short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

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!

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