Saturday, 29 January 2011

Waxwings go to morrisons

A usual lowlight of the weekend- walking around a packed supermarket trying to throw things in a trolly and get out asap and without spending a bomb, impossible these days. However today's shopping trip had a consolation prize, while in the traffic jam to get into the supermarket car park Ruth suddenly pointed and shouted Waxwings and there feeding next to the car were 9 beauties. A good find tick for Ruth and always a nice species to see, the first time I hve seen them perched this year, the other three sightings this year have been very brief flyovers.

Friday, 28 January 2011


The usual counts at Buckenham and Cantley had a few good moments.
The Lesser Whitefront appears to have disappeared, not having been seen for 3 days now. Half the Taiga Bean flock has also gone awol leaving just 58 birds left, a lot of the white fronts have also left leaving 68 individuals. The goose is probably still in the local area as there have been no good westerlies with which the geese like to migrate.

Counts for today included;
2 Goldeye- Buckenham river
1 Red Necked Grebe- Cantley
1 Male Goosander- nice bird flew East down stream
6420 Wigeon
1062 Lapwing
58 Taiga Bean's
68 White fronts
1 Barn Owl
1 Buzzard
2 Marsh Harriers

A nice walk despite the cold wind on my face, I have quite red cheeks tonight, that's for sure.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Buckenham/Cantley Counts

A nice sunny day to do the Buckenham and Cantley counts was a bit of a bonus, as was the sheer numbers of birds about.
For the first time in ages there were Lapwings, Wigeon and Whitefronts all over the place, probably due to the thawing ground. When I first saw all the geese at Cantley they were quite distant, luckily a Buzzard decided to land on the gate post next to them scattering them overhead and back to Cantley, probably quite annoying the 30+ twitchers on burnt house lane! Its amazing how many people are still coming for the Lesser whitefront, a total of 46 while I was there, on a Friday too.

Final counts of the morning were;
Wigeon- 3573
Lapwing- 2610 (for the past 5 weeks the peak has been 250ish!)
Ruff- 9
Taiga Beans- 117
Whitefronts- 267
Lesser whitefront-1
Pinks- 12- (about 1500 flew over Norwich down the valley towards Buckenham last night)
Golden plover 146

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Rockland Redneck

A structures check and WeBS count on the South side of the river gave the perfect excuse to take a look at the Red Necked Grebe that has been present for a few days on Rockland broad. The bird was showing fairly well in front of the hide (which is structurally sound) for a few minutes until an angler decided to reposition their boat in front of the hide, scattering all ducks/grebes.
A pretty good Mid-Yare Valley tick, would have been good to have it on the river at Strumpshaw, but above all else it was great to actually be able to see all the key features in good light rather than a kilometre out to sea in choppy conditions. Photos don't do it justice but you get the general idea...

Monday, 17 January 2011

first few moths of the year

On Friday I decided that the 9 degrees at midnight war warranted a bit of January moth trapping so set up the mv at work. Slightly dissapointing was the fact that the only 2 moths were caught, and both of them were on the wall, although the pale brindled Beauty was a new one for me the other was a Mottled Umbar. Feeling a little let down I packed up the trap and headed back to the car where I noticed the security light had 5 moths around it! 3 Winter moths, 1 Mottled Umbar and an Early Moth, another new one, typical how a security light did so much better than the moth trap, I have heard that actinic is better for the cold weather moths, perhaps its true??

I have also realised over the past few weeks how much I am missing insects, I cant wait for spring to get to grips with the moths, dragonflies, hoverflies, bees and whatever else I decide on in the area, I shouldn't wish my life away but I bet I'm not alone in wanting spring to appear.
I have the target of 500 species of moth this year and have a list of new species to target, so far I have the 2 I can get in Jan so all good so far!

After that excitement the weekend was spent doing things other than birding although I did do a Hen Harrier roost count at Strumpshaw on Sunday afternoon. I got a few reserve yearticks including a surprise flyby female Goosander, very nice, however the nearby Red necked grebe still has not come onto the reserve. Totals for Harriers included 15 Marsh and 3 Hens, not bad considering it was pretty windy. The strumpshaw list is now up to 81 and the year list is up to 119, still plenty of time to go!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Titchwell and coastal stops

To get use of the car for the day I had to drop Ruth off at work at 6am this morning so an early start saw me at Titchwell carpark before any glimmer of light started to peak through.
I stood by the hump for 10 mins scanning for harriers and managed to get 16 Marsh and 1 Hen coming from the roost, also a Bittern flew over my head and into the grazing marsh pool, unfortunately in the half light not much detail could be seen. A Hen harrier female type bird was seen distantly towards Thornham, the dark upperparts and ginger underparts would suggest it was Northern however it was too distant and gloomy to be sure. A quick scan of the now unfrozen water bodies racked up the year ticks as would be expected including 32 Goldeneye, 2+ Water pipits and Ruff amongst many more common birds including Pochard (!).
The tide was high at about 8 so I headed up to see what was about offshore, it was very good. On my first scan I locked onto a Red Necked Grebe, then a Slav, another Red neck, 2000+ C Scoter a male Long Tailed Duck and a Great Northern Diver, a good start.
Totals for the sea included 3 Slav, 2 Red Necked Grebes, 8 Red Throated, 2 Great Northern Divers, 2000+ C Scoter, 10+Long Tailed Ducks including 4 just off the boardwalk. 2 Eider, 4 RB Mergansers and 7 Snow Buntings on the shoreline.
By now it was pouring with rain so I headed to the hide to mop up a few more yearticks including Spotted Redshank. I did see a juvenile/1st year Tufted duck which superficially resembles Scaup, which I see has been reported from the same location (anyone know more??). Back in the car park 2 Waxwings flew over just as I was about to close the car door, close one..

Given the rain I decided not to do too much more so I sat and had lunch at the car park by Burnham Overy scanning for any Rough Legged Buzzards that were obviously not going to be flying in the crappy weather, a similar story at Stifkey campsite, although a Hen harrier put on a nice performance.

Dropped into Wells on the way through to see the 2 Smew that have been present for a few days. A quick scan of a flock of Brent's saw a goose with Black Brant genes and a Pale bellied Brent, worth the 2 mins of checking.

Finally I went to East Bank Cley to see the American Wigeon, a new Norfolk bird for me. It was a nice bird and easy to pick out amongst the flock even with the long grass. A dodgy Ross's Goose flew in with a few barnacles, 2 whitefront families and about a thousand Pinks while watching from this point.

Lots of good birds today (42 year ticks and 1 Norfolk tick) although I will admit to following up some recent sightings, less fun than walking and looking but the rain made that decision for me.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Bittern gives itself up...finally

A slow rainy start to the year, a walk around Strumpshaw was on the cards. It was quite quiet with just 45 species being seen, quality was also fairly low however this was more than made up by a fantastic Bittern Sighting. This bird walked out from the left of reception hide and continued right across the broad on the ice, best Bittern sighting I have ever had and I spent a year studying them! I am pretty happy with the shots below but just imagine if it was sunny, they have had to be reduced for the web unfortunately. Hopefully a good omen for the year ahead though.
Click on photos for full size