Friday, 10 February 2017

Thailand Blog Address

Very Enid Blyton.


Friday February 10

At Natural Surroundings last Tuesday : our first Treecreeper of the year - on the feeding station tree support 2 metres away from the cafe window. There was also a Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Blue and Great Tits and a Sparrowhawk flew through - twice - there and back again 10 minutes later.


A trip to pick up prescriptions in North Walsham culminated in the Sheringham car park above the Funky Mackerel.. As soon as we stopped,  2 Purple Sandpipers flew from the groyne in front of the pub to the rocks below us. Jammy. We didn't want to walk on such a dull grey day with a biting easterly.

Flowers have appeared in two pots of the alpine Iris I planted in the Autumn. Probably because they were taken into the leanto greenhouse for shelter from the torrential rain we had earlier in the winter. Then, I forgot to take them out again.......
The main varieties whicjh I planted in a trough and left outside, look as though they'll flower whilst I'm away. Ah well !!
Iris Reticulata Katherine Hodgson

Iris Reticulata Blue Note

Friday, 3 February 2017

After Two Hours Sleep

Thursday February 2

Not at my most alert to-day.......a lot of cat napping between birds. We did manage a few year birds , namely Tree Sparrow at our usual spot, Tundra Bean Goose at Holkham, Greenshank at  both Thornham and Morston, Linnet at Morston, Mistle Thrush at Snrttiaham and Great Ringed Plover at Burnham Overy Staithe.

Still no Grey Wagtail at Sculthorpe Mill but,  a new site tick, a Red Kite idled its way around the mill and river. We then saw another near Harpley Dam Cottages and a third at Burnham Overy Staithe - another site record.
Our gamekeeper friend's garden feeders came up with Coal Tit and Nuthatch and a chat with him. He looks out for us passing and intercepts on the way back. He's a mine of information about the area but confuses by talking about the landowners rather than the area. I hadn't realised that the Sandringham estate extends as far as Harpley Cottages, viewable from his farm lane. Probably why it's so well kept. His constant companion dog went missing whilst we were there. I hope he found him.
Always a sense of anticipation when we reach the brow of the track overlooking the Wash at Snettisham RSPB. Waw, full of water. A little disappointing as there were no waders to be seen. I said '' might as well scope the sea in case there's anything amongst the hundreds of Shelduck''. The second bird I saw was a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Not even a year tick !! As I reached for my camera, it flew off west.........
Once the tide turns here, it gallops out, Teal and Wigeon enjoying the rapid roller-coaster ride along the creeks towards the sea. Fun. All the expected waders, Redshank, Dunlin and Oystercatcher in the majority, with a few Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Curlew. 
Most spectacular was a murmuration of Golden Plover, several thousand, massed on the beach, rising into the air, morphing in clouds high above before dropping to their original place. Why? No raptors around.
This is only a small part of the flock.

 We met Sophie the NOA warden at the entrance track to Holme. She achieved a total of 110 species on her annual Christmas Eve bird count. A record. Well done.
This time, the Broadwater was almost devoid of birds, so different from our last visit. Sophie confirmed that the Ferruginous Duck had gone, its cold weather arrival and departure giving some credibility to its wild prevenance.
Lovely Burnham Overy Staithe added the Great Ringed Plover and the third Red Kite.
Very little traffic to-day. despite the sunshine. We were able to stop three times to view Holkham marsh from the main road. A Marsh harrier on the ground attracted my scope. It had green wings !  This impression turned out to be two very large green wing tags. I know that they tag the Sculthorpe Moor reserve birds, Is this one of them? 
 We did not see the reported Great White Egret nor the Spoonbill seen near Washington Hide. We did find (Pam's shout, as I was scanning the marsh) one Tundra Bean Goose with five Pinkfeet in a roadside field. 
Half an hour's watch at Stiffkey was disappointingly unproductive. One Marsh Harrier the only raptor seen. We did very well for raptors otherwise. A Tawny Owl at home before we left, Little Owl at both Abbey Farm and Felbrigg, 5 Common Buzzards, 5 Marsh Harriers, 6 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk.
It was virtually dark when we arrived at Morston.  A small flock of Linnets danced their way over the marsh, a hardly discernible Greenshank waded in the creek and, a Grey Plover came up trumps for supper.
Just to show that I will photograph and show everything going.

Over 80 species seen - from the car.
We'll try and fit in some more distant expeditions before leaving for Thailand on the 13th. Lynford Arboretum and Cockley Cley are on the list.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Sculthorpe Moor

Tuesday January 24

We spent far too long at Natural Surroundings cafe, talking to the members of the mothing group who had turned up. K and M full of their Lynx watching trip to Spain, G and V looking forward to their Uganda trip next month and MH excited about Mull and Corncrakes. Very enjoyable. 
Such a beautiful day, it was tempting not to drive on to Sculthorpe Moor Hawk and Owl reserve. It would also be my longest continuous walk for many months. 
The best places for Elf Cap mushroom now have notices, asking photographers to stay on the boardwalk to avoid damage. My impression is that there were fewer of these mushrooms than in the past but, that could be attributed to several factors other than disturbance e.g. climate conditions last year and this.
I thought this looked like a green bug-eyed caterpillar.

We walked directly to Whitley Hide, around 500 metres along the boardwalk. It seemed longer as the whole area was devoid of birds. The new 'aerial' boardwalk for which we bought several boards, must be further on. 
Consternation when the hide came into view. The door was wide open, construction materials stacked outside and .......a man holding a drill. We still entered and found it full of birders apart from the low bench directly inside the door where the leaning shelf and window had been removed as had the one next to it. It was pretty chilly sitting there. The man continued to work round us, brushing wood clean and varnishing the sills.
Unsurprisingly, not much in the way of species. The best for us was the constant presence of two male Brambling and a Nuthatch, always good to see. A table full of Long Tailed Tits, 

one Reed Bunting, Blue, Great and Marsh Tits, seven Collared Doves sitting on the far table. 
The water was still frozen, I enjoyed watching a pair of Mallard make their way very sure-footedly along  - until they stood still and first one foot and then the other would slide sideways.

Frozen ankles prompted me to leave for the trudge back which was notable for two Red Kites, soaring over the trees. It was fortunate that I happened to look up at the right time.

Monday, 23 January 2017

A Fudge Duck

Sunday January 22

 Heavy overnight frost delayed our departure until 9 a.m. It was still -4C with a cloudless sky. That meant that driving through the countrysidewas lovely, trees, verges and meadows a glistening, shimmering silver. The roads were reasonable as it had been dry yesterday.
Still no Grey Wagtails at Sculthorpe Mill, very few birds of any species as we cloudy-breathed our way across the bridge. 
Several Tree Sparrows at Valley Farm Lane and our first sighting of Nuthatch on the Gamekeeper's bird feeder. He appeared for a chat, saying that they were recent additions to his garden. We must ask him his name !
The track out to Holme has a 1001 potholes, a painful couple of kilometres drive. Sitting in the NOA Broadwater Hide. my heart dropped. There were more birds on the water than I've ever seen there before. Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Shoveller, Pochard, Tufted Duck and a few Little Grebe. We eventually located the Ferruginous Duck present for at least a week, a warm chocolate brown with a white tail. Iffy views unfortunately, I hadn't carried my scope.
The fields opposite the hide had many Common Snipe, Curlew, even more Wigeon and a few Greylag. 
Our beloved Thornham and Brancaster Staithe added a Rock Pipit at the former, too many amateur photographers at the latter. No wonder, it looked glorious on a fast ebbing tide. 
In plenty of time for thr raptor roost at Stiffkey - and lucky enough for someone to pull out of the front row overlooking the marsh. Why do people, especially dog walkers, park their cars in the best spots and then go off walking. Grumpy Old Woman............
I scoped from the car, Greg was a car away,  standing out with a friend.  He eventually saw us and came over to say that NS is open to-morrow.
We added Hen Harrier to the year list, only a ring-tail was obvious. Dot and Steve drew alongside later and said that Eddie had a perched male at Warham. Greg's friend had also called a male earlier but I couldn't see it. One of the Marsh Harriers passing through over the far dunes, startled a Barn Owl into flight, it soon settled again. We once saw a Harrier try to catch one here, repeatedly knocking one down into the sueda. We were rooting for the owl and were pleased when it stayed in cover and the harrier flew away empty clawed.
I've changed to blue for year birds, the green didn't show up well enough. I may well alter the earlier posts........

Friday, 20 January 2017

Don't Trust the Forecast

Friday January 20

Daile brought my PC back last night plus the necessary new monitor. At least the hard drive also had a service and the layers of dust were removed.
The morning was spent sorting out stuff on  my machine, mid-day, clear blue sky and sun was a siren call not to be ignored.
Strumpshaw Fen RSPB from the Centre Hide our first - and last call. All the ducks were concentrated in a small area at the far end of the pool, the only water not frozen. Mostly Mallard with a few Teal, Shoveller and Gadwall In the past, a new year has meant trying to see as  many birds as possible in January. This aim has been amended to seeing as many difficult to see or, seasonal birds, as possible.
Scoping along the track at Buckenham, at least a thousand Pinkfeet with a couple of hundred Whitefronts (why are Eurasian suddenly being called Russian on the pager?), a large flock of Canadas, and, 5 Taiga Bean Geese. Don't know how I blocked that colour in and I can't change it.
A male Peregrine temporarily flushed all the geese before perching on a gate, a Merlin sat on another post. Lovely. Many Snipe around too.
Driving home, shortly before the Clippesby turning off the Acle road, two Common Cranes flew across the road. Brilliant 
Northern Swans, in two groups of about a hundred each, stood distantly in fields at Ludham. The nearer group flew before I could identify them, probably all Bewicks.


Birding in the Dreech

Thursday January 19

Led to believe that to-day was a better option than to-morrow weather-wise..........we headed for Sheringham.
I didn't think that the weather could get any worse. As we approached the north coast, it certainly did. Low grey overcast, became lower, the poor visibility became appalling - and drizzle set in. Truly a Scottish dreech day.
Well, we were here now. Parking in the area at the sea end of the High Street, I leant on the wall to view the rocks - it was also a pretty high tide. On the rocks below was a Juvenile Ist winter Glaucous Gull.

 More interesting was a 1st winter Herring Gull, a sponge of yellow whelk eggs in its beak. The sea kept breaking over the far rock on which it stood, washing the eggs into the sea and the gull into the air, before it fished them out again. Very entertaining but, not possible to get sharp photos in the poor light and activity.

I don't know where the seal corpse where other birders are  taking photos of Glaucous and Iceland to post on Facebook, is to be found.
Most of the promenade east is closed off due to surge repair workers and vehicles. No-one was seeing Purple Sandpipers.

On to Cley for a progress report. The A148 is open to traffic again, ricks of storm debris at intervals roadside.

A large puddle across Beach Road Cley. brought us to a stop at the village end . As we pulled in to the gateway I saw a bird fly from the nearby debris into the ditch. As I had suspected, it was a Water Rail.. Pam got out and was rewarded - eventually - with a short view. 
I was glad to get back to the comfort of home.