Friday, 29 March 2013

Maximum Temperature , 3C

Thursday March 28

Our first 'free' day this week, birding at last. Leaving the 20+ squabbling, buzzing, hyper active flock of Siskin decimating the sunflower hearts, seeing off the three occasional visitor Bramblings and everything else that dared to invade their feeding stations,  we drove to Sculthorpe. I wanted to give my new Canon Powershot SX50 HS a good try-out. It zooms from a 28mm wide angle to 50x. All in one lens set-up.
First sighting was a Barn Owl, flying in the rough area next to the car park, it has a nest in the abandoned caravan, rejecting the beautiful wooden nestboxes put up around the reserve. The duty volunteer told us that there was a Tawny Owl sitting on three eggs in a box near the forest school area. We couldn't even find the box ! The eerie hissing/ wheezing noise Tawnies make was audible most of the time.
Plenty of birds seen feeding from the Woodland Hide, 20+ Brambling and a few Blackbirds and Chaffinches. A Sparrowhawk glided silently through, a couple of feet above the ground, scattering everything, we left.
I tried the zoom out on a distant Brambling from the seat at Old Git's Corner (yes, I still hate the name).

This stream is reported to have Kingfisher and Water Vole. One day we might see something....

No Goshawk displaying to-day. Ollie's Farm track near Thetford,  is closed this year, usually our best bet of seeing Gos. A Buzzard put in a brief appearance before cold extremities drove us on to the shelter of Whitley Hide.
This rather unattractive wooden sculpture has appeared since our last visit. 

The bottom bird is marginally better than the top one but,  I really don't like it. It's just wrong.....
Time to test the camera on the bird table area. Again, several Brambling, Tits and Finches and half a dozen Reed Buntings. 

Pam took this excellent photo of a Brambling with her Lumix
Distracted by a new to me call, I looked up to see a female Marsh Harrier displaying, swooping up and down and tumbling. So interested in watching that I forgot to photograph ! A few minutes later, the male appeared, doing several fly-pasts before dropping into the reed bed.
I managed a single photograph of the minute Wood Mouse which darted out, apparently legless, took a seed and disappeared back into the reeds. One seamless movement.

 Pam's photo is better 
We heard our first Sculthorpe Nuthatch calling but didn't have a view.
A welcome hot chocolate from the vending machine and a shared decision to avoid Titchwell's unsheltered walkway.
Pam enjoyed photographing a foot dabbling Little Egret and a Spotted Redshank at Morston before I had a go at scenery shots.

Several species of the Gull and Heron family dabble their feet to disturb lurking eats. 

Morston. Brent Geese washing.

Cley Eye Field off Beach Road, had several Curlew which move further and further away as soon as one stops.  The Purple Sandpiper was still frequenting the environs of the flood pool.

The ever present winter Turnstones at Salthouse, lurking whilst awaiting their turn at the scattered food which was  monopolised by Black-headed Gulls whilst we were there.

Home by late tea-time to sit in warmth and comfort.

I have a beautiful - and pretty rare - alpine Iris in bloom in one of my sinks. A scant three inches tall Iris winogradowii. I was only allowed to buy one bulb and they soon sold out.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Hibernation Interval

Sunday March 24

Bob phoned this morning with news of  3 Red Kites in the Hanworth area... so we went to Waxham.
South of Sea Palling, before the Waxham Shangri-la corner, a tractor was ploughing in a field west of the road. Gulls were flying in to a meadow to hunker down from the wind. They landed and folded on impact, making themselves as small as possible. The wind was strong and, a bitterly cold easterly, starting out as a northerly over Scandinavia. Pam turned at the corner so that we could park on the grass verge and I could scope the groups of gulls from the car. There were two juvenile Glaucous Gulls amongst the Black-backs, Common and Black-headed. Dirty, speckled creamy-white with a black tip to the beak.
Time to look at Hanworth. At Gunton, Pam stopped to check the map for the exact area......I set the SatNav........0.5 miles along the road !! We laughed. No sign of any Kites nor anything at Gunton either. We'd hoped that the Grey Wags would be back and showing. Oh for a day's birding, the weather's due to improve by Thursday.

Monday, 18 March 2013

What Have I Been Doing?

Monday March 18th

To answer my own question....not much birding. Time has been occupied by a malfunctioning printer. several attempts to get the Spring Club newsletter master copy printed culminating in ordering a new printer and eventually  taking a copy on a memory stick to DP in Yarmouth as the new printer would not arrive in time. I now know about converting documents to PDF and more than I wanted to know about nozzle cleaning and re-setting.
On the way back from Yarmouth last Wednesday, we took the Winterton Horsey route. Pulling in to THE layby, I spotted two Cranes flying away over the trees towards Horsey Mere. Little else of note - the sea at Winterton was deserted.
After an hour and a half in the dentist's chair on Saturday, I felt it was prudent to avoid the cold wind to-day - it was only  4C at Cley. We called in at Felbrigg en route, and found a place where we could view the large tree dotted pasture. Many cars parked to-day. Why?
Peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a bird landing in an old oak. After a few minutes two small shapes showed in a V, incurring a discussion as to what the partially hidden silhouettes could be. A definitive ending. One Little Owl dropped - as they do - before flying directly to another tree. The other followed but in another direction. At last, our first of the year.
Salthouse had the usual flock of scavenging Turnstones but attempts to ID a blob on the fence towards Gramborough Hill were thwarted by a pedestrian . Probably a Stonechat.
We did a tour of the sewage works, ford, Salthouse Heath and down to Kelling village - having missed the Dogwalkers car park which was our aim. Our first ever visit to the cafe/gallery opposite the school is probably the last. Very odd. Hundreds of books for sale lined the walls, a magnet for me , until I looked at the price. Half price on marked price.... £2.50 for an ancient yellowing pulp paperback? No thank you.
A choice from about eleven large cakes. How fresh were they? Pam enjoyed her fruit cake though.
This time we found the heath car park, where we picked up a Green Woodpecker. No sign of any WoodLarks, we didn't walk as far as the Dartford Warbler area.
Not over fruitful but lovely to be out birding again. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Dydd Gwyl Dewi (St David's Day)

Friday March 1

Having barely managed three hours sleep, our 6.30 a.m. planned start became 6.40. No Siskin on our feeders yet but several species of common birds were singing. Spring on its way. 
Tree Sparrows in the hedge at Harpley, 50+ Fieldfare at Flitcham - no Golden Pheasant sighting in two circuits of the Wolferton triangle - despite almost daily sighting reports on the pager. Must come with that sole aim and be patient I reckon.
We also did a Houghton Hall rectangle just in case, no luck, the White-tailed Eagle wasn't reported until the afternoon.
High tide at Snettisham was at 8.28, still plenty of water when we arrived. Amazing how quickly it drops once it starts, quite alarming if you're not used to it. Interesting to see the bird population changes. No Grey Plover, there were dozens last month, only a small flock of about 50 Golden Plover, many more Dunlin and Bar-tailed Godwits, fewer Knot - still plenty though.
We met Bob C on the Holme reserve entry track, digiscoping our second barn Owl of the day viewable from  the entrance to the house where his newly bought caravan is situated. One of four on site. An excellent base and he's excited about it - especially when it was his non birding wife who suggested it.
A pair of Pintail was a new Broadwater sighting for us, Avocet are not back yet. It was lovely to watch a pair of Buzzards in their courtship dance against a now blue sky,  patches of it anyway.
There are usually Konik ponies grazing fenced off areas at Holme. To-day these shown below had appeared. They look like a moorland type such as Exmoor. Shall have to find out.

Thornham came up trumps today. Water was rushing out of the channel where we watched two Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank feeding avidly. 


Greenshank on the move

Shankless Spotted Redshank

Spotted Redshank in winter plumage
One Curlew - far fewer of those to-day, probed the mud, Skylarks rose from the marsh and, a Peregrine flew towards Titchwell. I then scoped the beach and picked up a Merlin perched on a dead tree stump. 

Togged up, we walked the west wall at Titchwell. A Water Rail fed in the dyke beneath the trees  lining the bird feeding area. Good start. As we left the shelter of the treed area, I could have gasped out loud. It was icy cold on exposed flesh - not that there was much of that. A northerly wind again in 4C maximum. Eyes streaming, tears running down my face and nose in constant need of a handkerchief, I scoped the full of water freshmarsh . More Avocets than last month, one Black-tailed Godwit, three Snipe and the usual ducks was the reward for our efforts. No... not going as far as the sea to add Slav. Grebe.....
We got to Cley in enough light to see that the Purple Sandpiper had gone to roost, two Gannets flew past far out, the flock of Snow Bunting showed enough white to distinguish them in flight at the side of Gramborough Hill.
Another of the day's highlights was the number of Hares we saw, I gave up counting after 60. One group of five were chasing around in circles, using each other as mobile hurdles over which to do aerial leaps, 'boxing' and then going off calmly as though nothing had happened.
I only had a couple of short naps whilst out. Boy was I tired when I got in. When we eventually forced ourselves to do the day's recording and count before bed, we'd managed 86 species with which we were pleased. 
Including a woodland area in the day would add several species.Shame that Sculthorpe Moor doesn't open until 10 and closes at 4 so it isn't convenient to include it at either end.