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Sunday, 26 June 2016

MEGA Photography Day with Great Knot!!!

Dawn 'til Dusk!
Its a long time since I got out of the house that early – I managed to get to Holme by 4.30am! Parked by the scrub/buckthorn near the 5-bar gate along the Firs Road. There was only one other car here and I think these might have been the three birders I met last night, who said they were going to kip in the car. It started to rain heavily, so I opted to snooze for a while. Reclined the seat back and closed my eyes. It was lovely being in the car and listening to the rain on the windows. At 5am a Turtle Dove was purring right next to my car – but I couldn't see it and decided not to get out of the car as it would have flown. I snuggled up again under my coat and with my feather pillow! The rain continued, then a short break and then it persistently carried on. The next thing I knew it was 7am!!! Oh dear! I had had more than a snooze! I was cross with myself for falling asleep, got out of the car and had a coffee and marmelade sandwich to wake myself up.

Made my way across the beach – several birders were walking back. There were only two people watching the Great Knot when I arrived on the beach. Fabulous views, but still no good for SLR photography. A few more birders turned up. I noticed the channel was filling pretty quickly this morning, which bascially cuts you off if you're not on the ball! Everyone left and relocated to the other side of the channel. I stood here alone. As the tide swept around the Knot flock, they ran towards me, another wave and another mass run and so on. I kept looking behind me and realised I hadn't got long left before I also needed to move. I started to get excited as the flock were getting closer and closer to me and the Great Knot was now less obscured – still a bit too far for my camera though. I looked behind me again and was alarmed to see the water from the channel and sea were now one and I was now on an island of sand!!! It was incredibly frustrating, that I now had to quickly turn and go, when the flock was getting closer and closer to me. But I had to move – I turned round and made my way through the water and ended up with partially wet socks. When I reached a safe area of sand, I turned just in time to see the entire flock get up from their sandy island, which had almost disappeared and managed to get some shots of the entire flock as they headed strongly east towards Titchwell.

I continued to walk along the beach east – it was beautiful now and the sun was out. I could only see one dog with owner on the beach, which is rare at this time of the year. I could see a couple of Ringed Plovers on the beach and Little Terns were flying past. I headed south over the dunes to Post 10 – this was the tenth section of my father's nature trail, that doesn't exist now and is by the big area of bushes/scrub by the coastal path, that overlooks the broad water – there is a new seat here now. I then walked west along the footpath and down to Holme Bird Observatory. As I descended down the wire covered ramp, I went flying – literally! I landed in an awkward position and on my right knee. You know when you fall and you daren't move for a moment! Sophie (warden) rushed out to my aid and I started to laugh. I don't know why I did – you feel silly don't you! I knew I had scraped my knee, but I was more concerned about my very dodgy left ankle (had no end of accidents with this) – but I soon realised I had saved the ankle, but when I inspected my knee, it was deeply grazed and bleeding, but I could walk, so wasn't too bad. Sat in the observatory to recover and had a good catch up with Sophie.

Andy Brown turned up and we all went to look at the moth traps. There was a fabulous Privet Hawk Moth in the trap, but I wasn't much help to them, as I'm very rusty with my moth ID nowadays – I used to be pretty good as a youngster, as I helped father with two moth traps every morning. From the NOA website: "In the moth traps a good catch of 58 species included Willow and Mottled Beauty, Shoulder-striped Wainscot, Shore Wainscot, Campion, Common Emerald, a female Ghost Swift, and a Privet Hawk Moth." The flowers and grasses on the short turf in front of the observatory were fabulous, with Viper's Bugloss adorned with Small Skippers, Common Blues and bees etc. I walked back via The Firs House and popped in the shop for a nose, but wasn't tempted by anything. There were children playing football on the short turf by the big sycamore tree – this would never have been allowed years ago – this area of turf is excellent feeding ground for many birds – how things have changed.

Walked back to my car via the NWT Forestry and bumped into Mat S. who kindly pointed out where a Turtle Dove was. I stalked it carefully and did see it, but only obtained a rubbish picture, as it was distant and half hidden in a bush. Mat had also seen an Arctic Skua close in shore this morning – very nice. Lovely orchids in the long grasses, which were a delight to see. Back at my car, I got rid of some layers and cleaned up my knee properly with sterile wipes from my first aid kit. I then headed to my Mother's house – I tried to persuade her to go to Titchwell with me, but she didn't feel up to it – in fact, neither did I to be honest – I was shattered. Ate a ploughman's roll and then went for another snooze on father's bed with the cat again (as yesterday!). I planned to to return to Gore Point for another round with the Great Knot later this afternoon.

After my snooze I headed back to Gore Point again. There were lots of cars already parked by the 5-bar gate by the time I got there, so obviously people hoped the Great Knot would return again, as it did last night. The lady in the NWT pay hut told me that someone leaving, had seen the Great Knot on the beach again. Nothing on my pager yet. Headed out to the beach to find a good number of birders out there scanning the mussel beds and rock pools and were watching the Great Knot, but no one had put news out, so I did. There was a heat haze and viewing was not ideal from where I was standing. Several birders had walked west and closer to the water's edge with the sun behind them for clearer viewing. I decided to stay put in hope that the Great Knot flew towards me!

Later on, people started to leave and then the Knot flock dispersed and headed a long way east. Apart from a couple of bait diggers, I was the only one left! I headed east to search for the Great Knot – this was an ideal opportunity – it had to be here somewhere. As I scanned with the scope, I could see several small flocks and one massive flock of Knot distantly, just past the line of groynes which is nearly opposite the Firs House. I kept walking and continued to check and re-check all the smaller flocks, before heading to the large flock feeding amongst the seaweed covered rocks. I felt excited as I got closer and closer – I just knew it was here. Suddenly, I found it! I was so pleased my efforts had paid off. I looked round and one couple were on the beach and heading my way. The tide was coming in fast now. It was quite windy and my phone-scoped video I took was very shakey. The couple I had seen earlier, joined me and were readers of my blog – lovely to meet you both. The rock pools were disappearing and the knot were being pushed off quite quickly. The Great Knot was not far away from me at all now, it was so exciting. I quickly walked away to put my scope and camera bag higher up on the beach and returned with only my camera and bins.

What happened next was just incredible. Having been moved off from the tide, the Great Knot along with Knot flew towards me and landed on a small sea weed covered area to continue feeding – it was now only approximately 50 yards away! As I stood here, reeling off picture after picture, I could feel the sea had surrounded me, but I didn't care. I remained here, photographing this awesome bird until the tide covered its feeding area and then flew off – I continued shooting as it took off and flew west along the shore. I just knew I had just got my dream shots and I felt elated to say the least. I was in water up to my knees and I had to walk extremely carefully back to the shore – with camera in hand, it could have gone badly wrong, had I slipped for the second time today, but I was lucky! Very lucky! I almost wanted to have a little dance once I reached the sand, on realising what I had just witnessed! I chatted excitedly with the couple I had just met and we walked west a little way to join a handful of birders that had suddenly appeared. The Great Knot had not flown away, but was still walking along the water's edge, along with other Knot, much to the joy of the birders watching. Shortly after this, the entire flock headed west a long way along the beach, beyond where they were earlier this evening.

It started to rain as I headed back to my car, but then I was already dripping wet from knees downwards, so it didn't really make much difference! Went back to my mother's, to show her my pictures and then headed home. Spent a long time washing my walking boots – it will take a long time to dry them out I think. What a day!

Far too exhausted to sort through photos this evening, will post them tomorrow.

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT at Gore Point at Holme & Scolt Head Island NNR.
Caspian Tern at east end from hide, Spoonbills x 2, Little Gull, Spotted Redshanks x 2 at Breydon Water.
Little Gulls x 3, Spotted Redshanks x 6 at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbills x 2, Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank at Cley NWT.
TURTLE DOVE on telegraph pole at Downsland Park at Great Moulton.
TURTLE DOVE singing by NWT pay hut at Holme.
Quails x 2 at Welney WWT.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! AMERICAN WHITE-WINGED SCOTER again, 4 miles NNE of Aberdeen just south of Blackdog off north end of golf course, Aberdeenshire. 
MEGA! GREAT KNOT still at Scolt Head Island NNR and Gore Point at Holme, Norfolk.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Restronguet Creek, Cornwall. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Visit to Father & A Second Incredible Evening With the Mega Great Knot at Holme!

I overslept this morning, but just made it in time to pick my Mother up and take her to the hairdressers in Hunstanton for 9am! Whilst we were there, I got a call from Summerville House Care Home, which worried me initially – they phoned to let me know that they had called a doctor out to Father, as he was extremely lethargic this morning and has been since they changed his old tablet Quetiapine over to Risperidone. Mother and I were going to visit him after her hair appointment anyway – on the way, the care home phoned again to say the doctor had arrived and wanted to speak to us – I said we could speak to him in person, as we were only 2 minutes away.

At the care home, we chatted with the emergency on-call doctor who said his new medication had been prescribed as 1mg and that it could have been the lowest dose at 0.5mg – he recommended for Father to come off the Risperidone for the next three days and would ask his normal GP to review after that and to start up again with the lowest dose available. Mother and I then went to see Father who was extremely lethargic and could hardly speak to us. He did liven up a little and we took him outside in the wheelchair in the very hot sunshine, but he was not happy at all and insisted on going back inside as he said he was cold. We took him to the dining room to join others for lunch, but he just couldn't eat anything he was so sleepy. But to our delight he did manage some chocolate mousse dessert. We took him back to the conservatory in his wheelchair and he was sick, poor man. The staff took him to the bathroom to clean him up and he was sick again we were told. Obviously Risperidone does not suit him at all. So distressing to see him like this and Mother was very upset. We kissed him goodbye when they brought him back and transferred him to his comfy chair in the conservatory and we left to go to Hunstanton.

Went to Sainsbury's to get some shopping for Mother and then picked up some fish 'n' chips for our very late lunch at 2.30pm. There were tons of people soaking up the sun on The Green at Hunstanton. Arrived back at Holme to enjoy our fish 'n' chips. I had taken a Clarityn (hayfever) tablet earlier this morning as my hayfever is extra bad this year and I think this had made me feel extremely tired for some reason. I just couldn't keep my eyes open and went for a siesta on Father's old bed and the cat joined me! I must have been out for the count for ages, as when I woke up it was 4.50pm. I looked at the pager and it said that the Great Knot was back at Gore Point, Holme again! Mother had also been asleep in the dining room – I asked her if she wanted to see the Great Knot, but she said she was too tired, so off I went again for the second night running.

There were considerably more cars by the 5-bar gate along the Firs Road at Holme than last night, but I managed to get one space, which was very lucky. Headed out to the beach and joined other birders to watch the Great Knot again. The views were more hazy than last night, but still good none the less. As the evening dwindled away, the spectacular Knot flock and Great Knot moved closer, although still not close enough for SLR photography. I got some cracking video though, improvement on last night's attempts. There were around eight of us standing and looking east, towards the end of the evening and as the tide crept in to our feet, the person standing closest to the water had to move around the back of the others and re-position our tripod, we all did this about four times, shuffling around just as the Knot were with the incoming tide. As the seaweed covered rock pools were covered with tide, the entire flock went up and flew across and in front of us – it was breathtaking and I had never stood next to so many thousand of Knot as such a close range – it was awesome! The Great Knot favoured the back of the flock though, which again was too far for SLR photography. We all watched in fascination as the Knot ran back and forth with the tide, preened, slept and jostled for positions. At around 8.20pm (a couple minutes later than last night), most of the flock headed east, leaving only a few hundred Knot by the water's edge and the Great Knot was not amongst them.

We all headed back across the wet sands, leaving one birder behind. Visited Mother for a short while before returning home and spent the rest of the evening watching Adele headline on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury – she was incredible, what a voice!

VIDEO AND PICTURES TO BE ADDED

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT at Gore Point at Holme & Scolt Head Island NNR.
Caspian Tern opposite tern platforms, viewed from South Wall at Breydon Water.
Spoonbill, Little Gulls x 2, Spotted Redshanks x 8 at Titchwell RSPB.
Great White Egret flew west over Smallburgh.
Great White Egret flew south over King Fen at East Ruston.
Spoonbills x 7 flew west over Burnham Overy Dunes.
Quails x 2 at Welney WWT.

MEGA NEWS 
MEGA! AMERICAN WHITE-WINGED SCOTER 4 miles NNE of Aberdeen at Blackdog off golf course, Aberdeenshire.  
MEGA! GREAT KNOT at Scolt Head Island NNR and Gore Point at Holme, Norfolk.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Restronguet Creek, Cornwall. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

GREAT KNOT AT HOLME THIS EVENING!

Shortly after I arrived home from work, the pager bleeped up with Great Knot on the beach at 4.50pm at Gore Point, Holme! Obviously I had to go! I had only seen views of this bird in thunder and rain at Titchwell RSPB and hoped to see it again at the weekend anyway. So off I went, looking and feeling bedraggled after six days at work! I phoned a taxi for my sister Lucy on route and then phoned Lucy to say I couldn't take her to her rehearsal, but I had booked a taxi for her, but I would pick her up when she finished later on this evening. I don't think she was too impressed!

It was one of the most beautiful evenings I've had birding for a very long time. Parked the car by the five-bar gate and walked along the coastal footpath and then made my way to the beach at Gore Point. There were no more than around 15 or so birders and nobody got too close. In fact we were much too far away! I had stupendous views of the Great Knot amongst thousands of Knot – the light was perfect and I will never forget that bird running along the shore amongst green seaweed and around the rock pools. To watch this bird at Holme was an added bonus! I shared this spectacle with Phil, Andy, Robert S., Dave Holman, Sophie and Jenny B and others. The views were amazing through my scope, but no good at all for SLR photography, unless you had a 800mm lens! However, phone-scoping wasn't too bad at all, thank goodness. There were also a few Turnstones in the mix and a Ringed Plover on the beach.

The Knot flock and Great Knot worked their way west past Gore Point on the incoming tide and I stayed with a few others until dusk. The sunset was just stunning and dramatic clouds set the scene. Unbelievably, I could hear Natterjack toads croaking from the beach and also heard a Cuckoo. The Knot flock was a joy to watch, as they constantly ran from the tide, jostling for new positions and gathering to roost. At 8.16pm the entire flock dispersed – approximately a third flew east towards Thornham Harbour/Titchwell and the remainder flew east towards Old Hunstanton. Frustratingly, none of us saw which way the Great Knot headed! I just can't get over how beautiful the light was this evening, if only I had been close to that Great Knot - the pictures would have been mint!

There was a Little Egret in the lagoon at the way back to my car and  I could hear two Turtle Doves purring behind the bungalows/pay hut. A rainbow emerged from the black clouds over Holme marsh. What a fantastic evening! Picked Lucy up from her rehearsal in time and when I told her where I had been and what I had seen, she declared 'you made me get a taxi for a Great Knot!!!' 'yes Lucy I did'.

Video and pictures to be added

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Caspian Tern, Spoonbills x 2 at Breydon Water.
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on beach at Titchwell RSPB, Scolt Head Island NNR and Gore Point at Holme.
Spoonbill, Little Gulls x 2 at Titchwell RSPB.
Honey Buzzard flew over Nunnery Drive at Thetford.
*Red-veined Darter Dragonfly, north of main pond at Kelling Water Meadows.
Quails x 2 at Welney WWT.
Little Gull at Cley NWT.
TURTLE DOVE near pay hut at Holme.

Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERN opposite beach car park at Tennyson's Sands at Gibraltar Point NNR.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT on beach at Titchwell RSPB and at Scolt Head Island NNR, Norfolk.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Restronguet Creek, Cornwall. 

UK Votes To Leave EU And Cameron Quits!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-36570120

Thursday, 23 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Gargeney x 2 fem. on North Scrape, Spoonbills x 3 on Simmond's Scrape at Cley NWT.
Spotted Redshanks x 9, Little Gulls x 3 at Titchwell RSPB.
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on beach at Titchwell RSPB & Scolt Head Island NNR.
Savi's Warbler singing, east of Gun Hill near end of boardwalk, Spoonbills x 5 at Burnham Overy Dunes.
Spoonbills x 3 flew west over road near beach at Brancaster.

Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERN opposite beach car park at Tennyson's Sands at Gibraltar Point NNR.


MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT on beach at Titchwell RSPB and at Scolt Head Island NNR, Norfolk.

MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Hayle Estuary, Cornwall. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on beach at Titchwell RSPB & Scolt Head Island NNR.
Spotted Redshanks x 7, Little Gulls x 2 at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbills x 3 at Breydon Water.
Honey Buzzard flew SE over Trimingham.
Savi's Warbler singing, 500 yds east of Gun Hill (no sign of in afternoon) at Burnham Overy Dunes.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT on beach at Titchwell RSPB and at Scolt Head Island NNR, Norfolk.

RBA Weekly Round-Up 15th to 21st June!

By Andy Stoddart
http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/Content/WeeklyRoundup2016-25.aspx?s_id=239289168
Thanks to the RBA Team for including my Pacific Golden Plover picture and video.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT, on beach, freshmarsh at Titchwell RSPB and Scolt Head Island.
Knot x 2,500, Spotted Redshanks x 9, Little Gulls x 3 at Titchwell RSPB.
CASPIAN TERN early morning only at east end of Breydon Water.
TURTLE DOVE at Holme Dunes NWT.
Spoonbill, Little Gulls x 2 at Blakeney Harbour.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT on beach and freshmarsh at Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk.

Monday, 20 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
CASPIAN TERN, WHITE STORK esc., Quail (probable escape) at east end of Breydon Water.
Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshanks x 9, Spoonbills x 3 at Titchwell RSPB.
MEGA! GREAT KNOT (walk east from Brancaster Beach car park for 1/2 mile) at south west end though distant at Scolt Head Island
WHITE STORK esc in field by A47, 1 mile west of Great Yarmouth.
Spoonbills x 3, Spotted Redshank at Cley NT.
Pomarine Skua reported on pools at Salthouse.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT at south west end of Scolt Head Island, Norfolk.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Restronquet Creek, Cornwall.

IMPORTANT! NORFOLK BIRDERS & BEYOND, PLEASE SIGN NOW!

http://www.waspinfo.co.uk/

The information below taken from the above link. Please email, tweet, facebook etc this info on to all your friends, thank you very much.

WASP is an action group opposed to NCC’s listing of the beautiful and economically vital Snettisham site as a preferred location for Silica mining.

NCC is currently offering up over 1400 hectares of OUR beautiful county (much of it within 250m to 1000m of historic woodland, villages, designated SSI’s, Commons, National Monuments and nature reserves) as ‘preferred sites’ for exploration for open pit mining when it has a national requirement to find merely 20 hectares.

We believe this a disproportionate and unnecessary approach which seriously puts at risk OUR environment and wildlife, OUR health, OUR safety, OUR jobs (Tourism) and OUR heritage.

Which areas will be effected? Where is 'AOS A'?
As you can see from the map below ‘AOS A’ is in immediate proximity to Snettisham, Ingoldisthorpe and Dersingham. Hopefully you will agree this is just too near our homes, the woods, common, lakes, the world famous RSPB reserve and beach we all enjoy. The red road (A149) is already busy and dangerous and this will be used for lorries should the plans go ahead. We all need to get concerned and take action TODAY. Think about the health implications, tourism, job and property implications and impact on our glorious plant and wildlife.

How Can I Take Action?
WE NEED YOU TO OBJECT TO THE PLANS – DEADLINE 5PM 27TH JUNE
Norfolk CC have given a short window for formal objections. All must be received by this date. You can do this via by their website preferred route:
https://norfolk.jdi-consult.net/localplan/
Alternatively you can object by post, fax (01603 223219 – marked for the attention of Planning Services) and email (LDF@norfolk.gov.uk) will also be accepted.
SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION
Please visit change.org to sign our online petition. We need 500 signatures before 27th June.
Click here to sign the online petition

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Father's Day!

10 minutes that Great Knot showed for yesterday and today whilst I was at work, it was watched ALL bl**dy day long!!!

Finished work at 4.30pm. Flew home, picked Lucy up and whizzed over to visit Father in Heacham – he looked tired, but at least he wasn't shouting this time and was fairly calm. Lucy and I adorned him with chocolates and cards and then I told him all about the Great Knot and the Pacific Golden Plover at Titchwell RSPB, which he seemed interested in – he appeared to be interested, anyway! Just after 7pm, he said he wanted to go to bed, so Lucy and I took him upstairs in his wheelchair (via the lift) and I got him changed into pyjamas and stern transferred him into bed, into a perfect and comfortable position. He looked so cosy and relaxed and thanked me for helping him. Lucy and I kissed him good night and left. Lucy got upset and then so did I – its heartbreaking to know he won't ever be back at home with Mother again – so upsetting for us all.

Lucy and I visited Mother for a short while – she's still not sleeping properly and looks extremely tired. Lucy and I then returned home to King's Lynn. Shattered after a heavy weekend!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again from 6.05am on beach and freshmarsh all day until 9.15pm, Spotted Redshanks x 7, Little Gulls x 4, Spoonbill at Titchwell RSPB.
RED-FOOTED FALCON male, probable flew east over Thornham Harbour.
Spoonbill at Thornham Harbour.
Spoonbills x 8 at Cley NWT.
Spoonbill at Salthouse.
Spoonbills x 3 flew over Halvergate Marshes.
CASPIAN TERN at east end of Breydon Water.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on beach & freshmarsh from 6.05am to 9.15pm at Titchwell RSPB.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Restronquet Creek, Cornwall.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

'Knot' There When I Was!!! But found a PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER!

PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER
Canon 7D & 300 f4 lens – Brackish Marsh, Titchwell RSPB


I was up very early this morning and arrived in the car park at Titchwell RSPB at 6am. It was raining and it was very cold with north west winds. I headed along the main footpath towards the beach. Bumped into Dave A. who said the beach was birdless and there were no sign of any Knot, never mind a Great Knot! I dived into Island Hide to take shelter as the rain got heavier. As I type, this morning seems so long ago – I can't really remember everything that happened today! Parrinder hide was full with birders. Watched two cracking Little Gulls, Little Ringed Plover, Common Terns, Little Terns, Med Gull, cute Avocet Chicks, lots of Black-tailed Godwits, juv Pied Wagtails, Spotted Redshank, Knot and some stunning Red Knots, Shelducks, Marsh Harriers over the reed beds, Little Egrets, Grey Heron, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Teal, Swifts, Swallows, heard Cetti's Warbler etc. Bumped into and met the finder of the Great Knot, Chris Booth! Took his picture to add to my initial Great Knot post, thanks Chris!

The pager bleeped up with news of the Great Knot being on the beach, but sadly several others and myself didn't make it in time, before it departed. Spent the entire day, as did many others, searching for the Great Knot, between both Parrinder, Island Hides and the beach. I was so cold by late morning, I returned to the car park and changed into thermals! The car park was full and cars were queueing to get in. Had a lovely lunch in the 'feeding station' with Eddie M. – potato skins with cheese and onion, coleslaw and salad, followed by rhubarb crumble and custard – lovely! Met a blog reader – nice to meet you. With batteries recharged, I continued with my search for the Great Knot. Also bumped into a very sweet lady call Fiona who lives in London and was very complimentary of my blog – nice to meet you – also Fiona had seen three Cuckoos at Thornham Point and saw the recent Leucistic Starling amidst a large Starling flock.

Headed to the beach again – no birds on the shore, but the sun was now out and the light was glorious. I felt really tired – walked west and had a wonderful snooze in the dunes! Took some scenery pictures as I walked back along the beach. Gannets passing by distantly and a few terns. Still no Knot on the beach, nor any other birds. Headed back along the main footpath. A couple of birders who were heading out to the beach asked me if there were any birds out there – 'none' I replied.

Bumped into Rob H. who was photographing an obliging Little Tern alongside the path. As I walked over the rise (by the wooden seat) to walk past the brackish marsh, a bird caught my eye – standing tall and upright on one of the grassy islands, fairly distantly. It looked different – on first views with naked eye, I had no idea what it was. Quickly looked through my bins – it looked striking and stood out with white over eye and continuing down head, neck and breast and was dark under belly and tail with heavily brown/golden pattern on wings, back and tail. It was long legged – I started to panic for a moment, but it had to be a golden plover I thought, but somehow it didn't seem right. I didn't even allow myself to think that it could have been anything else, but a golden plover. I wish now that I had thought about this more – I mean, I have several birding apps on my phone! The correct ID of this bird was on my phone, but at this moment I carelessly ID'd this as a Golden Plover – I was extremely tired and that's my excuse!!! Its incredibly frustrating, as I should know that Golden Plover do not have legs this long and its stance was different – more upright. After taking a few SLR record shots at 5.13pm, I set up the scope and phone-scoped a single picture and also took a short video, but the quality is pretty dire, because of the distance.

Phone-scoped – Brackish Marsh, Titchwell RSPB


Anyway, as I stood here watching my 'Golden Plover', the two birders I had spoken to earlier about there being no birds on the beach, approached me and said 'you were right, there were no birds on the beach' and I replied in jest 'see, you should have listened to me'. I then said 'I have a Golden Plover in my scope if you want to look?'. Both birders (and they came across as very competent birders) looked in my scope at the Golden Plover, thanked me and carried on along the path. I then continued along the path and went into Parrinder Hide to join Eddie M. and many others who were looking at the Knot flock and hoping that the Great Knot would reveal itself. Whilst sitting here, the pager bleeps up with 'Pacific Golden Plover, Titchwell RSPB on brackish marsh, briefly 5.50pm then flew west to Thornham Marsh' – I can't remember my exact words now in front of a entire hide full of people, but I think I said something like 'NO!!!!!! As soon soon as the message came up, I realised that was the bird I had been watching and along with several far more experienced birders than myself, several birders agreed, that the pictures I had, were indeed of a Pacific Golden Plover!!! Special thanks to a group of Essex birders who helped me with this. I was gutted to say the least – lazy ID skills, when I knew it was different and I didn't bother taking it any further, so tough! A lesson learn't Penelope!!! Congratulations to Mike Buckland who found and put the news out of this bird and obviously unbeknown to him, I had seen it approximately 25 minutes earlier. I have been cursing myself for the rest of the evening. If only I had put more effort in and put out news that my bird was a possible Pacific Golden Plover – it would have been the best rare bird I have found to date, but the 'rules' are, I didn't ID it correctly at the time, so can't claim it as mine – oh well!!! Thank god it wasn't a first for Britain! On another note, I wonder how long that bird had been sitting on the brackish marsh and how many birders walked past it today!

I spent the last of the evening at Thornham Harbour, looking for the Pacific Golden Plover, but no joy. Went to visit Mother for a while and was ranting on about MY Pacific Golden Plover!!! Fell asleep when I got home. Work all day tomorrow.

More pictures and several videos to be added.

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again from 7.10am to 7.20am only, Little Gulls x 2, Spoonbill,  at Titchwell RSPB.
PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER, 5.13pm until 5.50pm on brackish marsh at Titchwell RSPB, then flew west to Thornham Marsh.
Arctic Skuas x 2 at Sheringham.
Great White Egret flew over Lady Ann's Drive, Spoonbills x 2 flew west over Holkham.

Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERNS x 2 opposite beach car park at Tennyson's Sands at Gibraltar Point NNR.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on beach from 7.10am to 7.20am only at Titchwell RSPB.
 

MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN yesterday still at Restronquet Creek, Cornwall.
MEGA! MOURNING DOVE unconfirmed report, mainland, Kirkwall, Orkney.

MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO again, at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.

The Composer Who Took A Cue From Birdsong

Meet Olivier Messiaen – the bird-mad composer who used birdsong to create some of the most startlingly original music of all time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3gJFSH6W6wXVgybrqqNtFGq/the-composer-who-took-a-cue-from-birdsong?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_radio_3&ns_source=facebook&ns_linkname=radio_and_music

Friday, 17 June 2016

Visit to Father!

Its been a very trying and tiring week and I feel torn between so many things right now – difficult to prioritise anything in life at the moment. I normally take Lucy to her rehearsal early evening, but asked her to get a lift, as I felt that I should go and visit my father, as I haven't seen him for a few days. So when I finished work, I had a quick microwave tea and arrived at Summerville House Care Home at around 6.15pm. As I rung the bell to be let in the door, I could hear some really loud shouting going on and sadly discovered that it was my father who was shouting so loudly. I was told by staff that he had been shouting since teatime and it was because he wanted to get out of there. I tried to reason with him and thought I would be able to calm him down, but it was impossible, it was the worst I have seen him – he was making a really strange noise and he must have had a sore throat. Understandably, some of the other residents were shouting at him to be quiet – I don't blame them at all, it must have been driving them all crazy. I tried to explain to him that he was upsetting everyone else who lived here too, but I don't think he took any of this in.

He did quieten down for a bit, but then started up again. He was rattling on about how he wasn't going to bed at all, while he was being caged in (he was referring to the bed rails which he has to have up, as he would fall out of bed) and he was talking about platforms and trains and when he was being picked up. When I asked him what he didn't like about being here, he replied 'everything', but was not able to pinpoint one thing. I sat in the armchair in despair – what could I do? Nothing at all – he can't return home, there is no alternative. Someone very kindly made me a lovely cup of coffee, which gave me an energy boost. A senior member of staff attempted to give father his tablets, but he refused and continuously spat them out and swept the drink over both of us! He refused to go to bed and anything else I suggested also got an angry reply! After a while he started to fall asleep – he had worn himself out. I watched a Blackbird and a Robin feeding in the garden as the light faded, which was nice. The two night staff arrived and after having a brief chat with them, I left at 9.30pm.

Just got back to King's Lynn in time to pick Lucy up from her rehearsal at 10pm – dropped Lucy home and then had to nip in Tesco's for a mini shop! No rest for the wicked!!! I only have Saturday to go birding as I am working all day on Sunday. I hope everyone has a Great Knot Mega weekend!!! Good Night!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again at 5.55am, 400yds east of end of boardwalk on beach until 12.15pm and then flew towards Scolt Head Island NNR with Knot. Seen again at 8.44pm at the SW end of Scolt Head Island – walk east from Brancaster Beach car park for 1/2 mile. No further sign by 9.50pm, but Knot flock flew west towards Titchwell RSPB.
Spotted Redshank, Little Gulls x 3, Spoonbill at Titchwell RSPB.

Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERNS x 2 opposite beach car park at Tennyson's Sands at Gibraltar Point NNR.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on beach at Titchwell RSPB & Scolt Head Island NNR.

MEGA! RED-HEADED BUNTING or BLACK-HEADED BUNTING fem. briefly at 8.30am only, at the Observatory, Calf of Man, Isle of Man.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

GREAT KNOT for Second Day!

I had full intentions of going to Titchwell RSPB again after work, but with more thunderstorms and rain, I didn't fancy a repeat walk of yesterday to have the same distant views. So annoying to know this amazing bird has been sitting on the freshmarsh for a good part of today and then re-locates to the beach when I finish work!!! Also the weather hasn't been too bad during the day, with some sunshine at lunchtime too. But as the day progressed, the weather deteriated into black skies, rain and thunder. Really hope this bird stays until the weekend!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on freshmarsh at 5.05am until 6.37am, then on beach at 7.20am, then no further sign again until 9.45am on beach until 11.30am, then on freshmarsh again at 12.32pm until 2pm, then flew to beach until 3.09pm. Seen again on freshmarsh at 4.30pm and then again on beach from 6.28pm until last reported sighting at 7.30pm at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbill, Spotted Redshanks x 6, Little Gull, Short-eared Owl at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbill at Thornham Marsh.
Montagu's Harrier at 10am near Choseley Barns.
TURTLE DOVE at Beighton Road, Acle.
Spoonbill at Breydon Water.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.


Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERNS x 2 opposite beach car park at Tennyson's Sands at Gibraltar Point NNR.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT KNOT again on freshmarsh and beach at Titchwell RSPB.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Restronquet Creek, Cornwall.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spoonbills x 3 at Breydon Water.
MEGA! GREAT KNOT on freshmarsh at 12.59pm with Knot until 5.05pm, then flew north towards beach. Re-found east of boardwalk on beach with Knot at 6.13pm until 6.53pm, then flew west towards Holme/Hunstanton at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbill, Spotted Redshanks x 5, Wood Sandpiper on Patsy's Reedbed at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbill, Wood Sandpiper at Cley NWT.
TURTLE DOVE, Short-eared Owl, Spotted Redshank at Holme Dunes NWT.

Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERNS x 2 opposite beach car park at Tennyson's Sands at Gibraltar Point NNR.
CASPIAN TERN at Middlemarsh Farm, west of Skegness.

MEGA NEWS

MEGA! GREAT KNOT at freshmarsh and beach at Titchwell RSPB.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Restronquet Creek, Cornwall.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.

RBA Weekly Round-Up 8th to 14th June!

By Andy Stoddart
http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/Content/WeeklyRoundup2016-24.aspx?s_id=243915092

MEGA! GREAT KNOT AT TITCHWELL RSPB!!!

Found by Chris Booth – Congratulations!

5th for Great Britain and 2nd for Norfolk!

My lunch break finishes at 1pm and I had had a couple of phone calls to make, so didn't even get round to looking at the RBA website on my phone, before I returned to work. Later on I finished work earlier to go to a GP appointment for 4pm. Whilst sitting in the surgery I opened the RBA website on my phone and looked twice, when I could see bold red writing! 'MEGA GREAT KNOT (Summer plumage) on freshmarsh at Titchwell RSPB'!!! WOW! I saw the first Great Knot at Breydon that didn't get accepted and missed the second one at Breydon Water because of work, so really needed to see this bird! As is usual with GP appointments, I didn't get seen at 4pm! Luckily though, it wasn't too much later and I was heading home at 4.32pm precisely!

It was raining when I reached home, chucked my gear in the car ready and then HAD to do Mother's on-line shopping for tomorrow – I should have done it last night, so that will teach me a lesson. I couldn't risk doing it when I got home later as there is a deadline time – I did it speedily in approximately 20 minutes – record! Pager message: '......til 5.05pm on freshmarsh, then flew north to beach'!!! Oh dear! My heart sank.

Headed to Titchwell RSPB via Ringstead. A further pager message later, saying 'still no further sign by 5.45pm' Bother etc etc!!! Kept going. There were rivers of water via the Ringstead back roads and I really regretted my chosen route. I had to slow down to 1st gear several times, to plough through the flooded roads. Reached Titchwell RSPB and didn't even bother bringing the camera with me – it was raining and thundering and I just knew this Great Knot would be too distant for photography, so decided to phonescope it, if it was close enough. Marched along the main path and hoped that someone would find this mega bird again and they did! Up on the pager at '.....6.13pm on beach, 400 yards east of the end of the boardwalk'. I quickened my pace, trying my best not to immerse my shoes completely in the deep puddles that filled the main path to the beach – other birders were close behind me – no one was really talking, it was head down and get there as quick as possible.

Walked east along the beach, over the thousands of razor shells, across a channel of water and onto some dunes to join other birders scoping a distant flock of Knot. Ian Brittain very kindly let me look through his scope to see my first GREAT KNOT at just after 6.30pm - thanks Ian! This was actually my best view. Eddie M. was here, along with Simon R. from Notts, James McC. etc with lots of other local birders and some from afar, to see this rare vagrant. I clambered over the marram grass behind other birders and set up my scope. Pete S. had forgotten his scope, so shared mine. Once you had seen the Great Knot amongst the main flock of Knot it stood out from the rest, with the black markings on chest, rusty red plumage and longer bill, even though it was a good distance away. A Spoonbill flew west towards Thornham Harbour. The rain and light were pretty rubbish, which didn't really help! Far too distant to phonescope, even Eddie didn't bother! I would have liked to have seen it closer, but mustn't grumble, at least I saw it. Sadly though, other birders turning up later dipped, as the entire flock of Knot including the Great Knot, flew high west at 6.53pm and we watched them until they became mere 'dot's' in the sky over Holme/Hunstanton – maybe to Snettisham RSPB to roost? Who knows! A handful of birds appeared to break off from the main flock, heading south and back to the freshmarsh, so we all left and walked back in fairly heavy rain to the freshmarsh, but no knot were seen here.

Eddie and I sat in the Island Hide for a while and watched a pristine Med. Gull preening away on the one of the grassy islands, which I took an iphone video of, but it wasn't very good. My hair was dripping wet and I could feel that my socks were wet too – all part of the twitch! The light was dramatic and beautiful and there were big numbers of waders on the pool, including Avocets, Shelducks, Black-tailed Godwits, Spotted Redshank, Teal, Black-headed Gulls, Pied Wagtails, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Little Grebe etc. Also Cetti's Warbler singing in the scrub by the hide. Left here and returned to the car park. Gave Eddie a protective finger bandage from my first aid kit, as he had trashed his finger (slight fracture) in an accident and it looked very sore indeed.

Went to my Mother's and excitedly told her all about the Great Knot (I had asked her earlier if she wanted to go, but the thunderstorm put her off). At last, I managed to re-tune her TV., which Mother was very pleased about, as she has not been able to watch BBC1 or ITV1 for a good week or more. Drove home via Tesco's garage shop, where I bought myself a celebration treat, a reduced price 'mixed berry tart' - yummy!

An excellent evening all round! I was very lucky indeed to have seen that bird, even though it was distant and thank goodness someone re-found it. Massive congratulations to the finder, Chris Booth! Thanks for making my day mega exciting!

Best picture I've found so far, by Kayn Forbes:
https://twitter.com/BirdingNorfolk/status/743140225216569345

Exciting Spoon-billed Sandpiper News From WWT!

http://www.wwt.org.uk/news/news/2016/06/wwt-news/eggs-mean-fresh-hope-for-spoon-billed-sandpipers/?utm_source=160613_HQFR_sbs_update&utm_campaign=4b07ca8cd0-160611_HQFR_sbs_update_sponsors&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_61f5af85d6-4b07ca8cd0-174982389#

Caspian Terns in Lincolnshire!

I notice someone has written on Twitter than one of the Caspian Terns at Gibraltar Point NNR has a metal ring on right leg. I wonder if this is the same bird I and many others had the joy of seeing at Titchwell RSPB on 18th June 2011?!!!

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/caspian-tern-stonking-views.html

http://pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/caspian-tern-has-ring.html

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spotted Redshanks x 5, Curlew Sandpiper at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbills x 4 at Breydon Water.

Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERNS x 2 opposite beach car park at Tennyson's Sands at Gibraltar Point NNR.

CASPIAN TERN at Middlemarsh Farm, west of Skegness.
 
MEGA NEWS 

MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Restronquet Creek, Cornwall.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Visit to Father!

Went to visit my father this evening, which was not exactly joyous – he was in a confused mood, emotional and continually talked about trains and buses – when he was being picked up and 'did I have my car outside?'. I think that he thinks he is in hospital and therefore will be going home to mother at some point. He still doesn't understand this is his new home – I tried to tell him this, but I didn't get a good response! I took him up to his room and helped him into bed and settled him down before I left. He was asleep before I left him, so all was well. Massive thanks to Alan Paine who very kindly sent him a wonderfully supportive letter and a couple of bird pictures – thank you so much – hugely appreciated and a lovely surprise!

Popped in to see Mother to deliver her old Carl Zeiss binoculars, which had been repaired at CZ via CleySpy and attached a new strap on them for her – I hate putting binocular straps on! Mother still isn't sleeping at nights, since father has left and she looked really tired. Hopefully she will get used to the fact soon, that she hasn't got to get up throughout the night anymore and can actually have an entire night's sleep!

On the way back to King's Lynn I drove through the most horrendous rain and flash flooding I have ever driven through – it was so heavy I could hardly see and I was driving under 30mph along the Dersingham bypass and through Sandringham  – I almost had to stop at one point it was so bad. The floods this created in minutes was quite shocking!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spotted Redshanks x 5, Spoonbill at Titchwell RSPB.
Short-eared Owl at Holme Dunes NWT.
Spotted Redshank at Breydon Water.

Lincolnshire Highlights
CASPIAN TERN at Middlemarsh Farm, west of Skegness.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Restronquet Creek, Cornwall (M.W.).
MEGA! FORSTER'S TERN yesterday at Inishroo, County Galway, Ireland.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spotted Redshanks x 3 at Titchwell RSPB.
Short-eared Owl at Holme Dunes NWT.
Wood Warbler (no further sign of this evening) at Felbrigg Hall NT.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR, Little Paxton.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN Hayle Estuary RSPB, Cornwall.

MEGA! TUFTED PUFFIN unconfirmed report in May near St Mary's briefly [reportedly identified from photographs] - Isles of Scilly.
MEGA! BOOTED EAGLE dark morph wholly unconfirmed report, flew south over Marshfoot Road, Tilbury, Essex.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Family Day, Holme Birding & History!

Mother and I went to visit father this morning at Summerville House Care Home – he looked very fatigued, but perked up a bit later. I helped him to eat his lunch and then took him outside in the garden and we sat on the seat with him. Blackbird, House Sparrows, Robin and Greenfinch were feeding and bathing in the garden. Then Vivien turned up, which we hadn't expected. Wheeled father over the lawn to smell the red roses and then he wanted to go back indoors.

Took Mother back home to Holme and we ate our late lunch – Vivien and her partner Ray also joined us. Late afternoon, Vivien, Ray and I went to Holme and parked by the 5-bar gate along the Firs Road. I gave Ray a guided tour and history of Holme NOA and Holme NWT, which is pretty difficult to explain and also how the day permits and membership works at these two reserves, when you can and can't visit and where you are allowed to walk – which is even more difficult to explain!!! I told him how father had discovered Holme as huge potential as a migration watchpoint and site of special scientific interest in the 1950's and started the Holme Bird Observatory in 1962. At the time I was born in 1965 we rented The Firs House – there is a picture of mother holding me as a new born baby at The Firs – my father's mother Hess also lived with us there. We were then booted out in the year of my birth, when the Norfolk Naturalists Trust (as it was called then, now NWT) purchased the house and some of the land.

Father persevered and refused to budge and we lived in a caravan on the NOA car park for over a year, which allowed Father to continue to with the observatory. We then moved to Sandyridge, which we rented – this is the last house before the big house by the pay hut and has just been purchased by someone famous and will soon be demolished, which is very sad to see). We then moved to a flat in Westgate, Hunstanton where my sister Lucy was born and then to our house at Holme (purchased by private mortgage from an amazing lady called Vivien Leather, who lived at Leiston in Suffolk) where Vivien (named after Vivian L) was born and remains our family home. My father worked seven days a week for over thirty three years as warden and I am extremely proud of the work he achieved. There are so many things he has achieved that no one really knows about – for instance, securing Titchwell and Snettisham reserves where he had wardens managing these habitats and carrying out migration studies in order to stop caravan sites being built on them – these were managed until the RSPB were able to purchase them and build them into the flagship reserves they are today. Both those reserves would have been massive caravan parks had he not secured and managed these habitats – what an awful thought!

Things have changed so much at Holme – we used to have coach loads of local school children visiting both reserves and I remember the children being fascinated by the ringing of birds, seeing a bird close up and how much they loved to see the puss moth caterpillars that father had on bunches of cut willow in bottles, the aquariums of bank voles, toads, newts, slow worms and lizards (these were always released at the end of the day) - also RSPB coach trips visited regularly – how much has changed since then! Vivien and I also fondly remembered the tortoiseshell stove in the observatory where father would cook jacket potatoes in foil and chestnuts in the winter time – such lovely memories of a very lucky childhood.

Anyway, back to our excursion! We walked along the coastal footpath and had fabulous close views of a Short-eared Owl and a Cuckoo over the Forestry and two Marsh Harriers were flying over Holme marsh – also saw a Painted Lady butterfly. We then walked through the pines, where several have been cut down to low stumps, because they were dead from the storm surge, so the notice explained. Pity they were not left as taller stumps for birds to perch on, but hey ho!

Followed the coastal footpath past the broadwater and walked along the Thornham bank to show Ray the fabulous view of Holme Reserves, beach and dunes. We then returned via Holme Bird Observatory, past The Firs House and along the Firs Road back to our cars – I photographed a Sedge Warbler on route. Natterjacks were also calling – a wonderful sound! We spent a long time chatting before we all departed. I parked in the village car park to watch for birds in the scrub – saw a Robin, Blackcap, Chaffinches and a Chiffchaff. A family with loads of dogs running around were having a barbecue, with fold-up picnic table and chairs and their cars were parked on the grass, where it says 'do not park on the grass' – obviously they all need to go to Specsavers, when the signs also clearly state 'no barbecues'!!! I got out of my car to get something out of the boot, but didn't have time as had to get back in the car quickly, when two of the dogs came running towards me, barking aggressively – the owners called them, but they didn't really take much notice. Time to go! Went back to mothers for a short time to make sure she was ok, then left for home.

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Redshanks x 2, Spoonbill at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbills x 2 flew south over North Dunes, Winterton.
Spoonbills x 3 at Breydon Water.
Serin in garden along A149 west of NWT warden's house at Cley.
Serin, then flew west at Weybourne Camp.
Spoonbills x 2 at Stiffkey Fen.
TURTLE DOVES x 3 at Snettisham Coastal Park.
Great White Egret at Holkham Freshmarsh.
TURTLE DOVES x 3, Spoonbill, Short-eared Owl at Holme Dunes.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR, Little Paxton.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

Friday, 10 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Redshanks x 2, Spoonbill at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank at Breydon Water.
Spoonbills x 2 on Arnold's Marsh off East Bank at Cley NWT.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Potter Heigham Marshes then flew off.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Gull at Swim Coots (access by NWT boat, book at visitor centre), Hickling Broad NWT.
RAVENS x 2, Garganey drake at Hickling Broad NWT.
TURTLE DOVE, Short-eared Owl at Holme Dunes NWT.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR, Little Paxton.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

Norfolk Born Cuckoo Stanley Has Made His Last Migration

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/environment/norfolk_born_cuckoo_stanley_has_made_his_last_migration_1_4570594

Thursday, 9 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
TURTLE DOVE, Spoonbills x 2, Great Northern Diver at Holme.
Great White Egret at Holkham Freshmarsh.
Pectoral Sandpiper, Spoonbill at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbills x 2 at Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR, Little Paxton.

Suffolk Highlights  

WHISKERED TERN at Trimley Marshes SWT.

MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! SNOWY OWL on Tuesday at Gleninagh, Coolsiva Quay, County Clare, Ireland.

MEGA! ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK male possible, reported on gorse by visitor centre at Hengistbury Head, Dorset.  
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.
MEGA! SEMIPALMATED PLOVER 1s still at Tacumshin, County Wexford, Ireland.
MEGA! COLLARED FLYCATCHER male on Tuesday in garden at Brampton (no sign since), Cumbria. 

Great British Bee Count!

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/great-british-bee-count/id880987608?mt=8

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Visit to Parents!

I went to visit Father this evening – he had just been taken up to bed when I arrived. He had had a bad night last night and managed to lean over the bed rail and throw clothes out of the chest of draws! Staff suggested that they would move the furniture around in the room to stop this happening again, so I did it for them a bit later on. He also hadn't had much to eat today – this is exactly what happened when he was at home with mother – heavy, unsettled night, meant tiredness and poor appetite the following day, so I wasn't over worried that this had been happening here. He had also been crying today, but this is also what happened at home when he had had a poor night's sleep.

When I first walked into the room, a couple of staff had just got him into bed and his became very emotional when he realised it was me – he was crying and unclear with his speech. He was requesting 'the next train out of here......' and 'where are my shoes?' etc etc. I think he thought I was going to take him home now. I knew I was going to be here longer than I had intended to be! It didn't take too long for me to calm him down – I sat him up in bed so we could talk. I opened the window, drew the curtain and turned the light on. I started off by giving him a drink and a banana. Then I gave one of my longest talks ever and went through everything with him again about why he was here, where he was, who else was here and why he couldn't go back home again and how much better it was here for him etc. He really listened well – I could tell. He then said 'I've missed you', which pulled at my heartstrings! That was probably because I haven't been to see him since Sunday, but I can't go every day, work, my stuff to sort, mother, life etc! I made sure I repeated that I would always be visiting him and would see him more than I did before, but couldn't come here every day. He started to look sleepy and relaxed, so I lowered the head of the bed down a bit, shut the window, drew the curtain, turned the light off, said good night and left quietly. The staff here are so nice, I love visiting this home – it has a nice feel about it.

Drove to Holme to visit Mother! She looked shattered, which is hardly surprising as she had cycled to the farm shop in Thornham today to get fish 'n' chips from 'Eric's'! I'm completely mystified that Mother's hip is now magically better and she said she can't feel a thing! I know rheumatism can come and go, but I thought it was far worse than that, seeing the agonising pain she has been going through! I bet she turns down the X-ray appointment when it arrives now, oh well up to her! I pointed out that she could go out birding with me now, to which she replied 'I can't walk that far'.

I showed Mother Andy Stoddart's new book with my picture of my Pallas's Warbler in and we sat and had a cup of coffee and catch-up. Mother is finding it so difficult to come to terms with Father being in a home and constantly feels guilty. I continue to remind her that had he not gone into a home when he did, that she probably would be on this earth at all right now and father would have been put in a care home anyway! She knows he had to go into care, but it doesn't make it any easier – its not easy for any of us. I suppose she is right about him finding it difficult to adapt – at 89 years old, having to adjust to a completely different way of life, in a massive building and when you are almost blind is going to very stressful indeed – just hope he does settle eventually.

Plonked the cat in its bed in the wicker chair in the kitchen, made mother her water bottle for bed and left to go home. So hot at work this week, shouldn't moan, but I will – TOO BL**DY hot!!!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank at Titchwell RSPB.
WHITE STORK esc., Spoonbill, Short-eared Owl at Breydon Water.
Montagu's Harrier flew north over Martham Road, Hemsby.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR, Little Paxton.

Suffolk Highlights 

BLACK KITE flew over Melton.
WHISKERED TERN at Trimley Marshes SWT.
LITTLE BITTERN at Trimley Marshes SWT.

LITTLE BITTERN at Old Moor RSPB.
 
MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.

MEGA! SNOWY OWL unconfirmed report yesterday at Gleninagh, Coolsiva Quay, County Clare, Ireland.

Siberia's Sprite: A History Of Fascination And Desire By Andy Stoddart!

New Publication by Andy Stoddart

Softback with 177 pages and 13 black-and-white illustrations

"Through a unique combination of rarity value, great aesthetic appeal and enduring scientific interest, the Pallas's Warbler has for more than two centuries exercised the most remarkable hold on our collective imagination.

Wherever our investigations or recreations have taken us, the Pallas’s Warbler has remained a constant presence and preoccupation. Featuring prominently in the Imperial pursuits of explorer naturalists, the exploits of collectors in Victorian Britain, the development of zoological nomenclature, the heyday of migration studies, the rise of recreational birdwatching, the development of bird illustration, the study of avian vagrancy and, now, today’s taxonomic upheavals, its story is central to, perhaps even synonymous with, much of our ornithological history.

This book sets out to explore this history, to understand our lasting relationship with this tiny bird and its place in our fascinations and desires."

To order a copy of this fabulous book, please email Andy on his website:
http://andystoddart.weebly.com/siberias-sprite.html

My Pallas's Warbler photograph used in Andy's new book, taken on 12th October 2010
by the apple tree at the end of the boardwalk,
Burnham Overy Dunes, Norfolk.
Published in black and white in the book.

RBA Weekly Round-Update 1st to 2nd June!

By Andy Stoddart
http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/Content/WeeklyRoundup2016-23.aspx?s_id=34764831

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Hillington Hoopoe Search!

News of a Hoopoe on the pager this morning in a field near Norfolk Hospice at Hillington, lifted my spirits when I looked at the pager at lunchtime! There were no further updates since the intial sighting at 9am this morning, by the time I finished work. Hillington is only up the road from me, so it was worth going to look for obviously. Stifling hot at work, what a change from last week!

I cooked a quick stir fry quorn vege tea and then cruised over to Hillington to look for the Hoopoe. I don't really know Hillington at all – I pass through it enough times on route to the coast, so I should do really! I headed straight for Norfolk Hospice, which is situated at the end of a road with locked gates across and I couldn't see any short turfed fields close by, only some grassy patches in the large car park. Hmmmmm...... drove around the residential roads to find lawns and fields! Met a nice lady in a close, who told me she was a birder, but she hadn't heard anything about the Hoopoe.

Went down a small side road off the B1153 and found a large field behind a tall gate. I spent a while scanning this field, but it didn't look perfect Hoopoe habitat – grass a bit too long really. I then got chatting to a really nice couple who lived in a house close to here, who told me that the Hoopoe had been sitting on their TV aerial at 4pm!!! They very kindly took my mobile number and said they would ring me if they had any further sightings. I searched the churchyard and then followed the bridleway sign path alongside a fabulous marshy field behind the church – it looked perfect habitat for Bee-eater and Red-footed Falcon! Willows in the middle of the marsh/field, stream/dykes running through and telegaph wires overhead! There were lots of House Martins, Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts skimming over this marsh – it was a beautiful sight. I also saw a Green Woodpecker, a Kestrel, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Linnets, Blackbirds and Housesparrows. Hargreaves Plants Ltd, Church Farm is adjacent to this marsh.

I searched the churchyard again on the way back and then returned to Norfolk Hospice where I bumped into Chris Ward with camera in hand also looking for the Hoopoe! Returning to the side road and field, I chatted to the couple again and was chatting about birds etc when another birder turned up..... Trevor Girling! Back at the churchyard again later and chatted to a local man by the gate who was just leaving Church Farm (I think) and with Chris Ward, we listened to him talking about 'a crazy twitcher' he knew, who goes miles to see rare birds..... Scotland etc and watches them for 10 minutes and is off again, he laughed. When I asked who his friend was, he replied 'Justin Lansdell'!!!! 'I know Justin' I said!

Continued to look on grassy lawns for the Hoopoe and then lastly back to Norfolk Hospice to find Chris, Trevor and another birder looking in hope. But by this time we had all lost hope and departed!

I decided to spend the last moments of light at Abbey Farm Bird Hide at Flitcham. A Little Egret flew across the fields, pair of Shelduck with young, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Jackdaws, Tufted Ducks and that was about it really. There was lots of vegetation covering the usual Little Owl perch in the bottom of the oak tree, so didn't know if it was there or not. But, I was delighted to see the Little Owl fly across the field into the usual Oak Tree just before I left! Nice end to the evening, but it would have been much nicer if the Hoopoe had revealed itself too. As Trevor said, it was in someone's garden, somewhere in Hillington this evening!!!

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Red-breasted Flycatcher yesterday at 7pm on meadow trail at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbill on Thornham Marsh, Little Gull, Spoonbills x 3, Garganey, Spotted Redshank at Titchwell RSPB.
Garganey at Welney WWT.
HOOPOE in field at 9am near Norfolk Hospice, on TV aerial on house at 4pm, but no further sign by dusk at Hillington.
Crossbills x 2 flew south (yesterday) over Hemsby.
GOLDEN ORIOLE male at Hemsby.
Great Northern Diver flew west over Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR, Little Paxton.

Suffolk Highlights
BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve.

BEE-EATER flew north over Point Marsh at Walberswick.
BEE-EATER flew flew south over Discovery Centre, Minsmere RSPB.
RED-FOOTED FALCON at Westwood Marsh, Walberswick.
WHISKERED TERN at Trimley Marshes SWT.
LITTLE BITTERN at Trimley Marshes SWT.
 
MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.
MEGA! SEMIPALMATED PLOVER 1s still at Tacumshin, County Wexford, Ireland.

Monday, 6 June 2016

NORFOLK BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spotted Redshanks x 2, Little Gull at Titchwell RSPB.
Short-eared Owls x 2, Spoonbill at Breydon Water.
Shag on Little Ouse at Spring Walk near Nuns' Bridges, Thetford.
Great White Egret, Garganey x 2 at Welney WWT.
Red-backed Shrike male by concrete blocks, Great White Egret flew out to sea at North Dunes Winterton.
Red-backed Shrike fem. still at Weybourne Camp.
TURTLE DOVES x 4, Short-eared Owl at Holme.
Spoonbill at Cley NWT.
Red-backed Shrike male, found dead on Blakeney Point.
Short-eared Owls x 5 by Nelson's Head Track at Horsey.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR, Little Paxton.

Lincolnshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Water's Edge Country Park at Barton-upon-Humber.


Suffolk Highlights
BLUE-WINGED TEAL Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve.

 
MEGA NEWS
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO at Reap Lane, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.
MEGA! SEMIPALMATED PLOVER 1s still at Tacumshin, County Wexford, Ireland.

Surprise In My Lunch Break!

Can anyone ID this for me please? Approx 3mm long - dropped onto my tray when eating lunch! It was on oak leaves and a very pretty turquoise metallic green. Taken with my iphone and cropped massively, hence poor quality!

Nick Moran on Twitter has kindly ID'd this very quickly for me – "Looks like a Phyllobius weevil. Doubt it's possible to ID to species from that image" The image I put on Twitter was uncropped and alot smaller though! Thank you Nick and also to Keith Kerr!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Bootiful Last Day!

SUNNY ALL DAY!!!
I changed my mind about my plans for today – I felt guilty about not taking my sister Lucy out once in my entire two weeks off, so I decided to take her out. Also Lucy has not seen father since he has moved into the care home, so off we went to Heacham to visit him. He was sitting in his usual comfy chair in the conservatory and was roasting hot – even Lucy was amazed to feel that his hands were toasty warm. He seemed pleased to see us – well he can't see at all really, but you know what I mean! He gave us a little smile and I could tell he was especially pleased to see Lucy as he hadn't seen her for a while. The staff got him into his wheelchair for us and we took him outside in the sunshine. With the north east wind it wasn't exactly boiling, but the sun was warm in the sheltered garden. Wrapped father up in his blanket and then he was happy. It was so lovely sitting on the bench in the garden with him. We chatted about the latest birds and told him about the three Red-backed Shrikes in Norfolk yesterday and how I had found a Spotted Flycatcher at Burnham Overy Dunes etc etc. He enjoyed the chocolate and the Werthers sweet we had got from his room. There were Swifts, Swallows and House Martins skimming overhead in the blue skies and two Mallards and a Robin were feeding beneath the bird table next to us. There is a beautiful tiled mosaic on the wall of the garden, which I havn't really studied before – Lucy instantly noticed a cat playing a violin in the picture! The mosaic depicts life and times in Heacham and is quite fascinating.

Father is still confused as to where he is and why – and I have to explain the entire reasons why he is here, where he is etc etc, every time I come here. I can see why its confusing and probably quite frightening – someone that is almost blind, coming from a life of living in one tiny little room to being moved to a 26 bed house, with a huge dining room, a huge living room, a conservatory and a garden!!! It will take a while for him to get used to it all – with plenty of visits from family initially to reassure him, I think and hope he will settle in nicely. Anyway, we brought father back into the conservatory and staff kindly transferred him back into his comfy armchair and we said goodbye and left.

Lucy and I picked up three portions of chips from 'Sunny Hunny' and headed for Holme to see what mother was up to. She had been watching the tennis when we arrived. I gave mother some exercises that I printed off the Arthritis Research UK website – 'Excercises for Hip Pain' (scroll down to Exercise section and open the pdf: simple hip exercises.).

Mother allowed me to move the living room around, as it hasn't looked right since father left home. I moved the sofa back to where it used to be and had a good sort out, hoovered and tidied and it now looks far better and more homely. Mother has been using father's walking stick to get around and I was showing her the correct way to get up/sit down with a stick – felt like I was back at work! Lucy and I stayed until 8pm and then left.

After dropping Lucy off in King's Lynn, I drove to the docks and stopped the car along the road by the River Ouse on the way to Lynn Point. I sat here a while watching the sun set and then witnessed something spectacular! A seal was bobbing up and down in the river and when I grabbed my bins to look more closely it had hold of a huge fish in its jaws! It took a while to eat it – I can't recall ever seeing this before – it was magical to watch and with the sun's rays glittering over the water, it was a lovely end to the day. I could see one Peregrine sitting on the tower as I left for home.

So, that's the end to a very busy, but productive holiday! Back to normality tomorrow! To be honest, I'm quite looking forward to it!