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Showing posts from May, 2011

Hobby cruises in

Sometimes, things just fall into place. Doing the circuit around Surlingham Church Marsh this morning, I had been thinking about seeing a Hobby. A harbinger of Summer, a true athlete in the birding world. On cue, he appeared, zooming low across the reedbed announcing himself with a gust of wind. Lovely stuff! This was a bird I saw regularly last year, late summer, so hopefully this year I will be lucky enough to see juveniles fledge here or nearby.
Another year tick came in the form of a Yellowhammer, on the other side of the river at Wood's End. I expect there are more birds around on the farmland but I have been a little lazy and neglected this part of the reserve. Furthermore, no sign of the Little Owl again, prompting me to conduct a thorough search of the field and surrounding trees soon.
The Lapwing chick bravely survives, and the other female remains sat tight. A single Shelduck was on the lagoon. A Little Egret flew over, and maybe a different individual did the same around …

The Swallowtails at Strumpshaw

And you can make them bigger, too. Click on the above for Broads glory shots.
For those that don't know where to look, park up at Strumpshaw Fen and walk back on yourself to the house and footpath. Follow this footpath for 5 minutes or so, and the owners of the next house you will encounter kindly allow Butterfly watchers to walk up the border where the above crackers often feed. Sure enough, we watched one individual very closely here. Another was seen on the reserve itself, not far over the railway track, and a final Swallowtail was seen back along the aforementioned footpath. One would have been fine, felt priviliged and lucky to see three!
Had a quick look round parts of the reserve, and the breeding season is now in full swing here. Amorous Marsh Harriers over the reedbed, Ducklings on the ponds, baby Tits and Warblers in the bushes and reeds and a grunting Water Rail was within touching distance but not seen.
We saw plenty of other Butterflies too: Orange Tip, Red Admiral, S…

Overdue update- worth the wait!

I almost felt like a half decent birder as I trudged down the track adjacent to the river at Surlingham Church Marsh this evening. A bunch of chip-chip calls overhead, and looking up I knew exactly what I was going to see- Crossbills! I raced back up the track, and viewed across the meadow and located the birds sat atop a pine tree looking like classic Crossbills. They didn't hang around, but what a bird for the patch, elated!
The rest of the reserve was pretty lively tonight; along with the usual warblers and Reed Buntings a Lapwing chick was 'new in'. Rather worryingly it was moreorless left to its own devices, the mother remained sat tight. Perhaps another egg yet to hatch? However, as soon as a Grey Heron drifted across the lagoon, birds from both pairs launched themselves bravely at the Heron. One of many skirmishes I expect. A Water Rail was the first squealer for some time.
Near the gun club, a Treecreeper gave a couple of bursts of its unobtrusive song, and a Little…

Weekend round-up: Did I see it?

Yes, if you are thinking of the Lesser Yellowlegs at Cley. And a lovely looking bird it was too, made all the more sweet considering this has been a bit of a bogey bird for me; dipped 3 times when living in Suffolk. And waders, I can watch all day.

O.K, Great Snipe- arrived in the hide at 6.15am, it was packed! The door guardian ushered me behind him and to the right, where I waited for around an hour until people started filtering out. No sign, and when I heard some people had been present since half 4 (maybe some even stayed in the hide through the night?) I felt a little lucky in a strange way. Leaving the hide, I quickly picked up the Yellowlegs on a pool along with 2 Wood Sandpiper, Dunlin and a Little-ringed Plover. I thought the Dunlin looked rather smart, even at a distance, and today I noticed RBA are reporting a possible American Dunlin. Interesting. I have since had a gander at my shorebirds book, which suggests Pacifica and Hudsonia have slightly longer bills, bright chestn…

If you're looking for rare, look on.

The magnificent Citrine Wagtail aside, I haven't seen many 'rare' birds of late. I am partly to blame, since both the recent Collared Flycatcher and Great Snipe were just about gettable from my place in Norwich, but I refrained from making the journey on both occassions. It was late, my football team were playing, I had just opened a beer, I really should find my own and what if I miss it were my main excuses/thoughts. However, the Snipe lekking is a mindblower, and as I type a Lesser Yellowlegs has also made landfall at Cley. Could be worth a trip over the weekend, a rare foray to the north coast from this birder increasingly comfortable in The Broads.
Surlingham Church Marsh allowed for some classic British birding yesterday evening. The usual Reed and Sedge Warblers were in full voice and active across the reedbeds. 2 Lapwing are now nesting, significant for the Yare Valley. A male Sparrowhawk materialised, as they tend to do, and drifted over the reedbed. A Kingfisher …

Surlingham, Storks, score!

Up early today, driving towards Surlingham watching the sun rise, and one cannot help but feel you have got the edge over everyone else. I don't do enough really early mornings, but a walk organised by the South Yare Wildlife Group around my patch was a good reason to be up and about just after 4. The walk was led by Ben of Strumpshaw fame. Bird of the morning was a Kingfisher which flashed past heading downriver, new for the year and a bird I don't often see at Surlingham Church Marsh. A couple of Swifts high and distant were also new, and other highlights included the usual Warblers including 4 Grasshopper and a new Garden. A Little Egret was a decent record, and 2 pairs of Lapwing were on the lagoon. No waders today, a little disappointing in truth. The walk concluded with an excellent cooked breakfast at the Ferry House, the group seemingly pleased with the morning's events.
After bashing out a few reports, I decided to investigate Hardley Flood over a trip to the coast…

Evening update from the patch

After the glut of new birds at Surlingham recently, I was perhaps a little greedy in hoping for another tonight. Although no new birds were counted, Hobby cannot be far away from appearing. With the water level on the lagoon still low, I am hopeful for a wader or two Sunday morning.
The Greenshank was still present on the lagoon, happy to wade up to its breast in the water to the left of the hide. The Lapwing was sitting tight, and an Oystercatcher called overhead. I notcied that the only duck species present were Gadwall and Mallard; perhaps that will be that until failed breeders return. The usual warblers were vocal, in one spot a Sedge and Reed Warbler were sharing the same square foot of reedbed it seemed.
A final highlight was a Great-spotted Woodpecker, a bird I have seen on and off but not for some time. The male pictured below was 'chip' calling and drumming on the edge of the scrub and woodland near the church. Other birds of note on and around the reserve included Mi…

Estonia Trip Report, April 2011

Estonia April 12th-19th 2011, Jim Bradley.
Ice at the ferry crossing

Exploring the ancient forest

Red-breasted Goose at Audru

Pick the bones out of that!

Great-grey Shrike near Spithami.

Estonia is a place of real wilderness, yet easy to explore with the possibility of some cracking birds. Recent literature from both Gerard Gorman and Dave Gosney means that there is now plenty of useful information on birding Estonia, yet this country remains relatively unknown compared to other eastern European states such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Steller’s Eider, Owls and Woodpeckers in early Spring, Citrine Wagtail, Great Snipe, Great Spotted Eagle, Black Stork and Greenish Warbler in May and beyond are just some of the birds you may encounter.

We used Estonian Nature Tours to help plan and guide our trip. We are a young couple, so did not fancy being part of a tour bus scenario, and were keen to do most of the birding ou…

Happisburgh, Eccles, Sea Palling 02/05/11

On a high after the success at the patch this morning, I headed to the coast genuinely believing my luck was in. If you call a Wheatear lucky, then it was. Always nice to see of course, but I had rather hoped for me. It was at the Decca site, Happisburgh. It arrived and perched nicely for around half a minute, then off it flew. Seems a lot of birds are probably doing just that at the moment. Plenty of Swallows around, but not much else. And to think I checked so much good habo! Will the wind drop? Will Norwich get promoted tonight? Does anyone care?
In other news, the death of Osama Bin Laden was totally overshadowed by 2 Whimbrel and a Greenshank at Surlingham Church Marsh (see previous post, reader/s. Adding the s perhaps optimistic there).

The wind remains but plenty of patch ticks!

Cracking morning, glad I made the effort to get up and about earlier than usual.
A pair of Oystercatcher over at Wood's End gave some hope that waders may be on the move, and on arriving at the lagoon I struck lucky. A Greenshank was feeding just to the left of the bus shelter hide, a comical scene as it dipped its upturned bill into the mud, surrounded by the brood of Mallard ducklings! A second patch tick soon followed, as a Whimbrel called and flew overhead, north. Another one soon followed. Could have sat there all day, but no food and a trip to the coast this afternoon meant that was just not possible.
Decent goings on in the scrub too, a Garden Warbler was new in and sang from the same bush as a Blackcap, allowing close scrutiny of these two variable songsters. Suprisingly good views were obtained.
Passing the Ferry House, Reed, Grasshopper and Sedge Warbler were singing and 2 House Martin were over the village. Convinced I had heard the rattle of a Lesser Whitethroat near t…