Sunday, 31 August 2014

North Norfolk Day

Picking Gary up in Bishop's Stortford at 5am and a coffee near Ely meant we were at Titchwell soon after 7. Our first good bird were 2 whinchats by the island hide as we wandered to the sea as most of the freshmarsh birds were still silhouettes.
5 moulting eider were relatively close in as the tide was rising. Few sanderling and a flyover of 150+ golden plover as well as a solitary grey plover past. Terns were regular passers and after a while Gary got on to a black tern towards Brancaster. This was typically dipping for food rather than diving. Shortly after, a dark billed smaller tern headed past, going west. Longer and broader tail whilst also showing dark markings on the primaries, a roseate tern. 2 year listers in 10 minutes and the roseate being a lifer for Gary. Good start. Back on the path a peregrine was seen low over Thornham Marsh as black tailed godwits, little egrets and black headed gulls were noted. Into the parrinder hide where ruff, meadow pipits, pied wags and waders were noted, along with 9 spoonbill. One wader caught my eye, showing black tail, dark legs and a clear white supercillium. On this evidence, a curlew sandpiper, but with a bill like a ruff. Someone in the hide thought reeve, but their tail would be barred and no supercilium, plus lighter, redder legs. Maybe a very short billed curlew sandpiper? We eventually sorted this out to be a white rumped sandpiper, confirmed later from Titchwell. Another lifer for Gary and year lister for me.
Back on the path, a painted lady butterfly posed before our 2nd coffee of the day at the VC.
whinchat

meadow pipit

eider

sandwich tern

little egret

painted lady
Next stop: Burnham Overy Staithe for a wander along the track to the beach footpath and the dunes around Gun Hill. Disappointingly quiet due to a steady breeze, with a few whitethroats and chiffchaffs about but nothing unusual. A kestrel patrolled a field and a buzzard was noted towards Holkham. A greenshank flew over as we arrived at the beach path and a distant clouded yellow butterfly was observed as well as a wall brown. Very few birds in the dunes but we eventually came across several wheatear and plenty of linnets. After 45 minutes of searching it was obvious that there was nothing great to be seen so back to the path where a wood sandpiper was seen in a small muddy area of a field. Hawker dragonflies were flying along the track as we got back to the car for rolls and moreish pork pies. Shame they were sold as moreish, because they were, but we only had one each!
clouded yellow

linnets

wheatear

wood sandpiper
We then headed off to Cley, checked the board, had another coffee and, for once, didn't buy a book! Maybe Portland Bird Obs book shop in a couple of weeks will benefit from such frugality.
We then decided to head straight to Winterton dunes where the list of possibles was pretty neat: red backed shrike, wryneck, pied flycatcher, greenish warbler. We arrived at about 2, knowing the shrike was some 2 miles away. We headed for the totem pole where the wryneck had been reported. Plenty of folk standing around on phones and staring into bushes, but no bird, so we thought the shrike would be best and, with luck, we may turn up something good en route. A whinchat was the only bird we saw in the 2 miles. Eventually, our endeavours were rewarded by cracking views of a pristine adult male red backed shrike. 2nd lifer for Gary and the 1st time I had seen an adult male in the UK. Excellent stuff. We then trooped back totem pole, checking the wire fencing as we went. small heath, skipper and red admiral butterflies were noted and one of our last day listers, a yellowhammer. Back at the totem pole the same folk were......... on their phones, staring into wryneckless bushes. A corncrake had been reported so there were plenty of guys out trying to find this. We got directions to the greenish warbler but decided a brief sea watch and can of Tango would suffice as we both had to be back home by 7.15(ish) as I was out for an evening meal with a table reservation at 8.15.
Sea watch gave up a strangely plumaged common gull, with a blue/grey hood, great black backed gull, seal and plenty of cormorants. After several wrong turns through a busy Norwich we were back in East Herts by 7.30 and in time for a good Indian.
Very many thanks to Chris for the perfect directions to the shrike. Very accurate Chris, you just omitted to tell us that the bird would favour the lefthandside of the specific bramble bush! Excellent, very grateful.
whinchat (only bird in 2 miles of walking!)

unsociable red backed shrike. I make no excuses for overloading this entry with photos of this bird, it was superb.



taken lying behind long grass.

yellowhammer (only bird on 2 mile wander back again, apart from previous whinchat)

common gull with blue/grey hood

initial view of red backed shrike
A great day out, weather was warmer than anticipated and whilst not huge number of species (83 in total)  a day where you watch: red backed shrike, white rumped sandpiper, roseate tern, black tern, peregrine, wood sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, whinchat, wheatear and greenshank + painted lady and clouded yellow has to be memorable.

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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. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

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