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Monday 31 May 2010

FAIR ISLE - North Haven and New Observatory

Another beautiful sunny day. I managed to get up for trap round again this morning and walked the quickest way to the 'Chalet'. Saw a Spotted flycatcher on route at North Sherva at 6.45am - 37 oystercatchers were sitting in a field just after North Sherva. Also usual house sparrows, starlings etc etc. Simon was on trap round duty this morning and Barry and Cheryl also joined in again. Poor round this morning, producing only a robin, but Simon explained that it was a little unusual as it was very late for a robin. Very warm today, definately won't be needing a coat after breakfast.

Back at the South Light breakfast was more like a 3 course meal! I had a vege sausage, fish finger, 2 spring rolls, fried potatoes, baked beans, porridge, toast, bagels, jam, orange juice and tea!!!

Decided I would go to North Haven and have a look at the observator today. When I reached the 'Puffin' I bumped into Hollie (Deryk's wife) who hadn't changed a bit since I had last seen her in 2006, we had a hug, it was lovely to see her and her children all taller than when I last saw them. Hollie very kindy offered me a lift down to the obs as she was going down there anyway and offered to give me a guided tour. Becky Rosser who was an assistant when I was last there was also in the car and when we reached the obs, Louis was there!!! who is Assistant Cook at the obs and was when I last came - it was really nice to see them all. Anyway back to the new observatory - its huge and very posh - you could almost get lost inside. The bedrooms are spacious and very modern inside and the decor is beautiful. The interpretive room is massive. The dining room and library are virtually same layout as before, but the bar is bigger and looks more impressive. Hollie told me an old beam off the first Good Shepherd had been donated to them to display in the obs and they were going to place it above the bar. The dining room is a massive L shape. Boot room is huge and there is not a laundry room for visitors use (inc washing machine). You will be pleased to know the obs garden is still intact and held a Common Whitethroat whilst I was there. There are also now 'wader pools' in front of the obs aswell.

Spent over an hour taking landscape pictures of North Haven/beach and generally enjoying my favourite bit of the island. The beach here is so beautiful, white sands, coloured boulders, different coloured seaweeds, barnacles, artic terns fishing, eiders sitting close by and off course the Good Shepherd. I begrudgingly left here and made my way back for lunch. I saw a wren and a male blackcap in the fenced area of trees deep below more just before the Gully trap. In the Plantation I found a Garden Warbler.

Lunch consisted of Soup, bread rolls, the most scrumptious cheese scones I have ever tasted and fruit buns with butter and jam and fruit juice and tea.

Sat outside the lighthouse intending to seawatch for killer whales but fell asleep in the glorious sunshine instead until 3.30pm.

Walked to Stackhoull Stores and bought the beautiful new Fair Isle book 'Fair Isle through the seasons by Malachy Tallack and Roger Riddington which has only just been published this week - stunning photographs. Also bought a Simmer Dim Shetland Ale and a bounty bar. Walked as far as the Plantation again and saw the garden warbler again and also a female blackcap (ringed). When I got nearly as far as Schoolton I bumped into Josie who said did I know about the Icterine Warbler that was in Schoolton garden - obviously I didn't so checked with Elizabeth (owner of house) that it was ok to sit on her seat and there I sat with her beautiful elderly cat waiting for the Icterine to appear...... it was seen flicking about amongst the rhubarb - not any more it wasn't!!!!! Saw another spotted flycatcher just before the 'Haa'. Just made it back for evening meal at 7pm which consisted of soup, vege sausages and stuffing, baked potatoes, vegetables and home-made banoffee pie and ice-cream!!!

Josie kindly gave Richard (another birder) and I a lift to Schoolton to attempt to see the Icterine - it definately wasn't there as Richard 'pished' and rattled bushes all the way along the garden length!!! Richard walked off west to photograph the sunset and I marched back quickly to South Light..... really cold now.

The electricity goes off at 11.30pm each night, so will not have time to add any pics tonight. But will add some tomorrow.

Sunday 30 May 2010

FAIR ISLE - More pictures for Sunday

to follow

FAIR ISLE - Sunday - first full day on Fair isle

South Light House

Got up at 5am, showered and was out by just before 6am!!! Very unusual for me on day one!

Beautiful sunny morning. I had decided to meet at 'The Chalet' for Trap round at 7am.

On route I saw a Red-breasted merganser in south harbour near 'The Puffin' along with the usual eiders and turnstones. Not too much else really on route, but just simply fabulous to be here - few linnets, bonxies soaring through the skies, arctic skuas, wheatears, meadow pipits, snipes drumming and curlews calling. Jack AW was doing trap round this morning and Cheryl and Barry also joined us. Jack was very pleased with the 'round' as we caught a Common Whitethroat in 'Hjon' trap, a Lesser Whitethroat in the 'Gully' and a Teal which was a surprise in the Vaadal trap.

On route back to the South Light I heard what I was pretty sure was the Rosefinch singing at Burkle that had been seen yesterday - I was just listening to the song on my iphone which confirmed that it was, when Jack kindly sent me a message to say 'Rosefinch singing at Burkle!!!

Breakfast was first class: porridge, scrambled eggs, vege sausages, vege bacon, bagels, toast, honey, tea, orange juice!

After breakfast on Jack's advice I walked round the South west geos, around Malcolm's head and ended up at 'Pund' . Didn't see anything out of the ordinary, but did have lovely views of a Raven high up on a cliff, didn't have camera ready quick enough though! Also a pair of Hooded Crows sat on a cliff top. Photographed a distant pair of Black Guillemots courting on a cliff edge with a pair of puffins on the next ledge above! I realised how unfit I have become since the last time I visited Fair isle, it was a really struggle to get up some of the hills! On reaching 'Pund' I walked back round the road via Burkle. Passed Deryk on the way back who said the rain that was forecast this afternoon was now not happening, which is a pity as migrants could have been dropping out of the skies if it had of done! Also Simon (seabird AW) had trapped an Icterine Warbler this morning and also an Osprey had been seen briefly where I had walked earlier, around near Malcolm's Head.

I arrived back well in time for 1.30pm lunch. Soup, warm rolls with butter, cheese, salad etc. Paul French said he had a tree pipit and also a common redstart this morning.

My plan for the afternoon was to walk to the obs, BUT on returning to my room I decided it was much too tempting not to have an afternoon siesta! Its now 5pm and really ought to go out before dinner at 7pm! Terrible I know, but just felt exhausted and it was a glorious nap listening to the wind whistling through the window. Radiators are on which made it even more cosy! Beautiful sunny weather and a north east wind blowing.

Had a quick walk round South Harbour to work up an appetite before dinner at 7pm. Didn't see very much, but just enjoyed the scenery. Saw a seal amongst the tons of beautiful ribbon seaweed. Eiders on the sea and kittiwakes, also 1 redshank. On the way back to the South Light a ringed plover was sitting on rocks.

Dinner was again awesome. Soup and bread to start followed by Nut Roast, baked potatoes, swede mashed with something!, sprouts, cauliflower, sweetcorn followed by strawberries, yoghurt AND rhubarb crumble with custard!!!!!

Went for evening walk to make up for my lazy afternoon. I was lucky enough to see the female Rosefinch sitting on the far dry stone wall at Burkle at 9pm. Walked as far as the 'Old Haa' and back again at Burkle I saw a Spotted Flycatcher sitting on the dry stone wall on right hand side! Tommy and son Henry gave me a lift back to the South Light.

Another beautiful sunset just now, but alot colder this evening so have not ventured out to take sunset pictures!

Teal trapped at Vaadal

Common Whitethroat trapped at Hjon

Lesser Whitethroat trapped at the Gully

Will check the name of this pinnacle out, can't remember at the moment!


More pictures for Saturday

Sunset from Southlight

(taken from just below my window!)

Sheep basking in the afternoon sun

Burkle - Deryk and Hollie's House

The Chalet - meeting place for 7am Trap rounds until obs. is open

Stackhaull Stores

Scenes around Fair isle

Car being winched across to Good Shepherd to Fair isle!

Crabs arriving off fishing boat at Grutness Pier, bound for Spain!

Saturday 29 May 2010

Good Afternoon Fair isle!

8.30pm - As I type this in my beautiful white room in the South Light, I am listening to the sea crashing on the shore below me and the the sun is slowly setting - I am in heaven!

Anyway back to my journey this morning. Caught the 9.15am bus to Grutness Pier. On route I saw a Hooded Crow, starlings, oystercatchers, house sparrows, lapwings, swallow. The bus driver was one of the grumpiest men I have ever met! I got up and started to walk up the aisle of the bus to get ready to get my bag off the luggage rack and I got shouted at loudly to SIT DOWN, can you please sit down, SIT DOWN!!!! The bus driver spoke to me like I was age 5, horrible man.

I was just about first in the queue for the Good Shepherd! The skies looked a little brighter now as though the sun might break out. I met a lovely couple called Barry and Cheryl who were also staying in the South Light (Cheryl was uncanningly a double of my youngest sister Vivien, the same age and almost the same birthday! An Artic Skua chasing an Arctic Tern almost collided with us in the battle! There were 7 people in all on the boat today, us three and a another couple with 2 little boys who were taking their car across to Fair isle for 3 days.

Got MY seat on the Good Shepherd - laying down with eyes shut, head on pillow in the middle of the bench seat that runs along the back behind all the main seats in the cabin. It was amazingly the best crossing I have had! In fact I even took a video with my coolpix, three quarters way through the journey!

On arrival at North Haven, I started to smile with joy, it was stunning sunshine and blue skies and the water was glittering - it was awesome to be back. Josie met us on the quayside and took us back to South Light.

Wow!!!! My room is awesome, all white walls, a double bed all for me, excellent, a desk and chair, an armchair. My bedside table is an very old singer sewing machine set into a table with wrought iron legs. No wardrobe in room but huge underbed draws. I have two windows, both sea views - what more can you ask for!

Breakfast is served at 8.30am, lunch 1.00pm, dinner 7pm.

Because the observatory is not open yet, I didn't think 'trap rounds' at 7am would still be carried out for guests, especially if you are not staying at the obs, but the good news they are! We meet at 'The Chalet' at 7am each morning. So I am intending (note I say intending!) to be there tomorrow. Dave who does the cooking here, introduced me to Jack Ashton-Booth, AW who was walking past and I swopped mobile no with him to get any news of rares while I am here, really nice young lad. Jack told me there were two Red backed shrikes, one at the 'Chalet' area along with a skulky Marsh Warbler, RBS at 'Meadow Burn' a Pied fly at the obs. and several spotted flycatchers about and he had just had a pintail by the shore near my room! He very kindly said he would contact me if anything good turned up. South easterlies today!

It was around 2.45pm when I arrived at South Light and was determined to unpack first, which I had to really, as needed to get camera etc out. Hung up damp washing, which wasn't too bad after all. Left the house at 5.30pm just took SLR and bins and walked along the road towards Stackhoull Stores (shop) and as far as 'The Chalet' which is where Richard (birder I met) said there was a very skulking Marsh Warbler and then back along the road past the School/Hall. Birds seen: lots of wheatears, house martin, house sparrow, arctic skuas, lapwings, a single snip, meadow pipits. Played a singing marsh warbler from iphone, but no luck! and one sign of any RBS's. Only just made it back in time for dinner at 7pm.

Evening meal was to die for: cauliflower soup with grated cheese, with crusty home-made bread to start. Main course was vegetable/bean dish (for me) with spaghetti, more cheese, salad. Dessert was the best EVER chocolate pudding, sauce and ice cream I have EVER tasted! My waistline has expanded already! Will be wearing smallest fitting trousers tomorrow, as certainly won't get in them by the end of the two weeks! At the table including Cheryl and Barry were 'Richard' who I met earlier (he is staying at The Puffin) and Paul French and wife/girlfriend/partner Agi (Agi works for RSPB) and 20 month year old son. Paul said he had had a female Rosefinch near Barkland only a short while ago! Paul also said tomorrow just be pretty good, as south easterly and rain, wicked!!!!

Was going to go out this evening to watch puffins, but very tired and decided to write early and then retire early.

Northlink Ferry Reception, Aberdeen

From the Aberdeen to Lerwick Ferry - Friday 28th Evening

Lobsters arriving at Grutness Harbour, bound for Spain!

The Good Shepherd just arrived at Grutness Pier - Saturday morning, 29th May

Video below, taken with Nikon Coolpix is of the cabin of the Good Shepherd and looking out of the porthole!


Good Morning Lerwick!

Crawled out of sleeping bag at 5.30am. Gannets and Fulmars gliding past the window. Another wash, packed stuff up and made my way to canteen to have vegetarian breakfast to line my stomach for the Good Shepherd! Had 2 eggs, toast, tomatoes, potato pancakes, baked beans and coffee.

Black guillemots sitting on sea below me, approaching Lerwick Harbour along with Arctic Terns.

It's spitting with rain and cloudy skies - but I have never seen it any differently at Lerwick harbour!

Now going off ferry to get a taxi to the Viking bus station to catch 9.15am bus to Grutness Pier to catch the Good Shepherd! Wish me luck!

Friday 28 May 2010

On arrival at Aberdeen I decided I could not stand the weight of my camera gear, laptop, optics etc in rucksack anymore, so locked other bag up at station (involved them going through entire contents of bag for security reasons. I luckily got the last wheeled trolley for my rucksack from Argos.... The relief of not carrying it was fabulous, so much so that I walked to ferry terminal fairly easily!

Now waiting to be checked in. Looking forward to some proper fish n chips when I get on the ferry! And a long sleep (roughing it in sleeping bag on floor!

I love this ferry, everything about it....... Had my fish n chips, scrumptious and was very good and didn't have dessert. Sat in the bar with a J2O and people watched for a while. Sat chatting with a Lerwick lad for a while and then went up to the outer deck - dull rain filled skies did not inspire me to dig slr out of rucksack. Could not see any birds of note either.

Bought a silver colured, junk jewellery bracelet (could not afford to buy the designer silver jewellery glittering in the glass cabinets! Most disappointing was the fact they had no Chanel No 5 in duty free!

Earliest I have been to bed for ages - after strip wash in the loo! Got into my sleeping bag by 9ish and I was soooo tired I got quilots a lot of sleep!
Absolutely fuming....... As the train approached Edinburgh station I went to pick up my main bag (with clothes in) andI realised to my horror the bag was soaked!!! Someone's massive ice/cool bag had been leaking over my whole bag for the 4 hour journey!!!! The reply I got when I found out who's it was......"it's only water"........... If it had been my camera rucksack I would have probably been marched down the station for GBH!!!!!!

On inspection everything on outside is soaked! Much to other passengers amusement I have washing hanging up to dry!!! All my clothes are going to stink by the time I get to Fair isle at 2.30pm tomorrow!!!!! Not a happy bunny.

Arrive Aberdeen at approx 1.30pm.

FAIR ISLE - Day One!

Didn't really get any sleep last night - left King's Lynn at 5.40am with rucksack and holdall that are both far too heavy!!

Currently on train to Edinburgh - beautiful sunny day.

Monday 24 May 2010

Won't have time to post anymore until I travel to Fair isle on Friday 28th May for two weeks - yipppeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

I will be bringing laptop with me and post diary on here along with pictures.

The highlight would be to watch orcas, a bee eater close enough to fill my viewfinder and maybe a first for britain...... is that asking too much?

Watch this space!!!!!
I have serious withdrawal symptoms from not birding the weekend.

What was I doing? I was sorting, tidying, spring cleaning etc etc because my youngest sister Vivien is staying both weekends to pamper Sapphire and didn't want her to see the state of my house - it would only have been reported back to the parents!!!! Doing a county list last year combined with working 6 days a week is the reason my house looks like its been burgled, well one of the reasons!!!!! My good neighbour Anne is looking after Sapphire in the Monday to Friday slots. I am panicking now, not ready for Fair isle at all, not even done my 'holiday list' yet...... yes I do a list. I can't just throw things in a bag like some people and after all, you can't really afford to forget anything with only one shop on Fair isle!!!!! I have Thursday off to pack, sort stuff, need to go down the dump with old telly (did I forget to say I bought a new telly!), new digital aerial being erected early Thursday, Car tax to get, shopping for parents, hedge to cut........phew!!!!!

Thursday 20 May 2010

Won't be staying at the Obs. on Fair isle!!!!

I have been hugely excited about going to Fair Isle again (people at work are sick of me going on about it!) so when I phoned Hollie this evening to ask her something and she replied 'I was just going to ring you (she sounded so upset and sad) - I just knew what was coming.... can't remember exactly what she said now, but but basically the buildings certificate (something like that) that is required for a new building failed, as the fire doors did not pass and all have to be replaced, resulting in having to cancel people again - from the new opening date of 26th May onwards. New firedoors will not be in place until 12th/13th June - so noone can stay in the obs.

So my choices were: cancel and claim money back off insurance for train and ferry, but I have the time booked off from work and I NEED a holiday. I could have hired a car and gone round the Shetlands I suppose BUT at the end of the day I wanted to be on Fair isle. So I quickly phoned Josie at the South Light house and very, very luckily got the last room, which was incredibly lucky, being as I am booked for 2 weeks!!!!

It won't be the same as staying at the obs, but there are advantages to be being south for the birds I suppose. I will lose more weight (need to do that!) as it will be a long walk from south light to the north cliffs! Hmmmm..... what else, ummm..... ah yes, closer to the shop for chocolate!

At the end of the day I WILL still be on Fair isle and I can't wait!

Monday 17 May 2010

A New Era on Fair Isle!!!!!

Just found this on Birdguides:

Deryk and Hollie's last year as Warden and Administrator!

I personally think they making a perfect team - how will anyone be able to match them?

The Administrator position I would LOVE to do - just need to find a partner quickly!!!! But the positions are being offered seperately aswell! Hmmmmm.......

Sunday 16 May 2010

Expensive Weekend!!!

Spent all Saturday sorting stuff out in the house and having a clear up and attempting to get organised for Fair Isle!

Today (Sunday) I did something really bad - I drove to Warehouse Express in Norwich and bought a Canon teleconverter 2x and then went to the Apple Store, Chapelfield and purchased an Apple Macbook Pro 15" laptop!!!!! My excuses for buying this was: acts as a second back-up/hard drive, 2nd back up for my dodgy Apple G4 (although its running beautifully at the moment), can take it to Fair Isle and update my blog daily with pictures to save me writing 2 weeks up when I come back, other excuses... hmmmm.... ok none... I just wanted it and life is too short!!!!!

Phoned Hollie yesterday (as in Hollie Shaw, Deryk Shaw's wife, warden of Fair Isle) to make sure I can still arrive on the 29th May as the observatory was not ready in time for the 1st May!!! and will now open on Wednesday 26th May - sooooo glad I booked late May!!!! Still ok to go, but the Wi-fi access will not be up and running. The room I have been allocated looks over Bueness, with New Haven to the left along with the new wader pools - will I even have to leave the obs!!! After speaking to my computer friend Kris and also staff at the Applestore today, I discovered something brilliant - if I plug in my i-phone to my new laptop I can 'Tether' (Tethering its called in the Apple 'Settings' on the phone) my laptop - in other words wherever I get a mobile signal/internet for the iphone I can use that internet service through/on the laptop! Isn't technology amazing! Only drawback - you are charged for this and its added to monthly bill - have yet to find out how much exactly! Found this: AND

After spending a colossal amount of money I needed some sea air to clear my head and took the A140/B1149 road to Holt and onto Cley. Beautiful sunny evening. Had a look round Walsey Hills: garden warbler, blackcap, cettis' warbler, chiffchaff all singing in bottom Willows and several chaffinches and long tailed tits darting about - not alot else though! Some sad person has broken a section of the hand rail at the top of the steps.

Drove to Cley Coastguards to get my Sea fix and sat on the shingle drinking the remainder of my flask of coffee. Pied Wags flitting about, a swallow building a nest and a reed bunting zipping along and sandwich terns going west. Said hello to Eddie M. who turned up just as I was leaving.

Cruised along the main coast road to deliver some shopping to my parents.

Father is now very excited as the Physio who has been coming out every week to assist with his walking has fitted all kinds of support rails (where they didn't have a stair bannister) and he is now venturing upstairs again! He is virtually walking without his sticks now which is brilliant but also scary!!!

Pete Snook sent me an email with a link to his brilliant video on youtube of the Oriental Pratincole at Frampton, which he took yesterday on 15th May. Copyright: Pete Snook.

Monday 10 May 2010


Now my Applemac is working properly again I can now add pictures to my old posts which I started to do last night including pictures of bluethroat, cranes, snowbuntings etc etc. Please look back at old posts to view pictures - I will be adding pictures to posts in February, March and April.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Oriental Pratincole and White Spotted Bluethroat highlight the end of my holiday!

Wheatear at Frampton RSPB

Sedge Warbler at WWT Welney

After seeing Gary Thoburn's awesome picture of the White Spotted Bluethroat on Surfbirds {also see his website for picture: I decided to pop along to Welney again to see if I could improve on my sad attempts the last time I saw it! (see pictures added to my post 22nd April last night) Alas I did not and it took ages to appear and my two pictures were rubbish, but did get an awesome picture (even though I say so myself!) of a Sedge Warbler.

After watching my brief encounter with the bluethroat I walked back to the centre and gave in and bought the 2nd edition Collins Bird Guide which was reduced to £15.30! (cheapest I have seen it) - I nearly succumbed to a bar of 'Divine'chocolate until I saw the price - could not believe it, a staggering £1.30!!!!!! so that helped with the diet! Dave Holman then walked in and kindly pointed out the pair of Gargeney and a Greenshank

Sat in my deckchair by the car in carpark and had my latest fad in a sandwich: philadelphia ('light' due to boring diet) with stem ginger and lettuce! and coffee fix. Now I was supposed to be going home and doing loads of mega boring jobs BUT it was a sunny, glorious day and my last day before returning to work tomorrow, so I had a look at the map for inspiration and decided to go back via Swaffham and to NOA Hempton Reserve and have a look around Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve which I have not actually properly been to yet.

Nothing doing really at NOA Hempton apart from long tailed tits, blackcap singing, hedge sparrows, chaffinches, blue, great and coal tits. I was just getting back in the car to go to Sculthorpe when Andy Wilkinson very kindly rang me to tell me there was an Oriental Pratincole at RSPB Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire!!!! (Andy has the full RBA pager service and knows that I Only have Norfolk/Suffolk news) Andy was not going as he had only just returned from a 10 day WP twitch in the Saraha etc with Justin and Chris L and Lee Gregory at 4am this morning! Also got a couple of messages from other Norfolk birders too - thank you (you know who you are!)

Sod the jobs at home! Cruised (well kind of!) to Frampton - well actually I did for part of the journey as there were some incredibly annoying slow vehicles along the A17! The last time I went to RSPB Frampton was 10 years ago when I lived for a short while in Algarkirk (couple of villages before Frampton) when I was married (long story!) I am ashamed to say I have not been back since and WOW it certainly looks different now - like a massive version of Titchwell RSPB!!! Very impressive and some good birds seen there looking at the daily log including Lesser Yellowlegs in early May, spotted flycatcher etc etc. Anyway back to THE bird. After getting out of the car very quickly (as you do) I walked with 3 other birders to the path by East Hide - it was an incredible distance to walk, when you are desperate to see a good bird. On route a wheatear flashed by. The north east wind still continued to cut through you, but not as strong as it has been. Approx 100 people congregated whilst I was there. Dave Holman kindly let me view the bird through his scope - and there it was hunched down next to a dock plant on the far side of the water, only revealing its head! (4pm) Some other birders were highly amused when I showed them my 'record shot' of this!!! but as I pointed out, I knew what the coloured smudge next to green was!!! My shots did improve as you will see on here - the bird became quite mobile and was regularly harrassed by a lapwing. At one point the bird flew over closer to a nearer spit not far from where we were all standing - the colours were stunning in the sunshine - cracking bird (understatement!). I realised I could hear a very familiar voice saying 'Twitcher' to me - it was John Furse who had also 'Twitched' the bird from Friary Hills (slightly further than me John!). Lots of amusing banter going on inc. 'have you Norfolk birders got a licence to come here'. Anyone going tomorrow needs to have a massive great lens or you would certainly get some good digiscoped shots. My arms ached from holding the camera for so long and decided to walk further up the path and walk up the steps (opposite East Hide) to the seabank where there were a massive flock of Brent Geese on the marsh and also a wheatear that another birder had spotted. I was still watching the pratincole at 5.45pm - on the way back I had lovely views of at least half a dozen Yellow Wagtails bounding across the pools of avocets and other waders. Photographed a wheatear sitting on a fence post, not far from the reserve centre. The warden had kept the centre open which was very helpful for the loos! and also for me to stock up on supplies, as I had run out ages ago! Centre was very smart inside and they sell self-service coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soup and also flapjacks, eccles cakes, chocolate, crisps etc. The warden was very polite and helpful and later on informed me that a hobby had just flown through. Sat in my deckchair by car eating my eccles cake with remains of my coffee and drove home with a smile on my face and then I remembered I am at work tomorrow!

Hope you enjoy the pictures! This is the first and will be the last video I add to my blog as it has taken forever to load!!

After seeing the following article in the Eastern Daily Press this week I contacted Carl Chapman about booking the next pelagic!

Copied from the EDP:

Norfolk tour boss's adventure to find rare wildlife

A Sheringham tour company has started running trips out to the Dogger Bank, pictured is a common dolphin one of the animals you can see.
A Sheringham tour operator is to lead what is thought to be the first-ever public expedition to Dogger Bank to reveal the rare and exciting wildlife found there.

Carl Chapman, who runs Wildlife Tours and Education, has organised the trip to the sandbank off the north Norfolk coast later this year because he fears the many creatures living there could soon be lost.

Early plans are in place to create a windfarm in the area and the keen bird watcher wants to make the most of the wildlife before the developers move in.

He said: “Who knows what will happen - it's an undetermined factor - but it isn't going to be positive, is it? This trip is really something that has to be done now.”

In August, a fishing boat packed with nature lovers and bird watchers will leave Whitby, Yorkshire, to head out to Dogger Bank - a raised sandbank beneath the North Sea.

Leaving at 11.30pm, the 80ft ex-naval ship The Chieftain will travel through the night to ensure passengers make the most of the daylight once they complete the 80-mile journey.

Mr Chapman said fishermen, who were usually the only people out there, had reported some stunning sightings.

He said: “We are hoping to see something a little bit different - bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises.

“Two years ago the fishermen reported seeing 200 minke whales all feeding together.

“We can't guarantee sightings - it's not wildlife on a stick or a zoo. Reports suggest a high chance of seeing rare and exciting birds and sea life.

“But even scientific research in the region has been limited, so we really don't know what we may find.”

The tour company owner, who set up the business last year after being made redundant as a bank manager, said he believed it was the first time a public expedition to Dogger Bank had been organised.

“There is a decent amount written about it following different surveys carried out there, but nobody has ever done a trip out here for the paying public,” he said.

The rare opportunity was booked up within hours of the trip being confirmed and, if it proves a success, Mr Chapman hopes to run more trips in the future.

He added: “We must take as many opportunities as possible to run expeditions there before it becomes an offshore windfarm.”

Saturday 8 May 2010

Took father to Hunstanton to have a hair cut. It was the first time he had left the house since returning from hospital after having hip op. He is walking really well enow with two sticks. Arrived back to Holme with fish n chips. I stewed some apples and blueberries for dessert topped with alpro soya yoghurt.

After lunch we (well mother and I did - father said it was too distressing hearing Richard"s voice) listened to an MP3 file on my iphone which was absolutely fascinating - called 'Barry"s Guide to Fair isle' which was a recording made and narrated by the late Richard Richardson for his friend Barry Sheen (yep THE Barry Sheen). It was very kindly sent to me by someone via a website. The recording is of RAR's journey to Fair isle via train, ferry and plane and includes recordings of birds on the island, fiddle playing, islanders singing in the "Kirk" etc etc. Richard referred to his friend John Harrison who had said of the Lerwick Fiddlers "they"ll never get anywhere in the charts' - this quote is also written in the Fair isle report for 1967 in a "in Memoriam for John Harrison who died in 1967.

As a youngster, I have very fond memories of Richard, especially listening to tales of Fair isle from both Richard and father's other closest friend Peter Jackson (also sadly deceased). I remember Peter Jackson chuckling over the Good Shepherd sailings. I remember thinking that one day I would go to that magical island - I did so in 2005 and 2006 and fell love completely. Ticking off the days now for my third trip!

Apart from photographing an exceptionally cute, fluffy baby coot (see pic above) from Fen Hide at Titchwell, I didn't really do much birding. Bought a new beanie hat and lens spray from the shop. Sat at the top of the hill at Brancaster (bee-eater spot) and watched red legged partridges and pied wags. Drove to Abbey Farm and didn't see anything of note from the hide really.

Britain"s Got Talent - wasn"t the 80 year lady singing awesome!!!!


Courtesy of RBA

House Finch  


Cornwall HOUSE FINCH male yellow variant singing still 2.45pm Land's End in garden at Swingates House. Currently restricted access to garden, queuing system in operation.

Friday 7 May 2010

I can't quite believe this BUT I have my Applemac back and running!!!!!!!

I am actually typing this on my Mac!!!!! Well done Kris and enormous thanks.

I will now be able to add pictures to my blog again! I will be adding pictures to old posts, hope to do this over the weekend.

Drove to Cleyspy who kindly sorted my Manfrotto tripod out - I could hardly undue the clasps - not good when you need to get the tripod up in a hurry!

Parked at the bottom of Old Women's Lane and walked to Dauke's Hide - the North East wind cut through the hide flaps and right through you like a knife - it was cruelly cold. I sat there too long really, didn't see any Temminck's Stints at all, but someone had seen them on the island in front of North Hide. Not an ideal day to test out my new camera! Walked back to the car and decided to have a little sleep as I felt really tired! Was awoken by a car horn hooting at me (John F.!)

Drove back home to meet Kris at mine, who has now sorted my computer - well still got to sort Quark Xpress, but don't need that right now. I can now access itunes, so now I can copy all my albums and sync to my iphone - magic!

Thursday 6 May 2010

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Trip to Norwich!!!

I frighten myself sometimes when I buy something on the spur of the moment!!! Bought some fantastic Northface walking boots in preperation for my iminent Fair isle trip as my Scarpa boots leak - only had them about 5 years! Boots previous to that were Zamberlan - the best ever boots and had them for 15 years!!!

I hate driving in Norwich - I am always getting lost! Went to the Applestore in Norwich for a 'personel shopping appt' to assess what I need next if Kris can't get my Mac working again.

My spur of the moment buy was a Canon 7d!!!!

Monday 3 May 2010

Ring Ouzel feeding on NWT Forestry, Holme

It's taken ages to type this via my iPhone as Mac has been taken away again! Feel really tired at the moment and had another lie-in this morning! Still have a bad cough and my sense of smell has completely gone since developing this cold. My youngest sister Vivien sent me a text to say she was on the train to King's Lynn and then catching a bus to Holme, so I drove to the station and picked her up and went to Holme to visit our parents.

Vivien decided to come birding with me - well for a walk anyway!!! Followed the public footpath east, half way along the road to Thornham boathouse (where I went on Sat) and walked round the copse and along Green Lane and then back along the path. By the footbridge next to the copse it was very sheltered - in fact the only sheltered spot away from the fierce north east winds blowing today - a flurry of birds flitting about in a scyamore included chiffchaffs, lesser whitethroat, blackcap, long tailed tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, blue and great tits. A little egret sat in the marsh just past the boat house/pond. Also two linnets sat in a bramble bush. Took Vivien back to parents.

Holme Reserves - had a hot chocolate at The Firs house and then walked to the NWT Forestry where I watched a Ring Ouzel along with a Wheatear. Also a nice surprise of a Garden Warbler singing and seen. Walked all the way along the top Coastal path to Holme Bird Observatory and back round to NOA carpark. Picked up my Mother's bike which needs mending (just about got it in the Hyundai!) and drove back via Brancaster home to King's Lynn.

Don't think I picked a good week for birding - better get on with some jobs I think!

Lazy Day

I usually work on Sunday but I decided not to book any shifts this weekend so I could have the entire week off. Had a wonderful lay-in and was just about to get up when my computer friend Kris phoned....... 'can I pick up the Mac this morning please?' - 'YES' I replied ....anyway hopefully after giving Kris a list of all the things that are not working on it, I may (note I say may) get my mac back in full working order, which also means I will be able to post pictures to my blog again!!!!!!!!!!

While Kris was here he managed to add my pipex email account to my iPhone which staff at Vodaphone were unable to do or pipex when I phoned their helpline! I then opened an account on iTunes and downloaded several 'Apps' from the apple store - I also ended up buying
'The Birds of Britain & Ireland (iPhone and iPod touch edition) © BirdGuides Ltd 2010' which is brilliant - a field guide on my iPhone!!!! With songs/calls aswell!

Freezing cold and strong north winds today. I didn't even venture out of the house!

Saturday 1 May 2010

Beautiful Sunny Day!

Started off at 8am at Boston Sensory Garden, opposite the bowling club on Hunstanton Cliffs. 2 Adult Gannets going east along the sea at 8.15am. Several goldfinches in the gardens along with chiffchaffs singing in a sycamore tree. Several woodpigeons and pied wagtails feeding on the bowling green. Fulmars soaring magestically against complete blue skies over the cliff top and 2 starlings feeding on the grass - their irridescent colours twinkled in the sunlight and looked good in my lens! By the lighthouse: house sparrows, a Common Whitethroat sitting on a cliff top bush, posed perfectly for my camera. Heavy passage of swallows along the cliff tops, all going west.

Jamesons corner/public footpath which joins up with Thornham Bank (shortly after the Farm Shop between Holme and Thornham) - Not too much here really but blackcap, lesser whitethroat, chiffchaff, jay, carrion crows, several orange tips and speckled woods. At the end of the path looking across the field below Thornham Bank were 9 Avocets, 2 Canada Geese and several lapwings.

12pm - walked somewhere new and very ashamed that I have never done this walk before - it was beautiful and will be a regular walk of mine now. Take the road to Thornham Boathouse and just before it on the right is a public footpath that goes off through the reedbed. Follow the path, passing a small pond on right, lots of shrike-like bushes here, gorse, hawthorn etc etc, go over a small footbridge (ditch running underneath) and turn left, following the copse of trees around to eventually meet up with 'Green Lane' - turn right and walk along tarmac road, passing a caravan park on left and when you reach the left hand corner (Church Street joins Green Lane), walk straight ahead (copse now on right) following footpath again and then take next branch off left to walk over footbridge and back to car. Barn owl seen carrying prey, Sedge warblers, linnets by the pond, Chiffchaffs, black caps, long tailed tits. Around the end of the copse of pines, sycamores, hawthorn etc is a boat house with large pond - there was a heron fishing in the middle of it! Behind this big copse (east of it) is a beautiful white house/manor. When I got back to the car, which I parked half way up a slope opposite to the public footpath I sat in my deckchair in the glorious sunshine to eat my sandwiches.

Thornham Shop which has been closed for a food number of weeks is now open as 'the village Deli, cafe and store' see: '' - I had a look in there and basically every item is ridiculously expensive, but it all looks inviting for the tourists, with picnic tables outside etc. On the playing field adjacent to it I searched for a hoopoe (there's got to be one eventually!) but only found 2 Mistle Thrushes with beaks full of worms.

The car ambled to Choosely - well Chalk Pit Road to be precise!!! and joined a small crowd to watch two distant Dotterels at 3.15pm. A good number of wheatears here also - I counted at least 9.

I was drawn to the tree and wires on the Brancaster/Docking road to re-live my Bee-eater dip. I looked at the empty tree and then imagined what the Bee-eater would have looked like perched on the wire over the road..... Anyway in the stony field surround the sugar beet pad were at least 5 beautiful Wheatears, along with red legged partridges.

I didn't know where I was going next - all I know is, I didn't want to go home yet - turned right when I reached Brancaster - massive mistake - cycle race going on and all cyclists, family, friends etc all parked at the Jolly Sailers and the traffic there was like being in the middle of a city in rush hour!

I eventually escaped and ended up at Stiffkey Fen - not a great deal here but I noted a massive number of Swallows, House Martins and Swifts filled the skies and were skimming over the fen.

Actually arrived back in King's Lynn in daylight - very unusual for me!