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Sunday 31 January 2010

Cley and Salthouse - out birding at last!

Still don't feel well but just had to escape otherwise I would have flipped!

Still no computer so typing this one fingered on iPhone!

On route to Cley I had 2 common buzzards over the A148 just before the Little Snoring turn off.

Arrived Cley Visitor Centre - whilst queueing up for a chocolate fix (yes I know it's not included in Weightwatchers!) I was caught red handed by Pat who smiled and asked how the diet was going!!!!!!!

I also bumped into someone that told me some very sad news - a local lady birdwatcher had passed away recently.... she was an elderly lady but whatever someone's age it's still so very sad. My last memory of her was watching the Collared Pratincole at Salthouse last year and I remember how pleased she was at seeing it - I think we all were! God bless you X

I arrived at Walsey Hills carpark at around 2pm - after John Furse posted on Birdforum that the NOA had been carrying out more scrub clearance I thought I would have a look - most of the clearance done before was ok I suppose apart from the removal of the sycamore tree above the building and the closure of the end of the centre path, BUT the recent clearing has just ruined the whole look in my opinion - all the gorse either side of the steps that lead up to hide has been removed including the gorse where the Adders retreat back into!!!! It has always been very pleasant sitting on the seated bank to right of those steps, but this has also gone - sad. Maybe it will all look better in the spring but for now it looks hacked into and barron! Lost all it's character. Walking round I discovered the centre path is blocked by a massive fallen tree - I hope very much this will be cleared. The pond that was dug out last year has had nothing more done to it yet - I presume a liner of sorts will be put in and filled with water for spring migrants!

It was a beautiful afternoon with glorious sunshine and everything looked golden. Re-parked the car in East Bank carpark and walked out to the sea - solitary lapwings dotted about on route along with moorhens and greylags. A birder pointed a little gull in the very far distance, which to me was a white speck! Arnolds marsh: counted 30+ avocets, 56 black tailed godwits, shelducks, wigeon, teal, Dublin, redshank. Lots of gulls on the sea - not alot else though. Spoke to Pete Snook on the phone who told me that the snowbuntings were showing very well at Salthouse. Drove round to Salthouse beach carpark where the snowbuntings were indeed showing beautifully and looked even better through my Canon lens!!! Got some cracking shots but can't post them on here until I get my computer back from Kris! Also a turnstone here and 2 pied wagtails - thank you to whoever has been seeding the bank!!! After leaving here I had fantastic views of a barn owl on a post just after the Dunn Cow pub. It's most definately getting lighter in the evenings now - stopped the car just outside Cley to climb up the bank to view the windmill in the setting sun around 4.50pm!

Left Cley and just after Morston I had an awesome surprise of a Bittern flying directly over the car (going towards Cley) at 5.09pm!!! Cracking end to my short afternoon out BUT I was suffering now - if I had not have gone out I think I would have gone insane - it's not good mentally to spend too long by yourself!

Lemsip again - goodnight!


Saturday 30 January 2010

No birding today - still recovering!

Reached from my bed to swish curtains back and was shocked to see a good covering of snow everywhere!!! Retreated back under the covers! Ok look - the snow novelty has well and truly worn off - 'one is not amused'!!!

Eventually hauled myself reluctantly out of bed and whilst having a very late breakfast attempted to register my vodaphone account on line via iPhone which I achieved eventually!

I am so fed up with coughing etc and it's a real job remembering to take my antibiotics but just about managing it!

Phoned Sheilas Wheels car insurance to see if they had received my contesting letter yet (they had offered me a ridiculously low offer on my car which I had decided to retain and get repaired myself after they declared it a write off) - they still hadn't!!!! and I had posted it on the 14th Jan!!! Such bad luck as I had only sent it by normal post and of course guess what, it's got lost - which is incredibly annoying (am I aloud to swear on here?!!! - I will try not to) as I had copies of v5, invoice, new mot, letter, and loads of examples of my car at a higher price than Shelias Wheels had offered me which I had printed off the Internet - which now means I have to do the whole lot again!!!

Had to leave the house to go and pay a bill and got a few bits from Sainsburys and Holland & Barrett while I was there - it was wickedly cold and I was glad to get home.

Topped up the bird table with seed, brown bread, apple and one of those square plastic trays of fat/food stuff (you know what I mean!)

Cooked vege sausages and toasted sarnies and watched 'So you think you can dance' see: which I am addicted at the moment. I would love to have been a dancer - if only I had done bally when I was little - too late now! - ok I do dance - see me dancing at Michael Jackson birthday celebration last August at St James' Park, London on my YouTube site 'PennyClarkeMJJ' - or search 'best dressed competition at michael's 51at bday celebration - st james' park london' (me dancing on right in fedora hat) or in my photo albums on facebook!

Friday 29th - Still not well and feeling sorry for myself

Can't remember much about yesterday except that I was still off work, got up late and had my usual porridge with raisins and rice milk (I hate cow's milk with a passion - the mere smell of it makes me heave!) Continued cat napping with Sapphire throughout the afternoon. Put some washing in the machine - watched soaps in the evening - blimey this blog sounds sooooooo interesting!!!!!!!! It really does not help having to type this one fingered on my iPhone - don't get me wrong I LOVE my new iPhone as much as a girl loves chocolate! BUT I am used to touch typing at a great rate of knots so this is painfully frustrating to say the least. Had a lovely surprise last night - my computer friend Kris came round to pick up a disk from me and stood at the door with a late birthday present of flowers and chocolates!!! Ahhhh....... How sweet - just in case anyone thinks anything at all, he HAS a girlfriend!

Thursday 28 January 2010

Off work and feeling very ill

Had to ring in sick this morning - temperature, swollen glands, cough, sore throat, streaming cold and kidneys hurt so much I could hardly get dressed to go to the doctors (emergency appt) at 12.20pm who issued me with antIbiotics. Got home and had baked beans on toast and been dossing on the sofa with lemsip, blankets and cat all afternoon. I hate being ill especially by myself - it's so lonely and my sickness record at work is not good - well that's an understatement!

Wednesday 27 January 2010

New Apple tablet

My Birthday

Felt so ill this morning I just could not get up early. After 3 crumpets I finally arrived at garage at Docking at 10.30am. Thousands of pinkfeet in beet field between Sedgeford and Docking this morning. Currently in the feeding station at Titchwell having soup and roll whilst watching the rain take over my day! Day did not improve much - felt to ill to walk anywhere. Took photos of robins, blackbirds, great tit etc feeding on bread and an apple that I had brought for the birds. Carried on to Wells and watched 2 scaup and 2 goldeneye on boating pond next to carpark. Stopped at Stiffkey campsite for raptor roost and only saw little egrets and pinkfeets! Ended up at Hunstanton and had fish n chips in the car in the rain. Had to stop half way home as felt too ill to drive. As soon as I got home I had a shower and will be going to bed shortly. Kris turned up to take my Mac away again so typing this one fingered on iPhone! Feel like I have mumps..... Glands swelled up, head rocking, sore throat and terrible cold!!! Good night!!!


Tuesday 26 January 2010

My diet update!

Lost 7 lbs so far since 4th January, not as much as I would have liked and still a long way to go!

Fair Isle update!!!

Just noticed there is now information on the new observatory:

Wi-fi - computer/email access - that will be useful!

Can't wait to go.

Another year older tomorrow!

I booked my birthday off tomorrow to go birding, but since Saturday evening I have had a stinking, horrible cold, cough and feel really rough!

Not sure where to go tomorrow yet, but have to stop off at Docking garage first to get my CD player fixed and interior lighting not working on my Hyundai - will have to sit there while its being done - hope it doesn't take too long.

Unfortunately there is no dark, handsome stranger to do lunch with or to wine and dine me in the evening..... hey ho.....!!!!!!! Plan B: Birding alone, hopefully bump into some fellow birders throughout the day and have lunch out somewhere by myself (sad face!) - I am most definately not doing sandwiches for tomorrow! Hopefully the sun will shine!

Sunday 24 January 2010

Fair Isle on Radio 3 this evening!

Programme on Fair Isle on Radio 3 this evening (Saturday) from 9.30pm until 10pm.

Residents of Fair Isle, Britain's most remote inhabited island, talk about the loss of fishing and seabird colonies caused through over-fishing by trawlers and global warming.........


Saturday 23 January 2010

Holme Reserves

Hundreds of waders feeding along the shoreline at Holme

John Sheldrake (ex chairman of NOA and family friend)

Wigeon etc in front of Holme Church

A couple strolling along this morning's tideline at Holme

A Fieldfare feasts on the Sea Buckthorn berries at Holme


After going to bed at 3.30am it was impossible to get up early this morning, but forced myself out by 9am - still felt sleepy but just simply had to go birding.

Dull day with no sun but did stay dry all day.

On the way to the reserves I stopped by the horse paddocks next to village pond in Holme to watch at least 40+ Redwings along with a good number of blackbirds. Continued around the village and not far along the Firs road I stopped the car to watch 8 Greenfinches flitting about in bushes. The Firs road is famously rough to take the car down but today it was the worst its been for many years - obviously because of the snow laying about for so long - the potholes are atrocious! As I rocked down the road - I stopped by the left hand corner just after the Forestry area to view the pools near the road in front of the NWT hides - several wigeon, teal, pochard etc and also 9 curlews and distant Marsh Harrier by Holme Church.

Parked on the NOA carpark and had a chat with Geoffrey and Jenny Barker who were just leaving and had seen long tailed duck on the sea and peregrine, sparrowhawk and marsh harrier etc. Sat in the car attempting to photograph Fieldfares in bad light - there were at least 300 feeding off the sea buckthorn berries opposite the carpark along with a few magpies hopping about. Had a quick cup of coffee and a sandwich as it was now 12.30pm and then carried onto the observatory. Lots of scrub management had been going on I noticed - you can now see all of Holme marsh from observatory - it had become very overgrown - Jed does tend to go over the top when he has a chainsaw in his hand though! They have also added another pond next to the existing one in front of the obs. Anyway, walking into the observatory I had a lovely surprise - John Sheldrake!!! He was the Chairman of the NOA for many years and I have known him since I was tiny - he usually pops in to visit my parents each christmas time for a catch up but we don't see him much nowadays. Also in the obs were Jed (Warden) and Sophie (Assistant Warden), David Roche who is Assistant Warden at Dungeness and Chris Creedy who has 3 times in succession run the Great North Run to raise money for the NOA. Jed was in his usual 'lets wind Penny up mood' and went through the usual stuff/banter of asking how much bigger my 'ass' had got bla bla bla and how OLD I was going to be on Wednesday (birthday)!!!!!!!!!! I gave back as good as I got (ok I tried!) David Roche very sharply pointed out 2 White fronted geese (approx 2.15pm) with a huge flock of geese that came over and then landed on the marsh the other side of the broad water. We all rushed outside, but it was difficult to see them from where we were - stood on the main bank and had better views. Also a barn owl and a marsh harrier floating about and David also spotted a Stonechat across the other side of the broadwater balancing on bramble stems and also a Water Rail squealed close by.

Walked alone along the Thornham Bank - but the weather was so miserable I diverted back half way along through the Lavender marsh and across to the beach. Tons of waders and gulls on the beach. Thought I saw a diver sp. sitting close in on the sea, so walked closer to get a better view, but on closer inspection it had completely vanished! A few people with loose dogs about (usual scenario). Walked back up through the NWT steps and down the Firs house where I had a chat with Gary Hibbard (NWT warden) and Phil and better views of the 2 White Fronted Geese through Gary's scope that he had set up.

Drove to Holme Marsh Reserve - not much there apart from heron sitting on the wooden posts on far side of pools BUT distant views of a Bittern (around 4.15pm) over the the NWT pools by the Firs road sharply picked up by M.G. who was also in the hide with another birder.

Left here to go to my parents. My two sisters Lucy and Vivien had also come to visit and to kindly give me my birthday cards and presents.

Applemac Update - not good!

Finally typing this on my Mac!!! Kris (my friend and IT expert) finally left (poor man) at 2.35am!!!!!!!!!!! You can imagine what the neighbours thought (and believe you me there are a couple of neighbours who most definately would have seen him leave my house - they don't miss anything!!!) seeing a handsome young man leaving my house in the early hours of the morning!!!

Anyway back to the Mac - Kris and I discovered something extremely annoying about Apple - thats putting it politely!

When I bought this computer etc from a VERY good friend I had a Mac OS 10.2 installation disk - and throughout the months afterwards Apple software updates allowed me to upgrade gradually FREE to Mac OS 10.4. Now most things/programmes NEED to be run on OS 10.4 minimum. Since my Mac G4 there has a been a G5 and Intel Macs after that and although its old - its not that old! Anyway while Kris was doing loads of IT stuff to my computer that I didn't understand, we discovered that after resinstalling the original OS 10.2 disks that we were unable to obtain the FREE upgrades from Apple now!!!!!! Ok I thought.... I will buy the upgrade and Kris had a look on the Apple website to see if I could do this - BUT No you can't, Apple does not sell the upgrade. Kris kindly explained to me that the highest OS that I can have on a G4 is OS 10.5 - so looked on website and that wasn't for sale either!!!!! So basically if your Mac crashes - its a complete waste of time installing your OS disks if they are a few years old, forcing the consumer to buy a whole new Mac!!!!!! I was not a happy bunny..... its ok if you have couple of grand floating about in the bank for a new one, but I havn't! Kris spent a long time looking on various sites etc to try and find a OS 10.4 but to no avail. Yes my mac is running, but only as OS 10.2 eg lost half my bookmarks, can't install the wireless/airport link in mac as it only runs in min. 10.4, can't install Quark or photoshop without it etc etc etc and everything on the Mac looks different in OS 10.2! Oh and can't plug in my new Apple iphone and connect to itunes unless its 10.4 or above!

PLAN B - phoned my friend who I bought the Mac from and asked very nicely if I could borrow the original disks etc - he was happy to do this - TOP MAN (you know who are X)

I can access the internet and my emails but am looking forward to having my computer back to how it was and photoshop and Quark Xpress back on here! I think all my pictures have been saved - have not had a good look yet - but its looking good!

Thanks to Kris and my very good friend for ALL their help X X.

Friday 22 January 2010

Applemac being reinstalled this evening!!!

As I type this on my new Apple iPhone, my good friend Kris is reinstalling and setting up my Mac in the living room. Have fed him lots of Jaffa cakes to keep him happy!!! I am a fast touch typist so this is very slow typing with one finger!!!

I am soooo looking forward to going out birding tomorrow - don't care what the weather is doing - screaming to escape into the wilds of Norfolk - did not go out last Saturday as it was dull grey skies and pouring with rain all day and the previous Saturday my car was still snowed in.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Back at last!!!!!!!

Well kind of......Doing This via my new Apple iPhone. Can't seem to link my pipex email account to iPhone though!

Sunday 17 January 2010

Disastrous Week

Just managed to access my blog at work!!!

Still no computer at home - typing this in my break at the hospital. My Applemac G4 has been taken away to have everything (hoping and praying here!) copied onto another hard drive and whole system completely reinstalled and then everything copied back onto computer again. If for any reason my hard drive can't be accessed I will loose EVERY digital picture I have ever taken - don't even want to think about that!!! I had all my pictures copied onto an external hard drive but thats not working either - not lucky! ANYONE WHO HAS NOT SAVED THEIR PICTURES SAFELY - DO IT NOW!

Did not go birding on Saturday - teeming with rain all day and grey skies.

I did something really, really, really blonde and stupid on Saturday - I drove to Norwich to go to the amazing new Apple Store in Chapelfield, mid afternoon to buy a particular item. I have not been into Norwich city centre for many years and for some reason I could find the Chapelfield carpark so parked in John Lewis's carpark and walked (seperate from the store). The Apple store closes at 7pm and I left when it closed and returned to John Lewis's carpark and to my HORROR was confronted by massive locked gates - I stood in disbelief!!!!! I was able to walk around to my car via pavement but could not get it out!!! I then saw a notice which read closed at 6.45pm and NO PARKING OVERNIGHT and a charge of £24 if over 8 hours!!! I became pretty stressed, frantic, angry, upset etc etc - no emergency number to ring - phoned police and they said people regularly got caught out and sorry they couldn't help me. I had no choice but to ring the only person I knew in the area who very kindly came and picked me, crashed at theirs for the night (didn't sleep) and returned this morning when it opened at 9am - also mean't I lost a shift at the hospital this morning - was supposed to be on the ward at 8am!!! The carparking attendant was VERY kind though and only charged me £2 A mistake I will NEVER be making again! So all in all an absolutely CR*P weekend!

My mobile has also gone wrong BUT I will be buying the new Apple iphone on vodaphone this week so at least I will be able to access the net and my blog etc etc.

Monday 11 January 2010

Applemac problems

Don't know how I have accessed this at work but I have!!!!

Last night (Sunday) when I got home from work I turned my Mac on as usual to find that it would not turn on!!! All I got was a pale grey screen with the Apple logo on and a circle moving round continuously underneath! Phoned my computer friend Kris who is thankfully coming out tomorrow to have a look. Made me feel sick with worry as I have thousands of photos that are only on my Mac - normally they are backed up on to my Lacie Hard drive, but that is not working either at the moment and Kris is currently looking into that for me! Sooooo frustrating. So may not be able to post again for a couple of days.

Drove the car this morning for the first time in what seems like ages - hope I can get it back up my icy, sloped drive when I get home shortly!

Saturday 9 January 2010

Garden Birding and Shopping!!!

Collared Dove

Collared Dove

Robin on my bird table enjoying a feast!

Robin on my bird table

My garden this morning

My bird table was made locally - it is extremely well made, better than anything you can find in the shops. There is usually a sign out advertising them on the main road at Brancaster
(just before you leave the village on right hand side heading towards Brancaster Staithe).
Get in that shed Paul, you're going to have a queue now!!! oh and 25% commission?!!!

More snow this morning when I drew back the curtains - enough to tell me that I wouldn't be taking the car out and going birding! Pulled the duvet back and sulked...... snoozed, slept..... woke up again at 11am!!! Lazily got up and went downstairs and went outside in pyjamas (mad!) to knock out the ice from bird baths and refill and top up the bird food etc. A robin (see pics above) immediately appeared, obviously hungry poor thing. Showered, came back down and sat lazily eating crumpets with marmalade and porridge whilst watching the birds. The robin would not let a hedge sparrow settle at all - every time the hedge sparrow landed to feed, the robin aggressively chased it away. Couple of collared doves sitting on my trellis work and could hear a fieldfare 'chacking' away also a couple of blackbirds appeared in the garden to feed, but didn't see anything else - normally see blue and great tits, but none today!

Left the house around lunchtime in my army attire - including *shemagh (got some funny looks from people walking through town, but didn't care!) and walked to visit my sister Lucy for a short time and then continued into Lynn town centre to go to 'Hoopers' (army shop - see yesterday's post) - they did have the parka coat that I wanted, a M65 Fishtail Parka, BUT they only had one left, a medium and it was MASSIVE on me, so have ordered a small one and should arrive in a week's time. Bought some thermal clothes - the owner remembered me from the last time I came in - 'I was going to Fair Isle' .... that was 2006!!! obviously a good memory for faces! Bought some bird seed from Wilkinsons and got a new camera bag from Jessops and then walked home. Watched 'So You Think You Can Dance' on BBC1.

Last night while googling parka coats etc I came across a video that showed you had to wrap a *Shemagh: - took a bit of practising, but now I have mastered it perfectly!

Satellite image of snowy UK and Swine Flue Vaccination info

Amazing image:

So glad I choose not to have the Swine Flue Vaccine!!!!!!

Friday 8 January 2010

Thursday 7 January 2010

Current favourite tunes:

Black Eyed Peas - Meet Me Halfway

Dizzie Rascal - Holiday

Lady GaGa - PokerFace

Lady GaGa - Bad Romance

Cheryl Cole - 3 Words

Chipmonk - Look for Me

Pinkfeet on route to Tescos this evening etc!

Walked again in a severe blizzard to work. Staff not able to get in at the hospital and extremely busy on the ward today because of it. No excuse not to get to work if you can walk!

Walked directly to Tescos this evening to get food supplies and on route I slowed down my pace as I thought I could hear geese - the sound was muffled through my hat and hood, I stopped - listened and yes I could - looked up in the evening sky to just about make a V formation of Pink footed geese flying over towards the wash. I would never have seen or heard this, had I been in the car!

I notice on the pager this evening there were 3 Smew at Saddlebow on the relief channel - don't know how anybody got there to be honest!

Not looking good for birding this weekend because of snow - might walk into town to go to buy an old fashioned 'parka' jacket from 'Hoopers' - an army/old fashioned/outdoor wear shop that has been in Lynn for donkey's years and has some good priced clothing.

Titchwell Diver - Mark Golley's Account.

Mark Golley very kindly emailed me the following:

'The news of a possible Pacific Diver on the sea off Titchwell RSPB during the bright, calm but chilly, afternoon of January 3rd certainly stirred a few, nervous New Year flutters along the north Norfolk coast. If the bird was still in place, it was worth a setting sun scurry along the A149, so Steve Beal and I set off, expecting some sort of news en route from Cley. None came, and no one we passed as we headed along the Titchwell looked in the remotest bit excited. Steve and I imagined that the bird had moved on, but as we reached the beach, a small gathering on the water's edge, and a phone call from Penny, confirmed that the bird was actually still in situ.

Almost as soon as we had set up our 'scopes, the bird resurfaced. It was fairly distant and the initial impressions were of a striking, contrasting black and white medium sized (but still robust) Gavia, with undeniably darkish flanks and a curious (atypical for Pacific Diver) headshape - a slight front heavy bump on the forehead, a flat crown and slight bump at the rear. My first thoughts, once the bird submerged gracefully, was that yes, it was interesting but how could it be a Pacific Diver with a head shape like that?

I have to say know that my experience of Pacific Diver is, like many others limited. I'd seen a few in the dim & distant past in California and there was the marvellous juvenile in North Yorkshire in the early part of 2007. This bird bore, to my eyes, no real resemblance to the Farnham GPs bird.

The bird continued to perform, in decent light, but distantly, for the next 10-15 minutes or so (maybe longer) and thoughts that the bird lacked the so-called "chin-strap" shown by many Pacific Divers - were confirmed by other folk on site, Dave Hawkins saying that the finder was positive that there was no strap. Of course, this isn't a problem, as the popular identification literature states that as many as 50% of juveniles (winter birds as a whole?) lack this popular identification feature.

There was, when roll-preening, a suggestion of a ventral strap (shown by Pacific Diver, but also a feature seemingly shared (to one degree or another) by Black-throated and Great Northern Divers (Lars Jonsson illustrates this very feature not only in his field guide "The Birds of Europe" but also in his marvellous Swedish language book on divers "Loomar").

One of the most striking features of this curious thing was the wholly dark flanks. At no time in the period of 30-40 minutes observations, at various distances and light conditions, did this bird show any suggestion of the diagnostic white rear flank patch of Black-throated Diver (whether swimming, diving or preening). Again, those present longer than us were also sure of this and again, DH said that the finder, who had watched the bird for at least an hour or two, was adamant that the flanks were dark and dusky. So, a great Pacific Diver feature!

The face pattern didn't (to my eyes) match that often shown by Black-throated Diver, closer to the dusky look of a Pacific, but I thought that it was perhaps even more extensively dusky, compared to images I've seen of other Pacific Divers. Odd. And I didn't see any contrast on the sides of the neck (at the lower end) as I had done with the Farnham bird.

At one point, when the bird was head on (again distant), I thought I saw some smudged breast patches. These were most reminiscent of a Great Northern Diver and the odd headshape made me wonder if it could actually be a strange, black and white, small-billed Great Northern. Unlikely I suspect. I've never seen a "small" or emaciated Great Northern Diver, and I'd seen the beautiful juvenile at Whitlingham Lane the day before. Despite a brief (personal) attempt to crow bar it in to that immer box, it didn't work. (For now at least!)

So. Back to Black-throated or Pacific. In the, rather delicious, sunset, the bird had steamed closer and closer inshore. It had started drifting west and as it headed that way,it started to draw nearer and nearer. I walked along the tideline, stopping every so often to latch on to the bird again (easy of the flat sea). Steve joined me and the bird eventually ended up just behiond the slender breakers. By now the light was failing, but some scaling was apparent on the upper part of the upperparts (if you follow), but they didn't seem as extensive as the juvenile at Farnham. And it was (in the light of the day) much more contrastingly black and white. The circumstances, once again, were very different - a bird close on a lake in Yorkshire in the flat calm and perfect light is very different to a bird offshore in Norfolk, in the last light of the day. But, all that beside, I'm guessing that the bird is a juvenile (although quite what degree of scaling a second-winter bird would show is something I've not checked).

The head shape was still giving me a huge cause for concern in terms of Pacific Diver, likewise the lack of the "puffy" nape/neck (shown so wonderfully by the Farnham bird). The bill continued to throw me too - sometimes looking larger than I expected, on other occasions looking suitably "thorn-like" and ok for a bird in the Black-throated/Pacific camp.

Eventually, the light failed and so did any hopes of a nailed on, cast iron, identification. There are elements that fit Pacific Diver. Equally, crucially, there are elements that don't fit the text book Pacific Diver.

I know that the bird was again off Ticthwell on the Monday (4th) and then Brancaster on the Tuesday (5th). With the weatehr turning breezy again, its going to be a struggle to find off Titchwell and environs until calmer conditions come in again.

As if by magic, the Channel Islands first ever Pacific Diver was identified on the very same day as the Titchwell bird was seen. The shots show a classic juvenile Pacific Diver. Markedly different from the bird in Norfolk (certainly where the head shape, overall gentleness, puffy neck are concerned). However, the flanks look just the same!

This stream of conciousness comes to the conclusion is who knows what the Titchwell diver is! I'd love it to be the county's first, the east coast's first. Its a fascinating bird, throwing up several questions (not least the safe separation of Great Northern Diver from the Black-throated/Pacific twosome). Another, slightly more fanciful, question is just where do those adult Pacific Divers go in the summer, what could they be mating with and what would their offspring look like....not a cop-out, honest! A genuine query.

Far play to the original observer for being brave enough to pop their head over the, increasingly hostile, paraphet and draw people's attention to this fascinating bird. The learning curve seems to become a tad steeper again.

Here's hoping some sharp eyes pick it up in the days to come and it surrenders to a lens or two.

Mark Golley
Cley, Norfolk

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Birds of Paradise on BBC2 and Sea Eagle debate in EDP

Stunning documentary on Birds of Paradise this evening on BBC2 narrated by Sir David Attenborough - a team of naturalists venture into the New Guinean rain forests to film Birds of Paradise - now on BBC iplayer:

Also in the EDP today:

'Farmers vent their anger over sea eagle plan' see:

STILL snowing in King's Lynn - walked to work again in my camouflage army clothes and boots in snow blizzard - nice not to be in a traffic jam!

Booked the Northlink Ferry this evening for my Fair Isle expedition!

Gave in last night and turned my heating on all night and day!!!! and when I came home from work this evening it was beautifully warm!

No MEGA's in Norfolk but a good selection of winter birds including:

2 Shorelarks 5 Scaup and 5 Snow Buntings still at Snettisham RSPB.
Glaucous Gull, 2 Water Pipits, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, 35 Snow Buntings and 20 Twite at Titchwell RSPB (
No sign of the 'probable' Pacific Diver).
3 Bonxies, 4 Great Northern Divers, 2 Peregrines and a Hen Harrier at Holme NOA.
Iceland Gull and Black Redstart at Nar Valley Fisheries.
Iceland Gull at Blackborough end tip, King's Lynn.
2 *Short eared Owls at Chedgrave Marshes, Haddiscoe Island.
Smew in Fakenham and Norwich.

Also see
*'Blakeney Resident's beautifully descriptive post 8167 on:

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Snow ramblings, Seal Pup Pics and Pacific Diver update coming soon!

Seal Pups and Mother Ahhhh!!!!! - Horsey Gap, Norfolk 2007.

My beautiful posh cat 'Sapphire'

Pictures above not relevant to today's post but its seal pup time and need to make this new blog colourful and interesting!!!!!! Best places to see seals in Norfolk: Blakeney Point - take boat trip (see or walk approx 5+ miles from Cley coastguards carpark (at the end of Beach Road) OR Horsey Gap ( - please view seals and pups from a sensible distance.

Snow Ramblings

The snow novelty has well and truly worn off!!! No side roads or pavements have been gritted since the first fall of snow before christmas!!! My house is soooo cold this evening even with the heating on - mind you the thermostat is on 20c - trying really hard not to turn it up - hate paying hundreds out to British Gas - Sapphire and I have been sitting with hotwater bottles this evening. Don't know how the old folk are surviving these freezing temperatures.

Weather does not look good for the rest of week either!!!!

WATCH THIS SPACE for description and news on the 'probable' Pacific Diver - posting soon!!!!

Monday 4 January 2010

Possible Pacific Diver at Titchwell!!!

This morning was not funny at all, getting up at 6am and scraping what seemed like concrete off the car windows to be at work for 7am. Worked until 2pm and then went straight to Pets Mart to get cat litter for madam.

Arriving home the first thing I did was to go through my RBA pager messages:

2 Waxwings in Norwich, the elusive, annoying Ring necked Duck - 'showing well' - (dipped out on this twice for my 2009 county year list!) and Smew at Wroxham Broad, Ferruginous Duck and 2 Smew at Barton Broad, Scaup, Purple Sandpiper and 2 Shorelarks at Snettisham RSPB, Red Kite still at Holme along with a Short eared Owl and Long Tailed Ducks, Rough-legged Buzzard at Haddiscoe Marshes, Short eared Owl and Merlin at Warham Greens etc etc etc and THEN the last 2 messages 'REPEAT' possible Pacific Diver on sea at Titchwell RSPB at end of boardwalk!!!!!!!!!!!! Looked at my watch - hmmmm..... by the time I got there the light would have been well dodgy!!! Phoned Connor and M.G. to get an update - both were on their way - spoke to Connor later on who said several people thought the bird was 'very interesting'. Lets see what tomorrow brings - being as I am at work all week, I am hoping its just a dodgy Great Northern Diver!!!!!!

Consoled myself with food: bubble and sqeak with poached eggs - yummy!!! My last feast.

Monday 4th January - THE beginning of losing a massive amount of weight - I know exactly how much I need/want to lose but most definately don't want to admit to how much on here!!! Weightwatchers - boring, boring, boring, but its got to be done.

Saturday 2 January 2010

Local Birding in the Snow again!!!


Pochard and Tufted Ducks (TD's out of view on this shot!)
on Reservoir at Thornham

Black headed Gulls - Reservoir near Thornham

Curlew between Shernbourne and Docking

One of two groups of Grey Partridges between Shernbourne and Docking

Great Tit - Sandringham bird table area

Marsh Tit - Sandringham bird table area

Spent many hours creating my new blog last night and I still don't really know what I am doing with it!!!!! I expect I will change the template loads of times until I am happy! Might do several blogs actually and link them to the main one as want to link all my photos for the last 2 years - that will take some time!!!

Dersingham for Golden Pheasants and Sandringham Bird Table

Ok the snow novelty is wearing very thin - its treacherous getting out of my road - I might as well have skis under the car!

No golden pheasants on view around Dersingham.

Ventured up the snowy road to the Sandringham Bird Table where there was two big lens photographers in a 4x4 next to the table. Good selection here of Marsh Tit (see pic), Coal Tit, Great Tit (see pic), Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Jay, hedge sparrow, blackbird, wood pigeons, robins.

Freezing cold, so cold I decided to go on a car tour very slowly all around Sandringham, Amner, Shernbourne in search of the recently seen rough leg buzzard and anything else that turned up and with camera on passenger seat I was ready for some car hide photography! Fantastic views of 23 Grey Partridge huddled together in a snow covered field (see pic). A single lapwing (see pic) and a curlew (see pic) in a field along with some common gulls on route. Saw a very familiar white van (BR) go over the Shernbourne crossroads! Drove through Ingoldisthorpe, Snettisham, Ringstead and ended up by the Reservoir at Thornham (where the black winged pratincole was). I was hoping for a smew, but still had a nice surprise of 20 Tufted Ducks, 17 Pochard (see pic) and a MASSIVE flock of black headed gulls (see pic) and common gulls took off from the water as soon as I approached.

Titchwell RSPB

Important things first: One Cheese & Onion Toastie in the Feeding Station. It was soooo bitterly cold and felt really tired and fed up and could not be bothered to bring the scope with me, but did manage to see: Pintail, Stonechat, Mute Swan, little egret, several shoveler and wigeon, pied wagtail, shelducks, great black backed gull, redshank, black tailed godwit and 2 Water Pipits. Oh and a pair of shoveler were doing something odd - no one could understand their antics - apparently they had been going round in circle together for AGES, spinning round in close contact?

At work tomorrow earlier than normal. Got to work every Sunday (if I can) as saving my pennies for Fair Isle (just booked - HURRAH!!!!!).

Get the birthday out of the way with in January and I will feel happier - roll on spring!!!!

Fair Isle 2010 New Observatory and I'm going!!!

Rael, Mark about to release a Sparrowhawk, Ashley (AW's)
and Tim Loseby

New born Lambs

The Good Shepherd IV

Fair Isle Knitter



Drake Eider

Beach Scene at North Haven


North Haven


(copyright of Penny Clarke)

So excited as I have just booked to go to Fair Isle end of May, beginning of June.

As a little girl, when I spent time with my father, Peter Jackson and Richard Richardson at Holme Bird Observatory, all I ever heard them talk about was Fair Isle and the Good Shepherd, the beauty of the island, the birds, the flowers etc - I especially remember Peter Jackson chuckling about the Good Shepherd - I never really fully understood why at the time! I always vowed to visit the magical, much talked about island and this I did in 2005 and again in 2006. It certainly is a magical island and draws you back time and time again.

For anyone going for the first time, make sure you lose weight before you go as the food is first class and plenty of it, including cakes and hot chocolate at 9pm to coincide with bird log!
Information below:

Deryk Shaw - Warden of Fair Isle Bird Observatory:

Fair Isle Bird Observatory:

Island News:

Accommodation on Fair Isle:

(this information also on

Weather and webcams:

Travel to Fair Isle: see OR

Note: Good Shepherd IV Ferry Service - do not be put off by the 3 hours boat trip from Grutness Pier to Fair Isle, I have done 3 return trips now and have found the answer to surviving the trip. My first trip was lets say an unforgettable experience to say the least. My skin turned green and I aged by at least 50 years by the end of the very rocky trip and lost a stone!!! The sink was rocking in the my room in the obs for the next couple of days!!! BUT I was brave enough/mad enough to make the return trip after finding out from the locals that the tip is to lay down on the bench seat at the back of the rows of seats, lay your head on a pillow, close your eyes and do not open them until end of the trip! (pillows and blankets provided by crew). This actually does work and I was not s**k once!!!!! The crew are fantastic and its only £2.60 each way! bargain for those of us counting pennies!

Facebook group:

Friday 1 January 2010

New Year's Day Birding and my first blog post!!!

Not taken today! - Me on Blakeney Point.

Cute snowy Robin!
Lazy Morning!

After going to bed just after midnight I had no intention of getting up early this morning and woke up incredibly late for me at 10am - swished the curtains open to see how sunny it was and everything was stark white AGAIN!!! Not MORE snow!!!!!!!!!! Yep and alot of snow - I swished the curtain back and got back in bed - finally decided to get my lazy self out at 11.30am - had new year's day brunch whilst Sapphire (my posh persian cat!) and I watched the comings and goings from the bird table: Robin, woodpigeon, collared dove, hedge sparrow, blackbird, starling and a black headed gull flying over.

After listing all last year (260 for Norfolk - see surfbirds county list No. 3!) I didn't even intend on doing a New Year's Day List which I have done for the last few years BUT:

Flitcham Abbey Farm arriving at 2.15pm!

Had an amazing selection of birds here in a short space of time:

Redwings, fieldfares, mallard, teal, gadwall, egyptian goose x 2, moorhen, coot, jackdaw, rook, song thrush, mistle thrush, grey partridge x 11!!!!, red leg partridge, 2 common buzzards sitting in the hedge at the far back fields, common pheasant, magpie, greylag goose, pink footed goose, blue tit, great tit, curlew, greenfinch, goldfinches, house sparrow. Just missed out on a bullfinch as I came into the hide! No sign of the little owls or kingfishers.

Roads VERY icy between here and Choosely!!!

Choosely Drying Barns

Carrion Crow, Kestrel

Holme Marsh Reserve

Woodcock, tufted duck, water rail and VERY excitingly a Little Owl flew across in the very semi dusk at just before 4.30pm from the first hide.

38 species in just over 2 hours! Wish I had started earlier in the day now!