Tuesday, 18 December 2012

2012 Highlights

There have been plenty of internet sites (like Birding Frontiers) posting their highlights of 2012. So I thought I would summarise my highs and lows of the year about to pass

I ended up seeing just two new birds in the UK. One pending acceptance (Les Canada Goose) and the other a long awaited 'tart tick' (Blyths Reed Warbler). Both of these were in the home county.
This is the lowest number of UK ticks ever for me. I could have added a few more like Sh B Dowitcher, Orphean Warbler and Parrot Crossbill if my twitching instincts had got the better of me!

I did also add a further 9 new 'world' birds on my one venture out of the country to St Lucia.

My personal highlights were the big October fall in North Norfolk. Although I only caught the tail end, the sight and sound of thousands of Thrushes dropping out of the sky, whilst being surrounded by Bramblings, Robins and other birds (including a lovely Red flanked Bluetail) will stay with me forever.

Quiet also on the finds front. However 22nd September on the Point with Ortolan Bunting at my feet and finding a Barred Warbler in the sueda was memorable.

Also seen in Norfolk were:
Coues Arctic Redpoll, GG Shrike, Bee-eater, Baird's and Pec Sand and a few Waxwing finds.

Bewick's Swan, Black Redstart and Reed Warbler were good additions to the garden list.
I also recorded record number of Micro moth species in the garden (185 plus) - Those highlights require their own page!

Now looking forward to 2013. With a new addition to our family in March to look forward to, birding will take a back seat (for a while). Although I'm sure I will be able to squeeze a few new birds in :)

Good luck to all and have a happy Christmas

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

More Goose thoughts

Ever since I posted the photos of the Richardson's / Cackling / Small Canada , whatever you would like to call it, on my blog, I have been wondering about its true origin.
I was surprised that nobody had initially reported this bird to any of the pagers, especially considering  the number of other 'Small Canada' Geese in the country.
I do have a vested interest in this bird being accepted as wild (I will not deny it) as I have dipped a few others in Norfolk in the past. I was hoping that by mentioning this bird, on my blog and on twitter, the news and debate on the origin may spread. ... and it has.

Mark Golley summed it up beautifully in the Rare Birds Alert weekly roundup this week. He shares some of the thoughts I was starting to have regarding its origin, especially considering the number of other birds that have been around recently. 

Why would it not choose to hang out with some of his bigger relatives! It probably has no idea how small he (or she) looks next to the 'bog standard' Canada Geese,
There were Brent Geese in the same flock and lots of Pink Feet nearby. After flying all that way with the Pink feet I too would be sick of their high pitched squabbles. Nice chilled out Canadas are the ones to hang out with any day

On the theme of wildfowl at least there was no doubt about the origin of the Bewick's Swan that flew over my garden this morning. I picked up the distant (unfamiliar) call and then saw the Swan heading high over and to the South. Presumably it was staying ahead of the snow and cold weather that appeared in the afternoon. A very welcome addition to my landlocked garden list!

Now what else will appear with the ice and snow??

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Mild November Day

Morning walk around Kelling. Not really expecting to see much but there were a few birds on the move.
A flock of  c.150 Finches seemed to be wintering here. Mainly Greenfinches and Linnets.

A nice Short Eared Owl flew over being chased by a few of the resident Rooks and then headed back to the grassland area and landed.

This following Small Canada Goose was in amongst the other Canada Geese. It has apparently been in the area for at least a week (I would probably of overlooked it had it not been pointed out by one of the local birders)
It is a shame it has chosen Canada Geese rather than nearby Pink Feet to associate with. Small Canada Goose is still a bird I have not seen 'in the wild' having dipped a few in the past (in Norfolk) .
Even if it is of very dubious origin it was interesting to see how small Cackling (I presume this is the subspecies) are. It was almost the same size as a nearby Brent Goose

Apart from a Little Egret, 6 Bullfinch ... Nothing else of note was seen

Yesterday a flock of 6 Waxwing brightened up my walk into work as they flew over Cinema City / St Crispin in Norwich. The first birds I have seen this year, although many more to follow i'm sure

Friday, 9 November 2012

Surprise garden visitor - 4th November

After being away from home for a week I returned, looked out of the window and was greeted to a flash of black and white ... A small bird started catching flies around the windows and amazingly it was a male Black Redstart!

I rarely see this species in North Norfolk let alone in the garden

I managed to get a record shot as it stopped in a bush just in front of the sitting room window. Not a digi phone/bins shot .. just hand held phone to show how close it was.

My 80th species in the (new) house/garden, and one I was not expecting at all

Just goes to show - you can find unusual birds anywhere .. even when at home in the sitting room!!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

October 23rd - BIG FALL

I had read on many reports that something truly spectacular had taken place with the fall of birds yesterday afternoon in the fog and light East winds. On reaching Stiffkey this morning I could see what they meant. There were birds everywhere. Every bush, tree and hedge had Blackbirds and Robins shooting out in all directions.

In thick fog I walked slowly through the woods towards the area that the Bluetail had been found and along the way I stopped and searched through the Robins while Thrushes streaming through overhead. A few Redstarts were nice to see and Bramblings fed quietly in the trees

Redwings, Blackbirds and Fieldfares by the 1000's!

The Bluetail was very nice and showed well down to about 10 ft , I was keen to get away and look for my own birds

I walked the track from Stiffkey to the concrete 'circle' along the coast. On the way 3-4 Ring Ouzels were seen and heard (but many more must have been passing). 2-3 Chiffchaff looked fairly nominate and Redpolls called overhead while Bramblings moved through in decent flocks

On to Wells in the hope of flushing an OBP! .. It was evident that many of the birds from yesterday were still sheltering in the woods waiting for the fog to lift.

Again 100's of Robins, Thrushes and Goldcrests everywhere

Brambling numbers were even higher here (40+). Despite searching through all the tit and crest flocks I could not find anything rare .. Back at the car park and a quick scan over the seawall towards E Hills and a beautiful male Black Redstart was seen catching flies around the lifeboat station.

I will not forget the sight of Thrushes shooting out from every bush that I passed in a hurry!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

October 8th

October is always an exciting time on the Point and today the sun was shining and there was a light NE breeze. The only problem was that it was too calm a day to displace any good migrants

The morning started with a quick seawatch from Cley coastguards. A family pod of Harbour Porpoise swam slowly past, the young calf sticking close to its parent's side. A few distant Little Gulls and my first Shags of the Autumn/Winter season. They are annual here in November but never common

Started the walk up and it was clear it was going to be a quiet day !

A group of 40 Jay flew over Blakeney Harbour heading SW - These are part of the recent big movement taking place in the UK and on continent that seems to be linked to an acorn crop failure. I have never seen any birds from the Point and they just about count as a 'patch tick'
A further surprise was hearing a familiar sound over the sueda near the Watchhouse.... I knew the call but could not think what it was! Then I saw two long tailed birds 'pinging' overhead - Beardies - Another bird I have never seen here despite being common nearby at Cley
I then heard further birds were noted in Wells Wood, so a small local passage was taking place.

Raptors are always a great feature of this time of year and today was no exception with a juv fem Hen Harrier patrolling the dunes and shingle in search of some tired migrants.

The rest of the morning was spent chatting to Joe (warden) about how unpredictable migrants are! And searching for the next big rarity (without much luck!)

... It has been quiet in the county but its only a matter of time before Norfolk hosts something special

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

October 3rd - Kelling

Due to the continuing West winds decided not to walk the Point and decided the more sheltered areas around Kelling might be worth a look

The highlight was a close (ish) Manxie past along with a scattering of seabirds - Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, only two distant Sandwich Terns and a few RT Divers

Wheatear, Chiffchaffs and just singles of H Martin and Swallow

..... Kelling Water was devoid of birds other than a few Teal and a few BH Gulls ....

Typical that later in the day Pec Sand and Water Pipit were found there!!

Not having the best of luck so far this Autumn but the fun and games should start next week when we get a bit of E and N breeze .. just in time for the chance of some real Siberian migrants

Westerly winds return

28th September The long awaited visit by my friend Dave Gandy who is now living in Thailand (see Bangkok city birding blog).We had been planning our search for rare birds for months.

The day arrived but so did the start of West winds which made birding hard work. We knew it was an 'all or nothing day' and we were right!

 As we walked towards the Point 4 Spoonbills were the highlight and we reminisced about the previous rarities we had seen along the way. A couple of Song Thrushes (I also heard the first Redwings over my house before we set off), a few Skylark and Mipits were all we could find. At the lupins a pale Sylvia looked good for the Barred which I first found over a week ago in the nearby sueda... We waited and after about 45 minutes what may have been a second Sylvia flew closer to Dave's position and he saw it was a Garden Warbler. So probably a few different birds hiding out in there as I see the Barred was still present by the weekend

 On the way back a few Stonechat, 1-2 Wheatear was all we could manage to strain out of poor migrant hunting conditions!

 Seeing as in the past Dave has always been jammy and coincided his Norfolk visits with days when great birds have turned up (Black Lark being the best), I guess the lucky run was not going to last... Still a pleasant day out and good to catch up.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Classic Point

What a morning...

Started with a quick seawatch at Cley - Sooty Shear, 3 Manxies, a few Arctic Skua and Bonxies, lots of Gannets past. Yet again I missed a Long T Skua ! Will I ever see one in Norfolk!?

The pagers started beeping and it was evident that there was an arrival from the East following some good 'fall weather'. N Winds with rain showers overnight.

It always amazes me how people rush off to look at found Y Brows when the potential to find one (or something better!) was surely there. I rushed up the Point with hope of at least one Y Brow or RBF
Unfortunately I got neither but the day panned out even better

Lots of Mipits and when I reached the Hood the first hint of better birds started to appear. Stonechats (pair) and Spot Fly.
As I reached the plantation the warden (sorry don't know your name despite our regular chats) said he had seen a few birds. A Goldcrest flew out of the Plantation and flew into a window stunning itself! It was a nice male bird with bits of red in the crest .. It soon recovered and was released by an assistant warden into the plantation

Here Pied Fly, Wheatear appeared then things started to pick up around 11.30

As I walked along the main track a massive pale grey Warbler flew past. (and I mean big!). It had a long tail, pale grey all over and large size with a hint of wingbar .. Barred Warbler.
I flushed it three times but it kept moving further into the marsh towards the Yankee wreck .. each time it got harder to flush and eventually I had to give up on trying to relocate it. I released the news as possible but not much else it could have been .. The pale plumage size and long tail seem like a clincher to me ..

Just 20 mins later I bumped into James Mc , R Porter and crew .. Certainly easier to find birds in a team like that!
They had just bumped into an Ortolan ... Great bird and just beat me to finding it (aaaargh)

Managed a few record shots on phone

Stunning tame juv bird .. and a really scarce bird these days

Further birds inclued
2 Lap Bunts

Bumped into two other birders that had found a really skulky bird .. we spent ages chasing it and it turned out to be just a female Blackcap. As always birding the Point can be frustrating .. but it is worth the effort

A really enjoyable day with some great birds

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Autumn migration

Morning visit to Cley

Started by seawatching from coastguards and despite the West winds which have dampened the enthusiasm of most Norfolk birders, a few seabirds were passing. Close juv Gannets, a distant Arctic Skua chasing a few of the remaining Sandwich Terns, a few Auks and RT Divers.
Highlight was a sum plum Black-throated Diver that flew close inshore heading up towards Blakeney Point. Thanks to the visiting Dorset birder that pointed it out (I was scanning  much further out and would have missed it!) Always a scarce bird in Norfolk and the first I have seen this year.

Skeins of Pink feet were coming in-off and a female Marsh Harrier flew low over the waves heading west into the wind.

Onto North Hide and a Wheatear flew up along the way.
Pec Sand and 2 Curlew Sands were about the only birds of note here.

Bishop Hide was busy with birders. Highlight of the day (for me) was finding a juv Garganey amongst the Teal. Always a nice bird to study and only the second one I have seen this year.

Also here : 2 Spoonbill, 3 Curlew Sand, Spot Redshank

Now all we need is some E winds.
Then the fun will really start...

Monday, 10 September 2012

Yank waders

A search for American waders today at Cley produced just the Pec Sand from previous days
A nice crisp juv bird.

This Autumn has been amazing for Yank waders on the west and SW coast. I think there will be quite a few more in Norfolk in the months to come!

Other waders and birds at Cley :
Curlew Sand 2-3, Dunlin 50, Bar wit, Whimbrel, Curlew 40, Ruff 30, Lapwing 200, Com Sand, Snipe 2, Redshank 5, Ringed Plover 5, Golden Plover
And other birds of note:
Ad Y L Gull
Barnacle with Ross x Barnacle hybrid

It was then that I was informed by a helpful birder at Cley beach car park that a Baird's Sand had just been found at Titchwell
The following phone photos are terrible but you can see the really long primary projection. Not the most distinctive of juv birds I have ever seen but nice close views:

I have a bad history with Baird's having dipped at least 4 before I finally saw my first at Minsmere years ago ... which is maybe why I haven't been to see any of the last few Norfolk birds.

After watching the Baird's I noticed that many of the birds on the marshes where acting as though a large raptor was moving through and sure enough a quick scan showed the reason .. a nice Osprey flew over and straight over my head!
It was later watched hunting over Brancaster from the end of the path by the beach.

Also seen here at Titchwell:
2 Eider, Water Rail, Spoonbills. And additional waders to the ones at Cley:
Spotted Redshank, Knot, Grey Plover (also one partial albino Golden Plover with a white head!), Avocets, Black T Godwits, Sanderling and Oystercatchers .... resulted in over 21 species of wader today.

Not a bad day out .....

Now what will the next Yank wader be in Norfolk .. there must be many more heading this way

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Back to the Point

... and just to keep the blog on track, I did visit Blakeney Point and Cley yesterday but it was very quiet

No migrants of note but wader numbers building up. A flock of 15 Turnstone and a few Common Sandpipers called from the harbour edges.

I did spot this very dark backed Lesser B B Gull in amongst a large group of 'normal'' looking LBBG's - Right hand bird

Next to a GBB Gull you can see that it is as dark, if not darker backed! Thoughts of Baltic (fuscus) Gull did cross my mind as there has been one reported here recently. However as you can see from the second shot it is in heavy primary moult and therefore unlikely to be a fuscus (as they would havee presumably moulted their primaries by now (?)

There was also one other dark backed bird present and I am guessing these are intermedius birds that are of continental origin ... but if anyone knows any different please let me know.

More crucially the bird was lacking any big white plastic rings which are apparently crucial when trying to get any fuscus accepted.

You can tell the birding is slow when you start getting distracted by large Gulls !!


As with many birder's blogs .. when there are no birds around attentions turn to other wildlife.

This Summer has been no exception and the moth trap in the garden has produced some good catches including a few scarce Norfolk moths like Red-necked Footman (x2), Lunar Yellow Underwing and some scarce micro moths like Dioryctria sylvestrella (<50 Norfolk records)

Here is a selection of the more distinctive species:

Monday, 30 July 2012


Great night.... at home
Found out that a team from Bristol Uni were going to be tagging and catching Natterer's bats in the church opposite home and then tracking them around the local area (and over my garden)
I went along and watched / helped on two consecutive nights. I even had the chance to hold and release a few Pipps and Natterer's!

The real surprise was when one of the students said he was bitten by something big in the trap they were using. To our surprise we pulled out a giant Noctule bat! He was not pleased about being bagged and took some thick gloves to handle. Check out his teeth below ( sorry blurry shot, but you get the idea)

And I thought that there were just Soprano Pippistrelle bats over my garden. Now I have 4 species on the garden list!
Moths stand no chance with him about

 They managed to satellite tag over 10 Natterer's and I got to handle Pipps and Natter's, which incidentaly are much cuter than the big male Noctule.. but here is another photo of him as he was fun:

So .. even though there are few birds around, the Moths and bats have been keeping me busy... more to follow on the recent Moth catches

Will have to wait a few more weeks for rare bird hunting on the coast to hot up.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Birds and Art

Always a good mixture. Today I visited Cley and was surprised to see some pieces of sculpture / installation art dotted along the beach at Cley.

Here is my review.
1 - A metal frame which you walk through and then view the sea through a metal, reflective slot. Pretentious and basic

2 - A wood and straw shelter. Called something like 'wood and straw hide' - Doesn't even face the sea and although quite a nice shape from one angle is not the most exciting sculpture

3. Prayer hide - Now this one I did like. A small beach hut that looked a bit like an old Victorian seafront amusement. It invites you in and there is great camera obscura that projects an upside down image of Cley beach onto a canvas. Nice and peaceful inside. A fun piece

4. 'Canute couldn't do it' .... should have been followed by '..but a 10 year old could' - A wire mesh wall covered in sheep fleece. forming different patterns. Not great

Now back to the birds:
Fulmar, Arctic Skua chasing Terns, Arctic Tern fishing in amongst Common Terns close to the shore
From the hides: Spoonbills, LRP, Green Sand, Common Sand, Knot lots of BT Godwits. Nice to see so many returning Waders

and this baby Swallow being fed by parents in the beach car park

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Blyth's Reed - At last!

After having seen a non accepted bird on Blakeney Point a few years ago it was great to see a 'no doubts' singing male at Warham Greens today.

First new UK tick of 2012 .. And did not have to travel too far to see it.
On arrival there were only about 15 people listening and trying to see the bird. This shows how regular they have become and how this species no longer has the ability to pull in a big crowd compared to just a decade or so when it was a real rarity! However, a singing bird in summer is still a rare treat and makes it a bit easier to identify.
The song was much slower than Marsh Warbler and without all the mimicry, although I'm sure I heard a few Great Tit calls! Full of whistles and unlike any Reed or Sedge Warbler!

The behaviour also reminded me of the birds I have seen in India. Always on the move in low to middle scrub. In fact even while singing it was moving around and made it very hard to get a glimpse.. The view I had would not get it through any BBRC description report but with the conclusive song.. Who cares! Plumage could be seen to be greyer than Reed but always hard to decipher.

On the whole.. A really enjoyable mini twitch. Now, what will my 451st UK bird be? Not many 'scarce' rather than very rare birds left

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Summer time

The Rain has started , so it must be Summer time in the UK

The moths have started appearing including this very smart Eyed-Hawkmoth caught a few days ago

I will now give the Point a rest until the Autumn

I have ended the Spring with no rare birds found (I did manage a Blue-headed Wag at Cley a few days ago)
The Bee-eater at Cley was nice but no new birds yet seen this year - The one day Orphean Warbler would have been a UK tick but was not able to go and see it . The Channel Wagtail was a new 'form' for me and was probably my favourite bird of the Spring, closely followed by Spotted Flycatcher which is one of my favourite, charismatic, birds.

So what will the Summer bring??

Monday, 21 May 2012

Late migration

There is a real sense of excitement building in the air. Which is good seeing as I have a week off work!
The weather today was like an October morning with N winds and misty rain, with poor visibility.

First stop was near the Three Swallows where the Bee-eater was showing very well and seems quite settled - not normal for Bee-eaters. Only the third I have seen in the UK and my second in Norfolk

As I started to walk up the Point it felt like there would be something good
A Siskin shot past, a Les Whitethroat played hide-and-seek for a while
Wheatears were still passing. A hunting Hobby flew through
Marsh Harrier and the usual Grey Partridges

At the Plantation two lovely Spotted Flycatchers were fighting for the best perch

On the walk back down the weather slowly started to clear. Swifts were moving through. W Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, a Stonechat (more of an Autumn migrant here) were seen but nothing else of note. (other than a Stoat)
I met some of the regulars working the sueda. One mentioned that they had seen a Purple Sand (which I have only seen once before on Blakeney Point). I could not find it but I then found a freshly dead Swallow. It was still warm and very skinny. Makes me wonder if birds are struggling finding insects in this wintery weather. At one point I thought the Swallow may still have been alive but there was not much hope of it making a recovery even if it was.
Also freshly dead was an adult Guillemot. It too was very fresh...and had just been found by another birder heading up.
...In fact both birds still look scarily alive:

I then headed to Cley to see some waders. 3 Curlew Sandpipers, LRP, baby Avocets hiding under their parents were fun....

I could not resist another look at the Bee-eater before heading home.

Many birders are heading to Hereford to see the Cream Coloured Courser found there. I have fond memories of the bird on St Mary's years ago.. It, unfortunately, did not survive as the weather deteriorated. I hope this desert loving bird finds his way back to a warmer climate!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Migrants stream through

On arrival early in the morning, the first bird I saw was this Channel Wagtail - from the car! The photo above was taken through the windscreen with my phone (+bins). Just shows how close the bird was.
It was amongst 13 Yellow Wagtails. First one of this hybrid/sub-species/form that I have seen and certainly was stunning. Better than going to Yorks to see the other 'hybrid/possible species/form Flycatcher' that is around at the moment!

Walking up to the Point there was a real sense that anything could turn up.

100's Swallows constantly streaming through
A stunning SE Owl flew low overhead
1-2 M Harriers appeared to be fresh in-off
40+ Wheatears
male Redstart flushed from sueda
Willow Warbler x2
Chiffchaff x3
Whitethroat x2
Sedge W x1
H Martins 10
S Martin x4
Swifts 20
Greenshank 1
Little, Common and Sandwich Terns all over the place

Nice bit of Spring passage - finally some birds on the move
Now.... where are those rarities hiding

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Spring Migration

After a very quiet April it was time to look for some migrants on the Point.

The wet weather meant a cold and wet start to the walk and it was not long before there were Wheatears appearing everywhere.
On reaching halfway house a stunning male Pied Fly appeared with Willow Warbler nearby. It looked slightly pale rather than jet black on some of the feathers and may have been a first summer but beautiful bird anyway.
On reaching the plantation a male Whinchat and a male Redstart were briefly seen but no sign of yesterday's RBFly!
Still a great trio of migrants as well as the following birds seen:

Whimbrel 6
Arctic Tern
Willow Warbler
Blackcap 2
Wheatear 30+
Swift 1
House Martin 20+(Salthouse)

On the return I bumped into one of the regulars who had seen a Wood Warbler! I could not find it in the area just after the Halfway House .. That would have been a good 'patch tick'

A beautiful male Garganey was feeding on a small pool next to the Salthouse beach road ...

May is a top month here in Norfolk

Monday, 16 April 2012

f f f f freezing April day

Quick morning visit to Cley... and it was cold! This cold North wind is currently blocking migrants and not making it much fun out there.

9+ Ring Ouzels were viewed distantly at 'The Hangs'. I have been birding in the area for years and did not even know about this site! Great view all around the coast from here. I think I will check this area more regularly
9 Ouzels is the most I have seen together

Cley held my Wheatear of the year (I know it is late!) along with Swallow, Spoonbill x 5 and a Merlin shot past the beach

He was cold ....

He was very cold .....

The Spoonbills, singing Sedge Warbler and Swallow tried hard to make it feel like Spring .. but with these cold winds it will be a while before some scarce birds start arriving

I then had my first 'dip' of the year. As I was sitting in the car getting ready to head to Cley cafe for a coffee a message came through that there was a Hooded Crow at West bank..right by where I was sitting! I had not seen it and rushed to join Gantlett and a few other birders on West bank ... the bird had already gone and was only seen by two Cley regulars.
They are scarce in Norfolk and in fact this site is the only place I have seen one before in the county ... 

Still, a good morning birding

Friday, 6 April 2012

Kite passage (1st April)

April 1st walk along coast from Holkham to Bunham Dunes (and back) in search of early migrants.
I was hoping to catch some of the Red Kite passage that now seems to be a regular feature along the Norfolk coast at this time of year. It was great to find two birds, one over Holkham Marsh and a more distant bird over Burnham Overy.
At one point there were Buzzards, Sparrowhawk, M Harrier,Kestrel and Red Kite all in the air at the same time!
No other migrants other than 15 Chiffs and a Blackcap. A singing Cettis was seen as well as heard (they are such a pain to see!)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Back to the Point...

It has been a long wait .. But as we rush into Spring I could not resist a walk to the Point.
Last year, on almost exactly the same date, I saw a few Wheatear and a Brambling.

This year the sun was shining and it felt like Summer.. Except for the birds, which were more in line with an October day!
1 Goldcrest (at the Hood), 2 Merlin along the shingle, 2 Fieldfare, a few Blackbirds and a youn male Eider close to shore..
There were plenty of Sandwich Terns (calling and a few seen distantly), which were my first for the year.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunny March days

Around Kelling today the Reed Buntings were singing. Not too long before they are having to compete for airspace with Sedge Warblers.

Stonechat, Gannet, 40+ Common Scoters were the only birds worth noting down

Cley held Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Dunlins and good aerial displays from a hunting Peregrine

...... I feel a walk up to the Point is due soon

Thursday, 1 March 2012

1st March

Well, what a difference two weeks can make to the English weather! Take a look at the photo of today and a reminder of how cold it was a few weeks ago ....

A walk along the sunny beach at Wells through to Holkham produced the following birds:
1 bright 'yellow faced' Shore Lark (three seen by other birders earlier)
10+ Rock Pipits and a few Meadow Pipits
10+ G C Grebes and a Razorbill offshore
2-3 Marsh Harriers
2 Grey Partridge
2 Crossbills flew over heading West along the Pines

Yesterday at Strumpshaw and Buckenham - a female Hen Harrier was the only year tick of note.

Not long before the first Spring migrants start arriving

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

January 26th - Late update

A reasonably mild but rainy day saw myself and Pete Chapman venture out to look for some birds around Strumpshaw and Buckenham. Pete is fairly new to birding, so he was hoping for a few ticks (Les White-front for example)
Although we could not locate the Goose, which had moved to Cantley for the day, we had a great day with plenty of good 'padders' for the year

Started at Strumpshaw and one of the first birds I saw was a female Red C Pochard ... a great find I thought, until it started diving and showing off a big yellow plastic ring on its left leg! There seems to be a large number of escaped/released diving duck in this area. I have heard rumours of a shooting lake in Suffolk that releases large numbers of ducks, including Ferruginous and Marbled Ducks!
Things got better in fen hide when we scored a Bittern in flight and the usual Chinese Water Deer. A Kingfisher back in front of the reception screen was also a nice addition (especially as I only saw one last year in December!). A 'chattering' flock of 30+ Siskin was also nice

On to Buckenham and here we saw: 40+ Taiga Bean Geese, 100+ White fronts, Ruff, Peregrine, singing Cetti's etc etc
There were workmen on the railway line which may explain why all the geese moved on to Cantley, including the Les W Front ! which we did not catch up with.

The final stop was at Ludham where right on queue a pair of Whooper Swans flew straight over us and into a nearby field giving fantastic views. This is never a numerous bird in this area and it was surprising to see Whooper with not one Bewick's Swan around.

A great finish to a good morning's birding

Now just waiting to see what this cold spell brings to the county ... I am hoping to find an Iceland Gull in the next few weeks at least!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Geese, Shrike and Redpolls

First day out of proper birding in 2012:
Started by dipping the Great Grey Shrike near the Fakenham Morrisons roundabout, although it did turn up about 10 minutes after I left! The only compensation here was a flyover Branbling and lots of Grey Partrige.
Titchwell in glorious sunshine:
Coue's Arctic Redpoll, Mealy Redpoll, 4 Female Long T Ducks on the sea, Spot Redshank and lots of other year ticks..
Burnham A140 lay-by
1 Ross's Goose (found)
1 Black Brant (found)
2 plus White fronts.. And lots of Brents and Pink foots.
A brief stop at Holkham and just in time to see the 2nd Ross's that is in the area amongst 000's of Pink feet. There are probably 3 birds in the area including a dodgier than most bird, one that wanders around Cley area with some feral Barnacles. Last year it was in amongst a group of Barnacles that included a hybrid offspring.

On the way home a brief stop at Fakenham and the Shrike was showing well, sitting on top of a tree looking around and preening. Great finish to a successful morning out.. Now I really must see the Western Sand in 2012 before it moves on!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2011 birding year

As we move quickly into 2012 I am just looking back on the highlights of 2011.

Few new British ticks but one of the highest number of 'found' species for a few years, despite not finding any BBRC description species!

The new species were Collared Flycatcher, Sandhill Crane and an armchair tick in the form of Siberian Stonechat.
The Flycatcher was a bird that I always wanted to see after having friends (thanks Shaun!) winding me up for years of the ones they saw, Pagham and Scotland birds. One in Norfolk was a real result.
The Crane was something I never thought I would catch up with in the UK. The past birds in Scotland and Northern Isles seemed like they would become proper blockers.

There were some other very rare birds like my second ever Little Bittern and Western Sand both in Norfolk.

My rarest find was the Siberian Chiff on Blakeney Point with other scarce birds like Waxwings, Pec Sand and Rough leg Buzzard...but the Autumn was frustrating in Norfolk with a real lack of migrants from the East.

Foreign highlights being a great trip to Spain with Dave Gandy. Will never forget the Bustards and huge number of raptors. Cheers Dave. A few nice birds in Florida too on a non birding trip.

Now looking forward to the rest of 2012. I am determined to find at least one proper rarity on the Point this year.

Good luck everyone and happy birding in 2012.