Sunday, 11 February 2018

Itch Scratched

Thursday February 8

In the middle of what turned out to be an extremely hectic week - two visits to the NNUH in 24 hours, retinal bleed in left eye - the sun was out, we drove to Horsey.
Room in THE layby south of Horsey Mill, from which I scanned the fields. A flock of grazing Pinkfeet, a few Lapwings and Golden Plover. A dangerously low turboprop plane overhead caused all birds to take flight,  anuisance to all.
A little further on, I asked Pam to stop at the roadside in order to view - again - the 100 + Mute Swans on the east side of the road to-day. YES . Very distant, it was worth getting the scope out to see a pair of Common Cranes feeding, silhouetted against the line of reeds below the dark green of a coniferous belt.
Ridiculous photo........they're centre back !

Deciding not to drive as far as Winterton beach, we turned for home when Pam spotted a movement on the dung heap opposite Waxham Great Barn. We returned to investigate, finding our first Grey Wagtail of the year tripping daintily through the liquid effluent run-off from the heap. Beauty and the Beast.

Sunday, 4 February 2018


Friday February 2

Read One Get One Free

A small obsession with seeing Common Cranes for the year strikes us in January. Now February, still no sightings. The birds have recently been reported in the Clippesby/ Billockby area, that's where we started. Despite a thorough search, we failed to see any, let alone the 16 reported. It was interesting to see that the Clippesby fuchsia nursery grounds now have four wooden holiday chalets of a swiss design. Good area for moths?
Bure Park has given us a few good birds in the past. Our first Norfolk Ring-billed Gull and early Garganey for instance. This has involved some walking, as the park is not small.To-day, we drove to the third - and last - car park, where the Glossy Ibis was feeding avidly, a mere 50 metres away, apparently undeterred by cars.
I took some photos in poor light, the occasional sun back-lighting the bird. 

It was finding plenty to eat. Not the best photo but shows its lunch. 

It uttered a loud squawk, eye on the intruder,  when a gull flew too close.

A short drive away, behind the Sealife Centre, a dozen Mediterranean Gulls hunkered down on the sand, showing as little profile as possible in the bitterly cold wind. I tried to entice them nearer with half of Pam's lunchtime biscuit bar. To no avail, I don't think they blinked - much to Pam's amusement.  She too was hunkered down, in the warm car, I was pleased to get back in.
Another shoreside parking area gave a closer view of the birds,  past the end of a row of kiosks and before the wall.

One had an unreadable ring.

Sunday February 4 

Those cranes again....
Fourteen reported this time, west of the B1152, 2k south of Repps. Very exact, no birds. Times reported on Twitter are not accurate by the time I read them nor, as in this case, relayed by another birder. 
Might as well try St Benets and Ludham Marshes.
We picked up three year birds, the mid-day session was fruitful in the end. Five well separated Bewick Swans from the St Benets track, 

one Grey Heron deciding to hunt on the track as we drove back. Photo taken  between the wing mirror and the car body.

The finch flock is still restlessly swirling over the weed fields between Catfield and Ludham, nearer to the latter and west of the road opposite a lone bungalow named Eversleigh. Mostly Brambling landed in the oak tree above us for a respite, before rushing off again. So much wasted energy. The wonders of a photo editing programme brought the silhouettes high above into colour.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Where's Billockby?

Friday February 2

I had to be at the surgery in North Walsham for a 9.00 a.m. INR test - warfarin efficacy. I decided to go home for a short while before setting off for Billockby. A group of 14 Cranes has been reported from this area. We know where Billockby village is but not the birds' location.
Bob had told us to turn at Clippesby. We did. Also explored several other parts of the area, to no avail.
Cutting our losses, we drove to Bure Park in Great Yarmouth and the third car park which is the last one near the children's playground splendid equipment. The Glossy Ibis was feeding avidly and successfully about 50 metres away.  Not the best of photos but it shows a good meal.

Excellent - apart from the fact that when the sun came out, the bird was backlit. Without sun it was a lustreless blob. Very brown, with a spotty head and ruff, it must be a juvenile bird.

The light was mostly dull, a rain shower encouraging us to leave for the Marina Centre and our usual viewing place behind the Sealife Centre. About a dozen Mediterranean Gulls present, huddled low against the sand, protecting themselves from the Arctic wind. Very distant indeed, I got out and scattered some of Pam's biscuit crumbs. Not even that sacrifice made them move an inch, which amused Pam, also huddled but, in the car.
We drove to the next beach parking area from which we could see the birds more closely between the end kiosk and a concrete wall. I expect I could have got better pics if I'd got out. No way.

Curate's Egg

Thursday February 1

I woke early, the sky was a cloudless blue. We changed our plans - why do we take notice of the forecasters - and set off for a day's north coast birding. Well, it starts off inland on the westward leg. 
The countryside was breathtaking, a lovely day whilst in the car bubble. Then I got out at Sculthorpe Mill.  It was bitterly cold but worth it. Pam had found a hunting Barn Owl in the back field. 
We gave Great Massingham church cemetery a go, where we failed to find any Hawfinches. Nice new area for us, only a few miles from our usual route.
Has our Valley Farm gamekeeper friend cut some shrubbery down? We had excellent views of his bird table between the pole and his house. Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue, Great, Long-tailed, Coal and Marsh Tit, Tree Sparrow. All in a few minutes.
Tried again at the Dersingham office to renew our Snettisham driving permit. This time, Pam read the notice on the door which said that the RSPB website and Titchwell were now the only sources. 
We still drove to Snettisham reserve and, for only the second time ever, were asked if we had a permit !! I answered in the affirmative, he didn't ask if it was current......not for want of trying to renew it. The warden was not the one we knew, was very pleasant, waved me away when I reached for the permit and informed us of a Short-eared Owl roosting on one of the pits. Only visible from the path opposite where we were. Another opportunity wasted by my lack of mobility.
The tide was way out, exposing the deep main channel and very  narrow creeks gouged out by recent high wind and tides. Having enjoyed the wader and mud spectacle, I was delighted to close the window and withdraw my scope. Frostbite was setting in to my left hand and face.
Morrison's petrol has been expensive of late. We'd eschewed the Fakenham store in favour of Hunstanton Tesco. The price was similar ! The store is useful for a loo stop though.
Thoroughly jolted by the drive out to Holme where we added Shoveller and Pinkfeet, the body attack then continued on the visit to Thornham and, later, Stiffkey and Morston.

Curlew in Thornham Channel

New permit obtained at Titchwell, fully legal now.
Great Egret on Holkham Marsh and a Greenshank at Morston were our reward for the rib rattling potholes and traffic calmers..
The sky was overcast by mid-day, the rain started at 1.00 p.m.and continued for the rest of the day. The NW front had pushed the eastern one away. 
No White-fronts visible at Holkham, views of the ticket warden approaching cut our visit short. 
A Stonechat at Cley. 
The Little Owl tree lying flat on the ground at Felbrigg was a sad and disappointing sight. No sign of the bird, hope it wasn't snuggled up in there when it fell. A message from BC quoted Carl as saying that a bird was still perched in the fallen tree. Hm. Very exposed to predators now.
Still thoroughly piut out by last night's footie. Spurs' first goal was clever, should not have stood as there was a kick-off rule break. When did Jones last score an own goal, let alone such a good one. Sounds like sour grapes. Not really, they deserved to win. Kane twisted Jones' blood throughout the match, Pogba had a 'mare and no-one played well enough. The joys of supporting a team.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Yeah !

Thursday January 25

Double enjoyable natter at Cley to-day. Firstly, our usual moth group and then PW. An unexpected coachload of people turned up for lunch, making the cafe extremely crowded. We left.
Another enormous flock of densely packed Brent along Beach Road. Despite searching, I couldn't find a Black Brant nor the Pale-bellied. Made it even worse when a pager message later told me that the Black Brant was there.  I don't like missing out.
As is becoming habitual, home along the coast road after a short visit to the Black Redstart hang-out at Sheringham. A group of camped out photographers, the bird was having a siesta. I was hoping for a photograph in the bright sunshine.....
The familiar swoop in to the Cromer golf club practice green car park was rewarded by a view of the Iceland Gull at the very back of the greens. The photos are the worst examples of ''record shots'', soon to fill the waste bin.

On to Mundesley -  and Cliftonville's muddy grass and puddle-filled parking area high on the cliffs.
Mike's car was obvious, he was eating a late lunch, having descended the steep steps to the beach, walking some way before catching a distant view of the juvenile Glaucous Gull. Whilst we were chatting, we all watched the many Red-throated Divers on the sea below. Pam also saw several auks. One larger, slower flapping, diver was a Great Northern Diver. A year tick for all of us. Excellent.


Tuesday January 23

Our first Treecreeper of the year and an always delightful, Nuthatch, at Natural Surroundings had our small group purring. 
Having had a quick look at Letheringsett ford, seeing many birders, no parking place and no Redpoll of any variety: our next call was Glandford ford. A small constantly flitting bird amongst the tree roots eventually showed well enough to ID as a Firecrest. A pleasurable surprise.
Yes, there was a flock of Brent along Cley Beach Road. Pam had a good look on the way out when I thought I'd seen a Pale-bellied bird. On the way back, The flock was on my side and a sole Pale-bellied Brent Goose waddled towards me, had a swim and preen, climbed out and raised its wings. The day was very dull with low dark grey cloud, therefore poor light. My edited image was better than I expected. Can't find the original.....this is a copy from an Email I sent Mike.


Another fruitless look for the Purple Sandpiper from the Cliff car park at Sheringham.

Friday, 19 January 2018


Wednesday January 17

We drove the coastal route to Sheringham so that we could have a look for the Iceland Gull on  Cromer golf course. Not realistic trying to see it from the car in the practice green car park ! Especially when many golfers were taking advantage of a sunny day.
We tried Sheringham cliff top car park first, east of the town. We had a fly past Guillemot but could not see the one Purple Sandpiper purported to be several breakwaters along. Pam descended the Funky Mackerel steps and met a returning birder. Bitterly cold too. 
Where on earth is Barford Road? In a maze of streets behind Tesco. Having passed the hair salon reported as THE place, we turned round at the end of a narrow, car lined, road when Pam saw a point and shoot camera toting man look upward. Three Bohemian Waxwings on a TV aerial. Superb birds.  Always a joy. They flew away, we followed, to the top of an electricity post near the hairdressers. A pause in the traffic allowed Pam to stop in the middle of the lane when I took two photographs before a car appeared. 

Nowhere to park, I'd love to have waited until the perch was more photogenic, we drove on to the western clifftop car park near the Lifeboat Museum. Oh yes. A small group of birders, which included Dave H and Christine and John M, were stalking the male Black Redstart dashing about on a block of flats. We parked nearby, only for a woman to stop at my window which then I opened. I'm terrible at faces..........It was Irene M, who pointed out that the bird was now opposite us, on a low brick wall. I quickly binned it before dragging my attention back to Irene when we then discussed John's health, their impending move to the west country and a sure buyer of their Kelling home. She left and .... the bird flew in a direct line towards us before disappearing under the car !! It then re-located to the Museum area. A lovely looking adult, I must hope that it stays and I can have a go at photographing it.

THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO. Thank you Nick.

Bob C and John M then appeared at Pam's window. John soon left at Irene's behest. Bob told us that the Iceland often appears on the practise green area, we returned home that way. The green had six golfers practising, no birds at all.