Thursday 26 January 2023

Very Grey day in Norfolk 25.01.23

 Off to Norfolk and straight to Cley beach in misty and cold conditions. Very little out to sea, so a walk down the East Bank and a check for Snow buntings, but none apparent. Few obvious year listers here, along with a very showy Stonechat.

Popped into the Visitors' Centre for a coffee before heading, via Wells to Holkham Pines and Holkham Gap. As I drove towards Blakeney from Cley a Bittern flew right in front of the car and into reeds by the river.

At Holkham, a walk to find the Shore Lark and Snow Buntings, but all the birders here were reporting that they were not present. So it proved. A bouncing flock of Linnets was scant reward for a 3 mile walk, but a covey of Grey Partridge and a splendid Firecrest made the stop here worthwhile. Huge numbers of Wigeon and Teal, with 100's of Pink footed geese overhead, but no sign of the White fronted geese.

Popped into Brancaster and a quick check on the harbour, but just added Turnstone to both the day and year list. By now the light was really dark so I changed my plan and headed for Sculthorpe Moor near Fakenham rather than a wander around Titchwell.

Super reserve at Sculthorpe but the light was appalling, so left the camera in the car. Siskins and Redpolls darted around Alders and in with these, a larger Mealy Redpoll. At one of the many feeding stations, several Marsh Tits before I headed home in torrential rain.

Disappointing from the photography point of view, but good to be back in Norfolk, my first trip this year.


  1. Great crested grebe
  2. Little grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Grey heron
  5. Little egret
  6. Bittern
  7. Mute swan
  8. Greylag goose
  9. Pink footed goose
  10. Brent goose
  11. Canada goose
  12. Shelduck
  13. Egyptian goose
  14. Mallard
  15. Gadwall
  16. Teal
  17. Wigeon
  18. Pintail
  19. Shoveler
  20. Tufted duck
  21. Common scoter
  22. Red kite
  23. Marsh harrier
  24. Kestrel
  25. Common buzzard
  26. Grey partridge
  27. Pheasant
  28. Water rail (heard)
  29. Moorhen
  30. Coot
  31. Avocet
  32. Turnstone
  33. Lapwing
  34. Dunlin
  35. Redshank
  36. Curlew
  37. Black tailed godwit
  38. Snipe
  39. Black headed gull
  40. Common gull
  41. Lesser black backed gull
  42. Great black backed gull
  43. Herring gull
  44. Wood pigeon
  45. Collared dove
  46. Skylark
  47. Meadow pipit
  48. Pied wagtail
  49. Dunnock
  50. Firecrest
  51. Goldcrest
  52. Cetti's warbler
  53. Stonechat
  54. Robin
  55. Blackbird
  56. Song thrush
  57. Fieldfare
  58. Redwing
  59. Long tailed tit
  60. Great tit
  61. Coal tit
  62. Blue tit
  63. Marsh tit
  64. Nuthatch
  65. Wren
  66. Reed bunting
  67. Chaffinch
  68. Goldfinch
  69. Greenfinch
  70. Siskin
  71. Lesser redpoll
  72. Mealy redpoll
  73. Linnet
  74. House sparrow
  75. Starling
  76. Jay
  77. Magpie
  78. Rook
  79. Jackdaw
  80. Carrion crow.
Stonechat in very poor light

1000's of Wigeon, Holkham

Grey Partridge, Holkham

Firecrest, disappointing photo from Holme Oak at Holkham.

Sunday 22 January 2023

Abberton Reservoir visit: 22.01.23

 As Wendy had some work in Witham, I dropped her off at 10am and headed to Abberton, just south of Colchester.

Coffee in the wonderful Visitors' Centre and then around to the 3 hides overlooking the water. All birds are distant so a scope is fairly essential. Distant views of Long tailed duck, Caspian gull and a Great Northern diver along with thousands of wildfowl, including 2 Bewick's swans and a pair of Goosander.

Once I have completed the circuit, off to the 1st of 2 causways that cross the reservoir. From here, great views of plenty more Goosanders, Pochards, Black necked grebe before I encountered a distant female Smew.

Then, round to the Layer Breton Causeway where most of the water was frozen. Here, 100's of shovelers along with 10's of Pochards.

Super time with many year listers and some pleasing photos in good light.

Species List (YL = year lister.)

  1. Great crested grebe
  2. Little grebe
  3. Black necked grebe (YL)
  4. Great Northern diver (YL)
  5. Cormorant
  6. Grey heron
  7. Great white egret
  8. Mute swan
  9. Bewick's swan (YL)
  10. Greylag goose
  11. Canada goose
  12. Egyptian goose
  13. Mallard
  14. Gadwall
  15. Wigeon
  16. Teal
  17. Shoveler
  18. Tufted duck
  19. Pochard
  20. Goldeneye (YL)
  21. Long tailed duck (YL)
  22. Goosander (YL)
  23. Smew (YL)
  24. Red Kite
  25. Common buzzard
  26. Kestrel
  27. Moorhen
  28. Coot
  29. Ringed plover (YL)
  30. Lapwing
  31. Dunlin (YL)
  32. Redshank (YL)
  33. Black tailed godwit (YL)
  34. Black headed gull
  35. Herring gull
  36. Common gull
  37. Lesser black backed gull
  38. Great Black backed gull (YL)
  39. Caspian gull (YL)
  40. Wood pigeon
  41. Skylark
  42. Meadow pipit
  43. Pied wagtail
  44. Robin
  45. Stonechat (YL)
  46. Blackbird
  47. Redwing
  48. Long tailed tit
  49. Great tit
  50. Blue tit
  51. Wren
  52. Chaffinch
  53. Goldfinch
  54. House sparrow
  55. Starling
  56. Jay
  57. Magpie
  58. Jackdaw
  59. Carrion crow
  60. Rook
Robin in the car park being used to check settings on the camera.

Stonechat, photo directly into the sun.

Very distant Grey heron

Black tailed godwit

Great white egret in a distant tree.

Great crested grebe

Great white egret

drake Goosander

Goosander pair

Female Goosander

Same bird

Another drake Goosander

Great crested grebe

Bewick's Swan

Bewick's with a wigeon

Female Goldeneye

Another shot of a Bewick's

Wigeon drake

Very distant Caspian gull. Huge crop

sleeping Smew, female.

Drake pochard

Egyptian goose

Another Bewick's swan

Female Smew

Smew and Egyptian goose

Dunlin with female Teal

Shovelers on ice

Drake shoveler

Black headed gull on ice

A very distant Fox. About 3/4 of a mile away

Drake Teal

Friday 6 January 2023

Tring Reservoirs and Stockers Lake 06.01.23

 Early start to Tring. First stop was Tescos for a coffee on the outskirts of Tring where a flock of Siskins were feeding in half light at 7.45am on Alder cones in the car park.

Off to Wilstone, the largest of the reservoirs and and a wander around the the hide. Light slowly got better but we knew birds would be distant so had left the cameras in the car. Usual fare: Shovelers, Teal, Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Pochards, Greylags, Canada geese, Cormorants and Lapwings. Upon leaving the hide, great views of a Goldcrest. Rick had a Med gull which wasn't seen again as we checked all the Black headed gulls

Further around we stopped to scan the far bank, a Green sandpiper was our only wader of the day (apart from the 100's of Lapwings.) A check on the trees here but just a Blue tit. Back to the car and a drive around to Startops, Marsworth and Tringford Reservoirs.

Nothing noteworthy on Startops, 2 pairs of very distant Goldeneye on Marsworth and 4 Little egrets, several Grey herons and a Great white egret at Tringford.

From here, back to Tescos for another coffee and then a walk around the entire perimeter of Stocker's Lake near Rickmansworth. Rose ringed parakeets were ubiquitous, shovelers a plenty, Long tailed tits everywhere, more Grey herons and a Water rail heard from the footpath.

Good numbers of Great crested grebe, before a trip back to the car and home for 4.30pm with a good trip along the M25.

Species List:

  1. Great crested grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey heron
  4. Little egret
  5. Great white egret
  6. Mute swan
  7. Greylag goose
  8. Canada goose
  9. Mallard
  10. Gadwall
  11. Wigeon
  12. Teal
  13. Shoveler
  14. Tufted duck
  15. Goldeneye
  16. Red kite
  17. Common buzzard
  18. Sparrowhawk
  19. Red legged partridge
  20. Water rail (heard)
  21. Moorhen
  22. Coot
  23. Lapwing
  24. Green sandpiper
  25. Black headed gull
  26. Common gull
  27. Herring gull
  28. Lesser black backed gull
  29. Mediterranean Gull
  30. Wood pigeon
  31. Collared dove
  32. Rose ringed parakeet
  33. Pied wagtail
  34. Goldcrest
  35. Robin
  36. Wren
  37. Blackbird
  38. Redwing
  39. Long tailed tit
  40. Great tit
  41. Blue tit
  42. Chaffinch
  43. Goldfinch
  44. Linnet
  45. Siskin
  46. House sparrow
  47. Starling
  48. Jay (heard)
  49. Magpie
  50. Carrion crow
  51. Rook
  52. Jackdaw.    In total, 10 year listers.
Hybrid drake mallard x ?

Drake Pochard

Grey heron

Shoveler drake


Grey squirrel

Great crested grebe

Mute swan

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Year List 2023 Updated 08.08.23


Drake Gadwall having a wash. Shoveler Hide, Stanstead Innings

Jay at food near the yacht club, Stanstead Innings

  1. Great crested grebe
  2. Little grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Grey heron
  5. Mute swan
  6. Greylag goose
  7. Canada goose
  8. Shelduck
  9. Egyptian goose
  10. Mallard
  11. Gadwall
  12. Teal
  13. Shoveler
  14. Red crested pochard (Amwell 02.01.23)
  15. Tufted duck
  16. Pochard
  17. Red Kite
  18. Common buzzard
  19. Kestrel
  20. Pheasant
  21. Moorhen
  22. Coot
  23. Lapwing
  24. Black headed gull
  25. Herring gull
  26. Lesser black backed gull
  27. Common gull
  28. Stock dove
  29. Wood pigeon
  30. Collared dove
  31. Green woodpecker
  32. Great spotted woodpecker
  33. Lesser spotted woodpecker (Rye Meads 02.01.23)
  34. Dunnock
  35. Robin
  36. Wren
  37. Cetti's warbler
  38. Blackcap
  39. Blackbird
  40. Song thrush
  41. Mistle thrush
  42. Redwing
  43. Long tailed tit
  44. Great tit
  45. Blue tit
  46. Coal tit
  47. Chaffinch
  48. Goldfinch
  49. House sparrow
  50. Starling
  51. Jay
  52. Magpie
  53. Rook
  54. Carrion crow
  55. Jackdaw
  56. Goldcrest (St Mary's Churchyard, Dunmow)
  57. Nuthatch (St Mary's Churchyard, Dunmow)
  58. Siskin (Grange Paddock)
  59. Grey wagtail (Grange Paddocks)
  60. Kingfisher (Grange Paddocks)
  61. Linnets (Hadham Hall)
  62. Skylark (Hadham Hall)
  63. Great white egret (Tring)
  64. Little egret (Tring)
  65. Wigeon (Stockers Lake)
  66. Goldeneye (Tring)
  67. Sparrowhawk (Tring)
  68. Red legged partridge (Wareside)
  69. Water rail (heard Stockers Lake)
  70. Green sandpiper (Tring)
  71. Rose ringed parakeet (Stockers Lake)
  72. Pied wagtail (Tring)
  73. Meadow pipit (Stansted airport Lagoons)
  74. Treecreeper (Much Hadham)
  75. Fieldfare (Perry Green)
  76. Raven (Sidehill Wood, Much Hadham)
  77. Bearded Reedling (Rye Meads RSPB)
  78. Greenfinch (Southern Country Park)
  79. Tawny Owl (Hatfield Forest)
  80. Hawfinch (Hatfield Forest)
  81. Smew (Abberton)
  82. Great Northern diver (Abberton)
  83. Long tailed duck (Abberton)
  84. Redshank (Abberton)
  85. Great black backed gull (Abberton)
  86. Dunlin (Abberton)
  87. Goldeneye (Abberton)
  88. Ringed plover (Abberton)
  89. Caspian gull (Abberton)
  90. Black necked grebe (Abberton)
  91. Goosander (Abberton)
  92. Black tailed godwit (Abberton)
  93. Bewick's swan (Abberton)
  94. Stonechat (Abberton)
  95. Bullfinch (Little Hadham)
  96. Pink footed goose (Wells)
  97. Pintail (Cley)
  98. Marsh Harrier (Cley)
  99. Avocet (Cley)
  100. Snipe (Cley)
  101. Bittern (flew over road at Cley)
  102. Curlew (Blakeney)
  103. Oystercatcher (Wells)
  104. Common scoter (Holkham)
  105. Firecrest (Holkham)
  106. Grey Partridge (Holkham)
  107. Turnstone (Brancaster)
  108. Marsh Tit (Sculthorpe Moor)
  109. Lesser Redpoll (Sculthorpe Moor)
  110. Mealy Redpoll (Sculthorpe Moor)
  111. Sparrowhawk (Stanstead Innings)
  112. Chiffchaff (Little Hadham)
  113. Yellowhammer (Little Hadham)
  114. Little Owl (Little Hadham)
  115. Barn owl (Little Hadham)
  116. Ruff (Heybridge Basin)
  117. Golden plover (Heybridge Basin)
  118. Grey Plover (East Mersea)
  119. Black Redstart (Brightlingsea)
  120. Bar Tailed godwit (Heybridge Basin)
  121. Mandarin (Westland Green)
  122. Gannet (Holkham beach)
  123. White fronted geese (Holkham Freshmarsh)
  124. Shore Lark (Holkham beach)
  125. Snow bunting (Cley beach car park)
  126. Sanderling (Titchwell beach)
  127. Spoonbill (Cley Reserve)
  128. Whooper swan (Titchwell)
  129. Brent goose (Brancaster)
  130. Red breasted merganser (Holkham beach)
  131. Mediterranean Gull (Titchwell)
  132. Sandwich tern (Dungeness)
  133. Fulmar (Dungeness)
  134. Willow warbler (SAL)
  135. Swallow (SAL)
  136. House martin (SAL)
  137. Woodcock (over garden)
  138. Sedge warbler (Stort Navigation)
  139. Reed warbler (Stort Navigation)
  140. Whitethroat (Spellbrook)
  141. Little Ringed plover (Lea Valley)
  142. Common Tern (Lea Valley)
  143. Nightingale (heard, Lea Valley)
  144. Reed Bunting (Stort Navigation)
  145. Wheatear (Kelling Quags)
  146. Ring Ouzel (Warham Greens)
  147. Lesser whitethroat (Warham Greens)
  148. Garden warbler (Warham Greens)
  149. Sand Martin (Kelling quags)
  150. Temminck's Stint (Titchwell)
  151. Cuckoo (Titchwell)
  152. Wood Lark (Kelling Heath)
  153. Common sandpiper (Titchwell)
  154. Whinchat (Kelling Quags)
  155. Great white egret (Lakenheath)
  156. Swift (Lakenheath)
  157. Hobby (Lakenheath)
  158. Stone curlew (Weeting Heath)
  159. Whimbrel (Rye Harbour)
  160. Peregrine (Dungeness)
  161. Cattle egret (Dungeness)
  162. Garganey (Filey Dams)
  163. Red Grouse (North York Moors)
  164. Shag (Flamborough Head)
  165. Honey Buzzard (Wykeham Forest)
  166. Kittiwake (Bempton Cliffs)
  167. Puffin (Bempton Cliffs)
  168. Guillemot (Bempton Cliffs)
  169. Razorbill (Bempton Cliffs)
  170. Bee Eater (Hightor Low)
  171. Yellow Wagtail (Hightor Low)
  172. Grasshopper Warbler (Flamborough Head)
  173. Willow Tit (Wykeham Forest)
  174. Tree Sparrow (Bempton Cliffs)
  175. Common Crossbill (Wykeham Forest)
  176. Manx shearwater (Cley beach)
  177. Cory's Shearwater (Cley beach)
  178. Sooty Shearwater (Cley beach)
  179. Curlew sandpiper (Cley)
  180. Wood sandpiper (Cley)
  181. Red throated diver (Cley)
Siskin, Grange Paddocks

Kingfisher, River Stort

Treecreeper, Mill Wood, Much Hadham

Bewick's swan at Abberton

Goldeneye, Abberton

Female Goosander, Abberton

Drake Goosander, Abberton

Smew, possible 1st year male with Pochard, Abberton

Covey of Grey partridge by the cafe at Holkham

Sparrow hawk at Stanstead Innings

Guillemot at Bempton Cliffs

Puffin at Bempton

Fulmar on the cliff updraft


Tree Sparrow

Black Redstart

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

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. 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. 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. 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

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