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Saturday 13 April 2013

Spring Migrants Pour in at Holme!

Holme Marsh Reserve and Holme Dunes NWT
Holme Bird Observatory and Redwell Marsh NOA
An massively heart lifting day, with glorious sunshine and migrants flooding in on the south westerly winds. I can't remember the last time I saw Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin all on the same day! Today was just fabulousSpring has Sprung!
Quick summary: Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins, Ring Ouzel, Black Redstart, Redwings, 14 Yellow Wagtails, White Wagtail, Wheatears, Blackcap, Chiffchaffs, Common Buzzards, Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler, the list goes on........
It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was the first time since last year, that I didn't bother putting on my rain trousers automatically when I left the house. In fact it was so warm that I had to peel several layers off throughout the morning! Stopped to get newspapers for parents and then a bag of sticks at the farm house at the top of the Ringstead hill and delivered them. Father was in his shorts!!! I kindly pointed out that it was not that hot this morning!
Holme Marsh Reserve NWT
singing in the parking area.
Several teal on the flooded marsh just before the kissing gate to the first hide. Sat in the hide alone – gadwall, teal, mallards, coot, moorhen, wood pigeons, marsh harrier, robin, jackdaws etc. My mother had added three new cushions to her current collection and I was disappointed to see that two of them were on the floor of the hide in the dust. I don't quite understand why they were on the floor – if people don't want to use them, then just pile them up on the bench seat at one end, simples!
A lovely couple then joined me in the hide who came from Dersingham (nice to meet you) – they were pleased when I pointed out that the bird flying straight towards us was a stonking male Ring Ouzel at 10.20am. You know that moment when you have to duck to look under the hide flap to ID a bird quickly? This was one of those moments! Unfortunately we only saw this bird for seconds before it flew over the top of the hide, so no photos! My first 2 Swallows skimmed over the water at 10.30am. 2 Common Buzzards spiralling high in the blue skies along with 2 Marsh Harriers. A Water Rail ran across from a clump of reeds, just in front of the hide. I walked round to the second hide and watched 5 Common Buzzards high up in the thermals. 2 Sand Martins flew past. Cetti's Warbler singing, 2 more Swallows. Chiffchaff feeding at the bottom of the bullrushes in front of the hide, but obscured behind vegetation, so no pics. Good numbers of blackbirds around.
Walked back to my car where I saw Gary Hibbard, Holme NWT Warden who informed me that whilst I had been in the second hide, he had seen a Red Kite.
Holme Forestry NWT
Lots of blackbirds along the Firs approach road. Parked up by the 5-bar gate and had early lunch, then walked to the Forestry. Skylark on route and a Tortoiseshell and Peacock Butterfly also seen. On the large, short turfed grass there were two Wheatears, 12 Linnets, 2 Meadow Pipits and my first House Martin at 12.15pm. Other birds seen in this area: Bullfinch (heard only), reed bunting, kestrel, little egret, at least 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 more Sand Martins, another Swallow. Bumped into Connor, Billy and Andy B. which was great, not seen any of them for ages. Connor could not believe I hadn't seen the black redstart yet – ho hum! Stock Dove flew through. Several more chiffchaffs in the hawthorn bushes at the back of the paddocks as I walked towards the village carpark. I headed this way, as I was thinking about the citrine wagtail that occurred here last spring. Nothing in the carpark really, but a few blackbirds feeding in the grassy, seated area opposite the toilet block. Continued walking along the road past the reserves 'Firs Road' and in some rough ground I saw two Redwings and more blackbirds. A couple of lady birders informed me that they had seen the black redstart at 'Pepperpot' (blue house) a little while ago. There were several toads sitting on the road and also three together recently squashed – what a sad end! Maybe we could have a 'SLOW TOADS CROSSING' sign? I followed the river path from the bridge by 'Brook House' and flitting about near a pond in the horse paddock was a stunning White Wagtail – I was just about to fire the shutter on the camera when it flitted off, high up and away south! Another swallow was seen.

Wheatear at Holme NWT Forestry.
Redwell Marsh Hide NOA
7 Avocets, 1 Grey Heron, 4 Sand Martins, 13 House Martins, 2 Swallows, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe.
Continued walking along the river path and just by the standing caravan that was (now modern, wooden chalet with landscaped garden) was a red-legged partridge standing on bright green grass, backed by a clump of daffodils – that would have been a stunning picture if it hadn't sprinted off across the road! I walked back along the Firs Road to look for the black redstart at 'Pepperpot' but no luck. A couple of houses down at 'Seabank' there was a fantastic collection of birds on the well stocked up bird table and feeders including a male Blackcap feeding on the fatballs! Also goldfinches, 2 greenfinches, robin, blue tit, great tit, hedgesparrow, chaffinches, blackbirds, pheasant. Continued to look for the black redstart around the payhut area, but no sign. As I stood leaning over the gate of 'The Saltings' house, a couple of people in a car stopped behind me to smile and say 'it was here this morning'....
Holme NWT and Holme Bird Observatory
Drove to the NOA carpark and had the second half of my lunch. The sun had disappeared, it was now dull and rain was imminent. My eyes were closing, I needed a nap. Had a lovely snooze — a magpie was making a racket right next to my car but soon disappeared when I awoke from my slumber. It felt alot colder when I got out of the car and the wind had picked up.
There are now two weirdly shaped, wooden type buildings adjacent to the NWT Firs House which I found out later are toilets!!! At last!!! But they are not open yet and I was told that they will be for NWT members only and for people paying to park for the beach. Bumped into Sophie, Warden at HBO just as she was leaving. We had a brief catch up, not seen her since 2012! The weather was pretty horrible now and didn't really see any birds of note here. Although there was a male pochard on the broadwater and 2 Swallows skimmed through. There is now a fantastic viewing platform with decking and chairs on the bank to the left of the observatory – brilliant for viewing over the marshes! I notice there has been quite a bit of clearing, pruning and coppicing work carried out since I last visited. Walked over to the beach, but the tide was out – lots of oystercatchers along the shore line. Walked through the pines and back to my car.
NWT Pay Hut
Back at the NWT pay hut I could see Connor's Nan photographing the Black Redstart – at last!!! It was now raining steadily. My first two pictures were naff and out of focus. Shortly after other birders disappeared, I positioned my car in adjacent to the short wooden posts, which the black redstart seemed to favour. With camera positioned on bean bag, I eventually got some frame filling shots which I was very pleased with. I spent at least an hour and a half here and was still watching this beautiful little bird at 6.50pm
! Then I had a lovely surprise – 5 Yellow Wagtails flew over! Also had 4 Sand Martins here.
Redwell Marsh Hide NOA
I decided to have a quick look in this hide again and saw several House Martins, Sand Martins and Swallows skimming over the water. 2 Mute Swans also landed in the pool. Just as I was about to leave at 7.30pm I had another 9 Yellow Wagtails fly over the pool magical end to the day! Popped in to visit parents briefly before driving home.

Toad along the path next to Redwell Marsh.

House Martin skimming over the pool at Redwell Marsh.