short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

December- Waxwings, Trip to the Brecks and a bit of Goosing!

   So before I get to Decembers highlights let me mention the Novembers bird of the month.... the Waxwing!  I had the pleasure of seeing a flock of around 15-25 at the top of my road on Jenny Lind Park . Some cracking views were had- Full of character and always looking smart when perched or feeding. It was nice to watch them as I passed on my way to work every morning and would try catch them on my way home too . Apart from that the end of November was quiet. 


  The patch was fairly quiet too. Most visits have produced the female Marsh harrier and a nice flow of Starlings east and Meadow pipits roost in to good figures but best bit of birding I did was some birding away from the patch.
   First thing of mention is the Red Kites I had in a Location in Norfolk. Was lucky enough to see many togethrer which was A great sight to see indeed .but enough said there.
   Now to the middle of December - After a few phone calls me and local birder,& friend Matt shore decided to head into the Brecks with a couple of target species in mind but mainly just to get out and be amongst the beautiful surroundings that the Brecks offers on a nice winters day and weather was better then we hoped too with blue sky s and mild temperature for this time of year
We headed to one of the known areas for Golden Pheasant and within 30 minutes we were watching a Reeves Pleasent ( not what we expected but a nice bird indeed) . Matt soon after got on a Golden Pleasent only for me to miss it as it went out of view. But it wasn't long to wait as I soon was watching 3x Male Golden Pheasents  and again the male Reeves from earlier as went a out feeding. Super birds to watch and a good start to the day!
 Next we meet up with another local birder/friend, Tony and headed to a area I'd not been to before but matt lead the way, and soon we listening to a flock of around 10-12 X  Bramblings and watched as they landed in the tree tops beside us . Again a bird I wanted / expected to catch up with today so I was chuffed. As we walked at  least 5x C buzzards called overhead as the sky lifted and temperature rose. As we carried on round seeing Marsh & Coal Tits a plenty accompanied by the ever calling nuthatches we came across some Siskins . As we watched matt picked up 2x Redpolls & then we picked up a Bullfinch as Some calling Crossbills went over head. This area was now alone with birds , tit flocks passing through as we walked back to cars for lunch .
 We decided to head to santon downham and try for the Hawfinches and as soon as we arrived we had one on the tree tops but even more noticeable was the 150-200 x Brambling which were busy feeding in the ground below the trees and at times on the road itself.  A total of 3 X Hawfinches we seen and probably by Best views along with the ones a few years back bear feeders at Lynford . We stayed there for an hour and watched these cracking birds as they grew in size as more and more extra birds added to the flock . After here we checked in on another spot and searched for a few Breckland specialty s but no joy.  A super day and great company too Matt!


Brambling flock

 Then on to the 27th December where my family and York family meet up the day as we always do around Christmas at Sandringham. After a cracking afternoon on the grounds ( and some tea & cakes!) me & Yorkie mention to the girls "there a couple of nice Geese not far from ere.." .. Before we knew it we were on a minor road near Docking and scanning through 2-3 thousand Pink Footed Geese hoping to pick out Todds or Red Breasted . The Todds had been reported there around lunch time but the red Breasted had not been seen since Xmas day so fingers crossed.  After 20 minutes of scanning through my scope and a few others too who had been there a few hours Andy  shouts " I think I've got the Red Breasted Goose!" ... After a few moments he managed to get me and the other birders  on it , what was what even more impressive was he was the only fella there who didn't have a scope and picked it up with just he's bins ! Well played " I shouted back as I ticked my final lifer of 2016 putting me on 277  .  Truly stunning for a goose !
Quick clip here;

  Then shortly after we had a Barnacle Goose too was picked up ( probably my most tick able one I've seen after my regular Buckenham ones !lol) . We left off after 4 pm and pleased to have helped get the news out quickly through the birder next to us and saw a few arrive who were very grateful to see it as we left.

its over there...somewhere!

Red Breasted Goose lifer no.277

 A great December and sure next year will be as good if maybe better ?!

Happy birding ,

Monday, 14 November 2016

Seawatching ........

That's right I said "Seawatching"...?! A word you haven't probably seen much of you have followed my blog over the past 5 -6 years but yes it was time to drag myself up to the coast and away from the Patch . After seeing the sightings from couple weeks back I decided 2 Tuesdays ago that I should get my self up to Cley or Sheringham . I couldn't get there before 9.30 as jobs I couldn't move so I chose Cley and arrived around 9.45am and joined the line of birders with scopes and was very quickly watching a Bonxies flying close in and chasing a Blackbird ! After a few minutes it moved on and a shout out of a distant Shearwater ... Now I didn't see it although I could see what I thought was a Juv gannet but was told it was indeed a Sooty Shearwater which had been called ,I have to take my hat off to some of the birders there as they have put in many hours of sea watching over the years and can ID something so far out on the horizon which I struggle to find let alone find the features ! Any ways I won't be ticking the sooty but I was pleased to say I did see a total of 12 Little Auks which were a lifer for me and one of the target birds of the day.  My next lifer came with 2x Long Tailed Ducks which passed by West close to shore and again I hoped to see. Then a few groups of C Scoters ,a flock of Wigeon passed and 3x Guilemots were a rest in the sea giving great views. Then a couple of Kittiwakes flew west  . It was a great few hours and I started to get my eye in in a few of the true sea ducks and there behaviour/jizz. Being around those who are more experienced too helps of course.Inparticlur one birder I stood next to named "Sean" who was a diamond geezer and good company .i decided to Leave just after  1pm . I found it so enjoyable I decided to head to Sheringham the following day . I know I need to do more to get better at polishing my up my Seabird identification . 
I arrived and saw 2x birders with scopes and decided to join them rather then going below into the shelter itself.  After a few minutes we we're discussing the previous few days birds and introduced each other -Paul (fellow essex boy and Greame a now local lad) were great company aswellas good help . After watching around 6 Little Auks and 8x Brent geese pass through West ,we were soon watching a distant Short Eared Owl which Paul picked up.  It was an amazing experience to see this owl as it arrived to Norfolk and we watched it all the way in as it passed over the sea and then buildings and carried on.  That was a great time for coffee and celebrated with a Chocolate biscuit ( cheers Paul) and sat watching the rather calm sea now.  The weather was a bit to nice maybe but we still managed sone more crackers. I spotted a C snipe coming in and over head along with a group of Thrushes,:Redwings,Fieldfare and a few Blackbirds. Then a cracking Woodcock  picked up again by Paul in the distance . We watched it come all the way in and over, very nice  and never get tired of seeing these birds . A female Goldeneye,Shelduck and a couple of Guilemots and I decided to leave off and to work. 
It's been a good few days birding and I think I need many many more mornings of Seawatching though !

Happy birding

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Patching and a trip to Surlingham Marsh.....

   I finally managed to meet up with Jim Bradley , we have been meaning to meet up for a while but on the afternoon of  the 26th October I found myself  finishing work earlier then usual and I meet Jim at car park and was soon watching a Tit flock making its way along the path when Jim picked out a showy marsh Tit . As we gassed away at the Hide we picked up nothing more then a few Teal and a Coot. Then as we completed the circuit we decided to take a different route.We were soon standing near some reeds and watching a pair of Bearded Tits fly over (cracking birds) and then a Common Snipe flew up as a Siskin called and soon gave its self away on the tree top. As Jim walked on he flushed a Woodcock up ,giving great views! Brambling called as we made our way back to the vehicles. A great hours birding and good to catch up with yeh Jim!

  So I decided to give a patch a real good go on Monday . Target birds were the expected Autumn birds:  Fieldfare ,Brambling,Siskin and possible Jack snipe  & woodcock among others.  I arrived at footbridge and immediately heard calling Grey wagtails . I picked  up 2 as they landed (a 3rd bird later joined em). This was my first on the patch proper as only up river previously and I'm very strict with my patch boundaries! Next was a Common Buzzard overhead being mobbed my some Rooks and jackdaws. I then made my way round checking out the  Tit flocks as I go.
On the Broad:-
3x Cormorants were fishing ,4x Gadwall,mallards, 3x Common Snipe and a large amount of BHGulls.....92 in total. I'll have to check through my records  but possibly my highest count. 4x Herring gulls, 3x LBBGulls and 2x Common Gulls & a single Lapwing . As I walked up Bungalow lane a small flock of 7x Fieldfare dropped in to the tree tops and around 12x Gold finches flew over and landed in the same tree . A Greater Spotted woodpecker called as decided to check the marshes again.  A good decision  as a pair of Meadow Pipits were flying over head and then a Skylark flew over East. 
Now to the bird of day ..... As I walked round I heard and then saw  A pair of Stonechats ! Now I know to lot of yeh reading this and it's a bird probably seen regularly but here on the patch it's proven pretty tough , well I say that a few lucky birders have picked em up but in the 5 plus years I've been patching Thorpe Broad/ marshes I've not ever seen one so this was a bloody good moment for me ! I literally stood there watching em both feed and call to one another.   I took some pictures as the male was still showing some nice summer plumage, a bit worn but looking smart.  After 30 minutes of soaking up these beautiful birds I wondered if I would have to wait a few more years before I see em again or weather they will stick for a while or possibly over winter ?

Male Stonechat

Female Stonechat

I finished off by watching 3x Grey wagtails flying off towards the river and a Kestrel along the railway track 
2x Patch ticks and a very happy patcher!
Happy birding 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Patching and a bit of Norwich Twitching!

So last weeks 2 patch visits were rather quiet . A few highlights being 2x very Vocal Water Rails, 4x Gadwall  ,3x Common Snipe ,4x Stock Dove ,3x Cettis and a Green woodpecker which decided to drop down onto the path in front of me,ok not rare but my closest encounter of this bird at the patch.

Green Woodpecker on Station Marsh Path
3x Common Snipe
 So that leaves me with just to mention a smart bird that I saw on Friday 21st. I got a phone call from Jake to say a Great Grey Shrike had been reported at UEA.Not being prescribed to any bird report alerts, this was very much appreciated and I happened to have just finished work off Bluebell road so was there in 10 minute's. I soon saw a few local birders all walking around the Lusty Hill area as I walked past the rugby pitches. I bumped into the finder who worked at the Uni and pointed me into the direction the bird had flown in. I soon was standing in a small gated off area with the handful of birders. I got my scope out and was pointed to where it perched, being harassed by the Blackbirds.You simply cant deney this is an absolute cracker of a bird and enjoyed watching it with a few familiar faces in Gary White as well as James Emerson who arrived as I was about to leave.  Drew,Micheal,Alex  and Jake turned up all getting good views of the Shrike as it flew out into the trees nearby.

Great Grey Shrike
  All in all a great bird and to see it so close to the city centre and to have given so many birders a nice local twitch.

 Happy birding

Friday, 21 October 2016

October- Trips to the cem and Twitching in Yorkshire ....

  So the last 2 weeks have seen plenty of great birds hitting the country and particularly the east cost l decided to nip off work early a couple of times, once on the 7th and then the 13th October and with only a few hours I headed to the closest good habitat on the east coast to me.  So I picked Great Yarmouth and the cemetery which is a great place for a migrant or two to drop into .  I was quickly standing and watching  a tree full of Goldcrests , heard a firecrest in there but couldn't  pick it up unfortunately . As I walked further round it seemed every tree had a shed load of Goldcrest and as I stood trying to pick something else out I bumped into local birder Tommy ( top bloke!)  We got gassin and were soon watching a Yellow browed warbler , & soon  2!  We made our way to the north section and as we did I picked up Yet more Goldcrests.
 As we continued round and other then a lot of Robins, chiff chaffs and yet more Goldcrests nothing more of interest was seen .
 My second trip on Thursday last week , it was  noticeabe for there being less Goldcrests but an influx of more Robins .  I was joined by Drew as walked round ( nice to catch up with yeh again fella) and we were soon watching a cracking male Brambling which dropped into treetop above us. Then in the south section we both watched as a Woodcock was flushed and flew across our view - Stonking bird in my opinion !
 Drew picked out a flying Med Gull and we both heard a calling Grey wagtail.  Nothing more of note although a nice Marsh Harrier hunting along acle straight and a large flock of Golden Plover 
    Now to something a little different . Yorkie ring me this Saturday evening telling me he was going to twitch the Siberian Accentor up in East Yorkshire and wondered if I fancied joining him? Of course the thought of spending a day with yeh best mate and seeing a cracking rare bird among other migrant  birds doesn't take much thinking about but it was the time he wanted to leave that made me stop and think again...... 2.45am!!!! I mean I've walked home from a night out at that time a few times ( few years back mind) but get up and leave off for a near 4 hour drive ? Madness or a fantastic idea?! I went with with fantastic idea and after speaking to my understanding wife  I agreed and was soon in bed and alarm set.

silly o'clock

We set of at 2.45 and had the road to our self virtually until we got towards Humber bridge when traffic picked up a bit. Plenty of birding chat was had in the 4 hour journey and even a bit of footy ( at least the hammers had won the day before to give me something to talk about ! ) and as we left Hull behind us and saw Easington sign posted we celebrated by breaking into song with a burst of "7 nation  army " , and before we knew it we was at Easington, East Yorkshire around 6.30am.
 We were quickly standing line waiting for the bird to appear as the sun Came up. As we watched a Spotted flycatcher there was a call out to say it's showing. We all gathered at the fence to it, Siberian Accentor!(british bird 270) Cracking little bird too.  It was worth all the 4hours of driving in the dark for sure. We gave it 30minutes and watched as the bird went about finding food , sometimes feeding really close to the fence line where we were all gathered. We stayed and chatted to the birders around us and decided to check out Spurn itself.

Siberian Accentor .no 270!

2 x very happy Birders

  As we arrived we jammed in on a Dusky  warbler which had been trapped and about to be released. Superb little bird and after watching it fly off and hankered down into some bushes. we walked round to the Crown pub car park. Nothing of note there but a Raddes was on show along the bank so we nipped over there quick sharp and was rewarded with great views. Spent a nice bit of time with this busy little bird but unlike most Raddes ive heard about this one showed occasionally well. Raddes Warbler was my 273rd british bird.While there a small flock Bearded Tits flew overhead. I then noticed something resting on the shoreline , a Female Redstart. We stayed for a while and enjoyed watching the Brent geese dropping in and the huge flocks Golden Plover going over head and had some  food and We decided to leave off and head to Ackborough for the Swamp hen. As we passed through Kilnsea we picked up 17x Tundra Bean geese at rest in the fields.

Dusky Warbler

Tundra Bean Geese

 As we arrived (10.30am) it decided to rain heavily but we put on the water proofs ( I lent Yorkie my West Ham united hat much to my pleasure) and walked down to view the Square pool area it had been regularly showing at. The rain continued for a bloody hour and then steadily improved . We joined another birder who was wet through and had been waiting there since 8.30am but no sign of it . We gave it till 2pm in which time 7 birders came and went and another dozen arrived . We wished the Cambridgeshire birder ( sorry never caught yeh name)  good luck and set off home .
 We spoke of how it would have been the icing on the cake to have got the swamp hen  but it's a harsh reality that birding doesn't always give u what you want when u want it . We put in 3 & 1/2 hours  through some bloody awful weather at times and only  a fly over Common Buzzard and Little egret to show for it but what we had seen earlier in the day  was one of the mega ticks of my birdwatching list and a couple of crackers joining it too in the notebook .
 We arrived home at 5.45pm tired but tell a lie we we're more then happy we were  BUZZIN! !
 Anyways,Cheers for driving Yorkie and thanks for the planning of the day out.  Can't wait to see the next mega hit and hopefully it will be in Norfolk and not mean setting off at " silly hours o'clock!" 
Happy birding 
Shaky ⚒

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Annual Bird Race 2016 .......

  So its that time of the year again when  me ,Yorkie, Steve, Tony & Phil head off at the silly early hours of the day in hope of seeing as many bird species in 1 single day. This year we set a target of 130+ , our previous best was 125 so about time we did it. Well Yorkie was outside my door at 3am on the 12th May and we were soon outside Phil's house on route to the Brecks!

Stanton Downham 5am

 At 3.58am we all standing outside the car & all in utter surprise as we heard a churring Nightjar !A super bird to have on the list .We were now buzzin and as a Tawny Owl begun to call we decided to head to the area where the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker s are seen ready for sunrise. As we made our way there we picked the start of the Dawn chorus ( man I love this part of the day) picking up Song Thrush & Blackbird  (seen as well as saw later on in the day ). We were standing in the usual spot waiting for the Lessers when I looked up and started to scan the trees as the sun was rising & noticed a pair of roosting Mandarin  Ducks above our heads.In fact there was 2x pairs in this area .
Mandarin Duck

Then as we listen to a Cuckoo and Pheasent calling we heard a Little Owl call.Yorkie soon picked it up and we picked up Tawny owl. Now the sun was rising and Great Tit ,Blue Tit and a Cuckoo was seen and a drumming was heard. It was a Greater Spotted though & not the Lesser we wanted. We actually watched a pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers above as before we actually heard and then saw 2 x Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, (12) followed by a "Get in there my son "! We made a bit of time to enjoy watching them go about feeding before we started the walk back along the river.As we did we picked up all the common woodland birds along with these birds of note-  ChiffChaff , Willow Warbler, Nuthatch, Whitethroat & Stock Dove . As we walked we got nice flying Kingfisher(always a great bird to get),Coller Dove ,Dunnock and Shovler duck flying. Then  Phil spotted a Barn Owl(35)  perched which now gave us a unexpected 3 owls and we approached the Bridge we got a nice Grey Wagtail up river and a Long Tailed Tit flock on the trees. Our first Hirundine of the day was a Swallow as a Garden Warbler and Blackcap were added to the note book. A Otter was seen fishing in the river as a Swift flew over head followed by a Treecreeper  picked up by Yorkie and too a nice Marsh Tit(43) .
 We got back in the car & drove up to St.Helens where we got views of Garden Warbler,  Grey Lag Goose,Pied Wagtail and Crow.We set off with 46 species in the note book quickly added Gold crest, Skylark ,Yellowhammer, views of Willow Warbler and then the 2 target birds from this spot....Wood lark and Tree Pipit ,both in glorious song.Then a flying Green Woodpecker  was  added along with a bonus bird with a nice pair of Stonechats( no. 53) and then a Lesser Blacked Backed Gull as we headed back on the road towards Lynford.

 Time was 7.35am as we left the car and made our way to the folly area .We picked up Magpie, Siskin, Coal Tit, Spotted Flycatcher and listened out for Firecrest.It took a while but a few brief views were had of at least 2 x Firecrests. (59). We quickly scanned the lake and picked up Canada Goose, Coot, Great Crested Grebe ,Gadwall and Cormorant . A Bird of Prey high overhead got me excited before i soon realised it was only a Common Buzzard. We left Lynford on 65 species and headed to Weeting Heath with the clock showing 8.45am.

Spotted Flycatcher

We soon were all sitting the Hide watching a Stone Curlew among a few Lapwings and some corvids. Sparrowhawk,Jay and Mistle Thrush (70) were also added as we took a snack and coffee before heading to Lakenheath.

Stone Curlew

   At 9.30 am I was now fully enjoying the glorious sun shine (best day of the week by far) as I changed into my shorts. I should add we picked up  House Martin, Rook and House Sparrow on route  before here.
 At the visitor Centre reedbed we picked up a Reed Bunting(previously heard) 7 we were soon standing on the bank watching a Sedge Warbler & Reed warbler singing and a Grey Heron flyover. Then a contender for bird of the day appeared, a Black Tern (in fact 3 in total). This bird I only went and got Monday at Whitlingham in Norwich but wasn't thinking of seeing these again so soon .A common Tern , Marsh Harrier , Shelduck, Reed Warbler  and a Eygptian Geese put us on 81 species as we walked up to get the Hobbies.

Black Tern-no.75
 As we approached the area of the fen where the Hobbies are seen we picked up a Little Egret before 1 of 3 Hobbies appeared! We decided to head back to the car as its a long walk to the top on just "a chance " of seeing a Crane or Bittern.We were on the road by 11.05am picking up Herring Gull and Red legged Partridge on route as we arrived .

  We arrived at mid day exactly & we checked the hide to pick up Oystercatcher and Tufted Duck but nothing more (Little owl was resting a foot of the tree as usual) so we headed out to the fields. We picked up Tree Sparrow quickly and a  Black Headed Gull (90).

 We arrived at 1.15pm and headed straight to the cliffs to pick up Fulmar& Feral pigeon (92)and was back in the car on route.

We pulled up & was soon listening to the calls of  Yellowhammer and a Corn Bunting .We tracked the Corn Bunting down on the ground before it took off to only land on the wires and sung(great bird) but best was yet to come as we scanned the ground again spotted 2x Turtle Doves......that's what I'm talking about! Superb bird to get any day of the year but on the day list it went along with Grey Partridge,  Wheatear & Yellow Wagtail. Then a quick drive to get the Dotterels .We saw a total of 8 Dotterels and was another really good bird onto the list as we set off to Titchwell.

Corn Bunting

Turtle Dove

Yellow Wagtail

 We arrived at 2.15pm with 98 species in the note pad and headed straight for the first hide.On route we picked up a Bearded Tit flying across the Reeds, a Pochard and a Red Crested Pochard. At the hide its self we had Avocet, Little Ringed Plover ,Little Stint, Dunlin, Common Gull, Redshank,Teal,Little Tern, Common Sandpiper & a smart White Wagtail. Then a target bird in a another smart bird a drake Garganey no.112 of the day!

Little Ringed Plover

We carried on and picked up a Brent goose, Linnet ,Grey Plover and Meadow pipit into the Parrinder Hide,picking up a cracking Temminicks Stint putting us on 117. We made our way to the beach  and begun to check the shoreline & Sea:- Sanderling, Turnstone, Whimbrel ,Curlew, Common Scooter& a Ringed Plover. As we made our way back I picked up my favourite British bird...the male Bullfinch, pukka! Now I was a happy chappy. We left Titchwell 124 birds (one species off our previous best).

Male Bullfinch

On route we stopped off to pick up a few smart Med Gulls and a Bar Tailed Godwits before arriving at Cley at 6.45pm.
Med Gull

 Tony suggested parking up at Walsey Hills to view across at Arnolds Marsh for the Spoonbills which had been reported there.This was a good call as we picked up 2 x Spoonbills quickly along with a Little Grebe on the pond behind us.
We parked up at the main carpark & made our way to the first Hide, picking up Sand Martin overhead as we entered. We picked up a LittleGull, Ruff &Greenshank .

As we left Phil spotted a pair Whinchats putting us on 133 for the day as we got in the car & drove up to the beach to view the sea. Only bird we added was some  Sandwhich Terns (134)flying west. We then decided to try a good spot for Nightingale. This was a great spot indeed as we heard 2 x Nightingales singing. No views but the song was a great way to end our day.
 In fact a days birding bookend by a churring Nightjar & a singing Nightingale, is some way to do it!
We ended the day at 8.45pm after nearly 18 Hours of birdwatching and saw a a total of 135 birds (3 of which were only heard) .
 I would like to say thanks to Steve for planning the day ,Phil for driving, Tony for he's tight time keeping ( and Duck noise impression at the bank at Lakenheath) and Yorkie for he's keen ,sharp eyes . The banter was superb throughout the day and the company was as important as the birds we saw I think.
We all got to see the birds &  helped each other with sighting the bird or IDing of a bird.
Cant wait for next years & with the bar set high now, i think next year target is 140 + !

The posse-
Steve "route planner", Phil "the driver", me "enthusiastic", Tony "time keeper", Yorkie "Ornithologist".

 Happy birding

Sunday, 15 May 2016

First half of May ,Bee Eater and a Local Lifer!!

 So the first half of May at the patch and with most returnee migrants ticked off I was hoping for something exciting ! So on the 2nd May a quick visit from work I picked up great views of 2x Treecreepers and my favourite bird the mighty Bullfinch, in fact male & female ( not easy to pick up now in May through the summer )3x Blackcaps,1x Green woodpecker and 1 X Kestrel as I approached the broad I watched a Hobby go over ,west towards Whitlingham. On the broad was Comorant , grey heron,1x common sandpiper and Herring gulls. Then a reeling Gropper! I patiently waited as it showed for a bit and managed a few digi scope pictures as it reeked away in the rain-what a bird

Grasshopper Warbler
 Then on the 4 th may- 2x swifts over house!!!
I walked down to the marsh picking up Sparrowhawk, Kestrel ,2x Stock Doves and a pair of Gadwall in dyke/channel . Also my first Reed Warbler was picked up , this nicely completed my targeted returnee migrants to the patch 
Also of note my first Orange Tip butterflies adding to the Peacocks and Holly Blues. Then at the Broad It was very noticeable for the lack of no Hirundines untill I got closer and picked up just a couple of Swallows passing through , with a pair of Gadwall,4x Tufted ducks  and a Great created grebes on the water. On the shingle Arm I picked up 2x Common Sandpiper,1x Grey Heron as a Little Egret flew east over broad. 
The Grasshopper Warbler was still showing and reeling so a nice few moments were spent soaking that sound up and 2x Swifts passed overhead .
 Then I Bumped into fellow birder Chippy who joined me as I finished the circuit and picking up a few more male Reed buntings (7 in total equalling my previous highest count). To finish off I picked up a few Swifts over enjoyed a stunning male Bullfinch "chewing the bud" in the gorgeous sunlight. 
6th may another patch visit 
Sparrowhawk was picked up as arrived and soon after a hoovering Kestrel .A Jay flew pass as watched a Treecreeper " creep" and a cracking Kingfisher flew over the marsh towards the Broad .


 3x oystercatchers,4x X Lapwings, 1x Common Sandpiper. On the water was  4x gadwall(6 total) ,2x Tufted ducks ,2x Great created Grebes and 3x common terns fishing 
5x Stock Doves flew in and joined the ever present Pied Wagtails on the "arm spit" and I made my way back . I made a point of doing a day list and managed to hit a total of 55 species for the day which wasn't bad considering a few givens were dipped 
 Also a quick lifer on the 10 th May at Whitligham as a message from Drew telling me he had found 3 X Black Terns! Superb bird and in summer plumage too.My 270th uk Bird.  A big thanks to Drew for the heads up was nice to watch these birds go about there business's along with James ( birds and beer) and local birder Jake .

A very distant record shot of 1 of 3 Black Terns(no.270)
  Also of note on the 5th may I had up to 16x swifts over my Street, just love the sound of these screaming overhead.
   Now to tonight (15th May) when I decided to get the long staying Bee Eater (ok 5 days but long for one of these!) I picked up James Emerson on route and we meet Yorkie up at East Somerton .Some nice pictures were taken as it showed well before taking off to feed for a while and then perched again. It was nice to have the bird to ourselves other then a couple of Local birders. Also good to catch up with James & Yorkie and plenty of chat about what Rarities have been turning up in the country.
   A few pictures below

Bee Eater

Happy birding

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

April- part 3

  So  a few patch visits before the month of April ends
 On the 25th A quick evening visit purely with hope of the returning Nightingales from last year. Well no joy there but a reeling Gropper ,male & female marsh harriers and Lesser Whitethroat were main highlights of cold and windy night 
Another late visit to the patch in hale storms ( that's right I'm mad) brought me no Arctic terns as been reported early but what I did get was 22x tufted ducks , a few Swallows passing through 2x Cettis and then a nice Sparrowhawk, that was as good as it got ! 

 On the 27th 3.25-3.45i had a white stork circling and then drifting west over Thorpe broad.  Wow! It's was a beast in the sky and I was amazed to see it.  I rushed to bridge and watched as it drifted away.

White stork
 As I scanned the broad I picked up 2x Arctic Terns and a common Tern. Then as I got to the spit I viewed a large sky full of  Hirundines along with a Green sandpiper and usual stuff. Then 2x common buzzards over and a Oystercatcher dropped in. So 3 new year ticks for the patch a patch lifer in  White stork  
 On the 29 th ,a quick patch visit after work and quickly picked up the mass amount of Hirundines over broad, swallows and house martins but by far my largest count of Sand martins around 50. Also of note 2x Gadwall and 2x mute swan nests and 8x common terns over broad! At this point I got  to chat to Justin Lansdell across the river as he was on Whitlingham side . He managed to pick up another 2 X common sandpipers making a total of 3.

Mute Swan

 April has been a super month for the patch. Most notably was early arrivals of the
 returning migrants. Hope May is as good as this !
 Also of other important matters, West Ham untied have continued there superb run of form and now fighting for a top 6 finish and a European  adventure next season . Well played to Leciester too who have been officially crowned Premier league champions , great for the sport and gives me hope of one day my Hammers doing it !⚒
 Happy birding

Thursday, 28 April 2016

April at the patch .. Part 2-

 So plenty more visits to the patch from the middle of April with migrants starting to return.
First visit on 13 th:- I picked up a showy Sedge warbler singing in the sunshine in the bottom of a Buddlia over hanging the dyke , followed by a even showier Blackcap as I passed the small mooring area. I then picked up Sedge warbler no.2 as I made my way the shingle broad viewing area .

singing Sedge Warbler
 Here I joined Chris durdin who was on a wander round too so it made sense to join up ( 2 pairs of eyes are better then 2!) and we were quickly rewarded by a single LRP along with a Green sandpiper ( I saw yesterday ) in the same view as I scoped them . I was buzzin as my target bird of the day was LRP as it was yesterday ! It was nice to give Chris a better view with him not having a scope. We picked up a pair of Teal and 4x Gadwall on the water and on the shingle spit was 3x lapwings and 3x Stock doves which quickly became 6 as 3 dropped in. Also a nice soaring common buzzards over head  and then that high pitched  call of a Kingfisher which I quickly picked up a flying across the broad beach and over the River-this afternoon was looking great!

Then after stopping off to listen and view a singing Blackcap we arrived at the hide and I decided to scan away back at the LRP and to my surprise there was 3x Green sandpipers ! Ok you may say "calm down Ricky boy it's just a few waders " but this is what patching is all about. Waiting for something to turn up or not turn up on its migration route or destination . I've never recorded more then a single Green sandpiper before & never a sandpiper this early in the spring so yes this was worthy of a "get in there" !

Little Ringed Plover
It would get even  better later but before then we  picked up a single Oystercatcher before Chris found he's/ our first Lady's smock of the year and then a marsh marigold too. 
  Then after bumping into mike Borrows we scanned back at the shingle to find 3x LRPs in the sky! A loose dog had somehow made its way onto the shingle beach to flush them up and  its owners ( later found out the wire fence had been partially pulled away , not good) . I was now very happy , unhappy at the irresponsible dog walkers but happy with knowing 3 X LRPs had made the journey back here. They probably won't breed here with things like this happening but always hopeful . We finished off our circuit with a view of the mute swan on its nest and 3rd/4th Sedge warbler singing along the railway line .Also of note was 4x Cettis heard singing and a couple of Willow warblers.  It was a super visit & great to have the company of Chris too
  My next visit on the 15 th April was after a wet miserable day but I decided to brave it. As the drizzle continued i picked up a smart Female marsh harrier over followed by a common buzzard  followed by a Green woodpecker on tree top and then to the broad... Hirundines everywhere! A Couple of hundred at least- House Martins, Sand Martin and swallows ,alot on the deck resting up  after there long draining journey .
Also of note was a single Green sandpiper 2x male shovelers (good bird for april here)  2x teal and a superb sighting of a Water rail in flight! ( my first record for month of April)
 It was a great visit and shows you what rewards there are to be had even on a wet, damp miserable day at your patch!
 After dinner at the inlaws on the 17th April I headed down to patch for a quick visit where highlights were:
2x green sandpipers & 1x common sandpiper( My first of the year!)
Also 3x Oystercatchers- a proper Wader fest!

  My first Common Whitethroat of the year was found on my next visit on the 19th, in fact 2 were seen .
 Also some showy Blackcaps and noticeably there were plenty more Sedge warblers ,newly arrived.  But my bird of the day was the Grasshopper warbler I got in among the bush  of the marsh flood.  That sound is just a nice reminder of spring is here and I wait for the sound of the cuckoo to join it hopefully! Also the now regular  Chinese Water Deer ,picture below


  An evening visit between 7.15-9.30pm on the 20th April was with the aim of a possible Nightingale (as I found last year) and to hear the Grasshopper Warblers which really love to Reel away later in the day.
 As I walked down towards the hide I picked up 6x swallows over the marsh and broad,2x Cettis,2x willow warblers and 2 singing  Song thrushes. I soon picked up the usual suspects on the broad and 2x common sandpipers (up 1 from previous  visits ) along with some tufted ducks.  Now as walked round I was joined by local birder Mike as well as Chippy & we begun to share our recent sightings ( always great to exchange info on what you have had & to see what you have missed !)  anyway it wasn't long before we were listening to the reel of a Grasshopper warbler, in fact right in front of us & as the sun went & moon light shone we walked round to pick up not 2 but 3 reeling if not more !  A real treat and something I hope stays for a while.  Chippy heard Tawnys calling along with a Fox and as we walked back 5+ Common Snipe were flushed up . It was cold now so into the van with note pad and pen with some heat .

sunset over Thorpe Marsh

Happy birding ,

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

April at the Patch.... Part 1-

so a couple of visits in beginning of the month starting with  4th April when the following birds of note:-
1x House Martin ,
4x common buzzards (1pair displaying low over the broad)
1x kestrel
1x reed bunting 
On the broad 
2x Canada geese
2x grey lag geese
4x Gadwall 
4x Teal among the many Tufted ducks .
A nice total of 11x Stock doves bathing in the sun (my highest April count I think ) love this smart bird
4x Cettis , 1x Sedge warbler in sub song ( near the small mooring ) chippy had it a day earlier 
& plenty of singing Chiffchaffs!
  Now Onto the 5th April ,a Sunny afternoon-   Walking down bungalow lane I picked up Willow warbler singing at crossing.Then Swallows overhead and 12+ Sand martins heading south west
Willow Warbler- classic sign of migration
At the hide I scanned the broad.
Today only 4x Stock Doves and a couple of Lapwings. Plenty of gulls too!
Overhead a Sparrowhawk soared and then that familer call .... A kingfisher! I love this bird and was waiting for this moment for many ah visit ( no sighting last year for me!) I picked it up along the river perched.  I simply soaked it up  and just watched ..... After a while u simply took out the I phone and digi -scoped before it decided disappear into the bank before emerging and flying down towards Whitlingham.   Superb!
Stunning Kingfisher at rest
 Then onto the 12th April late afternoon after a day of rain.The sun broke out and a common buzzards over bungalow lame and a 2x willow warbler . Then east of bungalow lane I picked up cracking male Marsh Harrier , this was only my second patch record of a male( often seeing female ) also in the sky was a  sparrowhawk.
common buzzard

Then I added Gt Spotted WoodPecker to the day list ,at the kissing gate (where it used to be !)and then 3x blackcaps as the weather become dull overhead. 
Then From the hide -
 I picked up what I thought was a common sandpiper ?, from this distant it was hard to make out the colour in the overcast conditions but it seemed to be bobbing a lot . I decided to walk closer and view again. This time the bird was more viewable and it was quickly evident this was in fact a Green sandpiper ! My first new patch tick!

Green Sandpiper (no.110 patch tick)
It was making its way along the shingle bank and I watched as it went out of sight. Great stuff!
Couple of  common buzzards over head as I scanned the spit.
6x Egyptian geese and 2x stock dove and 2x gadwall 
Then as I walked around towards the cattle pen a sedge warbler started to sing and on the river yare my first brood of mallard ducklings,a total of 9.
female Mallard with x9 Ducklings
 Then  to cattle pen I saw loads of swallows passing through and a pair of gadwall to add to the pair on broad earlier. 4x Cettis and another blackcap (4 in total) ended off a nice start to the month! Spring migration was in full swing so more arrivals or birds stopping off on route to come me hopes!
Happy birding,