Saturday, 11 May 2013

Turtle Dove is the highlight in a 140 big list Norfolk day

Once again it was the May Bank Holiday and Adam and I had planned our big list day. I picked Adam up at just before 4am and we headed to Santon Downham where we started our day with a mist in the air and a big base beat in the distance (we original expected to find a rave in the wood but it was actually a very loud stereo with one lonely tent).
We walk towards the river adding Carrion Crow (2) this being our second bird having seen Tawny Owl (1) along the way.


Along the river we saw Moorhen (3), Mute Swan (4), Wren (5), Blue Tit (6), Treecreeper (7) and Wood Pigeon (8). I then heard a 'forgotten call' high in the trees it was in fact a Fieldfare (9) possibly my latest ever record. The next bird with and almost Nightingale type song was a Willow Tit (10) showed well briefly before flying off.

We then heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker (11) but this bird remained a heard only.  A Kestrel (12) flew past and Adam spotted a Kingfisher (13) sat on a nearby branch.

By this point we had reached our furthest point along the river Jackdaws (14) and Rooks (15) flew around overhead. Stock Doves (16) were displaying to each other. A pair of Mandarin (17) landed near us and Mallard (18) and Greylag (19) were further up stream.

It was now about 5.45am and the loudest part of the dawn chorus was over and birds were now on the move a few Siskin (20) flew over and Long-tailed Tits (21) were feeding in the tree tops. Nuthatch (22), Great Tit (23) and Chaffinch (24) were also now about and Starlings (25) were flying from the undergrowth with food in their beaks.

We the started to walk back seeing a Blackcap (26), Blackbird (27) and Whitethroat (28) along the way.

This Wren sang from right above our heads.

The mist started to lift as the air warmed up. The Temperature actually ranged from 1.5 deg C in the morning to 21.5 deg C late afternoon.

We made it back to the road and in the trees were Adam spotted two pairs of Crossbill (29) (they always seem to be in the same tree each time I go to Santon Downham), a Water Rail (30) called from the reeds but could not me seen.

From here headed towards the heathy meadow just over the railway line in the hope to see the Cuckoo that had been calling from that direction. On the short walk over we added Marsh Tit (31) and Jay (32). We scanned over the meadow and could see a Robin (33) on the path and Coal Tit (34) was looking for breakfast above out heads. A short walk onto the meadow and we got to see a Yellowhammer (35).

We walked back to the car and a Magpie (36) flew over and a Garden Warbler (37) sang in a nearby bush.

We then drove down to the main car park seeing a small party of Pheasants (38) in the fields and a Grey Heron (39) flew over.

We get to the car park and as we get out of the car a small flock of Goldfinch (40) fly away from nearby bushes. A Song Thrush (41) sings from the top of a nearby tree. We then walk towards the Church adding Greenfinch (42) and Lesser Redpoll (43), a Pied Wagtail (44) then flies over and a Collared Dove (45) sits on top of the nearby house. A Chiffchaff (46) feed next to us before giving a bust of song and a Cormorant (47) flies over.

We walk along the river as a Grey Wagtail (48) flies past and a few Rock Dove (Feral Pigeons) (49) fly over head. Then the next bird was a shock as a male Ring Ouzel (50) sat right in the top of a distant tree.

Before leaving a Lesser Black-backed Gull (51) flew over and a Goldcrest (52) was heard but not seen.

Our next stop was just up the road at Grime's Grave here we saw 5/6 Tree Pipits (53) and a Willow Warbler (54) before moving along.

We headed for Weeting seeing House Sparrow (55) in the village and Lapwing (56) just out of the village. We did hear a Lesser Whitethroat calling from the roadside hedgerows but it was not in a safe place to stop the car to have a look. A Stone Curlew (57) was in a field right next to the road so we drove past slowly for a look so as not to disturb it, Red-legged Partridge (58) was also in the area as we headed for Hockwold.

At Hockwold being careful not to look into Suffolk we saw Coot (59), Great Created Grebe (60), Tufted Duck (62) Gadwall (63), Shoveler (64), Reed Bunting (65), Swallow (66) Sand Martin (67), Linnet (68), House Martin (69), Skylark (70), Reed Warbler (71) and Adam found the best bird here in the shape of a Barn Owl (72) that was hunting the marshes.

We carry on an go to Welney WWT, about 1 mile from the visitor centre we stop to have a look at a field of gulls and added Black-headed Gull (73), Great Black-backed Gull (74) and Herring Gull (75). A little further up the road 4 Whooper Swans (76) were in amongst 15 Mutes.

We then got to the visitors centre, a Sedge Warbler (77) did a parachute flight and a Yellow Wagtail (78) flew overhead. We then walked down to the main hide we I took the below picture with last year on the same day for comparison on the left.

From the main hide we added Redshank (79), Avocet (80), Bar-tailed Godwit (81) , Common Sandpiper (82) and Shelduck (83) before we walked to the Buxton Hide to look for a reported Great White Egret.

We scanned over the reserve seeing Little Egret (84), Common Tern (85) and Wigeon (86), after ten minutes or so we were about to move on when I then spotted the Great White Egret (87) in the distance. We then went to the Allport hide for a better look before going back to the visitors centre.

On last look from reception hide and we added Teal (89) and Common Buzzard (90). We spent the next ten minutes looking for Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting around the car park but had no luck so moved on headed for Pentney GP.

Driving through Welney village a small dyke had a Little Grebe (91) in it and in the village of Fincham a Red Kite (92) flew over the car.

We got to Pentney and straight away we could hear a Lesser Whitethroat (93) and it wasn't long until we could see it in a nearby bush.

The next bird spotted in the field was a Mistle Thrush (94) and behind this flying over the pit I spotted a Tern, and with its dark grey under parts, short blood red bill, dumpy neck it was in fact an Arctic Tern (95). Further looks around the pit and we could see Little Ringed Plover (96), Egyptian Goose (97), Oystercatcher (98) and Common Gull (99).

We then left and as we travelled along the road a female Redstart (100) flew across the road in front of us. We continued and headed for Roydon Common.

Before getting to the Common a Dunnock (101) flew along side the car in Roydon Village. At Roydon Common a flock of 15 or so Whimbrel (102) flew over us. A Cuckoo started to call and we soon located it on top of a tree over the far side of the Air Field. Adam then found a Wheatear (103) in the far field and from the top of the hill we scanned around. I spotted a male Stonechat (105) in the distance but we had no luck in finding any Woodlark that we had hoped for. We then met a couple that told us they had heard Woodlark further along the path. We felt it was worth losing a bit more time looking so headed off. There was no sign of any Woodlark although we got to see Curlew (106) and Sparrowhawk (107) before heading back to the car.

From Roydon we went to Flitcham, driving along the approach road we got to see Grey Partridge (108). I thought I heard a brief call from a Turtle Dove so we pull over, no sign nor sound of the potential dove but a Marsh Harrier (109) flew over.

We had a look around the 'fallen oak' but there was no sign of the Little Owls, although a cracking Long-tailed Tit nest is just outside the hide. We left the hide Owl-less and walk towards the farm and got to see two Tree Sparrow (110) fly over, and with that we carried on.

We got to Chosley and instantly could hear a Corn Bunting (111) singing. I jumped out of the car and headed to the concrete pad for a look. I soon saw the Corn Bunting in the hedgerow. We waited a few minutes so Adam could see the bird. In the mean time I started looking around when I spotted what looked like a small dove next to a Wood Pigeon in a far tree. I went and got the scope and sure enough it was a Turtle Dove ! (112) I love Turtle Dove and was really pleased to see it. Another man there said he didn't even see one last year and was really chuffed we had told him. With that we skipped onwards to Titchwell.

Titchwell is a chance to see quiet a few new birds, ducks and waders mainly. We start off by seeing a female Pochard (113) on the Thornham pool. We then hear but can not see a Grasshopper Warbler (114) from beside the pool.

Walking towards the freshmarsh Little Terns (115) fly overhead and a almost summer plumage Grey Plover is on the Thornham Marsh. The Fresh Marsh itself has a pair of Red-crested Pochard (117) aswell as Pintail (118), Ringed Plover (119), Turnstone (120), Ruff (121) and Dunlin (122). A skein of Pink-footed Geese (123) fly over the Brancaster Golf Club House, and Adam then spots a Knot (124) amongst the many Black-tailed Godwit.. I then hear a ping being carried in the wind, and as I look towards Island Hide four male Bearded Tits (125) fly around and around chasing each other.

We move on and over the Brackish marsh a Meadow Pipit (126) is flying around and then a few Brent Geese (127) also fly over. We spot a further 20 or so Brents on Thornham Marsh before going to look at the sea.

At the sea it all happened really fast, Adam spots a Sandwich Tern (128) and as I then see that I spot the two Long-tailed Ducks (129) flying in, they happen to land next to a female Eider (130). Not long after this Adam finds the huge flock of Common Scoter (131) out towards to windmills and a Gannet (132) diving into the sea.

We stopped scanning and walked back not adding any new birds until we reached the scrubby bits where we got to see a Cetti's Warbler (133) creeping about a bramble bush after it made itself known with its loud call.

We walked around the fen trail but only got to see this Robin.

It was now 5pm time had whizzed past are plan was to end the day at Salthouse so we headed that direction. A look at Holkham and we got to see a Spoonbill (134) fly past. We spotted at Morston but it had clearly been very busy there and no birds could be seen.

I felt our greatest chance of adding a few birds would be Kelling Heath and hearing a Nightingale along the way we felt good. Kelling didn't give us the birds we were hoping for but we did get to see Bullfinch (135) and Green Woodpecker (136).

After this we went to Salthouse and scanned the fence posts but saw nothing, so with fading light we went to Cley and sat on the bank at the visitors centre. I found a Green Sandpiper (137) on crikets marsh and Adam found a Short-eared Owl (138) flying away from us over towards Blakeney Freshmarsh.

With the day coming to a close we went to Salthouse heath and got to see and listen to this wonderful Nightingale (139).

Whilst watching the Nightingale a Hobby (140) caught us by suprise flying low over our heads.

We walked up the road to find a spot to wait and see if any Nightjar had appeared and whilst we waited a deep thrush like call came from the gorse and out popped our second Ring Ouzel of the day.

We spent the remainder of the evening watching the light fade away, sitting on the heath listening to the Nightingale before a five minute madness of at least 5 Tawny Owls having a dispute, we did get excited once when the Nightingale managed a deep churring call.

All in all a great day listing and 17 different species were seen last year that weren't this year. Maybe next year we will hit that magic 150.

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