Another month disappears!

Of course I knew it was a new month today because it is my lovely grandson’s birthday, happy birthday Daniel!   img_1380-daniel

 

So that can only mean that October has come to an end and it is time for a monthly review. It has been a mixed month with some manic times then more relaxed days, this past week being the more relaxed variety!

What October has been brilliant for was bird life ticks, I have had five and I am pretty chuffed with that. Add to that some cracking birds that I have seen for only the second time and I reckon October has been excellent.

First new bird was an Eastern-crowned warbler which we journeyed up to Bempton for, a place always worth a visit and thankfully we both saw this very active little bird. No picture of the bird but a few from the site!

I saw my first Dusky warbler at Cromer, followed by another a couple of weeks later at Titchwell!  We narrowly missed seeing two on one day as there had been one at Cley where we popped for lunch. Happily whilst there word came of a Barred warbler that was down Beach road in and out of a bush (along with many other little birds) so we were off.

It wasn’t long after our return from Yorkshire that we were headed back again! This time for a bird that was a first for mainland Britain, mind you it started a trend as several others have been since!!! We found a lovely place to stay and drove up so we would be there in Easington for first light and hopefully the bird, a Siberian accentor would have stayed overnight too! Happily it was in no rush to leave so we joined what I call the ‘queue for a view’ for a good though very brief sight before being moved along to allow others a view too. We returned later that day and what a difference a few hours had made!

This time we got to see it much better and get some fairly decent pictures too!   Not the most exotic looking bird perhaps but one I was delighted to see!

Rather pleased to see this Redstart too just along from the star bird, it showed off quite well so as not to go unoticed!

img_0826-redstart

Between our two visits to the accentor we went to Sammy’s point and it is so hard to explain quite how smashing it was. There were birds everywhere! Flying in from the sea, sitting in bushes, feeding in the mud or in the fields it was just ‘Magical’! I was chuffed to find some Ring ouzels and to get some shots which was not so easy earlier in the year.  We saw hundreds of Goldcrests  and probably hundreds of Robins too. There were Chiffchaffs, Wheatears, Reed buntings and to our delight we saw, for the first time, Woodcock in flight.

We couldn’t be so close to Spurn and not go there so off we went. This obliging Shorelark was another bird that we had seen early in the year but not been able to photograph.

Back to Sammy’s point for another lovely walk amongst the many birds we saw this flycatcher. First though was of course that it is a Pied flycatcher but there has been some discussion as it has some hints of a Collared flycatcher. I think the answer is we will never know, but it was a sweet bird whichever it is!!!

We stayed on an extra night and on the way home went to Donna Nook another place I had often heard of but never visited. Here I saw another bird that I had only seen once before, a few years previously and what a little beauty, a Red-flanked bluetail.

Jumping to later in the month now and Alice and Matilda joined us for a brilliant birding day beginning at Burnham Overy Dunes. Ian and I had been on the Sunday to see the Isabelline Wheatear and we returned the next day with the girls to try to see it again and also a Desert wheatear. On the Sunday we ploughed through the mud but were rewards with views of my very first Isabelline wheatear.

The following day, with the girls we took a different, less muddy and much more pleasant route to the dunes! The bird had moved so the walk was longer but not once did either of the girls complain, they were brilliant! A very brief flight view was all some of us got of that bird but thankfully we all saw the Desert wheatear, not for long but clearly.

On our way back along the dunes, we timed it perfectly, a Radde’s warbler had just been spotted, first sighting for a few hours! We joined the group and again all saw it, another life tick for me and the girls! Next stop Titchwell for lunch and if we had any energy left a stroll. This was where we saw our second Dusky warbler before walking down to the sea.

Golden plovers on the fresh marsh, Sanderlings on the shore plenty of other waders on the way. It really was a lovely day out, it couldn’t fail really, life ticks and grandchildren along to enjoy it!

Well we had a lazy week following that although November has thrown us an unexpected treat, hopefully there will be things to report next time I blog!

Still butterflies visiting the garden and a several Red admirals have been feeding on the dahlias this week  (note to self, plant some more of them!)  img_1334-red-admiral

I have decided to only print out the bird list this month as it has definitely been the main highlight of the month. I will give the number of the other things first:

Moths (macro and micro) … 310

Insects                                       …85

Dragon/damselflies              … 17

Butterflies                                …24

Mamals                                      …25

Reptile/amphibians                …5 (could do better!!!)

Birds                                           …253   (*26* Life ticks)

So far my total of winged and otherwise creatures for the year is 719 I have bypassed all but three of the guesses made before the year began, who will be closest? Could still be thelast one that I have passed or one I havent yet reached.

Bird List end October

  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. Muscovy duck
  13. Mandarin Duck
  14. Eurasian Wigeon
  15. Gadwall
  16. Eurasian Teal
  17. Mallard
  18. Pintail
  19. Garganey
  20. Shoveler
  21. Red-crested Pochard
  22. Common Pochard
  23. Ferruginous Duck *
  24. Tufted duck
  25. Greater Scaup
  26. Common Eider
  27. Long-tailed Duck
  28. Common Scoter
  29. Velvet Scoter
  30. Goldeneye
  31. Smew
  32. Hooded merganser *
  33. Red-breasted Merganser
  34. Red Grouse
  35. Black Grouse
  36. Goosander
  37. Red-legged Partridge
  38. Grey Partridge
  39. Common Pheasant
  40. Golden Pheasant
  41. Little Grebe
  42. Great Crested Grebe
  43. Red-necked Grebe *
  44. Slavonian Grebe
  45. Black-necked Grebe
  46. Fulmar
  47. Manx Shearwater
  48. Gannet
  49. Cormorant
  50. Shag
  51. Bittern
  52. Cattle Egret
  53. Little Egret
  54. Great Egret
  55. Grey Heron
  56. White Stork
  57. Glossy Ibis
  58. Spoonbill
  59. Red Kite
  60. White-tailed Eagle
  61. Marsh Harrier
  62. Hen Harrier
  63. Pallid Harrier *
  64. Goshawk *
  65. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  66. Common Buzzard
  67. Rough-legged Buzzard
  68. Golden Eagle
  69. Osprey
  70. Kestrel
  71. Merlin
  72. Hobby
  73. Peregrine Falcon
  74. Water Rail
  75. Corn Crake
  76. Moorhen
  77. Western purple swamphen*
  78. Coot
  79. Common Crane
  80. Great bustard *
  81. Oystercatcher
  82. Black-winged Stilt
  83. Pied Avocet
  84. Stone-curlew
  85. Little ringed Plover
  86. Ringed Plover
  87. Dotterel
  88. European Golden Plover
  89. Grey Plover
  90. Lapwing
  91. Great Knot*
  92. Knot
  93. Sanderling
  94. Little Stint
  95. Temminck’s Stint
  96. Pectoral Sandpiper
  97. Curlew Sandpiper
  98. Purple Sandpiper
  99. Dunlin
  100. Broad-billed Sandpiper *
  101. Ruff
  102. Jack Snipe
  103. Common Snipe
  104. Long-billed Dowitcher *
  105. Woodcock
  106. Black-tailed Godwit
  107. Bar-tailed Godwit
  108. Whimbrel
  109. Curlew
  110. Spotted Redshank
  111. Common Redshank
  112. Common Greenshank
  113. Lesser Yellowlegs
  114. Green Sandpiper
  115. Wood Sandpiper
  116. Common Sandpiper
  117. Ruddy Turnstone
  118. Grey Phalarope
  119. Arctic Skua
  120. Mediterranean Gull
  121. Little Gull
  122. Black-headed Gull
  123. Common Gull
  124. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  125. Herring Gull
  126. Iceland Gull
  127. Glaucous Gull *
  128. Great Black-backed Gull
  129. Kittiwake
  130. Caspian Tern *
  131. Sandwich Tern
  132. Common Tern
  133. Arctic Tern
  134. Common Guillemot
  135. Razorbill
  136. Black Guillemot
  137. Puffin
  138. Rock Pigeon
  139. Stock Pigeon
  140. Wood Pigeon
  141. Collared Dove
  142. Turtle Dove
  143. Rose-ringed Parakeet *
  144. Cuckoo
  145. Barn Owl
  146. Tawny Owl
  147. Short-eared Owl
  148. Common Swift
  149. Common Kingfisher
  150. European Bee-eater *
  151. Hoopoe
  152. Wryneck
  153. Green Woodpecker
  154. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  155. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  156. Wood Lark
  157. Sky Lark
  158. Shorelark (horned lark)
  159. Sand Martin
  160. Swallow
  161. Red-rumped Swallow *
  162. House Martin
  163. Tree Pipit
  164. Meadow Pipit
  165. Rock Pipit
  166. Water Pipit
  167. Yellow Wagtail (Grey-headed)
  168. Grey Wagtail
  169. Pied Wagtail
  170. Dipper
  171. Wren
  172. Dunnock
  173. Siberian Accentor*
  174. Robin
  175. Common Nightingale *
  176. Bluethroat*
  177. Red-flanked Bluetail
  178. Black Redstart
  179. Common Redstart
  180. Whinchat
  181. Stonechat
  182. Isabelline Wheatear*
  183. Desert Wheatear
  184. Wheatear
  185. Ring Ouzel
  186. Blackbird
  187. Fieldfare
  188. Song Thrush
  189. Redwing
  190. Mistle Thrush
  191. Cetti’s Warbler
  192. Grasshopper Warbler
  193. Sedge Warbler
  194. Eurasian Reed Warbler
  195. Great Reed Warbler*
  196. Dartford Warbler
  197. Barred Warbler
  198. Lesser Whitethroat
  199. Whitethroat
  200. Blackcap
  201. Yellow-browed Warbler
  202. Eastern Crowned Warbler *
  203. Radde’s Warbler*
  204. Dusky Warbler*
  205. Wood Warbler
  206. Common Chiffchaff
  207. Willow Warbler
  208. Goldcrest
  209. Firecrest
  210. Spotted Flycatcher
  211. Red-breasted Flycatcher
  212. Pied Flycatcher
  213. Bearded Tit
  214. Long-tailed Tit
  215. Marsh Tit
  216. Willow Tit
  217. Crested Tit *
  218. Coal Tit
  219. Blue Tit
  220. Great Tit
  221. Nuthatch
  222. Treecreeper
  223. Penduline tit *
  224. Red-backed Shrike
  225. Great Grey Shrike
  226. Jay
  227. Magpie
  228. Jackdaw
  229. Rook
  230. Crow
  231. Hooded Crow
  232. Common Raven
  233. Starling
  234. House Sparrow
  235. Tree Sparrow
  236. Chaffinch
  237. Brambling
  238. Serin *
  239. Greenfinch
  240. Goldfinch
  241. Siskin
  242. Linnet
  243. Twite
  244. Lesser Redpoll
  245. Mealy Redpoll
  246. Bullfinch
  247. Hawfinch
  248. Lapland Longspur
  249. Snow Bunting
  250. Yellowhammer
  251. Cirl Bunting
  252. Reed Bunting
  253. Corn Bunting

Only two months left of our big year and still no Little owl!!! We have had them in the garden in the past and they are always in our village but this year they are hiding from me!!!

Distant…elusive…mobile!

Distant, elusive and mobile are three words I dislike using about a bird but today I must! There had been a sudden fall of warblers in Norfolk (and elsewhere) recently and of course we were fortunate last week to get the Eastern crowned warbler (see previous blog entry) but it was time to go in search of more. Unfortunately I awoke on Monday with a thumping migraine and slept most of the day away topping it off with an early night! I really hoped Tuesday would be better and I was determined to go out birding the moment any reports came in. Unfortunately I didn’t feel a lot better than the previous day but out we went and the air did help (not a lot but a tad) and we were heading to Cromer. I should mention the weather seemed to be feeling similar to me as it rained most of the way! As we neared Cromer the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful morning.

A Dusky warbler had been there, by the golf club for a few days and it would be a life tick for me. We found our way to the golf club and although it is unlikely any of their members read this I hope they do. We met several players that morning and every one of them was delightful! Helpful with directions, interested in what we were after Etc so Cromer golf club got a big team point from me! We walked up to the lighthouse and what a beautiful setting it is.img_0671-cromer-lighthouse

We knew where the bird had been seen but saw a group of birders in a different place nearby so after a look in the original place we moved on. Indeed the birders had been watching the bird flitting in and out of the trees and we didn’t have to wait long. Here comes the blog title, not only was it distant, elusive and mobile but I was trying to focus through a banging headache and dancing lights, not ideal. I did see the bird and that is what counts, it was moving from tree to shrub and back again before being chased by a bully Chiffchaff! Not a chance of a picture which was a shame but under the circumstances I was happy to have seen the bird.

We decided to go for a walk at Cley and when we arrived there we were told a Dusky warbler had been seen on Arnold’s marsh, two in one morning that would be funny. We walked along the East bank but no sign and on talking to others it would seem someone had a brief view earlier and it wasn’t seen again, never mind the Cromer one was a life tick so no complaints from me.

There was no shortage of Greylag geese and also in the distance some white-fronted geese.

Also the now common Little egret, we definitely see more egrets than herons in recent times at least in Norfolk. Funny to think they used to be exotic!

We popped into the new hide on the East bank and a little bird flew through the hide nearly knocking my nose off, I have no idea what it was!!! Pipits were feeding on the still colourful marsh.img_0705-pipit

We decided to have a snack at the visitor’s centre and it was whilst there that we heard of a Barred warbler on the West bank! Soup downed and we were off feeling very optimistic as we could see a group up on the bank and the news was they were seeing it well, phew! We were there in a matter of moments and along with the group watching a shrub where it had been showing. It was a very busy bush, a Robin, female Blackcap and a Stonechat were among the other birds sharing the shrub with the warbler.

Out it popped, in, out and in again! At least we could see it well although again getting pictures wasn’t good. By this time my head had improved but sadly it was still not as I would have liked it to be. Time for a cuppa at my favourite tea shop in North Norfolk also known as Janice and Chris’, thank you once again!

As we drank our tea the pager kept beeping with news from Wells wood. An Olive-backed pipit, Radde’s warbler and then Aquatic warbler! Much as I really wanted to be back home it seemed daft not to go for them, before we set out the Aquatic warbler was corrected to an Arctic warbler!!! Off we went with only an hour or so of light left. We hunted around The Dell which was alive with birds including lots of crests and at least one Yellow-browed warbler but no sign of the ones we were after. It wasn’t long before the rain arrived and it came with a vengeance so we turned tail and headed back to the car and set off for home.

So we were lucky earlier with the Dusky and Barred warblers but not so lucky later on. The lack of photos of the day are testament to how I was feeling and the fact that I hadn’t even put them on the computer till today (two days later) tells you how I have been feeling but thankfully this morning I woke feeling a whole lot better so come on birds I’m ready for you!

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.

Serindipity!

Before you tell me I know that the title is a mis spelling but I thought it fitted today, read on to find out why.

After a fairly quiet weekend we have had a fantastic day today! When planning this year we decided to blow caution to the wind and sign up to Rare bird alert (RBA) and we have not been disappointed. It means we know far more about what birds are around and has helped us head in the right direction. This morning was no exception and we went off seeking out a Serin which would be a life tick for both of us. It wasn’t long before the little gem showed itself, fantastic. It is a flighty little bird which didn’t make for good pictures but to be honest I was pleased to get even record shots!

Seeing any bird for the first time is always special so we were both very chuffed, as the only other time we had tried for a Serin we had dipped.

We headed up to the coast in optimistic mood feeling that today if we went for a bird we would see it! That didn’t quite pan out but we did have a lovely day even when we were not spotting what we had hoped for.

we went to Blakeney and went for a good walk hoping to catch the Lapland buntings which had been in the area for a little while, we didn’t get them but  the walk was not in vain. On our way out we saw a lovely little Grey plover which although distant it did provide some nice shots.

On our way back we were looking for a pair of Stonechats that we had just been told were near by. We saw the male very briefly and we’re still looking for him when I turned round and saw this fella instead!

He sat a while then slid himself back into the water and off he went. Good to have another mammal to add to our list.

A little further on and we spotted the male Stonechat again closely followed by the female, a smashing pair!

So we dipped the Lapland buntings we had gone for but we considered the trip a success!  Yesterday we knew a Phalarope had been in the Cley area but seemed rather mobile and there had been no talk of it today until we reached the car wondering about a trip to Sherringham. The message came that the Grey phalarope was back at Cley and showing well, no guarantee it would wait for us but we thought we would give it a try, this is the result!

These are super rather amusing birds and always remind me of a clockwork toy. They are constantly turning around and dipping (I will call him DIpity) This one was very cooperative feeding busily just outside the hide windows!

The Redshanks was feeding in a similar area so I couldn’t resist just a few shots of him.

I was explaining recently to my granddaughter that they are called Redshanks as shanks means legs, her response was to ask why they don’t just call them red legs then? Hard to know the answer to that really!

By the time we returned to the car the light was beginning to fade so it was deffinately time to head home for a cuppa (the first of the day!) it really was a brilliant day. So we began with Serin and ended with Dipity I hope the title makes sense now!

Whoever had the idea to take this year out to go in pursuit of wings and other things certainly needs a pat on the back!

Bird total: 113

Mammal: 5

Wild goose chase

What a difference a day makes, dry, bright and just calling me to the coast!

Although geese were the main aim of the day we wanted to get a reasonable walk and standing looking over fields of geese just wasn’t going to provide that. So first stop Cley NWT reserve where we went to the main hides giving views over the marshes and a good selection of ducks and a splattering of waders. Nothing new for the year but a lovely sight.

We re parked the car and went for a walk along the East Bank, something I haven’t done for a long time. My memory of the East Bank is firstly the muddy slope you need to clamber up to get to it and then there was a very narrow path along. How times change! Real steps to get up and then a firm, wide path right along, excellent!

Ducks, waders and oh yes geese too a beautiful sight but I knew there was something even better ahead. We met a chap who was on his way, back and a typical birding conversation began, “anything good about?” Daft question really we only had to open our eyes it was all good, but he knew what we meant. Yes indeed “‘they’ we’re still there but it was a long walk ahead, right to the end of the path then a good way along the beach” no problem at all and we were off.

What were we off to see? I hear you ask, why Snow buntings of course! The first time we ever saw Snow buntings was on our maiden Norfolk holiday  (almost thirty years ago!) they were just off the beach end of the path at Titchwell and as we saw them it began to snow, quite apt we thought. Now at Cley we were not disappointed, these little beauties were in a typical area of shingle where they camouflage incredibly well. We reckon there were getting on for thirty of these little beauties and well worth the walk.

A celebratory coffee back at the visitor centre set us up for the drive along to Holkham, searching for geese in the fields along the way. We picked up the ones we expected but sadly not the couple that we had hoped might be hidden along the flocks.

I have never seen the geese come home to roost at Holkham (it was on my list of things I want to see this year) but this was my chance. It was a lovely afternoon although it had clouded over a tad. Other cars began to arrive in time for others to watch the birds arrive too. Three Marsh harries entertained us, soaring high then swooping down low again, sadly they were quite distant. Then a few rabbits popped out for a run around a pheasant! IMG_0368_edited-1

The sunset was lovely and the geese began to fly in, slowly at first but they picked up in numbers.

Sadly my photos don’t really capture the sight but hopefully they give you a glimpse. We were glad we had stayed even though we were pretty cold by the time we left (I had four layers on by the end and they is unheard of!!!)  The thought of a cuppa when we got home was very inviting.

We only added four birds but they were good ones. No more mammals, insects or anything else. I guess most such creatures are tucked away till spring, very sensible really.

Birds 94    No other changes!