Sunday, 7 February 2016

Buckenham/Strumpshaw Fen back to roots birding, and the Patch

I have a friend (Alysia) that wanted to go birding she said she has a strong interest but said she didn't know any. She lives in the city so I thought Strumpshaw Fen RSPB reserve would be the best place to take her.

I picked her up at around 8.30 and after passing through Brundall we see two Jay and Egyptian Geese, this is where I realise she doesn't not know any but actually knows must common birds.

We park at Strumpshaw and then head for Buckenham walking along the road the first bird we see is a Grey Wagtail flying away from a roadside dyke into the sunshine.

Many birds were singing like it was a mid spring morning, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.

Just past the railway line we see two Goldcrest poking around an Ivy covered tree. We carry on seeing more Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins and a Dunnock. Two Buzzards also flew over the road.

We then reach the marshes at Buckenham where the wind was strong and straight away we were onto some Lapwing in the roadside field, the bright sunshine made there backs look the iridescent green they really are.

Starling, Skylarks and a 'in a tree' Moorhen were also seen before a Chinese Water Deer ran from nearby cover and away over the fields.

As we walked down the road a flock of Wigeon came off the river and landed on the field next to the road, we walked up and got a better look whilst listening to their wonderful wee-oo call.

Another scan across the marshes and we saw Greylag and Canada Geese, after this we head up to the river where my old O.S map shows a footpath heading towards Strumpshaw but due to conservation this is now closed. 

So with this we walked back the way we came, walking along I notice all the birds had taken off with huge numbers of Starling and Lapwing flying around that were hidden before in the long grass. Then in the distance other flocks of Lapwing and a large flock of Golden Plover were in the air, I didn't see it but my guess is a Peregrine must of been flying through along the fields.

Before the railway crossing we saw a Pied Wagtail on a cottage roof.

Just past the railway crossing we came across a flock of Long-tailed Tits, this held Goldcrest, other Tits and at least two Treecreeper but though trying these were heard only and not seen,

At Strumpshaw we stopped and the feeders and watched Blue Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit (me only), Robin and Chaffinch all feeding.

After this we had a look from the reception hide the Coots were obvious with around 50 birds on the water in front of the hide.

Then scanning through the other ducks Mallard, Teal....

...and Gadwall were also present.

Further scanning and this very smart looking Cormorant was found sat in the middle of the broad.

This Little Grebe was also spotted hiding in the Reeds.

We left here and headed around the reserve, just before the Fen Hide I heard a Cetti's Warbler this was then spotted by Alysia flying away from the nearby reeds.

At the fen hide we spent a few minutes watching a female Marsh Harrier dancing over the reeds in the strong wind.

We continued round seeing a Great Crested Grebe before walking into two more Treecreeper we got to see these this time after the earlier failed attempt but unfortunately only flying from tree to tree and none of the characteristic creeping despite trying very hard to, they always 'crept up' the wrong side of every tree we tried to see them in.

We then popped into the Tower Hide seeing a large flock of Shoveler and Teal and more Coots.

The walk back to the car was quiet apart from the piggy squeal of two Water Rail from the reed beds.

The last birds of the day were two Mistle Thrush in a tree from the car leaving the reserve.

All in all a good day, it was great to be out with a 'novice' it gets you to re-appreciate those common birds that wouldn't normally get a second look. The company wasn't bad either.

But despite the strong wind we managed to see/hear 49 species, and in systematic order here they are. 

Mute Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Egyptian Goose
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Marsh Harrier
Water Rail
Golden Plover
Black-headed Gull
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Marsh Tit
Cetti's Warbler
Long-tailed Tit
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Grey Wagtail
Pied Wagtail
Meadow Pipit

5th Visit - Pigneys Wood

With such a nice afternoon I felt it would be a waste not to visit the patch. So I headed down to Pigney's as soon as I arrived the sun disappeared and the wind seemed very cold.

The birds were quiet, very quiet, I got a few pings from the Bearded Tits in the reed bed but not a lot else until I got the the wood.

Two Bullfinch flew away before I was straight onto a Treecreeper (ironic after try so hard to see one properly earlier)

Walking futher round I got to see the wintering Chiffchaff again and this Brambling in with a small flock of six Chaffinch.

Pigney's Species this visit 28, total for the year 58.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Hard work - patch work, and Carleton Forehoe

4th Visit to Gimingham this year

It was cold and windy yesterday, although sunny. An after lunch visit to the patch was on the cards, I started in Gimingham where during the week Six Goosanders had been seen (not by me), although none today. 

In general there were hardly any birds, Skylark was new for this bit of the patch for the year.

Also saw my first Snowdrops of the year.


Gimingham - species seen this visit 15, total for the year 39

4th Visit to Trimingham 

Even more wind on the coast, made birding feel near impossible. With all land birds seemingly blown away the sea was my only hope.

On the walk do to the cliff edge a Pied Wagtail was feeding in the field this was new for Trimingham this year. As was the Buzzard that flew from the Middle Wood scaring the Wood Pigeons away.

I got the the cliff and anchored myself down so as to not get blown off. I managed to see one Red-throated Diver and 5 Dunlin on the beach before I gave up due to wind shaking the scope so much.

I walked back along the cliff up to the woods, and about 50 yards from the wood a huge Peregrine flies up over the cliff top nearly hitting me, I guess by size and colour it was a juv female.

This was a actually a year tick and I watched it fly west low along the fields scaring every Pigeon away as it went. It also spooked up a group of 65 Golden Plover.

The wood itself was dead, Wren, Robin and two Goldcrest, the far side of the wood was sheltered so I had another seawatch. 

I was soon onto many more Red-throated Divers and three Guillemot. A patch tick Fulmar flew through also and four Gannets.

Trimingham - species seen this visit 24, total for the year 57.

4th Visit to Pigney's

Very similar to Trimingham with not many birds around although it was getting late in the afternoon so that may contribute to the lack of birds. 

The Bearded Tits were still present, and a Kingfisher was around. 

A couple of bonus birds though with a Grey Wagtail which was new for Pigney's and a Woodcock flew from the undergrowth my first for the year.

Pigneys - species seen this visit 28, total for the year 58.

Carleton Forehoe

Today I was in the city anyway when the message about 2 Hawfinch came on the pager, I like Hawfinch so thought I would have a try.

When I arrived and the whole time I was there I didn't see another birder, I didn't see the Hawfinch's either but the other birds around were great.

I watched a Barn Owl Hunting for most of the time I was there, a Kestrel was far from happy with it and kept trying to chase it away.

A Little Egret fished the river and a pair of Egyptian Geese were making a racket in the fields.

A rather large number of small birds were around with Great, Blue, Long-tailed and Marsh Tit and lots of Chaffinch and Greenfinch. Quiet a few Nuthatch to.

No Hawfinch but a nice peaceful place.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Pallid Harrier and Black Redstart

Wasn't planning on doing much twitching this year but the drawn of Serin and Pallid Harrier in W Norfolk was to tempting.

Both birds are still needed for my photographed list also so I headed out to try my luck on a dark and gloomy Sunday.

I started to head to Downham Market first but with negative news of the Serin I diverted to Flitcham to try for the Pallid Harrier.

I arrived and was instantly blown away with the number of birds flying around. Whilst standing around for two hours I noted maximum counts of at least 20 Tree Sparrow, 100 Brambling, 300 Linnet, many Chaffinch and around 50 Fieldfare.

A Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk and a Red Kite flew through also.

Hen Harrier

So after the two or so hours I decided to get a drink from the car and stretch my legs and halfway down the road I hear a whistle and a yell of 'ITS SHOWING NOW' a ran back to just miss the Pallid. I went to the corner and then got ok but distant view of the Pallid Harrier flying away and having a tussle with a Buzzard.

A distant Pallid Harrier and Buzzard

After the Pallid view I saw a Merlin fly over our headed and across the fields and landed in a distant tree.

I left knowing the fact that I will be able to vastly improve on my Pallid Harrier shot when I see one again.

I headed for Sheringham and pulling in to park my car I was straight onto the target bird a Black Redstart.


It was hoping around the path next to the cliff top and then flew to the houses.

I then went to look for the Purple Sandpipers but had no luck only Turnstones and dogs were on the beach.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

More patch ticks

3rd Visit to Gimingham

On Saturday the Goosanders seem to of gone, The Heron was stood in the field and and a Treecreeper was new for the Gimingham part of the patch.

Gimingham - Species seen this visit 16, Total this year 38.

3rd Visit to Trimingham

A strong NW wind left the fields and Cliff Top woods very quiet. The sea was similar but a small group of Kittiwake were a British year tick. A single Brent goose and two Red-throated Diver were the only other birds on the see.

Just inland out of the wind and in the sun shine a large flock of Finches were nice to see with around 90 birds with half of them Goldfinch, around 30 Chaffinch and 15 Greenfinch. With this I thought that going to Pigneys would be a much better idea.

Trimingham - Species seen this visit 25, Total for the year 52.

3rd Visit to Pigney's

I was right to think that Pigneys would be better the shelter of the land and woods meant some areas of the wood were actually warm and the birds new it.

In one patch of the wood this Redwing sat high up in the tree until a Sparrowhawk flew through, the first Mistle Thrush for the year at site also flew over.

A patch year tick of two Brambling were in the tree tops, and in among the tit Flock was the Chiffchaff and a Marsh Tit.

Three Siskin also fed in the trees above.

The Brearded Tit were still around and a large flock Siskin were feeding in the far side of the reserve, this Lesser Redpoll was not as showy as the Siskin but was nice to see.

This Blackbird also looked smart although I cannot decide if I prefer the Brown or Blue background.

This Jay sat calling before a flock of Linnet flew over.

Pigney's - Species seen this visit 34, Total for the year 47

4th Visit to Pigney's

A really pleasant frosty dawn walk around the Woods.

Not much happened but these Pink-footed Geese flew over.

It was great to see a pair of both Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker in the woods.

The seven Bullfinch were also great to see. 

But the bird bird of the day was a Little Owl which is a British year tick.

Pigney's - Species seen this visit 46, Total for the year 56

Total for the Patch this year 88 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Last Sundays Patch Visit

2nd Visit to Ebridge 

Not a bad visit nothing unexpected but the Little Egret seen was a patch year tick. Grey Heron, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Starling and this Kestrel were new birds for the year at Ebridge.

A small flock of Siskin/Redpoll were also good to see flying around and these Roe Deer were nice to see

Ebridge - This visit 28 species and total for year 35

2nd Visit to Pigney's Wood

A nice walk around Pigney's with Water Rail being added to the patch year list, was nice to see the Bearded Tits again.

Other new birds added to the site were Herring Gull, Skylark, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit and Greenfinch.

The Chiffchaff was still around and a mobile flock of around 26 Siskin had lost its Lesser Redpoll companions.

Pigneys - This visit 31 species and total for year 44

Total Species for the Patch 83

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Good Day on the Patch

2nd Visit to Gimingham

Started the day at Gimingham and was pleased to see that the Goosander from last week had found some friends and now 4 Goosander were present.


A Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail were also nice to see. I did watch a Buzzard that was walking around a field seemingly eating worms which was interesting.  

Only other birds of note were Collard Dove, Stock Dove, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and a small flock of Long-tailed Tit which were all Patch year ticks.

Gimingham - This Visit 36 species, total for the year 37

2nd Visit to Trimingham

I walked across the fields as always and saw 5 Red-legged Partridge which were a patch year tick. I then scanned through the Gulls that were sat in the field as came across a patch first and although I saw 6 flying along the sea last week this was the first time I have ever seen Shelduck on the ground within the patch.

I then continued and had a look at the sea which was empty apart from a few Great Black-backed Gulls. I then heard a Gull call from behind me I recognised it and could see the bird flying along the field it was a Mediterranean Gull a year tick for the patch.

I turned back to sea and concentrated on the shore line as the tide was out, A wader fest in terms of Trimingham with 8 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling and a Grey Plover all patch year ticks. A Cormorant flew through which was an additional patch year tick.

I then scanned through the Gulls on the beach and picked out a year tick 4 Little Gulls sitting in a channel made from the incoming tide and they soon flew off when a dog tried to eat them.

I then walked along the cliff top and some shooting in the distance behind made me turn round and flying over (not being shot) was a flock of 18 Pintail a Patch lifer!!!!

I got one more year tick just before heading into the wood, a chance look on the sea and I spotted a distant dark bird, and once scoped I could see it was a Great Skua, it was about a mile out so the picture is not that bad.

Trimingham - This visit 34 species, total for the year 49

First visit - Witton Church

Apart from my first Bullfinch for this area of the patch there was nothing that exciting for the first visit to Witton Church, the usual common stuff plus a flock of 350 Golden Plover and a single Lapwing. 

Witton Church - This visit and total species 22

First visit - Witton Woods

There is a reason I don't head to the woods much in the winter, its really hard work to see any birds.

Today was no exception seeing hardly any birds at all, Mostly Woodpigeon with a handful of Goldcrest and a few Siskin flying over.

Witton Woods - This visit and Total species 18

Total for all the patch this year 81