Sunday, 6 January 2019

Brecks and Welney

Yesterday after my first visit of the year to Whitlingham Alysia and I headed first to Long Stratton, no sign of any Waxwings there so we continued on to Lynford.

In the car park a flock of around 60 Siskin were in the trees towards the gravel pits. 

On the pits themselves a single Drk Goosander, Goldeneye and a few Tufted Ducks. I think the high number of dogs running around were keeping most birds away.

We then walked into the Arboretum, it was very quiet with regards to any calling birds, the first set of feeders were very busy though.

Around 40 Brambling were enjoying the seed and a drink.

Still very quiet by the second set of feeders by the bridge and only a handful of birds collecting food.

No sign of any Hawfinches in the paddock so we headed over the to other bridge, a lovely Little Grebe on the way.

Although the birds were quiet it was very useful to be able to hear the raining of seed husks from the large flock of around 210 silent Siskin above us.

At the second bridge this Treecreeper was moving around and two Crossbill flew over.

We then walked backed to the paddock and got lucky with 6 Hawfinches.

Next stop was Welney in the car park were House and Tree Sparrow, then from the main hide was this beast.

We arrived and the Ring-necked Duck was right in front of us, so great to see it up close. 

We then stayed in the hide for the rest of the day watching the Ring-necked Duck amongst the 100's of Pochard. 

This Ringed Teal also looked happy.

We stayed for the evening feed to and watched the many Whooper Swans coming in to roost.

Friday, 4 January 2019

January Bird Race in Numbers

Yes, as per every other year I headed out on a hunt for as many species as possible on the first day of the year.

Started at dawn at Titchwell and wriggled around Norfolk ending at Hickling. As per all recent years Adam joined me and this year we reached 118 species which was great (one more than my initial count that I posted on Twitter).

Rather than bore you about all the birds we saw as we went around Norfolk, I will bore you with stats from the last 22 years instead. (FYI all stats refer to the 1st January only and the number of years is based out of the 22 years that I have attemped a bird race)

Dawn at the beach at Titchwell

This year saw one of the mighty fallen, Little Grebe was not seen on the first, this was the first time in 22 years that it had been missed, bringing the total of birds seen every year down to 39.

Was also the first time in 8 years that Avocet wasn't recorded. Ringed Plover and Ruff were also not seen leaving all of them tied on 14 years out of 22 to be seen.

With exception of Little Grebe 85 species seen this year have all been recorded for 15 years or more

The 12th year Merlin has been recorded on the first, the 2nd time it was seen at Titchwell.

This Merlin was actually very cool as we got to watch a long chase of a Meadow Pipit.....who won who knows? They both dived into cover neither came back out, I feel it was the Merlin.

The 14th time that Water Rail has been seen

This Mottled Umber and a Winter Moth were a momentary distraction.

Also at Titchwell, on the sea the Black-throated Diver was the first for 8 years, Red-necked Grebe was the 3rd time it was recorded (we had two together and a 3rd flew past), Slavonian Grebe also made its 7th appearance. All of the above were on the sea as was a Great Northern diver before sunrise, all these birds flew off west.

My 5th record of Peregrine at Titchwell was also great as it chased around the Lapwing. Also saw my 6th Cetti's Warbler which interestingly has 5 records in the last 6 years and only one in the previous 16.

Other birds missed during the day were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ruff and Grey Partridge also seen on 14 previous occasions.

Other gems seen.... Grey Wagtail my 2nd ever, 3rd Great White Egret and 3rd Firecrest. Also my 4th Red Kite (3rd in 4 years which would suit their recent trend in Norfolk), 5th Chiffchaff and Rock Pipit to.

This female Scaup that we found on Hickling Broad was only my 3rd record

10th time seeing Cranes

Hickling broad at sunset also the site of my 116th bird of the day...Canada Goose!!!

Best bird of the day was of course the male Hen Harrier at Hickling, but the best bird of the day in terms of stats was.......

.....the Dipper, it was my 181st (got an armchair Bean Goose tick after the split if any eagle eyed followers remembered that Greenshank last year was my 179th) 1st January bird.

The Dipper now joins the other 26 one year wonders like Western Sandpiper, Ross's Gull and Northern Harrier and some of the lesser one year wonders like Little Owl and Goosander.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Worth a Post

Been wanting to start writing my blog again for a while, but really was unsure where to start.

So finding a great rare is a great opportunity.

On Saturday strong northerly winds were forecast so Alysia and I headed out on the hope of finding some migrants, knowing that nearly 95% of all other birders will be squished in a shelter somewhere I felt Burnham Overy Dunes would be a great spot to start at dawn. 

We arrived in twilight and started to walk out, a few Redwings, Fieldfares and a Ring Ouzel flew over us. Meadow Pipits and Starlings were also on the move.

To be honest it was actually a really quiet on the walk out, the wind was very strong and cold and I think most birds were being grounded by the constant rain showers. We did get to count 185 Little Egrets coming out of roost though. We occasionally flushed the odd Reed Bunting, Redwing and Song Thrush that was taking shelter next to the path and just before reaching the dunes a flyby Woodcock was great to see.

We got to the dunes and rain was then easing and the southern edge was relatively sheltered from the wind, we walked west towards gun hill.

I then heard three Fieldfare that were overhead and then heard an unusual call from just behind me it wasn't a call I had heard before. 

I turned to try and view the bird this mystery call had come from, straight away I was onto a Fieldfare sized and shaped bird at eye height around 10m away flying in front of the saltmarsh Suaeda the most striking feature at this point was the large solid black throat. The next thing I noticed was the uniform grey back with the wings, back and rump. It was only brief but the bird was flying slowly into the wind allowing 4-5 seconds of decent close views. Still managed to shout out BLACK-THROATED THRUSH within a split second of seeing it so that Lis could also get on to it.

The Thrush kept flying and landed in the "Spectacled Warbler" bushes, we walked on in hope to get a view of the Thrush as re approach we could see the Thrush hopping up the bush it was in, views still distant and before I could get the scope set up, the three Fieldfare took off and the Thrush followed, it appeared to go down over Gun Hill. 

We walked slowly up to the top of the hill and scanned around but had no joy in relocating, we walked around a little and while we were then discussing what way to walk around the dunes the Thrush called and was flying above us. It circled closely above us twice before it then flew directly south inland.

Although all views were brief we manged to note all of the id features on this cracking bird.

Lis done this wonderful drawing.

After this we carried on looking around the dunes and walked up to Holkham Pines and the Joe Jordan Hide. We saw 3 more Woodcock, Snow Bunting (which seemly went down a rabbit hole), 2 Crossbill, 3 Sparrowhawk, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Redpoll and a Brambling. I do feel that more migrants could of been out there, but they were to wet and tired they had to be nearly stood on before seeing them.

We did manage a 30min stint looking at the sea off Burnham and saw some nice Pomarine Skua's, Eider and Scoter.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Whitlingham in January

Whitlingham Lane and Thorpe Marshes and all the bits in-between are my new patch and I made 5 visits during January and started a year list.

As part of my effort to catch up on my blog posts here's each species seen throughout January

Mute Swan - Seen on each visit the highest count 24
Greylag Goose - Seen 4 out of 5 visits highest count 42
Canada Goose - Seen each visit
Egyptian Goose - Seen each visit
Wigeon - 1 drake seen on the 29th January

Gadwall - Seen each visit highest count 125

Teal - Seen 4 out of 5 times highest count 19
Mallard - seen each visit highest count 62
Shoveler - only seen once
Pochard - Seen each time highest count 36

Tufted Duck - Seen each visit highest count 229

Scaup - Seen twice at the start of the month highest count 3

Goldeneye - Female seen twice
Pheasant - seen once
Cormorant - seen each time highest count 46
Grey Heron - seen each time
Little Grebe - seen four out of 5 times highest count 9
Great Crested Grebe - Seen each time highest count 7

Water Rail - Seen (heard) each time, highest count was 9, saw 4 together on the south shore one morning they were really close and chased each other across a ditch, it was very cool.
Moorhen - Seen on every visit
Coot - seen on every visit with a huge count of 256 on the 22nd

Lapwing - a flock of 28 flew and circled for a while over the Great Broad on the 5th
Black-headed Gull - seen each visit with a high count of 238
Common Gull - seen four out of the five visits with a high count of 36
Lesser Black-backed Gull - seen four out of five times with only 1 bird each time
Herring Gull - Seen every visit highest count was 13
Stock Dove - two birds seen once
Woodpigeon - seen each visit
Tawny Owl - heard once mid afternoon in the woods
Kingfisher - seen three out of five visits 
Green Woodpecker - Recorded three out of five visits 
Great Spotted Woodpecker - Recorded three out of five visits 
Magpie - Seen four out of five visits
Jay - seen twice
Jackdaw - seen every visit with a high count of 65.
Carrion Crow - Seen every visit with a high count of 25
Goldcrest - Seen three out of five visits
Blue Tit - seen each visit with 24 recorded on the 29th
Great Tit - seen four out of five visits
Coal Tit - seen once
Cetti's Warbler - recorded on two visits
Long-tailed Tit - seen four out of five times with the highest number counted 26
Nuthatch - seen twice with three counted on the 15th
Treecreeper - Recorded twice
Blackbird -  seen on three out of five visits
Wren - seen on three out of five visits
Song Thrush - seen four out of five visits with a high count of 9
Redwing - seen only twice with a high of 3 birds only
Mistle Thrush - seen one with 3 birds flying over the Great Broad on the 22nd
Robin - seen on each visit with a high count of 8
Dunnock - seen on each visit with a high count of 9
Chaffinch - seen three time with a high count of 10 birds
Brambling - 2 birds seen on the 29th
Greenfinch - seen three out of the five visits with a high count of 12
Grey Wagtail - 2 birds seen on the 29th
Pied Wagtail - seen on three out of the five visits
Goldfinch - seen four out of the five visits
Siskin - seen on each visit with a high count of 36

Lesser Redpoll - seen twice high count of only 2 birds
Bullfinch - a single bird seen on the 29th
Reed Bunting - a single bird seen on the 29th

During the visit on the 22nd most of the Great Broad was frozen which lead to some great views of the ducks on the remaining open parts. Below are some additional photos from those above.

So all in all a good start to the year with 62 species seen and great views of some.