short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Its that time of the year again!

   My calender has a evening specially put aside in the month of June every year for our annual visit to the see the Nightjars. Its my 4th year now and every time has been a special day to remember.
 Yorkie drove us down and the evening got off to a cracker with a low flying male Hen Harrier, flying over the road in front of us, which nearly ended up in us ditching the car as Yorkie pulled over frantically to get a better view of it!As we were watching the Hen Harrier fly away from us, 2x Marsh Harriers appeared to our left over the fields, i started to get that feeling we were in for good evening.
   We parked and met up with Steve, Tony & Jenny and decided to scan about for a bit as it was still early& you know how those Nightjars like the dark. We picked up about half a dozen Linnets, 3x Blackcaps ,at least 3x Common Whitethroats  and a few rather smart  Herring Gulls over head but nothing too exciting until Yorkie spotted something in the Brambles and bushes .After much searching and bit of waiting Tony picked it up, a cracking Lesser Whitethroat. Ive only had quick glimpses of this bird before but this view was special as it was out on a small branch for quite a while & was looking rather neat. Then i spotted a Sparrowhawk flyingg left and then a Cuckoo going right - it was all happening!We then decided we had had enough fun scanning about as this wasn't the reason we were hear, no no  no we had a Nightjar to see! We made our way to our favoured spot,set up in all stood quiet  and waited for that super `churring` of the Nightjar to begin!  After no more then 20 minutes we heard the `churring` which seemed to be coming  from the wooded area in front of us. Then we heard that clap & call which they make in flight and got our bins to our eyes & soon picked it up flying to our left, showing its magical white spots off as it went. The buzz from seeing & hearing this was something i  always cherish as this was my first real birding experience, as Yorkie took me here 3 years ago and was one of the reasons i got so interested in birdwitching. Yorkie soon picked it up ,sitting in a fence post. Then it took up and circled us a few times. I'm not sure if it was cause we were there or it was just doing its usual flight patern but either way these were the best views ive ever had ,made even better as it was still good light ,so i was one happy boy! I managed to take a bit of footage on me camera but its not fantastic , but does show you how close we were to this superb bird-enjoy!  

After 45 minutes we headed off ,leaving behind the churring Nightjars and Bats that were about to a new sound .. that of a calling Tawny Owl. We managed to track it down eventually,in a road where we had parked our cars. It was calling away from a tree for a while & then appeared in flight for us all to see . A super bird to end our trip on.What a cracking evening & im already looking forward  to getting next years calender & setting aside a date for next years one!  

Monday, 27 June 2011

Weekly round up.......

 Before i start with last weeks sightings i must mention last Sundays morning trip to Surlingham Marshes, where i meet up with Jim  ( who showed me around cracking little reserve with a rather mixed habitat. We had a good hour and half's birding which brought us a calling Cuckoo which happened to be in a tree directly above us (closest ive ever got to one) ,a flying  Little Egret, Marsh Harrier hunting, a Hobby darting through across us, a Garden Warbler singing and some nice views of 2x Grasshopper Warblers! All good birds but probably the best part of the morning for me ,(other then the good company obviously Jim!) was when i asked Jim if he still had the Little Owl in the tree that he had been mentioning on his blog recently? He informed me it hadn't been about of late but we would take a look today and see. Well your`ve guessed it..... it was there sitting out in view as if it was waiting for us.I was really chuffed as Ive only had flying views during the day , other views have always been in darkness so this was a treat as in fact the whole morning had been, Cheers Jim!
 Now back to the week just gone. I popped into UEA broad on my lunch break on Monday as Ive ignored this place for a while so i gave it 30 minutes .Well lots of young fledglings as you would expect- 2x Common Terns were over the main lake which was the first time ive seen em here along with  5x Blackcaps singing away, Mistle Thrush , 2x Song Thrushes, 2x Reed Buntings, 4x Common Whitethroats, 3x Sedge Warblers, 2x Reed Warblers (one of which was out in the open for quite some time which was nice rare treat) and  2x Chiffchaffs. As i left i scanned again at the lake and noticed a couple of Terrapins on a log, not sure where they had came from but looked beautiful in the sunshine. No camera or scope so i used my mobile (little bit dodgy but i think its good enough).

With regular visits to my father in laws house for weekend and mid- week dinners I've been taking time to record all bird activity down at Thorpe(station) Marshes as it's less then 5 minutes walk from his house. I've been trying my best to keep records up to date from beginning of year so here's what I saw Wednesday and Sunday !
 Wednesday gave me all the common stuff I expected (although still no Mistle Thrush yet) and a few new patch ticks. Before I get to them let's start with what I saw from the Bridge 2x Chiff chaffs, Gold Finches and 2x Whitethroats. In the bushes & reeds along the path heading to the cattle gates. 3 more Whitethroats , 4x Reed Buntings,2x Blackcaps, 2x Reed Warblers, 3x Sedge Warblers & 4x Cettis- 2 of which were heard from the usual bushes and 2 were seen going through a bush together ( always nice to see and first tine I've seen a pair together ) . From the cattle gate( concrete  platform area) looking out to the marsh itself was rather empty accept from 2x Stock Doves ( although probably more but high grass keeps em well hidden) and a single Pied Wagtail. As I walked round the far side of the lake I picked up more Sedge, Reed Warblers , Reed Buntings and then 2x Grey Herons flew across and dropped into the Marsh , this then put up the Stock Doves  , now around 8-10 and 2x Lapwings! I do love a good Lapwing in flight and I watched these two as they climbed fairly high up and headed off over towards Kirby Bredon. While walking around the other side I picked up yet more Warblers and decided to take a look at the Scrape .Only a single Pied Wagtail, which could easily has been the one from earlier.
Onto the water : 2x Great Crested Grebes, 4x Tufted Ducks and the Mute Swan family were still present. As I completed my circuit i was alerted to a noisy Crow, I looked up hoping for the Marsh Harrier which often passes over , but better still...a Common Buzzard ! A patch tick for me . I know that they probably pass over from time to time but I always seem to not have been there when they have! Any way as I passed the Mooring area I heard yet another call from the sky....2 x Common Terns flying along the river passed the New Cut.- another patch tick. On to Sundays session. Arrived at 2pm, blue sky and hot! Just as I approached the bridge , a female Sparrowhawk circled overhead and a Cettis was singing from bushes on train line. I had the same Warblers along the path as Wednesday although it wasn't as noisy as the hot weather probably keeping some in the shade( I know i needed it !) I approached the concrete pad and viewed the marsh - wow what a difference a few days makes, I counted 23x Lapwings , 4x Stock Doves and a Grey Heron! I've never had more then 3x Lapwings here so this flock were of much interest to me.Some were feeding and some laying down with the sun bringing out all of there colours of this cracking bird!

Stock Dove with the Lapwings
 I picked up two new patch ticks along the far side of the lake  too : a family of Pheasants  -2 adults and 5 young ones. They passed over the path and into the grass.As soon I passed them my next patch tick flew over me, 3x Linnets. I've heard them before, often flying away from me but finally got me eye on em. Also a nice family of Gold finches sat on the 'roofless' hide. Another bird that in the sunlight looked stunning.There were 5 in total along with a pair of Blackcaps and singing a Wren.

Gold Finch
 I scanned the lake to find the family if Mute Swans, 2x Great Crested Grebes, 8x Tufted Ducks and a Lesser Black Backed Gull. I scanned up along the river from the mooring area opposite the New Cut  to find 20 + Greylags & 4x Canadian Geese and 2x Great Crested Grebes all on the shaded bank.All in all a nice few hours in the sunshine .

Mute Swan,Canadian & Greylag Geese

 Happy Birding,

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Red Footed Falcon ,Felbrigg Hall & trip to Sculthorpe moor -

 Ill start off with an up date of this weeks sightings.Well after the excitement of the Roller (which I'm still buzzin from!) i was off again for yet another first for myself. I was struggling to work as the rain was coming down, so i thought id take this opportunity to either do some book work or head out to Horsey for the Red-Footed Falcon which was hanging around? Well the book work was never gonna win that one! 
I got there pretty quick and parked up near the pub & headed down the footpath picking up a few Reed Buntings and a Whitethroat. I noticed another couple with scopes up. They didn't have it but said they had been told it was around so i carried onwards. I set up my scope as i got halfway down & checked all the fence posts and Bingo.....Red-Footed Falcon! It was sitting out on its own (well not quite as it had a family of Magpies beside it for company) on a post. I was shortly joined by the couple from earlier down the path and we all enjoyed watching it as it flew into the air grabbing the insects and returning to the post to eat it..  A nice looking 1st summer male.Also of note was a nice Cuckoo perched on a fence post which ran along the bottom of the dunes .I headed back home but there was more birding to follow......
Red Footed Falcon (234)
  Me & Cat decided to check out Felbrigg Hall in the week. The hall itself was very nice and the food there was cracking (beef stew, yummy!) but enough of that, the action was down at the lake! I got some great views of 9x Sand Martins  which was really nice as we were able to sit & watch em go back and forth too there nest holes in the sand bank. We also got to see a nice male & female Mandarin ducks. Other then that the usual stuff was seen.After we nipped up to Cromer for some chips ( well u have to don't yeh)  and parked up in the car park just before Runton and other then the usual Gulls we had a nice close Fulmar pass us by- Lovely bird. All in all a nice day out. that brings us up to the weekend where i  decided to check out a new reserve and one that caught my eye was Sculthorpe moor. I've passed it many a time while heading to the coast and often wondered what treats were to be had there-so off I went . At the entrance I got talking to the warden who said 4 Tawny Owlets were around in amongst the Alder & Ash trees, along with a Spotted Flycatcher . Both were super birds to see but what really caught my eye was that 2 Bullfinch families were regularly seen from the fen hide . Now although not as difficult or maybe as rarer to see as the Tawny Young I have to say they are my number one British bird to see,so i headed off along the broad walk path over the dried out stream and up to the Woodland Hide. Inside a few other birders who immediately pointed out the common Finch families on the ground and on feeders. Then it got more interesting as a couple of Willow Tits came on. Although not for long ,it was long enough to pick out all the important features that said it was the Willow , not the Marsh. Also a few moments later the Willow Tit call which us always appreciated when struggling to identify .A few more Finch families and then a Marsh Tit was heard calling, and then seen.Outside and over the bridge i heard a movement in the bushes . I struggled to get on anything for a while & then I saw a sulking pheasant , but more colourful then the one I'm used to . It was a Golden Pheasant, first I've ever seen as I've not got time to get to Wolverton triangle yet. Now I believe this birds roots to be of escapee but has been here for around 4 years and had a female with it last year . Anyway it nice to actually see one and I'm sure I will head to Wolverton soon. As I passed through the woods I checked for Spotted fly but no joy but got a pair of Blackcaps and few more Marsh Tits. Then I started to scan around high up among the Ash & Alder trees. I found my self trying so hard to see the Owlets that I begun to make a large branch or a trunk into one ! After about 20 long minutes I got one! A cracking sleeping Tawny Owlet. And not long after a second and then third! I was buzzin at this point & as one of em started to wake up it seem to look down at me, at this point some people had approached me asking what I was looking at? Well I told them to look through the scope and see for themselves- then there was alot if "arrrrr there so cute ..." followed by lots of " thanks " !  They were so cute and also very well hidden.Got a few pictures and some footage to remember these little beauties.

Tawny Owlet no.1

Tawny Owlet no. 2

 I left them behind in search of the Bullfinch families . I got passed the dyke which was heaving with life. A few Azure Damselflies and a couple of Hawkers which I couldn't identify but great to watch.

 I got to the Fen hide and straight way in front of me was a female Bullfinch ! Super bird but could be beaten for me only by the male . And I didn't have to wait long as it flew to the edge of the bush in view. I got straight on it with me bins to really appreciate it's bold colours . This was a stunning male in its fresh summer plumage. As I got me camera out to digi scope it a Juvenile landed on the feeding table. Now I had the full set- bingo! I forgot to even check out the female Marsh Harrier which was perched on a post not too far away.I got me pictures and then watched as a male Marsh Harrier came in & passed over some food to the female in the air . The female then dropped in to the nest which was all caught on the live cam in the hide. Really was a great hide to be.

Bullfinch (female)

Bullfinch (juvenile)

Bullfinch (male)

After about 35 minutes of watching the Bullfinches feeding I headed up to the river Wensum. I picked up Kingfisher and a Hobby overhead which was nice & then a Cuckoo finally gave itself up and flew over. I started my walk back and had to stop in finally one more time to see the fluffy little Tawny Owlets. Proper chilled out they were.
 This place I recommend to anyone who as a few hours as it's not too big to get around , doesn't get busy and most importantly ... Has some cracking birds !
(also could someone try identify this Hawker ?)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


  Really can't describe how excited I was to see Roller had turned up yesterday, down at Upper Hollesbey ,Suffolk . But my excitement was soon replaced by doubt as I know from what I've red before these fellas don't hang around . So I set off straight away ! Once I found the MOD entrance I wondered how far I had to keep going ? Well I didn't need to look no further as there was just a continuous line of parked cars (some not so straight but probably the last thing people were worried about was straight parking as there was a Roller in the area & every second counts!).
 I looked in the direction of where all the scopes were facing and Bingo....a Roller! Such a exotic & stunning bird. I just couldn't stop making comments on it out loud (much to the birders amusement around me!). I got chatting to a few birders and we all had  to agree this was worth any sicky that was thrown or little lie that had been told to see this beauty!
Here's a few ok pictures I digi scoped but they don't come near to what a stunning bird this is to see with the eye.

Roller(233) What a Cracker!

Roller (233)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

House martins galore!!!

Well yesterday while at work something happened for the first time in a few months .... I was actually rained off for a an hour !! But this wasnt a wasted hour as I took advantage of the situation to watch the House Martins feed there young on the estate I clean. It got me to thinking ... I've been watching these super migrants return here for the last 4 years but I've never done a full nest count? So I begun. As I clean the whole estate the neighbours know if my love for there feathered friends and weren't bothered by me starring up at there windows( to the passer bys I think I looked like a dodgy fella but hay!)i waited until I definately saw a bird Or two go in and out of the nest to actually count it ( although this doesn't guarantee successful young inside it does i hope show a nesting pair) . I managed to count 21 nests and at least 9 have young that I know off. Im already looking forward to doing this next year and see how many there are !
O , and by the way I managed to also get some work done so was a good day all round !
Happy days :-)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Broad-Billed Sandpiper and garden finds.......

  Well lets start off with a new bird for Shaky, Broad -Billed Sandpiper!I headed down to Breydon Water at lunch time and heard that all the waders had rested up as the tide was in. So i took this time to scan the birds that were on the mud and grass while eating me lunch. Nothing to mention other then 2x Knots (nice summer plumage) ,lots of  Ringed Plovers & a pair of Sparrowhawks which came across low and in doing so caused the waders to take to the air only to come back down to the spit to the right of the hide. Nice one Sparrowhawk! Me along with a couple of other friendly birders begun to scan away through the 70 + Dunlins . A lad to my left soon got on it and helped us all get it. A bit of  heat haze was the only down side from a perfect lunch break, but cant have it all( it could have been raining and that wouldn't have been good for me or the bird).

  So what else have i seen this week ? Well at New Cossey while at work i noticed that a large number of House Martins & Swallows were dropping in amongst a building site. I looked closer and realised that they had found a small pool of water in the sand piles and were using it for there home improvements! I had a great few moments watching these cracking fellas drop in right in front of me and take some wet sand and water and off back to the houses opposite. I grab a picture on me phone for the blog.

Building Site

Swallow & House Martins
  At home in the garden i managed to spot a couple of Moths. Now i have never been one to pay attention to these pretty little creatures but after watching a bit devoted to Moths on Springwatch the other night i decided to try and brush up on em. A Yellow Shell and a Cinnabar i believe. ( please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!)

Yellow Shell

  One evening this week while eating at my father in laws house i managed to add female & male Blackcap and a Green Woodpecker  to the ever growing garden list ive started a couple of months ago. Both two good birds to have on any list.   And finally at home the Swifts have moved in next door but one & ive enjoyed watching them from my back garden as they rather clumsily crash into the tiles and then gliding out again. I was able to see a pair mate in the air which was a first for me. They really do , do everything on the wing!! Any way thats all for now,
    Happy Birding, Shaky