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!

Stuck on 149!

We are still on 149 but that is a pretty good place to be at time of year I reckon, although I hope to reach 150 by the weekend!

Yesterday was one of those days that couldn’t quite make it’s mind up, sun or gloom, cold or not too bad!!! We decided that we would make another trip to Welney, not with any real hope of adding to our number but with every hope of enjoying ourselves.

It is tricky to adequately describe the road that leads to Welney, Ten Mile Bank, except to say that if you suffer from seasickness you had best avoid it! It is reminiscent of, what was called in my childhood, a journey on a scenic railway. The reason I am telling you about it today is because I was greatly amused by the sign that has appearedIMG_8433 (Custom)

I kid you not, I think it was the smoothest part of the road and for certain you couldn’t detect where the ramp was.

Anyway we survived the journey and arrived at Welney in time, you won’t be surprised to hear, for coffee. We watched the feeders and lost count of the Goldfinches that take advantage of the free feed. There were also good numbers of Reed buntings around the feeders and in the reeds behind.

Coffee finished and over to the main hide to see what was there. A young Goldeneye was lurking amongst the Pochards, spot the odd one out in the picture below. Fortunately he came closer later on for better views.

There was a reasonable number of Whooper swans present, no Bewicks and of course plenty of Mute swans that happily call Welney home throughout the year. Most of the swans are out feeding on the fields during the day (I guess the farmers have mixed feelings about them) and come in to spend the night on the safety of the water.

IMG_8434 (Custom)IMG_0916 (Custom)

The coots are beginning to get feisty and bad though this may sound (and probably be)  I rather like it when they get in full scraping mode but they didn’t oblige today. The pictures here are of a group of Moorhen at Slimbridge a couple of weeks ago, that were having a set to. It reminded me of a school playground when the word went around of a fight and others gathered to watch or join in!

Nothing much else at Welney so we decided to leave and pop into the arboretum to try, yet again, to get sight of the Hawfinches. We were again unlucky but did meet some interesting people. One couple that were walking six, yes six dogs, well I think they were all dogs they were so small it was hard to tell exactly what they were! The man was not a bird watcher but was intent on keep catching up with us to tell us all the places we could go to see birds where no one else ever goes! He was rather a strange chap but he meant well…I think! Another two couple like us looking in vain for the Hawfinch and being equally disappointed.

Lastly we met a really nice couple that had just got back from a cruise around South America and had been watching some fantastic birds, a soft shade of green may have come over us. We got into cruise mode with them for some time talking of places visited and yet more simply dreamed of. Turned out the chap was just four days younger than Ian and to celebrate his upcoming 70th birthday they were taking all their family to Mexico, oh well how the other half live! Still good luck to them they did seem  exceedingly nice people so I won’t begrudge them a good time.

So nothing new today although we did add an insect over the weekend, a ladybird, but again no moths.  I end with a picture for Alice, Robins never fail to appear and are happy to pose! IMG_8453 (Custom)

Tomorrow I hope will be more productive as we are off for a walk around a reserve with the warden…watch this space.


Bad knee at Welney

Things have been rather quiet this week as both the car and Ian have been in need of attention! The car has been off for a service and it has returned unrecognisably clean, it won’t last long but it does look good for now.

Ian has been a bit trickier to sort out! His knee has been very troublesome and more importantly his heart has been playing up a bit. This has meant doctors visits and a few quiet days while medication kicks in, hopefully he will get the all clear on Tuesday.IMG_6676

So having been in for a few days we ventured out to Welney, lots to see but not lots of walking involved, onour way we saw our first Corn bunting of the year.

You can see the visitors’ centre from some distance and attached to it is the bridge which crosses the river Great Ouse.

We were pleasantly surprised by how bright the day was when we arrived, we had anticipated cloud all day!

Just outside the main building are several feeders much loved by Goldfinches and Reed buntings. The only way to get to the hides is across the bridge and very often, like today, a Pied wagtail lurks on the bridge! So after a coffee off we went!

The water level was a lot lower than when we visited a couple of weeks ago, today the warden who went out to do the swan feed could walk easily along the concrete edging.

The swans, Mute and Whooper were joined by numerous Pochards, Mallards, Tufted ducks and more, they all joined in the feeding frenzy!

I had a feeling these ducks were trying to express an opinion, what do you think?IMG_0766

We enjoyed the wildfowl and the waders more distant on the spit and every now and then some would take to flight including these Lapwings. We also saw a very distant Peregrine falcon, unfortunately far to distant for a picture.

Time to leave Welney, fortunately Ian survived the day without incident! As so often a Robin was in the car park to send us on our way. On our way home we had another first of the year, Roe deer!

Lovely weather for ducks and swans!

Today has indeed been lovely weather for ducks and swans but not so good for going on a wild goose chase so we decided to shelf that for a day or so. Holkham and surrounding area can wait and instead we went to Welney which has the benefit of a large indoor, very comfy hide from which to watch the wildfowl.

It rained heavily on the way there and the road out of our village was water covered in several places so we made a mental note to avoid it on the way home and take a different route. Although the rain ease off the day stayed gloomy and grey and I apologise that it is reflected in today’s pictures!

A Great white egret had been on the reserve for some while so we hoped to see that. Fortunately when we asked about it we were told it was on Lady Fen which is best viewed from the coffee shop. So of course we did the only decent thing, got some coffee and settled in! We didn’t have to wait too long and got good, though distant views of it.

If you have ever been to Welney you will know the layout but in case you haven’t let me tell you. A large visitor centre complete with cafe and shop is one side of the road then a long bridge across the river leads to the hides and main part of the reserve.

The water levels were very high so there was no sign of the island which is just outside the hide. There were however plenty of swans both Mute and Whoopers and loads of duck, mainly Pochard. We were fortunate to have about a dozen Bewick swans flew right in front of us and over the hide.

Further away was a spit of land with hundreds of waders on the majority being Black tailed godwits. Every now and then they took to flight, circled and landed back where they had been originally!

Almost all the Pochard are male, the females arrive later, oh my goodness this reminds me of a very embarrassing conversation I had at Welney some while ago. I was chatting with my birding companion about where the swans came from and where they move on to next. I was just saying that although I see why they come I can’t see why some then move back to Russia as it is so cold! ( I know it is instinct and their food must be there at the right time etc). Just as we were talking about this a couple came in and he asked a couple of questions about the birds and got chatting. I then mentioned what we had been talking about and repeated that I didn’t  understand why they returned to Russia. The lady had been silent up till then but at that she said, in a beautiful, clear Eastern European accent, “Russia is a beautiful country, I would go back tomorrow if I could!”

As the ground didn’t open up and swallow me I could only try to talk my way out explaining that my thinking was simply based on the weather, oops oh well hopefully she has forgiven me, I really didn’t mean any insult to her homeland.

After leaving Welney we drove slowly along the bank of the Great Ouse hoping to see Grebes. We were not disappointed as almost immediately we saw a solitary Great crested grebe, I am hoping later in the year to get good views of these birds doing their courting dance…watch this space!

Cormorants gathered up near Denver slice and there we also saw three Goosanders, beautiful birds, I just managed a quick snap from the car before they swam too far off.

So the rain changed our plans today but didn’t stop us enjoying a day out. We added 11 new birds, nothing else as sadly I can’t allow myself to count the two alpacas that we saw 😉

Birds now 90 we are hoping to get to 100 by the start of next week.