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Thursday 29 April 2010

Dipped on the Bee-eater twice!!!!

Got home from work and sat at the kitchen table with my head in my hands as I felt really ill with a horrible cold since last Sunday and now turning into a seriously sore throat and hacky cough. Mobile rings from a friend of a friend to tell me that Chris Everitt has found a Bee-eater.... sitting on wires.

I will do just about anything for a Bee-eater and even though I felt like hell the thought of seeing another Bee-eater in Norfolk was incredibly exciting. Flew upstairs, grabbed scope, camera and bins and flew out of the door, breaking speed limits to get there! Chris Everitt saw the Bee-eater at 5.45pm on wires and on a tree along the Docking to Brancaster road B1153 by a sugarbeet concrete pad approx 1/4 mile from the A149 at Brancaster. I arrived a few seconds past 6.20pm - 'it was on the wire about 30 seconds ago, don't worry it will come back.... its been doing a circuit several times'. Chris last saw it flew towards a tree near the A149 which he reckoned we could see, but all I could see was a fuzzy dark blob in the rainy gloomy conditions. I was like the devil possessed as the minutes ticked by - how incredibly frustrating!!! (thats not actually what I said!) Pager goes off 'Bee-eater over RSPB Titchwell Visitor Centre 6.40pm...... off I flew and Jim S and Paul (warden) informed me I had missed it and that it had flown in the direction of Thornham. I drove as far as Holme and went all round the village searching all the telegraph wires in vain. Went back up to Thornham boat house to find several birders high on a bank also searching in vain. Carried on my search round lots of back roads until 9pm - only just home and not a happy bunny!

Week off for birding this Saturday - hurrah!!!!

Saturday 24 April 2010


Common Cranes flying east over The Firs Road at Holme next Sea

Grey Partridge in a field near Titchwell

Fire in Beach Road at Brancaster

A White Spotted Bluethroat had been found yesterday at Welney and so decided I would attempt to see it today. Plan: to arrive at Welney at 6am - ok I didn't quite manage 6am but did arrive in the carpark at 6.30am.

By the time I reached Lyle Hide it was 6.45am - not many birders were there which was a surprise really as you don't see too many White-Spotted Bluethroats in a life time! Beautiful sunny morning and excitement in the air. Stunning close views of the White Spotted Bluethroat at 7.10am and on and off up until 9.20am. I have seen a few bluethroats, but never have I heard one sing - it sang beautifully and displayed - fanning out his tail whilst balanced on a reed in the glorious morning sunshine - the white spot stood out amongst the vivid blue chest and I just knew this would most certainly be bird of the day! Absolutely magical! Got some record shots too (behind reeds though!) BF's seen Simeon, Connor and Dave Appleton Oh and nice to meet you properly Sue G.

See Kit Day's spectacular photograph of it this morning:

Other birds seen here: Spotted Redshank, Swift, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warblers.

Unfortunately I HAD to go into King's Lynn town centre (yuck) - errands etc, but then continued on to Holme. On the pager: Great White Egret, Whinchat, Turtle Dove etc etc! After dropping shopping off to parents and sitting outside having my sandwich chatting to father I spent the rest of the afternoon birding Holme.

Started off at the horse paddock half way down Beach Road, hoping for Ring Ouzels, but none there. As I drove down the Firs Road, I had just got as far as Redwell Marsh when the pager bleeped up with 'Norfolk possible Lesser Kestrel male reported Holme at east end of golf course in bushes between golf course and paddocks at 1.30pm' - how perfectly timed was that I thought - there I was right opposite the said area!!!! Parked at the 5-bar gate - rang NWT to find out more...... got out of car and as I climbed up the sea bank I could hear Gary Hibbards voice (NWT Warden) saying excitedly 3 Common Cranes above going east of Holme Church and there they were circling round and at one point towards us!!!!!!! (2.45pm) How lucky was that! Got lots of pics of these too! I was on a roll now! Grasshopper Warbler (note - not 'gropper' ugly name) reeling away as we watched the cranes make their way over Thornham bank and 3 Yellow Wags flew over.

After hearing two different stories about the Lesser Kestrel I decided to have a good look around anyway. Gary H. had only found a Common Kestrel after much searching - BUT it doesn't mean to say there isn't one there!!! Walked from the Saltings car park all along the back of the paddocks, to the village carpark where I consumed a Chunky Choc ice (I decided I deserved one!) and continued back down the Firs track, into Redwell Hide and then followed the river path back up the Hun Bridge/pay hut. Saw a Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat in the paddocks along with female and male Blackcap. Heard my first Cuckoo at 4pm near the village carpark. David A. sent me a text saying he had a 'cracking male redstart round the back of the paddocks (when I was in the village carpark) - I eventually saw this (5.20pm) when I went back round to the paddocks, but no sign of the female redstart that other people had seen. 400+ black-headed gulls on Redwell. Three Essex birders here (on boardwalk between carpark and Forestry) told me they had seen the Whinchat on a bramble by the reed bed on the marsh and they also got quite excited when they thought they had picked up the Great White Egret, but the light/distance/vegetation had played tricks with us! A quick walk round the Forestry area produced nothing and I walked back along the Firs road hoping for a glimpse of the whinchat, but no luck.

Holme Marsh Reserve - warning: you can't park down here I discovered - the normal parking area for 3 cars does not exist!!!!! There are diggers there etc etc - apparently Anglian Water are doing something there... something to do with the sewage system etc etc. I only walked to the first hide, nothing much apart from Tufted Duck on the water and chiffchaff and willow warbler singing.

Got a cracking picture of a grey partridge in the evening down a farm track near Titchwell.

Had to call 999 again - approaching Brancaster there was masses of billowing black smoke by the church and as I reached Beach road adjacent to it, there was a ball of roaring flames coming from what looked like a large waste/bin!!!!!!!! A local man put some of it out with buckets of water from the outside tap from the church before the fire brigade actually got there!

Saturday 17 April 2010

A relaxed day's birding at Holme, Friary Hills and Cley!

Firecrest caught in a mist net and rung at Holme Bird Observatory

Sunset at Cley next Sea

Delivered shopping to my parents at Holme and was very pleased to see father now using two sticks instead of a frame and walking outside to his moth traps!!!!

Arrived Holme NOA carpark 10am. From the Firs house a flock of pinkfeet flew west and 3 marsh harriers distantly near Holme church.

At the observatory, within seconds of sitting down on one of the seats to warm up in the sunshine, Sophie (AW) arrived back from the 'net' round with a female Firecrest!!!

Walked across to the edge of the dunes and sat on the sand - all I saw were 22 Sanderling flying west! Walked back through the pines and saw a Speckled Wood and then back to the NOA carpark - I watched both female and male blackcaps, a willow warbler and several hedgesparrows.

Walking towards the Firs House again I realised there was a police car in the carpark! Cutting a long story short an unexploded bomb had been found on the path at the bottom of the steps that crosses over to the beach, just below the small wooden shelter behind the observatory!!!! I could not go back into the NOA reserve anymore as it was all cordoned off!!!

NWT Forestry - 1.20pm - A stunning Male Wheatear was seen in the flat grassy area along with several hedge sparrows, linnets, meadow pipits, a few goldfinches flitting about and a kestrel. A Common Buzzard soared high above me aswell.

Redwell Marsh Reserve - 400+ black headed gulls (confess I didn't count them - someone else had!). No sign of the Med gulls. Other birds seen here: 3 Marsh Harriers seen distantly, shelducks, mallard with 3 fluffy young (won't last long I don't think, sadly), coot, moorhens, redshank, 7 Golden Plovers, avocets, shoveler etc etc. Oh and an ignorant couple with a dog walking where they shouldn't have been!

Late lunch at my parents house - sat outside in the sunshine chatting to father.

Cruised along the coast road in the glorious sunshine and ended up at Friary Hills. As I parked up by the gate that clearly says 'NO DOGS' a couple with a dog emerged from the gate - 'did you realise' I said 'that no dogs are allowed' - the man then mumbled 'there were no stock in there and the dog is on a lead so can't see that there's a problem' - I then went onto explain that the lady who had owned the land, left it to the National Trust on the understanding there would be NO DOGS ALLOWED!!! 'Its only a small dog' said the lady.... 'not doing any harm'...... Hmmmmmm - I decided not to continue the argument because I knew what I wanted to say next and it would have provoked them MASSIVELY!!!! Seconds after they walked past me, John Furse turned up for an evening walk - walked round together and had lovely views of a Lesser Whitethroat. A Cettis Warbler was singing and a Barn Owl flew close by, but not quick enough with the camera. A long tailed tit flitting about and a few greenfinches, chaffinches, blackbirds and a distant marsh harrier. A few swallows adorned the skies.

Cley - Dauke's Hide - light was beautiful now and the perfect orange sun was setting quickly. Usual birds on the pools, including black tailed godwits, shelduck, teal, avocets, redshank, pair of gadwall, pied wagtail, greylags, black headed gulls, herring gulls, marsh harriers etc.

Walsey Hills - went to view the steps up the hide - no comment.

Salthouse - stopped here briefly on the way home through Holt to listen for any nightingales, but none heard.

Friday 16 April 2010

Surfbirds 2009 Year Listers' Review!!!!!

See my review of my County List for 2009 on the Surfbirds website:

Thursday 15 April 2010

An Unprecedented Day!!!!!

First live debate on TV between the party leaders: Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the lead up to the general election!!!!

Nick Clegg won clearly in my opinion.

Volcanic Ash from an errupting volcano in Iceland brings all air traffic in Britain to a standstill!!!!!

Northern Scotland is experiencing the ash falling this evening and winds bringing the ash further south throughout the night and tomorrow!!!!

3 years ago today my beloved Persian 'Tiger' passed away.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Lemar heads Festival Too this summer!!!

Festival Too is celebrating its 25th year in 2010 of bringing FREE entertainment to King's Lynn.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Titchwell, Burnham Overy Dunes, 999 Call!!! Holkham and Cley

Woke up naturally at just after 5am - decided to have another few minutes and when I next looked at the clock it said 7.30am - BOTHER! Had intended on going out VERY early this morning... oh well!! By the time I got out of the house it was 9am. Absoutely stunning day - for the first time I did not wear my coat! Treated the car to a wash for £6 at Heacham and delivered shopping to my parents.

Father's physiotherapist had been to see him on Wednesday and had assisted him outside into the treacherous garden for the first time. Assisted father into his garden chair outside the house this morning - it was a lovely sight to see him sitting in the sunshine with shorts on, hat and his binoculars by his side.

A Great Grey Shrike had been caught and ringed at Holme Bird Observatory (courtesy of RBA). Presuming the shrike had gone I continued on to Titchwell for a short while before hitting Burnham Overy Dunes.

Titchwell produced Cettis Warbler singing in the carpark. Looked for the Lesser Whitethroat that someone had heard to no avail, but did hear a Blackcap and Willow Warbler singing away in the blackthorn, now in flower. Lots of Bees buzzing about today everywhere in the glorious sunshine and Robins sitting about looking pretty. Nothing on the ploughed field at the end of the carpark apart from a couple of red legged partridges and a kestrel - not a single wheatear either! A Common Buzzard went west over the Fen Trail at 11am Heard my first Sedge Warbler by the Island Hide at 11.45am and a pair of Red crested Pochard were by the far side of the brackish marsh. A very crisp male Reed Bunting sat in sueda along the main bank. Several Chiffchaffs flitting about in the trees opposite the first seat along the main bank. Also, Long tailed |tits and goldfinches near main carpark. Another Common Buzzard at 12.30pm over the carpark whilst munching on a sandwich. Saw Robin Abel in the carpark who told me the Great Grey Shrike was still on view at Holme.

I decided to go to Thornham Harbour and walk to see the shrike after a kind phonecall from Ray Roche telling me the shrike had bounded east over the Thornham Bank and he was viewing it in a suada bush from the first sharp corner of the bank. On parking the car I phoned Ray to see if it was still showing and was told it was a distant hazy smudge in the middle of the marsh...hmmmmmm.... ok Penny, you are not year listing, you don't NEED a distant smudge - keep to plan and go to Burnham Overy!!! There were 7 Black tailed godwits feeding away in the chanel by the coal barn. Got back in car and continued along coast road to park at Burnham Over Staithe (now 2pm).

Parked the car off the road about quarter of a mile past the Hero Pub on left hand side and followed the track down that joins with the Burnham Overy Staithe main public footpath. I passed a birder not long after starting my walk - I wish now I had asked him if he had seen anything as I saw very little for all my effort! Birds seen: lapwings displaying, greylags, brent geese, redshanks, Little Egret, carrion crows, cormorants flying over, Cettis' Warbler singing and Bearded Tits 'pinging'. On reaching Gun Hill area I decided to sit the other side on the edge of dune to have a cup of tea and sandwich - from this point I could see the beach, Scolt Head and Burnham Overy Staithe - it was a beautiful day, it felt like summer! As I sat there I realised 3 children were playing on a sandbank in the middle of the channel!!! One girl (the tallest and possible eldest about 13, 14?) and 2 boys, one approx 12ish and the other 10ish were making sandcastles, digging holes, generally messing about and having fun, totally oblivious to the incoming tide!!!! I didn't know what to do to begin with - where were their parents? How had they got there in the first place? Had an adult with boat dropped them off and had intended in picking them up later? Who knows? Other people were walking about and no one seemed to take any notice, BUT my common sense and instinct told me not leave this area without ringing somone! What if I hadn't and then I heard on the news tonight about 3 children that had been cut off and drowned - I would have lived with that forever! Rang Pat initially at Holme NWT to ask for Coastguards local number and in the end I ended up ringing 999 (3.11pm) and spoke to a coastguard/switchboard operator who after giving full description of the children etc etc, said they would send the lifeboat out immediately. As I explained to the coastguard the sandbank was shrinking rapidly and the tide was due at 4.30pmish. The coastguard asked me to ring them again when/if I left the area to give them an update if the lifeboat had not reached them. Anyway, time passed and the sandbank continued to shrink - 2 small motorised boats could then be seen, that had come from Burnham Overy Staithe - the first boat; a man with his partner and child shouted across to the children 'Can you swim?' (I could just about hear this and the reply the children gave back) The eldest boy shouted back 'Yes' - we're swimming back, we've done it before'!!!!!!!! Their answer horrified me!!! I wouldn't have been happy seeing a fit, athletic adult swim across that channel, never mind 3 children!!!! Phoned the coastguard back again and updated him with the conversation and he agreed that it would have been a crazy thing to attempt - 'the lifeboat would be there in minutes now'. The sandbank had now disappeared and with the water at the children's feet they proceeded to wade through the channel and got to waist height when the lifeboat turned up at 4pm and picked them up. I hope they got a stern telling off from the crew! The switchboard coastguard kindly phoned me back to say they had been picked up (already seen this) and that their parents were not rung because the children said their parents would not be worried as they were 'used to them doing this sort of thing'!!!!!!!! I think they SHOULD have been rung - I had been VERY worried! If anyone reading this blog does know these children, please let their parents know what a dangerous situation they were in: the girl was black (skin colour) and had medium curly length hair in a pony tail. The eldest boy (white) had blonde hair and the youngest boy (white) had short brown hair. They were all wearing shorts and tea-shirts.

Anyway, back to birding. My plan was to walk to through the dunes and on through Holkham Pines and Lady Anne's to catch the coastliner from the Victoria back to my car. (This will be my new route to avoid paying £5 to park in the new ticket machines in Lady Anne's Drive!) My walk produced very little, in fact all I saw were a handful of linnets! The best thing I found was a Sand Wasp I found scurrying about just before Holkham Pines. Couple of chiffchaffs by the gate at the beginning of the main path through the pines and a Marsh Harrier. On reaching Joe Jordans Hide, I decided to change my route - I followed the path that diverted off left from the hide and followed the track all the way up to the road - nothing particularly special on route... a couple of chiffys, egyptian geese, greylags, little egret oh and a barn owl, climbed over a 5-bar wooden gate, crossed the road and stood by the entrance to Holkham Park's church and had about 2 minutes to spare before the 5.47pm Coastliner turned up! Had a cup of coffee back at my car and then continued along the coast road.

Just after Stiffkey I parked the car by the gate (which says 'no parking') known as 'White Bridges' just after the track/bridge to Stiffkey Fen and stood for ages trying to photograph fish leaping out of the water to catch midges - it was fascinating to watch and I did manage to get ONE out of focus picture - it was a miracle I got one at all! In the picture I could see purple markings on the side of the fish - anyone any ideas what they were please? Also saw a barn owl and a marsh harrier here.

House on the Hill, Blakeney - not much here, apart from chaffinches, great tit, blue tit and jackdaws.

Coastguards, Cley - only came here to watch the sun setting and to be by the sea. A family had lit a fire/barbecue about 50 yards from the carpark, on route to North Hide - what do they think this is - a seaside resort!!! Barn Owl along beach road.

Walsey Hills - walked up to the top of the steps and in the last glimmers of light watched a heron flying lazily across East Bank. Greylags squabbling loudly in the Snipe's Marsh and a Cettis Warbler singing.

Went home via Salthouse and had vege burger and chips at Holt in the car.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

First Brimstone

First Brimstone today on route to Downham Market taking a patient home.

Monday 5 April 2010

Snettisham Coastal Park

After working for the last two days I was in need for some fresh air, so escaped to Settisham Coastal Park after work. After turning off the A149, about quarter of a mile along the road a Little Owl was sitting on a telegraph pole!!!!!!!

The Coastal park held very little, but to be fair it was getting late in the evening - few swallows skimmed through, couple of carrion crows going west and a few chiffchaffs singing. There was more dog crap than there were birds - very sadly I am not joking! I was mortified to see on the pager that someone had seen an Osprey fly over the hospital at 5.30pm !!!!!!

Saturday 3 April 2010

Fantastic Day Out!!!!

Met up with Pete Snook, Graham, Glyn (Lesvos crew) and Ron at Cley Visitor Centre at 9.30am. Jam rolls, butties, tea and coffee were consumed by all (Graham, Glyn and Ron had driven from Leicester) and after watching 3 Marsh Harriers we started off at Cley Coastguards. 4 Wheatears were in the Eye Field along with meadow pipits and skylarks. Watching the sea produced a Red-throated Diver going east, a Great Crested Grebe on the sea, several cormorants and at 11am Pete sharply picked up 4 Sandwich Terns going west (I only saw 3 though) - first of the year. Walked to North Hide, meadow pipits on route, usual birds from Hide: Avocets, turnstone, redshank, a single dunlin etc etc.

Stunning views in the sunshine of a Dartford Warbler in heathland area, which I managed to get photos of aswell - well smudgy record shots!)

Walsey Hills - Cettis Warbler singing, Chiffchaff, first Blackcap of the year singing, 2 linnets with 1 skylark on the back fields and 1 Swallow going west at 1.20pm from the top path overlooking Arnold's. NOA have cut down so much vegetation it is now possibly to take a short-cut from the back path just before the hide, although Graham took this short-cut a little too quickly and fell flat amongst the gorse to which Glyn and I were in hysterics over (we should not have been laughing really, but couldn't help it!) No sign of any Adders which is hardly surprising really, with all the continued disturbance! The steps have still not been finished at the top of the hill and pond still empty.

Kelling Heath - 2.20pm First Willow Warbler of the year singing and also Woodlark heard singing. At 3.20pm another Willow Warbler was heard and also seen - sitting preening himself, beautiful. A flock of approx 40+ Redpolls flew over our heads on the way back to the carpark!!!! Glyn found an interesting dead black beetle (photographed) and a third Willow Warbler was seen at 3.45pm.

Kelling Water Meadows - Didn't see very much here, on the pools: black headed gulls, shoveler, teal, redshank, gadwall and a little egret were seen. Sitting on the shingle seawall we watched 2 Wheatears on the beach.

RBA Pager then confirmed the Iberian Chiffchaff at Stiffkey Fen and off we went!!! The walk back to the car from the Water Meadows seemed to go on forever!!! The usual parking places at Stiffkey Fen were obviously taken up so attempted to park the cars on the grass verge on the opposite side! Climbed over both stiles and at the small pond on the left we passed R.M. and S.G. et al who said 'you have passed it'!!!!! They had seen it flying towards us (on our left). According to a local birder who I recognised but didn't know his name, it had been flying backwards and forwards along the path quite actively all afternoon. Anyway about a minute after R.M. etc had passed us, we watched the Iberian Chiffchaff at 6.10pm as it flew from the bushes close by, across the field and into a hedgerow where it did a bit of fly catching, then disappeared from view. It would have been nice to watch it for longer, but then I suppose we should have got there sooner! If I wasn't at work tomorrow I would definately be going to watch it again in the morning, but hey ho! Two adult Med. Gulls were sitting on the Fen.

We all departed from Stiffkey Fen and I drove home along the coast road.

Burnham Overy - 2 Marsh Harriers.

Burnham Norton - Carpark - 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Barn Owl while watching the sun setting over the distant reed beds.

Friday 2 April 2010

Holme Marsh Reserve and footpath north

Didn't have much time this morning, but managed to get a bit of birding in!

Didn't look for your Bluethroat Connor!!!!!

Swallow sitting on the wire in Holme village before visiting parents. Father still walking with frame and not very well.

Parked car by the gate for the 3 hides and walked north along the public footpath. Found a headless mallard on the path! Couple of Chiffchaffs singing and a Sparrowhawk errupted from the willows on the west side of the track. Several greylags on the marsh and on the way back a stoat crossed the path. At least a 100 woodpigeons in the field by the church and a couple of red leg partridges - oh and a Green Woodpecker called.

Following the path to the first hide I saw two song thrushes, another Chiffchaff and a wren. From the first hide I had extremely close views of a female Marsh Harrier which scattered 300+ Woodpigeons from the the marsh! Few tufted duck and good number of coot and a pair of Canada Geese in the centre island.

Nothing too special, but nice to escape for a while before work this afternoon!

Typing this at work in my break.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Easter Birding

Working Friday afternoon and evening.

Saturday: Birding.

Sunday and Monday: working both days!

Weather doesn't look brilliant!

High tides for Easter weekend for North West Norfolk:

Friday 9.16am - 7.4m
Saturday 9.51am - 7.1m
Sunday 10.18am - 6.7m
Monday 11.07am - 6.2m

Bluethroat at Holme.....hmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!

Two years exactly I GOT Connor and a few others on 1st April!!!!!! with my sighting of a Great Spotted Cuckoo - see: Anyway much to Connor's amusement he well and truly got his revenge today!!!! I knew it was April 1st (honest I did!) BUT it was manic to say the least at work today, running to get stuff done and patients to be seen etc etc, no time to breathe hardly, no time to think properly. I quickly erased from my mind what the date was today!!! Had my iphone in pocket and I knew I was receiving text messages. Looked quickly in my short tea break and read the following message from Connor: 'Bluethroat holme on flat ground w of forestry!!! I'm rushing down now!' Several missed calls also on my phone...... Phoned Connor at lunchtime to say 'Was the Bluethroat still there.... I am at work, will come straight from work later.......' Connor then said 'do you know what the date is Penny?' chuckling away he was!!!! (little monkey!) Can't repeat the exact words I said in response BUT well done Connor, very funny, now we are quits (for now!!!!!) I had told my parents on the phone as well who had told an elderly birding couple in the village - hope they didn't go looking!!! I am glad I didn't go looking otherwise young Connor would have been in BIG trouble!!!!!!!!! Now wouldn't it be amusing if I found a bluethroat on the Forestry at Holme tomorrow!!??