short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Friday, 27 May 2011

A quick round up ......

Well ill start off with saying i had a stag weekend  in Nottingham so no birding was done, other then a cracking view of a Red Kite over the A1 . Always a pleasure and i think the lads who were in the car with me enjoyed seeing it too although they were probably more interesed in getting home and into bed (didnt get to sleep till 5 am- think im getting too old for this!)
 Well back in Norfolk and at work it's been a busy month if your a Great /Blue Tit it seems as all I've been seeing is these energetic little birds fly in and out of my customers boxes as i go about my work . I counted on one caravan site I clean at least 13x nesting Blue Tits and 2x Great Tits . As well as finding a beautifully made Long Tail Tits nest in a small bush.
While working one day last week I found a lost little Long Tail Tit . I saw it on the pavement and managed to carefully encourage it to the bushes , where I watched it's parents come down and feed it . Such a cute little thing ! Also a young Thrush managed to perch itself on a window I was about to clean. I tried not upset it too much but think me coming at it with a squeegee and blade in hand was bit too much for it to take and it flew to the fence! The House Martins have returned to a particular area of flats in Norwich where i work. I loved watching em build there nests here last year and again I had to just stand and watch again as they made repairs to last years home or begun the busy job of building from scratch in some cases!
 Also I enjoyed watching a pair of Sparrowhawks displaying to each other in the air at New Cossey.They were doing some sort if 'bombing'  display at each other as I would describe it.Made for Very good watching .While working in cringleford i took a lunch break down at the river & was given great views of a pair of Grey Wagtails feeding there young , along with a Blackcap, Sedge/ Reed Warblers, Grey Heron and a cracking perched Garden Warbler . Also some surprise entertainment from a family of  Otters that appeared on the bank and then one by one all made there way into the river. Absolutely brilliant ! So good to watch as they 'clowned around' in the water. Probably my best lunch break to date!
  A BBQ at my brother in laws Monday gave me chance to search for the Little Owl that I saw there last year. Well it didn't disappoint as on the way home around 10 o'clock a Little Owl was sitting in the road. about half a mile from there farm. Me and cat just sat there in the van for a few minutes  watching as it made it's way up to the telegraph wires and then back down . Super bird!
  Finally i nipped into Strumpshaw Fen for an hour or so`s birding. A good decision as i picked up a Hobby, Cettis Warbler ( sitting out in view in bush near the Fen Hide) , usual Warblers, Sparrowhawk and then the best of the lot... Osprey! My first of the year and a very good view too. Must of talked it up as when chatting to Ben who volunteers there was telling me it had been seen there that morning. After watching it fly out over to Surlingham i walked back to the visitor hide and spotted some unusual Moths. I have to be honest here i haven't the foggiest idea about these little things but was kindly explained by a fellow wildlife lover that they were: Elephant Moth, Eyed Hawk Moth and a Buffermine Moth (hope i spelt these right !). Very interesting and a nice end to my week.
 We will see what the weekend brings ........


Sunday, 15 May 2011

12/5/11- Dawn to Dusk ......

 Before reading this you may want to make yourself a cuppa as its long one!
  Well i woke up  at 4.30 am and after a quick coffee was greeted by a waiting Yorkie in his car outside. On route to Steve's house we discussed with great excitement of the number of different species we could have come dusk tonight. We got to Steve's and jumped in and set off to Lakenheath with the clock reading 5.15am.
On the way all a agreed that we would try our best to make sure we worked as a team and that we all got to see the bird to count it. Well first bird of the day was was a beauty...a cracking  Barn Owl hunting over the fields just outside of Mulbarton. Herring Gull & Swift along with Blackbird and  Magpie(5) were soon added.We were using the trusty sat nav to get us there as quick as poss but some how we ended up at Weeting Heath (think Steve had mixed up the post codes) but we all agreed while we here to crack on.
     Weeting Heath -5.45
 We immediately picked up ChiffchaffGold Finch & Chaff Finch( 8) and as entering the hide a Marsh Tit ( always a good bird to get). From the hide we got Crow, Jackdaw & Rook along with Lapwing, Pied Wagtail ,Kestrel ,Collar Dove,Stock Dove and Wood Pigeon(18). But unfortunately no Stone Curlew? We checked both hides out but no sign .After a while we decided to push on and pop back later. As we walked back to car we got Goldcrest x2 , Blue/Great Tit, Dunnock & Willow Warbler(23)  from up in the Pine trees.
    Lakenheath- 7 am
In the car park we got gassin to some birders about the dip we had at Weeting heath . They began to tell us that they had picked the Stone Curlews up at first light from a different place not far away. So after a few noted directions we began to press on .Straight away a shout went out "Bittern flying"! We all got on  it. ( another superb bird to get under yeh belt first thing in the day).That Bittern put us on number (24) for the day list.As we made our way up to the bank, we saw WhitethroatSedge & Reed Warblers and Reed Bunting over the reedbeds . We scanned out across the water and picked up Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Shoveler, Grey Heron ,Coot, Gadwell  ,Tufted Duck, Moorhen,  Garganey, Mistle Thrush , Common Buzzard , Wren, Swallow and a Common Tern  along the river.A shout of "Cuckoo" from Steve as it past by us low and close was a nice spot. A nice male which flew off to the woods and called out its famous call for all to hear. We were then drawn towards the reedbeds on the left ,of a familiar reeling song.We all knew what it was but were we lucky enough to see it? After some good team work we began to track down the exact area it was in. I finally spotted it on a reed out in the open and then quickly flying into a nearby bush. I called the others over and we all got a good butchers of it, shaking its whole body as it produced that fantastic song. Grasshopper Warbler was our (44) bird  of the day & bloody good one at that!

Grasshopper Warbler

Onwards along the river bank we picked up only Marsh Harrier, Canadian /Greylag Geese. We made our way around the reeds, away from the river and spotted what i first thought was a distant Cuckoo, to be corrected by the lads as a Hobby! (This was a good example of  where a good bit of team work comes in). A nice bird that we would later pick up  with closer views. As we made our way down to the East & West woods to try for the Golden Oriole Yorkie spotted a Kingfisher flying over the reedbeds . We got on it and  decided to sit on the bench opposite the woods and eat a baguette that Steve had made for us ( what a good chap!). We saw a few other birders around who said they could all hear it but not see it, which is usually the case. So we headed round to the other side along the railway track in hope of it showing. We spent around an hour there listening  to this gorgeous, exotic bird singing away but doing its best to keep itself from our view. Then all of a sudden Yorkie gave that shout we had be waiting for " i`ve got it". A mad rush over to him but it had moved by the time we got our bins to our eye lids. Apparently Yorkie had it out in the open on a branch.(very jealous)  As we eagerly carried on scanning i thought that i had a glimpse of it in flight,(although it was just  for a second) only to see it  land and turn out to be  a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. But we carried on and after a while i did eventually see it. A quick view in flight but still a view and more importantly for me a Lifer! Golden Oriole was our (51) bird of the day.   
Popular Trees- home to the Golden Oriole
Steve also got a quick glimpse moments after i had it so we started to make our way back towards the car.As we did we got Black Headed Gulls and 4x Shelducks overhead putting us on a total of (53).
  Foxhole Heath- 10.45
We pulled in and quickly scanned for Stone Curlews. No sign but did get Skylark and 2x WoodlLark.
  Lackford Lakes- 11.00
We headed straight to the area where the Tree Sparrows are known to `hang out`. We checked the feeders  and then in the bushes i spotted 2x Tree Sparrows and got the others on it. Pheasant was easily picked up and then Meadow Pipit in a tree. Yorkie then picked out a House Martin & i spotted a Turtle Dove (60)
along the wires over the fields. Lovely bird and only the second time i've seen one and first time perched, so i made sure i took a few moments to enjoy this cracking view along with the others.

Turtle Dove
Cavenham Heath- 11.55am
  After following the directions we arrived at the Heath. Good Stone Curlew territory. We all scanned around and after about 20 minutes Yorkie picked  up a Stone Curlew  out in the open. My only other view of this splendid bird was at Weeting Heath  last year on a blazing hot day which made for bad views with the heat haze so this was a real treat. As i scanned across to digi scope a picture i spotted a Green Woodpecker (62)just making its way along the ground . Another cracking view too and nice for me & Steve to get it as Yorkie had already picked one up earlier at Weeting Heath. We got back on the road to try for the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Stone Curlew
 Stanton Downham- 12.45 
  We parked up & poured ourselves a nice cuppa  coffee and tucked into some of Steve's cracking Baguettes( this time a Beef and salad- good choice Steve!) and spoke about where we needed to go . As we made our way to the bridge we saw a Spotted Flycatcher . A cracking bird that i had not expected to get today so a real bonus bird.It was typical Flycatcher, flying off and returning to the branch and sitting out in the open. Super!

Spotted Flycatcher
  We turned left at the bridge, with the river to our left.We got on some Starlings (64) and then 2x Siskins  .As we followed them across the river into some trees we got another Spotted Flycatcher! We really felt our luck was in as we didn't expect either of these birds today.We continued on  & picked up a beautiful Kingfisher on the river and then got a stunning  male Mandarin Duck  on the other side of the river. Soon after a female appeared too. My first and a good picture moment. Then singing out in the open was our first Blackcap (68) of the day -Lovely Jubly.

Mandarin Duck(228)

Singing Blackcap

As we got to the chosen area a fantastic Hobby went overhead with the sun hitting it as it went. Absolutely super ! A good bird to see again. We got to the tree and found the small hole .Set up & waited patiently. Well we think it must have been sitting on eggs as we saw no sign of either male or female . The only bit of excitement was when Steve saw a Great Tit fly into a hole next to the Lesser`s hole. We had given it 45 minutes and decided to walk back. As we did we got a couple more Marsh Tits  and a Wren as the rain came.We got back to the car a bit wet and headed for the North Norfolk coast. On route we got Jay, Green Finch, House Sparrow and Grey Partridge  giving us a totall of  (73) birds. We popped in to see if we could get the Montagu`s Harrier but no joy but did get nice views of  displaying Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk  (74)
  Choseley Barns- 5.05 pm
We pulled up and checked the ground and wires but no sign of the bunting. Then we heard .... "a little bit of bread and no cheeseeeee` call from the tree opposite (that's from watching too much Bill Oddie!).A Yellow Hammer was sitting on top of it.  After getting on it i looked backed at the wires further down the fields and saw something on em. Steve & Yorkie both agreed that it looked very much what we had come for but wanted a closer look to confirm it. Out come the scope and yes it was a Corn Bunting. As we all got a butchers in the scope it gave us a minute of its song, that jangling of keys ( that's enough of  Mr Oddie ). We also got a Robin (77) on the gate  as we drove off to Titchwell.
  Titchwell- 5.50 pm
 We parked up towards the far end of the car park as Steve said that this was a known spot for Lesser Whitethroat. We tucked into our final baguette of the day a cheese with tomato & a nice onion garnish (my particular favourite of the day) anyway back to the birds ! We waited no more then a couple minutes before we were treated to a couple of glimpses of a Lesser Whitethroat .From the car park we got Greater Black Backed Gull  and  views of common shrub birds. We made our way up to the main path and checked the reedbeds for possible Bearded Tits but as the lads said it was probably a bit too windy for em. We soon got Oystercatcher & Brent Geese (81) flying over along with more Swallows, House Martins but sadly no Sand Martins(after much looking). We then got our way into the Island Hide. On the water was Avocet, Black Tailed Godwits,  2x cracking Pintails, Pochard & 2x Teal . On the Scrape were Turnstone, Widgeon, Dunlin, Redshank ,Little Grebe, Lesser Black Backed Gull and a Common Sandpiper. The lads also got a Ruff but unfortunately i missed it and we were unable to pick it up again. Then the lads spotted a Little Stint between the two scrapes. A good spot and only the second time i`d seen one. Then i had a Sandpiper to the right of the hide ,resting up near the reeds. Yorkie got on it with Steve and identified it as a Green Sandpiper (95).

Black Tailed Godwit

Common Sandpiper
We made our way to the Parrinder Hide but as we did we scanned across the scrape and got Common Gull  ,Linnets flying over and Ringed Plovers . Then Yorkie saw what was a possible Temmincks Stint! A first for me a great bird to get on the list. We were careful to check with the trusty Collins first and then once we had confirmed  it , it was hand shakes all round!
Temmincks Stint (229)
After all that excitement we checked the brackish marsh . Not much at all (very dry) other then Meadow Pipits & Ringed Plovers. We then walked back out and along towards the beach but as we did we noticed a couple of Plovers drop in on the Brackish Marsh. These were Little Ringed Plovers (100) They were calling to each other on the ground, the closest views i`ve had of them to date. We all checked them out ( although Yorkie needed a bit of convincing at first but enough said about that ay Yorkie!)

Little Ringed Plover
 Sea watch:-     We were able to add Curlew ,Cormorant ,Sanderling & a Grey Plover .I spotted a Little Tern out at sea and Steve picked up a single Bar Tailed Godwit on the mud. As we walked back with the sun now starting to drop we agreed to end at Hunstanton for a Fulmar. As we did i noticed something to the left of me in the salt marsh. It was a Wheatear! (107)I got the lads on what was our final bird from Titchwell.
 Hunstanton Cliffs- 8.30 pm
We got down to the cliff tops and were given Feral Pigeon  overhead and then a gorgeous Fulmar standing on the cliff top. There were at least 5 seen as the sunset -A nice bird to end the day on.As we drove home and  chatted about the days birds the lads saw a Little Owl fly across em. Unfortunately i was sitting in the back and missed it.

Hunstanton Cliffs- home to the Fulmar
   We had ended the day on a total of  111 . I had missed the Little Owl & Ruff which would have given me an extra 2 & Yorkie missed out on the Goldcrest but other then that we managed to all see the others which i thought was really good. I also had a bonus of picking up 4 Lifers too so that was extra special .
 It was a  really fantastic day with lots of good memories to remember. Thanks to Steve for driving (and providing the pukka Baguettes) & to Yorkie too.So hears to next years!

The crew: Me, Yorkie & Steve

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Buckenham Marshes & Swifts are back in my street !!

 Well I decided to pop down to Buckenham Marshes  before i started work as i hadn't given it a real look other a quick 30 mins the other day so felt it was about time i went. Parked up at the hide and checked the river as I walked but nothing of interest.As I walked along the path bank i enjoyed the Sedge Warblers singing and calling to each other and occasionally catch one as it parachuted down into the reeds. A few Reed Warblers were heard too but couldn't see one .

Grey Heron passing the Mill
 As I approached the Mill I noticed a few House Martins as they flew over me and landed on the marsh to pick up some mud ( no doubt for some house repairs!) . It's nice to get a view of this busy little bird on the ground for a change rather then in the air or occasional wire. Also among the marsh floods was a Redshank with 1x young. Following its parent around, a little wobbly on its feet but managing to keep pace.

Redshank with young

Grey Heron passed over as i approached the Mill, and from here i picked up  a flying Marsh Harrier,  more Redshank, Teal ,Shovelers, Shelduck , Widgeon, Gadwell and a flying Little Egret . The bushes in front held a Whitethroat, 2x Linnets & a Reed Bunting . As I Lent up against the Mill I was drawn towards the fence posts as a pair of Pied Wagtails were calling . I watched em for a while ( noting the darker back and front compared to the paler , White Wagtails that i had been seeing the last few weeks. Don't think ill ever look at a Pied Wagtail the same now!) ) , and it soon come apparent that I was the reason for all this alarm. Moving away I watched as they flew down with food to where I had been standing. Obviously young were needing of feeding !

male\female Teal & Redshank

Pied Wagtail  (pleased that i finally cleared off!)

   I was next drawn to the sky as I could hear a 2 note alarm call . I searched the sky and there it was descending and then climbing ..... Snipe . I've been trying to catch a male do this in my travels over the past weeks , so i sat down  took out my drink and watched & waited for that drumming like noise that it produces with it's outer tail feathers opening as it descends, to begin .The noise was great to hear, a real buzzy kind of noise. It was up there in the sky for at least 10 minutes so I started to check the ground to see what was causing him to stay up . I spotted a person doing some sort of  measuring to the land below(probably something more scientific then that )  where the Snipe was flying. I was pleased to have got to see this and made a note to come back here again and wait for a Snipe to entertain me  again as it had today. Superb . On arriving back home I sat with a beer in me garden watched the Swifts overhead screaming away as they twist and dive , picking out whatever they could find to add to there nest or bugs for food. They first arrived here in my street May 4th , a total of  7 were counted. Now there were 18 ! It really feels like it's spring when I lay in bed and I can hear the screaming of the Swifts over the singing of the Blackbird & Robin . Time for bed me thinks........

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Woodchat shrike , Minsmere ,Winterton & buckenham marshes

 A quick round up of what ive been seeing this past week or so. Me and Matt popped down to Suffolk to get my first Woodchat Shrike . We got to Westhall around 11 am and had just missed it by few minutes but were told it had just gone down among the dung heap ( nice!) . We got set up , chatting to the locals and waited. After around half hour( in which time 4 or 5 birders had been and gone) a birder had it above him on the telegraph wires . What a bird . I mean who wouldn't love seeing such a striking colourful bird . With it's White and black body , super black eye band & that it's rusty red crown. Superb ! After a few more pictures and views we decided to head to Minsmere.

Woodchat Shrike(226)

Woodchat Shrike(226)

 Minsmere-  At entrance we pulled in to the known area of bushes to see if we could get a Nightingale . Well after a few minutes I spotted a singing Nightingale  out in the open for around half a minute before dropping down to the next bush.With that in the bag we headed down to the Island Mere Hide . We were greeted with noisy Reed warblers and a stunning male Marsh Harrier over the reeds..A common Snipe in front of hide and I saw a flying Bittern over reeds(always nice) . I then spotted a Hobby . A quick shout and a few others got on it too . First of the year and good sign that spring is well under way! We decided to head back and on doing so a few Red deer on the Heath were grazing. Before heading straight home  I headed to Whitlingham cp for a butchers over the broad and  was rewarded as i got my first Swift !  4 in fact . I had wanted to see one by end of  April but this was 1 st May ( so hopefully a day earlier next year!)
  Next trip out was to Winterton for hoopoe . I didn't see it but did get White Wagtail and cracking Kestrel on a fence post which made for some good pictures.

 On to the beach and Sheducks overhead and a Hobby through the south dunes. Seawatch brought me 2x Sandwich Terns and 15+ Bar tail Godwits going East along the shoreline. As usual i nipped into Buckenham marshes on my way home  for a quick butchers but  not much from hide until I went outside and searched along the fence line and was rewarded by finding a female Black Redstart ! Beautiful bird just around the cattle enclosure area. It soon flew off further along the fence line. I headed home and  checked to see if a Swift had made it as far as my street ..... not yet but its just a matter of time no doubt!