Thursday, 20 December 2018

Holkham Beach, Titchwell and Thornham Harbour

Another morning set off for North Norfolk. Today, first stop was to be Holkham Beach. En-route I recorded various birds: red kite, kestrel, common buzzard along with regular sightings of corvids and gulls etc. A huge, 300+ flock of fieldfare were noted near Swaffham.
Having parked in Lady Anne's Drive, I checked the Freshmarsh, large number of wigeon and brent geese whilst a water rail, scurrying across the road was a pleasant surprise. I got on to the beach and headed towards Holkham Gap to the East. A sign told me Northern Lark were present. What is it with the usage of American birds names in the UK? They are shore lark!! Anyway, the area was roped off, pleasing to see as last year, when 13 were present, photographers were perpetually trying to get too close and this meant the birds were constantly being moved on, using up valuable energy. Basically, if you stayed quiet and still there was the chance the birds would come close enough for a photo and, in poor morning light, indeed they did. In total, I counted 24 present along with a large flock of 90+ snow buntings which were constantly on the move.
Injured brent goose

Sign on the beach, right message, wrong name!

Distant snow bunting, heavily cropped

another snow bunting

distant shore lark

enhanced colour

another shore lark
I then headed off for a spot of sea watching. Several cormorant on the water but after checking backwards and forwards came across a great northern diver and a slavonian grebe, both fairly far out and viewed through the scope. On a spit of sand, oystercatchers, common, herring and black headed gulls and a few sanderling. At 6C and a good breeze, it was not a time to spend sitting in the dunes for too long, so I headed back to the car. By now the clouds had lifted and the sun was making an effort to climb into the sky.
Holkham Beach, low tide
A brief stop at Burnham Overy Staithe, then Burnham Deepdale to buy lunch. I took this to Brancaster Staithe where I watched waders on the mud. A particularly menacing herring gull gave me the eye, probably expecting my ham sandwich! AsI left, a rock pipit popped up on one of the boats moored on the mud.
Then off to Titchwell, arriving at 1.45, with the sun already on a downward path. The island hide gave views of regular species (black tailed godwits, avocets, shoveler, wigeon etc) so off to the Parrinder Hide where a water pipit settled briefly, too briefly, in front of the hide along with a large flock of linnet. Several dunlin, hundreds of golden plover and lapwings as well as shelduck and more teal and wigeon.
Then, off to check the Volunteer Marsh and then the Tidal Marsh: grey plover and pintail were added but by now the sun was very low and getting dark, so I returned to the car. As I did, all the plovers went up as one, something had spooked them. A quick check of the sky gave up the answer: a peregrine.
With little light left I headed to Thornham Harbour. I was greeted by a mixed flock of finches, containing mainly goldfinch, several redpolls and 5 twite. Pleasing to see as my last visit here a week last Monday had concluded in only hearing them as they flew high in a bright sky.
Turnstone, Brancaster Staithe

winter plumaged herring gull expecting my lunch!

drake teal

duck teal

Inquisitive lapwing

Plovers put up by the peregrine

drake shoveler

Brent geese awaiting permission to land

Permission granted

Dusk time dunlin and 2 wigeon

over the Freshmarsh
Species list:

  1. Great northern diver (new for year)
  2. Slavonian grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Little egret
  5. mute swan
  6. pink footed goose
  7. greylag goose
  8. canada goose
  9. brent goose
  10. egyptian goose
  11. shelduck
  12. mallard
  13. pintail
  14. shoveler
  15. wigeon
  16. teal
  17. red kite
  18. common buzzard
  19. marsh harrier
  20. peregrine falcon
  21. kestrel
  22. pheasant
  23. water rail
  24. moorhen
  25. coot
  26. oystercatcher
  27. avocet
  28. grey plover
  29. golden plover
  30. lapwing
  31. sanderling
  32. turnstone
  33. dunlin
  34. edshank
  35. black tailed godwit
  36. bar tailed godwit
  37. curlew
  38. snipe
  39. black headed gull
  40. herring gull
  41. common gull
  42. wood pigeon
  43. green woodpecker
  44. shore lark
  45. water pipit (new for year)
  46. rock pipit
  47. pied wagtail
  48. wren
  49. dunnock
  50. robin
  51. redwing
  52. fieldfare
  53. blackbird
  54. great tit
  55. blue tit
  56. coal tit
  57. magpie
  58. jackdaw
  59. carrion crow
  60. rook
  61. starling
  62. chaffinch
  63. linnet
  64. goldfinch
  65. twite
  66. lesser redpoll
  67. reed bunting
  68. snow bunting
Looking over Thornham Marsh towards Titchwell

Pink foot geese coming in to roost near Holme

Thornham Harbour

Tricky to get depth of field right here!

Moon rising

Monday, 10 December 2018

Titchwell and Thornham Harbour

A last minute decision found me heading for Titchwell Reserve this morning, arriving 10am at Holkham, but little about as estate workers were in the fields. A quick check along the track to Burnham Overy dunes gave up usual finch and tit fare but little else, so off to Titchwell.
Bright light yet chilly made photography non too easy and by 2pm it had clouded over and the light was poor.
Year listers for the day were Pintail, 3 on the Fresh Marsh and a pair of eider, firstly hauled up on the beach and then feeding in the surf. Good numbers of birds, especially on the beach.
A few early photos in what was a very blue light for most of the morning and early afternoon.
shoveler

redshank

skulking grey plover

feeding black tailed godwit
 I then wandered from the Island Hide to the beach, checking the fresh marsh and tidal marsh. Not too much on the latter.
Drake Eider hauled up on the beach

Black tailed godwit

another BlTG

pLENTY OF BIRDS TO CHECK HERE: HERRING, BLACK HEADED AND LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS, OYSTERCATCHERS, GODWITS, TURNSTONES, GOLDEN PLOVER, DUNLIN etc

flyby Oystercatcher

menancing looking herring gull

bright light on the beach

pair of eider

turnstone

Back to the Reserve and some views from the Parrinder Hide.
redshank and little egret helping each other find food

blue lit Little egret

dunlin

pair of wigeon in poor light
Finally I popped along to Thornham Harbour. Heard twite overhead but too bright to locate them. Groups of finches were checked but just gave up goldfinch, lesser redpoll along with a pair of reed buntings.
curlew


redshank

flyover curlew
species list:

  1. red throated diver
  2. slavonian grebe
  3. cormorant
  4. littleegret
  5. mute swan
  6. pink footed goose
  7. greylag goose
  8. brent geese
  9. shelducl
  10. egyptian goose
  11. mallard
  12. pintail
  13. shoveler
  14. wigeon
  15. teal
  16. eider
  17. common scoter
  18. marsh harrier
  19. common buzzard
  20. kestrel
  21. red legged partridge
  22. pheasant
  23. water rail (heard)
  24. moorhen
  25. oystercatcher
  26. avocet
  27. ringed plover
  28. grey plover
  29. golden plover
  30. lapwing
  31. sanderling
  32. turnstone
  33. dunlin
  34. redshank
  35. black tailed godwit
  36. curlew
  37. black headed gull
  38. herring gull
  39. lesser black backed gull
  40. wood pigeon
  41. barn owl
  42. green woodpecker
  43. skylark (heard)
  44. meadow pipit
  45. pied wagtail
  46. wren
  47. dunnock
  48. robin
  49. fieldfare
  50. redwing
  51. blackbird
  52. great tit
  53. blue tit
  54. long tailed tit
  55. magpie
  56. jay
  57. carrion crow
  58. rook
  59. jackdaw
  60. starling
  61. chaffinch
  62. goldfinch
  63. lesser redpoll
  64. twite (heard)
  65. reed bunting

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Visit to Udawalawe National Reserve

This splendid reserve is some 3 hours drive north west from Galle. Charlene, on her last day after a month's volunteering at the MindGarden Centre and I were picked up by Pasindu and friend who were to drive us there.
After stopping for snacks and tea we arrived in time to watch the baby orphaned elephants feeding time. Shortly after, the 4 of us boarded a safari jeep and were off for a three hour drive around the magnificent reserve. The main target were the elephants that inhabit this large area whilst I was, not surprisingly, keen to observe and photograph some of the bird species present. I was not disappointed, seeing 2 new species for me in Sri Lanka and managing to get some pleasing shots into the bargain. However, the highlight was surely Charlene's excitement at seeing wild elephants close up as they wandered in front of the jeep or just stood by the side of the track. Excellent trip and well worth the 6 hours in the car. If I was to do this trip again, may book into one of the local hotels and stay the night, but is is feasible to visit in one day from Galle.
These photos are in no order, just ones that seem to have come out quite pleasingly. These first 4 are of the orphaned elephants being given milk and then feeding.




En route to the Reserve the jeep drives over a dam that has created a man made lake around which were several bird species including cattle and little egrets and red wattled lapwings, all common species for Sri Lanka.
Rising water levels submerging trees.
Upon arrival into the reserve, I asked the driver to stop for bird photos. This he did, frequently pointing out birds that we would not of otherwise seen. A few species here that we saw upon arrival on the sandy tracks.
Paddyfield pipit

Green bee eater: such photogenic birds. More later

Common kingfisher: female

A lucky capture!

Crested hawk eagle
Let's get the elephants out of the way!







Back to some bird species.
Another superb green bee eater

Great white egret being watched by a water buffalo

Grey heron

Blue tailed bee eater

Yet another green bee eater

Red wattled lapwing

Spot billed pelican floats past a water buffalo

Wooly necked stork, a new bird for me

Black shouldered kite, the 2nd new Sri Lankan bird for me

Painted stork

Painted stork

White throated kingfisher

Another black shouldered kite

Posing peacock
Time for a few mammals and other bits and bobs:
Laid back frog species

Water buffalo. Larger the horns, the older they are

Distant water buffalo

Grumpy macaque momkey

Same creature

swarms of butterflies feeding on minerals from the sand

More water buffalo
Penultimately, a shot of the typical terrain

To finish, my 2 favourite shots from this superb trip.

The Painted stork gives a great perspective to the whole landscape.

Just got lucky with this pose.

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander