Monday, 4 January 2016

North Norfolk in a few hours.

Setting off at 5a.m. meant, having stopped for coffee near Downham Market, I was in Titchwell carpark way before 1st light, as planned. My idea was to be on the beach for sunrise and spot as many birds on the Freshmarsh in the pre dawn grey light as possible. With only a few hours of decent light, I wanted to get the year list off to a good start by paying visits to all the Norfolk Coastal hotspots.
I was greeted with both song thrush and mistle thrush singing, before I checked the feeders, but too early. This photo of the regular barn owl is testimony to the light levels!
I scanned the freshmarsh, picking out many of the usual suspects: godwits, avocets, brents, teal, shoveler, lapwings etc before arriving at the beach just as the colour was changing, promising a bright day.
Barn owl, out of the darkenss of Thornham Marsh

Hint of colour on the beach

Early morning brents at low tide

Another shot of the ghost owl
From the beach the waders at the low tide mark were easily visible as the light improved rapidly: grey plover, sanderling, turnstone, dunlin, bar tailed and black tailed godwit along with gulls and geese. 2 mute swans headed west but only a few goldeneye, 7 common scoter and 2 red throated divers were noted on the sea.
Sunrise over the wet sand: Titchwell

Early morning brent geese flypast

Black tailed godwit in early morning light

same bird
A few poor light shots were taken at ISO 2000 but not many worth bothering with. A quick scan from the Parrinder Hide and then a check on Thornham Pool. The latter gave views of 2 water pipits with 5 meadow pipits before I checked the feeders again, a chiffchaff on the path to the car park and I was heading off to Choseley.
Greylag from Parrinder Hide
Better light for this drake teal

Here, red legged partridge, yellowhammers, greenfinches, chaffinches and goldfinches along with skylarks, pied wagtails and 2 corn buntings. Then, off to Chalk Pit Lane but no views of the hoped for rough legged buzzard, just more black headed and herring gulls and a large 35+ covey of more red legged partridges.
I stopped off at Brancaster Staithe but the tide was so low that no self respecting red necked grebe would be fishing in the few inches of water, so, after a scan at Burnham Overy Staithe and Lady Anne's Drive, I arrived at Wells. Here, a solitary little grebe made the list but good to see brent geese and lapwings on the football pitch.
I decided that a walk down Garden Drove would be far too muddy, likewise a wander to the Gibbert Roundabout at Stiffkey, so off to Cley beach, where the sea was very quiet. I then headed to the VC where very little had been reported so I carried on to Salthouse beach. Upon parking, I noted a large, light brown streaky gull with light primaries. Thought it maybe one of the Iceland gulls that have been around the area recently, but on closer inspection, no, a  2nd year glaucous gull. Back to the car for the camera just in time to see it fly off to the beach, where it then departed over Gramborough Hill with 2 great black backed gulls. It looked to go down in a field near Kelling Water Meadows.
I then began scanning all the gulls, coming across an interesting individual, very pale with large bill and dark eye. It wasn't until it flew that I noted a 2nd year great black backed gull, almost black mantle just emerging.
2nd year great black backed gull

Very dark markings

Wing pattern

Having checked all other gulls, I had seen a huge flock of 5000+ geese in fields near Kelling, so off to a layby where I could scan the whole lot. After half an hour, under darkening skies, I came across the target: 6 tundra bean geese. One that didn't make my year list last year, so pleased to find them. In an adjacent field, some 1000 brent geese before I headed off to Cliff Road car park at Sheringham and a quick march down the steps to check the purple sandpipers by the Funky Mackerel cafe. Sure enough, both were present, along with the very confiding 25 turnstone flock that appear to be fed seed every day.
Pink foots in beet field

Geese as far as you can see: Find the tundra beans!!

Turnstone; Sheringham

Purple sandpiper: Sheringham

I just had time for a quick trip to West Runton cliffs for a final sea watch where 2 guillemot and 3 gannets made the day list. As I made my way back to the car the first heavy drops of rain fell and so I headed off along the A148 to Fakenham and then home. A good day, with 86 species making the day list.


More of the purple sandpiper
Species List:
red throated diver, little grebe, gannet, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, tudra bean goose, pink footed goose, greylag goose (10 sp) canada goose, brent goose, shelduck, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, teal, common scoter, goldeneye (20 sp) marsh harrier, common buzzard, kestrel, red legged partridge, grey partridge, pheasant, moorhen, oystercatcher, avocet, grey plover (30 sp) golden plover, lapwing, sanderling, purple sandpiper, turnstone, dunlin, redshank, black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit, curlew (40 sp) ruff, black headed gull, herring gull, common gull, lesser black backed gull, great black backed gull, glaucous gull, guillemot, wood pigeon, stock dove (50 sp) collared dove, tawny owl, barn owl, kingfisher, skylark, water pipit, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock (60 sp) robin, stonechat, redwing, fieldfare, song thrush, mistle thrush, blackbird, chiffchaff, cetti's warbler, great tit (70 sp) blue tit, marsh tit, coal tit, magpie, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch (80 sp) linnet, greenfinch, goldfinch, reed bunting, yellowhammer, corn bunting.

A good day list to kick off the New Year.

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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