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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Spectacular Spring Birding!

Cracking bird at Walsey Hills NOA this evening

Garden Drove, Warham
It was cold today, cloudy and no sun all morning. As I drove up the track along Garden Drove, it all looked pretty dead, no birds flushed from the hedges at all! Parked the car up on the concrete pad – well actually no, I didn't! There is a massive heap of sugar beet next to the machinery and there is only space for one car which was already taken, so I had to park on the verge. The pig units have been moved to the field opposite the beginning of the track down to the marshes. Alexander plants seem to be in abundance this year and they have almost taken over the track. Half way along, the track was completely blocked with a ivy covered fallen tree and I had to walk into the field and around to continue my walk. It was here that I heard a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff singing and also saw a Chaffinch, Great Tit and a Blackbird. Nothing else was seen at all, nor in the copse at the end. Back at the car I tried to warm up with a cup of coffee. Spectacular view of a Sparrowhawk that zoomed up from the track at a massive speed, headed for my car and then diverted at the last second, past my driver's window at eye level and continued down the track I had just walked.

House On The Hill, Blakeney
The sun had come out and it felt a little warmer. Long-tailed Tits were flitting about in the bushes, Chiffchaffs, Chaffinches, a Robin, Wood Pigeons and a few Swallows flew through. Felt my eyes closing and had a nap in the car, lovely!

Cley Visitor Centre NWT
The brief interlude of sunshine didn't last long and the gloom and cloud returned as I drove into Cley Village. Even though I had food with me, I really felt like sitting somewhere warm. The visitor centre was packed out. I wish I could say it was packed out with birders, but sadly as is increasingly so at a number of reserves, it was full of day trippers who seemed to stare at the strange person with binoculars! That's how it felt anyway. It was so packed, there was nowhere to sit, so I bravely sat outside on the new terrace to enjoy my lunch. I discovered that it wasn't really warm enough to do this, but stuck it out anyway. This paid off and I'm so glad I did. I sat on the picnic table at the far end, facing North Foreland Wood, when suddenly a COMMON CRANE cruised over the tops of the trees at 1.05pm heading North and then disappeared as if it had landed somewhere close by, either Snipe's Marsh or Arnold's Marsh maybe? Being as I was the only birder here, no one else saw this! I had almost finished my lunch, so hurriedly whizzed into the new fancy loos and then down to my car to search for the crane.

Walsey Hills NOA
Parked up in the carpark and bumped into John Furse. No sign of the Common Crane on either Snipe's or Arnold's Marsh. Isn't it amazing how a massive bird can just disappear! Talking of massive birds, I wonder where the White-tailed Eagle is today? Anyway, we walked along the bottom path to see if it had relocated to the fields the other side of Walsey Hills, but no luck there either. Chiffchaff and Blackcap in Walsey Hills, not much else of note. Walked up the steps to chat with Warden David Bratt who told us he had seen the Black Redstart at Walsey, that was seen on the East Bank this morning and also a Ring Ouzel earlier. David and John started talking football, so I promptly left!

The Hangs, Cley
Bumped into Irene and Tim Loseby here which was nice and had a brief catch up. Walked as far at the big slope and scanned for Ring Ouzels, but only Rooks, Jackdaws and Woodpigeons seen here. News of a Male Montagu's Harrier seen at Kelling and heading west bleeped up on the pager. It was so cold and dull I left and walked back to the car.

After hearing that Eddie M. had seen some good birds here, I decided to relocate inland. Along the Glandford Road I heared the magical sound of a Nightingale singing! A Grey Wagtail flew over and a Whitethroat was in the hedgerow.

The sun had come out again, thank goodness – blue skies and white clouds! Further along at Glandford Ford I listened to a Sedge Warbler singing away next to the bridge. Bumped into a couple of birders I know and had a catch up with them. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming distantly. Saw a male and female Blackcap, a Wren and a Song Thrush was singing. In the horse paddock amonst the buttercups a Blackbird got me excited, but that's all it was..... no white breast band! Further back along the Glandford Road I met up with Eddie and we listened to the magical sound of a Grasshopper Warbler reeling, which also revealed itself and sat on top of a bramble for around a minute – not quite long enough however, to get phone-scoped by Eddie, much to his annoyance! A Willow Warbler also put in an appearance along with a Whitethroat and a Wren. It was now 4.30pm. Eddie had watched House Martins over Bayfield Lake earlier, so off I went in hope of seeing some myself.

Bayfield Lake and River Glaven
Parked the car up along the road and walked through the gap in the wall to view the River and Hall. The light was stunning now – I couldn't have arrived at a better time. Hirundines were everywhere – watched my first House Martins fly catching right above my head in the blue skies – so lovely to see, so good for the soul. Also Sand Martins and Swallows were skimming along the river. Then to top it all, a flash of turquoise and orange appeared in my bins and a stunning Kingfisher flashed along the river – I managed to keep with the kingfisher, as it sped along the river up to the lake at the far end – how fabulous!

Kelling Water Meadows
Eddie came with me to look at the Dotterel that has been here for a few days. The sunshine continued and the evening was without doubt, the best part of the day. Walking up the field to view the Dotterel at 5.45pm was a good move, as there was no one else here. Eddie (of course) picked up the Dotterel before me – very very distantly in the heat haze. It was so distant, that you couldn't even phone-scope! Beautiful to see, but out of focus! Several Skylarks around and a few Linnets.

Back along the track we saw a couple of Whitethroats and a good number of birds on the pool including Black-tailed Godwits, Teal, Mallard, Egyptian Geese with goslings, Black-headed Gulls, Redshank, Avocet and 2 Pied Wagtails. 2 Oystercatchers were at the fore edge of the pool and one was having a wash and brush up, which looked beautiful against the dark blue water. A Wheatear was by the pill box and then a Whinchat appeared on the fence posts which line the back of the pool! Our luck continued with 2 Yellow Wagtails dropping in briefly! Wow, what an evening! Eddie left to go to the NWT hides, Cley and I went to Salthouse.

Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
I parked up along Beach Road and scanned the marsh. I could see 3 Wheatears distantly, but changed my mind about walking to Gramborough Hill. It didn't look over exciting for some reason. My instinct told me to return to Walsey Hills.
Cracking Black Redstart at Walsey Hills NOA. 
Rubbish pictures taken after 7pm, only wish I was able to return on Monday to take better pictures. Work gets in the way!

Walsey Hills NOA
My instinct was indeed correct. It was 7pm and unusually for this time of the evening, there were several cars parked here. As I got out of the car a bird landed on the telegraph pole next to the Walsey Hills signeage board – a stunning Male Black Redstart!!! It put on a wonderful display of fly catching, landing on the telegraph wire and back to the post – wow! It was so exciting to see, that I had a job to hold the camera steady. A chaffinch also wanted the same post and kept swopping with the Black Redstart! A Marsh Harrier cruised overhead. Suddenly Julian B. and Duncan M. appeared having seen the bird and were trying to re-find it again. The Black Redstart then darted off to the East Bank carpark briefly, before returning to Walsey Hills – we only saw it briefly again on top of the hide roof, before it disappeared in the fading light. I walked around the reserve alone, but didn't see anything else, apart from a Chiffchaff and a couple of Red-legged Partridges.

Cley Coastguards
A Stonechat was sitting distantly on a bush west of Beach Road. A Marsh Harrier caused a stir and luckily I managed to see several Sandwich Terns flying west along the sea! What a fabulous day it had turned out to be – no rarities, but a fabulous selection of Spring migrants. I walked across the shingle and watched the waves crashing onto the shore as the light faded and took a couple of videos. I had a coffee and left at 8.20pm – it wasn't even dark then! Arrived home just after 9pm! Looking forward to the next few weeks of migration!


1 comment:

  1. "it was full of day trippers who seemed to stare at the strange person with binoculars!"...
    same here Penny, same here....
    especially in the Brenne!

    Now you've got me started...
    People with handbags, high heels and make-up... and that's just the men!!
    Not a camera or binos in sight... what are they doing walking all the way down to a hide...
    opening and closing the flaps and sticking their heads out and looking around...
    then they stand and look at us... as if we were some strange breed of animal!!
    WOW! Moment of enlightenment... of course that's why....
    it explains the need to look out of the flaps to see what these strange animals are watching!

    All those Ouzels in Norfolk... so many... I am envious!!
    So glad you heard an Alldayandnightingale...
    you need things like that after your recent weeks...

    I was working late t'other night and came back over here at around 1AM...
    there was a cuckoo giving it welly on one side of me as I walked...
    and two competing Nightingales on the other...
    then the frog chorus started up...
    there are times when double glazing is a joy!!

    I haven't heard a Grasshopper Warbler in yonks...
    marvellous to hear... hell to locate...
    three of us once did at Titchwell...
    all three of us having spread out reckoned the sound was "in line with that bush"...
    as we were all aroundabout 50 yards apart, we looked hard at "that bush"...
    and, there it was... clearly visible, but very low down!!

    Nice you saw a Black Redstart as well...
    a second year male is a magnificent sight in what, to me, resembles a dress suit!
    You need days like these at the moment Penny...
    glad you are getting some!

    Keep well, keep sane,