Monday, 29 December 2014

Another Monday: another North Norfolk Visit

Another early start, picking up Graeme at 5.30 and off to Horsey Mere and Winterton dunes. Graeme was hoping for a couple of lifers in the form of desert wheatear and common crane. As we arrived, a field full of swans with flyover geese caught out attention near Horsey. We scanned with binoculars, getting barn owl, little egret, pink foot geese, mute swans and 2 large birds flying away from us at great distance. Probable cranes, but just too far to be sure in the poor light before sunrise. They went down and even with scopes, identification was not possible, so off around the fields to check for cranes. No luck, so on to the dunes at Winterton. We walked to the area where the wheatear had been recently reported. A few meadow pipits rose from the marram grass, but nothing else apart from a small bird that rose and then disappeared immediately into the grassy tussocks. Possible black redstart, but again, not enough of it for confirmation. A green woodpecker was flushed as we headed back to the car park for a well earned sausage sandwich and coffee. At this point we got news that a black redstart had been seen in the car park and that @rbnNFK had put out that the desert wheatear had been seen 3 hours previously. Strange, as this would have been before 7.30, when it was still dark!
However, around the groynes on the beach, where the bird was supposed to be were 2 turnstones, a sanderling and a family of seals. A sea watch provided views of huge number of feeding cormorants, common, black headed, herring and lesser black backed gulls along with a solitary red throated diver.
Sunrise at Winterton

Graeme checking for the desert wheatear

Youngster

Dad

Mum and offspring

Family portrait. Mum looks to be blind in the right eye.
From here, we headed back to Horsey Mere, parked and checked the fields oppsite for a Richards Pipit that had been seen there somedays previously. Large flock of meadow pipits, but nothing else. Kestrel and plenty of marsh harriers before we headed off to Mundlesey for a quick sea watch from the cliffs. So, 3 targets not ticked and at Mundlesey, nothing on the water sabe a flyby great black backed gull, so off to Sheringham cliffs for another sea watch. More gulls and more coffee!
Great black backed gull....

........from Sheringham cliffs
We continued west, with a stop at Salthouse to get, yet again, some turnstone photos. Always good here as we checked fields, scoring with wigeon, curlew, pied wagtail and lapwings. The day list was growing, so off to Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham. Big numbers of geese and more wigeon, plus 3 jays from the layby.
We continued to Burnham Overy Staithe where Graeme saw the 2 rough legged buzzards, a year lister for him. Also, we latched on to a peregrine heading east over Holkham pines and scanned the fields, getting dunlin in a pool and several common buzzards, to add to the 4 we had seen from Holkham layby.
By now it was gone 2pm and we planned to head straight to Snettisham where a glaucous gull was showing well at a dead seal carcass. However, as we approached Titchwell, in good afternoon light, we decided that maybe the gull would have gone to roost by the time we arrived, so decided upon a Titchwell visit. Pleased we did, scoring with a goldeneye drake on the sea, plenty of wildfowl and waders, all in glorious setting sunlight.
Linnets overhead, a brief bearded reedling, marsh harrier before a male hen harrier appeared over Thornham Marsh, moving east over the Freshmarsh. Good views in now poor light meant disappointing photos. The ones that look good on the back of the camera, but not on the screen! Shame, but nevertheless, a real treat to watch.
A song thrush near the carpark was our last day tick before a trip home, needless to say, stopping for another coffee around Ely before arriving home at 7, some 14 hours after departing.
Great day.
Salthouse beach turnstone

turnstone

redshank at Titchwell

teal drake

black tailed godwit

portrait of black tailed godwit

grey plover looking golden in setting sunlight

herring gull

little grebe

as the sunsets.....................


....................behind the trees towards Thornham....................
..................the moon rises over Titchwell

sadly, too dark for sharp photos of male hen harrier



Note to self: clean camera sensor!! Too many dust spots
Species list:
red throated diver, little grebe, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, pink footed goose, greylag goose, brent goose, canada goose, (10 sp) shelduck,mallard, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, teal, pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye, marsh harrier (20 sp) hen harrier, rough legged buzzard, common buzzard, sparrowhawk, kestrel, peregrine, partridge sp, pheasant, moorhen, coot (30 sp) oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, sanderling, turnstone, dunlin, redshank (40 sp) black tailed godwit, curlew, snipe, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, greater black backed gull, wood pigeon, stock dove (50 sp) collared dove, barn owl, green woodpecker, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, song thrush, (60sp) mistle thrush, redwing, blackbird, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, bearded reedling, magpie, jay, jackdaw (70 sp) rook, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, reed bunting.
79 species for the day.

Monday, 22 December 2014

North Norfolk Day

Today, I had been booked to take Kathy and Dave out birding along the coast, so, leaving home early, I picked them up in Wells Next The Sea at just after 7a.m. and we were off to Titchwell. We arrived before first light on what is the shortest day so we needed to get the most out of what light we had. Some quick watching as we headed to the beach where the regular waders were all noted. The light was very poor and not many photos were taken as the sun was yet to appear over the horizon behind Titchwell village.
Nothing at all on the sea and only gulls and cormorants, so off to the Parrinder Hide. As we walked along the path we noted a stoat pulling a dead blackbird into the verge. Sadly, although we got cracking views, the light was still too poor for the fast shot needed to freeze the action. On the Freshmarsh huge numbers of teal, with avocets, godwits, brent geese and wigeon. We heard a cettis warbler before we had a quick wander around the meadow trail that realised greenfinch, goldfinch and chaffinch along with blue and great tits. Over coffee at the VC we added coal tit and long tailed tit. A search for a possible woodcock was not successful, so off to Choseley for yellowhammer, linnet and finches. Shame, but since they tidied the farm area no corn buntings have been seen here. Several red legged partridge made the day list along with more curlews and geese, both in the fields and overhead. From here; Burnham Overy Staithe for a check to see if the rough legged buzzard was about.
teal and a brent goose

shoveler

Immaculately plumaged drake teal

Brent geese
At Burnham Overy Staithe we stopped at the layby and scanned all the way to Holkham Pines. Eventually, a white tailed rough legged buzzard came into view and, after disappearing several times, finally alighted on a tree where good scope views were had. A lifer for David and Kathy. Numerous geese including a party of surprise barnacles in amongst the pink foots, brent and greylags.
So, on along the A149 to Holkham. A brief stop just before the Victoria and Lady Anne's Drive gave great scope views of a white fronted goose. Several were present. A lifer for my guests and a year lister (#221) for me.
white fronted goose; a year lister

Pink foots in with greylag geese
From here we popped down Lady Anne's Drive where more wigeon and pink foots were encountered along with lapwings. A quick trip to the pines but far too windy for crests to be on the wing, so we had to settle for hearing them, high in the conifers.
By now, still windy and grey, we set off for Cley and a planned sandwich at the VC. A check on the sea from the beach car park gave up nothing again, but Kathy and Dave got close to some brents for a photo or two. At the centre they had run out of sausages, so we had to settle for bacon sandwiches and another coffee for me. Very little on the board so along to Salthouse where the resident turnstones performed well before a walk along the East Bank to Arnold's Marsh. Redshank, shelduck, black tailed godwits and a grey plover as well as more little egrets but no snow buntings on the shingle. Again, too windy, so back to the car. A pair of stonechat showed well near the car park  and then off for a stop and walk to Warham Greens at the whirlygig. After a brief wait and a solitary marsh harrier, we got views of 2 ring tailed hen harriers coming in to roost.
More linnets and finches along the footpath before we decided to complete our day with another check on Lady Anne's Drive where we got more geese including tundra bean geese, our 8th goose species of the day. A spectacular arrival of pink foots and greylags carried on for 15 minutes but no hoped for barn or short eared owls,. By this time the light had all but gone and so back to The Globe for a pint, goodbyes and my return home.
Egyptian geese

Common gull at Salthouse


Turnstone on the Salthouse shingle


Little egret from the East Bank, Cley
All in all, a super day and I trust my guests enjoyed their day, with 3 lifers for them and 2 year listers for me. As we unpacked the car at Wells more pink foots headed Holkham way overhead. We must have observed over 10,000 of them during the 9 hours we were out.

Species list:
little grebe, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, white fronted goose, tundra bean goose, pink footed goose, greylag goose, canada goose (10 sp) barnacle goose, brent geese, shelduck, egyptian goose, mallard, gadwall, pintail, shoveler. wigeon, teal (20 sp) pochard, tufted duck, red kite, marsh harrier, hen harrier, rough legged buzzard, common buzzard, kestrel, red legged partridge, grey partridge (30 sp), pheasant, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, knot, sanderling (40sp) turnstone, dunlin, redshank, black tailed godwit, curlew, snipe, ruff, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull (50 sp), lesser black backed gull, greater black backed gull, stock dove, wood pigeon, collared dove, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock (60 sp) robin, stonechat, song thrush, mistle thrush, blackbird, cettis warbler (heard) goldcrest (heard) great tit, coal tit, blue tit, (70 sp) long tailed tit, magie, jay, jackdaw, carrion crow, rook, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet, (80 sp) goldfinch, greenfinch,reed bunting, yellowhammer.

Thorley Wash Nature Reserve

Whilst I was having the car cleaned I wandered off to ThorleyWash for a quick wander. On the whole very quiet with several bullfinches being a highlight along with a calling chiffchaff just south of the reserve. A kestrel was noted hovering but the best sight was finding a rather friendly fox, that posed nicely for a few snaps.
On the river, a flyby kingfisher whilst on the water, 3 little grebe along with the regular mallards.



Sunday, 14 December 2014

Amwell and the Lea Valley

A midday trip to Amwell today gave some good views, particularly of yellow legged gull, red kites, sparrowhawk and buzzard. A goldeneye was on the far side of Great Hardmead Lake along with the usual cormorants, herons and wildfowl. 90+ lapwings were unnerved by the sparrowhawk, high overhead.
flyby cormorant

red kite under attack......

........but the crow gets more than it bargained for

either very late or very early head plumage

female sparrowhawk

same bird, very high but still putting up the lapwings and black headed gulls
After Amwell, I headed for the Lea Valley Park complex. Firstly to Hook's Green where greylag and canada geese were along with usual waterfowl and very poor views of a drake goosander deep in a wooded island, before a trip around to Fisher's Green. A water rail was heard but no sign of the bitterns, which had been showing well a few minutes before I arrived. A distant flypast was the only sighting I got. From here I headed over to the west side of the park, to Turnford Brook where I got a surprise of  9 goosanders on Ashley Lake. A few bullfinches, cettis warbler, male sparrowhawk and plenty of long tailed tits, too. Must pay more attention to this area, a place I seldom visit.
pair of goosanders: duck left and drake right.

Shot taken through a reedbed!

muntjac at Turnford Brook


drake goosander

female goosander in rapidly fading light.

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