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Saturday 25 February 2012

NATURE NOTES - Peter Clarke - Lynn News

Seawatching Extravaganza!!!

The day started with sightings of a Camel and Zebra, grazing in a field at Knights Hill roundabout, King's Lynn – seriously!!! (Circus in town)

Got the first bus at 6.55am to Hunstanton and then the first Coastliner bus to Titchwell arriving at 8.03am.

Titchwell RSPB
It was wonderful to be out early, the sun was shining with blue skies and it was a beautiful crisp start to the day. 4 grey partridges plummeted from the field by the main road as I got off the bus. I meandered round the carpark before going to catch the high tide at 8.22am. I had fabulous views of 2 pairs of bullfinches all sitting together in the same tree in the far carpark - couldn't get the camera out of rucksack quick enough for a picture though! Loads of pink footed geese, greylags and canada's in the ploughed field adjacent to last carpark and also several red-legged partridges and 2 black pheasants!.

Walking through the picnic area produced the usual fluffy robins, long tailed tits, great and blue tits, hedge sparrows, blackbirds, 2 wrens and chaffinches. By the feeders next to the cafe a Song Thrush was foraging for food, which I spent some time photographing. The main feeders produced the usual greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches etc. Around the Fen Trail a Cetti's Warbler was heard. Nothing of note from the Fen Hide. 4 Carrion crows flew over north west. Along the main path I watched at least 4 Lesser Redpolls in the Alders west of the path. Near Island hide I heard a Bearded Tit 'pinging'. 2 Avocets were on a shallow pool on the west side of the path.

Seawatching 9.25am-11.15am.
This was one of the best seawatching stints I have had at Titchwell for a long time!

4 Eider (flying east)
9 Goldeneye, then stopped counting as dotted all over the sea!
1 Scaup (sitting on sea with goldeneye)
2 Velvet Scoter (on sea)
5 Long-tailed Ducks
1 Red-throated Diver
1 Black-throated Diver (sitting on sea and then took off)
5 Red-breasted Mergansers (landed on sea)
2 Slavonian Grebes (on sea)
1 Red-necked Grebe (on sea)
1 Great Crested Grebe
3 Razorbills
2 Guillemots
1 Fulmar
6 Shelduck
35 Sanderlings
2 Ringed Plovers (feeding along the shore)
2 Lapland Buntings at 10.05am, picked up by Tony (RSPB volunteer, can't remember his surname) coming in off the sea and flew almost over our heads!!!

I attempted to photograph the long-tailed ducks, but realised that they were still way too far off for my lens! Loads of oystercatchers sitting on the shore towards Brancaster. I crossed the wet sands and walked for what seemed like miles to watch 5 Common Seals basking in the sunshine – rubbish photographs though, as the sun was directly behind them. It was such a beautiful day, it almost felt like summer. I walked over the dune ridge to get out of the wind and sat in the marram grass to eat my sandwiches. A skylark serenaded me, ascending into blue, cloudless skies. It would have been very easy to have 40 winks here! I plodded back over the sands to RSPB Titchwell. I half expected this long walk to produce some snow buntings, but none were seen. Tons of razorshells on the beach.

Back along the main path I sat on the concrete block not far from the boarded section that runs up to the beach, to sit and wait for a possible chiffchaff to appear. I was told earlier that an 'interesting' chiffchaff has been appearing here over the last 4 weeks and it had been seen earlier this morning. I sat for ages gazing into the sueda bushes, stood, walked about, sat, 'pished', squeaked and all kinds, but no chiffchaff appeared for me! I continued along the path and watched a black-tailed godwit close to the path, 2 spotted redshanks and 2 reed buntings. From Parrinder Hide I saw several pintail, teal, mallard, shoveler etc, redshanks, black headed gulls, 23 Avocets, 2 snipe, marsh harrier and a single pied wagtail. People had been watching 5 bean geese amongst the pink footed geese on the marsh west of main path, but I couldn't see any when I looked. Walked to the 'Feeding Station and sat outside eating a vege pasty and succumbed to a piece of carrot cake and a cup of tea. Whilst sitting here I watched (presumably) the same song thrush I had seen early this morning by the feeders. Walked round the Fen Trail again and saw very little from the Fen hide. Back onto the main path I had a brief but good view of a Bittern flying east over the main path at 3.50pm! Walked back to the carparks and counted 75 Lapwings in the large ploughed field! Raced to the bus stop to catch the 4.10pm bus to Holme - it was 20 minutes late and not only was it full, but people were standing all along the aisle! Got off at Holme and walked to Holme Marsh Reserve.

Holme Marsh Reserve
As soon as I walked through the first kissing gate I had fabulous views of a Short-eared Owl over my head at 4.45pm!!! From the first and second hide: gadwall, pochard, tufted ducks, shelducks, teal and mallard. A Tawny Owl was heard distantly.

Walked to my parents house to visit them for a short while. Father had his second cataract removed a few days ago, which had been extremely painful, unlike the first one where he experienced almost no pain at all. He seemed more settled today, but hadn't really noticed a massive difference in his vision so far. He very clearly informed mother and I, that he would NOT be going back to the hospital for any other treatment or check-ups!!! Also on the subject of father - the Lynn News seemed to have stopped adding his last two or three "NATURE NOTES" to their website, so I have not been able to link them on my blog - I have emailed them to ask why, but still have not received a reply. Yesterday's Nature Notes is added to the website I have just noticed, so have linked this in my next post.

I caught the last bus home arriving back in my house at 7.30pm and fell asleep!


Friday 24 February 2012

Penelope Pitstop on the road soon!!!

Pity the Skoda doesn't look like this!!!

Had some exciting news today - my new car has arrived at the garage - Wahooooooooo!!!!! It has to be registered yet etc etc so hopefully will be on the road by middle/end of March, ready for spring migration!!!

Five Glossy Ibises!!!

Five Glossy Ibises at Berney Marshes RSPB, Norfolk yesterday. No sightings today so far.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

White-tailed Eagle!!!

Yesterday - A149 just south of Ormesby St Margaret and this morning near Stalham, although not seen since 8.30am.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Lots of miles walked for little return!

You know there's not much around when RBA only have 12 messages for Norfolk!!! Coues's Arctic Redpolls at Titchwell and Kelling, Rough-legged Buzzard at Dersingham, a Great White Egret at Colney and an Osprey at Marlingford were the highlights in Norfolk today.

Arrived at Holme via the Coastliner bus to drop shopping at my parents. A dull, rainy day. Walked through the village, across NOA Redwell Marsh and only saw 2 Egyptian Geese on route. Walked to Gore Point and saw a single oystercatcher - continued through the NWT Forestry - where I saw a meadow pipit – yep that was the only bird! I have never seen so few birds around! Walked down to the NWT Firs and continued walking through to H.B.O. and sat in the Dell Hide having my lunch - birds seen at the feeders and around from the hide were: 3 blue tits, 1 great tit, 1 coal tit, 3 hedge sparrows and a song thrush feeding under the brambles in the now pouring rain. Walked into the observatory and had a nice chat with Sophie and then continued my walk along the coastal path along Thornham Bank. Several tufted duck and shoveler on the broadwater. Walked up to Thornham harbour where there were 3 skylarks, one of which was singing away high up in the sky, which made me think of summer days – 3 curlew, 3 shelduck, 4 redshanks and 3 red-legged partridges. Also 14 bar-tailed godwits by the sluice. Loads of distant brent geese, gulls and waders by Thornham Point. Walked past the coal barn and then turned east along the path through the reed beds and over the wooden bridge by the big copse – here I saw my first snowdrops. Continued along the road to the bus stop at Thornham to catch the coastliner bus to Titchwell RSPB arriving at 3.20pm. Loads of snowdrops on the path near the picnic area and the usual robins. On my arrival at Titchwell the sun came out and everything looked beautiful – this cheered me up, as the day had been pretty dismal up until now. At the beginning of the main path a barn owl sat on a fence post close to the path and a water rail was under the main feeders. Further along the path a great crested grebe was in one of the channels and a marsh harrier glinted with gold and bronze as it glided over the reed beds. A nice surprise on the tidal marsh of a pair of goldeneye and also several more on the sea. There were loads of waders on the shore in beautiful light, including sanderling, redshanks, ringed plover, oystercatchers, gulls etc. Apart from goldeneye and gulls I couldn't see anything else sitting on the sea. Several other birders here and no one could see any long-tailed ducks whilst I was here, but they had been seen this morning. I wanted to go into Parrinder hide on the way back, but alas I had to speed walk to catch the 5.11pm bus as the next and last bus was 6.23pm and I didn't fancy hanging around Titchwell in the dark!

Norfolk’s rich pond heritage gets new lease of life - Farming news - Eastern Daily Press

Norfolk’s rich pond heritage gets new lease of life - Farming news - Eastern Daily Press

Sunday 12 February 2012


For the past few days I have been receiving tons and tons of exactly the same emails. It is driving me crazy. Yesterday I received around 70. I have never had this kind of problem before. I have to spend ages deleting them all on the iphone as well!!! Today I have received 101 emails which are titled the following:

"Delivery Status Notification (Failure) Inbox" etc etc etc


Saturday 11 February 2012

Titchwell RSPB - a glittery world of ice and birds!!!

I got up very early this morning. Left the house at 6.15am and went to buy newspapers for my parents. It was unbelievably cold - I had every layer on imaginable. I caught an early bus to Hunstanton and then caught the Coastliner bus to Holme to deliver newspapers, arriving at 7.55am. My mother seems to have an adopted a stray cat which now has first choice of where to sit! Father was very fed up with the icy weather and stated that he had not been out of the house for 11 days due to the fact the road where they live, is still compacted ice. Had breakfast with my parents and then caught the next Coastliner bus to Titchwell RSPB arriving at 9.20am.

Titchwell RSPB
My Russian Style Cossack Hat I bought a year ago is so warm - I just love this hat and its also a good disguise - I said hello to several people today who didn't respond back how they normally would - they didn't know it was me! Anyway I started walking along the main path - glittering white snow and frost blanketed everything and the sun was shining brightly with blue skies. Eddie joined me half way along the path. Mealy and Lesser Redpolls were feeding on the Alders on the main path near the visitor centre. Goldfinches were feeding next to the path and also several meadow pipits and reed buntings were seen and of course several cute robins. The fresh marsh was completely frozen over and looked amazing, although I am sure the birds didn't think so! Two Chinese Water Deer were on the west side of the main path.

From the sea we had stunning views in the sunshine of 5 Long-tailed Ducks, 6 Velvet Scoters, tons of Golden Eye, 5 Eiders, a Great Crested Grebe, Sanderlings, 2 Ringed Plovers, Grey Plover etc. Standing on the viewing platform I attempted to stab my walking pole into the sand to balance my scope on (too much to carry tripod on bus/walk aswell) when I discovered that the sand was frozen!!!!! I have never seen the sand like that before! We walked back along the main path to watch 3 beautiful Smew on the Volunteer Marsh, a 1st winter drake along with 2 red heads at 11.10am and also close enough to get some record shots! Further along the path we watched along with others a Bittern on the Thornham pool - there were three at one point apparently! Couple of grey herons there also.

Had an early lunch in the Feeding Station - I am normally hard core and sit outside, but it was a joy to sit inside today!

Burnham Overy Staithe
Quick stop here to see if there were any rough-legged buzzards. A female Peregrine was seen over Holkham pines. Paul Lee was here, who is 60 tomorrow Eddie told me - you don't look it! - Happy Birthday for tomorrow.

Holkham Lake

I have not been here for a long time - it was a beautiful walk. The carpark is still free - hope its stays that way! The path to the lake held several woodland species including nuthatch (heard) and several treecreepers, although no woodpeckers were seen or heard at all. Fieldfare, redwings, mistle thrush and chaffinches were also seen along with loads of deer grazing and looking very photogenic in the snow by the hall. On the lake by the hall were a mass of wildfowl including loads of pochard, tufted duck, mallard etc, but nothing more excting. A few egyptian geese around too. I then had one of my best wildlife experiences ever - we followed the path along the lake and I suddenly spotted a Woodcock sitting inches from the path up ahead - I spent a long time stalking it and got so close with the camera that I filled the frame - it was magical being so close to this beautiful bird - its beady eye was keeping a close eye on me though - it eventually flew off into the woodland.

Common Buzzard seen along Beach Road. On the boating lake by the carpark we had fabulous views in the setting sun of 4 Red-headed Smew and also 5 Goosander (1 drake) along with 5 little grebes and loads of mallards. We were really chuffed with finding these birds here as RBA had a report earlier that the lake was frozen solid with no birds - the water had since melted enough in places for the smew and goosanders to return.

Stiffkey Campsite Carpark.
Got here a bit too late really, but did see a barn owl, whilst drinking coffee.

I got the 5.43pm Coastliner bus from Stiffkey, arriving back in King's Lynn at 7.10pm and then had a 20 minute walk home. Fell asleep as soon as I got in!

The Met Office reported: "Temperatures on Friday night fell widely below minus 10 degrees Celsius across parts of southern and eastern England with Holbeach in Lincolnshire recording a minimum -15.6C, making it the coldest night of the winter across the UK so far and also the coldest night since Boxing Day 2010."


First ever killer whale sighting off Norfolk, at Sheringham - News - Eastern Daily Press

First ever killer whale sighting off Norfolk, at Sheringham - News - Eastern Daily Press

Thursday 9 February 2012

Killer Whale seen off Sheringham, Norfolk!!!!

News about this from "Rare Bird Alert" "Killer Whale east past Sheringham at 8.15am" today. Wow what a sight that must have been - a female, seen by Giles Dunmore (ex Norfolk County Bird Recorder) and Phil Vines. See here:

Heavy snow again late afternoon and its still snowing now at 10.30pm - looks like another trudge in the snow to work again in the morning!

Its my mother's birthday today and my sister Lucy's tomorrow - expensive time in February! Currently baking a chocolate cake for Lucy.

Norfolk Bird News
Some really good birds around in Norfolk the last few days with good numbers of Smew around the county including 23 at Saddlebow in King's Lynn yesterday and a count of 19 today. Also 3 smew at Wells, 2 at Hickling, 3 at Downham Market, 1 at Whitlingham Country Park. Rough-legged buzzard at Holme and Holkham. 2 Firecrests and 4 Shorelarks at Holkham. 440+ Red-throated divers (incl 391 west in 30 mins) off Titchwell!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 Twite at Cley. 2 Ross's Geese at Holme. 35 Waxwings at Great Walsingham. Also 22 Goosander on Wells boating lake today see here. Also 25 Goosander at Downham Mkt (Relief Channel) on the Nar Valley website!!! Also more smew counts from the narvalley email group!

Sunday 5 February 2012

10 inches of Snow!!!

When I opened the front door - snow fell in! It took me an hour to walk to work this morning and I was late. It was seriously hard work walking through 10 inches of snow on the pavements. Not snowing this morning though and hopefully it won't! I don't think we need any more today!

I was supposed to be working until 9pm but I couldn't go on any longer and asked to finish at 8pm - took me 20 minutes to get dressed up for the walk with wellies etc and it took the slightly less time of 40 minutes to walk home. No more snow had fell since this morning, but with fog and ice predicted for the morning I will have to allow at least an hour to walk to work.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Snowed in!!!

I awoke to a magical, sunny, sparkly white scene - the heaviest frost I have seen lately. I didn't hurry this morning as I was birthday shopping for my mother and Lucy, so knew I wouldn't get much birding done. Topped up the bird feeders and table and bashed out the solid block of ice from the bird bath. Put a second bath outside and filled that one with warm water - I read somewhere that birds love to bathe in warm water in this kind of weather and why not! Whilst having my breakfast I sat and watched a good selection of birds in my garden: a song thrush, 2 robins, collared dove, wood pigeons, hedge sparrow, blue tit, blackbirds and 2 starlings who ate my daily ration of meal worms at a tremendous speed! The robins raided the raisons first, almost as soon as I had shut the patio door!

Walked into town to buy presents and do some errands and then ended up in the Wimpy, which actually was really nice - nice because a plate of food was put in front of me and I haven't cooked it and because it was relaxing sitting and people watching. I know a fast food take away is not exactly the Ritz but I prefer simple food and you can't beat fried eggs, hash brown and beans with toast and a cup of tea! All good for the waistline! Its pretty hectic at work at the moment and I tend to get quite stressed and very emotionally involved with my job - probably too much so. My one day off needs to be relaxing!

Caught the 1.30pm Coastliner bus to Holme to deliver mother's presents. As the bus arrived at Hunstanton I noticed that there was a light covering of snow, which I hadn't expected as King's Lynn was clear of snow. I had a really nice time chatting with my parents. At 3.30pm I decided to go for a walk in Holme. I walked along the main road and down Eastgate and past the church - a green woodpecker was feeding in the churchyard and a large flock of goldfinches were in a tree. Next to the church is my old primary school, which is now a weekend cottage. I have such fond memories of this little school. I continued to the junction with Peddars Way and walked north along 'Busseys Lane' and through 'NOA Redwell Marsh' to the pay hut and along the boardwalk path to 'Gore Point' and across the beach to the seas's edge. Good numbers of lapwing on the marsh and a marsh harrier distantly, but little else. From the boardwalk I watched a short-eared owl and a barn owl hunting over Holme marsh and 15 curlew flew over towards the 'Saltings'. On the shore there were sanderling, oystercatchers, redshanks, herring and black headed gulls etc. A group of what looked like eiders were sitting mid-distance on the sea, but with now fading light I couldn't be sure and also I didn't have my scope with me. The dunes had a good sprinkling of snow which made the beach look very atmospheric. The walk along the beach was so peaceful, there wasn't another person or dog in sight - a rare occurence! I walked back the same way and heard a tawny owl on route. I arrived back at my parents house just in time to pick up Lucy's presents (from my parents) and walk to the crossroads to catch the Coastliner back to King's Lynn. Still no sign of snow. I had another 25 minute walk to my house from where the bus dropped me.

7.45pm - snow started to fall. After dinner I baked a chocolate cake - a practice one before I make another for my sister's birthday next Friday. A major blizzard outside and several inches building up - can't see the cars by 10pm. 12am - just measured outside, there are 6 inches so far and its still falling heavily. Can't see the bird baths at all! Looks like I will be walking to work in wellingtons in the morning - bother!!! Also means my shifts will be seriously hard work as loads of staff won't be able to get in!


Friday 3 February 2012