Friday, 28 August 2015

Yet another day in North Norfolk

On Sunday and Monday heavy rain swept across East Anglia with a south easterly wind. A good direction for grounding southern bound migrants. So it proved with pied flycatchers everywhere, occasional wryneck, several tree pipits and redstarts. By Thursday the wind had moved round to a south westerly, not good for grounding migrants but I thought there may still be some knocking around, so off at 5a.m.
I met Gary at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse and almost immediately it was apparent that nothing of note was present. The 45+ pied flycatchers had all moved on in clear, dry skies earlier in the week. A couple of wheatear were in the fields and a fly over green shank was as good as it got.
Off to East Bank, Cley where bearded tits were pinging in the reeds and waders were silhouetted by the rising sun at Arnold's Marsh. A brief sea watch gave up gulls and some sandwich terns. Not the most auspicious start to the day!
A hobby winged its way over the reedbed, but little else. Gary then had to return home for work, so I decided to head for the hides on the reserve. I dallied with the idea of driving all the way round to Winterton dunes but thought too much time would be spent driving so off the the hides on Cley Reserve.
As I approached a peregrine stooped over the scrape, sending everything off, so that when I arrived, just 7 ruff and a distant greenshank remained. A sparrow hawk over Walsey Hills, a hovering kestrel and 2 marsh harriers were all that were about, so back to the car. Still too early for a coffee at the visitors centre, so I reckoned the track down to the dunes at Burnham Overy Staithe would be as good as anywhere.
kestrel at Cley

peregrine high over Cley 
As I approached the layby, a pied flyctacher (male) flew acorss the road and into the hedge. Once parked, I returned the couple of hundred yards, but no sign, but might indicate a good wander. This was not the case, with a flyover whimbrel, calling incessantly, linnets, tits and a few regular warblers in the hawthorn hedges along the track. A scan of the distant dunes showed there were no birders there, so reckoned it would probably be as void of birds as Gramborough! Back to the car and off Titchwell. At this point I had 4 photographs for the whole morning.
I arrived at a busy Titchwell, quick doze in the car, and then a coffee. The reserve had a fairly comprehensive list of birds reported, albeit nothing startling, so I headed along the beach path and into the Island Hide. This was busy and outside, on the mud, 6 little stints showing well. Dunlin, avocets, ruff and a few distant curlew sandpipers, so at last, I got a few photos.

dunlin

little stint

underwing plumage of little stint
Little stint
From the island hide, I headed through the crowds to the beach. It was now bright and lovely just to sit in the dunes and watch the sea go by through the scope. Arctic skua, cormorants, a solitary gannet and sandwich terns were all noted along with a single bobbing common scoter. After 45 minutes, drizzle and, without my camera bag, I headed for the Parrinder Hide as a downpour looked likely. On the saltmarsh, 6 magnificent, summer plumaged grey plovers and a single spotted redshank, that mysteriously disappeared once I had extracted the camera strap for being caught up with the scope strap!
Into the Parrinder Hide and 3 curlew sandpipers not too far away. Ruff, godwits, golden plover, oystercatchers etc all viewed. I spent a good hour in here, just enjoying the view and trying to find something a little different. 2 yellow wagtails landed on the mud, amongst the meadow pipits and linnets. but nothing else, apart from 4 spoonbills were seen other than the usual fare of shelduck, teal, gadwall etc.
curlew sandpiper

yellow wagtail

Few waders that needed sorting

another curlew sandpiper
I eventually headed back to the car as it was now mid afternoon and drove along to Holme. A coffee from Jen in the splendid cafe and off into the firs to see if I could track down the pied flycatcher that had been reported. Nothing doing, which was a pity as I could do with some reasonable photos of this species in the UK. Plenty from Poland a year last April, but a Norfolk one would be good. A check from the hide gave views of both green and common sandpiper, dunlin etc before I was back in the car and off to Choseley drying barns. Here, 2 marsh harriers quartered the stubble fields, one putting up corvids, the other being got at by a single hare! Too far for what could have been interesting photos.
By now, it was time to head to Walsingham and to meet up with Jan and Gary for a pint at the Bull before the drive home and fish and chips at Brandon.
A good day and I was surprised to find the species list extended to 98! More than I had thought. Last was a barn owl on the road towards Walsingham near Wighton.
Distant grey plovers, Titchwell

Goldfinch in Holme Firs

Choseley marsh harrier

small tortoiseshell at Holme
So another good day, thoroughly enjoyed even if the birding was quantity rather than quality once again. Be a while before I return as off to The Camargue on Tuesday for a few days birding and walking. Should be interesting time of the year, with several species targeted for photos: squacco heron, great white egret, spectacled warbler, calandra lark (if present) roller, short toed eagle (if not already migrated) gull billed tern, slender billed gull and possible caspian tern moving through the area. Not too much to ask, is it?

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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