short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Thursday, 27 January 2011

2011- Half way through January already! Here`s what i`ve been up to so far . . .

Well  after  New Years Day, i planned to meet up with Yorkie & Brian at Cantley Marshes to catch up with the Bean & White Fronted Geese( & possibly the Lesser White Fronted which i`d seen earlier in December).Before i had got into me van i started my year list off with a singing Blackbird in my garden, along with feeding Wood Pigeon & our new resident Greater Spotted Woodpecker out front in the tree. On way to Cantley i had picked up flocks of flying Fieldfare over A47 & Redwings in fields.
Cantley Marshes:   
   Parked up and on walking down to the Lads i disturbed a perched Merlin, nice bird to catch up with and my first for the Winter. Brian & Yorkie had got there earlier and scanned the Marshes , ,Lots of Bean Geese & few White Fronted Geese but not alot else. We soon headed in van to Buckenham Marshes. There we picked up a Hybrid goose(White Front x Grey Lag i think?) which was among some Grey Lagged Geese . The cracking Peregrine Falcon which is always on show in the Winter if you wait around for a while , was on a gate, giving nice view to then gathered crowd who were on search for the Lesser White Fronted. Before leaving we got Lapwings in fields & a Marsh Harrier over head.
 Strumpshaw Fen :
 Started off in car park .Scanning trees we picked up Blue & Great tits and then as crossing over Brian heard the Marsh Tit call, and soon enough we tracked it down in trees near the feeders. Quick look at feeders gave us the regulars and then on to the Reception Hide. Well in matter of seconds we had BITTERN !!! Fantastic views , similar to those i got a week earlier over the ice in front of the reeds at back.

Spent some time enjoying this super , ( but usually shy bird  ) and scanned the rest of the area .Teal , Mallard & Shoveler all seen and off we went towards the Fen Hide. On route we picked up on a  flock of Siskins which must have numbered around 35-40.They kindly dropped into some Alder trees & we started searching through in hope of there being some Redpolls which had been regularly seen with them in the previous month. None were seen although apparently heard, so we headed on to Hide. Nothing to exciting happened there other then me pouring  a hot Cuppa  from me flask and a Grey Heron dropping in , As we were getting ready to set off a Bittern flew across the reeds . Like a bus that never comes, you can wait for ages for one  to show without any sight of one, and then two within a matter of minutes of each other!
 We headed back to van as Yorkie & Brian had to be back, so i headed on to Ransworth Broad.
  Straight to the water and as i got the bins out it started to drizzle! I started to scan the broad and saw plenty on the ice : Black Headed Gulls, Shovelers, Poachard,Tufted Ducks amongst the common stuff.I got chatting to a fellow birder who was braving it in the rain. James was a helpful chap, in telling me about some Redpoll he had seen on start of pathway down to where we were, among some Siskins. we got chatting some more as we headed back to the spot. We didn't have to search for too long when we picked em up on the edge of the trees. We managed to tell them apart after some much debating. A few Mealy & couple of Lesser Redpolls were found among some Siskins. While there we also had 2x Treecreepers and a Nuthatch - always  a pleasure seeing this 2 Woodland birds. I love watching them make there way up (Nuthatch) or down (Treecreeper) the trees. It was a pleasure meeting  James , with his help in identifying the 2 different types of Redpolls & and I'm sure we`ll meet again while out birding !

  Before the sun set i headed to Upton Broad . I didn't have much to see apart from a lonely Pheasant and then as i was about to return a Stonechat appeared on a gate post1 Cracking little bird which ended up i being no. 49  for the year list . A great days birding & I'm already looking forward to my next day out in the field!

 Waxwings, Waxwings ,Waxwings !!!
 On coming back from work i checked in on the flock of Waxwings at the station. They were still working there way through the nasty, old rotten apples there & i was able to spend a few minutes watching em tuckin to there late lunch!

 After there i headed to Tesco`s  for some much needed ingredients for that nights dinner and i caught sight of a small flock of Starlings as i approached the car park. I was pretty chuffed to see this as i`d been wanting to see a local Starling roost on my own patch , even though it was a small flock it quickly got larger as another flock joined it & then another. I reckon there were around 250-300 within the 10 minutes i sat there watching from me van. They finally put on a nice dance for me as they swayed one way & then another as they descended to there roost which was a huge Fir Tree . Not something i was aware of  them roosting in, but it soon came clear to me how well covered it was from not only the bad English weather , but any possible predators. Plus when i stood underneath it i could see among all the kaos of them fighting for position, that it would be extremely warm up there . Nice spot i reckon! Anyway I'm off now to make dinner  :-)

 Bewick & Whooper Swans . . . 
  I nipped in to Catfield to see if i could spot the returning Swans of which i have seen the last two years grazing in the fields there. After a quick drive around the usual areas it was apparent that they had moved on to some where else then there usual spots.I drove some more around Catfield & into Sutton and finally i caught up with em! They were in a corner of a open field (along with two Chinese Water Deer) and made for cracking viewing !

I got some lovely views of them from the comfort of the van, making sure not to disturb them. I managed to pick out at least 6 Whooper`s & around 80+ Bewick Swans.The sun started to to set i watched as they all took off to roost.

Uea & Whitlingham CP :
 First visit to the Universaty this year & with the cold wheater we`d had  i hoped for a possible Gooseander or Smew (i know i was really optermistic but you never know with this horrid weather!), so heaeded straight to the Broad and scanned the water. Well there was alot of ice still and on it nothing of great interest .A single Herring & 40+ Black headed Gulls. Moor Hen, Coots, 2x Grey Herons, 2x Carrion Crows & 2x Cormorants. I turned my attention to the River Yare. I had flocks of Green, Gold & Chaff Finches in trees over head.Also 7x Long Tailed Tits ,6x Blue Tits & 3x Great Tits.In the woods opposite : 2x Jays & 4x Magpie, Greater Spotted & Green Woodpeckers & a with a Marsh Tit. As i slowly made my way through the flooded path which followed the bend in the river i scanned the bank . After a few seconds i caught up with a stunning male Kingfisher!
What a joy to see & such a great bird to stand & watch, as he was perched on a over hanging branch ,awaiting a small fish to pass by.Got close enough to take a picture too ,while watching him make his way along the River Yare. I followed him for a while & then decided to head back the way i came, once again checking the bank & bushes as i go .Well just when i thought me day couldn't`t get any better, i got a good butchers of a male Bull Finch! Not only one, but three!! 2x male & a female.

I was straight on em & watched there movements for the remaining minutes of light, which wasn`t that long (the picture has come out a little dark as a result but still a good memento of the afternoon! ).
  I checked in on Whitlingham after work for a quick scan.As i entered i noticed the huge flock of Greylag Geese in the Meadow . Probably around 150+ & among them the Hybrid Goose . After parking i clocked the flock of Long Tailed Tits which were making plenty of `chit chat` up above. I walked to the Water & scanned across. Plenty of Gadwell, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe x7,  & the usual suspects. I walked down a bit and checked again but didn't notice anything of  interest. Turned around towards the meadows and woods & saw o flock of Redwings on the ground, about 40+ , which soon flew off towards the fields at the back. As i walked back i saw Blackbird, Robin & Tit flocks but didn't pick up on the Siskins which i was told were there , Maybe next time ill pop over the other side but as for now i had to get back . As i did i got chatting to a local birded who pointed out two Snipe (possible Woodcock as it was getting dark and unable to personally  get the jizz of the bird) ), zig zagging over the water to only quickly fly back into the woods. A nice way to end i think.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Last bit of Birding before the end of year!

  Bank holiday Tuesday me & Caterina were invited to Matt & Gabby's house for a walk , followed by lunch. Matt owns a Farm in South Norfolk with plenty of land to investigate so i brought me Binoculars along to see what was about! Matt led the way around the Farmland ,along with Caterina, Gabby, plus little baby Ava who didn't last too long bless her, before needing some feeding & a nap,which meant the girls turning back, leaving the men to continue on!

The route which would consist of plenty of Hedge Rows, Wooded areas and of course lots of open fields . We quickly picked up, Pied WagtailCollar Dove,Blackbirds, Dunnock & other common shrub birds but the first real treat was a cracking view of a Goldcrest! It was just on the edge of a small wooded area , searching for food among some plants low to the ground (unlike my previous views, where it had been amongst tit flocks high up in the trees) . We were able to get up really close to this, Britain's smallest bird.,enjoying its very busy ,hyperactive life style, often hoovering for a bit, before grabbing what there was from under the leaves. A nice bird with  a great hair do!
 We continued on and while walking around the fields edge we flushed out 3x Snipe, 1x Woodcock , around 50x Red legged Partridges & lots of Common Pheasants. As we got towards the track leading to the old Barn sheds we noticed a bird filtering through the Hedge. A white rump was shown as it flew away, quickly followed by another and another. I recognised the quiet piping` call , and once getting the bins on it , i was indeed looking at a stunning Male Bull finch!  In fact 2x Male`s & 1x Female. We watched them from a small distance as they are known for being a very shy & secretive bird , in fact hard to see out of Winter season when the leaves come back & the hedge rows covered.  So it was really nice to catch up with my favourite British bird again and especially the Males gorgeous Rose Pink breast , against the Grey on the back- Cracking bird!
 We continued on , picking up Chaff Finch & Green Finches  and on coming towards the Barns , finding yet more Bull Finches!! I was getting a little over excited as i`d only ever seen 3 in one day before ,so was really made up, not only for myself  but for the species its self, as it was obviously enjoying the Farms peaceful & rich offering of food to be such good numbers. We walked more and in total counted  11x Bull Finches . Giving me and Matt some great views and plenty to talk about .
On way back up the drive to his house i got Reed Bunting in the trees & 3x Tree Sparrows amongst a flock of 40x House Sparrows- Another good bird not to be taken for granted ,as there`ve had a huge decline in recent years. All in all a good walk and a nice day list of 29 different species. I think me & Matt had earned our lunch!!!

Monday, 10 January 2011

2010 Part 2:

April was a busy time.A month to go before i got married & lots to do & plan. Still me & Yorkie had a days birding planned down in the Breck`s  . . . .stag do no.1 !!.
 We went  down the night before and after a few beers we got our heads down ready for an early start.
 5.30 am , -2 on the temperature gage and Blackbird  & Robin had already heard singing  from room window ,we were on the our way to Lynford Arboretum
  Parked up, and as the sun was beginning to rise we got 2x  Blackcap  along with a Chiff Chaff in the car park, Heading slowly down to the Gravel Pits we saw what we came for. . .a flock of Crossbills above on the tree tops.  The sun just catching them , showing there beautiful colours off - Cracking bird. Heading to the pits we picked up : Siskins, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Willow Tit amongst others. Sand Martin over the water was a nice spot too by Brian , who along with Steve had  travelled down from Birmingham that morning (early risers in deed).
 Headed through towards the Paddocks and picked up all the usual common birds along with a  Reed Bunting, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a Whitethroat. Already with a decent  start to the day list ,we set off to Weeting Heath.
 We got to the main hide and probably the easiest Lifer I've had was all ready & waiting. . . . the Stone Curlew,  standing out in full sight . An unusual bird to look at  but it wasn't long before we got out as it was getting very cramped for room as everyone wanted to see the star of the show. So we walked along to the next hide and caught sight of a Marsh Tit on a Feeder ,along with Gold Finch, Stock Dove and Mistle Thrush.
 Back on the road to MayDay Farm. A quick cuppa provided by Brian ( along with his endless supply of Cereal Bars- Top bloke!) we began walking  up , stopping regularly  to search the sky .Within minutes we caught up with a soaring Goshawk  amongst the gorgeous blue sky.. We settled down to enjoy watching this fantastic Bird of Prey for a while before moving on to the  Watering Hole . We sat down on some  nicely placed log and waited for the birds to come to us.With the scene set & the sun shining a gorgeous male Brambling showed well coming down close . Then a YellowHammer,  followed  by 2x Siskins  , 5x Chaff Finches & then at top of the tree bathing in the sun a male & female Crossbill. Alot closer then earlier viewed so a real treat . What a great little spot and i will be coming back to for years to come I'm sure.
  From there we popped in to Stanton Downs in hope for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but with no joy(But hey, you cant always get what you want! ) Although we get Nuthatch, Lesser Redpoll & Greater Spotted Woodpecker among others.
 We set off for the remainder of the day to Lakenheath Fen. A Wheatear was awaiting us just a minute from the entrance . A cracking bird and a first for me , Brian & i tried to Digi Scope it but failed (But boy we had fun trying!) The next bird we caught  up with , was on the `the Flash ` ,on the River . It was was a  Gargarney   , nicely spotted by Yorkie , right at the back of the river ,along the bank. We continued on after an hour or so & we arrived at the top of the reserve & sat down to  look out across the ` little River Ouze`. The sun was starting to set and the lads spotted a Cuckoo! Sadly for me i missed it & it never showed again , although made its self heard much to my frustration!. As we sat we saw Mute Swans and Moorhens & then 2x Common Cranes flying  low across the River . A good  bird to end a fantastic Birding (Stag Do) day out.
  * A day list of 74 birds & 13 Lifers too. I was one Happy boy!

1st May :  Day of wedding & an early rise (with a sore head , enough said) , full English Breakfast with me  Best man . . . Yorkie. We set off to do some birding around the surrounding land & broad in Wroxham!
 We manage a day list of 35 in an hour & half. No finer way to calm the nerves before the biggest day of me life !

 Honeymoon in Mexico was fantastic! Managed to sneak me Bins in with the Hand luggage and made good use of `em. Hotel we stayed in was right next to a Lagoon & set amongst the Jungle. Highlights being White IbisTri coloured Heron, Snowy Egret  , Black & Turkey Vulture`s around and over the Lagoon. Also Brown Pelican, Royal Tern , Kisabee at beach. We took trip out to  the ruins at Chitzen Itza and i saw Boat Billed Flycatcher, Yucatan Woodpecker,  Turquoise & Blue Crowned Mot Mot `s (such wonderful array of colours) ,  Red- Lored Parrot & a Masked Tityra.
  All in all a total of : 33 different species of birds. Every one of them  full of great colour & character!
 The next  months of Summer brought lots of  exciting trips out. I picked up Turtle Dove & Corn Bunting( Choseley Barns). Buff breasted Sandpiper & Eider Duck (Titchwell), Spoonbills, Green /Wood & Curlew Sandpipers(Cley), Lesser Grey Shrike(Keeling) Red Backed Shrike, Redstart & Red Necked Phalarope  ( Holme), Black Redstart (Glanford), Common Scoter, Artic & Pomarine Skua (Cley),2 x Palla`s Warbler (Burnham Ovary), Red Flanked Bluetail(Waxham) ,Yellow Browed Warbler(Great Yarmouth), Lapland Bunting and around 30 Wheatear`s! (Winterton Dunes). Osprey(Swanton Morley) & Whinchat(Salthouse).

      Autumn  weather brought lots the things in a probably my most eventful day out yet . . . . .
  Yorkie rang me on a Saturday evening telling me he was off the next day to Blakeney Point to see a  possible Willow/Alder Flycatcher. I was well up for going as i`d heard good things about the place, but was less excited at the thought of leaving around  4.30 am to be at Cley car park for around 5.30 , then the 3 mile walk along  only shingle,along with the weather forecast: cold wind & rain! Well we went for it anyway and as the weather man predicted- it was chucking it down! What didn't help was the fact that the wind was driving the rain in at an angle , which meant your body &  face was getting sore and extremely cold!          Car park was already getting half full & cars were pulling up as we left off- it was gonna be a busy at Blakeney! But we were on a mission  , and got walking using the moonlight to help show the way ahead until the sun rose.  

5.45am- Rain,Wind & lots of Shingle!
After a hell of a walk we arrived at the `Plantation` area. Basically an area of  3 trees  in a barren landscape , but apparently a real magnet for passing migrants. We got settled with our Bins in hand , scanning the area. The rain had made way for some much  needed Sunshine . Well within about half an hour Yorkie thought he saw the bird , although only a glimpse it gave us hope that it was there & that it hadn't flown some where else. We waited for around another 30 minutes ( by this time about 40-50 people had joint us looking back along the way we came) , you could see endless amount of birders making there way to us. It showed again & kept low & sulking but eventually it was out in the open & was able to get great views . We stayed for a while on it & luckily we did as a Little Bunting flew in to the tree next to the Flycatcher! Great bird  , being very chirping but soon flew off & later picked up so i believe.

Alder Flycatcher
   We checked out the area known as the `Loopings`. There we saw Redstart , Redwings and a Whinchat. Now starting to feel a little tired from the early start & from the hell walk up , we decided to start walking back. We walked through the Dunes this time & were rewarded quickly as a Short Eared Owl  flew right over our heads and then landed behind us on the ground. Cracking bird & a real bonus to the day! We moved on and tracked  back passing loads of  birders on there way to where we had just been. It felt good to have really earned the birds we had seen that day,  and i will always have much fondness of it , although not the journey!

 As winter really set in  the arrival of a super bird  hit Norfolk. . . the `Waxwing` . I had seen a small flock(6) near where Yorkie lives in the January but  this was a real treat, as there were at least 120 down at Exeter Rd, off  Derenham Rd. A little more then 10 minute walk for me. Fantastic views of what has to be one my favourite birds! I got to catch up with this little fella`s alot over the next couple of months as they worked there way through all the berries & apples that Norwich had to offer!

 Other birds of interest were Snow Buntings & Shore Larks  (Cley) . Both cracking birds to study, especially as they come up so close to you while searching for food amongst the shingle & grassy banks.

             Shore Larks (above), Snow Bunting (below)


   Strumpshaw Fen provided a fantastic  Spectacle , with around 15,000 Starlings, gathering up over the reed beds outside the Reception Hide . Putting a real show on- So good, that i had to take Caterina back with me to see it!
 Buckenham Marshes also was a must after last years great viewing of the Corvid Roost .I decided to share this experience this time with my Caterina , after she enjoyed the Starling Roost from the week before so much.With me Binoculars in one hand & a hot cup of `Rosie Lea` each to keep us warm we sat back in the comfort of the van & watched  the event unfold before us- Superb!!
At Cantleythere was a Lesser White Fronted Goose which i managed to find amongst a load of Bean Geese. Plenty of other White Fronted Geese there to confuse me but luckily it was the only Goose with white on its forehead and also alot smaller in size then the White Front`s around it.. Always a pleasure to see these Geese return to Buckenham/Cantley -Cracking!

  Final trip out to North Norfolk coast gave me great sightings of  thousands of Pink Feet Geese , Goldeneye, Sanderling, Turnstone, Twite, Linnet, Pintail, Teal, Bearded Tits, Whooper Swan, Siskin, Little Grebe, Long Tailed Duck, Shoveler, Red Breasted Merganser,Black Throated Diver( which happened to be my 200th  Recorded British  Bird!), Peregrine Falcon ,Rough legged Buzzard,Marsh & Hen Harrier.( Titchwell, Holkham & Stiffkey).
  Christmas was here ,so me and Caterina decided to work off the previous days food & booze with a walk around Strumpshaw Fen. A cold ,crisp day brought out Treecreeper, Barn Owl ,Great Crested Grebe, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk ,amongst other common shrub birds. But best was yet to come, as we walked back towards Reception we caught  view of  2x male/1x female Bull Finches! My favourite British Bird and i never can get enough of  a good look at the bold, bright colours& its bulky posture- particularly the Male. What a good end to a fantastic day out!

Caterina @ Strumpshaw Fen
 I nipped back to Strumpshaw Fen couple Days later as the water was still frozen over ,hoping to catch a Bittern wandering out onto the ice . Well i was right to do so ,as me & Tommy a regular birder who was  there got around 30 minutes viewing of two Bitterns out in the open!.One even crossing over the ice to the other Reed bed. This made for fantastic viewing and just as we were thinking of moving on, the other one took off , in doing so , heading straight towards us , then turning into the Reeds.These were fantastic views , giving you a great look at all the markings along its body- Quality! I was well made up and had a huge grin on me face for the rest of the day!

Friday, 7 January 2011

2009 & 2010 : Part 1

Where to start? I guess to when it really began . . .
I always had a love for me feathered friends since a kid but never got serious . But later on in life through my then girlfriend (now wife) i was introduced to Andy aka`Yorkie`. We got gasssin one night and he planned a evening for us to take  trip to Winterton Dunes  to see a bird  , the `Nightjar`. It was an interesting experience with  Yorkie giving me a pair of `White Socks` as we approached fenced  area and explaining what i was do with it! Although i felt a bit of a plum for swinging them around my head it worked ! Nightjar was circling over me within in minutes of dusk. Good memories and since that day I've slowly gone from popping out with Yorkie, to nipping  out on my own with flask and a Collin's for help! From Whitlingham Country Park or Strumpshaw Fen to going for long days out to North Norfolk coast!
By this stage i had began to record everything i saw and  a few pictures with my digi-camera .
At the end of   November , i spent a fantastic day out at Titchwell with Yorkie  and picking up 20 lifers and a day list of 62 different species. A great day out in a beautiful reserve
Also that month  i got over to Stubbs Mill to see the Raptor Roost . Got over 35 Marsh Harriers coming in, also Barn Owl up close , small flock of Lesser Redpolls,  along wit 2 x Common Cranes flying across, which happened to be my No.100 for lifer list- Happy Days!
Cley Marshes in beginning of December gave me first chance of sea watching.After a lashing of drizzle and gale force winds we picked up some Red Throated Divers among others. Along the shingle we got a fantastic close ups of Snow Buntings- i feel in love with there friendly little bird.There fantastic colour in the sun was a real joy to see , although when they went to ground on the pebbles it made hard work to find them again!
As December was coming to an end i headed down to  at Buckenham Marshes to witness my first bird spectacle , the Corvid Roost. Around 30-40,000 come in and gather as the sun sets and for a few moments  the sky was covered with beautiful shades of black  every where the eye could see , absolute Magic!
On to 2010-
    Whitingham gave up some very interesting (and as I've learnt over the coming year )  bloody good birds!
 With the Great Northern Diver , and Black Necked Grebe  on New Years Day and a couple of weeks later when with Yorkie & his dad Brian , we picked up  Red Necked Grebe , Smew , Ruddy Duck & Gooseander! (fingers crossed for a repeat of that for 2011!).

Me & Yorkie @ Whitlingham CP.
 Buckenham Marshes also gave us White Fronted & Bean Geese  , along with a fantastic looking Stonechat and as leaving the car park a very brave Merlin which decided to fly right out  in front, low  of our van following the white line of the road! It gave me & Brian great views of this compact little bird of prey`s colour & markings , as well as its fine flying skills!
  After that experience we headed to Ludham for the Whooper & Bewick Swans (it did mean getting  very muddy boots in the process but it was well worth it!)
  We ended up finishing at Stubbs Mill to see the Common Cranes and the excellent Harrier Roost. Great  way to end a days birding

Me, Brian & Yorkie @ Stubbs Mill
 Spring was hear and i had a wedding coming up in May but that wouldn't stop us getting some good, quality birding in , would it . . . . ?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Finally done it!

Well after talking about doing it ive finally got me Blog up and running.
First off im gonna just say a huge `Alright` and  `a Happy New Year`  to any one who see`s this and hopefully up date where ive been the last week and a bit very soon!
Bye for now,