Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Norfolk Bird Race 2014

Adam, James and I took part in our own little 'big list' day once again. We traveled around 220 miles and walked at least 15.5 (worked it out on google earth) starting at 5am in Santon Downham and ending at 9.15pm at Salthouse it was a tough long day but well worth it. 

Here's the story of the day and the numbers of every bird, at one point the numbers will become incorrect and the end total will be one out this is because we saw a Ruddy Duck but I am not saying where, so here it goes...

I picked up Adam at 3.30am and we both saw our first bird within minutes as a female Pheasant sat on the side of the road. I got  James at 4am and we headed to Santon Downham we got there just before 5am with a temperature of -1 deg C. 

I believed the cold hampered the birds and they didn't seem overly vocal or active but we still did alright, the first bird heard was a Cuckoo (2) this one of five heard only birds. We walked along the river towards the Lesser Spot site. We saw a pair of Mallard (3) on the river and a Waterail (4) flew from the river side and across the river. We then added Blackbird, Kestrel, Wren, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Treecreeper, Blue Tit and Little Grebe (12). Then our first surprise of the day as a Turtle Dove (NC (Not Counting as seen later)) started to call, we actually heard a few Turtle Doves on our day which to me must be good news.

We continued to tick off the commoner species at the far end of the river Great Tit, Green Woodpecker (Heard Only), Mandarin, Nuthatch, Cormorant, Stock Dove, Lesser Black-backed Gull (19) and finally a Willow Tit (20) before we walked back along the river.

On the walk back a small flock of Crossbill (21) flew over as did a Grey Wagtail (22) and a Magpie (23). As we approached the bridge a Pied Wagtail (24) was sat on the river and a Reed Bunting (25) was in nearby bush, then in quick concession we added Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Moorhen Robin and Siskin (32). Another flock of Crossbill were sat in a distant tree with and flock of Lesser Redpolls (33), and a Long-tailed Tit (34) passed by.

We then walked the other side of the railway and added Chiffchaff (35) and on the walk back to the car a Bullfinch (36) flew over. A lucky 'relief in the bushes' got me views of a Garden Warbler (37) that the others only heard. Jackdaw (38) and Blackcap (39) were also added before we headed down to the car park at Santon Downham.

We got to the car park and straight away we could hear a Tree Pipit (40) it took some time but we eventually saw it.

We then walked along the river and saw a Song Thrush (41) sing from the top of a tree in the Rectory Garden. We added Goldcrest (42) in the nearby pines and heard a Coal Tit (43) also.

We walked back to the car seeing a Whitethroat (44) before heading to Lynford.

Lynford was looking picturesque.

Straight away we were onto a flock of Crossbill and it wasn't long until the good male Two-barred Crossbill (45) dropped down onto the puddle for a drink and the 'iffy' male also joined him. (shame the good one flew off before I could take the picture)

We then set off to walk around the paddock as a Wood Warbler had been reported the afternoon before. On the way to and around the paddock we added Canada Goose, Greylag, Tufted Duck, Mistle Thrush, Marsh Tit, Yellowhammer, Mute Swan and Swallow (53) but no sign of the Wood Warbler.

We also saw the flower which I think is a Common Meadow-Rue

We got lucky near the Folly and added a Firecrest (54) before heading over to the gravel pits, here we saw Egyptian Goose, Black-headed Gull, Shelduck, Gadwall, Willow Warbler and Great Crested Grebe (L)

We then drove to Weeting Heath seeing Collard Dove and House Sparrow (62) in the village and a Skylark (63) flying over the carpark. From the hide a Stone Curlew (64) was eating a mole that it had stolen from a Jackdaw. Rook and Lapwing (66) were also in the field and we the headed for Hockwold.

RSPB Lakenheath has changed and you now have to walk through half of Suffolk to see the Norfolk Hockwold washes. This made worse be the fact that the wash itself was quiet with bird life. Hobby being the highlight we added Common Tern, Coot, Teal, Shoveler, Grey Heron, Hobby and Greenfinch (73)

We then went to Welney and just before arriving at the reserve we saw Red-legged Partridge (74) and March Harrier (75).

We got to the car park and out of the car, we were straight onto a Sedge Warbler (76) singing nearby and a Red Kite (77) flew over and drifted off and House Martins (78) were over head,

On Lady fen we added Little Egret, Redshank and Avocet (81) before heading onto the reserve.

From the observatory next to the main hide we were soon looking at Whooper Swan, Little Ringed Plover, Wigeon, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher and Yellow Wagtail (87).

I then found a Sparrowhawk (88) being mobbed by Crow over the back of the reserve. We left the hide to walk down to look for Garganey when I noticed the sightings book said Great Egareat (this is how it was written). I said to the others there a Great White on here when the man who had written it was behind us and told us where it was. The warden mentioned it might be viewable from the main hide so we popped in and after a quick look with no sign we moved on to head down the track.

Before we even got to the bridge the Warden ran out and shouted that the Great White had just flown the other way and suggested the Reedbed hide. We got to the hide and with no obvious sign I tried to find a better view point, I had no luck but as I returned to the hide Adam had spotted the Great White Egret (89) across the back of the reserve.

We then walked back adding Reed Warbler and Linnet (91) before getting to the main observatory where a second? Great White Egret was now showing.

As we walked back to the car and over the bridge I stopped to ID a Malard up the river but luckily I had as James then spotted three Swift (92) flying over my head.

We carried on our journey and headed for Pentney GP on route near Downham Market we saw Common Buzzard (93) and a small flock of Feral Pigeon (94).

Pentney was quiet for birds nothing unexpected but we did get to add Great Black-backed Gull (95) before moving on to Roydon Common.

At Roydon the birds were very quiet I thought I'd heard a Stonechat as we walked through the wood but upon exit it could not be seen. So we decided to take the track across the middle in the hope of adding a bird or two.

I then heard a Stonechat again and once getting the bins up in the general direction I spotted a Male Stonechat (96) feeding 2/3 young in a distant bush.

We continued walking hoping for Woodlark but failed, only adding Curlew (97) and a Wheatear (98) on the return walk.

We then went to Flitcham where we didn't see Little Owl or Tree Sparrow or Kingfisher, but we did see this Yellow-legged Gull (99)

So with Flitcham being so quiet we went to Titchwell with a quick stop at Choseley to see the Dotterel (100) and up at the drying barns Grey Partridge (101) was soon added to the list.

Titchwell was productive as always even this late in the day (about 3.45pm). On the Thornham Pool a couple of Male Red-crested Pochard (102) were swimming around and on the other side a standard Pochard (103) was diving on the first main pool. A Cetti's Warbler (104) called but was not seen. A Bearded Tit (105) showed well close to the path I then picked out a very distant Brent Goose (106) flying over Thornham Marsh only a few minutes later for a flock of around 50 birds came on to the Freshmarsh.

On the Fresh Marsh we saw these Garganey (107).

Also on the Fresh Marsh  we added Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Herring Gull, Grey Plover, Ruff, Arctic Tern and Turnstone (114).

The Brackish Marsh did not have the Spotted Redshank that had been seen earlier that day, but on the Salt Marsh James found a Greenshank (115),

At the sea the tide was out but Little and Sandwich Terns (117) were over the sea and a few Bar-tailed Godwit (118) were on the shoreline. A distant flock of around 20 Common Scoter (119) were the only seabirds we added.

On the walk back the only birds added were Meadow Pipit (120) and Sand Martin (121).

We left Titchwell and headed up to Choseley for another look, manage to find a distant Corn Bunting (122) and a handful of Yellow Wagtails were also around.

We then headed East along the coast road I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker (123) fly over the road I think the others were resting their eyes at the time and missed it.

A quick stop near Burnham Market we saw another Wheatear and a Short-eared Owl (124) flew over the fields. Also heard a Lesser Whitethroat (125) but failed to see it.

At the parking area for Gun Hill we scanned the marshes going through the resident geese I found two distant Pink-footed Geese (126) once again after the struggle of telling the others where they were a flock of 70 flew through.

Two Whimbrel (127) were feeding in the nearby field and a Spoonbill (128) was flying around.

Next stop was Kelling we were hoping on a few birds missing from the list here but fading light seemed to of silenced most birds, but two Turtle Doves (129) were seen.

From Kelling we went back on ourselves to Cley first stop the beach car park to walk over to scan the North Scrape. On the walk down we came across at least 6 Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtails. From the top of the hill we could see nothing on the North Scrape but on Simmonds was a Ringed Plover and a Common Gull (131).

We walked backed as had one last look at the reserve from the visitors centre before heading to Salthouse.

Light was fading but we did manage flight views of a fairly muted Nightingale (132) it never really seemed to want to go into full song. A Tawny Owl called and that was that we gave up for the hope of a Nightjar by 9.15 and headed home seeing a Tawny Owl (133) along the way.

Of course don't forget the Ruddy Duck giving me a total of 134 species recorded for the day.

The day was really hard we had to work hard to see the birds we did, we worked even harder for those we didn't see, some of the dips lost us lots of time and with birds like Jay, Grasshopper Warbler, Kingfisher, Redstart, Barn Owl, Tree Sparrow, Pintail, Knot, Eider, Gannet, Green Sandpiper, Whinchat, Spotted Redshank, Fulmar, Little Owl and Woodlark all missing from the day but have been on previous list surely the 150 will happen for us one day.

1 comment: