March review

The only thing wrong with March is, it went too quickly, apart from that it has been brilliant. We saw great changes in the weather but winter still didn’t really get a grip, for which we were most grateful! We went from frost and hail to bright blue sky and birding in our ‘shirt sleeves’

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Gloucestershire, brilliant company and obliging birds. It was there that I saw my bird of the month, I have picked the Hawfinch. Now it wasn’t a life tick or anything like that but I saw it so much better than I have ever seen it before and got my first photos. Another special bird was the Long-billed dowitcher that we travelled to Rutland water to see.

We added a trip to Bedfordshire to our time away and again enjoyed excellent company, some good walks and the best woodpecker of the year!

 

 

Plenty of visits to the North Norfolk coast and other reserves helped us to boost our numbers and the lists have gradually crept up. Our month finished in style as we spent a long day at the coast, in beautiful weather celebrating Ian’s birthday. The weather couldn’t have been kinder and the addition of unexpected family participation made it an excellent end to our firs quarter, all we lacked were some  summer migrants!!!

List time again so look away now if this bit doesn’t interest you!

Ones in bold are new for March, ones in red are life ticks!

Bird List end March 

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Bewick Swan
  3. Whooper Swan
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. White-fronted Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Barnacle Goose
  9. Brent Goose
  10. Egyptian Goose
  11. Common Shelduck
  12. Mandarin Duck
  13. Eurasian Wigeon
  14. Gadwall
  15. Eurasian Teal
  16. Mallard
  17. Pintail
  18. Shoveler
  19. Red-crested Pochard
  20. Common Pochard
  21. Ferruginous Duck
  22. Tufted duck
  23. Greater Scaup
  24. Long-tailed Duck
  25. Common Scoter
  26. Velvet Scoter
  27. Goldeneye
  28. Smew
  29. Red-breasted Merganser
  30. Goosander
  31. Red-legged Partridge
  32. Grey Partridge
  33. Common Pheasant
  34. Golden Pheasant
  35. Little Grebe
  36. Great Crested Grebe
  37. Red-necked Grebe
  38. Slavonian Grebe
  39. Black-necked Grebe
  40. Fulmar
  41. Cormorant
  42. Shag
  43. Bittern
  44. Little Egret
  45. Great Egret
  46. Grey Heron
  47. White Stork
  48. Glossy Ibis
  49. Red Kite
  50. Marsh Harrier
  51. Hen Harrier
  52. Pallid Harrier
  53. Goshawk
  54. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  55. Common Buzzard
  56. Rough-legged Buzzard
  57. Kestrel
  58. Merlin
  59. Peregrine Falcon
  60. Water Rail
  61. Moorhen
  62. Coot
  63. Common Crane
  64. Oystercatcher
  65. Pied Avocet
  66. Stone-curlew
  67. Ringed Plover
  68. European Golden Plover
  69. Grey Plover
  70. Lapwing
  71. Knot
  72. Sanderling
  73. Purple Sandpiper
  74. Dunlin
  75. Ruff
  76. Jack Snipe
  77. Common Snipe
  78. Long-billed Dowitcher
  79. Black-tailed Godwit
  80. Bar-tailed Godwit
  81. Curlew
  82. Spotted Redshank
  83. Common Redshank
  84. Common Greenshank
  85. Lesser Yellowlegs
  86. Ruddy Turnstone
  87. Grey Phalarope
  88. Mediterranean Gull
  89. Black-headed Gull
  90. Common Gull
  91. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  92. Herring Gull
  93. Iceland Gull
  94. Glaucous Gull
  95. Great Black-backed Gull
  96. Rock Pigeon
  97. Stock Pigeon
  98. Wood Pigeon
  99. Collared Dove
  100. Barn Owl
  101. Tawny Owl
  102. Short-eared Owl
  103. Common Kingfisher
  104. Green Woodpecker
  105. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  106. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  107. Wood Lark
  108. Sky Lark
  109. Shore Lark (horned lark)
  110. Meadow Pipit
  111. Rock Pipit
  112. Water Pipit
  113. Grey Wagtail
  114. Pied Wagtail
  115. Wren
  116. Dunnock
  117. Robin
  118. Black Redstart
  119. Stonechat
  120. Blackbird
  121. Fieldfare
  122. Song Thrush
  123. Redwing
  124. Mistle Thrush
  125. Cetti’s Warbler
  126. Dartford Warbler
  127. Blackcap
  128. Common Chiffchaff
  129. Goldcrest
  130. Firecrest
  131. Bearded Tit
  132. Long-tailed Tit
  133. Marsh Tit
  134. Coal Tit
  135. Blue Tit
  136. Great Tit
  137. Nuthatch
  138. Treecreeper
  139. Penduline tit
  140. Great Grey Shrike
  141. Jay
  142. Magpie
  143. Jackdaw
  144. Rook
  145. Crow
  146. Common Raven
  147. Starling
  148. House Sparrow
  149. Tree Sparrow
  150. Chaffinch
  151. Brambling
  152. Serin
  153. Greenfinch
  154. Goldfinch
  155. Siskin
  156. Linnet
  157. Twite
  158. Lesser Redpoll
  159. Mealy Redpoll
  160. Bullfinch
  161. Hawfinch
  162. Lapland Longspur
  163. Snow Bunting
  164. Yellowhammer
  165. Reed Bunting
  166. Corn Bunting

Mammal list total 11

Rabbit, Stoat, Hare, Squirrel, Grey seal, Roe deer, Red deer, Muntjac deer, Sperm  whale, Otter, & weasel

Moths total 13  (these are all new for us as we weren’t mothing this time last year)

Winter moth, Pale brindled beauty, Mottled umber, Early moth, Common Quaker, Early grey, Common plume (micro), Hebrew character, Small brindled beauty, March moth, Small Quaker, Clouded drab, Shoulder stripe

Butterflies 2

Red admiral and Brimstone are our first two butterflies of the year.

Other critters 7

  1. Wasp
  2. Ladybird 7 spot
  3. Ladybird harlequin
  4. Lacewing green
  5. Lacewing brown
  6. Bloody nosed beetle
  7. Bumble bee
Total of totals for the first quarter a slightly frustrating: 199

 

 

 

 

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Happy birthday Ian

Thirty years ago we had our first holiday in Norfolk to celebrate Ian’s 40th birthday, we stayed in a house in Burnham Norton with our three children and my sister and brother-in-law, Janice and Chris. We had a good time and before long we had another couple of holidays this time in a house next door to Cley-next-the-sea  NWT visitors centre.

Those holidays along with others spent in  later years in Holt led to our future move to Norfolk. That all began thirty years ago, I’ll let you do your own maths as to Ian’s age now!

We spent the day out under an almost totally clear blue sky birding along the coast, We stopped at Chosely on our way to Holme-next-the-sea and we were really hoping to find some migrants but sadly we were not lucky. We did see some Grey partridges at Chosely which is always a treat as they are greatly outnumbered by the Red-legged variety!

There were plenty of Linnets, Meadow pipits, Stonechats and a smattering of other small birds but no migrants. A large flock of Brent geese flew overhead.

We went to Titchwell next and had a lovely walk up to the sea. On the way we heard several Cetti’s warblers and saw a couple which is not always easy! It was on our way to the beach that we had two ticks, one bird, one mammal and we were delighted. The bird was a Firecrest, the UK’s smallest bird and often rather elusive. It was a brilliant little bird and hoped into a shrub very near us, of course it didn’t stay still, hoping in and out of view but it was good to see it. Just moments before we saw the Firecrest we saw a weasel running for cover near the sea wall, brilliant .

This  beetle was on the path, we believe it is a Bloody nosed beetle! When we reached the beach we found it to be quiet as far as birds were concerned but busier than usual with people. Fen hide had re-opened today so we walked there on the smart ne board-walk! We didn’t stay there long as a rather late lunch was calling us.

We have got into the habit of eating at Brancaster Staithe and did the same today, we had hoped to be meeting Peter and family for lunch but little Daniel was poorly so that plan had to go.IMG_0375 (Custom)

After lunch whilst having a stroll I got two phone calls. The first from Janice suggesting we meet up to tea and cake (sounded good to me!) we arranged to meet later at Cley as that would be en route to Salthouse which is where we wanted to end our birding day. Moments later Peter phoned and Ian was serenaded by them all to the tune of Happy birthday.

We met Janice and Chris as planned and after our refreshments we were all about to leave for a walk at Salthouse when to our surprise Peter arrived with Alice and Matilda! ( Lynn was at home with Daniel who was on the mend but not 100% yet.) So off we all went to Salthouse and our final shot at finding a migrant today, I was really hoping for a Wheatear.

We had a good walk on Little Eye but no luck with birds even with all our eyes searching!IMG_0287 (Custom)IMG_0389 (Custom)

It was soon time for the others to leave and Ian and I to walk in the opposite direction up Gramborough Hill would we find anything there? No not really but the light on the water on the way was lovely.

We continued to search and looked out to the sea hoping to see things arriving but it was not to be. I think it is fair to say Ian had enjoyed his birthday and I have no doubt he will sleep well tonight!

So one more bird takes us to 166 birds and the weasel takes us to 11 mammals, 2016 is going well!

 

Good Friday reflections

My Good Friday began with breakfast of a cuppa and a toasted hot cross bun, well to be honest two! The sky was blue and it looked to be the excellent day the weather folk had promised us.

10am and time for church, time to reflect on the reason for this Easter weekend, for Good Friday. A lovely service, helping us to focus on the events of the first Good Friday, thank you Stephen.

We had decided to head up to the coast hoping to see a summer migrant or two but no luck with finding any. As I found myself to be still in reflective mood I decided to focus on just that, reflections.

Of course you can reflect on life and death, the future, the past anything that is in your mind and you can do it anywhere, but a nice setting helps!

Reflecting alone can be good…

or maybe with a friend or partner…

or it can be a group activity!

The groups above both the Godwits and the Dunlin are in ‘family’ groups but it can be fun to reflect with others too.IMG_0157 Redshank and Godwit (Custom)

If it doesn’t go well you can always walk away!!!

IMG_0158 Godwit and Redshank (Custom)

Little Eye at Salthouse is a favourite place for me, apart from the obvious joy of birding it is a wonderful place to reflect as you go or while you take the weight of your feet!

I haven’t said much about the strangers we have been meeting lately but I will tell you about one today. On Little Eye, tucked in on the side was a chap engrossed in drawing. With his permission I peeped at his work and he was drawing the scene there, as he said not an exact replica but with his own slant, it was looking good. We chatted a little about birds and life and it was a pleasure to meet him.

We went on to Cley, where in fact almost all of the photos above were taken. I think the little Dunlin were my favourite there today but they were soon to be pipped for the bird of the day accolade! We ended our birding day with a brisk walk down the East bank which was in fact rather quiet until we reached the steps back at the car park. Three common cranes flew almost over my head! Off over the trees they went but it was a thrill to see them so unexpectedly, bird number 162.

What a good Good Friday it has been, tomorrow Easter Saturday will probably be a quiet day and then comes Easter Sunday a day to celebrate.

Gossamer wings

The sun is out, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view but unlike the song there’s not a drop of rain in my heart! Instead a life tick, yes you heard me correctly a life tick!

We returned today to what I have heard referred to as ‘Norfolk’s worst kept secret’ but I am not spreading it further! It is a site good for Goshawks and today we saw a smashing pair, In fact we saw two pairs so things look good for the area. Whilst waiting for the Goshawks to wake up and start soaring, enjoying the sunshine a real bonus flew across. First we heard then we saw two Ravens, (first time we have seen them in Norfolk) they flew then landed at the top of high, distant trees. They were mobbed by several Crows in a fashion which I sensed was the crows saying “get out of our county!”

We were further entertained by beautiful ariel displays by some Buzzards.

I would like to tell you one of the many things I love about birding! Generally speaking stick a group of birders together and you soon have a lovely atmosphere. Today was one such occasion, people with more knowledge and experience helping others, making sure everyone saw the Goshawks. We were most grateful for that as I for one had never seen one and Ian only once before and at the distance they were flying I would not have been able to ID one without help, thank you birders! Also we would not have known where to look if it weren’t for a birding/mothing friend, thank you David!

We have this week seen our first two butterflies, a red admiral and a brimstone. Also the moth situation is slowly picking up and I thought I would show you which ones we have had so far.

The bottom two are micro moths all the rest are macros and they are the type we mainly Id. I would like to tell you difference, I used to think it was just about size but I was wrong as some micros are bigger than some macros. If the day ever comes when it all becomes clear I will let you know but it is fun learning.

Having only begun mothing last summer we are still catching lots of new types as they change so much not only from season to season but sometimes week to week! You wait and see what we catch later I think they will shatter any image you may have of what Moths look like!

Any way I have a very important date tonight, I am going to a choir performance featuring Matilda so I need to stop writing.

Ravens were bird 160 and Goshawks make it 161

All things being equall

March 21st the spring equinox (give or take a day!) and the day has been an equal mix of success and failure! I considered going down to Stonehenge to dance as the sun rose but then I thought…NO! Instead we checked the moth trap and went out birding. We began by trying again for Bean goose but we had no luck we did however get a tick later in the day.

On our journey we spotted a pair of hares in a field, we watched them for a while but they didn’t provide much excitement, they seemed to be taking the day in a very relaxed fashion! IMG_9842 (Custom)

 

It was a brighter day than we had expected so we were pleased we had headed up to the coast. First to Thornham and what I can only describe as a very fresh walk along the sea wall. Redshanks and Curlew seem to be doing particularly well there apparently enjoying them selves in the mud. I thought we might find a rare wader that had got lost and taken refuge at Thornahm but not today!!!

A lone Avocet was snoozing in the water and an Oystercatcher posed on the muddy bank.

Titchwell beckoned us and the allure of coffee was strong. it seems impossible to visit this site without being welcomed by a Robin, today was no exception.IMG_9898 (Custom)

The day had warmed up quite a bit and we decided to just walk down to the first hide concentrating on the reeds and  hoping for a year tick. We got the very bird we had hoped for, a Bearded tit, first it flew low and fast but enough to Id it. But then I spotted him low down in the reeds before he came out a clearly flew across the reeds, sadly not to be seen again! Bird number 159 brilliant!

Mission accomplished, that was the bird we were after there today so we just enjoyed a walk then were just going go to leave for Brancaster and a late lunch. On our was back to the car we got a good view of this Water rail, of course twigs and grasses spoilt photo opportunities.

We were nearly back at the car when we spotted a trio of Siskin feeding amonst the fallen leaves.

Lunch at Brancaster Staithe is becoming quite a habit and a very enjoyable one too! There are always birds to entertain us while we eat, today stars were Red-breasted merganser.

Another good day that although it began with a new moth I am saving that for another day. I had thought at one time I might be writing about moths tonight but that was before bird 159 flew in 🙂

 

One thing leads to another

After a quiet day  catching up with post, photos etc we headed off to spend the evening with my sister and brother-in-law, Janice and Chris. We had a lovely meal and after a very relaxed evening we spent the night there which meant we were closer to the coast to go birding in the morning.

Surprisingly we had our first visit of the year to Salthouse, it is surprising as it has long been one of my favourite place. Sadly the power of the sea has changed the shape of Salthouse tremendously.  These photos show what used to be the carpark being enjoyed by some Turnstones! Can you see along the fence line short bits of wood sticking above the gravel? They are the old fence posts now almost covered by stones as the sea wall has almost flattened.

We saw a lovely pair of Stonechats and a flock of Siskin but very little else. None the less we enjoyed the walk albeit that we were somewhat cold!

There were no special birds along the coast that we wanted to see so we thought we would go back to Brancaster Staithe and Titchwell to see what we might find. The Brent geese were very obliging at Brancaster and came along just in front of the car.

 

We went on to Titchwell where the wind had whipped up bringing with it quite a chill! There were lots of Brent geese there too and we were pleased to see the Avocet there. We were pleased to hear that there is a Kingfisher that shows really well there but unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to see it, maybe next time.

We walked on thinking when we arrived at the beach we might turn back quickly but actually it was, if anything slightly less cold than on the way. The sea was too choppy to sea much on it, we did see Scoters but nothing else. The shoreline was another matter, really busy with Oystercatchers, Godwits, Dunlin, Sanderling and more!

It was just  beach was so crowded!!!IMG_9664 (Custom)We said goodbye to Titchwell having had a really enjoyable walk and began the drive home. I spotted a deer running in a field and fortunately we were able to pull over on the edge of the field. We had never seen deer behaving quite like this one; it was running around the very edge of like its life depended on it! I imagined a gym teacher telling it to do five circuits around!

But the deer led on to other things, as we watched him we saw not one hare but several. Frolicing and chasing then just flaking out looking exhausted. They were quite distant but it may be worth going there again to see if they come in any closer.IMG_9684 hares (Custom)

So the deer led to us seeing the hare but then I spotted lots of Fieldfare quite close to the car! They were lovely and I was so pleased to get some pictures as I usually find they fly off as soon as I pull over and pick a camera up.

Briefly a Kestral hovered over the field so one thing led to another  and then two more!

We made one more stop before going home hoping to see some Bean geese, no luck today but we will try again soon. Another good day and oh  I nearly forgot to say we had a new moth, a Hebrew character. I am expecting the moths to pick up soon as the weather warms up so watch this space!

IMG_9476 Hebrew character (Custom)

And so to Bed…fordshire!

From Gloucestershire we moved on to Bedfordshire for a weekend with our daughter, son-in-law and gorgeous dog Sprocket (plus cats and rabbits too). We met up at Danish Camp for lunch, if you are ever in the area give it a try! After a bite to eat we went for a walk intending to do a circular walk by the river but due to some flooding we did much the same walk but in separate stages. We had to laugh at the notice ‘Beware deep’ but deep what we know not as it was under water!

We saw a field full of Barnacle geese and of course the ever present Robin. Sprocket entertained us by some athletic log jumping! Later that day Roo and I found a little time to do some shopping.

The next day we all went to the Millennium country park at Marston Moretaine where we separated so some could go for a walk around a lake looking at birds, the others went for a run, now I wonder if you can guess which group I was part of! When we arrived it was grey and very misty, by the time we left the sun was shining. Plenty of ducks and other wildfowl and a good place for Cormorants. We saw three Oystercatchers fly in and land on an island, we later saw them running round in circles round and round the island. they looked so funny, like children playing, in fact I wondered if they were called Alice, Matilda and Daniel!

In the afternoon we visited a very special friend, Richard, in hospital, we had had an email a couple of days previously to say he was in hospital and it was excellent to be able to see him. Whatever his illness throws at him he deals with in an excellent, positive manner, I know a strong Christian faith and incredibly supportive family contribute to that. We also met up with three old friends there, not the best place to meet but lovely to see them. Thank you Roo for making it possible.

Back to pursuing wings I hear you cry!

Monday morning and whilst Ian and I are people of leisure for the year others have to go to work so it was time to say goodbye to family and head home but not before visiting The Lodge RSPB reserve. Like yesterday it began very dull and grey but brightened up beautifully. We had hoped to see the illusive Lesser spotted woodpecker but didn’t, we did however see the Greater spotted one for only the second time this year and a much better sighting.

On our way round to the hide we saw large flocks of winter thrushes both Redwing and Fieldfare. The usual little birds were around the feeders outside the hide as well as some other visitors.

We had enjoyed our walk at The Lodge whether looking forward or up the view was grand!

IMG_9410 (Custom)IMG_9412 (Custom)

We had a good time in Bedfordshire now we have journeyed home to see what Norfolk will offer us next, my goodness this is a good year!