short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Monday, 24 April 2017

April at NWT Thorpe Marsh/Broad is all a changing !



 So ive been hitting the patch hard again this month as I did in March and have been rewarded!
A quick round up of the Returning birds and those already getting on with preparing to breed at the patch  follows.
  I had some of earliest returning migrants which started end of last month on March 29th, with 2 x Sand Martins over , (a week earlier then my 7 years of previous records.) and by the 11th April I had picked up both  House Martins and Swallows . Speaking of early returning birds I had a single Sedge warbler on the 31st March (very early) which moved on 2 days later  but was yet another sign that things are happening a lot earlier this year. I added Blackcap and Willow Warbler into the notepad on 6th April too with Blackcap being my earliest record here. By the middle of April there were at least 12-13 Sedge Warblers filling the air with there busy songsinging away and showing off to those who wandered by.

Sedge Warblers have returned and fill the air with there busy song

  My earliest Common Whitethroat  on the 8th April was very early again (james informs me he's earliest being the 14th April so nearly a week earlier) I listened and watched as it called and then flew over to Whitlingham CP. I found my self thinking when my Reed and Grasshopper warbler would appear next! Well you probably wont be surprised to read I found my earliest ever  Grasshopper Warbler on the 14th April and enjoyed brief views as it reeled away on and off on the Marsh......magic!
 Linnets were all about with 3 males singing in there territory's and too the vocal Cettis Warblers which were totaling 5-6 birds .Reed Buntings seem to be calling at every corner I turned and will try to get as good as count as I can later in the month.

  Now to the Water! There's been a nice flock of around 70-80 x Tufted Ducks which slowly went down  in numbers to then rise back up to 78 on the 8th April , then dropping the very next day to 8. Obviously Thorpe Broad gets a lot of influx of birds over from Whitligham Broad , perhaps due to a event or boats being on the Great broad I'm not sure. Well the 3 pairs of Shovelers  soon were 2 pairs and then a single pair before disappearing altogether by the middle of April sadly. A bird I was hoping to see hang but ill keep an eye out with hope. A pair of Teal were seen each visit as too was 3x pairs of Gadwall up till middle of April.

  A exciting patch life tick appeared on the Broad on the 11th April ,a Drake  Common Scoter was picked up by local birder Justin Lansdell, who quickly  informed us and before long I was watching the bird in the sunshine as it chilled out in the middle of the Broad . Very nice Patch life tick for me ,no.117 ! I made my way round and noticed on the Flood my first brood of the year ....yes you guessed it...Mallard young! In fact 10 little ones were enjoying the flood and as I watched I checked out the vegetation edge and was pleasantly surprised to see a Jack Snipe bobbing away! Surprised as my only other patch records have been earlier in the year both flying views so this was a proper Brucie bonus! Digi scoped record shot pictures below-

Jack Snipe

Drake Common Scoter

 On the Broads edge ,the ever present  Stock Doves were seen every visit and from as low as 3 up to as many as 9 . Also regularly seen were the Lapwings which were dropping off as the middle of the month approached to just a couple of birds dropping in and leaving off south east . Probably the noisiest and most striking of birds are the Oystercatchers .One visit I saw a pair drop in and then to be immediately harassed by another pair...The noise was mega. These birds like to have the Broad to there self and it wasn't long before one pair backed down and  took off & it was back to normal !A smart Green Sandpiper was around for a few days on the 13th April a day later then I had one last year. Also I had another Patch life tick in Redshank ,no116.  A few have been reported here before from local birder James and Justin had seen one on the 24th March this year so I was pleased to finally connect with species.

  On to what's nesting now. A few nests have been spotted ,a  Moorhen nest in a new area for my self, 2x Coot nests and a  Mute Swan nest. Finally it looks like the Great Crested Grebes will actually get to try rear some young this year ! Previously nest building has started but never ended as much more and although I've seen young on the River before I'm certain these are from Whitlingham and not here at Thorpe.  A nice Wren nest was found in the root of a fallen Tree and finally a Crows nest again was evident and possibly a second -Of course over the river there's Jackdaws and Rooks nest but nice to see again the Patch this side holding some Corvids (although some of the birds of the Water wont agree with that !) .

Great Crested Grebe

Coot on Nest


 Also of note Kingfishers were seen on most visits. As in previous years March and April are always good months to get views of these smashing little birds as they make there way across the water and along river banks or dropping into dykes.These beautiful birds can make any visit here special with a glimpse of there electric blue plumage as they whiz along the water.
 Greater Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were noticeably more vocal and good views of both speices were seen on many visits. Always heard but not always seen, this Male Greater Spotted Woodpecker appeared at the bridge and gave me a chance to digi scope him .

Male Greater Spotted Woodpecker

 And finally I have make mention to the Marsh harriers which ive seen 8 out of the last 10 visits here ,watching the Male (a lot less the female for obvious reasons) as he hunts over the Marshes is something I never grow tired of and never take for granted neither. You sometimes remind yourself that you are only a stone through away from the city of Norwich , its a special moment for me every time. A digi scoped video clip (not the best but shows you what you what views you can get here)

 So there you have it a quick round up of what ive seen at my Patch ,NWT Thorpe Marsh/Broad.........Until next time,
 Happy Birding,


Monday, 17 April 2017

Trip to the Brecks....

  So as March came to an end I accompanied good friend and fellow birder Matt to the Brecks. A few of the target birds that brecks holds were seen , including Willow Tit, Goshawk ,Crossbill and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker . (No site locations will be mentioned on here ).
A few pictures attached of a what was a superb day out .


Grey Wagtail

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Happy birding ,Ricky


Wednesday, 12 April 2017



So on the 10 th April I sat and had breakfast & saw that the Kentish Plover at Breydon water was still present through Twitter, after being seen the day previously by number of birders including good friend Matt who informed me of how nice it was but also of how tricky it could be to see it as many didn't see it ,as it was moving with tides and also from the north side to the south side in turn being lost to view. After some thought while busy cleaning the windows of a school I decided to have a extended lunch break and head up there.
 On route I saw that Norfolk birder Murray Smith had the bird in view still from just past the hide so all good I thought but also I  got my self prepared for that message saying "its now took to the air and not been seen since..." but thankfully when I arrived I could clearly see the handful of birders were still on it and quickly made my way round past the Hide and up along the North Wall.
 Murray gladly pointed the Kentish Plover out which was at rest and surprisingly close. As we got gassin the bird did eventually wake up a bit and start to move about along with 3x Ringed Plovers .
As the sun got out, it showed the stunning colours ,especially the Rufus,Ginger caramal crown cap and those neat Black bars that sit either side of its breast (like a broken band unlike the ringed or little ringed). This was my 278th British Bird and celebrated it with a Chocolate Chip Muffin, and insisted Murray had one as well ,which he did.

Kentish Plover (centre with Ringed Plovers either side)

 I enjoyed watching it for about 25 minutes before it took off with the 3x Ringed Plovers into the mud flats much  further out. With that the 6 of us  walked back to the cars.
 A very nice lunch break indeed and a super bird!
 Happy birding

Monday, 10 April 2017

As March draws to an end at the Patch theres still time for some goodies

  As March comes to an end I decided to get to the patch as much as I could to see if I could catch the early returning migrants from south or even a species moving back into its breeding ground or just passing through. I was hoping for a LRP, Gargany , a Wader SP ,Blackcap or a early Hirundine?
  Well there was a noticeable change at the patch as the month drew to a close. The Reed Buntings seem to be calling from every side of the marsh and the Linnets seem to have returned with at least a couple of pairs this time.The male`s giving a nice song as i passed with each visit! The Great Crested Grebes have gone a step further this year as a nest has been built nice and early & were seen sitting tight on it with every visit( fingers crossed they actually breed on the broad this year)

Great Crested Grebe on nest


 A  pair of Grey Wagtails were getting all over the place, busy feeding on the 27th and a single bird was seen along the River each visit up until the month finished .
  Now to the Broad :-
  Of note was early returning/passing LRP on the 28th my earliest record since 2012.The single bird looked at home along the shingle beach among a pair of Oystercatchers. On  30th there was a hell of a racket when 2 Pairs of Oystercatchers were giving it large to each other along the "Arm". A charismatic bird to watch .
 Between 3-7 Lapwing were present on each visit and a total of 7x Stock Doves were seen on the 27th and at least 5 seen on each visit after. Pleased to count a total of 72 Tufted Ducks on the broad on the 30 th which seemed a high count , along with 4-10 Gadwall and up to 12 x Teal were recorded and just a Pair on the 31st . A total of 4x C Snipe were seen at rest along the vegetation on the "Arm" and at least a single bird seen on most visits.

2X Pairs of angry Oystercatchers


 A good count of 6x Shovelers (3xpr) seen on few days and down to a single pair by the end of month ,a super bird to watch and will be hoping to continue seeing this pair throughout April(please!). On the 28th a nice Shelduck dropped in and happily stayed on the the "Arm" for a while before taken to the water on the Broad which was a welcome year tick for the patch as this isn't a easy bird to find here and only my 3 rd record here myself and first on the deck.
 Now turning to the sky I had my earliest ever record for Sand Martin when 2 flew west over on the 29th, a nice sight and was a able to share it with long time local patcher Mike.
  On the Marsh :-
  A nice male Marsh Harrier was seen hunting on 2 occasions. Both times were rather brief but at the same time rewarding. Love to watch this raptor in action as it quietly drifts over the Reeds and marsh, always a Pleasure and sometimes its easy to forget I'm only a just over a mile from Norwich itself!
 Now if this wasn't enough March still had some more to give me! A Sedge Warbler was heard and briefly seen on the 31st March my earliest record for the patch and no doubt was passing through as wasn't heard again during the first week of April.  Cettis were heard singing on every visit as always at least 3 -4 were recorded. Now that just leaves me the final highlight ...a couple of showy Water Rails. This bird often heard but rarely seen. My usual views are a brief flying ones or in a cold winters day especially when the dykes/broad is partially frozen over so when I saw one appear on the 30th almost next to me I was beaming ear to ear! I had stood my self in one of my favorite spots to just watch out over the Marsh quietly and after 10 minutes I heard a rustle in the waters edge and there it was just partially out in among the vegetation, superb! It got even better as on the next day I had a calling Water Rail behind me and in front of me a single bird walking out along the vegetation ! I managed to take a record shotbelow.

Water Rail


If April is half as good as this end to March ill be happy boy!
  Happy Birding, Ricky