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Showing posts from August, 2010

Surf, Sea and Skuas

A good if testing hour of seawatching at Cley this morning. Holding the tripod steady was as challenging as the id, but rather than get too hung up on that side of it, this morning was quite an experience in conditions best described as adverse. A group of 9 Bonxies came through, accompanied by a smaller Skua which was called as a juvenile Long Tailed. No doubt it was called by a hardened seawatcher, but I am aware of the pitfalls of juvenile Skua id, and having never seen this species before I feel a little reading is in order before I am happy with what I saw, or was told I saw. Plenty of Gannets passed through, and other highlights included a Sooty Shearwater, and a group of 4 distant Shearwaters that were probably Manx.
We walked along East Bank, and so much was moving. The wind appeared to have unsettled the ducks, for Teal were a constant presence in the air. A Sparrowhawk, Spoonbill and 2 Great Black Backed Gulls flew over our heads and a Whimbrel and 3 Curlew were grounded for…

Rush Hill scrape, Hickling

Flooded out, don't bother! Did manage a Greenshank, call and white wedge on its back betraying its identity. Plenty of Teal, few Gadwall but not the hoped for Yankee wader fest. Back to the shorebirds book, in hope. Marsh Harrier drifted through and Bearded Tit were heard calling on route back to the car.


An evening visit again, hanging onto what light remains since the nights that are fast drawing in.
The Wood's End Barn Owl again arrived on cue across the river, and the crowd of Egyptian Geese were particuarly unsettled. The lagoon held 80 duck, 5 female Shoveler were the latest arrivals amongst the Teal and Mallard.
A Green Sandpiper, probably one of the two I have seen before, was on the puddle at the foot of the hill were the ruins stand. The startled bird legged it across to the lagoon. Where was the Spotted Crake I had been picturing?!
I finished the evening at Rockland Marshes. Another Barn Owl, and a 400 strong Corvid roost swarmed against the full moon, still settling down for the night as I left at 8.30pm.


I won't grip folk off too much regarding my morning with Mr. King; suffice to say he is a thoroughly decent bloke and the morning I spent in his company will not be forgotten. Whilst grilling an odd looking goose in the hide, I had forgotten I was birding with 'Simon King' as such, I was just out enjoying the birds with good company. Birds from the hide included An Osprey, called by the man himself, Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Lapwing and Little Egret. An odd call from the woods was believed to be a juvenile Tree Sparrow (I need to get an iphone!), although I did not see any from the usual hide.
Spent most of the fair itself moving between the optics marquee, lectures and catching up with friends. A trip to Eastern Europe is now on the cards for next spring, so a number of very helpful tour guides were approached and I purchased Gerard Gorman's excellent guide to birding in Eastern Europe.
We went down to see the Ospreys, which were great, but in truth the experience was fo…

Waxham and Happisburgh

Never made it down to the pipe dump, a large party of caravans and tents (legal?) were blocking my route, as far as I could see, so no chance of exploring the srcub. A walk to Shangri-La Cottage produced common residents including Whitethroat and Kestrel.
An hour long seawatch from Happisburgh 10.30-11.30am proved a good move. A walker flushed a Whimbrel from the beach, which flew high, alarm-calling. 4 Guillemot drifted west, and whilst grilling the small group from some distance a probable Arctic Skua flew west. What was probably the same bird then landed (displaying white flashes on the wings, but not a double flash) not far from the auks and proved a good comparison in terms of size and shape when on the sea. Sandwich Terns fished both close in and distantly.
A female Brown Argus provided the Butterfly interest, and a few ladybirds were zipping about, nothing on last year's invasion though.
Birdfair tomorrow, and a lunch date with The King. Details, of course, to follow on monda…

Surlingham Marsh 18/08/10

A couple of recent visits to Surlingham have proved a little quiet, adding one or two common species to the list but nothing really worth blogging off about.
I decided an after dinner visit was in order, so did the circuit from 7-8pm. A Barn Owl was watched hunting the marshes literally outside the Woods End pub (open and under new ownership, trip report to follow!). 18 Egyptian Geese were counted, and 4 white farmyard type geese were in with the Greylay flock.
On arrival at the lagoon, finally some action. A Grey Heron was fishing right out front, and duck numbers were up; plenty of Mallard and more Gadwall and Teal in support. Then, jackpot. Calling as they flew in, 2 Green Sandpipers. Sadly they didn't hang around, departing high towards Wheat Fen, but hopefully a taster of things to come. A joy to watch as they fed, always unsettled, for around 5 minutes at the water's edge amongst the Teal.
Green Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail and a singing Yellowhammer were also added to the l…

Birding in 'The Cradle of the Industrial Revolution'.

Sorry Norfolk fans, for this post relates to a week away in Derbyshire. On adopting a patch, I promptly left the county....
The helpful folk from the relevant thread on birdforum put me in the direction of Wyver Lane NR, just 5 minutes from where we were staying in Milford. We managed two visits here, and whilst nothing out of the ordinary was seen this is clearly a well watched local patch with potential. A high count of 66 Lapwing were present on the 12th along with 2 Grey Herons, and a Kestrel was observed hunting on the 15th. During both visits a Water Rail was calling not far from the track.
2 trips to Carsington Water proved fruitful, on the 12th we saw 1 Greenshank, 1 LRP, 1 Dunlin and 1 Common Sandpiper. A single Red Crested Pochard, flyover Buzzard and good numbers of Tree Sparrow made for a good haul. A return trip on the 15th produced more of the same minus the waders.
Milford itself is a picturesque village and made for a good base to travel from. We had a Nuthatch on the …

Holiday fit for a King part 2

Just a different kind of King this time.......
Almost forgot I had entered the competition, so to receive an email from Zeiss UK congratulating me on winning a walk and lunch with Simon King at Birdfair left me speechless, for at least 5 minutes, then the expletives and phone calls followed. Goes without saying I cannot wait, but what to ask him???
I have decided to adopt Surlingham Church Marsh RSPB as my local patch. Just under 20 minutes drive from my doorstep, seems like a great reserve with bags of potential. Patch details and the beginnings of a list to follow. A visit saturday evening produced a Marsh Harrier, 2 Common Buzzard and Grey Heron from the church ruins 'watch point', ideal for viz-mig.
Having spent a few years in Norwich now, I feel the need to put some time in and focus on one area close to home. Furthermore, the list is getting there and I no longer feel the need to see anything and everything in Norfolk. I will still be hitting the east coast come autumn, a…

Rockland Broad

A breezy but pleasant afternoon. Well under an hour spent in the hide overlooking Rockland Broad produced a Kingfisher, Common Tern and young Reed Warbler. Very few wildfowl or waterbirds in general, a brood of Tufted Duck and a Great Crested Grebe were noted though. A Kestrel was hunting the meadow but no other raptors were over the marshes. I saw my first Painted Lady of the year along the track to the hide. A Common Buzzard was circling a beet field on the way home.

Ted Ellis Country

Whilst the summer holidays may not be prime time for high-adrenalin birding, it is a great opportunity to get out and explore Norfolk. I have visited Strumpshaw Fen more than any other reserve/patch this year, more than I always care to blog about. What is on the other side of the river?More of the same it would seem, fantastic habitat and great birds, the only difference being the profile of the following sites. Surlingham Church Marsh and Wheatfen (Ted Ellis) reserve appear to be little known and under-watched. No matter, for this was exactly what I was after. Beginning at the former then. The reserve trail is a nice little circuit, easily walkable in under an hour. It is Strumpshaw in miniature, complete with its own scrape (of sorts), a hill (migration hotspot right there) and with added grazing marshes. It was at these marshes that I heard the reel of a Gropper. The ruins of the church of St. Saviour are certainly worth a look, and I spent a moment here at the grave of Norfolk na…

Buckenham Marshes

A wet morning led to marking, but the reappearance of the sun gave me the ideal excuse to toss aside the papers and get out and about.
Buckenham Marshes is just down the road from Strumpshaw, but despite living in Norwich for almost 3 years, I have never visited. The reserve information board rather nervously exclaims "The vast expanse of grass can appear rather quiet", or something similar, which basically means you are gonna have to work for your supper.
Eying up a potential walk back to Strumpshaw, I headed towards the Yare in hope rather than any great expectation. It was very quiet, an odd looking wagtail was presumably a juvenile Grey, and aside from Meadow Pipits and Goldfinch not a lot was doing. I clocked a female Marsh Harrier quartering a patch of dense grass, and seemingly out of nowhere a very dark Common Buzzard appeared. Landing gear out, the pair sparred in the sky, derelict windmill making quite a back-drop.
Walking back, a male Marsh Harrier made a lazy att…