short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

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