Sunday, 27 February 2011

Strumpshaw Fen 27/02/11

Glorious day, if a little windswept.

Birds of note on the reserve included a Bittern, which appeared to come from Rockland across the river, and flew high onto the reserve and landed somewhere near the railway line, hopefully not on it. A stonechat was seen in the reedbed from the Tower Hide, and loafing on the water here were a few Gulls, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal and Greylag Geese. 4 Snipe were in the long grass. A Marsh Harrier appeared to be nest building, disappearing into the reedbed on 2 occassions with a largish twig.
Birds of the day were undoubtedly the Treecreepers. 2 Pairs were vocal: one near the start of the meadow trail, and one near Tower Hide. A lovely song and a sure sign that courtship is underway for some birds, and as we know more will follow.
6+ Siskins were showing well, feeding on the catkins hanging amongst the trees and bushes near the visitor centre.
Back to work tomorrow, trying to look on the bright side- perhaps the Grey Wagtail which seems to have overwintered will still be about?

Here is a Gull ducking from today:

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Over-wintering Green Sandpiper

2 of them, on the main lagoon at Surlingham Church Marsh. With my late summer records last year, I would reckon Surlingham to be an important site for this species. I would assume they are not returning birds, so I wonder where they have been during the winter? According to RBA, a single bird went east at Hardley flood earlier in the month. Other than that, you have to go back to November for a 'reported' bird in the county. Maybe with the warmer weather, they have come from a short distance somewhere to the south of us.
Other bits and bobs included a pair of Coal Tit in the graveyard, 3 Bullfinch in scrub, pairs of Coot and Shelduck on the lagoon and a Cettis sang from somewhere.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Titchwell 25/02/11

Working hard on the patch (or east coast come migration) heralds obvious rewards, but sometimes it is good to see a lot of birds. Plus, I had not yet visited Titchwell's newest hide, a behemoth, a blockbuster amongst hides I would say.
It did not take long to catch up with the Northern Harrier, hunting low and easy to miss, over the marsh in the direction of Thornham. Looked very dark on top, orange below, but at some distance. Just to confuse things, a Hen Harrier hunted roughly the same area a little later on that morning; due to lack of communication the two did not hunt side by side.
From the new hide, I watched 43 Twite feeding with a few Skylark. My notes read: one with pink ring, one with 2 orange rings. Not sure what that means, yet. I also saw a Spotted Redshank from here.
Right place right time on the beach; 2 Snow Bunting zipped over my head. Out at sea, a very flighty Scoter flock allowed me to lock onto a single Velvet Scoter. As you would, I called this to the small group next to me, they grunted. As you do. Also at sea were a pair of Red Breasted Merganser and a smattering of Goldeneye. A Sanderling was brave, scuttling towards the assembled sea watchers before veering away on seeing my new camera unveiled.
Cracking views of ducks on the way back to the centre: Pintail, Goldeneye, Shovelor, Gadwall and a female Smew, asleep.
Finished the day at Thornham, hoping for a better look at the Harrier, but I was not able to stay too long, since I had another 30 minute meal to concoct, which unsuprisingly took more than 30 minutes.
Last night, I had been on the ale, but I'm fairly sure I heard 2+ Whooper Swan calling over the house in Norwich. Proving there is something in this, Debs informs me she saw 3 Swans flying over the city this morning around 8.30am, which looked a little small for Mute Swans. Interesting, and a good excuse to head to the pub of an evening.

Making use of the new camera, some shots from today:

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Things are starting to happen- The Monthly Count.

New hardback A6 Notebook in hand, I set out to count everything I saw and heard at Surlingham Church Marsh, yesterday. My past notes are a bit of a muddle/mystery, and aside from writing them up on here, incomplete scribblings are the fruits of my labour to date. That is about to change.
Firstly, the highlights. A pair of Treecreeper engaging in courtship would be a good spot anywhere, but this wasn't anywhere; this was the patch, and this was a new bird! Nearby, a Blue Tit was chased and then violently attacked by a gang of 3 fellow Blueys. I stood by and did nothing. Across at Wood's End, a very lost looking Oystercatcher was also a new
bird for the reserve list, and I have never been so pleased to see an Oystercatcher. There were 3 Great Crested Grebes on the river, a pair of which were nest building. At least 6 Siskin were seen, 2 Shelduck were on the lagoon and 2 Stock Doves called. Lovely stuff.
The following is in no real order (common ones first, prepared at home) and took place between 2.30 and 4pm (read that line in the voice of Jack Bauer):

6 Blackbird
8 Blue Tit
11 Great Tit
10 long Tailed Tit
7 Robin
20+ Woodpigeon
4 Carrion Crow
10 Magpie
88 Greylag Goose
2 Chaffinch
1 Dunnock
10+ Black Headed Gull
3 Wren
6 Greenfinch
2 Goldcrest
6 Siskin
2 Treecreeper
1 Oystercatcher
4 Coot
3 Great Crested Grebe
8 Moorhen
5+ Wigeon
4 Egyptian Goose
1 Green Woodpecker
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
2 Common Gull
2 Gadwall
2 Stock Dove
38 Teal
2 Shelduck
1 Redwing
10+ Fieldfare
2 Mistle Thrush
1 Reed Bunting
1 Water Rail
1 Grey Heron
1 Pheasant
1 Mute Swan
1 Song Thrush
1+ Goldfinch

Missed Bullfinch, but I am pleased with 40 Species.
These 2 Shelduck have returned to the lagoon, and if the much maligned and abused sightings board in the hide is to be believed, they were here 5 days ago also.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Surlingham 12/02/11

It was always going to be difficult to top a quite sensational goal in the Manchester derby this lunchtime, but after a reality check in the form of book marking, I got underway with a thorough grilling of the patch.
Some action was afoot on the river, involving the usually grass-bound Greylag flock and smaller numbers of Wigeon and Teal. 2 Coot were further down-river, and a Great Crested Grebe was also seen.
The scrub at the start of the trail is proving particularly productive of late; Bullfinch, c15 Siskin, Long-tailed Tit and Greenfinch were all here. A scan across to Wood's End revealed the hunting Barn Owl and a large flock of c200 Fieldfare and a few Redwing. Further a long, I watched a dog Fox investigating holes along the river bank, methodically marking his territory. A sublime view of one of our mammals about his daily business.
A few ducks were out the front of the hide, A nice pair of Gadwall and 8 Teal were looking smart. Water Rails squealed, Reed Bunting sang and a Cettis called- finally, some sounds at Surlingham!
A Great Spotted Woodpecker 'chipped' from within the scrub, and expected year tick. Hoping for a Heron or Egret in the grazing meadow, I picked up another expected year tick, but an unexpected number and locality. 16 Meadow Pipit were in a bare tree, feeding on what I wasn't sure. I have had mipit flyover, but to stumble across this wintering flock like this is notable for the patch.
I headed to Claxton Marshes at dusk, fruitless, but on route just outside the village (before Rockland) was the Greylag flock in a newly ploughed field. I also counted 44 Egyptian Geese, and more Greylags arrived. In amongst them was a Pink-footed Goose. I need to examine the flock at Wood's End a little more closely if I want that year tick! The flock, numbering somewhere around 200, was still there once darkness had fallen as I drove back to the city.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Stubb Mill Roost and Broads

Saturday evening and a visit from a friend, so an ideal opportunity to show off one of Norfolk's finest spectacles- The Crane and Raptor roost at Stubb Mill. Walking up the track, I informed him of the high likelihood of a gang of numpties at the watchpoint. He responded with "I'll just tell them all about the Cock Of The Rock I saw". Fair shout. After a slow start, the birding soon picked up, and we were able to count a total of 41 Marsh Harriers in the air, battling against the wind. A shout from next to us alerted us to a low flying Male Hen Harrier. I spied a small falcon with his back to us- I would guess Merlin, but must I have been looking away when he took off. As the sun set, a Woodcock blazed through, and despite my shout out, it seemed very few of the crowd knew what a Woodcock was. Muppets. We caught a glimpse of c14 Cranes landing far away to our left, and right on cue the crowd dispersed. Realising there was some light left and relishing the peace and quiet, we waited a little longer. Following a flock of Pink Feet, something bigger behind them, coming into view....more Cranes! 18 in total, and they gave us a lovely view flying across the horizon, the mill and darkening sky a beautiful backdrop. Walking back, a second Woodcock fought fiercely against the wind, flying at an impossible angle over our heads. Smug as hell!
Today began with a headache, talks of travelling the night before had led to a late one. We did manage to get out however, and had a wander round Wood's End, a part of my patch I rarely step foot on. A Kestrel was added to the year list, and the Greylag flock were present but smaller in number. Snowdrops were out, a Song Thursh was singing Spring. We bought refreshments from the Wood's End pub, which we agreed needed a little work but could be quite good.
Rockland Broad was disappointing, a Little Grebe was all we saw. Little point investigating Surlingham on shooting Sundays, so a more thorough search will be conducted next Saturday.