short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

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

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,

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


 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,

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

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Swifts have gone & Seawatch at 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,

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.

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.


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.


 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,