Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Scotland for 3 weeks

New  Blog to cover the trip.......

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

More Migrants

Wednesday April 22

We had an early appointment in Cromer. Going on to bird in Cley was an obvious decision. 
A couple of Wheatears at Salthouse, one Spoonbill and all three hirundine from Iron Road and after a very quick look for the Gropper, the cafe at Cley Centre was open, so that Pam could have a coffee and a scone.
Steve and Greg arrived which delayed our departure. Fortune this time. The Grasshopper Warbler was singing occasionally, and showed briefly, in the bushes opposite the Centre entrance.Bob and Richard the Hat were part of the group.
Two more Wheatears at the Eye Field before driving Glandford road again. Just past the sewage works, our first Whitethroat sang well and gave us frequent but brief views. Alerted by a passing birder, we scanned the wires en route to the ford, without success. For the first time ever we saw not just one but two vehicles drive through the river. One was a DHL delivery van, the other a more likely Land Rover and trailer.
Better luck on the way back, our first Cuckoo was perched on a telegraph wire. We didn't see the second and there were no calls. Shame, I like to hear that.
A short walk on Kelling Heath yielded nothing. I was cold and in need of food. Time for home. We're moth-ing at Cley to-morrow....!!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Moths and Migrants

Tuesday April 21

The day started well with two House Martins flying overhead. Very few moths caught overnight at Natural Surroundings, the number caught only just exceeded the number of moth-ers present. There were 15 of us.......
The penultimate moth was a Great Prominent, a new one for us and a lovely moth.

After the almost obligatory drink and chat, we left for Cley and Glandford Lane, past the sewage works to the Ford. Plenty of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Blue Tit noise on the way there, nothing else singing. 
We parked at the ford, Pam walking as far as the water. My attention was attracted by a Willow Warbler flitting about in low dead stuff very close to the car. I reached for my camera, the warbler had gone but I noticed another picking insects from the tangled vegetation the other side of the small stream. Pam returned to the car which made it move further away. It let forth a stream of loud song and immediately flew away, as Cetti's Warblers invariably do. I managed one photo. As it's my first photo ever of this skulking bird, I will include it.

A Goldcrest made its way along the hedgerow as we left. The return trip was much better. I heard a low chatter, asked Pam to stop and we were engulfed by the song of an extremely close Garden Warbler. A little further on, near the poplar plantation, the liquid gold song of a Nightingale held me entranced for several minutes. We were lucky that no cars came along to force us onwards.

Parking at Cley Centre. we walked towards Bishop's Hide. The hawthorn bushes at the start of the walk had held a showy Grasshopper Warbler. No sign for us, no-one had seen it since early morning. The loud song of a Sedge Warbler, leaving its perch, rising into the air and diving down into a bush was some recompense. A birder told us that Pat's Pool held little of interest so we drove home for a very late first meal of the day, just before 2.00 p.m.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Quick Trip

Monday April 20

After a morning spent preparing the bed for, and then planting, the maincrop potatoes, I needed a rest. When Pam had finished edging the lawns, I suggested a trip to Barton Broad. Arctic Terns had been reported from Horsey Mere and Rockland Broad, what were the chances?
One Arctic Tern made its buoyant, bouncy flight amongst the 20 Common Terns at the far side of the broad, before disappearing.
I tried phone-scoping the distant Terns again ........ better photos desired. The colour is a bit odd. Shall continue to practice.

Not as many Great Crested Grebes in view as usual, off breeding I expect.
Willow Warblers sang and showed well. Pam tried to photograph one and got a good photo of its backside. Very sharp!
Whilst processing her pictures to-night, Pam made a surprise discovery. We have an extremely dark female Pheasant visiting the garden. She posed alongside a pale one this morning so Pam took a couple of photos. In the foreground was an out of focus Brambling !

Friday, 17 April 2015

No Sue - Our Choice

Friday April 17

We were due to take Sue out birding to-day, until she phoned with bad news about her father. He's had a stroke and is still in hospital so she's on 'dad duty'. What should we do? Go out of course.
Leaving Choseley Barns and driving towards Titchwell we found our own Ring Ouzel. She dropped down into the field from the hedge, we moved for a better view and she disappeared.
After checking the book at Titchwell, Pam suggested walking the Meadow Trail - after she'd caught up with me when I was only just past the turning. We'd heard Blackcap, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff in the car park and, that's all we heard on the trail to Fen Hide. Fen Hide needs an injection of birds to become interesting. The seats are comfortable though and it was good to shelter from the biting easterly wind. A beautiful looking sunny day  too.
I stuck it out on the bench behind Patsy's Pool screen for longer than was comfortable - and sensible. All the usual ducks and a Little Grebe was the reward plus the booming of a male Bittern from somewhere to our right.  Time for a hot drink and a move elsewhere.
We hadn't bothered with Redwell Marsh  for some time. Very few birds present and a  lot of water leaving no muddy edges for waders. The enjoyable highlight was a superb male Marsh Harrier quartering the pool reedbeds. I didn't have a camera.....
Holme entry road saw the first Wheatears of the day. Three birds in a roadside pasture. A male flew into a tree my side of the road so I took some photos. I still had my 1.5 X extender on so the enlargements are not as sharp as they should be.

NOA Broadwater Hide was sheltered from the wind - as long as the end window was shut. Pochard, Avocet, Canada Geese, 

Tufted Duck and Black-headed Gulls on the water soon exhausted interest. The marsh opposite was more interesting. Brent Geese, and 20+ Yellow Wagtails, which were feeding amongst the herd of bullocks. We never did get a clear view because of the hawthorn hedge and rough tussocky field but, now and again, the Wagtails rose into the air en masse before settling again.
I had my camera this time, so, when another male Marsh Harrier flew along the opposite bank, I managed two photographs.

Abbey Farm was pretty birdless too, until Pam found a Little Owl huddled in the base of the oak tree, looking like a part of the bark surrounding it.The warmth of the car was very welcome.
Not the best and most productive of birding days, enhanced by some lovely experiences.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Birds and Moths

Wednesday April 15

Trapping overnight produced the expected host of Common and Small Quakers, one Twin-spotted Quaker, Oak Beauty, 2 Pebble Prominents and a Frosted Green, which was new for the year.

Frosted Green

Pebble Prominent
Another lovely day, although less warm than yesterday. Barton Broad called....
A dozen Common Terns dipped and swirled over the far side, from the end of the boardwalk. Lovely to hear and see them again. Two landed on a shingled platform, will they breed?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Lovely Day - Lovely Birds

Tuesday April 14

The day began with a moth-ing session at Natural Surroundings, Bayfield Hall.. A little late arriving, we found a dozen people already there, many more than previous weeks. A few different species to-day, Water Carpets and two species of Pug. A Lead-coloured Drab was new too. The latter caused a lot of debate as it was a female. The male has feathered antennae which distinguishes it from Clouded Drab which is common.
Too lovely a morning to spend time in the cafe, we made our farewells and drove to Choseley Farm where we took a different road east in order to access Chalkpit Lane. Why? Six Dotterel, one of my very favourite birds, remained in the large spring wheat field. A narrow lane with no room to park except by pulling off the lane onto the field verge, avoiding the crop.I saw the birds as soon as we stopped, three beautiful females and three dull males. There were 9 birds last night. Two foolish birders (male) left their cars to set up scopes and the birds moved further down the field before hunkering down, becoming brown lumps in a largely brown field. I tried some photographs - ever hopeful - not good results but the first time I've managed to get any sort of image.

Male Dotterel

Female at the front - very enlarged

Elated, we drove to Holme NWT . As we drove, news came through of a male Redstart in the NWT car park. Not whilst we were there, no-one else saw it either. We walked through the NOA reserve and climbed the steps onto the seawards public footpath, scanning the pines. Eventually, after finding several silent Willow Warblers, a Firecrest with its accompanying Coal Tit briefly appeared. They're such active little birds.It was singing when reported , completely silent for us.
After a late meal in the car park, it was time to visit Melton Constable to stock up on bird food - lots of it - and drive home to check on the cricket. Unfortunately, this car does not have Long Wave and Test Match Cricket commentary.
A pleasure to be out day. 17C and cloudless skies by the afternoon with two lovely birds.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Too Tempting

Saturday April 11 - Saturday

After a morning of heavy showers, the sun appeared, as did news of some good birds in the West Runton car park area. £2.50 for our short stay, a bit steep, yet, very reasonable for day stayers.

The small unofficial passing place on the narrow approach road was full of birders with telescopes poised. We decided to try and view the meadows from the far end of the parking area rather than jostle for room. Over a low part of the hedge - and through the birders arms - I was able to see the male Ring Ousel in flight. Frustrating and not satisfactory though tickable.

Pam drove to a higher part of the field and turned so that I could use my scope from my seat.  An extremely strong wind meant that I had to hold on to my tripod to prevent it from falling over when stood outside. Much better views of the fields from here. Eventually, the Ring Ousel re-appeared, called by Pam,  close over the vegetation in the near field . She made her way along the fence line away from us before disappearing again. The pattern of the day. I had excellent scope views and Pam was happy with hers.

I turned my attention to the six Wheatears present in the far corner, along with a flock of restless Starlings, Jackdaws, Linnets and a large number of Wood Pigeons. Pam then drove to a different place so that we could view the meadows nearer the sea where the Wheatears were feeding. I got my scope out again for another scan, enjoying the Wheatears whilst searching the brambles and fence posts etc for a bird we'd missed so far. The Ousel kept appearing.....One more scan I said, when leaving was agreed. At last.  Uncharacteristically feeding on the ground, the other side of a fence where viewing was hampered by sheets of corrugated iron placed along the bottom, was the male Whinchat. Excellent, we can easily miss them in the spring here, depending on Scotland or the Autumn passage.

Very content we were home in time to watch the Arsenal match, cheering Burnley on !

Friday, 10 April 2015


Friday April 10

An afternoon's birding after a morning of moth trap opening, letter writing and then the chiropodist.

A left toe bloodied and bandaged, a right toe, less bloody but sore (corner ingrowing spike, very convex nails), did not bode well for walking. I think Nicky felt guilty too, having to deal with the infected results of my last visit to her. I only go because it's become too hard for me to cut out the corners on my smaller toes.

Hm. Worth a try. We pulled in to a gateway from which we could view the fields east of Weybourne Coastguards Cottages. No luck from there. We had to wait until a vehicle pulled out of the next layby on the coast side of the road. Scanning the hedgerows drew a blank until Pam called 'I've got it'. A splendid Great Grey Shrike had appeared from nowhere to perch on top of a bush - as they do. By the time I'd got my phone and digi adaptor. the bird had flown to the further hedgerow only to return as we drove away! Splendid views though.

Maybe I could photograph the Garganey at Weybourne now that my phone was set up. It hadn't been reported for several days though - and it wasn't there. But, Pam found our first Wheatear, a male, distantly on the slope towards the camp.  At last. 
Whilst deciding which of the reported Ring Ousels to chase, we had a drink and a scone at Cley cafe. Cley Beach and the Eye Field brought two more Wheatears, a male and female, three Golden Plovers and a pristine male White Wagtail.
Too late now to go to Holme for an Ousel, well not really but, it's a long way to Holme and then the drive home.....

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Four Swallows.......

April 7

Moth morning at Natural Surroundings. All the usual early spring moths with the addition of two Shoulder Stripe.
After a leisurely cuppa talking to Anne and Cathy, we drove to Coastguards. We didn't stay long, apart from a large number of Meadow Pipits - newly arrived? - there was no  movement. Maybe Iron Road would be a better bet. Indeed it was. Alerted by a passing birder we walked towards the sea, adding at least 3 Sand Martins and a single Swallow to the year list. Lovely. We actually totted up 28 species of bird from the car park.
Salthouse was jammed, still school holidays. Finding a place to park, we scanned the shore. Three Swallows waited until Pam got our drinks from Julian before flitting through overhead, several minutes apart. Terns were reported from Blakeney Point this morning but none here. No Wheatears either although there were 80 at Portland this morning. They may well have flown through on a lovely sunny day.
Near the entrance to Felbrigg hall a bright Brimstone Butterfly landed on a Ribes bush. Would have made for a good photo. Too busy a road and too active an insect !

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter Monday

Monday April 6

We usually hibernate over holiday weekends, too many people about. We held out until late afternoon to-day before driving to Winterton, to see what we could find.....
Nothing, until parking at the Horsey raptor lay-by. I was watching two spiralling Buzzards when Pam called Pink-feet, our first for April.I thought she was giving me directions using three sheep. Two Cranes stuck their necks up and flew towards the sea. The geese were behind a group of three  Mute Swans.
Pam then called Marsh Harriers, always worth a look, especially as one was a splendid male. Trying to locate him, I found a female Hen Harrier speeding low along the hedge-line. Lucky. 
The £1 entry fee for the Winterton car park was a waste. Four Herring Gulls and one Cormorant were the reward for 15 minutes watching. The sea here has been poor this winter. The usual good numbers of Red-throated Divers and regular small group of Common Scoter have been missing.
Maybe the warmer weather forecast for the rest of the week will bring some migrants in.'Our' Chiffchaff is singing loud and clear from next door's Willow tree, a Green Woodpecker yaffled from a distant field as I planted potatoes yesterday. Pam has heard our Tawny Owl. I haven't as yet.

Friday, 3 April 2015

The Second

Thursday April 2

I was not avoiding All Fools Day, it was our monthly coffee morning. With one member in London and another unwell, two of us opting out would have left very few present, not good for the hostess. We did see a male Sparrowhawk zoom through their back paddocks and over the lake from the splendid sun room bay window where we sat.
It had rained heavily overnight, the sky was still leaden when we set off. As we drove west, the clouds lifted, the sun came out - and stayed out for the rest of a rather cold day.
Sculthorpe Mill's Grey Wagtails were a treat. Both of them on the bridge wall over the river and then prancing weightlessly about, foraging for insects on a grass patch at the edge of the water. Delightful. I love their aerial skips after insects with much tail bobbing threatening to unbalance the performance yet serving to enhance their balletic progress.
Abbey Farm was very birdless. I wonder if yesterday's closure for maintenance had an effect. We had seen a Red Kite fly overhead as we left Valley Farm Lane after adding Tree Sparrow on the roof of their nesting house.
Masses of birds shadowed the distant tideline at Snettisham, too distant to identify. We did add Dunlin, Grey Plover and Ringed Plover, the only ones we saw all day. A very large flock of Brent Geese were the first of many, no Pinkfeet at all. Still a large number of Avocets too. To think that, in the 1960s,  we took a small group of children on a day trip from Herfordshire and then, a boat to Halvergate island, to see the first post war birds to return.
So many people, and a lot of children, Easter Holidays, around on Hunstanton Cliffs. Two paragliders were enjoying the updraft from the cliffs, a lovely spectacle but, not good for the Fulmars I was trying to photograph.

Only managed two photos of a patrolling Fulmar before the paras arrived.
Was it worth having a look at Holme? Difficult to resist. The paddocks at the entry road rewarded our list with a single Mistle Thrush and one Redwing. Broadwater car park Hide saw many more Avocets, three circling Buzzards, spiralling out of sight and the first Marsh Harrier. Our only Shovellers too, along the entrance track.
Dismay.  There was a no entry cone at the Titchwell Fishermen's car park entrance. We had to park in the 'proper' car park, extra walking! A Chiffchaff was in full song as we left the car. A cursory look only for the reported Woodcock in the usual woods - reported a few days ago. They're hard enough to see if you have a general idea of where to look.
As we passed where we usually park, I saw the reason for the cone. An apparently healthy green leaved tree had partially fallen across the reserve end of the parking area. A result of Tuesday's 70 mph winds I guess. The area doesn't belong to the RSPB, I wonder if it will be cleared.
The first long pool on the right showed us a pair of Red-crested Pochards, his red head glowing in the sunlight. Never far away from each other, they spent about five minutes appearing and disappearing at the near edge, mostly hidden by reeds. Never available for a photograph. They, and the accompanying Great Crested Grebe, then disappeared as suddenly as they'd appeared.
We walked on as far as Island Hide, and the only empty bench, to scan the Freshwater Pool. About a dozen Ruff to add to our day list, doing their stiff legged strut amongst another large flock of Brent. Full of water, the Brent and Greylag occupied the islands, Avocets, Teal and a few Gadwall the water.
On the way back I scoped the drained Marsh Pool, hoping for the Water Pipit. No luck.
Enjoying a rest and a drink at the Centre, our only Great Tit appeared on the feeders. We usually reckon adding at least 10 birds at Titchwell. A hard earned 8 to-day, Cetti's, Little Egret and Marsh Harrier to add to birds previously mentioned.
Room to pull off to view Gun Hill. Immediately, a Common Buzzard flew along the hedgerow, frightening our second Barn Owl down into the shelter of the long grass on the ground. I've seen them take evasive action like that before, when a Hen Harrier was chasing one at Stiffkey. It took refuge in the suaeda until the raptor got tired and flew away. The Buzzard perched in a tree top almost opposite the car so I scoped it at length, failing to talk it into being a Rough-legged.
Pam hates the pull in from which we can view Holkham Marsh as its dodgy reversing out onto the busy road. Only a short stop as three horse riders were appearing, enough time to see that there were no Spoonbill in view.
No Wheatear at Cley in the Eye Field.........just our second group of moulting Golden Plover, hunkered down, black aprons hardly showing.
On to Weybourne Beach pool where the drake Garganey swam into view as we were giving up hope. My favourite duck. Or is it Pintail? No sign of the reported singing Sedge Warbler.
Our Felbrigg Little Owl disappointed to-day too. Not really surprising with the number of families and dog walkers around, there's a footpath through 'his' field. I didn't fancy walking to look for the Black Redstart, we ended up with 81 species seen despite missing Grey Heron, Bar-tailed Godwit, the owl, Pinks and  Snipe. Not seeing either Greater nor Lesser Black-backed Gulls was pretty amazing too.