers.
It looked like being the hottest day of the year as I set off towards Oundle in Northamptonshire. My thermometer in the car soon reached 35 degrees. It was sweltering as I reached Glapthorn Cow Pastures. I was less than sure where to go but luckily met someone who pointed me in the right direction. However I had too many options and it would seem at first as though I had chosen the wrong ride in the wood. Luck was on my side as I soon saw a Black Hairstreak. This small butterfly was a new one for me but I failed miserably in my efforts to take a photograph as the hot weather was making it far too quick for my camera (or my abilities!) Another ride produced another Black Hairstreak, perched this time but my camera refused to focus on it. Grrr
Large Skippers were in abundance and I also saw Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Brimstone, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood butterflies. After several hours of trying to see another Black Hairstreak that I could photograph I gave up and retreated to some air conditioning in the car. I drove to the Hills and Holes reserve at Barnack where Pyramidal Orchids were in profusion. A Marbled White Butterfly flew into some bramble making it difficult for me with my short skirt on as I had nettes to negotiate underfoot!
Marbled White Butterfly
Pyramidal Orchid Pyramidal Orchid (white form)
I had come in search of Frog Orchid and luckily the last time I had come I had someone tell me the area where to start my search, I certainly needed this help! Orchids were everywhere . This really is a special site. It took me a while but I managed eventually to find two spikes. They were not fully open but I had also wanted to see Fragrant Orchid before they finished and so had timed it to see them as well.
At lunch -time at Titchwell I joined Tony at the side of the small pool on East Trail and he kindly let me use his lens on my camera to take a photo of a Red-veined Darter that Paul Eele had found a few days earlier frequenting it.
It was hot once again as I set off for Holme but luckily there was a breeze blowing. I admired the many Spotted Orchids in the dune slacks as I made my way along the grassy pathway through the reserve.
Common Spotted Orchids
After asking Gary where I could find the Bee Orchids I walked back along the pathway I had just come along and soon located 2 spikes. One was already long dead and the other was on to its last floret.
Paul and I drove down to Lynn Point where there was a breeze blowing on a warm sunny day. The long grass was alive with Small Skipper butterflies as well as MeadowBrown butterflies. A lone Small Tortoiseshell visited some brambles nearby. On the river's edge 5 Common Sandpiper revealed themselves as the tide came in emerging from the Babingley rivermouth. Several Little Egret flew around as we admired a Marsh Harrier flying near the seabank.
The inclement weather kept Paul and I at home in the morning but in the afternoon we strolled up the East Bank at Cley. Greylag Geese were fighting as we watched Ruff feeding, moulting out of their summer plumage. From Daukes Hide we admired 3 Ruddy Shelduck and 11 Spoonbill.
Greylag Geese Ruff
Spoonbill Ruddy Shelduck
Paul and I went for a walk along the old railwayline at Roydon in the search for White Admiral butterflies. We managed to see two but they were impossible to photograph. Gatekeeper and Red Admiral butterflies were on the wing as were Small Skippers. We found a few Southern Marsh Orchids too.
John Geeson came over to us and along with Paul we wandered over to Sandringham where we watched a single Nightjar flying around. John set up the moth trap in our back garden but it was rather chilly and not very warm.
Poplar Hawk Moth Privet Hawk Moth
After taking out the egg boxes from the moth trap we admired a Poplar Hawk Moth, Privet Hawk Moth and a Hornet. We had many common species which Paul and I enjoyed seeing once again.
I walked down to Snettisham pits where I joined many other birders in the second (Shore) hide. The islands were covered in waders, mainly Redshank, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin. I had heard that the birders had waited a long time for the Broad-billed Sandpiper to emerge from all the other waders but I was in luck as it was stood right at the front edge by a Redshank. Now and again the waders would shuffle around and completely obscure the bird but I arrived just at the moment in was in full view. It would have needed a very long lens to get a photograph! There were many Common Tern flying around. I did not stay long as other newly-arrived birders needed the space. Thanks to Mark and Tracy for the lift back!
Paul and I walked Lynn Point where three Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and a Greenshank were lurking in the River Babingley. Two juvenile Grey Heron also flew out. There is a heronry not far away and two juvenile grey Heron could be seen sitting in the teees waiting to be fed no doubt! Three Little Egret could also be seen in the trees. Back at the point near the small carpark we counted a dozen Common Sandpiper as the tide came in. A Barn Owl flew quartering the far bank.
A quick run down the West bank Path during my lunch-break at Titchwell had me admiring the large count of Avocet. Over 600 birds have been counted. Black-tailed Godwit, most still in Summer plumage are a wonderful sight to see with Red Knot, Dunlin and two Little Stint.
Chalkhill Blue Six-spot Burnet
In the afternoon I made my way across to Warham Camp where Phil, Carole and I enjoyed some sun watching many Chalkhill Blue Butterflies. We also noted Meadow Brown, Small Copper Large White and Brimstone butterflies. Six-spot Burnet Moths also enjoyed the Field Scabious. After Phil and Carole had left I drove to Abbot's Farm Binham where I pulled up on the verge. I lowered the window and listened to the Quail calling nearby in the stubble. As it was obviously close by I decided to get my camera out. However I was caught out as the bird flew almost immediately before I had a chance to look at the settings. It flew straight across the road and over the hedge and into a field of wheat that had still not been harvested.
After watching two Montagu's Harriers Paul and I drove to Titchwell where the Freshmarsh looked stunning covered in waders. Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit were in profusion. They were joined by a Wood Sandpiper , two Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover as well as many juvenile Pied Wagtails flitting around. Six Spoonbill were partly hidden behind the brickwork and I was assured there were more. Later we listened to the Quail and Binham again but did not see it.
As I drove down the hill from Choseley barns I saw one of the smallest juvenile Marsh Harriers I have ever seen inflight. Nearer the road there was a much bigger Marsh Harrier quartering the fields.
I walked down to Snettisham pits to admire the high tide roost. There were thousands of Knot and Oystercatcher on the pits. I also counted ninety-nine Little Tern. I have never seen this many here before. It is possibly a reserve record.
Oystercatcher and Knot roosting with Little Tern on the spit behind Oystercatcher and Knot leaving the roost and flying out to The Wash
A chance opportunity arose as Paul and I headed down to Hampshire for a wedding. As the event was not until the evening I left Paul with his mum and headed on down to Alners Gorse in Dorset where after a bit of finding I parked up on a verge and joined several other enthusiasts on a beautiful summer's day seeking Brown Hairstreak, a species that I have never seen before. I was not to be disappointed as within 5 minutes of arriving and only 100m down the track on the left hand side were two Brown Hairsteak butterflies. Feeling rather thirsty in the heat I returned to the car for a drink passing a White-letter Hairstreak on my way feeding high up in the canopy by the gate. I only had a limited amount of time which was a shame as I wandered around the reserve admiring Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Silver-washed Fritillaries. I didn't have time to seek out Purple Hairstreaks that others had seen. It was such a lovely reserve and it was such a beautiful day that I didn't want to leave!
John Geeson and I headed down to the Chilterns to look at some butterflies and Orchids. The weather forecast had been good but there was not as much sun as we had been promised. In Oxfordshire we took some time to find Narrow-lipped Helleborine and Violet Helleborine. Under the Beech trees it was very dark and made photography very difficult.
Narrow-lipped Helleborine Narrow-lipped Helleborine
We drove onto Aston Rowant right beside the M40 where Silver-spotted Skipper was the target species. As we left the carpark we walked down the track and found ourselves at the bottom of a grassy field right beside the M40. We disturbed a Kestrel sitting on a post as we approached the slope where we were to search. Chalkhill Blues were commonplace but we soon located a few Silver-spotted Skippers as well as Meadow Brown, Brown Argus, Essex Skipper and Common Blue Butterflies.
Aston Rowant Silver-spotted Skipper
Meadow Brown Common Blue
Chalkhill Blue Chalkhill Blue (f)
Essex Skipper Kestrel
Our next site was Yoesden Bank where we joined another couple and searched for Small Blue Butterflies. It took a while before the other gentleman called us across to where he had spotted one. It was difficult to follow but we did managed a few photos of it. We also saw Holly Blue, Gatekeeper and Green-veined White Butterfly here.
Yoesden Ban Small Blue Butterfly
Green-veined White Butterfly
After Paul returned from work we drove to a Heathrow airport hotel where we spent the night.
We boarded a plane that flew to Frankfurt and then to Bogata. We are to spend three weeks birding in Colombia. I am sure it will be fabulous! As this trip is to be full-on I will have no time to upload photos etc so I will do my best when I return to catch up.
After a long flight and a night in a Bogata hotel we were up at 4.15am and drove to Chingaza National Park where we had a guide for the day. We were up in The Andes and enjoyed wonderful scenery. As I will be writing a more thorough trip report which I will eventually post on my trip reports page I shall just put up one photo per day for my diary. The star bird of the day was a Green-bearded Helmetcrest which gave very good views.
Up at 4.15am and we birded La Florida Park just outside Bogata where we enjoyed the many delights of the marsh. After this we drove to a hummingbird garden (Jardin Encantado) where hummingbirds were everywhere on the feeders.
We drove onto La Victoria where we stayed the night. Several of us became ill and did not have a very good night!
After birding at La Victoria we drove for a couple of hours before birding in very hot weather alongside a river at Laguna del Hato. We had a nice mix of birds including a very photogenic Barred Puffbird.
We birded the town above Libano where we watched a Streak-headed Woodcreeper catch a Lizard before taking ot up the tee for breakfast. It was fascinating to watch.We then had a long drive to Manizales in the central Andes before birding at 11 500 feet high.
Streak-headed Woodcreeper and lizard!
We drove to the Rio Blanco Reserve where the star bird was a Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. We also saw Brown-banded Antpitta and Slate-crowned Antpitta.
We were up at 4.15am to drive to 13 300 feet high up in The Andes to Nevado del Ruiz. We watched a volcano erupt and when I process my photos from my other camera I will upload a photo. I suffered very badly with altitude sickness and was taken to a hotel where a construction worker knew how to treat it. After some amazing manipulation on pressure points on my hands making me feel very faint for a while, I soon recovered and managed to keep birding. we watched many hummingbirds on the hotel's feeders.
We were up at 5am for a walk around the trail at Otun Quimbaya where I saw Cauca Guan that I had missed yesterday evening. Most of the day was spent travelling over the Western Andes where there was a lot of road construction to negotiate. After eight hours we eventually arrived at Las Tangares where once again we watched hummingbirds before retiring to bed.
We were taken in a jeep up a track and then treked up a steep trail to the top of a ridge. Unfortunately our target bird decided not to appear! After some lunch we descended and were taken to some hummingbird feeders where unfortunately the cloud had descended making photography impossible.
We birded the garden by the lodge and river but no ant-tanager arrived so our birding at the top of the track was a bit slow by the time we arrived. However we added a few more ticks and set off for Jardin. After 4 hours we arrived at an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek. They are one of my favourite birds from childhood (who remembers the Brooke Bond tea cards???)
Andean Cock of the Rock
After a 4am start we watched dawn appear above Jardin in the Western Andes and saw Yellow-eared Parrots fly out of their roost. A local lady took us to a spot where she had been feeding a Rufous Antpitta. It took some time but we soon had close views of a bird as it hopped in and took a worm that her son had dug from her garden.
After a bit of birding above Bolombolo we drove all day to reach the Chestnut-capped Piha reserve where an Andean Emerald was waiting for us on the hummingbird feeders.
At the Chestnut-capped Piha reserve we had a long day walking a steep trail for 13 hours. We were ceratinly glad of the rest at the top of the ridge!
Paul and I having a well-earned rest!
We spent the morning birding the trail at the Chestnut-capped Piha reserve before making our way back down the track to the main road. We then had a 4 hour drive to Medellin.
We birded above Medellin for a few hours before making our way to the airport for our flight to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. Here it was very hot and dry and I certainly enjoyed a swim in the warm sea!
Today we visited an excellent marshy trackway in Isla de Salamanca in searing heat where the birding was excellent. However the mosquitoes found us very tasty and Paul had to retreat back to the bus!
After lunch we transfered to a 4x4 vehicle for an extremely bumpy ride to El Dorado (a Proaves reserve)
Santa Marta Parakeet Green Violetear
Up at 4am and we rode in the jeeps up the steep bumpy track at El Dorado to the top of the mountain where we watched the Santa Marta Parakeets leave their roost. It was very birdy and we enjoyed several Santa Marta endemics. Rain virtually washed out the afternoon but I rescued a Green Violetear merrily bashing itself against a window in the lounge after it had come inside to shelter!
Up at 5am and we make the most of birding down the track and a trail. Two different antpittas were on offer but sadly we only saw one of them. I develop a migraine and return to the lodge at lunchtime. I spent the afternoon chilling out at the lodge taking photographs. In the dark we watched a Kinkajou!
We said goodbye to El Dorado and birded down the track as we went finishing at some more hummingbird feeders. We then had to drive to Riohacha.
Our time nearly at an end in Colombia we spent the morning birding the Guajira peninsular before making our way back to the airport for our flight back to Bogota and our overnight flight back to London
Paul and I are helping my daughter Kathryn move house to Islip near Oxford. Paul is busy rewiring it whilst I sort out the garden getting Red Kite on her garden list! What a bird to start her garden list off with!
Working in the car park at Titchwell I spot a Marsh Tit near the recruiting hut. After 25 years of birding here this is a specises that I have never seen here before! A Titchwell tick!
At lunchtime I ran out to the Fen Trail at Titchwell and watched the Yellow-browed Warbler feeding along with 2 Goldcrests. My thanks to Richard who radioed it in to the centre!
A late afternoon walk on Roydon Common produced a Woodlark singing above my head as though it was the first day of Spring! I enjoyed watching two pairs of Stonechats, one of the males had a pale blue ring on the right leg and a yellow ring on the left leg. A Mistle Thrush flew over as a Kestrel hunted around the heather and gorse bushes. Six Meadow Pipits flew over as I made my way back to the car park.
Working in the car park at Titchwell I saw the Yellow-browed Warbler several times and was joined by visitors who were delighted to see it too.
As I had been in Oxford all weekend helping my daughter in her new house I had not seen all the rarities that Norfolk was offering, so I started my day at Beeston Common where the Isabelline Shrike was on show. It was not keen to be photographed either being fairly distant or hidden in brambles!
Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike
I did not stay long as I was keen to do some sea-watching as I have not done any this year, having been in Colombia for the sea-watching season. I joined Richard Millington and Tony Prater at Cley and saw Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater and a distant Puffin. There were lots of auks and Gannets passing too. We hit a bit of a lull and I decided to leave and go to Holkham. I walked along the track and joined Andy Bloomfield. We stood where the Red-flanked Bluetail had been seen well yesterday and soon have several views of it. A Robin kept chasing it around. However the vegetation meant I did not get a chance of a photograph. Andy and I watched aYellow-browed Warbler as we waited. I left and admired the many Godcrests that had arrived overnight and listened to Ben Lewis as he recounted his recent visit to Fetlar.
I have this week off from work as holiday but getting out of bed the muscles in my back gave way again, so I had an enforced day not being able to get out to enjoy the rarities on the coastline. I had avoided the weekend birding as I knew the crowds in Holkham/Wells would be horrendous and caught up with the chores. Now I was forced to sit and so have finally finished the first draft of my trip report to Colombia. It can be viewed at: http://www.freewebs.com/suebryan/colombia2015.htm
Although in pain I wanted to get mobile and so managed a short walk down the lane towards Congham village. I turned down the old railway line where I watched a big flock of Winter thrushes feeding in stubble. They were mainly Fieldfare and Redwing but there were a few Mistle Thrushes too. By the time I returned only a few were left. I noted that the local farmers were ploughing the sugarbeet tops in already. I don't know what the geese are going to feed on this year.
I stopped at Choseley drying barns on my way to work this morning and watched a Black Redstart from the public footpath on top of the 3rd drying barn. Whilst in the car park at Titchwell several groups of Redwing flew over. A Brambling called from one of the treetops too.
Paul and I started at Choseley Barns where we failed to see the Black Redstart that had been present all week.
Water Pipit Greenshank
Black-headed Gull Common Gull
We drove onto Titchwell and admired the Water Pipit that was feeding on the channel edge of Thornham Pool. A little further down the path we could just make the head out of the Jack Snipe by the side of a Common Snipe, Lapwing and Redshank. The Freshmarsh was heaving with birds, mainly duck. Teal were in abundance but Wigeon, Pintail, Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck were present too. The excitement on the marsh was due to the 17 Bewick's Swan and 4 Whooper Swan that were stopping by on their migration to Welney. Paul and I continued on down the path to the beach where we spied a lone Long-tailed Duck amongst the hundreds of Wigeon present. Great-crested Grebes were also out at sea whilst the usual beach-dwellers picked over the rocks. Oystercatcher, Sanderling, Dunlin,Grey Plover and Curlew were all present.
Bewick's Swan Curlew
We made our way back up the path and drove back up to Choseley. Here we watched two Marsh Harriers, one ringtail Hen Harrier and a Rough-legged Buzzard all hunting over the fields. The Red-legged Partridge and Woodpigeon were not pleased, neither were the Skylark. Later at Flitcham we enjoyed three Barn Owls quartering the rough grass in the field.
Hen Harrier Pink-footed Geese
Whilst I was at work at Titchwell I admired the Rough-legged Buzzard sat in the hedge on Thornham Marsh.
Crag Martin Crag Martin as it whizzes by the crooked spire of the church
After waiting for Paul's train to arrive from his night-shift in London, I drove to Chesterfield later than expected as Paul had phoned to say that he had been tipped off the train at Downham Market and would have to wait for the next train to King's Lynn as his train had got behind time and was being sent back to London!!!! Grrr
Hours later as I was driving towards the town centre of Chesterfield we could see the crooked spire of the church and as we got close I spied the Crag Martin whizzing around it. It took a while to park the car, having got caught up in the one-way system but we were soon admiring the Crag Martin along with all the bemused shoppers and birders. The Crag Martin was whizzing around so fast I have many photos of empty sky!
After a strong northerly blow yesterday I felt sure that there must be a few lingering Little Auks to be seen on the coastline so Paul and I headed up to Cley. As soon as we arrived the pager announced that there was a Waxwing to be seen at Salthouse. We drove up to the village hall and walked through the churchyard and across the small football pitch to overlook Purdey Street. It has a good vista up here. I could hear a Waxwing calling but could not see it. All of a sudden it flew out from the tree beside me and flew right over Paul's head who was stood in the street. Luckily he had heard it too and also managed to see it in flight.
We returned to Cley beach just in time to have a little Auk fly from the sea and over the Eye Field before returning back to the sea. Down at Salthouse Dave Holman and I watched another Little Auk fly off the sea and inland.
The forecast for later on in the day was not good and so just after 7am I was to be found heading down to the southern end of Snettisham pits where I had the unfortunate view of 4 wildfowlers blasting away at birds that had roosted on the saltmarsh overnight. Luckily I did not see one bird lose its life. A Marsh Harrier came up from the marsh and flew around. Several Little Egret flew and skeins of Pink-footed Geese left for a day's foraging in the Norfolk fields. After a bit of a wait I spotted what I had come to see. A juvenile Pallid Harrier was flying over near the bank. It went down again a few times before flying over the bank and out of sight. It started to rain and I took shelter in the newly built temporary hide. A Redshank objected to my presence and flew away. I could see black clouds heading my way and decided to head back to my car.
John Geeson arrived and together we walked up to Thornham Point where we had views of a small party of Twite as well as Skylark and Greenfinch. Goldfinch twittered in the bushes and we watched a Peregrine land out on the beach. It was a beautiful day but we failed to find any Shorelark. After a pub lunch we walked to the southern end of Snettisham Pits where after watching a male Hen Harrier and two Marsh Harriers we had good views of the Pallid Harrier.
Common Crossbill Kestrel
Paul and I visited Lynford Arboretum where we watched a couple of Common Crossbill and Siskin in the Larch trees. Down in the paddocks a Kestrel landed near me as I scanned for Hawfinch without success.