Birds and bugs…pretty ones at that!

 

It was another bright sunny day and off we went coastward to Titchwell after first looking at the moth trap. Not a lot there but we did have one that we had last summer but it was the first for 2016, a White ermine, another really pretty one I reckon.

We did make one small detour on the way and that was to see the Dotterels again in the hope they might be near enough to photograph. Well they were a lot nearer but in some corn stubble so again photographs were not an option. Over the weekend there has been a lot of bird movement but it seems most of them didn’t stay in any one place for long! We knew a couple of Stints had been at Titchwell but were uncertain that they would be waiting for us!

We were in luck, first a Little stint then a Temminck’s Stint, excellent two more for the year. They were once again distant and behind a wire fence erected to try to protect the nesting Avocets. We walked on up to the sea which apart form gulls and a few Oystercatchers there was very little about. We had just missed seeing a Peregrine falcon taking an Oystercatcher away in its claws being pursued by some large gulls!IMG_2756

I knew the marshes at Titchwell were tidal but I have never seen the change quite so clearly, one picture is as we passed by on our way to the sea, the other probably only about half an hour later!

A brief coffee stop and then off for a walk around the fen trail where we were serenaded by two Willow warblers. It took some while before I saw one and managed just one snap before it vanished into the tree again. We also saw these two Damselflies , Azure Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly. (thanks to James for the ID help)

We also saw Holly blue butterflies but they move to fast to picture. It really did turn into a scorching hot day and I think this Wood pigeon was feeling the effect, he struggled to stay awake, but failed!

We went for a late lunch at Brancaster staithe which didn’t have many birds but those that were there are looking smart. Take this Turnstone now in his breeding plumage.

It was time to head for home having had a really good day, I wonder what tomorrow will bring, but that’s half the fun!

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)

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!

 

 

 

 

 

A sad giant

IMG_7337Today I am beginning in the middle and will go back to the start later! Hunstanton has been known for its cliffs but sadly the past few weeks it is become famous for a number of Sperm whales that are becoming beached and sadly dying. Today whilst birding some way along the coast we heard of another whale that had been beached and initially it said it was dead. We didn’t want to go and see a dead whale but then reports came out saying it was alive so off we went leaving behind the Purple sandpipers at Sheringham.

It was quite a hike to get to the whale which was by then back in the water, a much better way to see such a majestic animal. It was approximately 46 feet long and weighed approaching 30 tonnes! We watched him in the sea but sadly the chance of him getting back to deeper waters where he should be are, unlike him, slim.

I really didn’t expect to be adding a whale to our list of animals, certainly not this early in the year, he was our eighth mammal. We were glad we went to see him but it is very sad to think he probably won’t make it. We left hoping that somehow he could be saved but although by then he was fully in the sea I suspect that when the tide turns again he may well get washed ashore again.

We went to Brancater Staithe to watch the birds in the harbour whilst eating lunch, we hoped to see the Red-necked grebe and try to get some photos. We finished lunch watching the usual waders and I was just going for a stroll when Ian spotted the grebe in the channel right by our car! Brilliant!

I followed him along snapping as I went and then a boat went almost on top of him so I thought he would swim right away but no. As the water settled up he popped again and along side him was a female Red-breasted merganser swimming to catch up with her mate.

An excellent lunch stop and in fact it was by then mid afternoon! We decided next to make a brief visit to Titchwell to see if anything interesting had flown in. We hoped to see a Woodcok but we didn’t we also hoped to get a Water rail and with that we were lucky. We took a slow drive home and found a pair of Grey partridge a bird that seems to be harder to see than a few years ago.

I end this as it began with a sad giant!

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We had added four more birds to our year list bringing it to 137 and our mammals to 8 February seems to be as productive as January! Oh and I forgot to say we had a lovely view of a barn owl early on today and another equally good on our way home.