Sunday, 19 October 2014

North Norfolk Day

A trip to North Norfolk yesterday, Saturday 18th. The whole of the coast had been over run with excellent birds on Tuesday and Wednesday, but as the week progressed it became apparent that the majority of migrants were moving on in calm weather conditions. However, a check on the reports from Friday indicated that the Isabelline shrike was still at Stiffkey Green so, having picked Gary up at 5.00a.m. we headed there, via the new Co Op in Wells for coffee as it was still dark as we arrived. Having given a talk to the Marylebone Birdwatching Society the previous night and had a messed up journey home, meaning I got home at well gone midnight, I was a tad tired after less than 4 hours sleep. Coffee was going to feature heavily.
Parking by the campsite and walking along the path in first light, we were aware of the amount of birders present. In all, well in excess of 40 were all around the whirlygig roundabout (gibbet roundabout as it used to be called.) It was also apparent, after a very short while, that the bird was no longer present at the spot it had been for a few days so, after 40 minutes of wasting time, we headed back to the car and off for our next target, grey phalarope at Cley. Over the marshes at Stiffkey plenty of brents, curlews, little egrets but no raptors.
At Cley we parked at the beach and walked to the Eye Pool, where, after a few minutes, the phalarope emerged from the vegetation. Good views of a bird not often seen and a lifer for Gary. The bird showed orange tinges on the neck, giving the overall impression of a 1st year bird. We took far too many photos and then spent time sea watching. Heading west, 6 long tailed duck, 2 grey plovers, and 5 gadwall east + usual assortment of Norfolkian gulls.
By now it was getting on for 10a.m. so off to NWT Visitors' Centre for a coffee and to formulate a plan for the rest of the day.
grey phalarope



Brent geese in the Eye Field

As we had our coffee a snow bunting was reported from the beach. We decided to check the central hides, too, as a little stint had been reported on Simmonds Scrape, but no sign when we were there. However, good views of a flyby kingfisher and 4 bearded tits, plus golden plovers, a ruff and wildfowl. Then, back to the beach. We wandered east past the old pill box and, along with several wheatear, an immaculate adult male snow bunting in winter plumage. A very confiding individual meant that some pleasing photos could be taken, whilst ensuring that the bird was not disturbed from eating. At about this time the grey phalarope, which had by now attracted a large crowd headed out to sea. Glad we saw it when we did.
lapwing from the boardwalk

female stonechat

Black tailed godwit

ruff

wheatear on the beach

snow bunting



Having, once again, taken too many bunting snaps we returned to the car and enjoyed some pork pie and baps prepared by Gary, consisting of what remnants he found lurking at the back of his fridge. Very welcome they were, too.
Next stop, Wells Woods and a search for small migrants. Nothing specific had been reported but with such a large area to cover there was the chance of yellow broweds and/or pallas's warbler. We checked The Dell, drinking pool and walked halfway to Lady Anne's Drive. Good numbers of crests called but it was too windy for them to show and all the birders we met had negative news so we headed back to the car and along to Holkham Pines. We had added to our list with jay, great spotted woodpecker, redwing etc.
I remortgaged the house to pay the car park fee in Lady Anne's Drive and we headed west. Soon we came across birders standing around who told us a pallas's  warbler had been seen in amongst a tit flock. After a short while, a flock of coal tits and long tailed tits could be heard so we headed further into the woods. Light was not good and the birds were constantly mobile but we got glimpses of both firecrest and yellow browed. Good birds but, again, after a short wait, we decided that we would rather be seeing birds than standing around in the optimistic hope that the pallas's would show. We both had a party to attend in the evening so we needed to be back home by 6 and it was now 2.30 so off to Holme. En route, near Burnham Overy Staithe we saw a bunch of birders scanning the fields. We stopped and joined them. A great white egret had been seen but was out of sight at that moment. 2 red kites lazed their way towards Holkham Pines, another day lister.
Another coffee in the new, smart cafe before a brief saunter around the pines. Again, tits and goldcrests along with a party of goldfinches. By now it was time to head home so we packed our gear in the boot and drove along the track from the HQ. A blackbird type bird was on the wires near the lane. Our binoculars were in the boot!! I reversed back and Gary leant out of the car to see a bird with white and silvery sheen fly off. We parked and wandered around the car park near the golf course but no further sign of what may have been a ring ouzel. Only thing I got on it was that it was markedly slimmer than most blackbirds, but as often the case, the one that got away. No reports from Holme have indicated a ring ouzel is or was present and there were enough birders about to have noticed it. Shame, as this, along with the phalarope, could have been a lifer for Gary.
jay

View from Holme Pines
All in all, a super day and we managed a 6pm return. 2 year listers for me: grey phalarope and snow bunting in a 74 species list. Considering we saw only a handful of waders and missed out Titchwell, a good total.
Species;
little grebe, cormorant, little egret,mute swan, pink footed goose, greylag goose, brent goose, shelduck, mallard, gadwall, (10 sp) shoveler, wigeon, teal, tufted duck, long tailed duck, red kite, marsh harrier, kestrel, red legged partridge (heard) pheasant, (20 sp) moorhen, coot, avocet, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, redshank, black tailed godwit, grey phalarope, ruff, (30 sp) curlew, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, great black backed gull, kittiwake, wood pigeon, collared dove, kingfisher (40 sp) great spotted woodpecker, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, wheatear, stonechat, redwing (50 sp) mistle thrush, blackbird, cetti's warbler (heard) chiffchaff (heard), yellow browed warbler, goldcrest, firecrest, great tit, coal tit, blue tit (60 sp) long tailed tit, bearded reedling, magpie, jay, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch (70 sp) linnet, goldfinch,  greenfinch, snow bunting (74 species)

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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