short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Sunday, 27 February 2011

From Strumpshaw to Stubbs........

 Well after a lovely breakfast of 2x Eggs on toast, i was ready to pick up  Yorkie and head to  Strumpshaw Fen. On the way i to spotted around 50+ GreyLag Geese just coming in to the River Yare as i turned off the A47 to Brundell & then as coming up to the Reserve the usual  Pheasents made a spit second decision to run out in front of my van, causing me to take to the bank (and in doing so ,some more dirt to the passagers side door!),   Just the usual journey in then!
When we arrived we decided to check the car park & then the feeders while we waited for the lads to arrive. Nothing in the car park so off to the feeders. Started a quick list of: Chaff finch x15, Gold Finch x6, Coal Tit x1 & Marsh Tits x3. We decided to head along the path towards the Meadow  and were rewarded with 3x Bull Finches! Also love a nice view of a male Bull Finch. These are no doubt the same small group i`ve seen all winter here and they finally gave up hiding and came to the fore for a while just as the lads arrived. A quick look in the bins and we all decided to head for the Tower Hide. As we walked along the path way we looked across at the woods and i saw a Buzzard soaring . We agreed it was just a Common but wasn't able to get much on it as it headed towards Buckenham so we continued on . A male Bull Finch was the only notable bird picked up along the bushes just before the Tower Hide. Tower Hide was pretty quiet. Grey Lag & Canadian Geese, Teal,Tufted ,Little & Great Crested Grebe & 2x Marsh Harriers over the Reed beds.
We headed back to the Reception Hide and checked out the Woods as we went. Me & Brian were pretty sure we had a Willow Tit but once it was flying we were unable to pick it up again (that's a maybe then). At the feeders again we picked up: Siskin x1, 4x Gold Finches, Marsh Tit x1 & Brambling x3! Was waiting for these to turn up on the feeders. 2x Males and a female. Got a picture too.

We got to the car park and started to take off the muddy boots and i shouted Siskins! Yorkie still had his scope out and got on em as they settled in the Alders opposite. He managed to pick out a Lesser Redpoll among the 40+ flock and let take a peek .I think he might off saw another too but the light wasn't the best  and we decided to nip up to Buckenham to see what was about. The weather wasn't great , pretty dull but dry .We scanned along both sides of the pathway and saw nothing more then a few Grey Lag Geese then i saw a Marsh Harrier & something smaller underneath going across the train track. Yorkie said it was the Peregrine .As we waited for it to reappear a Marsh Harrier went over head & then Yorkie picked it up on the ground with some prey underneath its feet- ` Good spot Fella` i shouted and with that off we headed to Cantley to see what Geese were about.
 At Cantley we were a little disappointed as not much Geese were seen .Around 50+ Bean Geese & a few scattered Mute Swans and accept from the regular Green Woodpecker which flew behind us to the trees ,not much else to report.
 We headed to Yarmouth , on doing so we picked up a huge flock of Pink Feet in the fields to our left along the Acle straight.We pulled over and started to scan in hope of a white Goose one among em. No luck but a nice view of alot of Geese, i would guess there were easily 1,000+ . Steve spotted a Little Egret  but  other then that ,that was it. Back in the van and off to Yarmouth! ( for the Med Gull  that is,not to build sand castles or to play on  the amusements). We parked up and the Med Gull was standing in front of us on the beach.  Not always that easy ay!

After a few moments on it we turned our attention to the sea as the weather was improving slightly and visibility was better now then earlier. We picked up : Cormorants x5 , Red Throated Diver x3, & plenty of Gulls.
 On way to Hickling we stopped at Filby Broad to catch up with the Smew. Was a long way off but Yorkie and Brian managed to pick it up and let me take a a butchers through the scope. A few Goldeneye , Tufted,  Pochards  too but not much else. Back on the road ,heading towards Stubbs Mill i picked up a Barn Owl and a  Marsh Harrier in the same field on my left , stopping the van dead and jumping out to view it -Brian had luckily been  lagging behind a bit so he was able to avoid hitting me up the arse! (must stop doing that). After quick views we arrived at Stubbs. The walk up was cold and we spoke of what we were hoping to get when got there- a Crane or two would be nice.Well we didn't have to wait  long as 2 Cranes passed across us. In the panic i somehow managed to miss em. Thinking i had missed me chance i decided to pour a coffee to cheer me up. As i drunk a Male Hen Harrier passed by  close! My first Male Hen Harrier - What a Super bird!! I had gone from being naffed off to a  happy lad in the matter of seconds! It was going at a pace as the wind was behind him but a cracking view as the light was still good and helped show its stunning white & grey colours. As the light faded about 15x Marsh Harriers came in to Roost and also 2x Female Hen Harriers. As i was hoping,  i got a second chance with the Cranes as 2 more came in from thewest this time. I made sure i got em this time!  We headed back to the car park and as we said goodbye i looked up and saw a Woodcock overhead - what a nice way to end the day !

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Lynford for Hawfinch & Crossbill? . . .

Last weekend  i meet up with Brian & Steve at Lynford in Thetford where we were hoping to catch up with the Hawfinches &  anything else it had to offer.We picked up plenty of Goldcrests ( 10+ ) , also a  few Treecreepers & a couple of Nuthatches too. But no Crossbills were heard or seen. Down at the Paddocks (area where the Hawfinches are known to be) there were no sign of the Hawfinches although we told later on once back at the car  that 15 minutes after we left the area they were out on show . Not what we wanted to hear but thats the way the cookie crumbles some times ay?! We spent a few hours walking around this beautiful place and picked up 50+ Redwings at the Folly &  just past the Folly we had a flock of 30+ Siskins in which at least 1x Lesser Redpoll was hiding amongst.

 Plenty of noisey Mistle Thrushes were heard, along with the active Tit flocks but other then that nothing more so the lads decided to head off to Titchwell in hope of catching up with the Northern Harrier and other quality birds that North Norfolk has to offer. They were down for the entire weekend and had jammed packed weekend of reserves to get through, and i was hoping to meet up with em on sunday to get the Common Cranes & Harrier Roost at Stubbs Mill. Back to Lynford and I decided to stick around for a while longer in hope of the Hawfinches showing again.Will they didnt but not all was lost as i was rewarded with a gorgeous Male Goshawk!  I had seen one last year with the lads at May Day Farm , just down the road from here but this was a much closer views then that day. I was joint with another birder who was on his way back home to Devon.He too was buzzin from seeing this cracking bird and we enjoyed it soaring over our heads for a short time untill it passed on. A good year tick ! Now it was back to work !!!

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch!

I finally sent off my tick list from my garden watch for end of last month.I managed to record 2x Blackbirds, Great tit, 2x Blue Tits & a Robin in the 1 hour. Not a huge list i know but considering I'm in a terrace house in the city with cats either side of me its not too bad! I'm glad i done my bit & look forward to reading the results in the coming few months.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Waxwings won`t leave me alone ! (but im not complaining)

Well i think its time i round up what ive seen on my work patch( or should i say work patches). I had the fantastic and the ever stunning, Waxwings come join me at work the start of January off Ipswich Road  in the city. Cleaning away(hard at work as usual) i heard that now familer call coming from above me. Looking up in the tree full of manky old apples were 6 Waxwings! Cracking views, although the weather was pretty naff, they were very close & didnt seem to notice i was there. After 10 minutes of watching em i decided it was best to move on carry on earning some money.As Bill Oddie used to say `always nice when the birds come to you , rather then you  having to look for them` ! (or was that `fonzie` from Happy Days !?! ).
 When working over in Drayton i managed to pick up the reguler suspects on me lunch break in the woods: SparrowHawk, 2x Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, 1x Green Woodpeckers, 1x Nuthatch (one of my favourite Woodland birds) and lots of Tit flocks!
 In Horsford i nipped down to St Faiths Common for me lunch and got 2x Goldcrests ,3x Treecreepers , 1x Green Woodpecker on the ground & a couple of Coal Tits among others.
 At Bowthorpe i managed to stumble upon a flock of Pied Wagtails around 25+ and also with them 30+ Linnets. While watching them feed on  afield i heard a Yellowhammer overhead ,so i turned to follow it and realised it wasnt alone when it landed on a bail of straw. At least 40+ Yellowhammers all feeding around some stables. Cracking bird in the sun & managed to grab a picture on me new phone too which was nice.  I had to do a new house back in the city which gave me some nice garden birds. A Mistle ThrushSong Thrush were the pick of the bunch!

 Back at Norwich while working off Hall Road i heard and then saw . . . yes you got it  . . more of my new best friends the Waxwings! This time there was  60+, the largest i have seen since the 130+ at a car park off Dereham Road back in November last year.Got right up close and at one piont while chatting to the customer whos house it was ,we were underneath the flock while they tucked in to the Apples! I managed to take some footage of them before they flew of opposite to some nearby berries.

 Later on while still in Norwich i spotted a Treecreeper along with a Tit flock & higher up the tree a very noisey Mistle Thrush! If that wasnt enough i heard and then saw more Waxwings ! Around 15+ flew south towards Stoke Holy Cross, probably from the huge flock i`d seen earlier on.They just wont leave me alone ay ?  . . . .

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Titchwell, Thornham & Snettisham!!!

  Well as the month comes to an end me & Yorkie planned to take a trip to Titchwell to get the year list off to a good number of quality bird. We set off in the dark & windy morning at 6 am and get chatting about which target birds we expect to see & also grabbing us both a possible Lifer with the Northern Harrier which has been regularly seen for a while now at Thornham . We arrive at car park and as we get a quick coffee in us and bracing ourselves for wind , we see & hear a friendly  Robin , followed by a large number of  Gulls overhead. We set off and the sun is slowly sharing its light upon us, and as it does we pick up all the common shrub birds along with Shelducks in flight, Gold & Chaff Finches in the tree tops, Little Egrets  and Curlews a plenty , Brent Geese overhead  as well as on the marshes to your left. We head to the Island hide. As we scanned across we started to slowly pick up different species as the sun was coming up. Gadwell, Tufted & Shoveler Ducks, a with a few Ruff too. Also of note was a huge amount of Pochard ducks , which were mixing in with the Tufted Ducks. Pintail were looking ever splendid as the sun showed up there cracking colours.They were on a little bit of an island with a couple of just as cracking birds . . .  the Avocet .Both a real treat to view through the scope. Out towards the East Bank the Marsh Harriers had all woken and were in good hunting numbers, very close together . We counted at least 5, possibly 6 ,which were seen regularly dropping and occasionally coming up with some prey. Nice bird to watch while in the peace and quiet of the hide(and more importantly out of the wind!). 
 After we had spent a while scanning , and waiting for the sun to come up , giving us some much needed light , we made our way to the new  Parrinder Hide. Looking over to the Fresh Water & Island and then overlooking the Brackish Marsh which we choose to go to first.

We immediately caught sight of a huge flock feeding on the ground, made up of Sky Lark x15, Meadow Pipit x12, Water Pipits x3 and a flock of about x30 + Twite!! As we were getting a good Butchers of the flocks in front of us a shout of  `Rock Pipit` and a pointed finger over towards the pathway.We caught up with it as it made its way along the raised bank along the pathway leading away from the Hide. I was made up as it was a first for me & if it wasnt for the fellow birder kindly pointing it out i would have probably not got on it ! So after shaking his hand & thanking him we left to do a spot of Sea watching.
  As we walked along and passing the Tidal Marsh we picked out 6x Little Grebes and some Coots and a Pied Wagtail.
 We set up at the Viewing Platform to scan the Sea.We immediately see 300+ Common Scoter riding out the waves , so we kept an eye out for a Velvet if/when they took to flight. A male Golden Eye was close in & pointed out a Red Necked Grebe also quite close. Along the shoreline was Dunlin, Sanderling, Knot, Oystercatchers, Turnstone, HerringGreater Blacked Back Gull . We noticed some Waders take to the air and Yorkie soon tracked down why.There was a Peregrine Falcon out high above the skyline going east. Not as close as we would like but still a good day tick! Back to the now flying Scoter flock and Yorkie picks out a Velvet, i manage to pick up one too a minute later ,possibly the same one or maybe another ,either way i we got one!A good year tick and a more exciting for me . . . a Lifer!
 As we headed back towards the car we checked over towards the Brackish Marsh in hope of Shore ;ark which had been reported there but no luck but as we got chatting to a birder we caught  the Hooded Crow which had been lingering the past week or so .Worth sticking around for me thinks! As we passed back through the visitor centre we thought it was only right we both treated ourselves to a Hot Sausage Roll and a drink before heading to the car park.
  Thornham-  got ourselves set up behind a large Boat Shed out of the bitter wind and began to wait for the Northern Harrier to appear. While there, we were entertained by watching a couple of Curlews standing tall among the marsh & also a busy little Egret in the muddy water right in front of us.

Then as i nipped to car to get me Collins a Common Buzzard was seen flying over Titchwell. I managed to get on in the scope as it continued on eastwards. Will  after much waiting the Northern Harrier showed , and showed it did! Flying up close right in front. No need for scope or your bins as  it was so close you could see all the beautiful markings and colour with the naked eye. Cracking bird and was even more special as it was both a Lifer for us. Only the second time that has happened since birding with Yorkie over the last 3 years. We were more then happy with this bird. What made it even better was the 3x Barn owls which were hunting in the same area of each other , West of Thornham Harbour. We decided to call it today after a good days birding and with the weather getting rather nasty and dull.-  3 Lifers which took me to 210 on my British bird list. . . .

 Snettisham-  Picked up Greeno at 6am and arrived at Snettisham for 7.20. The car park was rammed full and we had to park up along the road which meant a bit more extra walking time so we  didn't wast any time. Quickly got our gloves and hats on to brace the cold wind &  started the walk to the hides, witnessing hundreds of Pink footed Geese overhead as we go , but not coming inland as we expected but out towards where they roost? We later told that a few days around a Full moon geese well take full advantage and feed all day & through the night, hence why they were only now just coming back in! We passed a couple of huge water pools with huge amount of Tufted and Goldeneye to look at. I`d never seen so many Goldeneye before & would see loads more later on.  We arrived at the main part of land where to one side you have the Wash & its mud flats where the flocks of Waders feed upon and then the other side you have the small pools with high banks surrounding it, where the Waders will roost up ,to keep warm & out of the wind ,while they wait for the tide to going back out so they can resume feeding.When this happens , thousands of Knots & Oystercatchers will fly low over the banks (and your head if your lucky enough to be in the right spot) and back onto the Wash! But before that happens me & Greeno checked out the Spit out to the Wash . We manage to find a bench and watch the Thousands of Waders begin to take to the air, shimmering across the sea & producing a real spectacle to the eye.
Among this was around 100 + Goldeneye,  50 + Shelduck and tons of Tufted Ducks too. As we checked out thousands of Geese out in the distance we caught  sight of 2x  Marsh Harriers going up & down the spit. Nice views of this bird that i take for granted being a regular resident Norfolk speciality, but a bird rarely seen else where. As the Waders start to go over to roost in the banks , we go to view them by getting into one of the many RSPB  Hides .The hides were now all very crammed & full of scopes, bins & very cold birders all trying warm up out of the wind. We choose to take this opportunity to enjoy a nice cuppa and tuck into the cracking rolls my lovely wife had made.Very nice indeed! As we did we were entertained by firstly, a little Grebe & then a few Cormorants dropping in to the Islands. And of course all the time the last few remaining Waders coming into rest up & joining the 18,000+ Knots & 4,000+ Oystercatchers!! It just looked like a sheet of Black and White ,with a carpet of Grey ,layed out on the shingle bank.

As they all started to sense the tide was going out they start to move one way and then the other, in doing so putting on a fantastic event to watch.This really was great to witness and as they started to get restless, we decided to move back to where we were previously, to catch the spectacular sight of them whizzing overhead back to the mud flats on the Wash! Will we timed it just right as about  2,000 went over where we were standing, the noise they made was from pure speed .A fantastic sight  as another and then another flock came over our heads. . . `it don't get much better then this!` i shout to Greeno with a huge grin slapped across me face.We set off back to the van and as we did i caught sight of what i first thought was Snow Buntings landing along the shingle but when on closer inspection were in fact 30+ Twite! What a bonus to end the trip on !