short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Local patch visits...

   Ive been stacked out at work of late but that hasn't stopped me getting down to my local patch a couple of times though.
 On Tuesday all was quiet, as it has been over the last couple of weeks now although that is to be expected this time of the year but some Duck numbers are starting to gather. Around 20 + Mallards and 11x Tufted`s were on the lagoon as too were the Mute Swan family. Both young were looking healthy along with both parents. A low count of just 3x Stock Doves & 15 + Lapwings were on the marsh . However a nice Cettis was on show at the bridge which was a nice highlight!
 This morning i was up nice and early & as i walked up the bridge with the sun shining on me back and the with the blue sky above me, a singing Chiffchaff was in the trees, i could have thought this was a gorgeous spring day! This was not the only Chiffchaff  `Chiffchaffin` away as i soon had another around the mooring area. As i made my way along the path i scanned the River where i had 36x Greylag Geese  along the New Cut and the usual Moorhens. On the lagoon was a nice number of 11x Gadwall.  As i looked out i had a Sparrowhawk going along the trees at the railway line.Then the Greylag Geese flock from the River went over head, towards postwick direction.At this point i was joined by another birder known as `Beefy` .We got chatting as you do and walked round towards the bird screen together .As we passed the screen i heard that familiar call of the Kingfisher.I turned to see it fly right by us and down across the path.We were both chuffed to see it and carried onwards round to the Marshes.As we did we had both Green & Greater Spotted Woodpeckers over head and as we approached the Marsh i said to `Beefy` how i had a Snipe here last week.Then as we approached the cattle pen 3x Snipes took to the air, zig zagging as they went & dropped down into the scrape!
We both stood and waited till they returned back to the Marsh.About 15 minutes later a single Snipe did and i was able to get it in the scope too which was nice. All in all a nice morning and nice to meet another friendly birder too!
  Happy birding,
   Shaky

Monday, 12 September 2011

Worth the wait!

 I set off yesterday to Titchwell in hope of a little gem of a bird ,knowing that i would not be alone but when i arrived at the car park  & counted 40 something cars i new this was gonna turn into a packed crowd, especially when the clock showed 7.10 am !
 I made my way up the path to see a crowd of birders along the bank looking down into the reed pool.Yorkie had been there since 5.45am and had missed the only glimpse, that of a quick Little Bittern flying low across the pool. Me and Yorkie started to catch up and watch the crowd increase.After a few flying Little Egrets and a Curlew , one of the wardens had just been told of the Cattle Egret flying.Immediatley all eyes to the sky(well actually some stayed hooked on the pool thankfully) and there it was flying from the new hide towards the direction of the car park.A new bird for me. Not long after this a Peregrine came over and soon was harrassed off by a Lapwing . It was around 10 am that we heard a yell of "got it!". The Little Bittern (240)was sitting on the edge of the reeds and was there for a few minutes showing well.I had it in my bins but then lost it as coats, elbows and heads got in my view!I was then kindly asked if i wanted to look through a birders scope which had a fantastic view of its striking streaks and bright bill.After thanking him, i relocated my scope and jacket among the masses. As i did i saw Jim and Debs heading up the path.They didnt wait long before they too got great views of this super Bittern. Me & Yorkie decided to see what was to be had at the Brackish Marsh and Island hide. We had a Grey Wagtail and a Juvenile Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipits, 2x Pintails,1x Spotted Redshank ,Avocet , Common Sandpiper,Dunlin, & Ruff.
 We decided to head back to the car park and as we did the Little Bittern had just come out in the open again and was giving great views.Couldnt have got any better views then this-magic! A super mornings work.
 Happy Birding,
  Shaky

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Work travels & local patch up date...

 This week Ive been working in the south of Norwich where i have been monitoring the activities of the House Martin colony . Of the 22 nests , 4 are still being used with hungry young inside( obivously there second brood) . I watched as a few adult birds  came back & forth to the nest.As i watched these small hungry hirundines receive food from there parents i thought of how they would very soon be on the wing and flying south wards making that long journey to there wintering grounds.
 On my lunch break on wednesday i sat and counted 32x Pied Wagtails in Tescos car park at Harford Bridge.I remember last year counting up to 50 + at one lunch break.I want to come back one evening this winter to get a count of the numbers that roost here.
 Over in Sprowston Thursday i watched a Sparrowhawk dive into a bush of House Sparrows.I then watched as it seemed to get stuck and took at least a minute to scramble out of there empty handed!
 At my local patch this afternoon i had another 30 minutes of nothing other then 4x Egyptian Geese, a couple of Lapwings and a pair of Stocks Dove but as i found last week, when it seems theres nothing about something usually pops up and thats what happened again today.I was searching through the sky at a couple of House Martins , when a Hobby came over head with legs hanging and dropping down over the lagoon. It stayed for around 3-4 minutes before heading off over towards Whitlingham .A new tick for the patch and another rewarding visit!
 I may go to the coast tomorrow in search of something new!
  Happy Birding,
   Shaky

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Local Patch and Cantley

 Ive been working extra hard this week to get ahead ready for the Autumn weather and shorter nights but still managed to get to my local patch ,Thorpe for 2 visits. On friday it was extra quiet with no sign of the Common Sandpipers or visiting Greenshanks or even the Geese were no where to be seen( all with James at Whitlingham i guess).However a Cormorant and a pair of Moorhens still gave me something to study on the lagoon. I checked the Marshes and again nothing -but just as i started to leave off i saw something coming out from the vegetation...a Common Buzzard.It seemed to be pulling up a few worms.That explained for the lack of regular visitors( Stock Doves & Lapwings). As i reached the bridge i turned back to see the local Corvids  mobbing the Buzzard and seeing it off over the River and beyond Whitlingham woods.
 My second visit to Thorpe was this morning  and once again all was quiet on the water , other then a few Lapwings. On the River a family of Moorhens and 8x (7xjuv) Mute Swans. I made my way round to the Marshes and heard 2x Reed Warblers in the reeds. I stood still for a bit & waited for them to show. I know that any time soon these few remaining Reed Warblers will soon be heading off on there long journey South, so its nice to catch em still while i can. As i approached the Marshes 2x Grey Herons chased one another over head and then a flock of around 50 + Lapwings dropped in . I scoped up and scanned through, counting as i went. A total of 65 Lapwings  were feeding and  among them a patch tick with a feeding Snipe! I know these would winter here as its suitable habitat so hopefully this will be a regular sight over the coming months for me.

Snipe among the resting Lapwings

 Later on friday i managed to get to Cantley pits.I was greeted by friendly faces- Jim and James( nice to finally get to meet the face behind the blog James!) & another fellow blogger David. I was in good company and with extra eyes was in high hopes of finding some decent birds!
 As i spoke to Jim he quickly put me in the direction of a group of Waders in front of us-4x Little Stints and a Curlew Sandpiper. A great opportunity to get to study this Wader in good light and up very close!
 After a while we started to head round the this huge site.It quickly occurred to me that this was going to be Wader fest-as every where you looked there was Waders ! There was tons of Ruff , Dunlin and a good number of Ringed Plovers.Then a few Common Sandpipers and a nice looking Wood Sandpiper.

Little Stint

Wood Sandpiper
 A few Yellow Wagtails were among the mud piles and a few Greenshank dropped in. It was at this point that i had a group of 4x Curlew Sandpipers with some Dunlins.

Curlew Sandpipers and a Dunlin
 I turned my attention to the Reeds on the other side of the pits and heard that `ping` call of the Bearded Tit. I waited a moment & 2 appeared . Then at the foot of the reeds i had a juvenile Water Rail. A bird that has some how escaped me this year until now.I scanned out more and  noticed 10 + Snipe feeding in the muddy edge.In fact by the end of my visit i had counted a total of at least 25x Snipe. As i went to turn to leave a huge flock of Golden Plover  dropped in and quickly took off again.Another birder who was nearby pointed out a few that remained and were out in the mud.
Golden Plover
 This site is Wader city, a great place to brush up on your Wader ID skills and not too far from Norwich too. As arnie would say "i`ll be back"
 Happy Birding,
  Shaky

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Cromer to Cley with a Red Backed Shrike for lunch!

 I set off to Cromer arriving at around 8.30am to see around 10 other birders already standing with binoculars in hand.It soon came clear from the overcast conditions and lack of any sun that these birds were hiding up.I decided to walk through the woods and was joined by a few other birders who had came down from Birmingham & we begun scanning the tree tops.We didn't see nothing other then a Tit flock with a calling Treecreeper. Outside a flock of 6x Whimbrel flew overhead and 3x Wheatears were along the fence wires.Then after an hour or so i had a call from Matt who had arrived and said that the Bonelli`s had been spotted outside ,on the edge of the woods.I came to the woods edge opposite the play area (swings & slides) and then saw a few birders and Matt all pointing at some branches with a small Warbler on .It showed a very pale base, with white underparts and very plain looking face.A few chiffchaffs appeared too which helped with comparison.A number of people started to gather and discuss the bird. After ten minutes  the Western Bonelli`s Warbler (238) disappeared leaving behind a rather large crowd of birders happy faced.
Crowd gather
  Me and Matt stayed around for a bit and picked up a nice looking Lesser Whitethroat  before deciding to move up along the coast to Cley, stopping off at Walsey Hills for the Red-Backed Shrike.
Me and Matt arrived at Walsey Hills only to see a number of people from where we had just come from now walking with us round to back of the hill to see a rather young looking Red-Backed Shrike! It was sitting out among the bush tops giving nice views.We stayed and watched it as it went to ground to pick up different bugs & back to the bush top again. 
Red-Backed Shrike
  At Cley we made our way straight down to Pats Pool , once again bumping into more familiar faces!
Matt soon got on some Curlew Sandpipers and then after watching the 8x (wide awake) Spoonbills, i got the juv ,Red-Necked Phalarope over the back. Very active and busy, feeding in the shallow water.At this point  i picked up a Little Stint among some Dunlins and then a shout of  " Wood Sandpiper just in front of the Phalarope" come from a birder . I smiled to myself as at one point i had the Red-Necked Phalarope, Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint all in my scope, not a bad view! We managed to pick up a few Common Sandpipers,Ringed Plovers, Little Egrets among others before leaving.
Red-Necked Pharlarope
Spoonbill

While driving home the day was finished off with hearing that West Ham had picked up 3 points away at Nottingham -this really had been a super day!
Happy Birding,
 Shaky

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Birdfair 2011- Ospreys & more!

 My first Birdfair and also my first time at Rutland Water all started at 6am when we left off with Steve driving along with Yorkie & myself .The plan was to get there early enough for a couple of hours birding at the reserve before checking into the Birdfair its self. While travelling along the A1 ,at Newton Water we had a cracking Red Kite over head .This added to the already long ongoing birding conversation and how we soon too would have our very own breeding Red Kites in Norfolk, something that may happen sooner then later with the success of there breeding grounds spreading ever eastwards.
 We set up in a pull in at the Manton area of the huge lake.Steve had been here many times before and said we should get good views of the Osprey from here, and he was right! We had a adult Osprey flying over the water, then diving into the water to take a fish and then return it to the nest of which 2x Juveniles were waiting.This was something special to see- breeding Ospreys no more then 200 meters away from me & so relaxed and at easel with there surroundings.This was my first time seeing a breeding pair/family.My only other sights were of 2 passing through in Norfolk.
The pictures below were digi scoped but were taken as a cloud decided to set over us.Still they give a good feel for what we experienced.

Returning parent to the nest


Osprey and fish

 We spent a while here taking in the Ospreys as they hunted, bathed in the water and saw to there young ,then decided to move on to an area where we could park up and take an hours walk around the some of the lake. We picked up a singing Chiffchaff , followed quickly by another,a juvenile.Then a pair of Goldcrests and a Robin. We got down to a field overlooking the lake and picked up a Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk & a soaring Red Kite high up ,in the now gorgeous blue sky. Looking onto the water we had wading Greenshank, Little Egret and some Lapwings. Then Yorkie picked up a Green Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper along the bank edge. We started to walk up the field back towards the car and i picked up some Wagtails in around the heard of cows.We soon realised they were Grey Wagtails- a flock of 10 in total.The sun shining on there bright olive-yellow rump and yellow under parts was a nice view.Then as me & Yorkie were looking at a perched  Green Woodpecker, Steve then says `any one fancy a Wheatear?`  and then both turning to see him pointing to a fence post no more then 10 feet away was a Wheatear! This bird didn't seem to be phased by our presance at all and as we passed by i got a cracking picture. We had had a great couple of hours birding here but the Birdfair was calling.

Grey Wagtails

Wheatear

 As we entered the Birdfair i brought a T-shirt (ur no doubt see me modeling it soon down at Thorpe !).Will we looked in a couple of marquees and after much bird chat and looking through brochure's along with a few competition entries, we got settled in the events tent ( bumping into Jim & Debs)  to listen to `The ghosts of gone birds` a discussion on extinct birds and how many more are heading that way too.With help from artists, musicians,poets and top names in the birding world he is making a film called the `Bird Effect`, keep a look out for it. After a video clip of one of my favourite actors, Phil Daniels (he `feeds the pigeons and sometimes feeds the sparrows too`) we decided to continue on checking out the many stalls.
 Over lunch ,back at the car we had a pass over Hobby and a Sparrowhawk.
 Back at the marquees we got chatting to a number of different Nature  & Conservationers /Tv Presenters /writers too as we went about our way , like Mike Dilger (very nice chap), David Lindo (a real top bloke with a massive love for everything Urban ) and a very brief encounter with Bill  Oddie!


Steve,Yorkie,Mike Dilger & myself
 The buzz from not only getting to chat to these tv presenters that you watch and listen to or magazine editors of which you enjoy reading, its that every single person that you are surrounded by are like minded as you , sharing the same love that you do for our feathered friends.
As we made our way through the last marquee i bumped into a few more birders from norfolk- Justin,Andrew and Steve and then we were greeted by the ever characteristic Johnny Kingdom.A real nature lover!
 We had a fantastic day out here at this wonderfull reserve and to any one who hasnt been before i really recommend it!
  Happy Birding,
   Shaky

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sundays birding...

 I arrived at my usual patch around 8 am and made my way straight to the pool of water (is it a lagoon ?) and checked out the scrape and spit. A single Common Sandpiper was bobbing and a Moor hen among the reeds . No sign of the Green Sandpipers or the Greenshank flock i picked up last week There were8x Egyptian Geese  on the water and my first returning Tufted Duck was at the waters edge among the reeds. Other then a Green Woodpecker and a calling Reed Bunting all was quiet so i headed off to Surlingham !
 I meet up with Jim at 9.15am and we headed of to the hide (more of a bus shelter) which looks over the pool. There were  Tufted, Shovelers and Teal among the usual stuff. Further along we picked up some bathing Butterflies, Red Admirals, Gate keeper and Small Whites. The circuit wouldn't be complete without the Little Owl showing for us in the dead tree & it didn't disappoint. We decided to check out Rockland broad which is just up the way .
 We made our way up along the path with the wall one side of us and the marsh the other, in the beautiful sunshine and picked up a hovering Kestrel and a flying Cormorant and then rustle in the reeds along the wall.....a pair of Mink were running through.Me and Jim quickly followed there path and luckily had them come to a clearing out in the open in front of us! It was my & Jim's first sighting of one. I think it was a American Mink as it showed no white patch under its mouth (although apparently this is not always totally true as European and American Mink can ocassionally lack this patch) they are viewed as a pest and  responsible for the decline in Water Voles and many water fowl but it was still a experience to see. We made our way to the hide and got gassing to a couple of birders from Beccles and as we did we picked up a male Marsh Harrier , Common Tern fishing in front of us and a close flying Kingfisher. As we left we picked up Chiffchaff,  Bullfinch  and a Chinese Water Deer. It was a good mornings work.
 Also of note , on monday last week i had a flock of 23x Mistle Thrushes in some  paddocks where i was working.I thought this was unusaul for the time of year and mention it to Jim & he later informed me, through checking some previous norfolk records that in 2009 there was a few sightings of flocks gathering of between 20 -40 birds in August and in 2008 a flock of 45 at the Norfolk Showground!
So keep an eye out when out and about birding this month for these cracking Thrushes as they go worm hunting !
  Happy Birding
  Shaky

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Swifts have gone & Seawatch at Winterton....


Winterton
Yesterday morning while getting the van ready i noticed a quietness in the sky-and then i realised the resident Swifts had gone ! This was 2 days later then last year.There`ve been good company this summer and will be missed but i look forward to there return and hopefully one will take to my roof  this time!
  In the evening me & Yorkie had planned a bit of sea watching.We arrived at Winterton around 7.15 -the weather was good,blue sky with a strong wind coming from the North, so we set up against the cafe using it as shelter.We got some good numbers of birds passing in the short time we were there.They were:
Gannets x5,
Osyercatchers x12,
Sandwich Tern x16,
Common Tern x15,
Artic Tern x2,
Little Tern x1,
Common Scoter x21,
Also on the sea were 6x Guillemots.
Only other sightings apart from the usual stuff was 2x Pied Wagtails which kept us company on the cafe roof.. All in all a nice hour and a halves birding!
 Happy birding,
  Shaky

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Weekly round up - Cley and Thorpe Marshes

 Ill start off with a trip to Cley with Matt last weekend .The main reason for me going there, other then some good views of waders, was to catch up with the large number of Spoonbills which have been present there for a while now, plus a quick sea watch.
 We decided to start off at the hide overlooking pats pool .We had large number of Black Tailed Godwits,Little Egrets, Shelducks ,Ruff and a nice adult Sandwich Tern with a very hungry Juvenile.
Sandwich Tern and juv.

Then we then had a Green Sandpiper in close to the reeds/vegetation. After a few moments Matt spotted a pair of Bearded Tits in the reeds in front of the hide. A cracking close view although brief as they soon took off.Also of note was the 2x Swallows which were sat on the fence wires outside the hide.I have never been so close to one and couldn't resist a picture !There beautiful colours of blue,white and red-chestnut really stood out in the sunlight.

Swallow
We made our way round to the North Scrape & as we approached we  saw the Spoonbills take to the air ,due to a huge glider went over the shore. Luckily they soon resettled on the scrape by the time we got in there.There were a total of 11x Spoonbills , all looking rather chilled out in the sun.We next heard a call coming from the air and soon realised it was from a flock of 11x Whimbrel flying over heading west.

Spoonbills

Back on the scrape we had 40+ Dunlin,4x Ringed Plovers,  1x Common Sandpiper, 1x Green Sandpiper , my first Wood Sandpiper  for the year and 2x Yellow Wagtails off down the channel.
 A quick sea watch gave us plenty of Terns: 3x Arctic, 7x  Little, loads of Common and  Sandwich Terns ,2x Little Gulls and a single Guillemot resting on the sea. Also 3 x flocks of Oystercatchers going west and 3x Curlew going east.
 While working south of Norwich on wednesday i came across a perched Little owl.Soon to be accompanied by a second.These birds always bring a smile to my face.
2x Little Owls- "U looking at me ?"

 That brings me up to today-Thorpe Marshes.
   Me and  Yorkie got down to our local patch around 3 pm. .As we walked  down it looked quiet.The weather was overcast and rained for about 10 minutes as we arrived but didnt stop 5x Greenshanks dropping in onto the scrape. A first for me on the patch and stayed  around for a good 10 minutes before flying off towards Whitlingham, showing there white wedge up the back as they went.


Greenshanks

 As we started to scan around the waters edge we both caught a Sandpiper fly in to shingle edge on the West side of the pool. It was a Green Sandpiper. Presumably one of the two that have been around here the last month.Soon after another wader dropped in .I first expected it to be the other Green Sandpiper id been seeing here but when we finally got on it, it was a Common Sandpiper.This was turning into a great afternoon! We watched as it made its way along the shingle and heard a Kingfisher go along the river behind us as we did. Then Yorkie picked up on a Sparrowhawk over the Marsh, sending up 20+ Stock Doves  . As we checked the pool we counted 13x Black Headed Gulls, 4x Lesser Black backed Gulls and a single Common Gull.Walking back we had 2x Grey Herons, Whitethroats and a single Reed Warbler.
 You never know what may turn up here, even when at first nothing seems to be about something drops in for you.
  Happy birding,
   Shaky

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Dartford Warbler and a few other surprises!

 I decided to head to Dunwich for my first Dartford Warbler, although i had been told of a pair at Keeling Heath last month by a couple of local birders i thought best to leave them alone and head to a more established area. I had read up on the breeding success at Dunwich Heath in a article last year so hoped to find some nice singing males.
 But firstly i nipped into a site between Minsmere & Dunwich which i heard was good for Crossbill & Wood lark (possible Dartford Warbler too).I parked up and before i had walked any where i had a cracking female Redstart in my binoculars! I didn't expect to get this bird here or any where on my travels as i know these are a rare breeding bird in these areas, so felt really privileged to have it in front of me.I watched as she went back & forth to a small tree.I patiently waited till she flew out and waited for her to return.When she did she perched up on a branch which made for a nice picture.

Female  Redstart
 I hoped to see the male but was not lucky enough to see it. I did however get 2x Crossbills over head which then dropped into a tree nearby.I managed some ok views but they could have been better( i find i often saying this!).I scanned for any Dartford Warblers or Woodlarks but no luck so i decided to leave here, a very happy boy with 2 super birds under me belt and headed for Dunwich heath .
 From Dunwich Heath car park i took a look around,immediately realising how huge this place was.I decided to make my way down at a slow pace, listening out for any singing Dartford Warblers as i go.
 It was after a few minutes that i got my first buzz of excitement....a super male Stonechat out on some gorse.Now although ive had a few of these over the couple of years of birding , they've been in the winter plumage.To see this male in its bright summer plumage was pretty special for me.

male Stonechat
Dartford Warbler(no.236)
I continued walking and after a few overhead Linnets and another pair of Stonechats i finally heard a singing Dartford Warbler.I started to try and home in to where it was coming from & then a quick movement up to some gorse caught my attention.I got on it but it flew down to the next gorse, then up again- a singing Dartford Warbler was out on show! I just sat down on some near by logs and watched & listened to its song.As i watched it ,it soon came clear to me that it was some what agitated.At first i thought it was possibly me but i soon noticed it kept flying over towards some bush and then back again away to my right. I kept looking around and then i heard another singing Dartford Warbler ! I now had 2 singing Dartford Warblers in my sights.I soon realised that they were both holding territory , and the small bush that the one i was watching earlier going back & forth to seemed to be where both the territory's met. It made for good watching and after about an hour i decided to head off,and as i did a cracking Cuckoo whizzed by over my head.
I really only scratched the service of this huge heath.I had a total of 4x Dartford Warblers, 5x Stonechats, 3x Oystercatchers and a flock of Linnets among other common birds.
Another nice mornings work.
 Happy Birding,
    Shaky


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Out of Norfolk.....

Sunday 17th July-
 A text from Matt Saturday night asking if i fancied joining him on a trip to Folmere to see the Common Rosefinch the following morning was very tempting! I decided to give the usual Sunday visit to my local patch a miss and to head off for a lifer!
 We set off at 7.30am and along the way picked up the usual Kestrels hovering over the roadsides and also a nice perched juvenile Common Buzzard which involved a pull over into the lay by to confirm its id. Yorkie had set off at a crazy early time to get the Rosefinch and text`d  me while we were on the A12 that he had seen it and was now on his way back. We were given some helpful info on where he had it singing from and where was best to view it(good lad!). We arrived at 9 am and headed down the side the of the golf course along a footpath and were greeted by a few other birders who  had heard it singing from a conifer tree. We all set up our scopes and then the song began.....super call like nothing i had heard before, coming from a large bush/tree in some ones garden so we all began to search for a view.After 5 minutes or so of it singing i got it .When i say i got it, i mean its eye and bill! It was playing hard to get and then it sort of showed briefly as the wind blew the leaves out of the way.I managed to get Matt & the other birders on it and then it showed briefly on top of the tree singing away, extending its head & neck up wards to produce that sweet 5/6 note whistle. After a while the owner of the house kindly allowed us onto her drive to get a  closer view (if only all people were like that ) and this made for a few nice record shots.


Singing Common Rosefinch (no.235)











Me & the gathering crowds
We had spent a good hour and a bit with this cracking bird and decided to check the nearby reserve at Folmere its self.
 The sight its self is a RSPB Reserve, having a mixture of reed beds, fen ,grassland and some open water. We headed into the first hide & i picked up a Hobby heading straight towards us. Also a  nice `purring call` came from above the hide itself.That of a Turtle Dove which soon flew across us to nearby tree. They apparently breed here in the Hawthorn trees and we were lucky enough to see at least 3 ,possibly 4 which was the most ive seen in one place before.

A `purring` Turtle Dove
 This is a really good place to spend a hour or two. With a good mix of habitat & good numbers of breeding Warblers , Reed & Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers,Finches and of course the Turtle Doves.
 This was a good mornings work and a big thanks to Matt for driving me there !

 Also i popped into Thorpe Marshes monday and saw that the 2x Green Sandpipers were still there on the scrape &  the single adult Common Tern but sadly no sign of the 2 Juvenile Terns that have been there previously.
   Happy Birding,
    Shaky   

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Week so far...


 Ill start off with Tuesday lunch time, where i was working near the building site that was providing wet mud for the Martins and Swallows to build there nests. I was glad to see healthy number of House Martin nests and too Swallow nests but was pleasantly surprised to see that in the 6 weeks since i was working here last a whole community of Sand Martins have appeared! I  was checking out the sand piles where the water puddles had been last time & it was here that around 40+ nest holes had appeared! I decided this was a good spot to eat my Mozzarella & tomato Sandwich ( i call it the `Paolo Di Canio` ). I counted at least 24 holes being used in the 35 minutes i was there , not to say the others weren't being used too though, i just didn't see any activity in them. With the House Martins nests in Norwich that i visit on my work patch and now this site, along with the Swifts nests (not a Hirundine i know but i always put them together) in my street ive got the Hirundines covered!



Sand Martin nest holes

 Wednesday i was at work on St Stephens Road when i heard Oystercatchers overhead , looking up i counted 3 heading towards Carrow Road way.I text`d Yorkie as i usually do with what ive seen about & he responded by saying he`d seen em only seconds earlier at work!
 Also later that day a quick stop off at Surlingham gave me a Green Sandpiper , Hobby & Sparrowhawk.
 Thursday lunch break had me popping back into my local patch , Thorpe Marshes to find both the  2x Green Sandpipers & adult Common Tern with its 2x young still on the spit.
A nice few lunch breaks i think your agree!

Common Tern-Thorpe Marshes

 Happy birding,
  Shaky

Monday, 11 July 2011

Thorpe Marshes & Surlingham

 I left the house at 7 am and looked up to the sky to see the screeching Swifts whiz over the roof tops (im gonna miss these guys when they start heading off soon ) and all of a sudden a Swift tumbled out of my roof tile above!I have read that sometimes they may check a few places out before they sets off on its journey south and hopefully they return to my roof next spring, well wait & see!
 Any way i got to Thorpe Marshes and straight to the viewing area looking across at the scrape and i notice a Mallard family, 7 young in total .Also 3x  Lapwings  on the end of the spit along with 2 x Green Sandpipers!As i carried on scanning the noisy Common Tern which had been going up & down the river moments earlier dropped in and then walked up to a well hidden juvenile & soon after a second juvenile! I was enjoying watching the parent Tern go back & forth with fish to the 2 young Terns along with watching the Green Sandpipers which were  making there way up & down the shingle. The Green Sandpipers were a first for me on this patch and had me thinking that perhaps I miss out by coming down later in the day/ evenings so more early visits I think! As i turned to walk away i heard & then saw 2x Green Woodpeckers  flying across from Whitlingham cp over head to the trees along the railway line, another patch tick for me.
I decided to leave here and head off to Surlingham and meet up with Jim.
 I arrived about 9am & made our way round with Jim pointing out a few Butterfly hot spots along the way. Check out Jims blog to see full list of what was seen but stand out birds were a cracking single Black Tailed Godwit on the lagoon and then a couple of Juvenile Green Woodpeckers along with a pair of Little Owls on the same dead tree( starting to get Owl overload !) A few pictures of the mornings birding.

Great Crested Grebe


Green Sandpiper


2x Juvenile Common Terns


Black Tailed  Godwit


Little Owl


Green Woodpeckers
 Happy Birding,
  Shaky

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Butterflies & Owls!!

  I decided to head down to Strumpshaw Fen but for a change not for birds but Butterflies! Still very much a beginner i took my id book and set off . I picked up plenty of Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells & huge amount of Meadow Browns. probably a few others that i couldn't quite id but then the highlight ( and the reason i came here) was the stunning Swallowtails.I headed to the far side of the fen near the railway track and had a pair mating(im assuming?) which made for a good photo opportunity!

Swallowtail

Red Admiral

Comma
Dragonfly wise-2x Norfolk Hawkers, 1x Brown Hawker, 2x Four Spotted Chaser & a few Black Tailed Skimmers.
Bird wise- 5x Marsh Harriers, a Hobby over the River and a Marsh Tit.


Norfolk Hawker
 On Saturday i was at my nieces birthday which meant a trip to my brother in laws farm. I took me bins and note pad with me & managed a few hours birding. Plenty of healthy numbers of Yellowhammers,House Sparrows, Sky Larks, Whitethroats Blackcaps, Hirundines galore,& Linnets. Also 2x Common Buzzards over there woods , a Kestrel darting along the sheds and the usual Barn Owl was in his box at the barns( not sure about young as yet).
 On the way back to the house i counted 9x Small Whites ,3x Large Whites, 7x Red Admirals, loads of Meadow Browns ,2x Holy Blues & 11x Ringlets(both the latter being new for my small growing list!) .In there garden later on while enjoying a BBQ and glass of Cider( cheers Matt), there were small flocks of Mallards and Greylag Geese coming in overhead , Coal Tits in the trees & i also saw a Goldcrest which Matt had mention he saw earlier in the week. I was thinking of packing away the bins when Matt mentioned he had seen a Tawny Owl on the roadside at the edge of the woods earlier in the week?! I looked across at Cat and said with a smile on me boat `it would only be fair to give it a slow drive home?` Well we weren't disappointed as i had not one but two Tawny Owls up in tree calling to the other!After a while (with a bit of help from some noisy Blackbirds, giving away its location) i got on one which was on a branch quite low and fairly close.As it was still light i was able to use me bins to get a closer view. I jumped back into the van  telling Cat what id seen while continuing on a little further up the road and picked up the local Little Owl in its regular spot. Always a pleasure! Then as i approached the next village we had another Tawny Owl ,this time on the roadside  (after chatting to a local birder probably searching for Worms or Beetles after the rain showers).It flew up to the tree above us and then another flew into it.I was very happy to have seen these super birds and i think ill be coming home this way more often!
 Happy Birding,
   Shaky.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Buckenham Marshes- 1st July

 A trip to Buckenham after work in the sunshine and the first thing i noticed was 2 x flocks of waders taking to the sky over the pool. I pulled up and took a look to the sky to see a Common Buzzard .Once the waders landed i started to check out there id. There were tonnes of Lapwings & young , 3x Oystercatchers, 3x Ruff, 1x Avocet, a single Ringed Plover , 1x common Tern, 4x Linnets, and then a huge amount of Black Tailed Godwits. I counted at least 60! They were looking stunning in the sunshine and were all in the air again as a low flying Grey Heron  went over.

 A nice hour or so`s birding.
  Shaky

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Its that time of the year again!

   My calender has a evening specially put aside in the month of June every year for our annual visit to the see the Nightjars. Its my 4th year now and every time has been a special day to remember.
 Yorkie drove us down and the evening got off to a cracker with a low flying male Hen Harrier, flying over the road in front of us, which nearly ended up in us ditching the car as Yorkie pulled over frantically to get a better view of it!As we were watching the Hen Harrier fly away from us, 2x Marsh Harriers appeared to our left over the fields, i started to get that feeling we were in for good evening.
   We parked and met up with Steve, Tony & Jenny and decided to scan about for a bit as it was still early& you know how those Nightjars like the dark. We picked up about half a dozen Linnets, 3x Blackcaps ,at least 3x Common Whitethroats  and a few rather smart  Herring Gulls over head but nothing too exciting until Yorkie spotted something in the Brambles and bushes .After much searching and bit of waiting Tony picked it up, a cracking Lesser Whitethroat. Ive only had quick glimpses of this bird before but this view was special as it was out on a small branch for quite a while & was looking rather neat. Then i spotted a Sparrowhawk flyingg left and then a Cuckoo going right - it was all happening!We then decided we had had enough fun scanning about as this wasn't the reason we were hear, no no  no we had a Nightjar to see! We made our way to our favoured spot,set up in all stood quiet  and waited for that super `churring` of the Nightjar to begin!  After no more then 20 minutes we heard the `churring` which seemed to be coming  from the wooded area in front of us. Then we heard that clap & call which they make in flight and got our bins to our eyes & soon picked it up flying to our left, showing its magical white spots off as it went. The buzz from seeing & hearing this was something i  always cherish as this was my first real birding experience, as Yorkie took me here 3 years ago and was one of the reasons i got so interested in birdwitching. Yorkie soon picked it up ,sitting in a fence post. Then it took up and circled us a few times. I'm not sure if it was cause we were there or it was just doing its usual flight patern but either way these were the best views ive ever had ,made even better as it was still good light ,so i was one happy boy! I managed to take a bit of footage on me camera but its not fantastic , but does show you how close we were to this superb bird-enjoy!  




After 45 minutes we headed off ,leaving behind the churring Nightjars and Bats that were about to a new sound .. that of a calling Tawny Owl. We managed to track it down eventually,in a road where we had parked our cars. It was calling away from a tree for a while & then appeared in flight for us all to see . A super bird to end our trip on.What a cracking evening & im already looking forward  to getting next years calender & setting aside a date for next years one!  
Shaky

Monday, 27 June 2011

Weekly round up.......

 Before i start with last weeks sightings i must mention last Sundays morning trip to Surlingham Marshes, where i meet up with Jim  (jimsbirdingblog.blogspot.com) who showed me around cracking little reserve with a rather mixed habitat. We had a good hour and half's birding which brought us a calling Cuckoo which happened to be in a tree directly above us (closest ive ever got to one) ,a flying  Little Egret, Marsh Harrier hunting, a Hobby darting through across us, a Garden Warbler singing and some nice views of 2x Grasshopper Warblers! All good birds but probably the best part of the morning for me ,(other then the good company obviously Jim!) was when i asked Jim if he still had the Little Owl in the tree that he had been mentioning on his blog recently? He informed me it hadn't been about of late but we would take a look today and see. Well your`ve guessed it..... it was there sitting out in view as if it was waiting for us.I was really chuffed as Ive only had flying views during the day , other views have always been in darkness so this was a treat as in fact the whole morning had been, Cheers Jim!
 Now back to the week just gone. I popped into UEA broad on my lunch break on Monday as Ive ignored this place for a while so i gave it 30 minutes .Well lots of young fledglings as you would expect- 2x Common Terns were over the main lake which was the first time ive seen em here along with  5x Blackcaps singing away, Mistle Thrush , 2x Song Thrushes, 2x Reed Buntings, 4x Common Whitethroats, 3x Sedge Warblers, 2x Reed Warblers (one of which was out in the open for quite some time which was nice rare treat) and  2x Chiffchaffs. As i left i scanned again at the lake and noticed a couple of Terrapins on a log, not sure where they had came from but looked beautiful in the sunshine. No camera or scope so i used my mobile (little bit dodgy but i think its good enough).

With regular visits to my father in laws house for weekend and mid- week dinners I've been taking time to record all bird activity down at Thorpe(station) Marshes as it's less then 5 minutes walk from his house. I've been trying my best to keep records up to date from beginning of year so here's what I saw Wednesday and Sunday !
 Wednesday gave me all the common stuff I expected (although still no Mistle Thrush yet) and a few new patch ticks. Before I get to them let's start with what I saw from the Bridge 2x Chiff chaffs, Gold Finches and 2x Whitethroats. In the bushes & reeds along the path heading to the cattle gates. 3 more Whitethroats , 4x Reed Buntings,2x Blackcaps, 2x Reed Warblers, 3x Sedge Warblers & 4x Cettis- 2 of which were heard from the usual bushes and 2 were seen going through a bush together ( always nice to see and first tine I've seen a pair together ) . From the cattle gate( concrete  platform area) looking out to the marsh itself was rather empty accept from 2x Stock Doves ( although probably more but high grass keeps em well hidden) and a single Pied Wagtail. As I walked round the far side of the lake I picked up more Sedge, Reed Warblers , Reed Buntings and then 2x Grey Herons flew across and dropped into the Marsh , this then put up the Stock Doves  , now around 8-10 and 2x Lapwings! I do love a good Lapwing in flight and I watched these two as they climbed fairly high up and headed off over towards Kirby Bredon. While walking around the other side I picked up yet more Warblers and decided to take a look at the Scrape .Only a single Pied Wagtail, which could easily has been the one from earlier.
Onto the water : 2x Great Crested Grebes, 4x Tufted Ducks and the Mute Swan family were still present. As I completed my circuit i was alerted to a noisy Crow, I looked up hoping for the Marsh Harrier which often passes over , but better still...a Common Buzzard ! A patch tick for me . I know that they probably pass over from time to time but I always seem to not have been there when they have! Any way as I passed the Mooring area I heard yet another call from the sky....2 x Common Terns flying along the river passed the New Cut.- another patch tick. On to Sundays session. Arrived at 2pm, blue sky and hot! Just as I approached the bridge , a female Sparrowhawk circled overhead and a Cettis was singing from bushes on train line. I had the same Warblers along the path as Wednesday although it wasn't as noisy as the hot weather probably keeping some in the shade( I know i needed it !) I approached the concrete pad and viewed the marsh - wow what a difference a few days makes, I counted 23x Lapwings , 4x Stock Doves and a Grey Heron! I've never had more then 3x Lapwings here so this flock were of much interest to me.Some were feeding and some laying down with the sun bringing out all of there colours of this cracking bird!


Stock Dove with the Lapwings
 I picked up two new patch ticks along the far side of the lake  too : a family of Pheasants  -2 adults and 5 young ones. They passed over the path and into the grass.As soon I passed them my next patch tick flew over me, 3x Linnets. I've heard them before, often flying away from me but finally got me eye on em. Also a nice family of Gold finches sat on the 'roofless' hide. Another bird that in the sunlight looked stunning.There were 5 in total along with a pair of Blackcaps and singing a Wren.


Gold Finch
 I scanned the lake to find the family if Mute Swans, 2x Great Crested Grebes, 8x Tufted Ducks and a Lesser Black Backed Gull. I scanned up along the river from the mooring area opposite the New Cut  to find 20 + Greylags & 4x Canadian Geese and 2x Great Crested Grebes all on the shaded bank.All in all a nice few hours in the sunshine .

Mute Swan,Canadian & Greylag Geese

 Happy Birding,
   Shaky

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Red Footed Falcon ,Felbrigg Hall & trip to Sculthorpe moor -

 Ill start off with an up date of this weeks sightings.Well after the excitement of the Roller (which I'm still buzzin from!) i was off again for yet another first for myself. I was struggling to work as the rain was coming down, so i thought id take this opportunity to either do some book work or head out to Horsey for the Red-Footed Falcon which was hanging around? Well the book work was never gonna win that one! 
I got there pretty quick and parked up near the pub & headed down the footpath picking up a few Reed Buntings and a Whitethroat. I noticed another couple with scopes up. They didn't have it but said they had been told it was around so i carried onwards. I set up my scope as i got halfway down & checked all the fence posts and Bingo.....Red-Footed Falcon! It was sitting out on its own (well not quite as it had a family of Magpies beside it for company) on a post. I was shortly joined by the couple from earlier down the path and we all enjoyed watching it as it flew into the air grabbing the insects and returning to the post to eat it..  A nice looking 1st summer male.Also of note was a nice Cuckoo perched on a fence post which ran along the bottom of the dunes .I headed back home but there was more birding to follow......
Red Footed Falcon (234)
  Me & Cat decided to check out Felbrigg Hall in the week. The hall itself was very nice and the food there was cracking (beef stew, yummy!) but enough of that, the action was down at the lake! I got some great views of 9x Sand Martins  which was really nice as we were able to sit & watch em go back and forth too there nest holes in the sand bank. We also got to see a nice male & female Mandarin ducks. Other then that the usual stuff was seen.After we nipped up to Cromer for some chips ( well u have to don't yeh)  and parked up in the car park just before Runton and other then the usual Gulls we had a nice close Fulmar pass us by- Lovely bird. All in all a nice day out. that brings us up to the weekend where i  decided to check out a new reserve and one that caught my eye was Sculthorpe moor. I've passed it many a time while heading to the coast and often wondered what treats were to be had there-so off I went . At the entrance I got talking to the warden who said 4 Tawny Owlets were around in amongst the Alder & Ash trees, along with a Spotted Flycatcher . Both were super birds to see but what really caught my eye was that 2 Bullfinch families were regularly seen from the fen hide . Now although not as difficult or maybe as rarer to see as the Tawny Young I have to say they are my number one British bird to see,so i headed off along the broad walk path over the dried out stream and up to the Woodland Hide. Inside a few other birders who immediately pointed out the common Finch families on the ground and on feeders. Then it got more interesting as a couple of Willow Tits came on. Although not for long ,it was long enough to pick out all the important features that said it was the Willow , not the Marsh. Also a few moments later the Willow Tit call which us always appreciated when struggling to identify .A few more Finch families and then a Marsh Tit was heard calling, and then seen.Outside and over the bridge i heard a movement in the bushes . I struggled to get on anything for a while & then I saw a sulking pheasant , but more colourful then the one I'm used to . It was a Golden Pheasant, first I've ever seen as I've not got time to get to Wolverton triangle yet. Now I believe this birds roots to be of escapee but has been here for around 4 years and had a female with it last year . Anyway it nice to actually see one and I'm sure I will head to Wolverton soon. As I passed through the woods I checked for Spotted fly but no joy but got a pair of Blackcaps and few more Marsh Tits. Then I started to scan around high up among the Ash & Alder trees. I found my self trying so hard to see the Owlets that I begun to make a large branch or a trunk into one ! After about 20 long minutes I got one! A cracking sleeping Tawny Owlet. And not long after a second and then third! I was buzzin at this point & as one of em started to wake up it seem to look down at me, at this point some people had approached me asking what I was looking at? Well I told them to look through the scope and see for themselves- then there was alot if "arrrrr there so cute ..." followed by lots of " thanks " !  They were so cute and also very well hidden.Got a few pictures and some footage to remember these little beauties.


Tawny Owlet no.1


Tawny Owlet no. 2


video
 I left them behind in search of the Bullfinch families . I got passed the dyke which was heaving with life. A few Azure Damselflies and a couple of Hawkers which I couldn't identify but great to watch.

 I got to the Fen hide and straight way in front of me was a female Bullfinch ! Super bird but could be beaten for me only by the male . And I didn't have to wait long as it flew to the edge of the bush in view. I got straight on it with me bins to really appreciate it's bold colours . This was a stunning male in its fresh summer plumage. As I got me camera out to digi scope it a Juvenile landed on the feeding table. Now I had the full set- bingo! I forgot to even check out the female Marsh Harrier which was perched on a post not too far away.I got me pictures and then watched as a male Marsh Harrier came in & passed over some food to the female in the air . The female then dropped in to the nest which was all caught on the live cam in the hide. Really was a great hide to be.


Bullfinch (female)
 


Bullfinch (juvenile)
 

Bullfinch (male)



 
After about 35 minutes of watching the Bullfinches feeding I headed up to the river Wensum. I picked up Kingfisher and a Hobby overhead which was nice & then a Cuckoo finally gave itself up and flew over. I started my walk back and had to stop in finally one more time to see the fluffy little Tawny Owlets. Proper chilled out they were.
 This place I recommend to anyone who as a few hours as it's not too big to get around , doesn't get busy and most importantly ... Has some cracking birds !
(also could someone try identify this Hawker ?)
Shaky.