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

Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Year begins on the Patch

After the thrill of new years day mega listing, it was nice to slow it down on Saturday and head out to the patch, obviously I was being extra vigilant as the new patch year list has of course begun.

First Visit - Pigney's Wood 2nd January 2016

The visit was generally quiet on the number of birds that were around with the exception to the flock of 65 Siskin, Blue Tit and Blackbird were the next numerous with only 13 of each seen.

Carrion Crow was the first bird seen for the year on the patch swiftly followed by Woodpigeon, Blackbird and Wren.

Then a Chiffchaff called merrily as if it was an early spring day, Blue Tit, Robin and Chaffinch were also seen. A flock of 10 Redwing flew from the mixed berry hedgerow. More Blackbirds and Song Thrush were in the same bushes.

Four Buzzards then gained height from the wood and drifted north, Great Tit and a small group of Bullfinch flew away as a large group of 65 Siskin flew over, followed with 14 Lesser Redpoll which landed briefly before making a hasty exit as a female Sparrowhawk cruised through and perched in a distant tree. A family group of Jay soon caught wind of Sparrowhawk and chased it away.

I was please to see the 4 Bearded Tits were still present in the reed bed with Kingfisher and 3 Cetti's Warbler a Yellowhammer flew over also.

(picture and video taken 28/12/2015)

I added more birds to the year list on the walk round to the wood, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Dunnock, Kestrel, Coal Tit, Magpie, Pheasent, Jackdaw, Rook, Pied Wagtail, Moorhen and Mute Swan.

In the wood the birds were generally quiet again but singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Treecreeper were great to see.

On the walk back to the car park 4 Goldfinch flew over and a few more Bullfinch softly trumpeted along the hedgerow and a second Chiffchaff called.

Pigney's Wood Totals - This Visit (and total) 38 Species.

First Visit - Trimingham 02/01/2016

Trimingham was quieter than Pigneys, it didn't help that is started to rain as I arrived but I headed out anyway.

Two Greylag flew over and the Black-headed and Common Gulls flew around the fields. I skimmed the Wood seeing Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Crow and Woodpigeon before heading to the cliff top.

Along the cliff top Meadow Pipit and Skylark were in the fields and Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls were on the beach.

The rain become harder so I positioned myself with my hood up in order to do a bit of sea watching.

I was straight onto 6 Shelduck flying East (as were all birds unless they were sitting on the sea), a lonely Razorbill was under the close watch of a Great Black-backed Gull as it tried to fish.

A small group of all female Common Scoter were sat on the sea, and a group of 5 duck flew though containing 4 Wigeon and a Teal.

An adult Gannet glided through close inshore and two Red-throated Divers whizzed straight through and as I followed them in the scope they cross a small party of Guillemot.

I walked back along the cliff top seeing a Rock Pipit on the cliff ledges, and a single Brent Goose flew along the sea before I headed back to the car.

Pheasant, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Starling, Blue Tit and Jackdaw were seen before I headed to Gimingham.

Trimingham Totals - This Visit (and total) 28 Species.

First Visit - Gimingham 02/01/2016

A brief visit proved productive seeing Black-headed and Common Gull, Carrion Crow, Mute Swan, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Moorhen, Wren, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Blackbird.

I also added patch year ticks, Coot, Mallard, Heron, Grey Wagtail and Greenfinch.

But the best bird of the day has to be the drake Goosander.

Gimingham Totals - This Visit (and total) 20 Species in 30 mins.

First Visit - Ebridge 03/01/2016

It was pouring with rain when I set out at Ebridge, I did gain some patch year ticks though, Feral Pigeon, Linnet, Little Grebe and Fieldfare were the common birds I would of expected to get at this part of the patch.

But the 22 Lapwing and 10 Golden Plover were a real surprise in the beet field.

Ebridge Totals - This Visit (and total) 29 Species.

Total for all the Patch for the year - 67 Species

Saturday, 2 January 2016

New Years Day Record Broken!

Yes that's right I beat my own personal best for a New Years Day list by getting 115!!!

Got some great birds and this is how the day went.

Up at 4.50am get my bits together and go to Collect Adam for 5.30am. On the way to his house I added the first birds of the year with a Robin in the headlights. I pick him up and we see Blackbird and Feral Pigeon before leaving North Walsham.

We then drive to Titchwell and as we drive into the village a Barn Owl is sat on the wall.

We arrive in the car park at 6.40ish and I flush Wood Pigeon and Pheasant from the trees around the car park (by accident) then we jammed in on a Tawny Owl flying over calling and silhouetted by the moon.

We then head to the beach in the dark to await dawn. A Cetti's Warbler calls on the walk down and we can now see just enough to identify some birds by call and silhouette. On the fresh marsh we saw Mallard, Brent Goose, Lapwing and Teal.

dawn on the Fresh Marsh - Titchwell

Then on the Brackish Marsh we could see Waterail, Black-tailed Godwit and Greylag Goose.

dawn on the Brackish Marsh - Titchwell

On the Tidal Marsh a few more birds were seen Redshank, Little Grebe, Snipe and the distinctive beak of the Shoveler helped to id it in the dawn light.

dawn on the Tidal Marsh - Titchwell

So we arrived on the beach already on 20 species a great start. It seems to take for ever to get light, but slowly we could start to id birds on the shoreline, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Knot, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Cormorant, Goldeneye, Great Black-backed Gull and Carrion Crow. 

We were still struggling to make out birds on the sea so had a second look at the Tidal Marsh as the closer birds were easier.

sunrise on the Tidal Marsh - Titchwell

New birds picked out here were Wren, Spotted Redshank, Kingfisher and Wigeon before we popped back onto the beach.

Many more birds could be seen now and we quickly added Dunlin, Turnstone, Common Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser.

As it got lighter more birds were on the wing, Fulmar and Gannets flew past a Great Crested Grebe appeared from nowhere on the sea in front of us. A Goldfinch flew overhead as a Red-throated Diver flew past on the sea. This flock of Goldfinch's made me turn around and see a Little Egret and Reed Bunting behind us.

I know its not an amazing picture but I just liked that they were on the beach

Looking back at the sea we saw Sanderling and Ringed Plover and on the 'last scan' I picked out two female Eider, this was our 50th bird as we left the beach to check the marshes.

Our little sea watching friend, it was a bit Alfred Hitchcock though

Walking back along the Marshes nothing unexpected was added Moorhen, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, Magpie, Marsh Harrier, Gadwall, Pintail, Avocet, Starling and Mute Swan. We did see our second Kingfisher of the day though.

Walking along the Meadow Trail we saw Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock and a stunning Male Bullfinch in the morning sun, was a shame he didn't stay long enough for a picture.

Then on Patsy's Pool we saw Coot and Tufted Duck and some Pink-footed Geese flew over. We then had our luckiest bird of the day Adam and I spotted a small wader jump up and down to the same spot, from the brief glimpse it was a Snipe but I wasn't convinced it was just a Common. So after some re-positioning I got view of a bobbing, crown-stripeless Snipe walking into the long grass it was a Jack Snipe.

We then headed for the food hatch stopping at the feeders and adding Greenfinch and Chaffinch. I was a bit gutted to see we were 5mins early for a bacon roll so I said about heading back to the feeders for a second look whilst we wait. 

On the small piece of path that runs to the entrance road we saw Redwing and Song Thrush and this Waterail.

We then ordered food and with a few minute wait for the bacon rolls I ate my cake first to save time. I took my rubbish to the bin and heard a small group of Siskin and looked up and found Lesser Redpoll also. 

The last bird and Titchwell was on the feeders from the picnic benches and this was the 75th of the day Brambling.

We then headed up to Choseley hoping to find a Rough-legged Buzzard, but we failed miserably at this, we were also disappointed with the general lack of birds around the drying barn with no Corn Buntings or Yellowhammers. We did see Pied Wagtail, Common Buzzard and Golden Plover though. 

We then went down the hill and had another look, still no Rough-legged Buzzards but Red-legged Partridge, Mistle Thrush and Stock Dove were seen. We then got one more bird before we left as a female Merlin hunted the hedge line and perched briefly before carrying on.

We then headed to Thornham taking the back roads from Choseley in Choseley Village a Collard Dove flew from the road. 

We then found a super flock of Buntings and Finches, and in amongst the Chaffinch were Brambling and new birds for the day Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Linnet with all birds in decent numbers.

We then arrived at Thornham Harbour and I noticed the birders at Holme on Thornham point, at the time I did not know what they were looking at when I ID'd the Shorelark running around infront of the crouching photographer. Our third Kingfisher of the day sat on a river post and a Skylark then flew over before we turned around and could see the Twite almost right infront of us. 

At one point the Twite actually landed in the carpark to drink from the puddles.

Redshank - Thornham

We were going to head to Kings Lynn after this but negative news on the Iceland Gull meant we changed plans. So decided to head to Flitcham via Choseley once again in hope of a Rough-legged Buzzard.

In Titchwell we saw Jackdaw and House Sparrow before we met my Dad at Choseley and he got us onto a Rough-legged Buzzard. After talking to Dad we decided to not go to Flitcham as he had tried to go and could not park anywhere and it took him nearly 15mins just to drive through.

So with a change of plan we headed to Burnham Market where nearby we had a flock of 20+ Grey Partridges in the middle of the road. When we stopped we saw a Red Kite flying and had Tree Sparrow.

Next stop was Gun Hill and after a scan through the geese we only saw, Egyptian Goose, Canada Goose and Grey Heron. An even briefer stop at Holkham we saw White-fronted Goose but not the Great White Egret that we hoped for. The White-fronted Goose was the 99th bird of the day so the what will be 100 debate started as we headed for Holt.

At Holt, it wasn't long before I heard my 100th bird of the day, this was an exciting bird and I had to see it I then saw it fly up and land on a wire, It was a Grey Wagtail. It was exciting as this was the first time in 19 years of listing on the 1st Jan I had seen Grey Wagtail this was the biggest boggie bird bird ever. We then saw Rook, Coal Tit and Chiffchaff before adding another 1st Jan lifer the 175th bird seen on 1st Jan a Firecrest.

We carried on driving heading for Hickling, a quick stop at Walcott was a great choice as a flock of Scoter flew west which was only of around 40 birds an it had 12 (twelve) Velvet Scoter in it.

A quick pee stop near Lessingham was a wise choice also as the field entrance of choice had a flock of Fieldfare in it and Jays heading along trees.

We drove to Sea Palling but didn't see the Cattle Egret so carried on to Ludham where the mixed flock of Whooper and Bewick's Swans were on the Airfield.

On the penultimate stop at the Pleasure Boat Inn we saw our forth Kingfisher, Pochard and Lesser Black-backed Gull putting us on 112 with just the Stubb Mill roost left.

We got to Hickling and headed to the roost, Three Cranes flew over on the walk down and upon arrive a Long-tailed Tit was in the hedge behind us this was 114 so one more would beat the record and then Adam picked it out from the 30 or so Marsh Harrier a female Hen Harrier.

It was a great day packed with birds but as with every year I am left wondering with birds missed such as Razorbill, Guillemot, Red-crested Pochard, Water Pipit, Rock Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and Woodcock what number could be achieved? Is the perfect day ever possible? 

But do I care? Not really as long as I still enjoy it I will keep doing it. Next year will be my 20th and I cant wait, the 82nd bird that day will be the 2000th species I have record on 1st Jan that is assuming I get to the 82nd of course. (the 2000 is based on the combined totals of each year)