Thursday, 10 June 2021

3 Days Birding and Mothing in North Norfolk

Moth trap set on the salt marsh by Stiffkey Campsite

Tuesday and I was off for two nights in North Norfolk camping at High Sand Creek campsite in Stiffkey. En route I stopped off at Snettisham RSPB in the hope of finding a Turtle Dove, but very little was about as the temperatures increased.

I checked out North Point Pools at Wells before buying supplies at the Co-Op and then pitching the tent and getting everything ready for mothing on Warham Greens. Once completed, wandered along the North Norfolk Coastal Footpath to Stiffkey Fen where several birds got on the trip list, most notably, 3 Spoonbill. This site seems to hold them on a regular basis.

Down to the Red Lion, couple of pints and evening meal before back to set up the trap. Once done, settled down with a bottle of Sancerre, had a couple of hours kip before checking the trap and sheet around midnight. Everything potted for id, others released once checked. Then spent a little time with net and headtorch but all there seemed to be were Green carpets.

Day 2:

Woke early at 6.15, so checked, id'd and released the potted moths before it got too hot and they would cook in their pots. Several were retained and now reside in my fridge at home, ready for inspection.

Showered and a coffee at Wells before heading off to Kelling Heath. Notable birds here were Willow warbler and Dartford warbler as well as the only Coal tit for the trip. From here: Kelling Water Meadows which was very quiet with 3 Lesser whitethroat heard and seen along the track here. Kelling Quags offered even less, so back to the car and a check around Gramborough Hill. By now the temps were in the high 20'sC and it was becoming very hot. Photography was tricky due to heat haze so I returned to the tent for a little rest, but the inside of the tent was unbearable, so, leaving the camera at base camp, headed off to Cley East Bank, Cley beach where I got cooked but at least a little breeze. 

Following this, the temps began to drop so I headed off to West Runton cliffs where I got sand martins and 2 fulmar that stiff winged their way west and then out to sea. I had been out enough so back to the camp for a beer and a glass of wine. I set the trap in the campsite woods ready to plug in later and returned to the Red Lion. As I was setting up I checked any birds out on the marsh and in a huge flock of Starlings, a stand out Rose coloured starling. My first of the year. There has been a steady influx of these into the area over the last 5 days or so. An enjoyable pint of Nelson and a curry and I was back at the campsite by 8.45. Another glass of Claret and off mothing. Green carpets again, difficult to get passed them to anything else, but a Yellowshell macro was in good plumage, as was a Spectacle. I eventually checked and emptied the trap at 1am, left it in situ and hit the sack.

Day 3:

Again, up early to id any tricky moths, a couple of pug species were retained but all micros were easy to id and released. Shower and off for a coffee again before returning to camp to pack up, load the car. Once completed, along Beach Road at Wells where another Rose coloured starling was een near the football club and then off to Lady Anne's Drive but little to be seen so I continued along to the path that leads off the A149 to Burnham Overy Dunes and Gun Hill. Highlights were another spoonbill, a flyby and a Great egret, also aerial. However, best part was being mobbed by a pair of avocets. Clearly they had a nest or young somewhere near and fluttered directly over my head. Too close for photos on occasions. One then landed and played the broken wing trick, leading me away from where I was. They calmed down soon after I had passed through the 5 bar gate. 

Stopped off for another coffee at Burnham Deepdale before finishing the trip at Choseley and then a walk to Titchwell beach through the RSPB reserve. Beach and sea were virtually void of birds, but a great egret was in the reeds near Patsy's Pool whilst several species got on to the trip list.

A great 3 days and now home for a good night's sleep.

Wall butterfly



Pied wagtail

House sparrow



Common tern

Dozing hare

Yellowhammer near Stiffkey Fen

3 distant Spoonbills at Stiffkey Fen

 Species: Birds:

  1. Great crested grebe (Titchwell)
  2. Fulmar (West Runton cliffs)
  3. Cormorant
  4. Little egret
  5. Great egret (Burnham Overy & Titchwell)
  6. Grey heron
  7. Spoonbill (Stiffkey Fen & Burnham Overy)
  8. Mute swan
  9. Greylag goose.
  10. Canada goose
  11. Shelduck
  12. Egyptian goose
  13. Mallard
  14. Gadwall
  15. Shoveller
  16. Teal (Titchwell)
  17. Pochard (Titchwell)
  18. Tufted duck
  19. Red kite
  20. Marsh harrier
  21. Common buzzard
  22. Sparrowhawk (Walsey Hills)
  23. Kestrel
  24. Hobby (Cley)
  25. Red legged partridge
  26. Grey partridge (Kelling Water Meadows)
  27. Pheasant
  28. Moorhen
  29. Coot
  30. Oystercatcher
  31. Avocet
  32. Little ringed plover
  33. Ringed plover (Titchwell)
  34. Lapwing
  35. Turnstone
  36. Redshank
  37. Black tailed godwit (Titchwell)
  38. Black headed gull
  39. Herring gull
  40. Lesser black backed gull
  41. Common gull (West Runton)
  42. Sandwich tern (Cley)
  43. Common tern
  44. Stock dove (Salthouse)
  45. Wood pigeon
  46. Collared dove
  47. Cuckoo (heard Stiffkey)
  48. Tawny Owl (heard Stiffkey)
  49. Swift
  50. Green Woodpecker (Stiffkey)
  51. Skylark
  52. Sand martin (West Runton)
  53. Swallow
  54. House martin
  55. Meadow pipit
  56. Pied wagtail
  57. Grey wagtail (Stiffkey Fen)
  58. Wren
  59. Dunnock
  60. Robin
  61. Song Thrush
  62. Blackbird
  63. Garden warbler (Stiffkey)
  64. Blackcap
  65. Lesser Whitethroat (Kelling Water meadows)
  66. Whitethroat
  67. Dartford warbler (Kelling Heath)
  68. Sedge warbler
  69. Cetti's warbler
  70. Reed warbler
  71. Willow warbler (Kelling Heath)
  72. Chiffchaff
  73. Great tit
  74. Blue tit
  75. Long tailed tit
  76. Coal tit (Kelling Heath)
  77. Bearded reedling (heard Cley and Titchwell)
  78. Nuthatch (Kelling Water meadows path)
  79. Magpie
  80. Jay
  81. Jackdaw
  82. Rook
  83. Carrion crow
  84. Starling
  85. Rose coloured starling (Warham Greens and Thornham Marsh)
  86. House sparrow
  87. Chaffinch
  88. Linnet
  89. Goldfinch
  90. Greenfinch
  91. Bullfinch (North Point Pools)
  92. Reed bunting
  93. Yellowhammer (Warham Greens)
Species: Moths:
  1. Green carpet
  2. Yellowshell
  3. White ermine
  4. Middle barred minor
  5. Tawny marbled minor
  6. Common marbled carpet
  7. Silver Y
  8. Common pug
  9. Treble lines
  10. Vine's rustic
  11. Scorched carpet
  12. Silver ground carpet
  13. Smoky wainscot
  14. Orange footman
  15. Spectacle
  16. Plus 1 pug sp TBC
  1. Plutella xylostella
  2. Acentria emphemerella
  3. Aphomia sociella
  4. Evergestis forficalis
  5. Crambus lathoniellus.
  6. Scrobipalpa species x3. Dissection this evening
  7. 1 micro still to be identified, looks to be a worn Anthophila species. Dissection tonight.
Species: Butterflies
  1. Red admiral
  2. Wall
  3. Large white
  4. Small white
  5. Peacock
  6. Orange tip
  7. Small tortoiseshell
  8.  Common blue
  9. Holly blue
Other item of Note:
Red veined darter at Kelling Water Meadows.
Red veined darter. More used to seeing these in The Camargue, a rare dragonfly for the UK.

Trap set on the salt marsh

Willow warbler

Kelling Water Meadows hare

Common buzzard

Rock pool Herring gulls at West Runton

Poppies on the clifftop, West Runton


Juvenile redshank

Redshanks having territorial dispute

flyby Cormorant

Ringed plover

Little ringed plover


Egyptian goose

Egyptian goose

Being mobbed by an Avocet

Avocet in defence of its territory

None too pleased with my presence!


Inquisitive Reed warbler

Checking for food

Marsh harrier

Sedge warbler


Great egret showing breeding plumage with the dark beak

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Long and Wonderful day in North Norfolk.

  Setting off for North Norfolk at 5.30am saw me having the obligatory coffee at Wells Co-Op at 7.30 before I parked just East of the town and wandered down to North Point Pools. Several good birds had been spotted here over the previous few days, so worth a check.

3 birders were already present and had been there for over an hour and hadn't seen any Wood sandpipers. The habitat here is one of mud scrapes interspersed with plenty of sedge where a wader could easily be overlooked. I scanned the whole site but didn't turn up anything unusual so, after 45 minutes headed back to the car. A splendid sedge warbler posed in the hedge. The field adjacent to the path held 8 hares and a grey heron awoke from its slumber in a corner of the sedge.

Sedge warbler
Sleeping grey heron


Morning stretch
Once back at the car I thought I would head to Cley beach for a sea watch, but apart from the expected gulls, Sandwich terns and cormorants only a small flock of Ringed plover went by. I checked the Eye Field where a distant Wheatear was perched on a post.
Wheatear keeping a watch on the sky.

I then parked at Walsey Hills and wandered down the East Bank to Arnold's Marsh but, again, nothing unexpected. Reed and Sedge warblers a plenty along with Reed buntings but no hoped for waders of note, nor Yellow wagtails around The Serpentine.
Reed warbler

Reed bunting struggling to balance in the breeze. 

Back to the car having checked Snipes Marsh and off to Kelling Quags, often a good site for migratory Wood sandpiper. Hares all over the fields, chasing Carrion crows but clearly, not good enough as one crow was feeding upon a leveret, either it had killed or just died. Linnets everywhere here, Sand martins and Swallows over the water and a Lesser whitethroat sang unseen from deep in a hawthorn. I tucked myself away hoping for a photo but just the occasional glimpse. Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps a plenty. A good site, this.
Meadow pipit

Hare making a dash for it

Hungry Carrion crow

Hare on the horizon

Battered Peacock butterfly

Distant Sand martin

Linnet. Focussing past the St Mark's flies was tricky at times.

2nd Linnet

Another Linnet!

Cooling off

Watchful hare

Grey partridge legging it

As I returned to the car near Kelling Reading Room and Teashop, an aerial battle was underway between 3 jackdaws and a Lapwing. Suspect the lapwing was distracting the corvids from its nest and was giving the jackdaws a good beating up at times.

From here, I then decided to head west all the way to Choseley Drying barns, having bought food at Burnham Deepdale. As I drove by North Point Pools there were plenty of cars, indicating, perhaps some good birds were present. Later it was reported several wood sandpipers and 2 Temminck's stints were on site.
I arrived at Choseley Barns and enjoyed my picnic watching the inevitable Red legged partridge and several Marsh harriers. A bird alighted upon the wires: a linnet!
Red legged partridge

From here, I thought it would be good to visit a reserve I should really wander around more often: Holme Dunes NWT. There had been reports of a Montague's Harrier there the previous day so worth popping along and then having a good wander along the lane and back along the boardwalk. Always find something here. I was told the harrier had last been seen at 11.30am, flying high and out of view so I didn't expect a sighting. However, there were plenty of birders with their scopes pointing skyward. 3 hobbies patrolled over the village church and a Marsh harrier got beaten up by a Lapwing. Several guys told me they were on to the Monties. I followed their directions of left of the church, high over some poplars and came across a 2nd year herring gull! I checked with them and one agreed it was a gull. Another large bird caught my attention, probably 3 miles away which several of these guys claimed Montie's but, as can be seen from my photo which is cropped and same magnification of many scopes, I definitely wasn't going to agree with their id!

Wouldn't like to call this.

I moved on. A whimbrel flew in front of me and 2 Yellow wagtails patrolled the pools in the Konik pony field. Linnets again! Shelduck and much more: Large red damselfly, Peacock butterfly, Painted Lady, Small copper, Wall, and Holly blue but no hoped for Green hairstreaks.
I returned to the visitors' centre, gave in my sightings of the 2 wagtails and, in total, 2 whimbrel, along with insect records, enjoyed a cold drink and then headed towards the final destination: Titchwell.
Series of yellow wagtail shots

Then there were 2!

Flyby Brent geese

Flyby Little egret

Lucky one off shot of a passing whimbrel

Marsh harrier being seen off by a Lapwing

Marsh harrier

Linnet in good voice

Pleasing portrait of Meadow pipit

Linnet gets on to the Trip list!!

I arrived at Titchwell around 4.30pm, just as the car park was emptying and headed towards the sea, checking the Fresh Marsh etc en route. Usual suspects again but I was surprised by the lack of waders and that the Mediterranean gulls didn't appear to be present. There had been plenty a few weeks ago. By now, the clouds had rolled over and a stiff breeze meant I donned my jumper. Plenty of birds got on to the day list, not least of all, a distant pair of Little terns.
The beach was deserted and there were Sanderlings and Dunlins in various degrees of breeding plumage. A fine spectacle of an Oystercatcher flyby and several knot were noted.
Back on to the reserve and a scope check over the Freshmarsh. A confiding Sedge warbler posed for some photos before I headed back to the car park at 7pm, off to buy some fuel, a slight diversion off the A11 due to roadworks and home by 10pm
A long day but great fun. Whilst I am keen to see rarer birds I don't chase them around when up in Norfolk or elsewhere. If I encounter them then that's great but just to wander around reserves and bird rich habitats is what I enjoy. Always the chance of something unexpected being found.
Sedge warbler in good early evening light

Sedge warbler

Cormorants coming into roost

Black headed gulls making the most of the unused Island Hide



Summer plumaged Dunlin

Dunlin and Sanderling also showing signs of moulting into breeding plumage

Flyby Oystercatchers

BHG: hopefully that isn't fishing line!

Hovering Common tern

Success. A fish to take back for courtship with the female

Soft evening light suits this drake shelduck.

  1. Little grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Little egret
  4. Grey heron
  5. Mute swan
  6. Greylag goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Brent goose 
  9. Shelduck
  10. Egyptian goose
  11. Mallard
  12. Gadwall
  13. Shoveler
  14. Pochard
  15. Teal
  16. Tufted duck
  17. Common scoter
  18. Red kite
  19. Marsh harrier
  20. Common buzzard
  21. Kestrel
  22. Hobby
  23. Red legged partridge
  24. Grey partridge
  25. Pheasant
  26. Moorhen
  27. Coot
  28. Oystercatcher
  29. Avocet
  30. Ringed plover
  31. Grey plover
  32. Lapwing
  33. Knot
  34. Sanderling
  35. Dunlin
  36. Common sandpiper
  37. Redshank
  38. Whimbrel
  39. Curlew
  40. Black headed gull
  41. Herring gull
  42. Lesser black backed gull
  43. Little tern
  44. Sandwich tern
  45. Common tern
  46. Wood pigeon
  47. Collared dove
  48. Cuckoo (heard)
  49. Swift
  50. Green woodpecker
  51. Skylark
  52. Sand martin
  53. House martin
  54. Swallow
  55. Meadow pipit
  56. Pied wagtail
  57. Yellow wagtail sp flavissima
  58. Wren
  59. Robin
  60. Dunnock
  61. Wheatear
  62. Song thrush
  63. Blackbird
  64. Blackcap
  65. Whitethroat
  66. Lesser whitethroat
  67. Sedge warbler
  68. Cetti's warbler (heard)
  69. Reed warbler
  70. Chiffchaff
  71. Goldcrest (heard)
  72. Great tit
  73. Blue tit
  74. Long tailed tit
  75. Magpie
  76. Jay
  77. Jackdaw
  78. Rook
  79. Carrion crow
  80. Starling
  81. House sparrow
  82. Chaffinch
  83. Linnet
  84. Goldfinch
  85. Greenfinch (heard)
  86. Reed bunting
  87. Yellowhammer

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird. September 2009

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


Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly

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

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox

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

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)


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

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. 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. 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. 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.
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

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