short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Monday, 4 August 2014

Majorca, Great knot , Owls at sunset, & Nightjars!!

 So since my last blog update I've very busy ! A 2 week holiday to Majorca and a couple of trips out birding in july.

 Ill start with our family trip to Majorca, a beautiful place with Great beaches, superb weather and a selection of really great hotel resorts . Where we stayed was plush indeed and had some rather smart resident birds too.
 A regular to the lawns around our pool was a Hoopoe, one of many seen over the the couple of weeks
  I watched two particular birds over my 2 week stay, one pair which were feeding young which by the end of the stay I saw fledge and follow the parents to the lawns outside our balcony- wonderful stuff ! And the the other pair were regulars along the tennis court edges. While the little ones slept in the buggy I was there with the bins in hand to watch these super little birds munch away on the abundance of ants there! 

Hoopoe in flight

  Also seen around resort was ;
Turtle Doves,
Red legged partridge- resort scrub
Spotted flycatcher -every where

Spotted flycatcher

Green and gold finches- along the track to beaches and resort
House martins,swallows &Swifts
Linnets, Serin ,&Cirl buntings- in the pines and trees along beach area/ woods
Stonechats & Sardinen warbler &Balearic warbler - scrub on track to beach and along beach area
 Booted eagle,, 3x Eleanor's falcons -,both seen over resort area
Turtle dove, Wood pigeon ,Blackcap- farmland
Shag and Audouins Gull and a tern sp? -at  Sea & beach

Audouins gull


  At Punta da amer wood mainly pines-
3x  firecrest , 2x Turtle Doves & amazing views of 5x Nightingales- 2 were giving the best views I've ever and possibly ever will have of this super songsters!

singing Nightingale

Other bits of note was some nice views of Swallowtail butterflies ,along with some beautifully unidentified butterflies and a Hermans tortoise

hermans tortise

All in all a very nice holiday with wonderful wildlife too!
    Now a round up of Julys sighting-
 Just a couple of trips out, firstly a trip up to breydon water for the Great knot . I was among around 50+ birders and watched as it made its way a long the mud feeding among some godwits and redshank. I watched as it took to the air twice only to return closer both times.This was a lifer and took me up to 260 for the uk list . After that I decided to check out the little owls around caister area on my way home. It wasn't long before i picked up 3 along a fence and in the field behind a hunting Barn owl. Cracking sunset too and as I carried on my way another Barn owl flew across the road. A great end to a super few hours birding!

barn owl

little owl

sunset at caister

  And finally it was time for our annual trip to the coast for the Nightjars. This year due to holidays and busy schedule me & Yorkie couldn't get there in June so we meet up end of july. Before we got there we decided to pull over as the sun was setting and watch the pre roost take place of 8+ Marsh harriers Coming in and seeing if they can grab one last snack before sleep. A smart Barn owl was also seen along with 4x Little Egrets. It was then that we noticed a huge amount of Grey lag coming across, heading to roost . We decided it was time to head for "what we came for " ,the Nightjars before the light had completely gone.
It wasnt long before we were patiently waiting  for there presence when we noticed a Kestrel hovering over head and some skylarks singing.

 As we enjoyed a cold beer a late  Yellowhammer sung in the background as a Nightjar appeared! It came right over us and settled in a tree before quickly circling us and returning to perch. This yearly treat has a special place in my heart . Always great to see & a great way to spend a couple of hours out with a mate & a beer!
 As we returned to the car a young Tawny owl came over calling before it sounded out a horrible scream/ screech, we werent sure if it had hit something or it was so horrified at dropping its meal possibly!
As I said a great way to spend a summers evening and I wish that ( and the other nightjars) a safe return back to its wintering ground.
Happy birding ,

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Spectacled warbler

A nice trip to see the Spectacled warbler on Tuesday,  although a active bird indeed, it did give some good views .
A few digi pictures below :

Spectacled Warbler

Happy birding.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

That time of the year again ....

So its that time of year again, the sun is shinning, migration has kicked off and birds are now turning attention to breeding .... It can only mean one thing.... Its time for our Big day out!
  Every year me, yorkie, Steve and tony head out with bins& scopes in hand along with sandwhiches (and muffins) and try to see as many species of birds in one day as we can .We were  joined this time by Phil, a fellow Essex boy (so obviously i soon got to talking of my love for Southend,Bas Vegas and ford escorts  Cars), which was great news, more eyes the better!
So last week we started off ,as we have done for the last 3 years ,in the Brecks,Stanton Downham
I arrived at 4.45 and waited for others to turn up. I stepped out of the van with a coffee & soaked up the atmosphere ...The Dawn chorus had begun!
At first I was listening to the usual suspects, Blackbird,Wren,Song Thrush, then Blackcap joined in as too the Great tits , along with one of  those true bird sounds of May ... The Cuckoo!
   The lads turned up at 5am and we didn't muck about , picking up Blackcap,Wren,Blackbird, Chaff finch , Pheasent,Great&Blue tit as we approached bridge .  At this point we scanned the water to see Pied wagtails and up in the trees were Siskin, Green & Gold finches . At this point Yorkie picked up a couple of Common Whitethroats and then a stunning Nuthatch with food in its beak above us. This was one of many seen throughout the day( cracking bird) , also on the list now was Stock Dove, Carrrion crow and Jackdaw as we walked along the river in hope of a special little bird that escaped me on precious visits. All of a sudden a couple of warblers were seen making there way through a a small tree . After hearing the song , a nice visual confirmed they were Garden Warblers. Greater Spotted woodpecker, Rook, Canada goose and Marsh Tit, Willow warblerLong Tailed tit all joined the ever growing list as we approached the desired area . We stood & looked up all picking a tree each as it were and then a shout of "Lesser spotted " , and there it was on the branch to the right of me , and not too high up neither, giving a glorious view. We all smiled as we followed the male to the nest ,to only see the female leave as it went in- awesome! This was a lifer for me and probably the bird of the day for me(at this point i must thank Chris who kindly sent me over directions from the bridge to find this special little bird-super bloke!)
As the sun now started to rise and warm our backs we agreed to push on &to head back towards the car.

Stanton Downham
 Along the river Grey wagtails were picked up and I heard 2xLesser Redpoll & soon  located em . A few more Blackcaps and notably Garden Warblers were seen ( seemed to be in healthy numbers here ) along with Chifffchaff, Treecreeper , Wood pigeon and Magpie
  We arrived at Lynford at 7 am and picked up Crossbills, Robin  , (another Grey Wagtail) and Goldcrest. At the folly we all had our bins firmly on eyes as we tried to pin down where the singing Firecrest was. As we searched a bird flittered out and then in off the folly . I then lost it , only for Phil to relocate it and we soon realised it was a Spotted flycatcher . I had heard that there was a bit of a influx of them the day before & was hoping to catch up with one,in fact we would see a total of 3 by the end of the day so a good presence.
 After a while me and Yorkie decided to head back towards the reception hut where the crossbill flocks were and see if the 2bar was around. As we did we had Grey lag & Cormorant over,Dunnock, Song Trush , large flock of calling Siskins and a Coal Tit. The other lads soon caught up with us and said they had just had a good views of the Firecrest! As they spoke to us about where , I then saw a different Firecrest out on open ontop of small tree- luvly  jubly ! Yorkie and I watched it as a Goldcrest chased it around & giving occasional views when perched. (Firecrest was our 37 species)

  Back on the road by 8.15am & next stop was Weeting Heath- Stone curlew were on show from hide  but we found better views on opposite side of road. In fact the best views I've ever had of this species .
 While there ,we picked up Mistle thrush which was in large numbers ,as was the Skylarks singing overhead( what a songster) . It was at this point that Yorkie realised he had left an important part of himself back at the car.... his beloved Pager! A quick turn of pace and he was off leaving a trail of dust behind( Something i hadn't seen since Thursday nights 7 aside , at uea back in 2012)

Stone Curlew
 Green woodpecker was only heard and for me never seen throughout the day rather to my frustration. I spotted a distant Yellowhammer , a couple of Swallows  over, a Red legged Partridge , Lapwing , Linnet,Starling & a small flock of 6  Shelducks and phil caught sight of a pair of Hobbies (50)passing overhead -we had time to all get on em & see there stunning bold streaks and there "red trousers " . 
At this point we nipped back onto the pathway at reception where me & Phil picked up another nice Spotted Flycatcher . The warden said they had been waiting for there arrival and was pleased to hear this news. We decided this was a good time to take a coffee break and exchange some friendly banter ( usually discussing my slow driving , steve's fast driving , our footy teams and of course a mention of our clash of accents!)
  We discussed what birds we had already had and what treats were awaiting us at our next stop , Lakenheath Fen-
    We arrived at Lakenheath at 9.45am ,(after some interesting short cut from Yorkie and steve, which included some 3 point turns from steve  & a bit of fast driving). We managed to pick up House MartinSwift & house Sparrow from the short cut journey which was good.
 We soon realised the tempture had risen & was tempted to put the old shorts on but decided to make the public wait a little longer for that treat. Anyway on with the birding and immediately we were listening to the sounds of Cettis, Reed bunting, Sedge & Reed Warblers, Blackcaps and Cuckoos (no.57)! It was the Cuckoos that stole the show at this point, at least 3 if not 4 were passing over , one way and then the other. We looked over at the Flash mainly for in search for the Gargany but couldn't find it. Picked up Jay,  Coot, mallard, Shoveler,Mute swan, Great crested Grebe & Gadwall. Then Yorkie got on the Cettis that was behind us and Eventually we all got on it . Tony  pointed out a couple of Common Buzzards and me & Phil  picked out a nice pair of Reed Warblers. Steve then picked up Barn owl hunting over the back along with a Marsh  Harrier  & a Common Tern along the river. 
  As we made our way to the hide at far end of the reserve ,  we were passed by a Barge which made its way along the river, it looked fantastic in the sun and a very chilled out way to spend a Thursday morning . As we admired this boat , i saw something on the pathway  on the otherside of the river, it was a Kestrel (68), which seem to be enjoying  some prey it had caught.  As we approached the pool  ,Steve
" Lewis Hamilton" , picked out the pair Gargany that we were hoping for , flying over the river- a great spot . As we passed the empty pool I caught sight of a Bittern in flight. After a shout and a pointed finger , we were watching this fine bird make its way over the large reed bed and drop in near the hide we were heading to. Now we had just crane, bearded tit and possibly Kingfisher to try pick up, with no real hope of Golden Oriole .
  Few moments later a Grey Heron and I pick up a passing Little Egret which was nice although more sightings of this species will come later from the north Norfolk coast .
Once at the hide we scanned away to soon be watching a Bearded tit (76)make its way along the front of the reedbed - Great views were enjoyed  and with sounds of a booming Bittern in the back ground , & Reed, Sedge warblers singing, you found your self completely engulfed with nature and far away from the distant noise that surrounds your daily life- it was simply magic!
  Our walk back was a good opportunity to catch up with one another , something that i personally enjoy most about these birding days out . Yes we are watching some of the most wonderful birds that Britain has to offer and in some of the most stunning surroundings but its the company your in that can really make a day out a good one or super one! 
 We got back to the car and discussed where to next . We agreed to miss out a planned stop off and cut straight to Flitcham .
 We arrived at 1pm in time for a bite to eat while enjoying views Oystercatcher , Egyptian Goose and the super Little Owl. We then headed off over the road to barns and fields to pick up a pair of close up Grey Partridges and among the Yellowhammers was a cracking Tree Sparrow. We watched as it fed on the floor and then Yorkie picking it up again at its nesting area . Not a bird to take likely these days , so a real treat.
Tree Sparrow
Grey Partridge

 We left flitcham and i headed off to Choseley barns , while the others grab the Rock dove & Fulmer at Hunstaton( I was thinking of leaving soon so wanted to make sure I got some target birds from choseley)
Once there I was pleased to see Corn Buntings on show on the deck as well as more Yellowhammers. I picked up Collar DoveHerring GullLesser black backed gull (85)as I searched for a Dotterel. Although I couldn't find one I did add a rather smart Wheatear to the list. 
 Now the others had joint me and said they had Turtle dove at the barns , so   I left the dotterel field and walked back to the barns. Great view of one of my top 5 birds that I targeted for the day. Also a Yellow wagtail(88) was present among the pied wagtails. Both Turtle dove and yellow wagtail looking Stunning in the sun. 
Pied &Yellow Wagtail

Corn Bunting & Stock dove
Turtle Doves

We now left off to Titchwell down the road at 3.45, & headed to first hide and started to add a few more to the list: 
Redshank, Both Godwits, Whimbrel, Teal,Curlew, Red crested Pochard, Tufted, Pochard, Avocet, Little Tern, Dunlin, Knot,Grey Plover, Turnstone , and a Common gull over. I left at this point as I wanted to get back to the kids and see em before  bed . A Montagus Harrier was also picked up during the day which gave me a total of 105 speices but the boys carried on and got to 125 which was a super total.

The crew

A great day out and some cracking birds seen and all in some verygood company !
 Happy Birding,

Monday, 5 May 2014

101 and counting ...

I had a good feeling about today's Patch visit , and was proved right
As soon as I had arrived a cuckoo and cettis were in the note pad.
Cettis at the bridge and cuckoo flew across the broad pathway-theres been Reports of a cuckoo here and at Whitlingham since last week so I had hoped to get it .
As I checked the scrape a damselfly landed , along with a few butterflies( not as many as in previous visits though)
Just a couple of lapwings on the floor and a meadow pipit over as quickly made my way round to the south side of the broad. In the scrub and trees was a pair of garden warblers which were in full song,  a bird I only had the once here before so again a great year tick . Now onto the spit : 1x common sandpiper, 1x oystercatcher and 4x stock doves along with a single pied wagtail
In the water just a great crested and a female gadwall along with the Mute Swan.
As I checked the bushes I heard a number of sedge warblers and blackcaps. A pair of Reed buntings appeared and then a cracking Whitethroat came out and sung. Nice views and soon after 2x more . As I checked the spit again I glanced up to the sky and finally I got it...... Little Egret, the bird that got away! That's 101 species for the patch now. As I passed the mooring I heard my first Reed warbler of the year and immediately another. I was again expecting this bird today and another nice returnee. The day was topped of nicely by 2x swifts over which just made my grin even wider.

Happy birding,

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 25 April 2014


Quick patch visit in hope of views of the Whiskered tern seen at Rockland  yesterday ,( slim chance i know but u gotta be in it to win it, ay?)  gave me my first Whitethroat of the year, followed by a pair of calling Kingfishers which flew over and across the broad and perched in a tree, giving great views.
As I watched the many House martins and swallows over head a singing Willow warbler came from the tree besides me.  As I continued round to the marsh scrape I picked up 4x Blackcaps and at least 5/6 sedge warblers . On the broad a pair of great crested grebes and a pair of Gadwall. On the spit a single Oystercatcher and 3x Stock doves. My first grey lag goslings(3) and also a Kestrel over we're of note. 
But bird of the day and my 100 patch tick was a fly in Whimbrel! 
I watched it come in towards me as i stood at the cattle pen and then drop into the vegetation on the marsh -a really good bird for here. I waited in hope if it showing near the scrape  but i never saw it again .
A superb visit and now for that Whiskered tern to make a appearance :-)
happy birding, 

Monday, 21 April 2014

A Gooseander& more!

Patch visit gave me some much needed patch arrivals.
From the moment I stepped on the broad I could hear a  Sedge warbler along with the sound of a Martin over head. They were House martins passing through east bound along with 3x Swallows. I got to the broad & picked up my first Sedge warbler of year, a great view as it sung on top of the reeds. I knew these had arrived  here end off last week/over the weekend but was unable to get here. A great migrant which now took over, (along with the Blackcaps) from the Chiffchaffs and wrens as the main songster in town .
I picked up the now usual suspects on the spit: oystercatchers , stock doves,lapwings, moorhens & black headed gulls, actually the stock doves  were now numbering 8 which was a good total for this month here.
As I searched more a Common Sandpiper appeared among the vegetation -Cracking bird for this side migration .
 I made my way round, picking up a couple if singing Blackcaps , Reed buntings( not as many as this time last year) and blackbirds(noticeably x6 males which seemed higher then usual) and picked up 7x lapwings taking to the air from the marsh scrape, with 2x grey herons flying above. At this point it started to drizzle so I took shelter under a tree and heard what seemed to be a quietly singing Reed warbler. 
It was then that Sir Bradley rung me ( not the one from sky pro cycling  but the other famous one) to chat all things bird related and a bit of Manchester United ( shame to see them struggle isn't it, he says with a grin!). As I stood listening to the update of what's around and looking upwards, I saw a stunning drake Goosender fly up river over the broad and down to Whitlingham! Superb bird and obviously the same one James had picked up few days ago at whitlingham and in super plumage too. My second record for the patch.It appeared again later heading up river to postwick. I think if Jim hadn't of rung  me I probably would have still been  looking in that area for the Reed warbler .  
5x Sand Martins  were picked up as i made my way Round to bridge again along with 2 x cettis and another Sedge (2/3 in total)  all of which made it a good visit indeed. 
Happy birding 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Weekend driving is ace!

Yes that's right u did read correct, driving in the glorious sunshine is great, that is when u pick the birds up me and the family did. Well actually me & the misses as the little ones were tired out from playing in the pub garden!
First sightings was the regular pair of Stock Doves over Newmarket road and a mobbed Grey Heron over Limetree ave. At stoke I picked a beautiful feeding female Bullfinch as I stopped at a junction and then my first Swallow of the year at some Barns.  Then to as I got off the A47 a total of 6x Common Buzzards over head ( my second biggest count of this species ) . My last bird of the drive was again around dunston where a Kingfisher flew across the road and down into the stream . Beautiful day with some top pub grub , great play with the family and finished off  some cracking sightings , In a word....Pukka!
Happy birding,

Friday, 11 April 2014

Back at the patch

Trip to the patch was as usual a rewarding one
From the bridge i had 3 x common buzzards overhead in the blue sky along with a hunting kestrel along the broad edge
Then as I made by way to the marsh scrape I saw a male marsh harrier come over the river and heading towards where I stood. It came right over me , landing for a half a minute in a small tree along the railway line. I got myself ready for a picture but it took off and slowly made its way towards bungalow lane and then over  west wards. My first marsh harrier here since last summer so a glorious sight! Then a Marsh tit called away near by. I tried but failed to see it so that 100 th patch tick is going to wait .
Just a few lapwings on the shingle spit along with the usual
But a nice pair of linnets in the trees was a nice sight. singing away too while later seen on top of some scrub. Hopefully a potential breeding pair. My visit ended with a cracking view of a Cetti's warbler singing away and a cracking swimming Water Vole , only my 4 th ever sighting since watching the patch so a real treat.
 Luvly jubly as our favourite  rogue trader would say.
Happy birding

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Patch visit ....

Patch visit today in the beautiful sunshine with hope of catching up with willow warbler, blackcap and possible red kite. Well two out of three wasn't bad. At least 3/4 blackcaps seen but alot more heard from the Whitlingham side of river. Just the one  Willow warbler and a single Green sandpiper on the shingle spit. No sign this afternoon of any LRPs but just a single Pied wagtail on the marsh scrape.
There was  3x common buzzards overhead and a kestrel enjoying the weather as was the butterflies: lots of small tortoiseshell and brimstone . 
On the broad was a total of 62x Tufted ducks, 3x shovelers , 2x teal  and 4x great crested grebes among the usual. 
2x oystercatchers were bathing along with 3x lapwings also on the broad edge. 
A good day to be out birding the patch.
Happy birding 

Monday, 31 March 2014

The patch !

Great day at the patch but b4 that I must mention that I had a cracking day out at thrigby hall on the 16th march with the kids and wife which was made even better by the appearance of a Red kite overhead along with the mobbing corvids. Lovely birds in the gorgeous sunshine.
Now back to the patch today:-
Target birds were LRP , willow warlber and the lingering little egret that still I've not got on !
 I set up on the bridge and scanned away enjoying a cold can of coke as I did. Then after watching a pair of close Gt.spotted woodpeckers a pair of raptors approached. As they got closer i could see these were a pair of Peregrine falcons . The female cruising along in a perfectly flat line towards me while the male climbed in hight and performed a figure of 8 and then falling almost on top of her. She then climbing along with the male in height and then both displaying as they continued onwards in a westerly direction over towards the Whitlingham centre . This wasnt my first sighting of a peregrine here but my first ever sighting of a pair and in display-simply  fabulous !
As I got round to the mash scrape I was proved right with my LRP prediction as 2 took off on flew to the shingle on the broad. I never saw then again but wondered if they had just arrived or been here a few days? Earliest arrivals of this species on the patch was in 2012 , when i had  a single bird  on the 21st march .
A grey heron and a common buzzard over head was seen as I made my way towards the hide. 
2x oystercatchers , 3x lapwings and a pied wagtail on the shingle spit and 14x teal,2x gadwall and 14x tufted ducks on the broad . 
A nice little return to form for the patch but still that little egret escapes me
Happy birding,