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Thursday 30 September 2010

Lee Evans posted the following:

No car for the weekend - that didn't work out!!!!! (sad face)

The annoying thing is - I haven't even got any shifts this Sunday!!!!

Been looking at cost of staying somewhere.... too expensive.

If I knew where to find my tent amongst all my unpacked boxes (long story) I could have camped at Stiffkey - cheap option and good for birds!

Hmmmm....... can't think of an answer..... going to bed.

Delight as Norfolk bird-watchers get back on the beach - Norfolk News - EDP24

Delight as Norfolk bird-watchers get back on the beach - Norfolk News - EDP24

Wednesday 29 September 2010

May have a set of wheels tomorrow!

Dennis Wright of "Docking Autos - Dennis Wright Body Repairs" VERY kindly said he may be able to hire me a car tomorrow for a week, which will cover me for the weekend's birding!!!!! So I will keep my fingers crossed for tomorrow! If you are reading this Dennis -THANKS!

Still loads of good birds in Norfolk today!

Found these Fungi at work today!

Reading the RBA website in my lunch at work today, it was frustrating to read "Little Bunting, Wood Warbler, Redstart and 4 Pied Flycatchers and a Hen Harrier" ALL at Thornham Point!!!!! When I phoned my parents this evening and told them this, I found out something very interesting! Mother said that Thornham Point was where my father was thinking of starting his observatory in the '60's, but opted for Holme instead!

Freaky Day - Memories from my teenage years!!!

Someone posted a comment on my blog today and added that 'they have one of my painted stones'. As a teenager I painted pictures of birds on stones with acrylic paints and then varnished them - I sold them in the shop at Holme Bird Observatory where you also bought in those days: books, both new and second-hand, binoculars, NOA pens, badges (still have my enamel NOA badge), greeting cards by Richard Richardson, prints by RAR, mugs, bookmarks, the list goes on..... Anyway, today I met someone I know (sadly in unfortunate circumstances in the hospital - can't say any more than that for confidentiality reasons) who ALSO said today that they have one of my painted stones with a Great Grey Shrike on which of course is the emblem of the NOA!!!!! How odd that two people from the past should mention my painted stones on the same day!!!!!!!!!

I wish I had the time to take up my painting again. I also sold several bird paintings as a teenager (pre age 16 and before going to Great Yarmouth College of Art and Design) including several of the Black Winged Stilts when they arrived/bred at Holme. I would dearly love to know where these paintings are now!

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Car packed up - gutted!!!!!!

Well I suppose it will teach me a lesson really. The flycatcher/me has cost me a small fortune and a massive inconvenience at a crucial time of the year!

Normally I always drive through the tidal flood just before Coastguards carpark at Cley very, very slowly but I drove through fairly fast on Saturday to get parked and now I am paying the price (understatement). As I said in previous post, the car has lost power and drinking petrol like there's no tomorrow. Garage picked the car up yesterday and today I got their assessment - basically its going to cost a bl**dy fortune. Can't remember what bit is being sent off to a specialist by courier to Portsmouth - even more than the cost, the words "you won't get your car back for at least at week" hurt soooo much more than my bank account being emptied. "A WEEK!!!!!!!!" I screeched. My 2 hour taster yesterday at Holme of this massive migration going on was torture enough - but to be told that I will not be going out this evening after work, OR tomorrow, or Thursday, or Friday or the weekend is not funny in the slightest!!!!!

Any offers of free b+b/sofa/floor on the coast at the weekend will be gratefully received!!!!

Flycatcher on Anglia TV tonight!!!!!

Flycatcher in the EDP

My Flycatcher picture in the EDP today was my second best shot, thought they were going to use the website picture which I think is better but hey ho!!! See post below for link to website.


My picture of the FLYCATCHER published today in the Eastern Daily Press on line now and in the paper Tuesday 28th September!

Monday 27 September 2010

Top Day! Fame at last and TONS of birds!!!!!


Yellow browed Warbler at Holme Bird Observatory (NOA) at 9.15am.

On route to Holme I decided to drive via Ringstead and just before the Ringstead Mill I almost stopped the car in disbelief at the skies - thousands upon thousands of wood pigeons filled the whole sky - everywhere I looked - never seen anything like this before!!!!!!!!!!

Arrived at Holme just before 8am and driving down the Firs Road to the reserves, birds were flitting about all over the place!

Parked the car and excitedly grabbed bins and camera - soooo frustrating to know that I had to leave at 10.15am to be at work for 11.30am. Walked round the back of the Firs and spent ages amongst the pines were the Arctic Warbler was - the place was alive with birds, song thrushes, robins, bramblings, goldcrests and tons of overhead passerines. Two Spotted Flycatchers in one tree!!!!!! Extremely annoyingly I stumbled, walking down a slope on a wet tree root - hurt my hand which didn't care about at all, when I could see my camera wedged lens down into the bl**dy sand!!! Fortunately the sand had not sneaked quite up to the filter lens on the inside of the hood so managed to brush most off with a tissue until proper clean up later. Walked round to the observatory where I watched and photographed a Yellow Browed Warbler, Firecrest, Blackcap and Garden Warbler being rung!!! Also Sophie caught a reed warbler which later appeared in the sycamore tree opposite the obs. and caused a massive panic when I first saw it sitting on a branch - I quite simply had no idea what it was - it just sat there in the tree almost motionless and I just didn't see as a reed warbler at all - I shouted to Jed 'Come back quick' as he was going off down to check the nets and no one around me could ID it. Sophie came back from a net round by which time it had flitted out of view and she looked at my pictures on camera and said 'Reed Warbler'!!!!!!! I suppose it was because of it sitting in that tree - not where you normally see a reed warbler sitting! Saw an interested small raptor from the obs. in the mid distance being mobbed by swallows but it disappeared not to be seen again.

Yellow browed Warbler at Holme Bird Observatory (NOA) at 9.15am.

Firecrest at Holme Bird Observatory (NOA) at 9.15am.

Female Blackcap, Holme Bird Observatory (NOA).

Garden Warbler, Holme Bird Observatory (NOA).

Moorhen in The Dell Hide, Holme Bird Observatory (NOA).

Reed Warbler sitting in the Sycamore opposite the Observatory (NOA).

Reed Warbler sitting in the Sycamore opposite the Observatory (NOA).

The Reed Warbler incident now mean't I was cutting it fine to get back to King's Lynn. It was pure torture having to leave with all these birds about and in some ways I wish I had never left my house! Driving back along the Firs Road resulted in even more bird movement than earlier - it was desperately frustrating that I had to leave. My dodgy car played up massively on the way back and took forever to get to King's Lynn which resulted in me being late for work, but I made the time up later and finished at 8pm tonight. My local garage came and picked the car up from work and then I had to walk all the way home. So no car tomorrow either, so please no one torture me with finding a mega that I can't go and twitch tomorrow after work! (please note, John F. or James M or MG et al!!!)

On route back to Lynn Jo Riley from the media company (who supply the tabloids with photos), who phoned me yesterday about using my 'crowd/twitcher' shots of the Flycatcher in some of the national newspapers, phoned me back to tell me my pictures were in The Daily Telegraph and The Mirror and I would be paid in approx 6 weeks time!!!!!! This has put me on such a high - pity the bird shots were not mine - I am pretty sure they are Julian Balereo's pictures. What makes me really laugh is - I have all this expensive camera gear and lens's and my first ever published picture is of birders taken on my bl**dy Apple iphone!!!!!!!! Can't believe it - and its not even a good photo really - if I had known that record shot which I didn't really think too much about when I snapped it quickly, was going in National Newspapers 2 days later I would have taken a bit more care in taking the picture! Another newspaper has also asked for my pictures today - I'm on a roll now - please Santa can I have a big fat lens for christmas - oh and a man to carry it round for me! Several of you are in my published pictures by the way, I can see David Norgate, Andy Wilkinson, Justin Lansdell etc etc.

Anyway back to reality - got to work for 12pm and I just didn't want to be there - I was on Cloud Nine with all this picture in paper stuff and was just desperate to be back out in the field!


Hundreds of birdwatchers flock to the Norfolk coast to see rare yellow-bellied flycatcher -

Hundreds of birdwatchers flock to the Norfolk coast to see rare yellow-bellied flycatcher -

Frustratingly can't find the link to the The Daily Telegraph on line though.

Storms and predators take toll on iconic Norfolk bird - Norfolk News - EDP24

Storms and predators take toll on iconic Norfolk bird - Norfolk News - EDP24

Flycatcher makes the Tabloids!!! - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Twitchers in a great flap to see a little bird blown 4,000 miles from home - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Twitchers in a great flap to see a little bird blown 4,000 miles from home

Sunday 26 September 2010

Another Awesome Day!!!!!

This is proving to be a much better autumn that last year!!!

Bonelli's Warbler, Rosefinch and Yellow browed Warbler!

After working very late in to the night/morning going through 220 shots of the Flycatcher and adding them to here and other websites, I decided not to set the alarm this morning. I had originally planned to go down the Point today, before the Flycatcher turned up yesterday!

Most of my morning was spent emailing pictures and info to a Media company who had contacted me through Jed A. to ask for my crowd shots at the Flycatcher to be possibly used for National Newspapers!!!!! So naturally I also emailed them some pics of the bird too, just in case they use them aswell!!! The lady I spoke to said she would contact me tomorrow (Monday) if the pictures go in the papers tomorrow!!!!!

Took me ages to get out of the house today - now on my second pair of walking boots as yesterday's still soaked through. Had a strange combination of crumpets with cheese on just for quickness! My destination today CLEY!

As soon as I pulled the car out of the drive I realised it has still lost power, it took ages to get anywhere - don't know whats going on with it, bl**dy frustrating and no time to get it to a garage as starting work at 11.30am tomorrow and I NEED to use this time to go birding! (doing a late shift once a month now - another colleague couldn't do tomorrow so I VERY quickly volunteered!) I have used 3/4 of a tank of petrol to go to Cley and back today - normally its a 1/4 of a tank! The car is chugging when in first gear and stationery and going up hills I can't do more than 30mph and on the straights 40mph max - now the only thing I can think of is I drove VERY quickly through the tidal area of water in the road just before Coastguards at Cley yesterday in my hurry to get parked to go down the Point! I have sprayed all the leads/spark plugs with WD40 before I left to go home and no difference whatsoever - cars behind me getting very frustrated! (not as frustrated as I am). Several people have told me the car needs to dry out - not much hope of that at the moment!

Anyway on route I got a text from M.G. to say there was a Bonelli's Warbler at Wells Wood - luckily I had not gone past the Wells turn off. Parked the car at Wells and in pouring rain walked to the Dell area were there were several birders trying to relocate the bird. After about an hour and a half I had a single view of the BONELLI'S WARBLER at around 3.20pmish skulking about on a thick branch surrounded by dark leaves! I could see the white underparts and the green colouring and that was it! I was standing in a big condensed crowd in a clearing amongst brambles and I was standing to the right - the people on the left had better/more views. Unusually for me I got no pictures, the bird was difficult enough to see as it was and combined with the pouring rain and bad light there was no hope of a picture! Don't think anyone got any pictures, but I maybe wrong. Recognised most of the faces in the crowd - LGRE again, M.G., R.M., Andy W., Dave H., Robin A., Stuart W. (finder - thanks!), Dave F., David N., Dave A. .... the list goes on!

Note: my father Peter Clarke found the first Western Bonelli's Warbler for Norfolk on 7th August 1970 - my mother reminded me this evening - 'did I see it I asked' 'No' mother replied 'you were 5 years old' !!!!

Left here with Andy W. to go the Western track at Warham to look for the ROSE FINCH and Yellow browed Warbler - both of which were seen around 5.20pm thanks to Dave Holman! LGRE also here too along with Dave N., Brian B. and others. The Rosefinch sat for moments in amongst hawthorn leaves in the dripping rain and as I got the camera out of the plastic sack, it dived into the thicker foliage at the back! Losing my touch, no pics of any of the birds I have seen today, not even a measly, smudgy, out of focus shot! The track down to the concrete pad was like a river - don't know how my little car got down there really! Lots of LBJ's flitting about all over the place in the wind and rain - god knows whats out there!

Gave Brian Bland a lift back to Cley and the plan was to seawatch at Coastguards. I drove through the flooded road very carefully indeed! Eddie M. was just leaving and even he was fed up with the rain and 'was going home'. He told me that a Raddes' Warbler had come up on the pager at Stiffkey - BOTHER! Turned car round and went back to Stiffkey carpark to find a very happy, smiley James McCallum in the carpark - the first thing I said was 'you haven't found that as well have you?' he replied 'Yes' with a big beaming smile!!! 'And' he added 'a Spotted Crake at Blakeney Point today aswell'!!!!!!! He must hold the record for the most self-founds in Norfolk!!! James had a friend with him who said he found the Rosefinch a Wareham, so don't know if he found it before John F.? or after! The Raddes' was the opposite end of the pipe that goes out to sea (seaward side) and too late now to relocate I realised. I walked along the narrow path west for a fair distance in semi light and all I can say is, there were several small passerines diving in off the sea into the bushes!!! But much to dark to see anything.

The car trundled home incredibly slowly - oh well at least I won't get any speeding fines! I hate driving slow, its driving me insane!

Looking forward to my little stint out tomorrow morning - but wherever I go I have to leave by 10am - how annoying is that going to be!

Saturday 25 September 2010


Seawatching at Sheringham 7.40am until 1.30pm

Overslept (again!) Arrived Sheringham 7.40am instead of the intended 5.15am!!! Managed to sit on my camp stool in front/to side of Justin. It was freezing cold and the waves were rolling!

Too tired after sorting all flycatcher pictures out to list everything, but basically there were TONS of Red throated Divers, Bonxies and Gannets. Small numbers of Little Gulls, Arctic Skuas, a few Arctic Terns, 2 Barnacle Geese at 9.10am going east, 4 Brent Geese (see picture below), Auk sp.'s, Guillemot, Common Scooters, Wigeon, Eiders, Dunlins, Sandwich Terns, a single Manx Shearwater at 1.03pm.

We were waiting for the "Holme" Sabines to glide past, when at 1.30pm news came through of a possible Alder/Willow Flycatcher on Blakeney Point. I have never seen those shelters empty so quickly!!!!! I struggled up the steps with my stuff (thanks Dave H. for helping me) and whizzed along the coast road (well I tried - someone who obviously wasn't a birder crawled along in front of me all the way to Cley).

View from my shelter at The Leas, Sheringham.

Seawatching in the shelters at Sheringham along with Andy Wilkinson and Justin Lansdell who always provide first class banter throughout!

4 Brent Geese at The Leas, Sheringham.


The Plantation, Blakeney Point

Got the last of the few places left on Coastguards carpark.

The walk up the point was the most horrendous conditions - the worst I have experienced - it was torrential, driving rain and a head wind just to add to the hellish walk - I found it difficult to put one foot in front of the other the wind was so strong! I would normally peak over the shingle to see where I was in relation to half way house, but I decided that would be a bad idea for fear of knowing how much further I had to go, so just kept focused on the distant specks of other birders!

Andy and Justin had left the Sheringham earlier to go to football - Andy was cursing when I rang him, as when news came through he had been just about to leave for football! Connor was on his way too and Pete S. and Eddie M. were way ahead of me and had the seen the bird long before I got there. Got to The Plantation and first saw the Alder/Willow Flycatcher at 3.10pm - an awesome bird! People were saying that it was a possible Yellow bellied Flycatcher which if so, it would have been the first for the Western Palearctic!!! I watched the bird on and off, but less so at dusk until approx 6.15pm. Connor and Billy and both Andy W. and Justin L. all got to see the bird. Lee Evans arrived and after seeing the bird, collapsed with relief and dived under his coat for shelter. The weather was absolutely dreadful and it constantly rained heavily on/off but there were a few spells of brighter weather when I was initially arrived which enabled me to get the following shots. Don't know how to describe really, how awesome it was seeing that bird!!!!!!!!!! Didn't expect that today with north west winds!!! There was around 100 birders there at most, although I am sure that will increase in the morning!

Left the plantation at around 6.30pm - just past the Tamarisk a birder dressed in suit and tie with a youngster appeared - he must have been freezing! The walk back was shattering, but slightly more relaxing! It was one of the most atmospheric walks back ever, the foam from the pounding waves (now high tide) covered the sands and it looked like the beach was covered in snow! Part of the way back I walked along with Ashley Banwell and another man and a Purple Sandpiper literally walked across us on the shingle at 7.20pm! Got back to the carpark at 8.05pm and I felt completely burnt out! There were still loads of cars in the carpark - several people would be walking back in complete blackness. Got home late.

Looking through my Peterson Guide and my photos - the flycatcher didn't have enough yellowish underparts to be "yellow bellied", but which of the others it is - I'll leave that to the experts! It did look yellowish in the field though!


All pictures only slightly sharpened - no colour adjustments etc - took 220 pictures!

Also see Julian Bhalerao's pictures on

Birders watching the Alder/Willow Flycatcher in 'The Plantation.

Lee Evans collapses with relief after ticking the bird and shelters from the driving rain!

Happy Birders!

Birders watching the Alder/Willow Flycatcher in 'The Plantation.

HUGE THANKS to James McCallum and Paul Nichols
for finding the bird - Congratulations!

Also see very interesting ID information for various flycatchers

Friday 24 September 2010

Hard core weekend ahead!

There has been a massive seabird passage from Cley and Sheringham today including Sabine's Gull, Leachs' Petrols, Long tailed Skuas, Manx Shearwaters, Puffins, Arctics and Bonxies etc etc!!!

Its going to be a hard-core birding weekend!!!!!!!

Fungi Foray at Work!!!

Fly Agaric


Fly Agaric



Fly Agaric




Fly Agaric


All taken with my Apple iphone 3GS

Will try and ID the others another day, but need to get some sleep now as big weekend ahead!

I have never seen such a fascinating fungi collection in such a small area as I found at work today. All these fungi were in one small area of grass under birches and a large fir tree. Took these pictures in the pouring rain on route to running to the car in my lunch. Sitting in the car I looked at the RBA website to see what sea passage I had been missing out on today!

See also my post on 6th September of a huge toadstool in the same patch of grass as today!

Trailer for the BBC4 Twitchers Documentary

Trailer for the BBC 4 "Twitchers A Very British Obsession"

Thursday 23 September 2010

Hot weekend coming up!!!

Potentially looking brilliant for the weekend!!!

Seawatching Friday and Saturday

Passerines on Sunday and all next week for those that are not at work (sadly not me).

Good news for me is - I am NOT working Sunday AND I am starting work late Monday morning, so a whole weekend's birding coming up and if anyone puts anything out mega late on Sunday night I can be out at dawn on Monday aswell!!!

N on Friday

NNW on Saturday

NE/NNE on Sunday

Monday 20 September 2010

Abbey Farm, Flitcham

After a 'Monday' at work I needed to escape!

Arrived at Abbey Farm Hide at Flitcham at 6.35pm.

Not too much about really, but I counted exactly 40 moorhens on site! The usual mallards, coots, egyptian geese, pheasant, robin, a few hirundines etc. Then things really started to hot up! A marsh harrier came into roost in the semi darkness and several bats appeared. I had the camera in my hand with the wide angle lens attached, messing about taking rubbish landscape shots, when suddenly a little owl landed on the big fat post no more than 20 yards in front of me!!! I froze. Wow - it was awesome to watch it this close! There I was with the bloody landscape lens on the camera and the 300mm sat neatly in the camera bag - hmmmm.... would I be lucky enough to swop it over?...... I moved soooo slowly - the owl then turned and fixed his eyes on mine and I just knew my luck was about to run out... the owl didn't even give me the chance to remove the lens, never mind attach the 300mm lens!!! The owl left the post! As Victor Meldrew says 'I don't believeeeeeee it!

Its so frustrating now the evenings are getting shorter and shorter but it was certainly worth leaving the house for, even though I only had an hour of light - to see that little owl land on the post was definately the most magical moment of the day!

Saturday 18 September 2010

Two Barred Warblers and Pinkfeet arrival!!!

Barred Warbler, Dell Hide in front of 'Fred's Pool', HBO.

Arrived Holme Reserves at 9.15am.

Beautiful, sunny day but quite cold due to the NW winds. Had a good look round the back of the pines to have a final look for the Arctic Warbler, but no sign at all - Connor was also looking. A couple of goldcrests appeared, wren, usual tit flock, but not alot else. Walked round to observatory and had just sat myself down on the seat in the sunshine when Jed called out 'Barred Warbler' just in front of the Dell hide (just in front of 'Fred's Pool' as my father and I always called it affectionately, as Fred Britton built it). The Barred Warbler gave brief views through the gaps of the wood panels to right of the hide, but you can't photograph through these, so I dived into the hide to get the hot seat and I sat there from 11.00am when I first saw the Barred Warbler until 1.35pm - this paid off as I got some decent shots at 11.49am although all shots had annoying pieces of grasses/reed in front of the bird! Lots of Coal Tits and Goldfinches on the Feeders, several chaffinches, hedge sparrows, a moorhen and a pheasant added to the scene. My first skein of Pinkfeet arrived in blue skies flying east at 12.35pm as I sat in the hide. The warbler seemed to disappear, so I gave up waiting for better shots and walked round to the observatory where a lady called Jo alerted me to 7 Common Buzzards circling round in the blue skies at 1.40pm. Photographed a beautiful Migrant Hawker by the Obs. pond (someone tell me if I am wrong!).

Goldfinch, Dell Hide in front of 'Fred's Pool', HBO.

Coal Tit, Dell Hide in front of 'Fred's Pool', HBO.

Pinkfeet flying east over Holme Bird Observatory.

Migrant Hawker by the pond at Holme Bird Observatory.

Walked back to NOA carpark via The Firs to say hello to Pat and buy a bar of NWT chocolate! Bumped into Dave Holman who had come to look for the Barred Warbler.

Redwell Marsh Hide - nothing at all of note apart from a few Teal and a Hare - in fact I have never seen so little here!

Hare at Redwell Marsh Hide NOA, Holme.

Visited to my parents and was kindly given apples and tomatoes from the garden. No phone signal here at all, so didn't realise until I got a few miles along the coast road that there was a Barred Warbler at Warham. Trundled along (well kind of!) the A149 and parked at Stiffkey Campsite carpark and recognised several familiar cars here! On route to Stiffkey I observed several skeins of Pink footed geese. Made my way west along the path to approx. 100 yards past the whirlygig, to find a handful of birders including Eddie M. and Carl C. watching a VERY elusive Barred Warbler - the light was shockingly bad now BUT I very luckily got some record shots! Every so often it would pop out to eat some elderberries and then dive back in to the thickest part of the bush! Saw it intially at around 5.15pm and then very good views at around 5.50pm.

Barred Warbler, Wareham Greens, Stiffkey.

Cley Coastguards with other regulars for a last minute seawatch just in case a Fea's Petrol flew past!!!! (Ha ha!) Nothing was seen apart from a few terns going west. Enjoyed the last of my chocolate and a sandwich.

On the way home I dropped a birthday card in to Pete S. - HAPPY BIRTHDAY PETE!

Arrived home 8.45pm.