Friday, 23 February 2018

North Norfolk stroll

On Tuesday 13th I met James and we headed off for a mini tour of North Norfolk, the bird time I've taken the car out any distance to go birding. Our first couple of stops were speculative, calling in first at Sparham Pools hoping for a Goosander. There seems very few around this winter and unsurprisingly there were none here. A large group of Fieldfare were in a nearby field and 3/4 Shoveler the best of the wildfowl on the semi-frozen pools. Going back a few years Manderin used to be seen near Guist, I haven't heard of them here recently but it was on route to North Norfolk so worth a stop. No ducks but I did almost get us stuck while turning around in a gate way.

Near Choesley there was no sign on the previous days Hooded Crow, although James counted 15+ Brown Hare in one field, so we headed onto Titchwell RSPB. By the path to the visitor centre James IDed so fungi while I had a look through the large finch flock, containing mainly Chaffinch and Goldfinch, but a few Brambling, Greenfinch and Siskin were also seen. With high water levels we scooted past the Fresh Marsh and up to the sea. The tide was out so most birds were a little distant, the best birds offshore being Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter. The New Tidal Marsh held a Ringed Plover and quite a few Knot on our way back, but we could not locate the reported Spotted Redshank despite out best efforts. The Meadow Trail did at least turn up a new year bird for me, with at least 4 Red-crested Pochard on the pool past the Fen Hide.

I drove the back roads towards Ringstead slowly in the hope of locating Corn Bunting or other finches but we only came across some commoner birds. Near Ringstead we located part of the Pink-footed Goose flock that has in recent times held a Bean Goose, but it was ease where on this day.

Final stop was Flitcham, and for the first time in ages the Little Owl was actually showing well in the fallen tree. A fellow birder pointed out two freshly hatched Egyptian Geese and a large Starling Flock drifted about. It had started to rain so we had to have an all to short look through the finch flock in the lane, with no sign of hoped for Tree Sparrow we headed back towards Norwich

Monday, 12 February 2018

Happisburgh and Letheringsett

Last Wednesday (7th) after getting the food shopping I headed to Happisburgh with an hour to kill hoping to catch up with the Shorelark that have been present most of the winter, but have eluded me on two previous visits. Walking up to the Lighthouse I had a better view of the whole of the 'lighthouse field' as last time i'd walked the clifftop path. After 10 minutes of scanning I located the Shorelark feeding relatively distantly feeding near the coastal path, typical. 3 Brent Geese were also in the field, 1 Pied Wagtail and a couple of Skylark. Walkiing the clifftop for a closer view the waves pounded the base of the cliff and there was evidence of further small cliff falls that morning. As I got closer to the area the Shorelark had been in a dog walker approached from the direction of Cart Gap and the Shorelark flew past me before landing further inland, close to the Lighthouse but out of view. A quick scan of the sea reveled a few Red-throated Diver, a group of 5 Brent Geese and the expected gulls.

I had a quick look in on Lessingham Church but it was locked, so after a few external photos I headed headed to Stalham. A Marsh Harrier was quartering the field near Ingham, before I picked up some gardening supplies at Wayford. Agnes was having a nap when I got back to mum's so I spent a hour or so digging the allotment. 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit and an unexpected Reed Bunting were nearby and a mixed group of Fieldfare and Redwing flew over.

On Thursday Agnes and I had a walk on Walcott seafront collecting stones and flotsam and jetsam from the tide line. The Turnstone's rapid walking reducing Agnes to fits of laughter.

This morning (12th) as Agnes was up and fed early I thought we could have a wander in Holt. Firstly we headed to Letheringsett to see if we could see the long-staying Arctic Redpoll. It was rather quiet when we arrived, but Agnes was happy playing Pooh Sticks on the bridge for a bit, a flock of LTT also came very close and amused her. I heard a Redpoll call and eventually found a small group of Redpoll in the Alders in the field. I soon located the Mealy Redpoll and after a couple of birds arrived from further along the track spotted atleast 1 Arctic Redpoll, however the birds soon moved and Agnes' patience ran out. I felt a bit guilty as I left the birders who had located the Arctic Redpoll for me, with Agnes screaming. Rather than visit Holt we stopped off at Salhouse duck pond and fed the ducks, much more to Agnes' liking. A Marsh Harrier was close by, the Brent Geese and Black Brant could not be seen while driving past Cley East Bank. Stopping at Sheringham for a wander around the shops we saw a Purple Sandpiper on the rocks by The Crown and plenty of gulls but nothing unusual.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

A Heron Filled Afternoon

Arriving back from shopping in Norwich at 2pm I was going to have a wander around the lanes behind the house, but Laura said I should go look for the Glossy Ibis at Great Yarmouth after i'd mentioned it earlier in the day.

Getting into the car a Grey Heron flew over the garden and on the way to Yarmouth two Common Crane flew over the road at Repps. A Great White Egret has been on the marshes near to the Caister Tesco's store and approaching Yarmouth Greyhound Stadium it was hard not to miss the GWE feeding in a ditch only a few meters from the edge of the main road.

Pulling into Bure Park in Yarmouth I ended up parking in the overflow just inside the gate, I didn't realise the main car park was slightly further along the track. While putting on my boots I spotted 2 Moorhen walking on the flooded/marshy meadow, initially totally missing the Glossy Ibis only meters away from me just the other side of the dyke. I moved slightly further along to get better views, with the ditch side reeds in the way. I then wandered over to the river bank where while looking at a herd of Mute Swan spotted my 5th Heron species withing an hour with 2 Little Egret in flight over the marsh.

Rather annoyingly with the Ibis being so close, I was more than annoyed to discover that I had left the camera at home, I had to make due with a quick record shot on my phone. With such good views and no camera, i'd had my fill after 20 minutes or so and thought I might still have time for a 20min look for Shorelark at Happisburgh, but driving home the skies darkened. Driving through a heavy wintery shower, I cut my loses after a nice afternoon and headed home for a warming cuppa.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Mundesley Cliffs and Allotment

On Thursday morning before the forecast rain Agnes and I headed to Walcott for a walk on the beach, however the tide was quite high so I continued onto Mundesley Holiday camp in the hope of adding Glaucous Gull to the patch list. Walking west towards the village I soon located the juv. Glaucous Gull on the groyne post, level with the sea front. We walked as far as the donkey paddock above the lifeboat station, before walking back. A few Red-throated Diver flew off shore, along with a couple of auk sp. I couldn't ID just with binoculars. The wind was blustery and biting so I decided not to walk east towards the Gas Terminal, but in the brambles near the rubbish compound a Chiffchaff was of note if little else.

Dad had discovered new diggings near his allotment, and keen to put out the camera trap again I headed up there after my walk. Getting out of the car I spotted a woodpecker in the corner of my eye and upon locating the bird it was one of the resident pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that dad sees on a regular basis. A pair of Blue Tit were inspecting a nest box and seemed very aggressive towards a Great Tit also nearby.  I'm taking on an area of the allotment and hope to put some feeders up soon, and will be interested to see what birds i can lure in.

Despite a night of pouring rain on collecting the camera yesterday, I had two brief clips of a Badger popping its head out of the sett and thinking better of it, diving back in out of the rain.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Big Garden Bird Watch

Yesterday after putting Agnes down for a mid-morning nap I pulled up the chair in the study to conduct my hour of bird watching for the RSPB Big Garden Bird watch, after 20 minutes it was obvious Agnes didn't want to nap so I decided to postpone my bird watching until later. Instead we headed out as a family to take in a couple of local churches as part of my family history research. Barton Turf church was very pleasant, but I discovered from some very good literature within the church my relations buried here have unmarked graves. We thought about walking around the board walk to Barton Broad, but instead decided to try and find Neatistead Church. I wish we had stopped as I have since found out a Black-necked Grebe has been present 2 days. Driving on towards Potter Heigham for a light lunch I did see a small group of wild swans on the marshes by Ludham, but didn't stop for a detailed ID. On our return it was raining so I didn't bother continuing the Garden Bird Watch.

Saturday 27th 10:00am -10:20am (max. counts)

17 Feral Pigeon     06 Blackbird
28 Woodpigeon     12 House Sparrow
02 Magpie             01 Robin
11 Goldfinch         02 Black-headed Gull
06 Herring Gull     02 Jackdaw
02 Chaffinch

With Agnes staying at my parent's over night Laura enjoyed and over due lay in, while I got up and got an hour of bird watching undisturbed. For now at least I can view quite a large area from the study window, my garden, an area wasteland behind the house and a distant view of farmland beyond the industrial estate. A neighbour a few doors down seemed to have a better bird banquet on offer, so although my immediate garden was quiet I still managed a decent tally. A small group of Gulls tend to roost on the industrial estate buildings, and being early I watched them heading out to the fields. There were many more Gulls present than recorded, as they slowly drifted off and only max. number was listed. I also managed a new 'Garden List' bird, with a Female Bullfinch in the scrub on the wasteland.

Sunday 07:50am - 08:50am

05 Feral Pigeon     08 Blackbird
34 Woodpigeon     14 House Sparrow
05 Magpie             01 Blue Tit
09 Goldfinch         13 Black-headed Gull
17 Herring Gull     09 Jackdaw
04 Chaffinch         11 Starling
01 Song Thrush     09 Carrion Crow
02 Dunnock           01 Grey Heron
01 Bullfinch          02 Common Gull
01 Collared Dove  02 Great Tit
02 Long-tailed Tit 02 Lesser Black-backed Gull

This afternoon we decided to take a drive to Sea Palling so Agnes could play in the amusement arcade for an hour. On route we saw two Common Buzzard near Dilham, perched by the road I've seen them in the same tree 3 of the last 4 times I've driven past. A Red Kite soured over the road by Wayford Bridge and two Kestrel were near Stalham. Adding to the raptor list, on our return a Merlin flew along side the car near Sea Palling and a Marsh Harrier headed towards the Hickling roost. Near Ingham Corner two bats flew around while Laura was pulled over to take a sunset photo. A Tawny Owl also flew across the road at Meeting Hill.