Sunday, 26 February 2017

Back Blogging - lets start with the January Bird Race

I know this is a little in the past but I said I would try and blog most birding trips for this year, so this is where it all begins on 1st January, and with every January 1st I head out on a super listing day a winters bird race, my 20th year of doing so.

On route to pick up Adam the first few birds of the day where seen Robin, Barn Owl and Feral Pigeon.

We then head to Titchwell and on the way the rain came which then lasted for the entire day, this bird race was the wettest I had ever experienced.

In the car park we added Woodpigeon, the problem with the rain meant that the daylight took a long time to come, so rather than heading to the beach and awaiting dawn like normal we went to the Parrinder hide to shelter and wait for it to get light enough to see the sea. In the hide we quickly added birds Curlew, Greylag, Brent Goose, Moorhen, Lapwing, Snipe, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, Redshank, Ringed plover, Ruff, Pintail, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Dunlin, Mallard, Pochard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Avocet, Herring gull, Carrion Crow, Turnstone, Cetti's Warbler (heard only at this point but seen later) and Gadwall. So we left the hide on 29 species and headed to the beach.

On the way the Tidal Marsh had Little grebe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Meadow Pipit, Knot, Spotted Redshank, Little Egret and a Wren.

We got to the beach and the tide was in, straight away a close flock of Scoter took off from the sea Common and Velvet Scoter were in the flock, Goldeneye and Long-tailed Duck were also on the sea. Oystercatcher, Great Crested Grebe, Eider and Sanderling were also added before we got good views of a Great Northern Diver. Red-throated Diver and Red-breasted Merganser flew in and a Merlin flew over our heads before we walked back leaving the beach on 50 for the day.

Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Magpie and Marsh Harrier were all seen before we reached the drained grazing marsh where a Water Pipit was showing well. We headed to Patsy's pool Skylark, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Coot, Tufted Duck and Pheasant were seen on and around the pool. We then had a look around the feeders and saw Chaffinch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch, Water Rail, Brambling, Jay, Bullfinch, Great Tit and Goldcrest so we left Titchwell on 73 species and it was still raining.

Next stop was Thornham where a Rock Pipit showed well on top of the coal barn.


Down by the car park the Twite flock was also showing well so neither birds made us get out of the car and get wetter.


A Curlew also showed well in the rain and this Brent Goose seemed surprised to be on the road.




Jackdaw as also seen as we left and headed to Choseley

At Choseley the drying barns were devoid of any birds but the surrounding fields and hedge rows allowed us to add Buzzard, Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Common Gull, Stock Dove, Grey Partridge and Starling.

Now Grey Partridge was a very important bird, it was my 82nd bird of the day, and as a keeper of stats this was my 2000th bird species recorded on 1st January. Obviously this is not 2000 different species, this is made from the combined totals of each year all added up. Still a very cool bird to have for my 2000th.

Back to the race..... we headed to Docking in hope for the Red-breasted Goose but after struggling to find the small flock of geese that were in the area, the Red-breasted Goose was not amongst them. We did however see Mistle Thrush, Egyptian Goose, Pink-footed Goose and Golden Plover in with the Pink-footed Flock.

After this we went to Flitcham in the village House Sparrow was seen and at the reserve a few Tree Sparrow were with the large flock of Chaffinch and Brambling.

We then made a decision to not head back to the coast and head inland instead, Flitcham was just as wet as the coast but was lacking the force 9 Gale with a super cool wind chill. So with this in mind we went to Tottenhill and on route we saw Rook at Blackborough End.

At Tottenhill a look on the gravel pits and straight away we saw Canada Goose, and shortly after Wigeon and we then saw Scaup which was only the 2nd time in 20 years I had seen Scaup on the 1st, with the last time being in 2005 this was our 93rd bird of the day.

Next stop was Lynford arboretum we were hoping a few Hawfinch's would be about so headed for the paddock. Walking through we saw Coal tit, Redwing and Song Thrush. No sign of any Hawfinch's so we walked back adding Treecreeper, Marsh Tit, Fieldfare and Nuthatch. Nuthatch meant we reached 100 for the day which I was please with in the pouring rain. 

We then walked over to the gravel pits, Goosander was the first bird we saw this was a new 1st January species for me the 176th species I have seen. We then saw Mute Swan, Linnet and a Great White Egret flew from the reeds to the furthest shore. The Great White Egret sighting was only the second time I had see this species on the 1st after seeing 2 birds at Stifkey in 1998.


We left for Halvergate stopping in at Santon Downham adding Greenfinch scarily our 105th bird of the day.

We arrived at Halvergate and not being 100% on where the Egrets (Cattle) had been seen I went down the car park track, we saw a Grey Heron down there and on the way back out we saw 3 white shapes in with the Cattle and these were indeed the Cattle Egret, we also saw the forth bird as we got closer. Cattle Egret was another 1st January lifer my 177th.


Light was fading fast we tried to head to Hickling for the roost, we stopped at Ludham seeing Bewick's Swan and Whooper Swan and then decided it would be too dark by the time we walked to the roost from the car park so went to Horsey in the hope of seeing something from there.

We were in luck as in the fading light four Cranes flew along in front of us. 

We made on last stop on the way home at Bacton Woods and saw Tawny Owl our 112th bird of the day. 

Personally I think 112 was astonishing I didn't think we would get much past 90 with the conditions, all in all a good day out.

As for the rest of January...I will post them up as fast as I can.

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