Monday, 26 December 2011

Eureka Moment

Christmas Eve
Having printed off our updated year lists for 2012, I decided to do a tick count. 500 for me. Never thought I'd make it and it sneaked up on me. Western Sand. was the magic number bird. Pam still one short, what will always be known as Duncan Mc'Donald's bedroom bird. Queue outside Rose's Pightle, money in a bucket, shoes off at the door and upstairs to the main bedroom to see a Chestnut Bunting. Pam refused and returned to the car. Also memorable for the handsome bare torso'd young man framed on the wall - unexplicably carrying a tyre in his left hand.....

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Short trip

Saturday Dec 24
For the first time in at least two weeks, we both slept well and woke late. No patter of feet and gnawing from the roof space above and yowls from a hungry cat.
Much too late to venture far, we did the Winterton run. About 150 Golden Plover took off from a field beyond our church, flying off overhead, lovely.
A large flock of Pinkfeet was feeding on the harvested beet field on the Happisburgh road, nowhere safe to stop, we had to drive on.
No Marsh Harriers at Horsey, even better, a Rough-legged Buzzard wheeled over a field, did a short hover and disappeared.
Many cars on the approach road to Winterton, luckily the Coastguard had opened the car park again. Pam lobbed a £ coin towards the bucket...and missed ! She had to get out and scrabble for it amongst the gravel. Waste of money too. One Red-throated Diver, a Cormorant and a Herring Gull over a calm sea, we didn't stay long.
Fancy not buying any mandarins for to-morrow's stockings. We stopped at Cooke's which is very upmarket these days, a far call from the draughty old barn of previous years. Banana Curd sounded interesting.
Home to prepare the turkey and veggies for to-morrow, less to do in the morning.
I love Les Dawson, he always makes me laugh, two great programmes in his memory to-night.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Birds and Shopping

Tuesday December 20
The title sounds like an idea for a birding tour company....... They already have Birds and Cricket and Birds and Photography.
Such a lovely day after the recent wet gloom. We started at Sculthorpe Reserve, walking to the Woodland Hide first (turn left at the first junction). They've really developed the Education area, fenced it in using rough poles and explained the programme of events for a local Primary. There must have been a dozen mammal traps in a very small area just before the hide. They must have to check them at least once a day, nice job for someone. The hide door was wide open, a volunteer was filling the feeders from a sack stored in the corner. This might have explained the paucity of birds. We didn't stay long, it was cold.
The walk to Whitley Hide was more productive. A mixed flock of Siskin and Goldfinches high in the Alders, two Willow Tits and a Marsh Tit. All three were calling, making identification positive. They looked lovely too.
Much work still going on the other side of the river, brush felling, chewing and spewing - a very noisy piece of machinery. Fresh wood-smoke plumed into the pale blue winter sky.
Us and an assistant warden in Whitley Hide, we could choose our seats. A male Bullfinch was the highlight here, a distant Sparrowhawk perched on the Scrape Hide. no sign of the Water Rail to-day.
Pam noticed a cage with movement as we returned through the Centre. A minute milk chocolate coloured Harvest Mouse had emerged from its haystack cover to feed. Apparently the two became seven this morning, no sign of the babies yet.
After a welcome cup of hot chocolate from the machine, we drove to Swaffham and a Waitrose superstore, Christmas treat ! So much better than the one at Cringleford in our opinion - we went there last Christmas. We bought a splendid looking free range bronze turkey as well as a few other treats, Diet? What diet.......

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Tuesday December 13
We called in to George Fox Road on the way to Global this time. Second time lucky. 24 Waxwings perched high in the top of a birch tree. I managed a few photos using my Canon Powershot SX 220 'point and shoot' which lives in my handbag, before they flew off.
Justin Lansdell was around the corner. It was his 7th visit and he'd seen them, at last, before they departed. They don't seem to feed here but regularly perch/rest  in the same tall birch.


We had a trip out to Waxham and Winterton yesterday morning as it was sunny and beautiful. very few birds about en route. The usual flock of Lapwings and Golden Plover and a single Marsh Harrier. The sea was pretty calm considering the wind we had on Sunday. We parked in the car park which you can still do for a donation (bucket!) if the coastguard has opened up. Sparse but regular Red-throated Divers, a few Guillemots, three passing Gannets, 5 Scoter and at least 50 Cormorants. The latter had found a shoal of fish close inshore and feeding avidly. One more Marsh Harrier on the way back, an adult this time.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Chance Birding.....

Sunday December 4
George Fox Road is near the UEA village and on our route home from Global (knee scan). No sign of the reported Waxwings. We met the lad who phones the news in and he said they'd flown away about 10, they're often not there. The page reported them again at mid-day and in the afternoon, have to be lucky I guess.
Salhouse Nursery didn't have the new Daphne I'd heard about on the radio yesterday, so that was a cheap trip.
Next was a scan through 2,000 Pinks south of and off the main road to Walcott. My heart sinks....As always, the field was undulating and many of the birds at the back and  a good number lying down. I made myself use the scope through my window and found at least two of the Tundra Bean Geese present. Whitefronts and a single Barnacle should have been much easier, no sign of either.
Probably a dozen Red-throated Divers flying off Walcott and a few Gannets. Plenty of Gulls and a scattering of Turnstones scavenging for titbits along the sea wall.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Waw - and Excellent Views Too

Thursday December 1
Setting off at 6.45 on a very dark overcast morning meant no birds at all seen until well past Holt - Black-headed Gulls !
As we drove west, the weather improved so that Abbey Farm was bathed in cold sunshine. We'd had to back all the way from the horse stable end until the first cottage of the back road to Flitcham. A lorry driver decided he was bigger than us. Then we met more lorries moving sugar beet. The lane to Abbey was like a ploughed field. We did see a Buzzard along there but nothing of note at Abbey itself. Still no water and the hide door had been left wide open, midges aplenty.
An inrushing tide at Snettisham with avidly feeding waders of the expected species, no surprises to-day. Always a pleasure.
Our journey along the north coast was rather faster than usual due to a pager message received at Hunstanton. Viwing from Hunston cliffs added Red-breasted Merganser, Eider, Fulmar, Great Crested Grebe and a Guillemot. It was surprising not to see Gannets after yesterday's wind.
Holme NOA Hide was a waste of time - I was getting anxious to get to Cley.
A hastily eaten breakfast (me, at 11.30) at a full of water Brancaster Staithe, where I photographed Ringed Plovers before hastening along the coast.

At 12.20, we threw the car into a grass verge/field gateway at Cley 'triangle' - the parking area was full -and walked as fast as we could (still slow) out to Daukes. A returning birder told us it had flown off, inner groans. Daukes was fullish but not jammed, most birders standing looking through tripods, which always takes up more space. After seeing a small group of waders fly off out of view, it included THE bird, I manoevered a space for mine and the bird soon re-appeared towards the back of the central island. Our first WESTERN SANDPIPER. I missed the one on the south coast about seven years ago when I was sent back in to hospital with open knee wounds, also missing the Courser on Scilly that year. It still rankles.

Western Sandpiper - not my photograph
During the next half an hour, I had excellent scope views of a lovely juvenile bird, it looked freshly minted. Smaller than a Dunlin, its beak was half the length of a Dunlin's and slightly down turned at the end if seen in profile. It flew ever nearer, the camera shutters were on rapid fire, I wish I'd taken mine. Knowing how distant the birds usually are at Cley I'd decided it was a waste. I should always take one.
The bird has been present all week, originally identified as a Semi-palmated Sandpiper. Still a nice bird but Semi-p not a lifer for us, nor even a Norfolk tick. I'm pleased that it was re-identified. After a chat with Richard Porter we sat in the hide facing Pat's, admiring a large flock of Golden Plover, two pairs of Pintail, a single Ruff and 14 Avocets. In the excitement I forgot to look for the Green-winged Teal on Pat's Pool.
No sign of any Snow Buntings at Salthouse. Brenda drove up for a coffee from the van, we had a quick chat with her before driving up Station Road in Weybourne. Steve Gantlett was parked in the only gateway overlooking the geese field and generously moved to allow us in. I soon found two White-fronts and then.......the whole flock of Pinks flew off, including the Tundra Beans we were after. Another day.
A lovely day enhanced by the icing on the top. We saw 82 species in total, despite the haste, including a Common and a Rough-legged Buzzard, Bullfinch, three different thrushes, a Sparrowhawk and both Partridges.
Home at 3.05.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Another Sunny Day

Friday November 25
To make up for yesterday....
Not that early a start, no fog early morning though as we made our way west. Shortly before we got to Sculthorpe, a pager alert sent us slightly off route to Great Bircham, although we did go the 'pretty way'. As the instruction was 'east of Great Bircham' and too vague, I wouldn't have gone. Luckily, Pam thought differently.
We took the SE road out of Bircham for 2/3 miles. We were looking for somewhere to turn round, when I spotted geese in a ploughed field behind a high hedge. Having turned and found a reasonable window in the hedge, I scanned a very large flock of Pinks at the back of a deeply undulating field. No sign of the Snow Goose. I suggested another - and last - look. We turned, passed the field and turned again, stopping at the 'wrong' window - much smaller and lower. By this time, even more geese had flown in, there must have been at leasr three thousand. At last, a white blob feeding at the back of the flock, a Ross' Snow Goose. Still couldn't see it from the original viewing point, where we hoped for a clearer view, such is geese watching.
Hunstanton Cliffs were the next stop, the tide lower than we remember seeing. Fulmar briefly appeared above the edge and a lone female Eider in the distance, amongst the host of feeding gulls. A few Redthroats and Goldeneye.
The car park near the lighthouse produced nothing new but a better view of  half a dozen mixed plumage Eider.
All the usual stops along the coast as far as Wells with lunch at Brancaster Staithe, hoping for Twite. No luck.
We'd both had enough by mid afternoon , we turned inland at Wells and came straight home.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Not as Planned

Thursday November 22

We'd planned a full day out - until I got up with a numb hand and an exceedingly painful wrist/forearm. (legacy of the Aus injury) It didn't improve so we drove via the doctor's and got an appointment for 10.20. That scuppered the plans.
As I expected, probable RSI/ carpal tunnel syndrome/tendonitis, rest it, don't use the mouse, keep taking the tablets. Except that the Diclofenac was changed to Naproxen following recent official advice to the Health Service. Blooming old crock...
After the visit we drove to Friary Hills Blakeney and climbed tot he top of the hill (well, it is in Norfolk), sat on the bench and scoped the marsh. The cows were very distant, just a load of Wigeon, 2 Canada Geese and a lone Barnacle in view. After scanning thoroughly, I focused the scope on the cattle, more in hope than expectation. Hedges prevented viewing much of the pasture. After five minutes, an Egret rose into the air and flew high east before circling and landing so that I could see its orange legs. It spooked a Little Egret which looked slightly bigger and whiter in comparison. A few minutes later, it rose again and flew east, landing out of view.
Our first Cattle Egret of the year. Luckily, I managed to get Pam on to it! Not so lucky, the birder who arrived as we were leaving and left soon afterwards.
A long scan of the geese west of Salthouse duckpond failed to find either of the two reported Tundra Bean Geese amongst the Greylag. Again, they were quite distant with a restricted view, they could well have been there.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Golden Plover Count - Beaten

Tuesday November 15
What a lovely day to visit Titchwell, pre- arranged without a weather forecast too. Cloudless for most of the day. the sea, pools, reeds and birds shown off at their best. It was the coldest day since we came back from Australia though, zip up to the chin and gloves needed.
Not having done any real walking for three months or so, I took it easy on the walk out, one prolonged bench sit to view the Freshwater Marsh, which held more birds in number than I can remember in previous years.

Ray Kimber said that the warden reckoned there were in excess of 10,000 yesterday. The bulk of the birds was a huge flock of Golden Plover, covering two islamds and everywhere else I scanned.

Over 4,000, gleaming softly in the sunshine. Many Pintail, hundreds of Teal, fewer Mallard, Shoveller and Gadwall. The wonder is, apart from twenty four Brent Geese that flew in, there were no geese at all.
Trudging towards the sea, we met David (Geordie) and Ben the dog who'd walked to the Point and back, admiring the brightly coloured and confiding Desert Wheatear en route. It had re-located from the end of the boardwalk where it had been yesterday. Shame, I'd been hoping to see it, an extra 1 mile plus was too much. Baz and Barry were sea watching standing behind the bench with three others, the bench was empty. Great. Its legs and the platform were largely buried in the sand but I could still see over the wretched safety bar they erected last year.
Eventually, a male Long-tailed Duck, three Goldeneye, two close Guillemots, an even closer Red-throated Diver and a small flock of Common Scoter were added. A large number of Gannets were fishing actively far out to sea, Little Gulls and most of the waders were in the bay viewable this side of Brancaster Golf Clubhouse.
Birders returning from the Desert Wheatear looked rather leg weary.
Another sit on the way back, a chat with John and Judy Geeson who are off to Argentina on Friday for a 30 day birding trip. Similar to the one we did but omitting the Andes and including the south.
I was leg weary too when we arrived back at the car, in time for breakfast at 12.45 (!!) I couldn't wait to drink my sachet.
A few Yellowhammers at Choseley, before lovely Brancaster Staithe, where Pam ate her lunch.

We were home at 3.10 in good light, which soon faded.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Rather Rare These Days

Wednesday November 10
Ruby phoned early to say that she'd like Freda to come here first, she had a friend sorting her TV out. Freda arrived at 9.00 but work was delayed by social interaction (Pam having a good chat with her!).
We were late leaving for Happisburgh and the hedge opposite the cricket pitch. Many familiar faces were lined up on the field verge bank, peering at a right angle hedge. Richard the Hat told us where to look - at a dip in the hedge where  trees in the garden abutted it. Others were further up the road, the bird is on a circuit. Pauline and Betty had enjoyed my Australian Blog, Bob C was busy talking, Robin A had seen the bird four times since dawn this morning. Our hearts sank. Phew, after 20 minutes or so, peering through people's legs, I saw the Melodious Warbler in the cherry tree, from which it soon flew out of sight. A Norfolk tick. We were unable to walk to the Point for the last one - this is the first county bird to stay overnight. I can't stand for long these days, we left for Waxham.
Plenty of wildly careering Blackbirds (migrants newly arrived), and the odd Redwing in the church area, no sign of the reported Waxwings.
As we drove through Upper Sheringham, news of a Great Grey Shrike at Gibberts Lane (sic, it was Gibbet Lane) off the A149 Holt Road came through on the pager. A short back-track and we found the lane, which was very narrow, with high banks and lined with tall trees which met overhead. Not exactly good viewing - and we found nothing.
Cley Spy yard was the next stop. Pam asked in the shop and then mooched about until she found the male Black Redstart on top of a house roof, no sign of the female though.
Now a lovely sunny, early winter, afternoon, we walked out to Daukes Hide where the bulk of the occupants left as we arrived ! Good, plenty of room to sit and scan. Pat's and Simmonds held many birds of a few varieties. We sat and loved the warm, low golden light of mid afternoon, Cley's reed beds and scrapes looking their best.
First surprise was the arrival of a lone Avocet, it had a damaged leg which meant that it fed hopping, balance achieved by a wing flutter. Later,  it put the leg down and hobbled. Next was the arrival of a seemingly endless cloud of Golden Plover, which found it difficult to settle, over
2,000 in total, my largest flock ever. A Sparrowhawk zipped through, creating havoc, a Greenshank called and a lone Knot appeared. A lovely hour or so, reminiscent of Friday nights at Cley when we were working.
Home via Sainsbury for Pam's fruit and veg shopping.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

First of the Month on the 4th!

Friday Nov 4
We woke to a dark and damp morning which delayed our departure until 6.50. The weather worsened as we drove west, it was definitely a 'why are we doing this' morning. The rain becoming very heavy at times, enough to make us eat our breakfast sitting in the car at Abbey! Abbey was as bad as on Monday, apart from a family of Grey Partridges crossing the lane in front of us and a small flock of wildly careering Redwing diving into the hedgerows out of view, until one perched in the open for us to admire.
All the expected waders at Snettisham, I had one opportunity to use my scope out of the window without getting drenched. A large flock of finches swooping around the bushes held Chaffinches, greenfinches and Linnets but nothing more exciting.
Definitely a day for breakfast at Tesco in Hunstanton! Mine cost under £3 and Pam's just over £4 - she had an extra egg, hash brown and mushrooms. Incredibly good value and very nice too.
As we we were leaving Holme NOA, a female Hen Harrier showed briefly on three occasions above the dunes. Lovely, well spotted Pam.
At 11.45, it stopped raining and the sun came out for nearly three hours, wonderful. Scanning the west end of Holkham marsh from the layby, Pam asked me to check a blob in a distant tree - I was scanning the geese for something different. A soggy juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard. Let's hope it stays for the winter.
Last stop was Gunton in the hope of a Great Crested Grebe to make it a list of 70 for the day. No luck.
I'd had a very dozy afternoon, not managing to keep my eyes open very much at all ! It's all catching up with me I suppose.  After supper at Kate and Jim's, I was very late to bed too - and slept on and off until 10 a.m. Saturday morning. Unheard of!

Catch-up Time

Oct 31 and Nov 1
Sue had made an early date to go out as she's off to New Zealand for 5 weeks on Friday. Pam hadn't asked her to arrive until 9.00 and we had to be back home by 4 for her physio appointment at 5 in Norwich.....a short day for a long way!
Our Snettisham driving permit had run out, we needed to call in to the office in Snettisham Village en route for a renewal. First stop was Abbey Farm to see ..basically nothing. There wasn't any water either.
Armed with a new permit, we reached Snettisham reserve at half tide. Highlights were: Pintail, a female Red-breasted Merganser on the first pit and all the expected waders, including a large flock of Golden Plover.
Holme NOA to eat lunch, adding Shoveller, no sign of the Rough-legged Buzzard at Holkham nor the Cattle Egret at Friary Hills. We managed just over 50 species on a pretty dull day weatherwise - but it was good to be out birding again.
Nov 1
Busy cooking for to-morrow's coffee morning here, not too busy for a trip to Winterton in the afternoon.
A call at Cart Gap produced a Great Northern Diver flying east.
At Winterton, two Red-throated Divers on the sea and a flock of at least 8 Snow Bunting on the beach. They flew in and disappeared below the shingle bank, not to be seen again. At least four Shags fishing offshore too, always good to see in Norfolk.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Back in Norfolk

Sunday October 30
We got home late morning on Friday after 36 hours door to door travelling. Shame we didn't have the energy to go birding....all the good birds - e.g. Daurian Shrike - cleared out on Friday night.
We did the Winterton run at Saturday tea-time on a lovely, mild sunny day and saw very little. A Marsh Harrier and a few Pinks at Horsey and a couple of Red-throated Divers on the sea at Winterton. About 20 Pied Wagtails in plough en route.
Sunday afternoon brought a trip to Cley Spy, one of my Swarovski bins' eyecaps was loose. Simple, they just replaced them both for free.
Our first Autumn Brent in the Eye Field and a few Lapwings. I didn't get out of the car.......One Mistle Thrush on roadside wires near home and virtually nothing in the garden. Our feeders will not have been replenished as regularly in our absence and, the large fig tree in the border,used greatly as cover, has been heavily trimmed back.
A day's birding with Sue to-morrow should add a few to the sparse October list. I'd prefer a trip to Hilfield Res for the Eastern Crowned Warbler!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

First Pinks

Thursday September 14
As we walked out to the car at 4.10 a.m. before driving to Heathrow for 6 weeks with the family in Australia, a skein of Pinkfeet flew, calling, overhead. Lovely.
I am writing a separate Blog for our trip as it's a family experience - with lots of birding of course.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sea Watching

Tuesday September 13
Very strong wind still but from the wrong direction for a good Norfolk sea watch - NW is best. Couldn't resist a last look before flying out to Brisbane on Thursday.
We were awake early, had a look at Walcott and decided that Winterton was probably the best bet. Not having much time to spare, we didn't stay long but added two Red-throated Divers, several Guillemots and a Razorbill on the sea, close in. Further out, there was a steady trickle of Gannets and several Terns. No Skuas.........

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Not Much - one Goodie

Friday September 9
It was drizzling heavily at Roughton and the whole area looked well set for more. No Titchwell to-day, we turned back and drove to Buckenham Marshes. A pager message saying that Titch would be disturbed by ' unavoidable seasonal work' after mid-day was some vindication of the decision.
Buckenham was devoid of birds, all the pools were dry, that is, the Fisherman's car park and the Old Mill. A 100+ flock of Greylag, a smaller flock of Canadas and another of the feral Barnacles were the only birds on the marsh apart from an adult Peregrine Falcon sitting on one of the gates. That alone was worth the visit. I had fantastic scope views as it surveyed the scenery, occasionally cleaning its yellow feet.
Two Marsh Harriers sailing over Horsey Broad....We met Robin A who'd been sea watching from Horsey Gap seeing Bonxie and Arctic Skuas, Red-throated Diver, Guillemots, Whinchat and Wheatears. We saw nothing.... Pam walked the dunes to have a look at the sea whilst I scanned the car park.
Little Bittern reported at Titchwell this afternoon but no further reporting of the Cattle Egret and Buff-breasted Sandpiper we were hoping to see.

Friday, 2 September 2011

September 1


I was distinctly reluctant to get up this morning, the weather didn't help either - low grey overcast and cold. We eventully made it out by 8.15.
A paucity of birds too, we barely made it into double figures by Abbey farm - and missed Tree Sparrow to boot. Abbey was empty of both water and birds, Two smallish pools in the main area in front of the hide, no geese and no ducks. Amazing. We didn't linger long......
7.6 Spring Tide forecast for Snettisham to-day and we got there half an hour beforehand, at 8.30. The pools were full of birds of little variety, mostly Oystercatchers. The highlight was a Greenshank and a poorly looking Avocet. A couple of dozen Dunlin, Ringed Plover and a few Sanderling on the tideline and a single Little Stint which scattered before Pam could see it. My patience was short too, we didn't stay long here either although it was as lovely as ever.
The blackberries by the entrance gate helped lift the gloom..........
Scanning the apparently empty and calm sea at Hunstanton, I found two Great Crested Grebes, a few Sandwich Terns and a single Arctic Skua. The only other birds were six Black-headed Gulls.
At last, the sun appeared as we drove out to Holme NOA. Pam walked to the Obs to hand in our raffle tickets and money. I completed the Telegraph Code Words puzzle whilst she was away.........finding out that Jed had split with Sophie, the reason for his resignation. Old news to most I guess. Luckily Pam had also heard the Whimbrel and Chiffchaff.
Six Avocets and a Spoonbill on the Broadwater, the first of three different sightings of Spoonies to-day. A lone Spotted Redshank roosting on one leg to the right of the pool.
A very wet road at Thornham, the tide had been well over. A handsome Grey Plover stalked about on the mound and two Spoonbills, one asleep, the other flying. A 'first' for us at Thornham. The first Golden Plover flock of the Autumn distantly over the marsh.
We called in at Titchwell to buy next year's diary and, having read the record book, decided to walk out at Cley instead.
Sea watching off Coastguards first. What a penance. The sun had disappeared and it was very cold, I was sat with my fleece zipped up to my nose. After 20 minutes we'd added 3 Gannets and a few Common Terns. Back to the haven of the car.
Parking in the main Centre car park, we walked to Pat's Pool which had seven well scattered birders in situ. Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Lapwing (!), Gadwall, Shoveller, Mute Swan and Little Ringed Plover to add to the day list. Four more Spoonbills asleep at the back of the pool.
Surprisingly (as always!!) the species list was 77, many more than the impression we'd gained.

I decided not to take any more crap photos to-day, didn't take any at all in fact.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

£5 for a Wryneck

Tuesday August 30
Birding at last. We didn't leave until mid-day though, a slow morning after a hectic couple of days.
Wells footie club had opened up part of their field as a temporary car park, which saved us walking from the Beach Road car park. It still cost us £5  for an all day ticket despite trying to persuade the attendant that we'd be no more than an hour. I'm not a cheapskate but it seemed rather exorbitant.
The Wryneck was at the south west end of the pitch where we could see a small group of birders on top of a steepish grassy bank. I staggered up, looked through Judy Geeson's scope - she beckoned us across - and joined the group in lying down on the slope looking over the top, Well, I did, Pam saw the bird and climbed back down. The bird was feeding this side of a wire fence, close in to the verge. I attempted some photos but it was rather distant for my 400 lens.
The least bad enlargement !
Lovely birds, looked great through my bins, the lilac back stripes very obvious. After about ten minutes, it slipped under the fence and disappeared into the jungle beyond.
Pat's Pool, Cley was the next stop. We walked out to the eastern hide with the best view of the pool. Virtually all the waders were on the far side of the pool. 141 Curlew Sandpipers were reported yesterday and it looked as though they were still here to-day, some adults amongst them. Our target was Little Stint and one appeared on the nearside of the scrape but still distant for such a small bird.

Another 'least bad'
A single Common Sandpiper, a few Ruff and Dunlin amongst the hordes of Greylag, Canadas and eclipse ducks.
A lovely Meadow Pipit passed through on the grass verge in front of the hide and, a male Yellow Wagtail briefly tripped through.

It was rather cold in the hide, warmer outside as we set off for Walsey Hills. We haven't visited since the new and very impressive wooden steps leading up to the viewpoint over the feeders and Snipe's Marsh were constructed. We sat for a while, whilst common birds came in to feed. No sign of the Red-backed Shrike.
Some birders appeared from the flight leading  down into the trees, having just seen it 'round the back'. Off we went, finding that the path through the trees no longer leads to the bottom track. After a few false routes, we climbed the bank through a gap in the hedge into the field at the back. Hm, two birders who showed us where it HAD been !
Back around the field to the very end this time, didn't fancy the scramble down the bank again. It sometimes hangs about at the opposite, western, side of Snipe's Marsh. Pam made her way through some nettles, calling that she thought she might have got it. I followed through to find no sign of any bird at all. Back on the lower path to find two birders scoping from up above. Another steps-climb to the viewing platform and the bird at last, scope views of it, rather obscured, in a very large area of Blackthorn scrub. It soon showed better, perching on a bare bramble. Success with all three target birds, very satisfying.
I'd fantasized it feeding from the steps' handrail as reported previously...........what a photo opportunity that would have been.

8 (EIGHT) - 2

Sunday August 20
What a day.
We left home at 8.00 a.m. and signed in to Manchester Airport Travelodge soon after noon. The taxi was booked for 2.00 and it was dead on time. The driver, Billy, was a died in the wool Man City supporter and had the radio commentary for their match against Spurs playing loudly. His yell when Dzeko scored their first goal was ear-splitting. He was great fun though.
We were dropped off very near the closed off Matt Busby Way and made our way to Old Trafford, scarves dangling around our necks, past the stalls selling all things Man U and a few Arsenal too. The usual cosmopolitan throng, most wearing shirts with players old and new printed on the back. Many eating Hot Dogs, Burgers and chips.

Making our way to the gate for the NE sector, an older steward suggested that we take the lift to the second level (white hair and stick again!), inspected and tagged our bags and led us to the lift which was in the hospitality sector and he had to ask permission from the guards.
I was determined to have a true footie experience this time and bought a piping hot peppered steak pie on the way up from the lift. It was delicious. As good as the excellent one I had in Aus on the way to Moolloolaba.
Row 37 was a long way up with enough steps for me, our seats in the middle of a row so no-one bothered us to make their way along.
In the hour and a quarter wait for kick-off, we were entertained by intermittent pitch sprinkling, which sometimes took the men carrying out and unrolling the pitch logos by surprise.
Then De Gea was put through his paces by Alex Stepney, the goal-keeping coach before the Man U team and the subs came out to do their warm up routine in a very organised manner.

 Rooney did everything faster and with more energy than anyone else - and no-one was shirking.

 Arsenal appeared, to do theirs right in front of us and, they looked a shambles in comparison - as the ensuing match proved. The captain, Van Persie seemed distant from the team and spent much time playing keepie uppie on his own.

Ready for kick-off, mascots still on the pitch
The two hours of the match sped by, joining in the chanting and singing (Stand up for United/ Knick Knack Paddy Whack/ We love United we Do and the brainless 'Who Are You?' and 'You'll be Sacked in the Morning' - aimed at an increasingly forlorn looking Wenger), leaping to one's feet to see the goals. Thus I managed to see every goal and the penalty save (Pam sat down for that).

Getting ready for our penalty - Rooney and Young involved, Giggs looking on. referee - Howard Webb - too soft on Arshavin, he should have got a second yellow for his leg smash on Jones.
Brilliant, what a thumping. Eight goals for us, a Rooney hat-trick and two for Ashley Young, who would have believed it. The two for Arsenal were not acceptable !
The 3,000 Arsenal supporters encouraged their side throughout, to no avail but, good for them.
Having loitered until the crowd had largely dispersed, we made our way out and to the lift again, and stayed outside the stadium enjoying the crowds, the beautiful police horses and reading the floor tiles engraved with past players' and supporters names. When it was nearly time for Billy to pick us up again, we strolled back, enjoying a Burger (Pam) and Hot Dog (me) for supper from a roadside stall. Again, very good and another post footie experience.  Virtually all my roll went in the bin, far too big.
The emptying of the stadium took no more than ten minutes, 74,000 people. Phenomenal.
Billy was cockahoop too. Man City won 5-1
Earlyish to bed after watching the goals on M of the D.  On our way home soon after 6 a.m. on Bank Holiday Monday, we were awake so why not...Back in Ridlington at 10.45. after a very good journey.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Giant Caterpillar

Tuesday August 23

Whilst gardening yesterday, Pam found an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar feasting on one of our newly planted flowers - not many leaves left!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Rutland Bird Fair

Friday August 19
We tend to opt for a visit when we want to buy something e.g. birding clothes or to look at new products. Nowhere else can one find so much variety and choice in one place. It's often the chosen place to float new gear and prices are frequently both competitive and have 'money off for the Bird Fair'. We bought new waterproof coats two years ago, this year I wanted to look at scopes and cameras.
We left home at 6 a.m. and arrived in the 'red' area parking field at 8.45, first ambition fulfilled, it's the nearest one to the massive Fair but still a few hundred yards walk.
Seduced by the Canon camera display, we inspected all before diverting to a nearby stall for a coffee and a bacon bap. here we had a chat with Sue who was making for the Panama stand, her next destination.
Then, directly to the scope and bins viewing marquee set up looking over Rutland water, one side of the marquee open and most of  the top scopes on the market, in all their variety and size,  set up on a raised dais. What fun.... We even passed by the BTO stand where a newly trapped  Nightingale was being ringed.
My old favourite 84 Zeiss was the first tested. The zoom as good as ever but not able to focus down to the reed mace in front of the platform.
The Leica 82 was awesome in its visual clarity and definition, easily focusing down to the reed mace and to a house so distant I could hardly see it with the naked eye. Will I ever be able to afford one?
After trawling three huge marquees looking at holiday destinations, picking up brochures and free gifts en route, I bought Stuart Winter's latest book. He was doing a book signing in front of the Wildsounds stand. What a charming man.
Time for lunch. I dragged an empty plastic table into the shade and looked after our gear whilst Pam did a chair recce, coming back with the necessary two . Another older lady thought this was a good idea, found an empty table and set it up next to us, we then looked after her bags whilst she had to find 4 chairs. It took her a while. There really aren't enough sitting places for the vast crowd present. It was very hot by now too, the marquees get stifling. We'd had enough by lunchtime, not being interested in queuing for the talks and quizzes etc. We were once......
Harrisons have their bird food pantechnicon parked on the way out, we were able to stock up with bags of mixed feed cheaper than we pay for the identical amount in North Walsham as it's direct from the supplier. He also included some 'free' feeders and then lobbed 4 small bags of mealworms through the window into my lap.
Home before 5 having thoroughly enjoyed a lovely day.
Even better. I applied online for some Man U/ Arsenal footie tickets about a month ago, only available for members. It's pot luck as to whether one is successful. A few days ago I heard that we'd been lucky and booked the Travelodge. The whole package much much cheaper than the Hotel + tickets deal we had last time. We got home to find my very impressive membership pack for this season (Pam had already received hers) and the two tickets for the match next weekend. Excellent.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Couldn't Sleep.....

Monday August 15

NooNoo our black and white cat (named after the vacuum in TeleTubbies), is obviously feeling better after 3 weeks suffering an eyelid infection. He woke us before 5 a.m., triumphantly celebrating a capture. He uses under the table at the foot of the stairs as his trophy stash. He then played with a small mammal, making further noises, until I was wide awake.
After reading, and failing to get back to sleep, we drove to Horsey and Winterton on a beautiful, cloudless morning.
Two pristine looking young Lesser Whitethroats flitted along the hedge on the dunes road to Sea Palling, Swallows gathering in large family groups on overhead wires.
First stop was the raptor watching layby past Horsey Mill - which had a Cormorant on top of one sail. Immediately, we heard the bugling of Cranes from fairly close by. A pair was in the far field to the west of the road, the male occasionally stretching his neck, calling, and then feeding again. Lovely.
The sea at Winterton was dead calm, birdless apart from an occasional and distant Tern. This combined with the blinding reflection off the water meant that our stay was short.
Our first Red-legged Partridge of the month on the return journey - the Cormorant was still atop the sail - and home for an early breakfast.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Guess Where?

Friday August 5
Yes, Snettisham again.
High tide was mid morning, so we didn't leave until after 8.00. Parking at the Rotary Hide, we walked towards the Shore Hide, comparatively very few waders on the shoreline to-day. Seeing a group of about 30 birders, including Sue Bryan,  scanning the bay beyond the hide, we joined them, standing next to Baz. The White-rumped Sandpiper was showing well (in the scope) the other side of the bay, along with Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstones. As the tide came in and wet its feet, it stopped sleeping long enough to hop onto slightly higher ground, before roosting again. We watched it for at least ten minutes. An adult bird moulting into breeding plumage, retaining a vestige of russet brown on the wings, its supercilium not as obvious as the pics show. I took some photos but am too embarrassed to post them here! Must be bad !! Distance does not lend enchantment to viewing a bird. The white rump is obvious in the one I took of it flying off.....
As the tide lapped even further, all the immediate birds took off, the White-rumped stayed a little longer and then followed suit, allowing a view of the white rump as it flew left towards the pits.
We followed suit, joining a very few others in the Shore Hide. The White-rumped was already on the island to the left, along with terns, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits. Not as many as on Wednesday but more than enough to make viewing difficult. The bird kept roosting out of view, being startled by a Kestrel, lost in the swirling maelstrom, re-found and then lost again. Eventually it appeared on the near shore when a host of birders arrived to excitedly crowd the hide - it had come through on the pager. We felt it was time to leave and give others the opportunity to view.
We met JP steaming past (limping), energy to spare to-day, he'd already got a permit. It was a timely encounter for him, he thought that the Rotary was the Shore Hide.
Our first returning Sanderling scurried along the shore near the pier, lovely to see them again, in winter plumage too.
After a chat with Betty and Pauline, we drove straight home so that grass could be cut and tomatoes gathered. Should open a stall I think. Will have to make some juice for freezing.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Birthday Treat

Wednesday August 3
Terry Wogan is 73 to-day too........
7.5m high tide at Snettisham, straight there after opening cards and presents, arriving just before 10. Amazing, there were nine cars, a motorbike, 3 bicycles and hordes of people there before us. Still many Dunlin in groups along the shore but, fewer than there were on Monday.
We walked to the second hide - known as the Shore Hide - after meeting Dave Hawkins who'd seen the White-rumped Sand from there an hour earlier. To our astonishment, there were only four people in the hide so we could sit with a view. Looking right was hopeless, into the sun and a terrific heat haze on a very warm and cloudless morning. Lovely - except for viewing!
The Sandpiper could well have been on the tenement island to the left.....heaving with Oystercatchers on the near edge, 145 Little Terns, Common and Sandwich in the middle and a grey and brick-red carpet of Knot at the back. I've never seen as many Little Terns anywhere. The warden said it was a record for Snettisham.
As the tide dropped, masses of Black-tailed Godwit rose from the right and flew past us onto the shore.

Impossible to do it all justice with my camera, the images remain in my brain. We'd both happily visit this reserve several times a week at this time of year - it can be perishing in the winter.
 On the trek back to the car - thank goodness we don't have to walk to the car park - we stopped to talk to JP, another man from Club and, someone who was pushing a Swedish made Veloped. The latter is a trolley type pusher, two close wheels at the front and two at the back, a bag for equipment and a comfy looking seat which can be folded down. Looked just the job
Expensive though.....
JP was really puffing having carried his photo equipment from the car park. He asked if he could borrow our Disabled badge! After putting him right - we have an RSPB permit to drive -we all studied the massed Dunlin around the pier (grand name for  rotting pieces of wood), for anything different before leaving him for the comfort of the car.
Summer Turnstone are absolutely stunning, this one has started moulting.  I couldn't - didn't try 'cos of disturbance - get close. This pic was taken from the car and greatly enlarged.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

August Odyssey

Monday August 1 (written on the 2nd, too pleasantly weary...)
But I did edit the photos when I got in on the 1st.
Not the earliest of starts, we left at 5.45 a.m. on a lovely sunny morning. A common Buzzard was warming up perched on a roadside tree, a couple of hundred yards from the house.
The journey to our first stop, Harpley and Sculthorpe Mill, was unremarkable, common birds ticking along nicely. The lane to Sculthorpe was birdless but a Spot Fly graced a fence post in the car park. Having picked up Tree Sparrow, we made for Abbey Farm Hide.
As we turned into the path to the car park, a delightful family of two adult Grey Partridges and seven well grown young, scurried along in front of us. Not a good viewing spot on a sunny morning, looking directly into the sun. Not many birds either, apart from two Turtle Doves perched on wires and the usual motley collection of ducks and geese. A Kingfisher was in the book for even earlier that morning.....No Little Owls to-day.
A 7.1 tide at Snettisham meant that even an hour before high tide, the Wash was full. It gave us a new experience yet again. The shore was full of thousands of Dunlin, spread in large flocks wherever there was shingle exposed.
A few Turnstone and Ringed Plover amongst the first groups.
Down the concrete ramp to view the hide pits where there were unbelievable numbers of birds. Tens of thousands of Dunlin, Knot, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits and both Common and Sandwich Terns. Every island and edge tightly massed, no room to move. Waw. Couldn't distinguish individual birds, especially in the distant groups.
On the return journey on a receding tide, I was able to photograph some of the Dunlin.

An occasional,and unknown, alarm sent the flocks skittering into the air only to land again in the same place.

Worn adult Sanderling (thanks James)
An hour in the Broadwater NOA Hide at Holme was rich in Raptors - they take some working for though. We saw Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Marsh and Montagu's Harriers and Kestrel, including at least two young of the latter. A Greenshank slept on one leg, beak under wing, throughout our stay. A single Spoonbill glided in and fed avidly for the last ten minutes.
Our first Grey Plover for a couple of months, resplendent in full summer plumage, was the only wader at Thornham.
Nothing at Choseley.....explained by the nearby corn harvesting with full trailers arriving regularly in the yards.
After a difficult entry - a procession of cars and boat trailers leaving and parked cars on the left - we found ourselves alone on the Mound at Brancaster Staithe. Shame we didn't add any birds !
As we left, my pager bleeped. There was a White-rumped Sandpiper at the far end of  the pit at Snettisham whilst we were there !! It would have flown by now as the tide receded, we didn't go back for it.
It seemed like a good idea to sit on the beach at Cley Coastguards in case anything flew by, we were a bit short of species. Fortunately muy suggestion was successful, sea-watching is not Pam's favourite occupation but I think she's gradually warming to it.
After an hour enjoying the warm sun, a balmy breeze making it very acceptable, we'd added: a Guillemot, two Arctic Terns, Gannets and Little Terns. Excellent.
What would be at Daukes to-day?
No sign of Water Vole from the bridge.....
Daukes held three very garrulous men, only mitigated by their obvious love of birds. All visitors to the area, the photographer was the self appointed 'expert',he hardly drew breath. The one next to Pam was a total beginner but he was lovely, asking her for help with ID in a very pleasant way. Despite their intrusive presence, the birding was good enough to ensure we stayed (me anyway, Pam was further away and helping her neighbour). Nine Spoonbills slept throughout the hour we stayed, two Green Sandpipers made intermittent visits - as did a single Common Sandpiper - a juvenile Little Gull floated through and eventually three Spot Reds turned up. Even more Ruff than on Sunday and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls again. A young Marsh Harrier spooked the waders and a flock of 30 Dunlin flew in. Small potatoes after Snettisham!  Scoping the flock produced a single, red, adult Curlew Sandpiper.
Pat's Pool was much fuller than on Sunday and we met Bernard directing the long loader containing the diggers etc, leaving the marsh.
We missed some very usual birds to-day including Egyptian Goose, ending with a total of 86 species. A visit to Gunton would have added GC Grebe, the Egyptian and Tufted Duck at least but it was time for home and to watch the post tea-time session of the Test Match. India anhilated again with a day to spare.

This and that

Sunday July 31
We fancied a ride out and decided on Cley Marsh. Always hopeful, I paused on the bridge to see a ball of dark fluff in the middle of the duckweed covered dyke. The Water Vole immediately swam into the side vegetation. Although Pam was behind me, she failed to see it, much to her chagrin.
Pam spotted a Common Lizard on the edge of the boardwalk, body flattened to make full use of the newly emerged morning sun. I had to retreat a fair distance because I only had my 400 mm lens  which only focuses down to about 20  feet.

Daukes was half full when we arrived, soon leaving Pam and I and, a man we know well by sight, to occupy the western corner which has the best view of the pool. Pat's is very slowly filling but only occupied by a scattering of Lapwing as yet. They seem to have finished the excavation work.
The flock of Spoonbill, spooked by a plane, had flown to North Scrape as we left the car, 16 we were told !
A Green Sandpiper, 4 juvenile Spot Shanks, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and a Reed Warbler were the highlights of a very pleasant hour.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

July Birding Again..

Monday July 25
Abbey Farm was not very productive, two Little Owls on the back fence posts was the highlight. We don't usually have to wait this long for our first Grey Partridges of the month, again at the back of the field, viewable from the approach lane. A couple in the hide told us that the Kingfisher nest had been predated by a fox. That explains their disappearance.
Maybe I should have checked the height of to-day's tide before visiting Snettisham again. It was still lovely, plenty of waders for Sue to scope, but, the water stayed a fair way out. Seeing four minute Ringed Plover chicks nestling under a parent was a treat, eight pairs of skinny legs only viewable, until they started dashing about like fluff blown in the wind. Just the one Wheatear to-day, at the edge of the first pit on the reserve.
Holme NOA Broadwater hide seemed like a good bet. Even fewer birds in view to-day. A Grey Heron and a Coot ! Patient scanning of the distant tree belt whilst Sue ate her usual smelly sandwich lunch (goats cheese, salad and horseradish to-day, at least it wasn't the usual over-ripe blue), saw a good raptor count. Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Marsh Harriers and the juvenile Montague's Harrier again. Our first Holme Bittern flew across the reedbed in front of the hide, excellent. Such a lovely russet brown. Having heard our first returning Whimbrel from the hide, two flew overhead as we left.
After a Yellow Wagtail at the barns, we made our way home, Sue had a physio appointment in Norwich at 5.00.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Snettisham Spectacular

Thursday July 21
Fortunately, we arrived at Snettisham RSPB earlier than arranged, at  8.45. , Bridget and Aileen were due at 9.00, high tide at 10.46. The speed at which the tide rushes in has to be seen to be believed. When we arrived, there were thousands of waders on the near shore just inside the reserve. Both Godwits, largely Black-tailed, in varying degrees of summer plumage, and, thousands of Knot. The latter showing proof of their full name, Red Knot. Amongst the avidly feeding masses was a sprinkling of Curlew, Redshank, small groups of black-bellied Dunlin and a few Ringed Plover. We just sat and scoped.
Twenty five minutes later, the mud was covered and most of the birds were dark massed lines on distant higher mud, still constantly moving as the water moved inexorably onwards. There was enough of a sample left for Aileen and Bridget to enjoy. Even more Sandwich Terns flew in to join the already considerable number roosting on a mud island.
Two moulting Wheatears were an unusual July sighting for us in Norfolk.
Scoping the far pit before leaving, a lone Greenshank rested in the shade of poolside bushes. The pits were full of Greylags with the occasional Mallard, Teal and Cormorant. At least 150 Avocet roosted on a mud island.
Sooo...... we need to be there at least 2 hours before high tide, will try that on Monday with Sue.
The view from Holme NOA Broadwater Hide was not very promising at first look. Firstly it was cold enough to wear a fleece by now and that is a cold hide! One Green Sandpiper, half a dozen Black-headed Gulls, a few Greylag and two Canada Geese ! We persevered.
Scanning the distant trees for raptors, Pam spotted a Spoonbill flying directly towards Broadwater. It landed in front of us and started sweep feeding as soon as its legs hit the water. A lovely adult. We returned to scanning for raptors. In total we saw five Marsh Harriers, three of them very distant, above  a cornfield on the horizon, first seen by Bridget.
Pam drew our attention to a paler bird rising from the smaller trees in front of the tall poplar/deciduous belt. It flew low and kept dropping and disappearing. Eventually, it showed well enough to be identified as a Montague's Harrier - already noted in the hide logbook for Tuesday we saw later. We had seen one at Thornham a couple of months ago.
Twenty minutes after the first bird, another two Spoonbills flew in and joined it, feeding as soon as they hit the pool. Lovely. One was a young bird, snow white - made the adults look cream -and without the adult bill pattern.
We left them there and drove to Choseley Barns - no-one wanted to walk at Titchwell. A yellow Wagtail was the surprise find amongst the many juvenile Pied in the concrete yard. The usual Corn Bunting singing from its usual roadside wire down the hill.
After lunch watching a Little Tern fishing at Brancaster Staithe, we parted ways and drove home to watch the first Test against India at Lords.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Rain Break

Tuesday July 19
After waiting in for the SKY man to come and replace both boxes - free update - which included replacing the cheapest SKY box with a Sky+ HD (Bedroom) and replacing the dish, we drove to Cley NWT. Our first shower of the day deluged the road within a mile of leaving but,  we saw no more rain. Plenty of dark, threatening, towering, cloud clusters though.
Parking at the triangle, we camped out in Daukes Hide. Two diggers were working at the road  end area of Pat's Pool, which was completely waterless.
A good number of birds from Daukes and we eventually, with a bit of patience and assiduous scanning, added 5 month birds. One was an en route Turtle Dove on wires north of North Walsham, the others: Teal, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. all from Daukes.
Fifty Curlew floated in, two Sandwich Terns and four Common Terns courtship fed. Twenty Black-tailed Godwits - and even more Ruff - gradually appeared from the vegetated islands. At one time there were five Marsh Harriers in the air at once. I contented myself with taking a few photos of Avocet, the nearest birds, and then just the one snatched photo of a Reed Warbler which poked its head out briefly. It was collecting food for its fledged young, flitting through the reeds outside the hide.

Reed Warbler
Juvenile Avocet

I sat on an outside bench to warm up in the sun - boy was it cold in the hide -  whilst Pam had a look  from Avocet Hide. This male Marsh Harrier circled overhead, gradually climbing into the evening sun. Lovely.

A very enjoyable outing, especially as we had the hide to ourselves for most of the time.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Birding at Last

Friday July 15
The forecast was correct, we rose to a lovely summer's day. A blessed relief after several days of strong north westerlies, overcast and heavy showers.
We hadn't visited Titchwell this month, that was our first port of call. We didn't leave home until 8.30,  it was gone ten by the time we were walking out.
An enjoyable chat with Ray Jermy during which we found that there had been two Bittern nests this year, one on the reserve and one on the saltmarsh to the west. One female had even been seen feeding well grown young in the open, viewable from the footpath - not a known Bittern behaviour. The first of many sightings of young Bearded Reedlings on the reeds this side of Bett's Pool (the first pool on the left as you walk out, I've discovered its name at last), delightful birds. After the early season reckoning that only one pair had survived the winter, one or two more pairs had been found on the new pool area to the east of the reserve. All seem to have bred well - they can have three or more broods a season.
No sign of the Red crested Pochard and her single remaining young on Bett's Pool, dozens of Coot, eclipse Mallard, one Great Crested Grebe and a single Little Grebe.
Shortly before getting to Island Hide, Pam saw a Dragonfly resting on a small grass seed- head amongst the reeds, close to the path . Very conveniently, it stayed to allow a good look. A passing birder stopped to investigate too, and, whipped an ID book out of his back pocket, handing it to Pam. She opened the book and said, 'looks like that' !! It was a female Common Darter in pristine newly emerged finery, why it posed for so long, drying out its wings. First page opened ! I didn't carry my camera.........
The man later stopped and said he agreed with the ID, having had a long look.
Reed and Sedge Warblers and, youngsters of both, were good to see. More pinging young Beardies too. All in the reedbeds lining the freshmarsh area.
Not many birds on the freshmarsh. A reported 1500+ Knot had flown back to the beach after high tide, half an hour before we arrived. We found a single bird remaining, along with about a dozen sleeping Black-tailed Godwits, many Avocets and juveniles - they've bred well this year (Ray said)- a single Greenshank flew in along with three Redshank. No terns and the usual gulls.
All the usual drop-in places on the way back towards Sheringham, adding nothing to the month list but lovely to look at in the warm sunshine.
The ice-cream van was there! The usual drivers had been on holiday and the owner had taken the van to a fete. Good news!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Swallowtail Moth

Sunday July 10

Pam found this Swallowtail Moth in the garden early this morning. They are sometimes day flying and feed on Hawthorn and Blackcurrant - amongst other plants. This specimen is rather tatty and worn - ragged wing tips and very faded. Nothing like the lovely, lemon yellow, pristine example which flew into the sun lounge and straight out again a couple of weeks ago.
I'm looking forward to a day's birding this week, the early July birding doldrums are truly here. It would have neen great if the Pacific Swift which flew past Gibraltar Point yesterday had appeared in Norfolk. We were on the Welsh borders with Aileen and Bridget when the last one was seen.
Ah well....., at least all the peas and beans have been gathered, podded and frozen.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Quick Visit

Friday July 8
We fancied doing some birding after a few days of regular and heavy, squally showers. Cley won - until Pam remembered en route that Tony had said that the scrapes were being worked on. No machinery in sight - no water either - dry brown mud. North Scrape had water, we saw birds fly in there.
A strange 'sculpture' has appeared on the reserve, viewable from the roadside. A very tall and crooked ladder ! Art?
Dead calm sea at Coastguards, belying the brisk wind. A group of  24 Scoter flew through to add to the usual tern passage - not many of those either. Shortly before we left, a mass of birds lifte for no obvious reason. Amongst them were three Grey Herons, thirty plus Black-tailed Godwits and, ten Spoonbills.
Still no ice-cream van.......have they given up on us? They had been complaining about the competition from Salthouse Post Office shop and Cley deli.
Home to pick, pod and freeze peas in between showers, not as frequent to-day though.