short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

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