Happy New Year!
Paul and I woke up before dawn in Selva Verde lodge in La Selva, Costa Rica. After a cup of tea we walked to the footbridge over the river to see the Snowy Cotinga that had roosted overnight. What a start to the yearlist! It was still too dark for any photos and so we left it in peace.
Unfortunately the day looked a bit threatening as we headed out driving to Vergen del Socorro and we soon had to abandon the birding as the rain hammered down. We took shelter in a cafe and enjoyed some hummingbirds instead as we ate our packed breakfasts. An Emerald Toucanet provided some colour. I shall be uploading a trip report to my website and so will keep this brief.
Having arrived back in England, my British yearlist had not started. I was aware that many birders were scurrying around Norfolk adding to their lists. Whilst working at Titchwell my list rose to the dizzy heights of 19 for the day. I was pleased with a small flock of Siskin in the car park but they didn't quite compare to the wonderful hummingbirds of a couple of days ago!
I wandered down to Flitcham for a while with Paul and watched a Barn Owl, a few Whooper Swan, a flock of Linnet, a few Brambling and a Common Buzzard. The Pallid Harrier was nowhere to be seen.
I drove down Chalkpit lane on my way to work to watch the two Rough-legged Buzzards in the hedgeline. They accompanied a Common Buzzard.
At lunch-time at Titchwell I wandered down the main path to see the Water Pipit on Thornham Pool. There were quite a few Rock Pipit present too.
I got up before dawn and drove to Flitcham to watch the Pallid Harrier come out from its roost in the stubble field at Flitcham near the poly tunnels. A Hen Harrier caused some excitement as birders weren't too sure of its identification.
I drove to King's Lynn to see 3 Peregrines on the white silo in the docks.
Paul and I started the day at Boughton Fen as we were taking part in the NarVOS birdrace. Cetti's Warblers and a Little Owl were calling along with many common species. A Marsh Harrier came out of roost as we listened to a Water Rail as we searched for birds adding to our day list. At Pentney we came across an egret and it took only a second to realise that it was a Cattle Egret. I was annoyed that because we were on a birdrace I did not have a camera with me and so could only take a photo with my phone! However it was a nice find for the day. We alerted a few NarVOS birders and the pager before carrying on with our race. A Peregrine at Wormegay High Bridge was good to see as were 200+ Brambling sitting on telegraph wires. Common birds came thick and fast as we ended the day at Roydon where a Hen Harrier and a Stonechat made a pleasant finish.
Cattle Egret at Pentney
We came first in the birdrace with 90 species, not bad considering that there is no coastline in the NarVOS area with the exception of Lynn Point, which let us down badly on the wader-front!
As I arrived home at dusk a Little Owl was calling from a tree viewable from my back door.
Simon and I watched a Lesser Redpoll from the back door of the Visitor Centre at Titchwell.
Paul and I drove to Thornham and watched 28 Twite along Thornham seawall. A Short-eared Owl flew over the marshes. A Red Kite flew over the car at Brancaster Staithe. At Holkham we saw White-fronted Geese amongst the Wigeon, Shoveler and Pink-footed Geese at the back of the pools looking from the main road. At Wells there were two Scaup on the boating lake.
Paul and I drove to Downham Market and parked in Bennet Road where we walked to the rough ground near the railway line where a Serin was busy feeding. An excellent find by Ben Rackstraw who lives nearby. After this we drove to Stow Bridge to watch 5 Goosander on the relief channel.Goosander
A really sad event was happening around the coastline of the North Sea. A pod of male Sperm Whales had entered the North Sea instead of going into the Atalantic Ocean when travelling south from the Arctic. The North Sea is very shallow and does not support enough food for these magnificent beasts. We still do not know why the whales go off course and enter the shallow waters of the North Sea. Over a period of a few days the Sperm Whales started to strand themselves on various European beaches. I went to see one of the two whales that stranded at Hunstanton. On my route along the beach I admired Turnstone, Oystercatcher and Fulmar.
Sperm Whale after suffering the indignity of having its lower jaw sawn off Fulmar
Paul and I drove to Tottenhill where there was a distinct lack of duck compared to most winters. A few Tufted Duck, Goldeneye,Coot and Greylag Geese were all that were to be seen as we arrived. We were soon joined by Alan Tate who helped us san the lake. Eventually the Black-necked Grebe came out from the nearside edge where we could see it well. Just before we left a Kingfisher flew across and landed in one of the opposite trees. A Treecreeper proceeded up a tree above us as we made our way back to the car. Paul and I motored on to the little lane (Paws Lane) by Bilney Church where two Green Sandpiper were on a flooded bare field about 1/2 mile from the church. Later at Nar Valley Fisheries we watched a Great White Egret standing next to two Little Egret.
Late in the afternoon Lee Evans rang me and asked about the harrier roost at Roydon so Paul and I met up with him by the gate where we often watch from. Lee quickly picked out a Hen Harrier coming into roost that was joined by the Pallid Harrier. The Pallid Harrier caught something but lost out to a Hen Harrier that had a bit of a tussle with it. By the end of the roost we had seen at least four Hen Hariers.
After work I made a quick dash to Brancaster Staithe where in the last half an hour of daylight I watched the Red-necked Grebe in the channel. It was blowing a 'hooley' and so I got back in the car rather quickly. A few Sanderling were running around on the shoreline and a Bar-tailed Godwit was making the most of the bare mud as it fed. A Curlew was in the smaller channel as I left.
Paul and I took a walk by the Tail Sluice at King's Lynn. Three Bullfinches were in the hedgeline along with a couple of Blue Tit and a Blackbird. A few Chaffinch flew over. On the river we watched a few wigeon and three Cormorants. Back by the road there was a Little Egret in one of the ditches.
Paul and I started the day at Chalk Pit Lane, Titchwell where the Rough-legged Buzzard decided not to show itself in the pouring rain. A Barn Owl perched sheltering under some branches as the wind howled. Down at Brancaster Staithe the Red-necked Grebe was still in the channel but I had forgottem my camera so no photos were taken of it. Along at Wells it only took a few seconds to locate the Shag sitting on the end of the pontoon before it dived into the murky waters and disappeared!
We searched for the Black Redstart that had been at the boating pool along the promenade but failed to see it. The wind was still howling as we walked along the seafront seaching for the Purple Sandpipers. We took refuge in the Funky Mackeral Cafe and warmed ourselves up with a couple of drinks whilst the tide came in admiring all the Turnstone flying around. Two Red-throated Diver flew out at sea but little else of note went by. After half an hour we braved the weather and watched 2 Purple Sandpipers on the rocks below. At Cley we walked to the new Babcock hide where I year-ticked Pintail.
A Chiffchaff was along the path to the Visitor Centre as I made my way into work.
Paul and I met up with John Geeson in the Brecks and watched a male and female Goshawk. Two Common Buzzard sat in a far-off tree. Paul and I then made our way to Holkham Park lake where Carl Chapman kindly had the Ferruginous Duck located for us along with a couple of Scaup. paul picked out a Mediterranean Gull sitting on the water. As we walked back to the carpark we were sad at how few birds were in the trees in the park given what a beautiful day it was. Where are they all?
At Blakeney we walked along the seawall. A Pair of Stonechat added some colour to the afternoon as we walked along admiring feed ing Dunlin.
We watched a group of Skylark and eight Twitebefore heading back and watching a Barn Owl quartering the Freshes.
We heard a Whimbrel call but in the low elevation of the sun could not locate it above our heads. This must be a very early record!
We finished the day at Stiffkey where I watched a perched Merlin and showed it to others who were delighted to see it. Two Marsh Harriers and a ringtail Hen Harrier came into roost not long before the sun finally set on the day.
Driving down to Sussex for the first visit to see my newly-born Grandson and to attend my Granddaughter's second birthday party, I stopped at Southery to see a few Bewick's Swan feeding in the fields.
I started the day at Flitcham where Tree Sparrows were sat in a bush by the cowbarn. I then drove to Houghton to search for a Nuthatch which I duly found. A Marsh Tit was feeding amongst a few Great Tit as a party of Long-tailed Tits flew above me in the trees. A Trecreeper also called nearby.
Tree Sparrow Nuthatch
Treecreeper Marsh Tit
As Paul was at work I decided to get up early and make my way to Blakeney for a third attempt at seeing the Lapland Buntings. I waited along with a few others admiring the Twite, Rock Pipit, Reed Bunting and Skylark but the Lapland Bunting had disappeared into the longer grass. After two hours we had a brief view of one perched on a bush before all of a sudden 8 Lapland Bunting took to the air and flew around. Luckily two birds landed back down so that we could admire them with the others disappearing once again into the long grass. I then walked back along the bank to take a look at the oiled Red-throated Diver trying to preen the oil out of its feathers on one of the pools at the side of the bank. It was a sorry sight to see it ingesting the oil.
I ate my lunch over-looking the Burnham Overy dunes where Brent Geese were flying over along with many Lapwing. A few Curlew flew over the marshes too. I set off down the track and joined the seabank meeting Steve Beal who told me exactly where to see the Shore Lark. I didn't fancy lugging my big camera lens as rain was forecast so took my bridge camera with me. As I made my way down to the beach another birder kindly let me look through his scope once I had arrived at Gun Hill.
Unfortunately I have spent the last few days in bed with the flu and it has been a long time since I have felt so ill. I was desperate for a few hours in the fresh air but with little energy I decided to visit Lynford Arboretum where I had a few Crossbill fly over my head calling. Back at the car I decided to try the Field Barn end of Grimes Graves where I located the Great Grey Shrike.
Great Grey Shrike
I took an early lunch whilst working at Titchwell and with the help of colleagues and volunteers managed to see the Rough-legged Buzzard over the eastern side of the reserve. Thanks to all!
Leaving home at some unearthly hour in the morning, Paul and I drove to Stansted airport where we met up with Lee Evans, Ray Scally, Darrel Bryant and Roband flew to Riga in Latvia. We were met by Karlis Millers who took us to a small wood just outside the airport where we saw Goshawk, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Hawfinch and some delightful Northern Bullfinch. As I will write a trip report my diary will be brief.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
After a couple of hours we boarded our minibus and drove North and into Estonia. We continued on to Virtsu and caught the ferry to the island of Muhu and crossed the isthmus over to the island of Saarema where after watching a Black Woodpecker flying we booked into the Johan Spa Hotel.
We boarded the minbus and drove to Tagaranna where we delighted in seeing some familiar birds, these included Whooper Swan, Snow Bunting and Smew as well as an Otter. Soon Lee was keen to move on for our target bird and Karlis drove a bit further to the point where we set up the scopes and soon had 140+ Stellar's Eider in view. After several hors of watching we drove to a small harbour where I was totally mesmerised by the hundreds of Long-tailed Duck.
We continued on and watched a tree full of Waxwing before crossing the border back to Latvia where we drove to Eastern Latvia to spend the night.
Stellar's Eider Long-tailed Duck
We spent the night near Ezernieki at a guest house that Karlis had got special permission to open for us. It was much colder than we expected with a foot deep snow lying on the ground. We set off for the forest area and soon saw Black Grouse, Raven, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Willow Tit and with some searching a Pygmy Owl. Later in the day we saw a Nutcraker and a few Capercaillie.
After an evening meal we set off to look for owls with a friend of Karlis who was studying them without sucess but we did see a Beaver.
Pygmy Owl Nutcracker
Grey-headed Woodpecker Paul by the log cabins
The cloudy skies continued and the temperature was below zero. The minibus had a flat tyre so we had a two hour delay as a repair was sought in the remote location due to the lack of a correct wheel brace to get the tyre off!. It was to be a hard day in the snow as very few birds were on the move. After watching Grey-headed Woodpecker we dropped off the chap who was going to show us some owls an met up with another friend of Karlis who treated us to some rally driving over icy roads in the forest. After watching Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and some wonderful white-headed Long-tailed Tits, we were treated to a lovely lunch in hos log-cabin home. A Brown Long-eared Bat was hibernating in his store shed.
We started out early at a site for White-backed Woodpecker without sucess. It was still cloudy and the only bird we saw was a Nuthatch!
We motored on to the forest near Silmaci where Karlis tried his best to find us birds. Birds were few and far between. It was certainly cold as we tramped through the snow following drumming noises. Paul and I went back to the van to eat our lunch and Ray came running to say that they had a perched White-backed Woodpecker. I was just in time to see it fly but Paul missed it. Curses. Karlis agreed to stay with us as he felt it would return. Paul heard a chipping noise and located it sitting at the top of a tree. Luckily when it flew it decided to go right over our heads calling as it went. A lone Nutcraker added to the scene. We also watched a Black Woodpecker flying around too.
Nuthatch Sue and Karlis celebrate seeing my only tick available on the trip!
We packed the van and set off for Lake Lubans which was nearby. Here we watched several White-tailed Eagle and Snow Bunting on the frozen lake. Whooper Swan were also present. We drove by the fields as we left and watched a couple of Rough-legged Buzzard quartering the area. Our long journey to the airport added Taiga Bean Geese and a couple of Common Crane. At dusk we stopped 5 kms from the airport and played a tape for Eagle Owl. Ray though he saw something fly into the trees. I went off down the track to search and there in the trees sat a lone Eagle Owl. I yelled to the others and we all had good views of it in the failing light.
Karlis drove us back to the airport where we boarded a late flight back to Stansted.
A nightmare of a journey home in the early hours through thick fog! Thanks to Lee for organising an intersting trip once again. I shall be uploading a full trip report as soon as I can.
I have uploaded a trip report of our recent trip t Latvia and Estonia to my trip reports page or click on the link
Paul and I drove across to Bittering where we watched tow Tundra Bean Geese that were associating with some Tundra Bean Geese. We scanned one of the flatter areas where we also managed to pick out a couple of Green Sandpipers too.
Four Red Kites flew over Titchwell car park as I was working today
I left Paul helping his mum restore a patio in her garden in Andover and walked around Rooksbury Mill Lake. I heard 4 different Chiffchaff singing but only managed to locate 2 of them. A few Tufted Duck were swimming on the lake along with a few Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. After meeting another birder I set off for
Forton a few miles away following his map and located the Great Grey Shrike perched on top of one of the bushes. It was a shame that I only had a mobile phone with me and no camera.
Great Grey Shrike
Sitting eating breakfast in Andover we watched a male Blackcap visiting Paul's mum's feeders.
Yellow-legged Gull Woodlark
It finally stopped raining and so Paul and I ventured out to Flitcham where a Yellow-legged Gull was loafing in front of the hide on one of the pools. A female Mallard was leading her gaggle of tiny ducklings across the grass to another pool.
We watched as a pair of Common Buzzard put on an ariel display over the fields
At Roydon Common we searched for migrants without success but I heard a Woodlark singing and went looking for it. A lone Common Buzzard flew over as I headed back to the car as I could see yet another rain cloud looming.
Back at the car we admired a pair of Stonechat. We looked for colour rings on the legs but there weren't any.
I started the day at Heacham where I managed to get my car suck in some sand. Don't ask how, but thanks to all those who helped dig/push me out!
So........ much later than anticipated and after seeing very little in the way of migrants I arrived at Titchwell. Out on Thornham Marsh a lone
Northern Wheatear sat on one of the posts. This is the first true Summer migrant that I have seen this year. The Water Pipits on Thornham Pool were looking wonderful in their Spring plumage.
Down on the Tidal Pool I spotted a Little Ringed Plover amongst the Turnstone and Dunlin.
I looked hard amongst the Common Scoter for a Velvet Scoter but could not find one. I was with one of our volunteers, Les, when Paul Eele called in a Firecrest by the North Wall that a visitor had spotted.
Les and I scrambled back just in time to see it. Les went for lunch and I sat on a bench
overlooking the reedbed. Trevor Girling joined me and together we watched several Red-crested Pochard flying around, a Red Kite, Common Buzzard and at least four Marsh Harriers displaying.
Cetti's Warblers entertained us whilst we watched several pairs of Bearded Tit. A Reed Bunting perched in front of us before we headed for Heacham.
We walked by the chalets at South Beach and located the male Black Redstart but it did not want its photo taken.
A lone Swallow flew over us before we reached the flat area where three Wheatear were running around with Meadow Pipits and Linnets.
After a fruitless search to re-find Paul's Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the NarVOS area that he had seen yesterday, Paul and I wandered across Roydon Common and down onto the Delft area where we saw 30+ Common Snipe and one Jack Snipe.
We watched three pairs of Woodlark, a pair of Stonechat and a Red Kite too.
Black Redstart Corn Bunting
After a quick bite to eat back at home we drove to Heacham where we watched a Black Redstart as well as having a lone Swallow and seven Sand Martin fly over us.
We found two Stone Curlew in a field that we have not seen them in before, before making our way to Ringstead where two Corn Bunting were perched up with several Yellow Hammer.
At Flitcham we saw 15+ Brambling along with a flock of Chaffinch and two Tree Sparrows. A pair of Grey Partridge were also in the field. The Little Owl was posing in its usual tree.
Little Owl in its usual tree Grey Partridge
I started my day at Santon Downham where I walked downstream for about a mile and joined a few other birders. An Otter swam in the river and disapperared into the nearside bank.
This was a good sign as two Mandarin flew through the Poplar trees as we were waiting for the star birds to appear. Soon two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers delighted the on lookers
as we attempted to make sure everyone could see them. They are so small it is often diificult to locate them even if they are drumming.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
I walked back along the river where either the same two birds were showing across the other side of the river or there were another two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers!
I drove to Lynford Arboretum where I was surprised to see a Ring Ouzel sat in a tree in the paddocks. Four Hawfinch were also sat there but soon flew behind me and landed in trees
to join another Hawfinch already sat there.
Ring Ouzel Hawfinch
I spent the next hour looking at another site before making my way to Lakenheath where I joine Pete Gluth and Pete Colston watching three Garganey on Hockwold washes.
I walked along the bank admiring all the Marsh Harriers. I think I lost count eventually before retracing my steps. Cetti's Warblers seem to everywhere singing and showing occasionally.
I tried to find the cranes without success before making my way to Weeting Heath where a Yellowhammer and a Chaffinch were taking advatange of the seed left for them in the feeders.
A Stone Curlew was fairly distant from the West hide but I was shocked at the lack of Rabbits and how the grass had grown at this site.
I heard and saw my first Willow Warbler of the year in the carpark at Titchwell this morning.
My friend Jill and I decided to walk from Hunstanton lighthouse along the Norfolk coast footpath today. We must have been mad for we were literally blown along it! It was very cold and I was glad
of my thick winter anorak. By the time we reached Holme we had not seen a single migrant bird! I was shocked at the tree-felling of the dead trees after the tidal surge as I walked through the firs
but I guess they have been taken down for safety reasons. We were told about a Pallas's Warbler but being the sceptic that I am and with rain now falling we didn't stay long to look.
We stopped to talk to Dave and Jacquie and told them about the claimed bird before making our way to Thornham. After a very long lunch in The Lifeboat whilst the rain fell we made our way
to the bus stop where a lone Swallow was sitting on the wires. One migrant was all we saw for our efforts!
The firs at Holme
If you look carefully you can just see Nuthatches mating!
Paul and I started the day in the woods at the back of Narford Lake. Access to the woods is along Nar Valley Way.
It was a beautiful morning and the woods were full of birdsong. As we left the car we spotted an all white Roe Deer
amongst several other Roe Deer. They ran off as soon as they saw us. I spotted a male Nuthatch displaying to a femal Nuthatch and I admired his posing!
They soon got down to business. A Treecreeper added to the scene as Blue Tits investigated nest holes that we have been staking out.
I wandered a bit further and a small bird caught my eye. I was surprised to see a Pied Flycatcher sitting on a horizontal branch
just in front of me. I called to Paul and managed a few photos of it. For a short while it did a few circuits around me but unfortunately
it was soon lost to view and despite our best efforts we did not see it again.
I extended my search and spotted an Osprey flying just above tree-level. I shouted to Paul who unfortunately was further away than
I realised and by the time he located me the bird was long gone. Luckily about half an hour later he saw it flying back the other way!
After seeing a Goshawk, Ashley tipped us off about some Ravens nearby. Unfortunately we failed to see them but did see a pair of Stone Curlew and a Red Kite there.
We drove to Boughton Fen where four Marsh Harrier, two Red Kite, two Cetti's Warbler and a Blackcap were seen. At Pentney we noted a Green Sandpiper and Redshank but little else.
Red Kite just after their interaction with each other.
Later at King's Lynn we watched the Peregrine sitting in the box in the docks and admired five Avocet at Lynn Point.
Common Redstart Pied Flycatcher
I met up with Sally at Snettisham and i the wind we set off to watch the Ring Ouzel behind the fish and chip shop by the sea bank. Sally soon spotted a male on the bank and later we also saw the female
at the bottom of the bank when we walked up the road and looked along the bank. We searched for migrants in the country park and soon heard a Sedge Warbler. It sat very obligingly for us to tick it as the
first of the year for our lists. We heard a Water Rail call from the reeds but did not see it likewise a calling Cetti'sWarbler. Another Cetti's Warbler called as we made our way through the country park.
We battled our way against the wind and after admiring a Barn Owl and Marsh Harrier, we scanned through the ducks and geese. We added Shoveler, Mallard, Shelduck, Greylag and Canada Goose to our
list when I heard a Common Whitethroat call. Sally soon picked it out and another yeartick was added to our list. We watched common bird, Robin, Linnet, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit
before returning to the field for more views of the Ring Ouzel. A Little Ringed Plover had arrived in a puddle in the middle of the field that was not there earlier.
We motored on to Holme where a Common Redstart was sheltering from the wind in the paddocks by the last house along the trackway. Down by the visitors centre a Pied Flycatcher was entertaining the crowd.
It was not at all concerned by the attention it was receiving as it merrily fed on all the insects in the calm conditions provided by the fir trees. Sally and I looked for the Firecrest without success but enjoyed
the Goldcrests and Coal Tits instead. From the hides we enjoyed the antics of the Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Mediterranean Gulls. Curlews were flying over as we made our way up to the
Forestry where a Meadow Pipit gave us good views.
12 th April
Five Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Oystercatcher and Canada Goose Little Gulls
(the far left-hand bird had a beautiful pink wash to it!)
A text from Ashley had me scurrying over to Pentney where I watched 5 Little Gulls in the rain. An Arctic Tern in flight was a nice surprise as I tried to take photos of the Little Gulls. A few Common Terns
arrived as did ten Swallows whilst I was there.
Lesser Whitethroat Wheatear
Stopping near the sheep at the entrance of the rspb car park at Snettisham I listened to a Lesser Whitethroat calling from a bramble bush. It sat out on top just long enough for me to take a quick photograph. A lone Ring Ouzell was in the field at the entrance to the carpark on the bend in the road along the bank. I set off along the inner seabank at Snettisham and heard a brief snatch of Grasshopper Warbler as I neared the stile. Curlew were calling from the field along with a Black-tailed Godwit. Shoveler, Mallard, Teal and Gadwall were in the pools as a Little Egret flew over. I walked along the crosstrack and made my way towards Heacham where after a quick word with Trevor soon located the two Whinchat and the male Common Redstart. There were several Northern Wheatear flying and running around. I met up with Roger Skein and he spotted a Yellow Wagtail that had just dropped in. Swallow and Sand Martin
were flying over as I made my way to Snettisham. The Grasshopper Warbler was reeling as I walked back along the bank.
Stopping by the bend to the south of Choseley barns I was just in time to see a Ring Ouzel fly across the field.
Paul and I started the day at Roydon Common where we watched a pair of Woodlark on the ground up by the fence at the top. A Stonechat was also present here.
We walked on and after turning the corner at the top we spotted a Ring Ouzel. Unfortunately it did not want its photograph taken.
At Snettisham we walked the inner sea bank and admired a dozen or so Avocet, Shelduck and Shoveler. A Lesser Whitethroat flew along the side of us as we watched
and listened to all the Sedge Warblers singing. Two Cetti's Warblers we also in song. Futher along the bank we watched a Grasshopper Warbler reeling before retracing our steps.
Paul picked out a lone Whimbrel before we headed to Lynn Point. Here we watched seven Common Buzzard, two Marsh Harriers and the usual gang of Brent Geese.
Chiffchaff were flycatching as Long-tailed Tits were making the most of the sun. Meadow Pipit were dashing around the marsh as were Reed Buntings. On the silo the
Peregrine was acting guard before we drove to Totenhill where the Black-necked Grebe is now in full summer plumage. A real shame that we can't get a good view of this
through all the vegetaion here.
Record shot of the Black-necked Grebe, phone-scoped through all the vegetation
A walk along Snettisham seabank eventually produced a Cuckoo that I could hear calling as I walked along. It was nice to see Alan Livingstone and Jim too.
As I walked back I joined Jacquie and Dave. We could hear Sedge Warbler singing away just about the whole length of the patway.
I strolled along the Nar Valley Way at Narford where a Kingfisher flew along the Nar River. A Marsh Tit sat right above my head singing as Long-tailed Tits and Wrens made their presence known.
Two Common Buzzard wheeled in the sky above me calling as two Common Swift flew over. At Nar Valley Fisheries a Blackcap sang in the bitingly cold wind.
As I was driving to Great Yarmoth to give a talk to the Great Yarmouth Bird Club about birds of Northern Peru, I noticed a White Stork sitting in a field alongsige the Acle Straight.
Goodness knows where it has come from.
A Hobby flew over the car park at Titchwell as I was working.
later I met up with a few friends for a meal at West Rudham. A Tawny Owl sat in the middle of the road as I drove home.
I arrived at Cley to the news that the Wryneck was lurking in a back garden with no access. Luckily Jill Davies found me walking up Hilltop and kindly invited me in to her house
where I could look into her neighbour's garden. The Wryneck was peacefuly feeding alongside their path in gloroious sun!I took a few photos through the glass in the window.
Thank you Jill for inviting me in!
After watching a Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet on Pat's Pool I made my way to Kellinhg Heath where it was very quiet.
I only managed to see two pairs of Stonechat.
At Salthouse I watched several Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail and a few Wheatear as I sat and had my lunch.
Back at Cley two Spoonbill were just off East Bank. A Red Kite flew alongside me near West Rudham.
Paul and I started the day at Choseley where we joined many other birders admiring the trip of Dotterel present.
I counted eight but apparently there were nine altogether. From here we drove to Felbrigg after a short detour
and watched a pair of Garganey on the water meadows. A Little Owl flew from a tree as walked back to the car park.
At Kelling Heath we spent some time listening to a Dartford Warbler. It took some time before we eventually saw one.
It did not want its photo taken! We also noted Linnet, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Kestrel.
We stopped to buy some crab sandwiches from Cookies at Salthouse before walking up East Bank at Cley.
Two Barnacle geese were in the field along with Greylag Geese. I watched a Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler
as I walked back as well as hearing Bearded Tit in the reed bed. A Water Vole kept Richard Burton and I
entertained for a while. From Bishops Hide we admired all the Avocet, Common Redshank, Shoveler and Shelduck as well as a Ruff going into summer plumage.
Sandwich Tern were flying along the seabank too.
Paul and I spent some time looking for a Hoopoe this morning at Narborough unsuccessfully!
From here we watched a Garden Warbler at Nar Valley Fisheries along with Stuart and Margaret Johnson.
A Cuckoo flew across the fields by theRiver Nar. A Lone Whooper Swan was on one of the lakes.
At Drymere we came across a pair of Firecrest building a nest and later watched a pair of Wilow Tit not far away.
We failed miserably to find any Tree Pipit in the area!
Sally and I met at Titchwell before work in the hope of seeing yesterday's Black-headed Wagtail. We were out of luck but I found a Graganey asleep in front of Parrinder Hide.
Four Little Ringed Plover alighted on the island and proceeded to squabble as four Common Tern flew over. We watched as a pair took
part in a courtship display. We heard the Bittern Booming but did not see it. Sally and I were reluctant to leave but work beckoned! Towards
the end of the day the Black-headed Wagtail was reported again and so I walked quickly down to the area of cut reed just in time to see the
Black-headed Wagatail before it flew off towards the Freshmarsh. Sadly I did not have my camera with me.
I spent some time after work at Holme where I listened to Turtle Doves purring by the tower along the entrance track.
Out on the marsh a Short-eared Owl was hunting in the wonderful evening sun.
I had a quick walk on Roydon Common where after watching six Common Buzzard, I admired a Stonechat.
I felt sorry for it with all its jewellery attached!
Sally and I ran down the path at Titchwell for a quick peek at the Wood Sandpiper that Paul Eele had found on Thornham Pool before we opened the shop at Titchwell. We had soon seen two
Wood Sandpipers. Later in the day five had been reported to us. There were also two Common Sandpipers with them.
I was keen to get to Cley as I had spent yesterday sorting out a new i-phone and needed an adaptor from Cley Spy.
Andrew as usual was very helpful and soon had it sorted. Now to try it out! I walked out to the cenral hides at Cley and
John directed me to Dauke's hide where the Black-winged Stilt was on view. After watching it and then seeing the
Temminck's Stint I made my way back to the triangle to meet up with Paul and together we watched the Black-winged Stilt
on Simmond's Scrape whilst I experimented with my new i-phone and adaptor.
A Hobby flew over us as we left the hide and Bearded Tits were flitting about the reed bed.
At Morston we watched Little Terns in the harbour where it was good to sit in the sun and soak up the sun's rays for once!
Later at Titchwell we admired the 3 Wood Sandpipers on Thornham Pool and the Temminck's Stint in the fenced area
on the freshmarsh. Dot and Steve kindly told us about the Spotted Flycatcher just behind the Visitor Centre
and after a short wait we saw one of the two birds present.
We finished the day admiring the Dotterel at Choseley.
Black-winged Stilt (taken with iPhone and Swarovski scope)
Stopping at Holme on my way home from work I noticed this Green Hairstreak on one of the bushes along the trackway.
I stopped at Holme after work and saw one of the Turtle Doves at Holme feeding on the ground underneath a garden feeder by the caravans just past the tower along the entrance trackway.
At last I had the opportunity to go across to East Somerton to see the European Bee-eater. The bee-eater family are one of my favourite families of birds and so are a delight to watch.
As it was early morning there were only a few people there. We watched the bird taking many bees and bashing them against the tree before it flew to Winterton.
I was a bit surprised to see this Snow Bunting on my way home this evening feeding in the field just beyond the bend by the
second telegraph pole above the Choseley drying barns.
I walked at Dersingham Bog where I took my little bridge camera with me.
I had a Cuckoo fly over my head and instantly regretted not taking my SLR
camera with me which is much quicker to operate! I was far too slow to get
its picture. However I could hear a Tree Pipit singing in the distance and
quickly made my way to it to capture it singing before it flew off. A couple of
Stonechat kept me entertained for a while before I walked along the cycle
track to Castle Rising where I watched two Lesser Whitethroat, Common
Whitethroat and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
A Cuckoo was calling in the car park as I left work this evening. Later at Sandringham a couple of birders joined me and together we watched 3 Nightjar flying around including a wing-clapping male.
As I drove home I disturbed another Nightjar sitting on the road. We also saw six Woodcock.
I drove to Nar Valley Fisheries where I have a permit to go birding. It was a sunny day and I was pleased to hear a couple of Nightingales. It was some time before I saw one. My attempts at photographing one was fruitless and all
I ended up with was a blurred partially obscured bird! Garden Warblers and Blackcaps were singing away but I enjoyed watching a newly fledged family party of Long-tailed Tit. On one of the pits the lone Whooper Swan was keeping the Mute swans company. A Cuckoo was calling as I admired the Common Tern flying over the pits.
I drove to Bedford Purlieus Nature Reserve near Peterborough where it took me a while to find Fly Orchid that Karen and Kim had kindly given me directions for. I eventually saw six spikes but I suspect that there were others hidden in the grassy meadow.
From here I drove to Barnack where there were still quite a few Early Purple Orchids out as well as a few spikes of Man Orchids. Sadly most of the Pasque flowers were over.
Man Orchid Early Purple Orchid
After attending a planning meeting for the future of Titchwell I watched two Black Terns at Pentney gravel pits. It was glorious in the early evening sun. A Yellow Wagtail flew along the
water's edge. I spent the rest of the evening packing for my forth-coming trip to Sichuan in China.
John Geeson and I had a trip around Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk where we delighted in seeing a few orchids.We both added Raven to our year list too!
Burnt Tip Orchid
I saw a Montagu's Harrier on my way home tonight. I spent the rest of the evening skyping Paul listening to his excitement at seeing the Black-browed Albatross on Fair Isle today,
before loading up the car with my suitcase ready for 3 weeks birding in Sichuan, China.
I left Norwich Airport at 5.15pm and flew to Amsterdam where I met up with some of the group that I was going to spend the next three weeks with in China. I also met my room-mate Vicky. Together we boarded a flight to Chengdu in Sichuan, China.
Arriving at midday we boarded a minibus whilst our luggage was loaded onto another bus. We stopped at a service area where we started our China bird lists. Light-vented Bulbul and Tree Sparrow were the first birds on it. At Longchanggou I added my first lifer in the shape of Large Hawk Cuckoo. As I intend to write a trip report I shall keep the diary brief.
The birding at Longchanggou was good but it was very muddy and wet underfoot which made it difficult to keep focused on the birds. The vast majority of birds today were lifers for me so I was a happy bunny on the birding front. There were many warblers to sort out but sadly the light and drizzle made photography impossible.
Back at Longchanggou we birded another track which was much better underfoot. The weather had greatly improved and were we soon adding new birds. I enjoyed seeing Fire-capped Tit and Chinese Nuthatch.
We were taken to a secret site to see Grey-hooded Parrotbill, which we saw really well. however it was pouring with rain and no photography was possible.
Mrs Gould's Sunbird
We were up early to drive up Erlang Shan Pass. We drove up and down several times before finally seeing several Lady Amhurst's Pheasants. We were delighted at Giant Laughingthrush and Grey-crested Tits adding to our lifelist.
We had an early start for more views of Lady Amhursts pheasants and adding Moustached Laughingthrush before spending the rest of the day driving to Baoxing.
Moustached Laughing Thrush
Today we had a slow walk all up hill starting at Pere David's house at Fengmi for 3km before making our way back down again. However as it was a tarmaced road for quite a length we could concentrate on the birds.We enjoyed good views of Moustached Laughingthrush and Collared Finchbill as well as seeing a research station where we watched a Giant Panda.
After lunch we drove up the Jiajinshan Pass at 4110m high. My little oxygen bottle came in very handy as we watched Plain Mountain Finch, Hill Pigeon and Golden Eagle.
Up at Balangshan Pass at 4500m high I was very grateful for the oxygen bottle and mask as were some of the others in the group. I wasn't allowed breakfast to aid my altitude sickness!
It was spectacular up here with stunning scenery. After a bit of a search we added Tibetan Snowcock, Grandala and Red-fronted Rosefinch.
After dipping the Wood Snipe after our 3.30am start i felt unwell with altitude sickness and lay for a while in the sun whilst the others went ahead birding down the road. The scenery was spectacular and I took some photos. Lamergeiers were flying overhead and I also enjoyed some of the Lady Slipper Orchids that were at the side of the road. We drove back up to the pass where Chinese White-browed Rosefinches posed for us.
We drove back up to Balangshan Pass at 4500m high where amazingly I had no headache. From this point on I was to be spared all altitude sickness. My body had obviously aclimatised. It took us two and a half hours to find the Tibetan Snow Partridge though! We drove down to 2825m and did a side forest trail where we saw very little for our efforts.
Chinese White-browed Rosefinch
We set off a bit later because of the rain but at the pass it soon stopped and we stopped to admire the Long-tailed Rosefinch en route. I was lucky to see two Godlewski's Buntings but some of the group missed them because of other birds all showing at the same time.
The weather was now glorious and some of us took the opportunity of relaxing with the birds and taking a few photographs and enjoying the views.
We left to drive a valley near Maerkang where we watched Przewalsky's Nuthatch and Long-tailed Thrush. Blood Pheasants also ran at the side of the forest track.
We drove to Lu Gu Shan where we watched Koklass Pheasants at the side of a forest track.. We added Chinese Grouse and Chestnut-crowned Bush Warbler to our life lists before driving up to Fenshua Ling Pass and up into the Tibetan Plateau.
We stopped to admire a Black-necked Crane before Tony spotted a WOLF!!! I was over the moon! An animal that I have always longed to see in the wild!
The plateau was amazing stretching out for miles around.
We left Hongyuan to drive to Ruoergai stopping frequently on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to search for birds. We admired a Saker which obliging sat for its photo to be taken. We added Rufous-necked Snowfinch to our lists that weer enjoying the light, dusty soils.
Travelling on the Baxi Lu Road we travelled most of the day stopping off to admire various pheasants and scenery as we dropped down off the plateau. I was sad to see it go as the experience of this high altitude birding had been wonderful. I managed to phone-scope one of my favourite birds...Siberian Rubythroat!
Lady's Slipper Orchid
Not all my birding trips are confined to just watching birds. I have always loved all nature-related wild things. Vicky and I often stopped to look at the flowers. At Juizhaigou we admired the Lady's Slipper Orchids adorning the hillsides.
In the beautiful location of Juizhaigou National Park, I decided to have a day on my own so that I could spend the day taking some photos and enjoying the scenery. A Chestnut Thrush gave itself up to have its photo taken.
After leaving our hotel we made our way up to the track by the helipad where an Elliott's Laughingthrush poked around a small cliff.
We had been promised a trip to Chengdu Zoo which is famed for its breeding programme of Giant Pandas.Here we watched Giant Pandas as well as the delightful Red Pandas in their enclosures. The grounds were also good for birding and we delighted in watching White-browed Laughingthrushes foraing on the ground.
All too soon it was time to return home. It had been an excellent trip with a brilliant group of knowledgeable people and I was so pleased that with the exception of the first couple of days I had conquered altitude sickness.
Now back from China but as I live with someone who has mental health issues, I have had to have another laptop after my other one was smashed up and my new PC is refusing to get as far as the opening screen as it has obviously been tampered with. It is now going to take me time to get all set up again! Please be patient!
Meeting up with John, the two of us made our way to Buckenham where we failed to find any Garganey that were supposedly present . Later at Strumpshaw we had good views of several Hobbies that were flying over the water before one of them finally perched to have its photo taken.
Hobby Norfolk Hawker
After work I watched three Spotted Redshanks on the freshmarsh at Titchwell.
Sally and I soon found the Little Stint on the Freshmarsh that we were able to show Heather one of our many volunteers at Titchwell. We also watched three Little Ringed Plovers running around on the mud.
I watched a pair of Stonechat taking food across Roydon Common. The male was certainly kept busy!
Working at Titchwell in the car park there was a brief moment of excitement as a possible Honey Buzzard flew over being mobbed by an Oystercatcher.
It was a glorious morning as I walked down to the bottom end of Snettisham Pits passing several Little Egrets fishing for breakfast. I spotted a Painted Lady Butterfly on some Ragwort and pointed it out to a couple of birders who had never seen one before. After a chat to Penny, I joined Dave and Richard and was soon watching the White-rumped Sandpiper amongst the Dunlin, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits. Two Curlew Sandpipers added to the colour of the morning. After a taking a few photographs I joined Richard and Frances sitting on the bench overlooking The Wash as it was now high tide. It was just spectacular. The shapes that the waders were making in The Wash was wonderful and enjoyed by all who were there.
White-rumped Sandpiper Curlew Sandpiper
Western Purple Swamphen
After a wonderful weekend away with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren I headed down to Minsmere where a Western Purple Swamphen had been watched by all the birding fraternity for the last few days. I didn't have to wait long before it gave a short view at the back of the pool behind South Hide. However the vegetation was tall which made viewing quite difficult. After a while the bird flew to the other side of the pool and so I went into the hide where I gained much better views and allowed me to take a few photos.
Common Cuckoo (juvenile)
On the South scrape fenceline a juvenile cuckoo was flying from post to pos. This is the first juvenile cuckoo that I have seen this year.
A lovely walk with my daughter Kathryn around her village in Oxfordshire where we came upon a wonderful flock of young House Martins flying around and landing on the small lane.
Jill and I wanted to walk to we decided to walk right around the Cley NWT reserve. We stopped for a while in Dauke's hide to admire a Common Snipe as well as many other waders present. A Water Rail ran out of the reeds but was a bit too quick for my camera.
It was a lovely summer's evening and after doing chores all day I decided a walk was in order. I walked down to the shore hide at Snettisham passing a Kingfisher sat on old piece of concrete as I approached the 3rd pit. A Wall Butterfly was between the Rotary Hide and the Shore Hide, the first one that I have seen this year. I joined Ray Roache and his wife in the Shore Hide as well as Mick Davis and together we admired the Red-necked Phalarope lurking near the far bank. Two Greenshank flew to the south end of the pits.
I enjoyed a wonderful peaceful walk on Roydon Common where Black Darters seem to be in abundance. A young Stonechat emerged from the bushes as another pair called from another path. A Green Woodpecker flew before I had a chance to see it well. A flock of 17 Mistle Thrushes flew from the trees as I made my way back home.
Sue and Mike Dilger
Sally, Ade and I set off to Birdfair where we had a wonderful day as always. There were 8 marquees to visit plus events tents. We spent a lot of time in the optics marquee where Sally and I were treated to some individual tuition on phone-scoping from Robert of Kowa Optics. Thanks Robert - very useful! After looking through the new Leica binoculars launched on Friday we toured the marquees and attended a filmshow on the Snow Leopard. Back in the marquee I got a hug from Mike Dilger!
Red-backed Shrike Pied Flycather Wryneck
Meeting up with John and Stew we made our way to Teal Hide at Cley where we had eight Curlew Sandpipers just in front of the hide. Avocet and Ruff added to the scene before we drove to West Runton where a Red-backed Shrike was sat in the hedgeline before it flew to a fence-post to catch a bee. A lone Wheatear flitted around. By the childrens' playground we watched three Pied Flycatchers and a Spotted Flycatcher along with several Willow Warbler.
Moving onto Weyboune we walked westwards where after watching a Whinchat, Linnet, Pied Flycatcher and more Willow Warbler, the Wryneck eventually popped out of the brambles and gorse and up into the dead branches. Later at Cley we watched a couple of Arctic Skua fly by on the sea along with a few Gannet.
Jill and I set off at Snettisham picking blackberries as we went as I listened to her recent adventures of Peru! It certainly brought back some memories! Down at the water's edge a Turnstaone took no notice of us and allowed us very close views.There were thousands of birds out on the mud with a predominance of Bar-tailed Godwits, many still in summer plumage, Knot and Oystercatchers. A Little Egret flew in to join them. Curlew and Lesser Black-backed Gulls also stood on the mud. We walked further than we had originally intended and stopped to admire the stunning cloud arrangement all reflecting in the now wet sand. Retracing our steps we realised that te tide was coming in pushing the birds ever closer. In the distance we could see the shapes being made by all the waders lifting off themud as the tide raced in. I often forget how quickly the water comes in and the birds were soon close and beginning to leave in their hundreds making their way to the pits. The air was now all filled with birds. What a spectacle as they swirled all around.
I now have a holiday which I shall enjoy enormously!
I have finally finished my trip report to Sichuan. It can either be viewed on my trip reports page or at
After taking my car for a recall check I made my way to Titchwell where after talking to Ray I established where the Pectoral Sandpiper was showing on the Freshmarsh. Once I had arrived Pete and Anna soon had my scope lined up on it. It was just as well as the bird soon flew a short distance where I had at least a minutes view of it before it suddenly took off again and flew over our heads and on towards Thornham.
On the Freshmarsh a small gathering admired a Curlew Sandpiper feeding amongst a few Ruff. A flock of Golden Plover delighted many visitors as we checked through Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Avocet, Teal, Wigeon and Pied Wagtails flitting around. A flock of Linnet flew overhead and I watched a distant Marsh Harrier and a lone Spoonbill flying above us as it made its way over towards Thornham.
After the frustration of yesterday hearing but not seeing the Yellow-browed Warbler from the car park at Titchwell, I got up early and made my way to Titchwell and joined Stewart, Phil and Pete. Together we heard the Yellow-browed Warbler on the Meadow Trail but only had a very brief view of it. We were alerted by RBA of an Osprey over towards Thornham and arrived on the West Bank path just in time to see it fly over the marsh. Along the Meadow Trail I spotted a Willow Emerald Damselfly on a Willow Tree.
Osprey crossing Thornham Marsh Willow Emerald Damselfly
After another fruitless search for the Yellow-browed Warbler I made my way down to the sea where there was a wonderful Red-throated Diver in summer plumage close inshore. Walking back up the main path I watched a Curlew Sandpiper feeding close to the path along with Dunlin and Ruff. The Pectoral Sandpiper was showing from the Parrinder hide but I wanted to see the Yellow-browed Warbler so I walked back to the Fen Trail where I heard it calling. Dot, Steve and I had excellent views of it and I called several other Norfolk birders present so that they could all see it.
Barred Warbler (distant and heavily cropped!)
After lunch John and I made our way to Winterton where after a hike up to the concrete blocks we walked another 500 metres and stared at a group of Bramble bushes. Luckily I had kept an eye on surrounding bushes as the Barred Warbler was not in the bush that other birders had told us!
After a few words with some old friends in the car park at Brancaster I made my way along Brancaster beach where a Hoopoe had just flown off over the golf course. I saw it in flight but it had an amazing capacity to completely disappear! Along with Trevor Girling we searched various bunkers and greens and then returned to the beach where the Hoopoe had returned without us seeing it!
Working in the car park at Titchwell this week has been a very busy week with birders' holidays. The car park has been packed most days and I was being continually asked about the Yellow-browed Warbler which I could hear now and again from the recruiting hut but never seeing. One of my regulars (Colin) was desperate to see it and so I told him where he could stand to increase his chances. It was a shame that he did not wait a few minutes for me to have my lunch because as I walked back to the Visitor Centre the Yellow-browed Warbler called from just above my head. By the time I got to the back entrance of the Visitor Centre I called for Dan, our assistant warden, grabbed a pair of binoculars and Dan, Jim and I has excellent views of the bird above the work shed.
Arriving at work early I joined the other birders at Titchwell to admire the Red-breasted Flycatcher flitting round the picnic area. Since it as early morning it was still too dark for photography. I tried to get a photograph later in the day but by then the bird had moved to bug alley and had gone much higher up in the trees. Birders on site would have had a good day with six Yellow-browed Warblers, Pied Flycatcher, Jack Snipe, Pectoral Sandpiper, Slavonian Grebe, Ring Ouzel and Common Redstart all on offer.
My son's wedding is now only weeks away and wedding preparations are gathering pace. I had arranged a few days break to be in Gloucestershire to have a family gathering. As the weather was beautiful I had a day spare and drove to Devon where I located a Glossy Ibis on the River Taw along with many Redshank and Little Egret. Out on the estuary many gulls were gathering but I failed to find the promised Caspian Tern that had been around for a few days. A few miles further down the estuary a pair of Raven flew over my head as I joined a few other birders watching 5 Spoonbills. Fifty Canada Geese flew over us and there were many Little Egret, Grey Heron and Oystercatchers out on the mud as the tide raced in.
Having been invited out to dinner in West Runton, John and I made most of our time in the afternoon and saw the Dusky Warbler just below the Cromer lighthouse. With the exception of Dunnock and a Robin we were surprised that there were very few other birds around.
Arriving before dawn at Easington, East Yorkshire, Trevor Girling and I were surprised at how few birders there were there. We had heard tales of big queues and thought we needed to be early. With less than twenty people in front of us, as soon as the Siberian Accentor showed on the former old school playground at 7.15am we enjoyed good views of it hopping around feeding with Dunnocks and a single Robin that chased it around now and then. We spent sometime watching and taking photos before leaving and deciding to enjoy some more birding on offer.
In the gas compound we had watched a Spotted Flycatcher as well as lots of Goldcrests in seemingly in every tree. There had quite clearly been a major fall of birds with many Blackbirds and Robins around as well as Siskin. Thrushes were in every berry-laden hedgerow, particularly Redwing and Fieldfare.There were many flocks of Chaffinch flitting across the field where we were parked and flitting across the lanes. Tree Sparrows sat in hedges too.
We made our way to the Crown and Anchor pub and cossed the road and walked the seabank. Here we watched a Radde's Warbler flitting from the bush to the ditch and disappearing. We walked to the Bluebell cafe stopping frequently to admire all the Goldcrests, Siskin and Blackcap that had arrived.and up to the seabank behind the carpark where we admired a very tired Shorelark feeding.On the route we had three Bearded Tit fly over us calling.
We had an excellent cooked breakfast at the caravan park plus toast and a cup of tea all for £4 !
By the Kilnsea Wetland carpark there were 17 Bean Geese in the field along with a few Mallard.
My daughter Kathryn is getting married next summer and so we spent the day looking at prospective wedding venues around the Oxfordshire countryside. At one point Kathryn was forced to stop the car rather suddenly as a Red Kite swooped down in front of us as it attempted to pick up a dead animal in the road. It was an amazing few moments.
During my lunch half an hour I attempted to see the Dusky Warbler at Titchwell but although it was calling it was too low in the ditch for anyone to see it. Three Chiffchaff were confusing the issue for many birders present!!!
Isabelline Wheatear Desert Wheatear
After having my hair cut I walked along the seabank to Gun Hill at Burnham Overy Dunes. Upon arrival I joined several other birders admiring the Desert Wheatear flitting around the old wooden boat. Another birder arrived shortly after and together we searched the beach looking for the Isabelline Wheatear which had just flown in that direction just before we arrived. We scanned over to Scolt Head where four tourists were stranded by the rising tide. We made sure that they had a mobile phone and they called the coastguard! We returned to the dunes and another birder said he had just flushed a pale-looking wheatear from the dunes. A wave from the birders at the Desert Wheatear soon had us scurrying as the Isabelline Wheatear had just returned. Two happy bunnies had a Norfolk tick!
I arrived at work early at Titchwell and walked down the West Bank path and joined a few others waiting for the Dusky Warbler to appear. After watching a Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, and a party of Long-tailed Tits go through the trees the Dusky Warbler popped up from low down in the ditch and sat on a low branch.
After being picked up by John Geeson we made our way to Brancaster where we soon found a tree full of Waxwing.
John had suggested that Wednesday might be a good day for a seawatch at Sheringham so after a busy day with friends on Tuesday I joined John and many others sat in the shelter at Sheringham. It was clear that there was a big movement of auks as hundreds of Guillemots poured by the windfarm on the horizon. Gannets were also going by as we scanned for rarer species. We soon had a couple of Bonxies and a few Red-throated Divers. A flock of 20+ Common Scoter went by along with two Mallard. John pickedup a Sooty Shearwater and we watched it go by the windfarm, shearing as it went. A shout from the next section in the shelter had us watching three Pomarine Skuas going east. Later a couple of Arctic Skuas also went east along with two more Bonxies. Another shout had us watching 3 Snow Buntings skimming the top of the waves. I added Kittiwake to my embarrasssing Norfolk yearlist as a male Goosander went west. We were then all treated to closeviews of another three Pomarine Skuas, an adult with spoons and two juveniles going west. Most birds were actually going east but I saw at least six close Little Auks and a few more that I didn't see as you cannot watch everything at once!
As I was working in the car park at Titchwell I heard the call of a Common Crane. I rushed into the middle where I had a better view but had to borrow a pair of binoculars from a visitor. There were seven Common Buzzards in the air but I soon located 3 Common Cranes circling over the East Bank. They didn't stop long before they headed westwards and over Thornham Marsh.
It has been many years since I have visited RSPB Otmoor and it was good to meet up with another staff member. The reserve has had pathways and hides built since I was last here. The glorious weather let me have a stunning view of a Peregrine that flew low over my head. After spending some time in one of the hides watching Red Kites and Common Buzzards we walked to another view point where 17 Common Snipe stood together as Teal, Shoveler and Mallard took advantage of the pool.
A walk on Roydon Common after the rain had stopped revealed three different Stonechat and a Marsh Harrier hunting whilst being mobbed continuously by Carrion Crows. A lone Kestrel flew as a pair of Skylark sang above me. There were five Meadow Pipit sat in a one tree as a party of Long-tailed Tit flew by accompanied by a Treecreeper.
Later John and I went to Flitcham where Edward Cross explained the low water levels and the Spring system that feeds the pools. There were many Teal on the pool but we failed to see either the Little Owl or Tree Sparrows that are sometimes present.
I spend the day writing an article for Birdwatch Magazine which hopefully will be published in January!
Today was the regional conference for RSPB staff working in the eastern region. I was picked up and driven to Stansted where I joined other colleagues to listen to various lectures on the RSPB vision for future projects and recent achievements. I was staggered at the enthusiasm and the commitment of the staff and how much the RSPB has progressed on some of its recent projects and reserves. I found the lectures on the Wallasea project and Old Hall Marshes very interesting and how they have overcome some of the problems encountered. We also enjoyed a lecture from the head of Buglife who had some interesting facts to impart.We finished the day with a professor from the university of Essex who gave a presentation on the link between mental health and the importance of connecting with nature. His statistics were very revealing and extremely thought provoking. An excellent day that certainly inspired me to keep persuading people to join such a wonderful conservation organisation.
I joined John at Cley and together we watched two Stonechats and a small group of Tutnstone at Salthouse as well as a Little Egret to the westof the beach road. We failed to find the reported Shorelarks. At Cley we added Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Guillemot and several groups of Eider to our day list as we spent some time looking out to sea. Amongst the Brent Geese John picked out a Light-bellied Brent Goose amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Geese.
We drove to Stiffkey where we were both delighted to watch a male Hen Harrier hunting over the marsh. We enjoyed watching it for sometime before seeing two Marsh Harriers 'playing' further out towards the beach over the marsh. A sparrowhawk zoomed across infront of us as a Kestrel hovered towards Wells.
I knew high tide was early today so I made an effort to be at Titchwell early in the morning only to find that Chris and Colin had beaten me to it! They are both regulars so I knew I would be in good company. On the tidal pool a Kingfisher zipped by me and landed in an area of shade by the bank. I could see a small flock of Long-tailed Duck bobbing around just beyond the breakers. They looked stunning in the light and cursed that I had not brought my Canon camera with me as they were close enough for a shot. I scanned the sea along with Chris and we located some more Long-tailed Duck towards Thornham and at least six Velvet Scoter amongst the Common Scoter. A Black-throated Diver was offshore along with a Red-throated Diver. Chris and Colin went for a cup of tea and left me scanning an area of sea where earlier they had seen a Great Northern Diver. It didn't take me long before I added not one but two Great Northern Divers to my tally. Chris had located four altogether but I failed to find the other two. Thirty plus Red-breasted Merganzers were out at sea over towards Brancaster. Common Eider were also in abundance.
On Thornham Pool Chris and I watched two Water Pipits picking their way over the mud.
After lunch I made my way to Bircham Newton where I located the Pink-footed Goose flock just off the Docking road. I soon located the Todd's Canada Goose but was thwarted in my efforts of watching it by the arrival of a photographer with a big lens who promptly got out of his car and up they all went! I cursed him! Eventually the photographer went and the geese settled back down. Watching from my car it took me some time to relocate the Todd's Canada Goose but with careful scanning it reappeared and so did two Barnacle Geese!
Todd's Canada Goose amongst the Pink-footed Geese
Meadow Pipit Stonechat
It had been an exceptionally cold night and so I set off in frost to walk Roydon Common and Grimston Warren. It was very pretty as the frost glistened in the sun on the bracken and heather. A Robin chased a Stonechat as I set off up the hill and over onto Grimston Warren. Down on The Delft the water was frozen and 4 Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe flew as I made my way along the track by the side of the pool. I crossed over to the other track and on my way back I almost stepped on 2 Jack Snipe. I was annoyed as they have been within six feet of my foot as they flew off together silently landing just ahead of me. I kept an eye on them and where they had landed. I was confident that I would refind them but it was not to be and I was slightly distracted by a Little Egret that was flying by the side of the track looking for somewhere to land.
After making my way back up to the top of the common, a family party of Stonechat were buzzing around. The local Robin was none too pleased as he chased the youngsters off at every opportunity. Twent- five Meadow Pipits were feeding on the ground as I approached before descending back down towards my car where a lone Fieldfare was sitting atop a tree.
As I opened the blinds this morning I had the amazing sight of thousands of Starlings flying over my garden. I have never seen so many!
Earth Star ( Geastrum britannicum)
Leaving home as the sun rose I was delighted to watch the Pink-footed Geese flying in the pink sky.
John and I started early at Holkham Bay where we watched 15 Shorelark on the flat area before the dunes. A large flock of Linnet caught our eye as we put up a few Skylark as we admired a few Redshank feeding along with a few Common Starlings.
On the sea we admired a Great Northern Diver and three Slavonian Grebes. There were many Great Crested Grebes and many Common Scoter. We enjoyed watching Velvet Scoter too. The sun lit up the white of Long-tailed Duck that were present.
At Titchwell we joined many birders enjoying the spectacle of several flocks of Long-tailed Ducks. I enjoyed watching at least twenty but I was assured that there were many more that had now drifted down towards Thornham. I searched through the Common Scoter and counted at least a dozen Velvet Scoter. Red-breasted Mergansers were present along with many Great Crested Grebes.
On the Tidal Pool two Greenshank were present and the Water Pipit was still present on Thornham Pool. A Kingfisher flew all too quickly before disappearing below the reeds.
At Holme village hides we watched Gadwall and Mallard as well as two Marsh Harriers playing around. On the sea we watched more Great Crested Grebes and Long-tailed Ducks but I failed to see the Black-throated Diver that John saw.
At Docking churchyard we soon found the new to science fungi. I counted 42 Earth Star ( Geastrum britannicum)
Parking at Leziate village hall, I walked over the road and followed the footpath to Bawsey pits and onto the iron footbridge just after 3pm to admire the many thousands of Starlings coming into roost. I watched in awe as the murmuration took place in the glow of the evening sunset along with another lady that I had met only days before at Titchwell.
I will apologise here for the lack of coming diary entries over the next few weeks as I have a very hectic schedule ahead of me and I am not sure how I am going to fit it all in!!
Kathryn and I flew to Prague in the Czech Republic for a winter break and visit the Christmas market that it is famed for. We had been warned that it would be cold and so we were well prepared.We were met at the airport and taken to our hotel right in the city centre. We walked to the Old Town Square and were soon enjoying some mulled wine in a local hostellry after admiring one of the best Christmas trees that I have ever seen.
Old Town Square Prague My beautiful daughter Kathryn trying a local dish of goulash
Kathryn and I were booked onto a walking tour of the old city, so along with four others we were taken by bus up to the castle. Here we admired the amazing views over the old city as well as one of the Christmas markets located in the castle grounds. I spotted my first bird of a Kestrel high up in the sky.More mulled wine was consumed as well as some of the local doughnuts. We enjoyed our walk back down to the old town and admired the sights en route. We had an excellent guide who regaled all her knowledge to us.We stopped on Charles Bridge where I managed to add a few birds to my virtually non-existent bird list. Without binoculars I managed Mute Swan, Mallard, Black-headed Gull,Coot and Moorhen on the river and lots of Feral Pigeons!!! I was quite astounded by the number of Mute Swans on the river.
Kathryn and Sue on Charles Bridge
After watching the astronomical clock strike three o'clock Kathryn and I returned to the hotel before wandering the around the Christmas markets now all lit up in the dark. We sampled a few food items before enjoying a wonderful meal in one of the many local restaurants.
Kathryn and I had most of the day at our disposal before our evening cruise and we investigated some other areas of the city. We started (of course) with some more mulled wine before visiting the John Lennon Wall where a musician was singing some of the old favourite Beatle songs. After a few more markets we wandered back up to the castle to have lunch and to take a few more photos at our leisure. On the bridge we stopped to watch all the Mute Swans and I added Tufted Duck, Magpie and Little Grebe to my now huge bird list of ten species! In the woods there were no woodland species whatsoever. Totally devoid of birds. I don't blame them migrating given how cold it was!
Mute Swans Sue in Old Town Square, Prague Cheers! Mulled wine going down well!
Kathryn at the castle John Lennon wall
We had a good day Christmas shopping in several markets and in some unique shops before returning to our hotel. In the evening we had booked a river cruise where we enjoyed a meal on board the boat whilst being entertained by a jazz band. For the last part of the cruise after our meal we braved the cold and went 'up top' to admire the views of the city all lit up as we cruised along the river.
Prague city by night
In the morning Kathryn and I only added Carrion Crow to our bird list and later in the day were taken to the airport. We had enjoyed our visit and would recommend it to anyone wanting a short winter break.
Working at Titchwell today I watched a Chiffchaff flitting along the path. We have had a Chiffchaff present now for a while giving a most peculiar call, which has been sent for a sonogram analysis. I also watched a Mealy Redpoll amongst a big flock of Goldfinch as well as a few Siskin in the Alder trees.
Travelling to Oxford in readiness for my son, Jonathan's wedding I watched a Red Kite somewhere near Oundle.
After a busy time decorating the church at Rendcomb in Gloucestersire we met the vicar and had a rehersal for the big day tomorrow. Afterwards the family, bridesmaids and ushers all met at Colesbourne for a wonderful meal all together where the two mums were presented with flowers. Thank you Jonathan and Sarah! The bridesmaids and ushers also received presents. What a fantastic evening it was!
Jonathan Sue and Sarah Jonathan, Sarah, Sue,Mark, Chris, Kathryn and Emma
The big day has arrived for the wedding of my second son Jonathan to Sarah Dowler at Rendcomb Gloucestershire. I am so proud of my children! After a slight hiccup with the vows, in typical Jonathan style we all enjoyed an amazing reception at The Great Barn in Tetbury. A good time was had by all, especially those enjoying the ever flowing Malibu fountain! Welcome to the family Sarah!
Jonathan and Sarah at The Great Tythe Barn Tetbury My two sons Jonathan and Mark awaiting the arrival of the bride at Rendcomb
Sue and daughter Kathryn Sue, Jonathan, Sarah and Andy Bryan
A walk on Roydon Common this morning produced very little in the way of birds but I did see a Green Woodpecker, two Stonechat, 20+ Meadow Pipits and four Fallow Deer.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Apparently my short article on Hickling Broad will be published in the January edition of Birdwatch magazine!