short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

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,

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,

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,

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,

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!


Red Admiral

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,

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.