Sunday, 10 May 2015

2 superb days in Norfolk



Friday morning found me leaving the house at 5a.m. for a couple of days in North Norfolk. Friday was to be my day for checking out as many sites as possible whilst Saturday I was booked to guide Graham, Peter and Andy around some of the less well known areas along the coast.
A first stop en route was at Weeting Heath where the trip list got underway. garden warbler, mistle thrush, lapwing and corvids were noted as I entered the 2 hides here. In the distance were a few stone curlews, scattered in amongst the rabbits and lapwings. First year lister of the trip.
From here, I set off again for a coffee with birding friend Gary and his wife Jen who have recently moved to Edgemere near Holkham. Good to see them and soon on my way, checking out the red kite roost near New Holkham. One very confiding bird was most inquisitive as I stopped on the verge for a few photos.
Holkham red kite

coming to view me!


I continued on to Choseley drying barns where I got a brief and extremely distant view of a single dotterel. I then took another lane, Chalk Pit Lane, and got equally distant views of at least 7 more dotterel in the cultivated field. 2nd year lister and not yet 9a.m.
wheatear on drying barns roof

Dotterel field: spot the bird!!

World's worst record shot of dotterel (honest) heat haze and 400 yards away!

I then thought Titchwell might be worth a visit before the crowds arrived and I was not disappointed. Willow warblers called in the sallows behind the Visitors' Centre (3rd year lister) before a walk to the beach. As I wandered, sedge warblers called from many bushes, as did reed warblers from the reeds (4th.) From the beach a few common scoter, gannet and year lister 5, little terns. The regular wildfowl were on the Fresh Marsh along with plenty of avocets and black tailed godwits. A few turnstone, dunlin and ringed plover, with a little ringed plover from the path leading to the Parrinder Hide. Highlight from the Parrinder Hide, a distant, busily feeding drake scaup. Marsh harriers were noted and a high over kestrel. Year lister 6 came in the shape of a common sandpiper near the island hide whilst on Thornham Marsh a spotted redshank, resplendent in black summer plumage. (year lister 7). So far, so good.
chiffchaff

willow warbler

reed warbler

sedge warbler

distant little tern

avocet

common sandpiper

avocet and little tern

distant drake scaup

avocet

distant grey plover

reed bunting

Wall brown at Holme

2 snipe over at Holme

1st of 3 different ruff

very pale individual

much darker one from East Bank

From Titchwell, I moved to Holme where turtle doves had been reported. Not too much about that was new and just one turtle dove heard but not seen. Common buzzard made the list as I wandered along the white post trail. Whitethroats and blackcaps a plenty and a brief glimpse of a lesser whitethroat (year lister 8.) As I walked back down the lane towards the centre, checking for non existent yellow wagtails in the horse field, I heard a grasshopper warbler, a  few minutes of scanning the hawthorn gave a brief glimpse before it flew to another bush and disappeared. (year lister 9.) After a fine veggie chilli and coffee in the wonderful cafe at the centre I headed off to Cley, checking one or two well known sites as I went. The road closure along the A149 meant I couldn't check Burnham Overy dunes so a wander down to Arnold's Marsh. Here a good array of ruff coming into breeding plumage. Lots of sandwich terns out to sea here, but little else of note.
As I headed back up East Bank, the unmistakable call of a whimbrel overhead (year lister 10) Following this, I headed up to Kelling Heath, but drizzle prevented much being seen and nothing new. Chiffchaffs, willow warblers etc were in fine voice but, due to high winds, all were cowering in the middle of the vegetation and not showing.
By now it was time to return to Edgemere where Gary and I headed off to the Edinburgh in Wells for a couple of pints before a superb chicken curry cooked by Jen. Following this, I headed off to MJB hotels at Langham where I had booked a room for the amazingly discounted price of £15.99! Great value for money. Dumped my gear in the room and wandered the 100 yards to the local Bluebell pub for a couple more pints, finishing with a good malt. Into bed by 11pm and alarm set for a 4.30 start as I was booked to meet the fellas at Cley for a 5.30 start.
In all, I had seen 91 species for the day, with quite a few expected ones remaining to be found on the Saturday.


Species list for the Friday: Year listers in capitals.
mute swan, greylag, canada goose, brent goose, shelduck, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, teal (10 sp) scaup, tufted duck, common scoter, red legged partridge, grey partridge, pheasant, gannet, commorant, little egret, grey heron (20 sp) red kite, marsh harrier, common buzzard, kestrel, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, STONE CURLEW, ringed plover (30 sp), little ringed plover, grey plover, DOTTEREL, lapwing, turnstone, dunlin, COMMON SANDPIPER, redshank, SPOTTED REDSHANK, black tailed godwit (40 sp) curlew, WHIMBREL, snipe, ruff, black headed gull, herring gull, LITTLE TERN, sandwich tern, common tern, stock dove (50 sp), wood pigeon, collared dove, cuckoo, great spotted woodpecker, skylark, SAND MARTIN, swallow, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, dunnock (60 sp) robin, wheatear, song thrush, mistle thrush, blackbird, GARDEN WARBLER, blackcap, white throat, LESSER WHITETHROAT, sedge warbler (70 sp) GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, cetti's warbler, REED WARBLER, WILLOW WARBLER, chiffchaff, wren, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, magpie (80 sp) jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, reed bunting (90 sp) yellowhammer.

91 species and 12 year listers. Good day's birding.

Day 2:

Alarm went off at 4.30 and up and out at first light. A quick drive around failed to locate any barn owls and I arrived at the visitors' centre at Cley NWT in time for a brief walk. Year lister 12 appeared overhead in the shape of good swift numbers. Throughout the day we continued to see large numbers of these arriving from the east. Duly met up with Graham, Peter and Andy and off before 6am to wander around Kelling Heath. No sooner had we parked the car then good birds were heard: turtle dove, willow warbler, whitethroat, blackcap and chiffchaff. Off over the railway line to the conifers. Very windy and everything keeping out of sight. On returning a flash of low flying grey shot across the path and into a stand of heather, a dartford warbler. Fortunately, it then popped up on to the heather, showing rufous tones with the slate grey. A great view for a couple of seconds before it was gone. Year lister 13 so 2 added before 7.30! As we walked back to the car park, a pair of bullfinches flew by, getting on to the trip and day list.
From here I drove us to Kelling Quaggs. Warblers all along the track to the water meadows. Here, egyptian geese with goslings, shelducks, mute swans but no hoped for waders. As we headed back, a lesser whitethroat posed really well. Great views for all of us giving time to note the diagnostic differences from whitethroat.
Kelling Quaggs shelduck
Couple of shots of the lesser whitethroat


Now, time for the East Bank again, but sadly, the resplendent ruff had moved on. Very little on the sea and no hoped for bearded tits, probably due to the stiff breeze. Great views of sedge warblers, briefer ones of reed warbler. Time for a coffee back at the car before we headed off to the hides. Waders galore: redshank, ringed plover, common sandpiper, dunlin etc but nothing to add to my trip list.
Goldfinch

Another day, another sedge warbler
Marsh harrier

avocet surfing on a marsh harrier

By now, the centre was open and so another coffee. As we drank, a turtle dove flew in front of the centre, heading into Walsey Hills. We all piled back into the car and we were off to Stiffkey Fen. This was my first visit here since all the groundwork had been completed and we were pleased to see good numbers of birds. Brent geese on Morston Marsh and gulls, waders and wildfowl on the Fen. A good site, this.
We moved on, heading for Stiffkey Marsh and Warham Greens. We walked to the gibbert roundabout, getting a fine adult spoonbill on the way (year lister 14) followed shortly after by a westerly mediterranean gull (year lister 15.) Big numbers iof brent geese remained on Warham Greens, but no hoped for whimbrels.
Warham Greens spoonbill

same bird heading west

Shelduck from Titchwell footpath

Lunch time: so off to Salthouse and a fine Crab Salad at Cookies Crab Shop. Always worth a visit. We then headed back to Cley for the cars as Graham and Andy were staying at Hunstanton and Peter was heading home later, so we travelled in convoy to Choseley where the dotterel were eventually found, even further away than the previous day. Good bird for them to see. We headed off to Titchwell, deciding to ignore the beach as reports were not too encouraging. Long way to walk for a common scoter!
The scaup showed, again distantly, from the Parrinder Hide, as did ringed plovers, turnstones, common sandpipers, dunlin and the regular wildfowl. Little terns bathed next to avocets who were just beginning to become territorial. A few mallard chicks were noted. House martins overhead made the trip list, as did a sparrowhawk and pochard. Time was getting short, so we decided to finish at Holme, but just a rabbit, mallards and a couple of warblers singing. It was now 5pm and time to finish. Goodbyes were made and Peter headed off home, Graham and Andy to Old Hunstanton to prepare for the three day wander along the North Norfolk Coastal footpath. Good luck with this.
A super day out with great company and another good list of birds. As I drove home, I added  a flyover jay to the trip list, followed by a splendid barn owl covering roadside verges as I approached Ely.

Day 2 species list : ones in red are new for the trip, red and capitals year listers for me:
mute swan, greylag, canada goose, brent goose, shelduck, egyptian goose, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon (10 sp) teal, pochard, scaup, tufted duck, red legged partridge, pheasant, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, SPOONBILL (20 sp) marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, kestrel, moorhen, coot, oystercather, avocet, ringed plover, dotterel,(30 sp) lapwing, turnstone, dunlin, common sandpiper, redshank, black tailed godwit, black headed gull, MEDITERRANEAN GULL, herring gull, little tern (40 sp) sandwich tern, common tern, wood pigeon, collared dove, barn owl, TURTLE DOVE, SWIFT, skylark, sand martin, HOUSE MARTIN, (50 sp) swallow, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, dunnock, robin, song thrush, blackbird, garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, (60 sp) lesser whitethroat,  DARTFORD WARBLER, sedge warbler, cetti's warbler, reed warbler, willow warbler, chiffchaff, wren, great tit, blue tit, (70 sp) long tailed tit, magpie, jay, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet, (80 sp) goldfinch  greenfinch, bullfinch, reed bunting.

Total of 84 species and 12 trip listers, taking the total to a most pleasing 103 species for the two days. Added another 6 year listers, making it a grand total of 18 for the two days. If only every trip was this good!

The year listers (18): stone curlew, dotterel, common sandpiper, spotted redshank, whimbrel, little tern, lesser whitethroat, grasshopper warbler,garden warbler, reed warbler, willow warbler, spoonbill, mediterranean gull, turtle dove, dartford warbler, house martin. swift. grey plover

Huge thanks to Graham, Peter and Andy for their company and I trust they had a most enjoyable and rewarding day. Certainly a busy and long one. Hope to see you all again soon.



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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