short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

November-Patch highlights

  The month started out rather cold and the Broad was still full of Wildfowl and noticeably on the 1st my highest count of Pochards for some time with a count of 24. 
In fact Pochard numbers by the middle of the month were up to 67 (16th) and 62 by the end of month.  This high count of 67 was highest recorded count of the month of November and hopefully a sign of a good year for these I hope.
Staying with the ducks on the Broad , noticeable counts were :-
Gadwall-  24 on the 1st and up to 63 by the 28th. 
Tufted ducks- 92 on the 8th and up to 139 by the 24th.
Teal-6 on the 8th and 4 birds seen on the 24th & 28th . These ducks are always tricky to pick up as they enjoy resting/feeding along the broad edge and often go unseen so sure there's a lot more then I've recorded .
Shoveler count of 17 on the 1st was my only sighting of this species and was my highest November count . 

Now to a couple of highlights , starting with 2x Wigeon seen on the 6th and a single smart Drake seen on the 24th . Always one or 2 seen throughout the winter but always a joy to spot among the other ducks around . 

Drake Wigeon

Tufted and Pochard
Pair of Kingfishers were noted on the 1st and 8th of the month. 
Also a pair of Lapwing were seen on the 6th and s single Little Grebe on the 1st.
Now a good sign that the winter is now upon us is finding a Goosander and on the 24th late afternoon I found not 1 but 3 x Drakes on the broad . I was well chuffed as I had never self found these on the patch before (previous individual birds over years gone were picked up by local birders James & Justin) . It's always a bit more special when yeh "find yeh own" so these were nice to study. These birds cruised around the broad as if they owned it and seemed so much larger then I remembered once on the Broad water .



Other highlights of note:- 
With  the days drawing in earlier I'm able to stay to dusk and this has helped me centre on the numbers of birds roosting at the reserve . 
At least 10 x Grey wagtails were noted dropping in at the Rivers edge among reeds on the 8th .
10 x Meadow pipits were counted on the 16th and more heard as I left but couldn't be sure of how many .
Water Rail numbers again were between 2 and a high of 5 on the 8th which made for a nice noisy backdrop as dusk set in . 
A couple of Siskins were heard on couple of occasions from over on the Whitlingham side of river and a nice flock of 22x Gold finch were noted on the 22nd also. 
The pair of Stonechats which were seen throughout the first half of the month and then after not seen but after speaking to James Emerson he reminded me of how they went missing occasionally last year so hopefully I'll pick em back up through out December . 

Female Stonechat

Male Stonechat

The Cetti's warbler numbers heard on every visit as expected and 4 birds heard regularly . 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Away from the Patch-Hawfinches,Water Pipit,Brambling & Some Seawatching..

The beginning of November I decided for a change of scenery and checked out  Cantley Beet factory.  It's been 3 years since I last visited here and with a recently reported Water pipit and some number of Green sandpipers being reported by local birder Justin I headed off after lunch .
After signing in I walked up along the riverbank and was greeted by firstly a strong smell  in the air, then secondly  a flock of Redwing overhead landing in the nearby trees. 
I scanned the "South lake "  and soon picked up 2 Green sandpipers which soon flew to only land and join another 3. In fact by the end of the circuit I had seen at least 6 x Green sandpipers . Redshank was soon picked up and then the first of 3 x Water Pipits .  
I enjoyed watching them as they looked for food in among the mud piles . Had a chance to digi scope 2 together which was nice & as I got on a 4 th bird they we're spooked and flushed, I'm sure this also was a Water pipit but couldn't be certain .  
Water pipits
 A Sparrowhawk flew low over and then a female Marsh Harrier Which flushed 5x C Snipe  and a few Curlew.   
Bearded tits were heard and seen pinging which is always a joy for me as a bird I've never had as yet on the patch .
I didn't spend to much time scanning the marshes but my attention was drawn to 2x Marsh Harriers on the floor.  I soon saw they were tagged on there wings.  I watched as they playfully hunting over the marsh and landing regularly . After messaging a local Ringer who informed me that they were tagged near Great Yarmouth and one hadn't been seen since last September where it was in Lowestoft.
Tagged Marsh harriers

 As I near completion of the lake I counted 6 x Shelducks and yet more Teal.  
I completed the walk I checked out the small pools and nothing other then some Teal and Mallards.
I didn't count the number of Teal here but there was bloody alot !  Final counts of note were -
Green Sandpiper x 6
Redshank x 1
Curlew x 7
C Snipe x 5
Shelduck x 6
Bearded tits x 2
Water pipit x 3
Marsh Harriers x 3 (2 tagged)

  Next was my visits to High Ash Farm.
This is a place I usually try visit 4/5 times a year during summer and autumn. Usually with attention spent looking for Owls but this time I was looking for views of Brambling in yellowhammer (the later a certainty ) 

 It wasn't long before I picked up a good sized flock of finches.  Mainly Gold finch ,chaffinches and some Linnet , But the birds I wanted today were in among the teasels...... Brambling!  Actually there were 9 in total as they all flew up on to the trees.  After a while I saw 2x Yellowhammers join them and before long had 6/7 spread out across the field edge calling.  I nipped back the next day for another butchers and was treated to better,closer views and got couple of nice pictures  (Digi scoped as usual ).  Always enjoy coming here and was impressed by the large pre roost gathering of Starlings too 

 Now to Sheringham on the 13th....
   I joined Matthew shore for some Sea watching.   Arrived just before 7am as sun was rising , and quickly got set up in the shelter.  A good steady flow of birds, Gannets , scoter and guillemots mainly until our first Little Auk of the day quickly followed by a second ! 
Sheringham shelter, early morning
Common Scoter

GT Northern Diver

 The Little Auk was seen flying super close in along the shore line and watched as it headed past us west .In total we had 5 x Little Auks over the morning and was really the target bird of the day.
 Was nice also to watch a Short eared owl coming in off the sea and too seeing 2x GT Northern Divers past! Throw in a Bonxie and a Long Tailed Duck and this turned out to be a  good seawatch.
 A good total was had by lunch time after 5 hours of seawatching.
 5x Little Auks
2x Gt Northern Diver
1x Black Necked Diver
1x Long Tailed Duck
1x GT Skua
1x Short Eared Owl
1x Eider
8x Goldeneye
3x Mergansers
150x Common Scoter
and a nice Snow Bunting among others.
 Now at  Felbrigg on the 15th .......
  After hearing there was 4 x Hawfinches seen at Felbrigg over the weekend I waited till I was working in Alysham and managed to fit in a visit on lunch break. As I sat in van tucking into me lunch I spotted what looked like a large headed finch drop into the small tree in front of me and quickly swapped me Ham Roll for my binoculars and there it was , sitting proud , a stunning Hawfinch! 

 After a few minutes it flew off towards the Hall itself where they were reported to be showing near the Orangery  at the back . I made my way round and watched 2x Hawfinches fly off from the large trees and circle overhead. Lovely to see there white wing bars and to see that short tail & large head against the skyline .Also was nice to see other birders connect with the birds and to meet Simon ( local birder to the area ) and discuss this autumns Hawfinch evasion ! A great lunch break indeed and was soon back to work and feeling chuffed with the views I got.
 Now to my most recent sighting. While at work on the 23rd at Welsford road in Norwich I had 2x Hawfinches fly NW overhead. A cracking sight for any birder, especially while at work!
Happy birding