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

 

 

 

 

What a cracker!

Still in Gloucestershire and another day out with Ian and my brother Alan, we decided to head into the forest of Dean. Lots of happy memories of days spent their with my parents and children when they were little, I wonder if they remember that my Mum always had ’emergency rations’ with her!

Our first stop was at Cannop Ponds where we saw a lovely Little grebe, he caught a little fish and spent some while shaking it and trying to position it suitably ready to swallow whole. I am pleased to report he did succeed, I got a nice video clip of the fish finally losing the fight, I am looking forward to learning how to sort the clips out one day but not yet!

We also saw our first Grey wagtail of the year, ( later we saw two more) it was very flighty and distant but very good to get. First tick of our time away. The weather was getting better as the day went on, not just dry but by now sunny too.

I connect this area with Mandarin ducks and I was not let down, we saw one but it quickly decided to swim away. After thinking if I could get a shot of it or if it had gone to far I decided to go in pursuit of it. By the time I fought my way through the mud and got to the other end of the pond it had joined a group of Mandarins, I saw five male and two females.

 

What beautiful ducks they are, the males so striking and the females more subtle but I think none the less attractive.

We had a couple of choices of where to head to next, what were we most keen to try to see? Well we have visited Lynford Arboretum many times this year hoping to see Hawfinches but each visit has been fruitless. I had heard that they often show well at Parkend in the Forrest of Dean so we went in search of them there, would Gloucestershire provide what we had failed to find in Norfolk? YES! We waited for some time and one of our party said that “we only need one to come for a minute” that is exactly what we got, this cracker came down to feed.IMG_9298 Hawfinch_edited-1

He did only stay for a very short time when something made him and the other birds feeding fly up. We did see another two fly into the back of a tree but saw no more of them. Not only were we all pleased to get Hawfinch on our 2016 year list but it is by far the best sight any of us had ever had of one, excellent it made my day! It will be good to be able to walk at the arboretum not feeling frustrated by the lack of hawfinches, mind you we will probably see them regularly now but not as well as this!

 

Next we visited the church at Parkend looking for Crossbills. No luck but we did have a nice Treecreeper on the building itself. Where we live in Norfolk this notice would not be needed but I have been amazed at the amount of damage done by wild boar I have seen all around here. I gather they are now widespread although sadly we didn’t see any, just the results of where they had been.

 

Next stop a well deserved lunch at the Dean heritage centre and time to think where to go next. Amazing who you meet on the way to lunch!IMG_9319 Gruffalo_edited-1

I was still really keen to try to get a picture of a Penduline tit so we headed back for them but sadly they had not been seen.

We have had not just a lovely day but an excellent visit to Gloucestershire, thanks to Alan and Judy, come and see us in Norfolk soon and see what birds we can find there.

Our year continues so well and although I have talked mainly about birds it has been about far more. Spending time together, getting out walking, seeing family and anticipation of what is yet to come! Thank you for sharing in our I hope you will keep going with us.

 

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!