Tuesday 29 November 2022

Norfolk 29.11.22

 Great to be back in Norfolk but the light was just dreadful and sometimes considerably worse! Visited Holkham Gap on the beach where Red breasted merganser, Goldeneye, Red throated diver and Slavonian Grebe were noted out to sea. No sign of the hoped for Shorelarks, but Common scoter through my scope became Rick's 200th bird for the year.

Off to CleySpy to get Rick kitted out with a new scope and tripod and then off to Gramborough Hill at Salthouse. Virtually birdless so headed east to Titchwell where the light meant photos were impossible, as proved below!

Titchwell held a mixed flock of finches feeding in alder along the footpath from the entrance but high water levels meant very few waders on the Freshmarsh.

The beach was better with plenty seen including good numbers of Bar tailed godwits. Out to see, just Great crested grebes. By 3.45pm we watched 7 Marsh harriers come into roost before returning home by 6.40. A good day and Rick very pleased with his new scope. 

Species list:

  1. Red throated diver
  2. Great crested grebe
  3. Slavonian grebe
  4. Cormorant
  5. Little egret
  6. Great white egret
  7. Mute swan
  8. Whooper swan
  9. Greylag goose
  10. Pink-footed goose
  11. Brent goose
  12. Shelduck
  13. Mallard
  14. Gadwall
  15. Wigeon
  16. Teal
  17. Shoveler
  18. Tufted duck
  19. Common scoter
  20. Goldeneye
  21. Red breasted merganser
  22. Red kite
  23. Marsh harrier
  24. Kestrel
  25. Merlin (possible, very brief glimpse)
  26. Pheasant
  27. Moorhen
  28. Oystercatcher
  29. Golden plover
  30. Grey plover
  31. Turnstone
  32. Lapwing
  33. Dunlin
  34. Sanderling
  35. Redshank
  36. Curlew
  37. Snipe
  38. Black tailed godwit
  39. Bar tailed godwit
  40. Black headed gull
  41. Common gull
  42. Herring gull
  43. Lesser black backed gull
  44. Great black backed gull
  45. Wood pigeon
  46. Collared dove
  47. Skylark
  48. Rock pipit
  49. Meadow pipit
  50. Pied wagtail
  51. Dunnock
  52. Cetti's warbler (heard)
  53. Goldcrest
  54. Robin
  55. Blackbird
  56. Redwing
  57. Long tailed tit
  58. Great tit
  59. Blue tit
  60. Wren
  61. Treecreeper
  62. Chaffinch
  63. Brambling
  64. Goldfinch
  65. Greenfinch
  66. Siskin
  67. Linnet
  68. Starling
  69. Jackdaw
  70. Rook
  71. Carrion crow
  72. Magpie
  73. Jay
Redshank at Salthouse

Dunkins on Titchwell beach

Black tailed godwit, Titchwell

Black headed gull, Salthouse

Titchwell beach curlew

Titchwell Little egret

Little egret, Titchwell beach

Great white egret at Titchwell: 3.25pm in near darkness. 200th second at 3200 ISO!

Friday 18 November 2022

Day at Abberton Reservoir

Early start for a day at Abberton reservoir near Colchester. Arrived at the Layer Breton Causeway in very poor light where plenty was noted. Goosanders, up to 10 were the main pick whilst 100's of Shovelers, Grey herons, a strange hybrid Baikal teal were all to be seen. Great egrets and 20 Little egrets, a flyby kingfisher, teal, mallards and several pochards.

Off to a view point looking over the reservoir: Dunlin, a solitary little stint, numerous lapwings and golden plover all in view before we headed to the 2nd causeway in search of several rarer species. Came across a female Scaup mingling with 100's of tufted duck whilst we watched a female Hen harrier pluck and eat a dead bird before it got fed up with the attention of 2 carrion crows and flew off with the prey. Redshank, Meadow pipits and good numbers of Pied wagtails on the dam.

Off to the splendid visitors' centre for a 10.30am coffee and then a wander to the 3 hides overlooking the water. A ruff from the Hide Bay Hide but no sign of the Bewick swans or Great Northern diver. A few visitors reported a short eared owl near the island hide, but not apparent when we returned to check the area so a plan to head towards Mersea Island. 

As we drove over the causeway again we noted a fair few birders so parked to check what the interest was. A Long tailed duck, Slavonian grebe and male Scaup were all relatively close in and by the time we had finished here it was too late for a drive to Mersea. Consequently, headed back to Layer Breton causeway and caught up with another Kingfisher and more Goosanders, the most I have ever seen at this site. A grey wagtail made the day list before we headed back home via Marks Tey. A 73 species day being an excellent return for a visit to just one site. Well worth a winter trip, but do wrap up warm as it is always freezing cold on the causeways!

Species List:

  1. Great crested grebe
  2. Slavonian grebe
  3. Little grebe
  4. Cormorant
  5. Grey heron
  6. Little egret
  7. Great Egret
  8. Mute swan
  9. Greylag goose
  10. Canada goose
  11. Egyptian goose
  12. Mallard
  13. Gadwall
  14. Wigeon
  15. Pochard
  16. Teal
  17. Baikal teal hybrid
  18. Pintail
  19. Shoveler
  20. Tufted duck
  21. Scaup
  22. Goldeneye
  23. Goosander
  24. Red kite
  25. Sparrowhawk
  26. Common buzzard
  27. Marsh harrier
  28. Hen Harrier
  29. Kestrel
  30. Red legged partridge
  31. Pheasant
  32. Moorhen
  33. Coot
  34. Golden plover
  35. Lapwing
  36. Dunlin
  37. Redshank
  38. Ruff
  39. Black tailed godwit
  40. Snipe
  41. Black headed gull
  42. Herring gull
  43. Great black backed gull
  44. Lesser black backed gull
  45. Common gull
  46. Stock dove
  47. Wood pigeon
  48. Kingfisher
  49. Great spotted woodpecker (heard)
  50. Skylark
  51. Meadow pipit
  52. Pied wagtail
  53. Grey wagtail
  54. Dunnock
  55. Cetti's warbler (heard)
  56. Stonechat
  57. Robin
  58. Blackbird
  59. Fieldfare
  60. Long tailed tit
  61. Great tit
  62. Blue tit
  63. Wren
  64. Reed bunting
  65. Chaffinch
  66. Goldfinch
  67. Linnet
  68. House sparrow
  69. Starling
  70. Magpie
  71. Rook
  72. Jackdaw
  73. Carrion crow.
Pochard drake and Tufted duck

Great crested grebe

with a Perch for lunch


Great egret

female Goldeneye

Common gull


view from Hide Bay Hide


dozing drake Pochard

female Scaup

drake Scaup


female Goosander

drake Goosander

Grey heron

hybrid Teal x Baikal Teal

Little egret

Male Kingfisher

Grey wagtail

Black headed gull


Male kingfisher

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Very Grey and Damp day in North Norfolk

 Setting off at 5.15 am for a Norfolk day on Monday 7th. Customary coffee in Wells and straight to Holkham beach before the light was any good so camera left in the car. The over wintering Shore Larks were distant, about 5 of them before a check on the sea. Rafts of scoter, including 3 Velvet Scoter. A quick check in the pines gave up Goldcrests and tit species before heading to Cley beach for another sea watch. Unbeknown to me, the best light of the day here but just distant gannets.

From here, a wander down the East Bank: wigeon, teal and a kingfisher but nothing out to sea apart from several Red throated divers. Checked for Snow bunting but none to be found.

Down the Iron Road to Salthouse beach in very grey light, all cars with headlights on. A mixed flock of Goldfinches, Twite and Linnets feeding upon the Horned poppy seeds and a pair of Stonechats near Gramborough Hill but no sign of the Lapland bunting that had been reported that day. The over wintering Long Billed Dowitcher commutes between the East Bank and a pool on the beach, but again, a no show today. A Meadow pipit posed for a photo near the car.

Headed west to Brancaster Harbour but just the expected waders so up to Choseley Barns. Overhead, 1000's of Pink footed Geese and south west from the layby, quartering the area around a yellow crane, a male Hen Harrier. Bird of the day. Huge flock of Starlings rose from the pig field before a whistlestop trip to Titchwell beach and hides in persistent drizzle. A Water Pipit and Rock pipit got on to the day list, as did Sanderling on the beach. A Red necked grebe on the sea, distant as the tide was way out. Two Pintails from the Parrinder Hide as well as a pair of Pochard and a few Ruff. A check in the alders in the car park gave up a large mixed flock of Siskins, Goldfinches and Lesser redpolls.

By now I felt like I could be out mothing it was so dark so off to Thornham Point where another Hen Harrier had been seen, but not whilst I was there. A Bar tailed Godwit probed the mud near the footbridge before I decided to call it a day and headed home. No traffic issues meant back indoors by 6.30pm. A good birding day but hugely frustrating from the photography point of view. Basically, anything that was mobile wasn't worth photographing as the shutter speed settings were so low and ISO were so high that cropping would make the photos very grainy, as seen below.

Species list.

  1. Red throated Diver
  2. Great Crested Grebe
  3. Red necked grebe
  4. Gannet
  5. Cormorant
  6. Little egret
  7. Great egret
  8. Grey heron
  9. Mute swan
  10. Pink-footed goose
  11. Greylag Goose
  12. Canada goose
  13. Brent goose
  14. Shelduck
  15. Egyptian goose
  16. Mallard
  17. Gadwall
  18. Pintail
  19. Shoveler
  20. Wigeon
  21. Teal
  22. Pochard
  23. Tufted duck
  24. Common scoter
  25. Velvet scoter
  26. Red kite
  27. Hen Harrier
  28. Marsh harrier
  29. Common buzzard
  30. Sparrowhawk
  31. Kestrel
  32. Pheasant
  33. Moorhen
  34. Coot
  35. Oystercatcher
  36. Avocet
  37. Golden plover
  38. Lapwing
  39. Sanderling
  40. Dunlin
  41. Redshank
  42. Black tailed godwit
  43. Bar tailed godwit
  44. Curlew
  45. Snipe
  46. Ruff
  47. Black headed gull
  48. Herring gull
  49. Common gull
  50. Lesser black backed gull
  51. Great black backed gull
  52. Razorbill
  53. Wood pigeon
  54. Collared dove
  55. Kingfisher
  56. Skylark
  57. Shorelark
  58. Water pipit
  59. Rock pipit
  60. Meadow pipit
  61. Pied wagtail
  62. Wren
  63. Robin
  64. Dunnock
  65. Stonechat
  66. Song Thrush
  67. Blackbird
  68. Cetti's warbler
  69. Chiffchaff
  70. Goldcrest
  71. Great tit
  72. Blue tit
  73. Coal tit
  74. Long tailed tit
  75. Bearded reedling (heard)
  76. Magpie
  77. Jay
  78. Jackdaw
  79. Carrion crow
  80. Rook
  81. Starling
  82. House sparrow
  83. Chaffinch
  84. Goldfinch
  85. Siskin
  86. Lesser redpoll
  87. Linnet
  88. Twite
  89. Reed bunting
Whistling Wigeon at Cley

Teal from the East Bank

Little Grebe on Don's Pool, Cley

Meadow Pipit, Salthouse

Stonechat, Gramborough Hill

Black tailed godwit, Brancaster Harbour

Shoveler, Titchwell

Greylags in ridiculously dark conditions

Incoming Greylags

Golden Plover, Titchwell

Dozing drake Wigeon

Feeding Black tailed godwit, Titchwell

Redshank from the beach path, Titchwell

Black tailed godwit

Curlew, Titchwell

Shoveler, Titchwell

Pink footed geese over Choseley

Little egret, Thornham

Muddy Bar tailed godwit, Thornham

Shoveler, Titchwell

Another Bar tailed godwit, Thornham

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird. September 2009

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. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

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


Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly

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

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox

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

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)


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.
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