Saturday, 26 March 2016

North Norfolk Day

Lapland Bunting: Blakeney Freshmarsh

Flyby brent geese at Titchwell
Setting out at 6, I picked up Gary in Egmere at 8 and we headed to Kelling Heath. We popped into Blakeney to see if the lapland buntings were about, but not being sure where they were and, having asked several other birders and still not knowing, we went to Kelling. A walk to the other side of the level crossing for woodlark and dartford warbler drew a blank. Common buzzards, tits and finches were all that were about. The also hoped for singing chiffchaff or willow warbler failed to materialise, too.
Off to Weybourne beach car park and Muckleborough Hill, but nothing here either: no stonechat or wheatear so after a quick sea check we moved on to Kelling Water Meadows. At last: birds!
On the water were a family of recently hatched egyptian geese, redshank, common and black headed gulls, 2 avocets and plenty of teal. Overhead, starlings, skylarks, linnets and chaffinches whilst a goldcrest was heard in the hedgerow.
Male linnet: Kelling Water Meadows

World's worst Dartford Warbler shot!!

red crested pochard

smart BHG

westerly curlew

Several stonechat were knocking about as usual before we encountered a darker bird in the Alexanders: Just showing a hint of dark red breast with a grey head. A dartford warbler, a first for me at this site. Half an hour of following it, losing it and refinding but still not a chance of a photo, even though it showed well, if only for a few seconds.
A whimbrel flew in and landed on the far side of the water meadow. Second year lister in a few minutes so things were looking better. Wrens and more stonechat and finches as we walked back to the car, ready for a coffee at Cley Visitors' Centre. The reserve here was both busy with people and empty of birds, so, after pies at the Picnic Fayre, we headed to Lady Anne's Drive. The clear blue sky and warm temperatures meant it was packed solid here. A check for geese at the layby drew a blank so off along the A149 to see if the red necked grebe was still at Burnham Overy Staithe. Tide was out so, no, it wasn't. Godwits, turnstone, grey plover made the list before a trip up Chalk Pit Lane and around to Choseley drying barns. More common buzzards, dozens of red legged and English partridge as well as numerous hares. Yellowhammers at the barns but little else so down the hill and into a very busy Titchwell Reserve.
Avocets on the Freshmarsh


Oystercatcher heading west

distant group of common scoter and gulls

Black tailed godwit coming into breeding plumage

teal sifting through the mud.

Several pochard and a pair of red crested pochard were noted as we approached the island hide, but plenty of water meant no waders on mud so we continued to the Brackish Marsh. A scan of the sky gave distant views of a red kite, 6 common buzzards and a fast gliding peregrine falcon, high over heading north east. Here, black tailed godwits, teal, shoveler, shelduck etc and then to the beach.
Sea watching from this beach is a personal favourite of mine and we were not disappointed. Rafts of common scoter, several red breasted merganser, cormorant, goldeneye and a great crested grebe made the day list as did sanderling on the beach. Flyby brent geese, rather restless and so I expect them to be off to breeding grounds any day soon. Final good bird was a pair of bramblings on the feeders by the Visitors' Centre, which we enjoyed whilst having another coffee and one of the brilliant bakewell tarts available here.

teal
pair of red crested pochard
brambling
We met several fellow birders I knew and we discovered the whereabouts of the laplands, so a return to Blakeney to finish the day. We walked to the gate and fence and there, sure enough, at least 4 lapland buntings, with 1 male in particular, in fine plumage. Very confiding birds meant one chap with a 600mm lens was too close to focus. Gary and I just shot off many snaps, each an improvement on the original record shots when the birds were feeding in the grass. Eventually, we reckoned we had one or two good ones, so back to Egmere to drop off Gary and then home to set the moth traps and a well deserved few pints.
All in all, a great day

one of the four lapland buntings at Blakeney Freshmarsh




splendid female marsh harrier over Blakeney Harbour

Species list:
little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, greylag goose, canada goose, brent goose, shelduck, (10 sp) egyptian goose mallard, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, teal, pochard, red crested pochard, tufted duck, common scoter, (20 sp) goldeneye, red breasted merganser, red kite, marsh harrier, common buzzard, kestrel, peregrine falcon, red legged partridge, grey partridge, pheasant, (30 sp) moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, sanderling, black tailed godwit, (40 sp) turnstone, redshank, black tailed godwit, curlew, whimbrel, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, greater black backed gull, (50 sp)wood pigeon, collared dove, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, stonechat, song thrush, (60 sp) mistle thrush, blackbird, dartford warbler, cetti's warbler, goldcrest (heard)great tit, blue tit, coal tit, long tailed tit, bearded reedling (70 sp) magpie, jay, rook, jackdaw, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, brambling, linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, siskin, reed bunting, lapland bunting, yellowhammer (86 species in total)
final shot of lapland bunting

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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