Star bird

IMG_8901 White stork (Custom)We returned, as planned, to Lynford to try yet again to get the Hawfinches but once more we failed. This Kestral kept me entertained as she watched for her prey and made several attempts to catch something but each time came up ’empty handed’!

Home after a very pleasant, though unsuccessful walk on a beautiful morning. Time to make more meals to fill our flasks for other trips out, our kitchen did smell good today! Mid afternoon and a message came out: White stork at Welney, shoes, binoculars, camera, keys and we were out of the house and on our way!

As we drove into Welney we saw the bird, phew a tad more amenable than the Hawfinches! We went in and enjoyed this magnificent, unusual bird. I had seen one once before but it was the briefest of flight views so this felt like a life tick even though it wasn’t!

 

 

It was a beauty but I must admit I still cant imagine them on chimney tops, let alone nesting there. It wandered around but didn’t stray far, it preened and rested as we stood and watched.

It dipped into the water several times but all I saw it come up with was mud! I am sure he was finding something more nutritious in the water too at least I hope so!

 

Somehow missing the finches this morning seemed a distant memory and this star bird more than made up for it. Watching him preen I was hopeful he would do a wing stretch but he didn’t oblige!

When we left the bird seemed content and resting so I wouldn’t think he is going anywhere tonight. White stork bird number 152 for the year a real star!

No mud, that’s new!

About a month ago, the day we saw our first Serin, we went to Blakeney in the hope of seeing Lapland buntings. We walked down the sea wall until we reached the gate that we had been told led to the buntings. As we went through the gate the path was thick with mud, we walked until I thought the mud would seep over my boots! Now I wanted to see the bird but I’m not that keen!!!

Today we returned to try again as I had heard they had become easier to see and indeed they were. We took the same walk along the sea wall seeing a lovely pair of Reed buntings as we went, but when we reached the gate there was no need to go through.

The birds were now bolder, mainly due to the fact that someone was regularly throwing seed down around the gate to encourage them out. We hadn’t been there long when one flew onto the wire quite far back and I had hope we would get better views. After a little while about half a dozen of them flew but were hidden in the undergrowth.

Fortunatley a couple of them came in closer and I got a few shots that I was happier with. We decided to go for a walk further along the sea wall to see what else was around.

A couple of Meadow pipits and several Skylarks also made an appearance, some of them were Skylarking something I love to see and hear.

When we had walked far enough we returned and as we approached the place where the Laplands were and we saw a couple of them were in very close to the gate so I was able to take some more photographs through the gate.

 

So today, February 26th we got Lapland buntings without wading through any mud in fact we said we think it is the first day birding this year with hardly a trace of mud!

Off for lunch at my sisters before wending our way home. Tomorrow morning we intend to make an early start and go to the arboretum to try, yet again, to see the Hawfinches. If there is no blog tomorrow you will know we failed!!!

Birds now 151

Fingers crossed for the summer

Another beautiful day but a scan on Ian’s knee meant we couldn’t gallivant out for the day so instead we went our separate ways! He was off to see what is really going on inside his knee and me to try a private hide to see if I want to get a permit for it.

The star that often graces those in the hide was absent today but later in the year I really hope to get some shots. I won’t tell you what it is but I think the first photo may give a rather big clue!IMG_0967 (Custom)

Peter already has a permit and had permission to take me before I open my purse! We don’t get out birding together as much as we used to so it was good to have the opportunity this morning. The hide is not far from home and in a lovely setting, today though it was a very cold place to be. For some reason I thought it was a warmer day than it proved to be so gloves and fleece were left at home…big mistake!

Whilst watching over the water a Heron circled over but didn’t land, he was followed by a couple of Greylag geese, honking as they flew and then a group of Teal which did land.

 

We turned our cameras to the small birds that were feeding on strategically placed peanuts to the side of the hide. A steady turn over of birds including Robins and  Dunnocks kept us busy.

A little Wren crept in but didn’t stay for long, similarly a Jay made a very brief appearance!

A couple of Marsh tits were flying in and out and it seemed they chose the moment to fly by when I tried to take their picture! I have several photos of bits of wood with not a bird in sight when just a second before a Marsh tit had been there! It wasn’t helped by me laughing every time it happened which probably meant I missed even more shots, thankfully Peter was kind enough to laugh with me (or was that at me?).

Chaffinches, Blue and Great tits were busy and a Pheasant wondered in occasionally.

I had a super morning and I hope I  will enjoy many more visits there preferably in similar company to today. Ian must wait a few days to get the verdict on his knee, hopefully a simple solution will soon make him pain free.

 

Determination got us to 150!

What a fantastic day, I had to check the calendar and make sure I hadn’t slept in till May as that’s what today  felt like, look at the colour of the sky!  We had been really looking forward to our ‘Walk with the warden at Sculthorpe Moor and although it was fine it wasn’t really what we had hoped for. There was too much standing about for my liking and too much talk about the site and not enough finding birds, but that may have just been our view point. We had coffee waiting when the walk was over and then the decision as to where we would go next. We toyed with a few ideas but as we were both determined to reach 150 today we decided to go to Choseley barns and wait until we had seen Yellowhammers which never fail to show there. That sounds like fighting talk and of course we could have been let down but we were not.

What beautiful little birds these are with their call of ‘little bit of bread and NO cheese’ made me think of some gorgeous folk I know that have given up cheese for Lent! Once we had walked and seen the birds we parked up near a puddle in the hope that they may come down for a drink. Just as they flew in closer our plan was thwarted by someone else coming and parking right between us and the puddle, honestly the cheek of some people!!!

So 150 reached and nothing else in the area that was calling us so we decided to return to some old haunts. Thornham next in the hope that we might get shots of the Twite, no luck, the carpark is almost one large pool and so much or the path the kind of mud you fear getting stuck in…not again!

On instead to Brancater Staithe harbour which for some reason I just love.

It is great to sit in the car and eat lunch and even with the tide out waders and gulls entertained us. As we watched the Black-tailed godwit feeding in the thick, slimy mud it made me even more grateful than usual for my flask filled with delicious (though I say so myself) hot veggie sausage casserole. So as he dipped his bill in the mud I dipped my spoon in my flask, I think I win!

This Common gull sat on top of the post, alternating between wakefulness and snoozing (reminded me of a certain someone on the sofa occasionally 😉 ). The Black-headed gull spent ages bathing in a pool whilst an assortment of waders looked on.

I do find gulls rather confusing, but it struck me today, that the Common gull is the one there were less of and the Black-headed gull had a white head, so gull Id is easy right?!

Now the next part of the day is where I kick myself…hard! We had seen three Barn owls this morning which was brilliant, all in flight and no photo opportunity. As we drove from Brancater we both spotted a beautiful Barn owl perched on a road sign, perfect pose! Well it would have been if either us had seen in in time, but no by the time we saw it we were upon it and it flew off. Lovely to see but frustrating to have missed the chance.

We stopped of at Holkham to see what was in the fields, not a lot was the answer but I couldn’t resist this pair of grazing Egyptian geese.

I remember the first time we saw them, excitement and people stopping especially to see them, now they are common place.

We went on to a place that is often good for Barn owls, as we had already seen four today I though the chance of one being out was good. We did indeed see another one it flew around the edge of the field and returned with a tasty morsel hanging from its mouth. It dropped out of sight behind the building and although we waited we didn’t see it again. So today we saw five beautiful Barn owls which was wonderful, one day I will get shots to share here…one day!

 

 

 

 

 

Sixth time lucky!

Try, try, try again is what I was told but in this case add another three tries and then we have success! A life tick for us both is what we have been after since January 1st today was the sixth time we went for a Pallid harrier. The first four times at Abbey farm and the last two at Roydon common and I am oh so pleased to say we have it, distant but none the less good views! Take my word for it the dot in the centre of this picture is a Pallid harrier, the other picture is Roydon common as we left it to return to the car.

We were beginning to think we might miss it entirely but our perseverance paid off today as we decided to give it another go around the time it comes in to roost. I had seen pictures of it and read what to look out for. One thing I had heard was that it is smaller than a Hen harrier which as it happens we saw for ourselves as at one point it flew around with a Hen harrier, the two so close to each other it was clear to see the difference. The Pallid also had a tussle with a crow which provided a good view of its manoeuvring skills! It really was a beautiful bird and I was so pleased to get decent views although I would have liked to see it closer but maybe next time!

This morning was spent making biscuits with my three gorgeous grandchildren, they always bring a smile to my face and today was no exception. Daniel was sieving the flour when he suddenly declared that he had a bit of a problem. I asked what it was and he said, “every time I stir it, it falls through the little holes!” bless him, such a cutie. They each made their own batches and they were all yummy!Daniel (Custom)

The past few days, since our return from Suffolk, have been spent quietly. Ian has needed a few quieter days to literally catch his breath but hopefully his situation will soon improve but until then if we need to pursue things more gently then so be it.

On our way to an appointment on Saturday we spent some time sorting through gulls and thankfully found an Iceland gull, we also picked us a singing Skylark. If anyone spots any other different gulls in these snaps please feel free to let me know!

My sister invited us to lunch on Sunday and we stayed two night, quite a lunch hey?! It was good to catch up with them and we went for a walk at Sculthope moor, for a change I took some photos showing the backs of some birds. They are doing some work there making a river walk that will hopefully be open for the spring.

 

We bought a new, light weight telescope which arrived today so we tried it out this afternoon. It is really good and as the first bird we saw through it was a life tick we can’t complain! Now we need to decide if we want to sell the other scope of hang on to it, time alone will tell.

The Pallid harrier was bird number 149 for the year now we are wondering what 150 will be!

 

 

A Suffolk Tale

One of the real perks of our special year is the freedom that has come with it. At the beginning of the week we noticed the weather looked good in Suffolk so we were able to pack our bags, book a room and go.

I am not exaggerating when I say we have had a brilliant time including a tasty curry last night and  our farewell morning today. Last night we decided to set an alarm early again, to make the most of every moment and go to Island Mere hide before breakfast, but when the alarm went off we weren’t quite so keen, after all it was set to be even colder than yesterday! It didn’t take long for us to decide to go for it, after all it was our last morning near Minsmere, at least for this trip! It was another beautiful morning, I wonder if they are all like this in Suffolk!

I was right though it was cold, how do those little birds survive nights in the frozen reeds? This little Water pipit was busy nipping in and out and then going for a brief skate on the ice!

The hide was busier today and I am struck by the atmosphere there, they seem a friendly bunch who obviously know each other well but were happy enough to welcome outsiders. I have been enjoying meeting so many new people, mostly so friendly and some excellent characters. I think if Minsmere were our local reserve we would find our way to Island hide rather a lot of mornings to enjoy the usual and the unusual.IMG_8034 (Custom)

Mute swans looked stunning in the morning light and again the Marsh harriers were flying high. It does seem strange sitting in such a beautiful place with Sizewell looming in the background!

I didn’t know it then but very shortly we were in for such a treat, one of the highlights of our time away. We had briefly seen an otter swimming another day but this morning with ice on the water it made a fantastic appearance. He came out of the ice stayed a while then down he went again, repeating this until he reached the unfrozen water and off he swam. All in the hide were thrilled to have seen him so well.

Back to The Eel’s Foot for breakfast before checking out, if you ever need somewhere to stay in that area we do recommend it. We had considered leaving for home then and making a couple of detours on the way but we changed our minds and decided instead to go back to have a last visit at Minsmere then head straight home.  Due to a concern about Avian pox the feeders near the visitors centre had been taken down but the ever hopeful Pheasants that lurk under them don’t seem to have got the message.

Time to leave Minsmere with the hope that we will return again soon. Seeing how many trees have been newly cut down I trust there will still be plenty when we come back! Hoping too that the abundance of rabbits continues, I just can’t resist them!

Thank you for joining in our Suffolk tale, it has been lovely and reinforced our decision to take a ‘gap year’.

I thought it would be fitting to end this tale with a tail!IMG_8134 (Custom)

 

 

A cold start

To say we had a cold start to the day is an understatement, it was freezing and we had to scrape the car before we could head out. We were treated to the sight of several deer on our pre breakfast trip to Minsmere, Muntjac and Roe on the way and Red deer from the hide. It was another beautiful sunrise although a little cloud meant the light was not so striking, although I think even the hide itself looks good in the early morning light. I assume due to the cold the birds were slower to wake up today, the Marsh harriers appeared quite a bit later than yesterday and we could see a Snipe sitting but it didn’t move the whole time we were there!

I could easily get used to coming back from an early morning bird watch to have someone cook me breakfast but after tomorrow it will be back to usual! After refuelling ourselves we headed off to Westleton Marsh in search of Dartford warblers. This may be a good time to point out that during our Pursuing wings (and other things) year we are only counting things that we both see so if Ian or I miss something it will not appear on my list. So imagine the feeling when after a really good look around the heath I saw a Dartford warbler on some heather but it was gone from sight before Ian could get on to it. No  problem we thought it will pop up again shortly but it didn’t, no sign of it. We spent some time waiting, looking and hoping and in the end we were rewarded, another one appeared in a tree and flew down in front of us then away…relief it can go on the list! We also first heard then saw two Woodlark so that was two new one for the year.

Next stop Dunwich heath also a good place for Dartford warblers and plenty more beside or so we thought. As is often the case at good birding places a board was up showing recent sightings, this was the list: Dartford warbler, Magpie and that was it!!! We did enjoy the walk across the heath although caught no sight of a warbler but rest assured there was no shortage of Magpies. I love to see birds on gorse and the only one that cooperated to day was a little Robin although even he was looking away from me, gazing out to sea I think! The best was yet to come we were treated to two beautify Short eared owls flying over us, sadly too fast for me to get any decent shots but I include one I took just because it was so lovely to see.

We caught sight of a herd of deer but they were rather well hidden.

We decided return to Minsmere for the afternoon although we somehow managed to miss out lunch, not our best bit of planning! There were no particular birds to look for today so we just enjoyed  a good trek round. We saw a nice female Stonechat on the way and several Chiffchaffs. It seems you can’t go far there without meeting rabbits and I can’t resist taking pictures of them!

We are back at The Eels Foot now and will soon be going across for something to eat, a rather nice vegetarian curry is calling me! So I will end with my favourite photos today which are certainly not of my favourite bird but he was obliging so I include a couple of shots of a Magpie. We go home tomorrow but may make the odd detour on our journey.

Birds: 146

Mammals: 10