short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Lynford or Winterton ???

Me & Yorkie at the start of the week were speaking of meeting up for a mornings birding. We decided that Winterton Dunes may have some early migrants and we should see what we could find.We settled on a 6 am start (although we hadn't realised that was really 5 am as the clocks go forward that morning!)
 Well during the week regular sightings of the Hawfinches and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers down at Lynford were being reported and as i had not had either before and Yorkie keen to add them to his Year List , plus the Great Grey Shrike and Wood Larks at Grimme Graves to, we made a last minute decision to go Brecks over the East Coast, both hoping it would pay off!
  Yorkie turned up around 5.30 after forgetting to alter his alarm clock (personally i think he fancied an extra 30 minutes in Noddy land), and we off to Lynford.On the journey down we both agreed that we would concentrate on going straight to the Paddocks for the Hawfinches and once/ if we got them we would then go looking for the Lesser. We also new there was a chance of seeing Crossbills and a Firecrest along the way but these were the 2 we wanted.
  On walking down to the Paddocks i spotted a low flying Barn Owl coming across the pathways leading to the Folley area. Always a nice sight and a first for me at Lynford in my 3 visits.

 We picked up 3x Goldcrests (year tick for Yorkie) and 2x Marsh Tits at the small crossing. We set up along with one other birder at the Paddocks. While we waited we got a nice Kestrel on top of  the telegraph poles , a nosey Wren and a singing Chiff Chaff , with a flock of around 12x Redwing over head. After 45 minutes Yorkie gave me those the 3 words id been wanting to hear ...`there they are!`. He weren't joking neither , they were sitting out on top of the tree , in all there glory. and not 1 but 3 Hawfinches!  Lifer 215.  I was savoring this as i had come  here twice before and just missed them both times. They really are the king of the Finches and in fact would give most birds a run for there money in the looks department!


Hawfinch (no.215)

After 15 minutes or so we walked on towards the Bridge. On the way we got a closer view of 1 of the Hawfinches which had flown over to 1 of the trees over the pathway.

We picked up a couple of Treecreepers among some Tit flocks and also  5x Tufted Ducks on the Lake and  some Grey Lag/Canadian Geese on the Lawn.We set up at the Bridge but after 30 minutes of listening out for the Lesser and checking out every Greater spotted that flew in and out of the trees we agreed to walk back to the car and in doing so, checking the Folley area out for Firecrest. No Firecrest so off to Grimme Graves to look for the Shrike and Wood Lark!

Greater Spotted Woodpecker(not a Lesser as hoped!)

  Arrived at Grimme Graves along with 2 other birders and was greeted by a employee of the National Trust who informed us that it wouldn't open till 10 (it was now 9.15) and that we would each be charged £3.20 to enter. We decided to all head off down the path which took u down, around the side of the site and hopefully give us some views of the area. It was a bit of as walk and other then lots of Sky larks and a flock of Gold Finches not much else. The other 2 Birders decided they would head back and Wait till 10 and drive in as it was a longer walk then they had hoped but me and Yorkie decided to persevere and continued onwards.We arrived down to the perimeter which was fenced off and begun to scan. We couldn't really see all the way round so we walked down and around till we crossed over the access entrance, as we did the 2 birders from earlier drove past! I turned to Yorkie and said i would happily pay the £6.40 entrance fee for 2 Lifers and so we entered. We were gradually joined by 5 other Birders ,all in search of the Shrike. We headed to the far corner which looked great Shrike territory. No sign but 2x Wood Larks over head and then another 2 which we followed till they landed-Lifer no.216!
  Well we started to work our way around the fence line which surrounded the site. Along with the other birders we managed to scan most of the  area  but with no success.So me and Yorkie made our way back on to the main access road & followed it out , scanning as we went. No joy so it was back to the car with a little disappointment as there had been 2 reports that morning saying it was here.As we started the car i suggested to Yorkie about going back into the car park for a minute in hope someone had sighted it . Already running  late for an appointment back in Norwich he agreed to a quick spin around.We saw many birders but no sightings so we turned around in the car park and as we drove out we saw 3 birders had just set up scopes on the access path , looking West. Yorkie just ditched the car where it was and we both jumped out the car and asked if they had it? `Yep` was the reply and up went the scope! A distance view but never the less it was there and going to ground often and back to the tree top. Great Grey Shrike- Lifer 217! Now we had to step on the gas to get back !

Iceland Gull......

March 21st:
  I nipped down to grab the Iceland Gull down at Links Ave Car park ,and was rewarded with Fantastic views, although after a little wait. I scanned through the flying flocks and no White Gull at all.While walking around the Car park another Birder said he`d been down 3 times the previous week to no prevail (started to think it weren't gonna happen) but as we spoke he spotted it fly across ! I got on it as it carried on towards Gunton and looked as if that was it but this Birder i had got chatting to had come prepared and threw half a loaf off bread into the air, in doing so tempting the Gull to do a U-turn and join the Black Headed & odd Herring Gulls that were quickly tucking into it!  It firstly perched up on one of the Groins and after a few minutes and some nice birding chat , it landed on the Car park in front of us - Not as White as i was expecting but more of a coffee/creamy colour, as this was a immature -Either way it stood out when next to any other Gull. Lifer no.214.

Iceland Gull (no.214)

Iceland Gull (no. 214)
  A quick check up at the Point for any Purple Sandpipers brought no joy, but did get some great close up views of a Sparrow Hawk which came swooping into a bush along the fences of  the Warehouses. It was time to head back to Norwich to pick Cat up from work!

Station Marshes/Whitlingham CP & a trip to the Cathedral.........

March 20th:
  I had heard that a Little Ringed Plover had been seen down at Station Marshes so i headed down there around 8.30 . Walking down to the main pathway, i picked up 2x Reed Buntings and a Flying Grey Heron over the river. As i approached the Marshes i scanned out towards the Scrape and other then plenty of Tufteds  , 2x Goldeneye were the stand out of the Ducks. I scanned the Marsh from the Cattle fence and quickly picked out 2x Little Ringed Plovers! A nice year tick and nice close views too.

Female Reed Bunting

Male Reed Bunting

Little Ringed Plovers

 A single teal was the only other bird about so off i went around the river , looking in the reeds and bushes as i went, in hope of an early migrant ! After plenty of  calling Blue & Great Tits , i heard a rather loud Chiff Chaff!! It didn't take long to track it down and managed to set up on the bank and enjoy watching this busy little Warbler make  its way along the bare reeds and bushes. Before leaving i picked up another Chiff Chaff and heard a singing Cettis at the Bridge.
  I headed off toWhitlingham next for a quick scan:
   I got 3 more Chiff Chaffs on pathway to the Observation Area, 2x Great Crested Grebes displaying to each other which was good, along with 4x Little Grebes  but not much to report other then a couple of Long Tailed Tit Flocks.

Great Crested Grebe

  Next stop was the Cathedral (and no, not to pray!),

 I pulled into the Adam & Eve Pub Car park and set me scope up on the box that has been placed towards the top of the spire.Both the Peregrine Falcons were  there ! The male was on a small Statue (or boss) to the right of the box and the Female , further up the Spire (which i recall is the second tallest Spire in England!).I enjoyed watching these Awesome Falcons in the cracking Sunlight , and especially when the Male decided to take off , giving me good views as it playfully swooped through the Pigeon flocks . Lovely mornings birding- now back for early Lunch !
Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Spring is in the air....

  While on my work travels Ive been noticing a change .Although the Fieldfare and Redwings are still here , its the resident Birds that are coming alive! The Gold Finches have started to split from there flocks, the Green Finches are calling and showing in the air,  noisy House Sparrows in the hedges around the City, Blackbird nests appearing in customer gardens, Rooks putting the finishing touches to there nests and while eating my lunch on Wednesday last week,  parked up at  Bowthorpe lakes i turned the radio off , sat back and listened to the singing Sky Larks as they took to the air and descended to the ground. Managed  to watch one in particular , as it sung its heart out from a small mound on the grass , as a flock of around 30+ Linnets passed over head.-Spring is here!!!
Rooks- nest building
Fieldfare still here

Monday, 7 March 2011

March is here.....!

  So spring is just around the corner , and with these gorgeous fresh blue sky mornings Ive been waking up too  i can believe it! Well i had a busy weekend but managed a trip to see the Slavonian Grebe . But before i got to Hardley Staithe i popped into Loddon its self ,basically to see what was there as i`d never been there before! Well from the car park i saw plenty of rather fat Mallards and a few coots & a Moorhen (along with some friendly "bread throwing" kids). I walked a little further and noticed something small beside`s a small Boat . Looking more closely i saw it was a Little Grebe & within seconds of studying it, i noticed another behind it, hiding underneath the engine s propeller. They looked really cracking , just bobbing up & down together.

2x Little Grebes

As i headed back to the van i saw a Little Egret in the wet fields behind , along with 2x Grey Herons, and a calling Redwing in the trees.

I headed off to find Hardley Staithe.The directions i had took me straight there within minutes( not always great with directions, but these were idiot proof!). I stepped out of the van and as i approached the Staithe edge it was there in front of me beside some moored up Boats- Magic!

This was my first Slavonian Grebe and i couldn't believe how close up i was able to view it! I had brought my scope but i didn't need it. i just simply sat on the bank edge and enjoyed watching it as it frequently dived and waited to see where it pop up next(usually around the same area to my delight).

I couldn't help but feel it was putting on a show for me,posing every time it came up- so i felt it was only right i should take my digital camera out and click away! Although my camera is only a Sony Cyber Shot it didn't matter as it came up so close to me i had to only hold & point ! 

                                                              Slavonian Grebe (no.213)
After having this Super Grebe all to my self for about 30 minutes and with temperature dropping quickly  ,i decided it was time to nip off. I doubt i will ever get this close to one again but you never know what might happen in Norfolk & anyway i have some cracking photos to remind me.It was time to get home for some well earned dinner !

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

February comes to a close....

A quick round up of last weeks sightings while at work were:   82x Waxwings (on monday afternoon at Hellesdon), 2x Greater Spotted Woodpeckers & 1x Green Woodpecker, ,2x Nuthatches & 9x Coal Tits,  11x Long Tailed Tits (up at Drayton on Wednesday),  and finally 26x Waxwings (Feeding on Berries at Wensum Park on Friday) .
  I decided to pop out to Marlingford for the Great White Egret on Sunday. I decided not go Saturday as the weather was shocking and visibility poor so was pleased to see i was rewarded ,when Sunday afternoon arrived & it was blue sky and calm! Before i got to Marlingford  i pulled over in Bawburgh (village before) to enjoy 2x Kestrels  hovering either side of the road. I love studying these small compact Falcons as the head stays still,focused on its prey and the tail and wings doing all it can to keep it over its prey. Super bird and was nice to have male & female. Back in the van i headed through Bawburgh to Marlingford and spotted 2x Common Buzzards  soaring high over the Woods near the River. I parked up to double check em. As i watched ,one of them started to make its way down and eventually landed & perched upon a tall open tree. Cracking view and couldn't resist trying to take a picture too!

 After a few minutes i moved on in search of the Egret. I followed the River down, catching 2x Egyptian Geese feeding on the fields and then a Little Egret , followed by a low flying Grey Heron and then ..... a Great White Egret! A first for me and with the sun glaring down on it,  and the Little Egret not far beside it i was able to compare the size too. A tall and elegant white Heron is the best description.

 I watched it make its way through the boggy, flooded field , along the Rivers edge and watched as it suddenly took off .It started to get up quite high and then quickly dropped down towards the back just out of sight. As i turned to pack up i was joined by a couple more birders who had seen me set up and pulled in too . As i pointed out the direction it flew in ,it flew back towards our direction & landed in the field in front of us- giving me even better views then before!

I spent in all around an hour in the area but got some good birds & best of all it was only 12 minutes from my doorstep-  Plus i managed to get back in time to witness the Mighty Hammers spank Liverpool 3v1.... it really was a good day all round!! !