Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Wise Men Say...

only fools rush in. Thats why I havn't updated my blog yet. Lots to report but I am going away for my 4th Holiday of the year tomorrow. So I will report later on.

Bye folks!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Norfolk 2010 – Day 6 the 4th of June – Twitchwell?

This was our final day and we were just going to take it easy and so headed to Titchwell RSPB again for a look around. Most of the usual suspects were there including a booming Bittern! I had never heard a Bittern booming before so it was fantastic to hear and therefore a lifer for me. We had good views of 6-7 Little Gulls as the flew around. Also we had good views of a summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper. We also had good views again of the male Red-crested Pochard that has been seen on Titchwell. We then headed onto Cley and had good views of the usual suspects.

All in all Norfolk was a fantastic trip with loads of lifers and year ticks. What a fantastic place! I will be back… year? Well I hope so!

Year List Updates
209 – Curlew Sandpiper

Here is a picture of 2 Red-crested Pochards I missed out from other posts from the holiday:


Norfolk 2010 – Day 5 the 3rd of June – No one likes Orioles but everyone likes Turtle Doves

We started the day off by going back to Lakenheath to try for the Golden Orioles but we didn’t really see them. I had a fleeting glimpse of something I was told was a Golden Oriole that has just flown past but views weren’t tickable put it that way. So after staring at Orioleless trees for another 3 hours we headed off to look for one of the Honey Buzzard watch points, we couldn’t find it so instead went back to the Montagu’s Harrier site. This paid of and we were rewarded with fantastic views of the male Montagu’s Harrier hunting the surrounding fields and then soaring over high in the clear blue sky before disappearing. This well made up for missing the Golden Orioles.

We then headed back to the digs to relax as me and The Finch decided we were going to go to Salthouse Heath on the evening to go and look for the Nightjars that I knew could be found at Salthouse Heath. We arrived at around 8 o’clock and we were rewarded with fantastic views of a Barn Owl. As we were stood watching the owl hunt me and The Finch heard some Turtle Doves that began to call near by. I picked one up soaring around the trees and we were treated to some fantastic views as the flew from in the distance right up close to us and then they sat on the trees in front of us. They kept flying around the general area and kept flying really close to us and landing and we had some fantastic views of these beautiful birds. There really, really made up for missing the Golden Orioles. As the night approaches we were treated to the sound of a few Nightingales singing and then a Nightjar churring. We stood with the rest of the crowds listening to the Nightjar’s churring call, it sounded like it was miles away and after a bit of moaning from The Finch the Nightjar came and sat on a tree pretty much right in front of us and started churring away. He then flew right past us close and started to circle a white camper van and then returned to his tree and continued to chur away. We had fantastic views and The Finch informed me that it was one of the best views he has ever had of Nightjar.

(Male Montagu's Harrier - Derek Charlton)

(Male Montagu's Harrier - Derek Charlton)

(Turtle Dove - Derek Charlton)

Life List Updates
249 - Nightjar
Year List Updates
207 – Nightjar

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Norfolk 2010 – Day 5 the 2nd of June – Hail to that Nightingale

A nice early start to the day as it was a long drive from our digs to Minsmere. We had just left the accommodation and the roads where really quiet and whilst looking at all pigeons and doves we had 1 Turtle Dove briefly before it flew over the trees and away, we nearly missed it so we didn’t have that good views especially as the car was going about 50mph. Our first stop of the day was at Dunwich Heath which just outside of Minsmere and is where the Dartford Warblers can be seen, we saw quite a few Dartford Warblers and I had fantastic views of the birds and it was also really nice to hear and see the Dartford’s singing there heads off. I also spotted a flyover Hobby and a Little Egret was seen flying over the reserve. After we had fantastic views of the Dartford Warblers we headed off to Minsmere itself. When we arrived we met up with some other local lads who had arrived on the reserve who we knew from Durham Bird Club, we then headed for the Bittern hide and had a fantastic view of a Bittern sitting out into the open in front of the hide. I also had good views of another Bittern in flight over the reed beds, I also saw a Hobby briefly as it flew out into view from the right hand side of the hide. From here we headed off around the reserve where we were treated to fantastic views of a family of young Cetti’s Warbler as well as a cracking bins view of an adult Cetti’s briefly before it disappeared into the undergrowth. We had good views of 2 Mediterranean Gulls whilst walking around the hides. We also heard a Marsh Warbler and me and another DBC friend thought we saw it, however we couldn’t say with 100% certainty it was a Marsh but it was highly likely on views we did have.

I met Stew half way through the day and he said he had good views of the Purple Heron from the Island Mere Hide and so I rushed up and there was no sign of it sitting in the reeds. The local Marsh Harriers were showing superbly and they appeared to put up a local Grey Heron. This prompted me to scan the reedbed for flying birds and I was rewarded with about a 5-10 second view of the Purple Heron in flight right in the distance over the reed bed. Very soon after I realised it wasn’t going to come back up I made notes about what I had seen to assure myself and to check it was the Purple Heron I had brief views of. My notes went something like this:
- Not a Grey Heron or Bittern as I had experience that day with both species in flight.
-Ruby/Rusty brown back with large black trailing edges to the wings.
- Wings were bowed (not a note I had at the time)

I was then convinced it was a Purple Heron, just goes to show how studying common birds pays off. I doubt that if I hadn’t much experience with the commoner species I wouldn’t have been able to ID to Purple Heron as quick as I did. I found it quite humorous as this is similar to what went through my head: “Not Grey Heron….not Bittern…not Marsh Harrier….(colour of bird) PURPLE HERON!” After this excitement I tried to twitch a Spoonbill on the reserve and pretty much failed. I think I saw it but when I looked at it in the bins didn’t make absolute sure it was one and rushed to the hide and it had disappeared. After this really disappointing dip on the Spoonbill I found the other two lads I was with and they said a Nightingale has been showing ridiculously well and close. The Finch showed me the pictures and I was gutted to see how good views he got and I was sure I wasn’t going to see the bird. However I went back and stood and a bird came wising past and it was a lovely golden brown colour. It was moving around in the undergrowth and I got a good view and it was the Nightingale! Fantastic, I thought! Then it got closer……….and closer…….and then sat on the trees in front of me in full view not concealed at all and then on the road about 10ft from my feet. I couldn’t believe it, surely once in a life time! I left the bird in peace as it was clear it was breeding near by, I brought my friend to see it and it showed well again but then we left it in total peace.

(Bittern - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Dartford Warbler - Derek Charlton)

(Two of the young Cetti's Warblers - Derek Charlton)

(Nightingale - Derek Charlton)

(Nightingale - Derek Charlton)

(Nightingale - Derek Charlton)

Life List Updates
245 – Turtle Dove
246 – Dartford Warbler
247 – Purple Heron
248 – Nightingale

Year List Updates
203 – Turtle Dove
204 – Dartford Warbler
205 – Purple Heron
206 – Nightingale

Norfolk 2010 – Day 4 the 1st of June – Shrike Delight

We had decided the previous night we were going to Cley the next day so we were happy to hear news from RBA that a Red-backed Shrike male was seen at Cley! So we headed first thing and we picked up the Shrike immediately but it flew off! Patients prevailed and it came back soon enough and pretty much sat right in front of us and put a nice show on for us as it flew back and forth catching some prey to eat. We also found out that the Trumpeter Finch was still present so took a nice stroll along the beach and went to go and see the Trumpeter Finch again and we had good views again and Stuart and Andy also got to see the bird today as they didn’t see it yesterday, it was a pleasure to watch such a special and rare bird again. We then went to go and have a look at the Bearded Tit's that could be seen from the public footpath that runs up the side of Cley nature reserve that overlooks the reedbed, I had some exceptional views of the Bearded Tit here and had 2 males sitting out in the open for quite a while and had fantastic scope views. When we got back to the car we saw the Red-backed Shrike again and were alerted a Thrush Nightingale was seen! We heard it but never saw it, it then came up on the pager it was just a common Nightingale and we left. Was it ever confirmed at Thrush Nightingale? With this failed attempt to see what could have made a fantastic day for rarities I headed off and was rewarded with fantastic views of the Bearded Tit from the Public Footpath that overlooks Cley reedbeds. There wasn’t much on the Cley reserve itself but it’s a fantastic reserve all the same. We had a busy day ahead of us the next day with a planned trip to Minsmere so we took it easy and went back to the digs to relax.

(Bearded Tit - Derek Charlton)

(Bearded Tit - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Red-backed Shrike - Derek Charlton)

(Red-backed Shrike - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Trumpeter Finch again - Andrew Kinghorn)

Year List Updates
202 – Red-backed Shrike

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Norfolk 2010 – Day 3 the 31st of May – Terrific Trumpeter

We started the day of at RSPB Snettisham reserve to see the waders, we had cracking views of a family of Egyptian Geese as well as some summer plumaged Knot, and all of the regulars one might expect to see at Snettisham. The large flocks of waders were nice to see even though they were distant, a strange sighting was a single dark belling Brent Goose which perhaps cannot fly? From here we headed to RSPB Titchwell Reserve that was only 10 minutes drive from our digs. I must admit I didn’t really think much of the reserve, however there was some work going on to try and save the reserve from rising sea levels. Therefore no doubt some disturbance would be made to the birds. We headed straight to see the Red-crested Pochards that we knew were present and had been for some time. We immediately picked up a male bird at the other side of the large pool; he showed reasonably well but was a bit distant for photographs to be taken. We had fleeting glimpses of Bearded Tits and I got one in my bins very briefly. I also had good flight views that were sufficient enough to ID a Cetti’s Warbler that moved about in front of us. I had good close views of a Bittern flying over the reed bed as well as good views of a drake Rudworth Duck which decided to show its face a few times. There were a few Marsh Harriers knocking about the local are as well. A quick sea watch from Titchwell’s beach gave me my first Gannets of the year as they flew heading east along the coast. We met up with Stew who decided he would have some lunch before we headed off to Cley, we had received a text from RBA already earlier in the day saying a Trumpeter Finch had been seen earlier in the day but there was no sign. Then as we stood at the Red-crested Pochard site two old blokes were standing there also and one of them had a pager that went berserk and once they read the message and started to head off, The Finch asked what it was and they told him the Trumpeter Finch had been seen at Blakely Point. We then decided it would be a wise move to go and see it!

(Red-crested Pochard - Andrew Kinghorn)

After about 45 minutes drive (we got a bit lost) we arrived at Blakely Point and we could see the crowds massing, I went into the visitor centre at Cley and the fellow told me how I could get to the area where the bird was. Me and Derek then walked along the public footpath that goes up the side of Cley that overlooks the reedbed. I pretty much had a very brisk walk as The Finch followed and we were soon at Blakely Point. We went over the ridge and there stood about c150 birders who were in two long lines with the bird in the middle of us on the shingle beach. We had some fantastic views of this fantastic looking mega. We stood for about 30 minutes looking at the bird and taking its picture, we then decided instead of paying to go into Cley today we would go another day and instead check out the Montagu’s Harrier site and see if we could see the birds to round the day off, sadly the birds didn’t show but we did have good views of Barn Owl on the way back to the digs.

(Trumpeter Finch - Derek Charlton)

(Trumpeter Finch - Derek Charlton)

Life List Updates
243 – Cetti’s Warbler
244 – Trumpeter Finch

Year List Updates
196 – Red-crested Pochard
197 – Gannet
198 – Bearded Tit
199 – Cetti’s Warbler
200 – Ruddy Duck
201 – Trumpeter Finch

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


All my troubles seemed so far away! Now it looks as if they’re here to stay. Ohhhh I believe in yesterday! Yes, I was down at Teesside yesterday to try and see if I could see one of the last pretty much annual (?) rare waders that turn up in the UK. Thankfully I did catch up with the Broad-billed Sandpiper at Teesside in County Durham, Cleveland doesn’t exist anymore by the way BirdGuides and RBA! The bird showed quite well and I got some cracking views as it walked around and fed, quite a striking bird and I was surprised how small they actually where in the field. I knew they were small but actually seeing the bird itself just emphasised how small they where. It made up for missing the Black-winged Stilts on the way back from Norfolk on Saturday:

Here is some cracking footage filmed by a birder called Tom Francis, some of the footage was taken whilst I was there. I know because I can here myself talking on the video:

From here we went to check North Gare but a fiend of mine let me know that the pools had dried up and therefore there wasn’t going to be any interesting waders for pickings. From here we headed to Crimdon Dene to see the Little Tern colonies and how the colony is getting on. We were talking to the very dedicated Little Tern warden Trevor who as we were speaking pointed out a Great Skua that was flying in close over the beach. Nice one Trevor! A year tick for me. We counted quite a few Little Terns as well as singles of Common Tern, and finally a few Ringed Plover were dotting about the place. We had a look of shore for a sea watch and we rewarded with Guillemot and Razorbill offshore as well as a Gannet way out.

A final check at Blackhall Rocks produced much the same in terms of sea watching though Kittiwake was added to the list for the days sea watching. When we got back to the car we picked up a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and got good view of it in the scope as well as bins as it reeled away. By far the best ever views I have had of this species. What a fantastic day to round the day off.

So yesterday my troubles seemed so far away, however I am not birding today so my troubles are here to stay. lol

Life List Updates
250 - Broad-billed Sandpiper

Year List Updates:
210 - Broad-billed Sandpiper
211 - Great Skua
212 - Guillemot

Norfolk Day 3 coming soon!

Norfolk 2010 - Day 2 the 30th of May – Oriole Agony

We started the day reasonably early and we were going to head south to Suffolk for the day to try and see some of the target species we had set ourselves to see. Our first stop off of the day was at a reserve called May Day Farm which I believe is in Suffolk. When we arrived at May Day Farm we were greeted by fantastic views of a male Blackcap singing in the wood. We then headed off directed by The Finch (Derek Charlton) to where he had the Woodlarks last year, after searching the area we drew a blank. However me and Stew had cracking views of a Green Woodpecker. Stew headed back to the car for a drink whilst Andy and The Finch headed off in search of Woodlarks elsewhere on the reserve. I later went to go and find The Finch and Andy, when I found them they were walking toward me clearly indicating they had not seen a Woodlark, even though when I looked up high in the sky above us there was a Woodlark in song flight. I looked at them and pointed into the sky and alerted them there was a Woodlark practically above there heads. We had good views of them as the flew around the general area as well as good views when they were sitting on the ground looking around and about. Sadly Stew didn’t see any but enjoyed the Green Woodpecker.

(Woodlark - Derek Charlton)

We then headed to a top secret Stone Curlew (CurlStonew – if you are daft like me and the lads I went with) to look for the elusive waders. The site is so top secret we drew a blank; however I had good views of a Green Woodpecker on site. With this failure we headed onto Lakenheath fen to look for the Golden Orioles. On arrival the very friendly man in the visitor centre told us what was about as well as where we could look to see the birds present on the reserve. My target bird was the beautiful but highly elusive Golden Oriole, we heard one male and spent about 2 hours staring at Poplars and getting highly frustrated as we had no sign all day but we did hear their beautiful fluty calls as they laughed at me and the other 30-40 birds looking. Other birds seen on the reserve included at least 2 fantastic Hobby’s and a brave Cuckoo who sat next to a Hobby as they eyed each other up, I don’t think they were sure of what to make of each other. It was fantastic to see the Hobby flying about and hunting, one of my favourite birds without a doubt! We also saw a few Marsh Harriers that were dotting about the place.

(Hobby - Derek Charlton)

(Cuckoo (left) and Hobby (right) sitting in a large tree at a distance - Andrew Kinghorn)

From the Oriole agony we headed onto Weeting Heath (NWT), we had fantastic views of Stone Curlew from the hides as well as chicks. There were loads of rabbits about as well as a few Lapwings and plenty of Jackdaws about the place. The CurlStonews were somewhat elusive at times but occasionally came out in the open as they foraged for food for their balls of fluff they call their chicks, and themselves. The West Hide was a treat as the local Spotted Flycatcher sat on the barbed wire fence just outside the hide and showed excellently. It was by far the best view of the species I have had; in fact it was only the second view of the species I had ever had. After Weeting Heath we tried a place called Croxton Farm to see if we could see Turtle Dove, however we drew a blank and there was no sign at all of any.

(Stone Curlews - Derek Charlton)

(Stone Curlew - Andrew Kinghorn)

Life List Updates
241 – Woodlark
242 – Stone Curlew

Year List Updates
191 – Woodlark
192 – Hobby
193 – Cuckoo
194 – Stone Curlew
195 – Spotted Flycatcher

Day 3 - Coming Soon!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Norfolk 2010 – Day 1 the 29th of May – Iberian Monty’s

We set of from Durham early on the morning of Saturday the 29th of May to go to our accommodation in Wells-next-the-sea which is on the North Norfolk Coast (Google it if unsure). The day started of well as the rain pelted down on the car and us as we got out at Potteric Carr which is owned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. I was the only one that was going to do the 40minute walk in about 25 minutes to the location of the Iberian Chiffchaff. So I walked in the raid by myself to the bushes and trees that were nearly in Durham (if felt that way!) on the other side of the reserve. When I think about it I am not sure that the Iberian Chiffchaff could have picked a more inconvenient spot on the reserve next to the busy motorway that seemed like an age of a walk to get to where it was. So I arrived at the location about 25-30 minutes after I had set of from the visitor centre with my bins and 2 coats on to keep me from getting soaked. When I arrived the bird wasn’t to be seen or heard but there was a blessing as it stopped raining briefly. I was informed it was still there and has been singing, so another blessing to know I was in with a chance. As the minutes went on I was becoming more and more doubtful I was going to see the Iberian Chiffchaff. After a short while a bird flew into the trees next to us and started part of its song, I looked over at a fellow to me right and he looked at me and we both nodded and waved the others over. Sure enough we were right and the Ibe Chiffy started to sing and then eventually flew to a more distant spot and very nicely perched at the top of a tree and started to sing. I had good views through the bins and then another kind fellow let me have a look through his scope and I got cracking views of the Ibe Chiffy as it sang its head off. It disappeared shortly after and so did I, I made the long walk back to the visitor centre in the rain that had just started again. So a fantastic bird to kick the holiday off. We then headed down the road and had a burger at Burger King at one of the service stations; as usual I paid through the nose for a burger no bigger than my fist. Anyhow we arrived at Norfolk mid to late afternoon, on the way to the digs we had really good but brief views of an Egyptian Goose on a small pool thingy. We settled in and then we went to see the Montagu’s Harriers at an undisclosed site not to far from where we were staying. Whilst at the site we saw 2 Marsh Harriers and then I picked up a male Montagu’s Harrier and quickly alerted the others and we were all soon on the bird and followed it in the scopes and bins as it flew around the fields and hunted for a potential meal. So my first day was a huge success with some cracking birds.

Life List Updates
239 – Iberian Chiffchaff
240 – Montagu’s Harrier

Year List Updates
188 – Iberian Chiffchaff
189 – Egyptian Goose
190 – Montagu’s Harrier

Stay tuned for the next day of my Norfolk trip - Coming Soon!

Norfolk 2010 – Trip Report

Their will be many parts going through each day of my weeks birding holiday in Norfolk as well as information on my outings to Suffolk.

Part 1 coming very, very soon!