Saturday, 23 January 2010

Snow Buntings at Holme

Snow Bunting, Holme, winter 2008/2009

A bad back meant that what I really needed today was a good walk, so I left the car at home and walked from Hunstanton to the west end of Holme and back.

Usual mix of waders on the beach including Bar Tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Sanderling, Turnstone, Redshank etc. A steady movement of Wigeon east and few Brent flocks flying past offshore. On the sea a handful of Great Crested Grebes and a single Red Necked Grebe.

Best though on my way back when I thought that I had missed them, was a flock of 70 plus Snow Buntings feeding on the beach, these took my Norfolk year list to 114 species.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Whitlingham lunchtime birding

Whitlingham Broad, Norwich
Finally had a clear lunch break and made the ten minute drive to Whitlingham Broad for a birding fix and some rather nice year ticks.

There is obviously a bit of a lunchtime birding scene going on here with half a dozen birders, some sporting ties, hanging around the edge of the Broad and scoping the excellent selection of winter wildfowl present.

During my short stay I added Red Necked Grebe [1], Slavonian Grebe [1], Scaup [1] and Ruddy Duck [1] to the year list plus single Great Northern Diver and Smew. All in all an excellent half hours spotting within Norwich city limits and the year list now stands at 112.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Blue Sky at last

Spring has been in the air today, blue a blue sky, the thermometer at 7 C and the song of Great Tits gave the day a fresh feel after the cold grey weather we have had of late.

Added a few birds to the year list today. In King's Lynn a Peregrine landed on the white tower in the docks whilst we were stopped at lights. A walk around Courtyard Farm was enlivened by a very confiding Fox and a Buzzard over a distant copse.

Titchwell Marsh was bombed with people, who I guess like me had been cooped up during the snow and ice. Bird highlights here were three Redhead Smew, single Water Rail, Spotted Redshank and Bittern and three Marsh Harriers.

A very nice Sunday and the year list now stands at a modest 108 species, all so far in Norfolk.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Goldies at the Triangle

Male Golden Pheasant, Wolferton, Norfolk

I had to go to the shops in King's Lynn this afternoon and with half an hour to spare I took a short diversion around the Wolferton Triangle in search of Golden Pheasants or more accurately Golden / Lady Amhersts Pheasant hybrids.

As you can see I was successful although as ever these are right skulkers and this is the best shot I managed of one of the three males I saw. Species 101 in Norfolk for the year.

Also had an obliging Woodcock feeding in the snow by the side of the road, you can see a picture on my Flickr page link opposite.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Death in the snow

Woodpigeon blood and feathers in snow, Ken Hill Wood, Norfolk

The snow deadens things and allows us to view the landscape in a different way. Here the stark crimson patch of blood and loose curl of feathers stand out against the white snow far more clearly than they would have done against the brown winter mud that would normally provide the backdrop to this image.

My guess is that this is a Sparrowhawk kill and whilst this is grim news for the Woodpigeon involved it tells a heartening tale that one of our most enigmatic predators is alive and well in this wood.

Predator and prey such a natural a part of our countryside and a great indicator of its health. Yet one that some folk find distasteful and something to kick against. For me its something to celebrate.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Ice Diver

Mute Swans, Whitlingham, Norwich

Had a quick lunchtime visit to Whitlingham Country Park in Norwich today. Over half of the Broad was covered in ice and there were large numbers of wildfowl feeding in the ice free areas close to the bank. Our target bird was a Great Northern Diver which obliged with close views as it fished the ice free part of the Broad, a real Polaris of a bird as it effortlessly slipped through the water.

No sign of the Smew and Black Necked Grebe which have been here of late but we did manage a single Goosander which was nice. Although the Diver was close it wasn't close enough for my compact camera, so you'll have to make do with this obliging Mute Swan family.

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Years Day Birding

Water Rail, North Norfolk

After a sickly Christmas I managed to get a full day in the field today. Worked the coast from Hunstanton to Holkham and back. A coincidence that this was New Years Day and so if I wish the beginnings of a new year list [something I didn't bother with last year]. Good to be out and about auditing what birds are about in the neighbourhood and something I enjoyed all the more now that fatherhood has restricted the time I can spend in the field.

First birds of the year were fly over Black Headed Gulls as I got into my car in Hunstanton followed by Fulmars riding the updraft along the cliff top. Almost the first bird at Holme Marsh was a Water Rail, followed by a hunting Barn Owl. A slow drive along some back roads added Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and Reed Bunting. Then to Titchwell via a quiet Brancaster Staithe harbour. Titchwell was just getting busy as I arrived and looking great in the bright New Years Day sunshine. A Red Kite quartering the dunes over Thornham Point was a unexpected treat as was an adult Little Gull. Less surprising but equally wonderful was a male Bullfinch.

After Titchwell I headed for Holkham and Lady Anne's Drive. This was absolutely bombed with people, the busiest I've ever seen it. I thought I'd get away from the crowds on the saltmarsh, but all that happened was that I had their dogs for company and was unable to find any Shorelarks. Still the grazing marsh was productive with tens of thousands of Pink Feet present and a single Snow Goose.

To get away from the crowds I decided to end the day at Burnham Norton, here I added a single ringtail Hen Harrier to the day list along with another three or four Barn Owls.

The day wasn't quite over yet as I drove back via the road that cuts through Courtyard Farm I flushed two Woodcock from the roadside species number 83 for the day.