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Wednesday 31 October 2012

RBA Weekly Round-up 24th-30th October

Two hours Birding

Several jobs to do today including taking my mother's cycle for repair and service at A E Wallis at Heacham. My parents both insisted that the bike would not fit in my 'tiny little car'. I insisted that it would. I was right, but it only just fitted in the back of the Skoda though! I was very impressed with the shop's service – they completed the work this afternoon and I picked up the bike at the end of the day.

I only managed to get out birding for a couple of hours today. I walked from Brancaster Staithe along the coastal footpath to Brancaster and back and had the grand total of 6 blackbirds, 1 robin and 3 little egrets. Poor old show of birds. Very strong, blustery south winds and no sun when I was out. I checked out the Waxwings at Beach Road, Holme, but coudn't find them anywhere.

It's my father's birthday on Friday and he will be 86 – he said he doesn't want any presents and doesn't want to do anything nice. His stubbornness has increased even more since his stroke, it is so very sad they he doesn't want to do anything at all nowadays, both mother and I find it so frustrating. We are constantly attempting to get him interested in doing things, but he's not having none of it. He was so active pre-stroke and was constantly a busy bee. To be fair his eyesight is getting worse because of his macular degeneration which doesn't help either. I do sometimes get him laughing, although not very much nowadays. Everything that is offered to help him and improve his wellbeing is turned down, exasperating!

As I returned home this evening, I had forgotten it was Halloween and as I turned into the estate where I live there, were lots of witches, goblins and ghouls with buckets for their treats.  I just managed to get in the house and keep the lights turned out until they had all disappeared!

I noticed that Andy Brown reported 37 Shags coming in to roost at Hunstanton Cliffs yesterday - Wow what a record! I must go and see this spectacle before the end of my holiday. I had planned to go this evening, but by the time I picked up mother's bike the light had just disappeared completely. I just hate these short days – roll on spring!

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Richard's Pipit at West Runton
Shorelark at Holkham and also at Cley
White-rumped Sandpiper x 2 at Cley
Common Rosefinch at Winterton
Waxwings x 16 at Holme
Little Auks x 2 at Salthouse
Black Redstart at 'Cleyspy', Cley
Black Redstart at Heacham
Snowbuntings at Titchwell and Cley
Firecrest at Wells

Tuesday 30 October 2012


A foggy start to the day, but the fog soon cleared and the rest of the day developed into blue skies and glorious sunshine.

Parked up on the concrete pad along the West Track at Warham and walked along the track. Lots of blackbirds, redwings and robins feeding amongst the autumn leaves, all along the track. On the way out to East Hills I saw lots of brent geese, several little egrets, curlew and redshank. It was not the easiest of walks out there today, the footpaths were immeresed by water most of the way out, but fortunately I didn't fall at all this time! The creeks had more water in than usual too. It really was like a summer's day, the sun felt warm and there were good numbers of meadow pipits and skylarks flying over. As I reached the dune ridge I could see a marsh harrier and a hen harrier over the pines. At the sycamore glade there were two chiffchaffs, several goldcrests, a couple of wrens, two chaffinches and a few robins. Two sparrowhawks were seen flying west. At least 50+ Blackbirds out here and approx 20 Redwings and a few fieldfare were heard 'chacking'. As I came out of the sycamore glade my heart was racing when I spotted a male Peregrine sitting in a tall pine tree - wow this bird was stunning. I pointed the camera to where I thought the bird was sitting and for some annoying reason I couldn't locate the bird with my lens - after the third attempt, I had been rumbled - this beautiful bird had seen me, took off and left me with no picture at all on the camera. It would have made an awesome picture – so annoyed with myself. Anyway, three carrion crows flew over east and several blackbirds were flying overhead towards Wells. There were lots of fascinating fungi and toodstools out here, a bumblebee and a peacock butterfly. I turned round sharply when I heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling – the bird was bounding over the salt marsh and landed into the sycamore tree, not from where I was standing. Got some half decent pictures of the woodpecker which I was quite pleased with. I sat on the fishing box for my lunch and then slowly walked back. On the most northerly edge of the dunes I flushed a Woodcock which made both the bird and me jump! Back in the sycamore glade the goldcrests had increased in numbers, but nothing else of note was seen. Packed the camera away and proceeded to cross the beach, big creek and watery paths and smaller creeks back to base. Makes it sound like an expedition – well it is out here! You have to know the way, be very careful with the tides, be very careful where you tread and pray you don't have fog on the way back! More meadow pipits and skylarks on the way back, along with little egrets flying across the blue skies – it didn't feel like late October at all. Back at the north end of the West Track there was a tit flock, but nothing exciting with them. Several blackbirds and redwings were in the copse by the end of the track. Back at the car I battled to get the wellingtons off, changed socks and put my walking boots back on. My feet always ache badly after walking East Hills – wearing wellingtons for several miles, doesn't do your feet much good – it felt so lovely to get my walking boots back on for the rest of the afternoon.

Holkham Pines
I parked at the top of Lady Anne's Drive and a very nice person gave me their all day ticket as they were leaving – lucky me! Although I wasn't lucky with the Pallas's Warbler – I dipped again! Two jays were having a wash 'n' brush up by a puddle in the middle of the path as I walked along. I had wonderful views of a very bright male bullfinch by the pond near Joe Jordan's Hide. Several people were standing around in hope of seeing the Pallas's including John F. who had already seen and photographed it! There were a thousand plus starlings gathering to roost on a large hawthorn, opposite Washington hide in the evening – I love starlings I find them such fascinating birds - the different colour variations, their behaviour and their calls. At the Salt hole there were two little grebes and the most glorious magenta pink sunset, silhouetting over the ripples of the pond. Several redwings were seen searching for food amongst fallen leaves under the Holm Oaks and a Muntjac ran across the path.


Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Good numbers  of Waxwings throughout Norfolk today.

GREAT WHITE EGRET over Salthouse
Pallas's Warbler remains at Holkham
Shorelark at Salthouse
Richard's Pipit at West Runton
Peregrine at East Hills
Little Auks at Holme and Titchwell

Monday 29 October 2012


Blimey, the size of this hurricane is beyond belief!!!

Not bad for a Monday!

 Hare soaking up the sun at Burnham Overy.

Parked at Holkam in a 'free' space and walked down to the bus stop. Eddie also has this week off as holiday, so we decided to team up today and find some birds. I caught the coastliner bus from the main road, (which Eddie was on from Cley) and we got off at Burnham Overy to walk down the track to Gun Hill. Loads of blackbirds, redwings, fieldfares and robins scattering along the track. Just where the track opens out, a beautiful hare was lounging in the long grass in the sunshine, warming his whiskers – he was totally unaware of our presence. We stalked him and got some fabulous pictures. There were some greenfinches drinking from a puddle on the path. A huge 100+ flock of lapwing flew over west. Birds seen on route to the bushes at the end of the sea wall: reed buntings, house sparrows, bearded tits (heard), pink-footed geese, redshanks, more thrushes were seen all along the seawall. In the apple tree at the end of the bank there were a couple of house sparrows and a song thrush.

The lower path which runs alongside the sueda leading up to Gun Hill was alive with blackbirds, redwings, fieldfares, robins and a few reed buntings. A good number of skylarks were flying over too. Apart from a single robin there wasn't any other birds in the bushes on the seaward side of Gun Hill. Stopped here for a coffee break and then continued on through the dunes. We were surprised to see a peacock butterfly and a comma in the dunes! Apart from a few more blackbirds we didn't see anything else in the dunes.

We searched for the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll and looked in the same spot I photographed it, but no luck. A Short-eared Owl appeared over the dune ridge and then disappeared over the west end of the pines. We then walked through the pines and came out at the cross tracks. I said to Eddie 'we need to go and look in the pond area for the Pallas's' - as we started to walk along the path adjacent to Joe Jordan's hide, Andrew Bloomfield said 'the Pallas's Warbler is just round the corner by the pond' – we thanked him and quickened our pace. Steve Gantlett appeared and overtook us on route to the pond! There was no Pallas's Warbler to be seen when we got there! We stood and walked round here for ages looking for the bird, as did quite a few other people, but no luck at all sadly. A female blackcap, lots of goldcrests, a couple of chiffchaffs, great, blue and great tits, oh and some long-tailed tits were seen and also a barn owl. Eddie found a ring ouzel round the corner, which I didn't see. Suddenly without more than a few seconds warning it started raining heavily. Trudged back to Lady Anne's Drive with several other birders. Eddie got a lift home with Paul L. and I went to visit my parent's at Holme before returning home. On route a massive, several thousand strong flock of starlings flew across the road north towards Warham Greens and I saw a Woodcock fly over the road at Burnham Norton on the way to Holme.

 Hare soaking up the sun at Burnham Overy.

 Pink-footed Geese flying west over Gun Hill.

 House Sparrow, Burnham Overy Dunes.

 Peacock Butterfly, Burnham Overy Dunes.

 Skylarks at Gun Hill.

Redwing at Gun Hill.

 Eddie Myers at Gun Hill.

Little Egret at Burnham Overy Staithe. (taken semi-dusk)

Main Highlights in Norfolk - RBA
Several black redstarts, waxwings and ring ouzels along the coast today.

DUSKY WARBLER at Lynford Aboretum
PALLAS'S WARBLER and Yellow-browed Warbler x 2 at Holkham
Black Guillemot and Shorelark at Salthouse
White-rumped Sandpiper at Cley
Little Auk on sea at Cley

Sunday 28 October 2012

Barred Warbler highlights the day!!!


As I arrived in Cley, the pager bleeped up with "Barred Warbler" in garden opposite the duck pond at Salthouse. This bird was such a poser, the most attention seeking Barred I have ever seen. Got some cracking pictures even though the light wasn't brilliant. It entertained many people throughout the day. I'm sure there are some cracking pictures of this bird on the net. News of a Pallas's Warbler at Holkham led me to Walsey Hills NOA to find my own. Spent a long time skulking about in here, found a chiffchaff and two goldcrests, but nothing else really of note.

 Eating a Wasp!


Had soup and bread at the NWT Visitor Centre and had a look through the Norfolk Bird & Mammal Report to see how my pictures had come out, as not received my copy yet. It was a lovely surprise to see that I have three half page pictures in the report, along with a few others!

Gramborough Hill - a song thrush and a robin were the only birds seen here. The sea was like a mill pond, what a different scene from last night's raging seas! Walked with Julian B. and Pete S. to find out why there were a big line of birders with scopes looking at the shingle, west of the Beach Road, to find out there were watching two Shorelarks. We only saw one distantly whilst here, on an island the other side of the low fence, still nice to see though.

Warham, West Track - it was raining and the light was started to fade. Loads of blackbirds, approximately 50+ scattering along the track and a lovely surprise of a Woodcock briefly sitting on the track before if flew. A few redwings and fieldfares were also seen. In the ploughed field east of the track I watched approx. 3000 starlings feeding, creating a huge amazing pattern - the pattern changed shape and moved slowly to my right! Incredible to watch, it really was. I walked as far at the 'pit' and scattered more blackbirds on route and at least another 50+ blackbirds and a few redwings and fieldfares were in the pit. 9 grey partridge were feeding in a field and a hare lolloped across the marsh. My bins had misted up, so couldn't see properly through them. I was surprised I didn't see any owls or harriers whilst here, but still a nice selection of birds. Walked back to my car in the rain.

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Several Waxwings along the coast today, along with black redstarts, Short-eared Owls, Snowbuntings, Yellow-browed Warblers. No sign of either the Little Bunting or the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll today. 

Barred Warbler at Salthouse
Pallas's Warbler and YBW at Holkham
Shorelarks x 2 at Little Eye, Salthouse
Little Auk x 17, White-rumped Sandpiper at Cley
Common Rosefinch at Ormesby St Margaret
Olive-backed Pipit at Holkham
Siberian Chiffchaff at Cley
Little Auk x 28, Black Guillemot on sea at Sheringham
Waxwings x 19 at Holme
Black Tern at Narborough

Saturday 27 October 2012

MEGA!!! Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll!!!


Today didn't go to plan at all. An expensive start to the day and a magical end!!!

I went to bed far too late last night and equally got up far too late, so late I don't want to confess how late! So that completely messed up my early morning sea watch. I decided not to get down in the dumps about it and carried on with other stuff I had to sort aswell. Went to Holt to buy a boot jack for my East Hills wellingtons. I can't get my size 4 1/2 wellies off without a boot jack and I broke the cheap one I had, the last time I tried to get the boots off! Popped into Holt and bought a new one from Bakers and Larners. There was no news on the pager of the Little Bunting that would have been nice to see today.

Next stop was CleySpy to look at their range of coats. I don't know why I bothered trying on other makes, I knew I would succumb to the Paramo Halcon Jacket. This coat is awesome. Yes it costs an absolute fortune, but when I stood at Cley Coastguards later, I couldn't feel the cold or the wind and its not a thick coat either! I was wearing a long sleeved thermal, a Montane Featherlite Smock (which is silk and wafer thin), a fleece over that, the Paramo and I was toasty warm! I was also very tempted by a secondhand pair of Swaroski bins EL 8.5x42 whilst I was there. I wondered why my Leica BN 8x32 bins misted up when it rained, when one of the Cleyspy guys told me I hadn't got any coatings on one of the lenses at all!!! I hadn't even realised. I am seriously thinking about buying these bins, just waiting for them to find out how old they actually are, so I know how much warrantee is left. I was quite shocked to hear the new Swaros only have a 10 year guarantee - that's absolutely crap for the money you have to pay for the new ones! The Swaros I liked were obviously heavier than my Leicas, but they were just awesome! I was a seriously long time in the shop and sat outside in the car for a long time, trying to decide about these binoculars before I left. The Little Bunting had now been seen again, I noticed on the pager. I wanted to see this bird, but I also wanted to go sea watching, so off I went to Cley. I wasn't at coastguards very long. Said hello to Pete S. and Eddie - had just set the scope up when the pager bleeped up with Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll! John F. phoned me to say I needed to go and see it as it was described as stunning bird by birders on site. So packed up stuff in car again and went to Holkham. Just by the sluice along Beach Road, Cley a couple of birders had seen a single Shorelark, but it disappeared just as quickly when I got out of the car to look!

I broke my rules about paying at Holkham, didn't have much choice really! Drove right up the top of Lady Anne's Drive and paid £3.00 for two hours parking and walked as fast as I could. Directions to the bird: Follow the path west from Lady's Ann's to Washington Hide (on right) and then take the boardwalk path that goes to the beach, when the path splits off left through the pines, follow this and keep walking until you reach a path forking off right, back onto the dune side. Cross over the dunes and (downhill) to where there are a couple of pines and sea buckthorn and the bird is feeding on the short, mossy grass/dune area. Wow, this bird was spectacular and reminded me of one I found on Fair Isle before breakfast one morning in 2005 (I think it was). It was raining heavily at one point whilst here and I was exposing my new camera to the rain again! I made sure I didn't expose it too long though! I must get myself one of those waterproof covers! I note on Birdforum there are reports that photographers flushed the bird for people arriving later. This was NOT the case at all. I saw the HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL at 4.25pm and watched it until 4.50pm. I photographed this bird along with others. It wasn't bothered in the slightest by people taking photos, in fact sometimes it was too close to take a picture!!! Every so often it would fly around the back of the dunes and then a minute or two later, fly back to right in front of us. It was busy feeding all the time and was very chilled. In fact it was so chilled it behaved as if alone! Not once did it appear startled, in fact it was one of the most relaxed, 'not bovered' birds I have ever seen! Its probably just settled down for the night. The light was going pretty rapidly as I left. I can assure everyone that no photographer upset this bird whilst I was there. Arriving late in the day to see a bird is often a risk – it happens to us all! I think there was approx 20 people max there - didn't really count, but certainly not more.


The light was going, but I was determined to end my day with waves crashing on the shingle at Cley. As I arrived Pete S. was just leaving and had had some really good birds after I left earlier, including 10 Little Auks (I think he said), a long-tailed duck, red-breasted merganser and other stuff I can't remember now. Eddie M. saw 10 Little Auks, 2 Great northern Divers, 2 Pomarine Skuas, a Long-tailed Duck, a Woodcock and a Long-eared Owl in off the sea. I stood on the shingle next to the crashing waves and soaked up this magical scene as the moon appeared from behind black clouds. There was tons of foam scattering across the shingle and this reminded me of the atrocious walk to Blakeney Point to see the Alder Flycatcher – the worst walk to BP ever, which I am sure some of you will remember only too well! Had a coffee and drove home.

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
LITTLE BUNTING, still at Burnham Over Dunes
Siberian Stonechat at Eccles
Black Guillemot at Lynn Point, King's Lynn
Sabine's Gulls at Holkham
Grey Phalarope at Titchwell
Shorelark at Salthouse
LITTLE AUKS and other seabirds along the coast (will add on Sunday night) 


Dersingham Bog

Lots of photos of the destruction or 'management' (depends how you view it!) going on at Dersingham Bog here!!!

Friday 26 October 2012

MEGA'S still to be found!!!

There should still be plenty of megas out there to be found - to all those people that have been at work all week - good luck and hope everyone has a cracking weekend. Hopefully everyone will be out in the field and not waiting on pager news. If we all get out there and look, the pagers will be on fire!!!

I don't feel very well this evening, have pulled my wrist again (an old injury done at work a few months ago) and just feel well, not good. Early night ready for tomorrow I think.

More cracking birds seen today in Norfolk! Black Redstarts, Ring Ouzels, Redwings, Fieldfares, Short-eared Owls, Hen Harriers all along the coast!

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
LITTLE BUNTING at Burnham Overy Staithe
Long-eared Owl at Burnham Overy Staithe
White-rumped Sandpiper still at Cley
OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT (probable) west over Holme
Scaup x 8, 3 Great Skuas at Holme
ARCTIC WARBLER at Brancaster Staithe (no sign today)
2 Little Auks, 16 Great Skuas, 2 Red-necked Grebes and Short-eared Owl at Sheringham
Firecrest at Holkham
Black-throated Diver at Cley
Siberian Chiffchaffs x 2 at East Hills, Wells
Snowbunting x 100, Gramborough Hill, Salthouse

I was going seawatching but looking at Magicseaweed, I will be searching for MEGA's on land! MAGICSEAWEED So exciting!!!

Camera batteries charged up, bins cleaned, bags by the door and.....


Thursday 25 October 2012

A Birdless Evening!

I just didn't have the energy to go birding for the fourth night running this week, so went into town after work to pay some bills, buy some printer ink etc and also to take back my recently purchased Mountain Warehouse waterproof coat. The coat was almost perfect all round, the waterproofed zips, the pockets, the style, but it had one very bad flaw – the velcro on the sleeve cuffs which was supposed to stick to the rubber type grips – didn't stick! It continuously came apart which was very irritating. Also the coat's rustle was not quiet, as J.F. pointed out to me! So will be going to Cley Spy on Saturday to purchase something green, quiet, waterproof and probably very expensive! How I wish it were a decent telescope – anyone fancy buying me a nice, shiny new Swarovski scope please?

One day to go and then NINE DAY'S BIRDING!!!

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Black Redstarts, Ring Ouzels, Yellow-browed Warblers, Redwings, Fieldfares and Bramblings reported all along the coast today.

Arctic Warbler (remains) and a YBW at Brancaster Staithe
locustella warbler at Brancaster Staithe
White-rumped Sandpiper at Cley
Red-flanked Bluetail at Stiffkey – NO sign
Richard's Pipit at Titchwell
Firecrests at Holme, Walsey Hills, Great Yarmouth
Nordic Jackdaw at Thornham
Shorelark at Salthouse
Little Bunting at Burnham Overy Staithe
Dusky Warbler at Holkham Pines and Waxwing
Olive-backed Pipit at Holkham
Waxwing, Pom Skua, Manx Shearwater etc at Holme
Pom Skua, Sooty Shearwater etc, 12 Snow Buntings at Cley

20 Shags roosting on Hunstanton Cliffs!!! See HERE

No 40 in the FatBirder 'Birding Top 1000' ratings today and 1,211 page views today, only 5 places way from LGRE and only 39 places away from Birdforum. Slowly climbing that ladder! Ha Ha!

Wednesday 24 October 2012

RBA Weekly Round-Up 17th to 23rd October


Norfolk Bird & Mammal Report 2011

Has now been published: See HERE

Looking forward to seeing some of my photographs in the report again.

BREAKING NEWS!!! Pale-legged Leaf Warbler!!!

In Dorset on Monday in a private garden and not been seen since.

Not the actual bird, but this call is very distinctive!

Arctic Warbler Twitch!

It's driving me insane at work seeing all these birds coming up on the pager. Saturday can't come quick enough! Its also pretty awful, driving to a new bird each evening after work, knowing that I only have half an hour of light in which to find/see the bird or anything else! Yesterday I was very, very lucky seeing and photographing the Red-flanked Bluetail. Today I wasn't quite so lucky!

Arrived at Brancaster Staithe harbour carpark at just before 5.30pm. A few birders said the Arctic Warbler had not been seen for about an hour – bother! As I walked along the coastal footpath, I had forgotten how potentially good this area is for birds – I need to bird here more often, which will also save me on fuel costs!

I managed to pick up on what looked like the Arctic in the awful light, high up in the willows along with Eddie Stubbings who agreed it 'looked good' at just after 5.30pm. I had just started to have a glimpse of the eye stripe when it flicked out of view! It was very frustrating indeed! I have just realised listening to Arctic Warbler on a youtube video, that I am pretty sure I heard this bird call whilst I stood here. I am not year listing thank goodness, but if I had been, I wouldn't have been able to count it! There were loads of robins flicking about and fieldfares and redwings in the dismal light. It got darker even quicker this evening because of the rainy conditions.

Congratulations to Graham Etherington who found the Arctic Warbler and also managed to get pictures HERE. Graham also has some cracking RFB pics on his blog too!

Drove home exhausted and had to sing loudly to keep myself awake. At home I immediately fell asleep. Work, birding and blogging does not combine well!

Weather for the Weekend!
Looking at the weather ahead, its supposed to stay north east all of Thursday and Friday up until lunchtime and then change to straight North. Saturday is forecast for North West winds at 20mph and rain/sun with a 'wintry feel' - this means SEA WATCHING at either Cley or Sheringham to start the day!!!

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Again news of hundreds of thrushes (reading people's blogs etc). Huge numbers of Ring Ouzels all along the coast, along with Black Redstarts, Redstarts and Yellow-browed Warblers.

Arctic Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher at Brancaster Staithe
Red-flanked Bluetail remains at Stiffkey along with 2 YBW's
Olive-backed Pipits at Holme and Holkham
Red-breasted Flycatchers at Gorleston and Wells
Pallas's Warbler at Overstrand
Wryneck at Holkham
Great Grey Shrike at Burnham Overy Staithe
Long-eared Owl found dead at Cley Beach Carpark
Hawfinch at Weybourne and Salthouse
Long-eared Owls x 2 and 2 Short-eared Owls at Stiffkey
Shorelark at Holme
Rough-legged Buzzard at Salthouse

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Badger cull to be delayed!!! - Badger cull to be delayed as Tories take another U-turn

Red-flanked Bluetail Twitch!

Stiffkey Campsite Wood

I really, really wanted to see the Red-flanked Bluetail that was found yesterday by Mike Sidwell at Stiffkey Campsite Wood – I was so pleased to see that it was still there today when I looked at the pager at lunchtime. I will never tire of seeing these exquisitely beautiful birds with their iridescent blue tails. Foggy all day again in King's Lynn and along the coast, meaning that thousands of birds are still grounded. Just think of the rares to be found if more people were out and not at work! A birder last night had typed on the net somewhere 'is it Friday yet?'

I left work promptly at 4.15pm and flew to Stiffkey! It seemed to take forever to get there! There was a car in front of me, a lorry in front of the car and a tractor and trailer in front of that, combined with nasty fog!!! I managed to get there by about 5.20pm. I have never grabbed my bins and camera so quickly out of the boot of the car! I jogged along the campsite wood path, passing a policeman on route who told me 'its still there'!!! The light was seriously fading now. That path is so much longer than it should be! There were only two birders there when I arrived at the bluetail spot and for a few scary minutes it was not showing. Then, suddenly there it was, firstly in the brambles with robins and then posing oh so beautifully on a pile of moss covered logs showing off that stunning blue tail. OMG I just love these birds, there are just so incredibly beautiful. I managed to get some photographs, although the ISO was 6,500!!!!! So grainy pics will appear later this evening! The most showy bluetail I have come across, if ONLY I wasn't at work and I could have photographed this earlier in better light!!! I just couldn't focus on this bird any longer, the light had totally gone. Watched this stunning little bird right up until 5.55pm.

I walked up the east end of the wood and dropped down to the lower path to get as much light as possible to see anything else dropping in on route back to the car. The calls of birds overhead filled my ears - it was just incredible. Tons of blackbirds dropping into the trees as I walked back in almost darkness back to my car and thousands of starling and smaller birds dropping into the marshes. What I would give to be back here tomorrow morning at first light!

The fog and was pretty bad on the way to Stiffkey and was absolutely atrocious on the return journey – much worse than yesterday. I was only doing 30 mph on the way back along the B1105 road from Wells to Fakenham, so you know its bad if I am only doing that speed!

If anyone even thinks about walking East Hills in fog like that, they needs to go and seek urgent help! Someone did today though – see HERE. My mother was recalling a story to me yesterday of many years ago, when when she walked out along the beach at Holme in fog and truly believed she was walking back towards the dunes, only to find herself at the sea's edge. She said that she was horrified that she went so completely wrong. Fog can be very, very disorientating

Stiffkey Campsite Wood

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
All the same birds as yesterday and more coming in! Thousands of robins, redwings, fieldfares, blackbirds, song thrushes, ring ouzels, bramblings, chaffinches, goldcrests, black redstarts, redstarts etc!

New birds found included:
Pallas's Warbler at Great Yarmouth
Olive-backed Pipit at Holkham
Red-breasted Flycatcher at Warham Greens
Probable Siberian Chiffchaff at Holme

Red-breasted Flycatcher still at Holme
Red-flanked Bluetail still at Stiffkey

Birders accounts of this massive fall of birds over the last two days HERE


Monday 22 October 2012


Thousands of birds, one of the biggest falls
I have EVER witnessed!!!

I awoke to a foggy morning. I just knew with east winds and fog, that today was going to be frustratingly awesome whilst I was at work! The first hint I had of this mega day was a text from a friend reading "Thrushes! big fall of them" – read this late morning when walking back from the carpark at work after taking a patient home and a second message reading ".....1000's of thrushes....." and then later on "Bluetail Stiffkey Campsite" and OBP Holme Firs!!!!!!!!!!!! Arghhhhhhh!!!!!!

At least I had had the sense to pack the car up with birding gear before I left for work this morning. I am very lucky this week as I am starting work half an hour earlier than I normally do which means I am finishing at 4.15pm – half an hour can make a massive amount of difference when there is so little light left in the evenings now. Mind you, after this coming Saturday it will be dark anyway at 4.15pm when the clocks go back!

Obviously I left work extremely promptly! As I ran down the corridors in the hospital to my locker room to get changed, people turned to look and must have been thinking there was an emergency – IT WAS AN EMERGENCY! I was out of the door, flew round the traffic jam and was at Holme by 5pm.

Holme Reserves 5pm-6pm
Driving along the Firs Road I could see robins, redwings and blackbirds everywhere. The fog was much denser here, than in King's Lynn. I sensibly decided that I would have little chance of seeing the Olive-backed Pipit at Holme NWT (Congratulations to Gary Hibberd who found this bird) and in failing light, so decided to look for my own birds on route to the reserves. I parked by the 5-bar gate half way down the Firs Road. As soon as I climbed up the bank to the coastal footpath I saw 5 Ring Ouzels sitting in one small hawthorn! Its many years since I saw a fall of birds like I did this evening. Even though I only had an hour of light, it was so worth it. As I walked along the coastal footpath and through the NWT Forestry, hundreds upon hundreds of redwings, blackbirds, fieldfares and robins scattered in all directions. The 'chackings' and calls of all these birds were just simply awesome. I was alone amidst this huge fall of birds and I didn't know which way to look first!!! There just HAD to be something rarer here. If the light had been better, there just had to be something mega here – there just had to be! But this spectacle was rare in itself. The difference between yesterday and today was mind boggling! Birds continue to scatter as I walked – an explosion of birds. In the sallow bush were Holme's first red-flanked bluetail was (the one I photographed) there were more goldcrests than leaves on the bush! The goldies were in a feeding frenzy after midges and flies, stocking up before dark – they were oblivious of my close presence. Just watching these goldcrests was magical in itself. I continued walking through the dunes scattering birds all the way to the NWT and HBO – on route I found at least another 7 Ring Ouzels – think there was more than this, but couldn't be sure as they flew away in the fog. As I reached the NWT path to the beach, I had a quick look on the beach and could see several robins sitting on the wooden sea defence posts and also watched more thrushes coming off the sea! It was just so incredibly exciting. I so, so wished I had been off work today and would give the world to have had this week off as holiday!

At Holme Bird Observatory Sophie (Warden) was just coming to the end of ringing loads of birds. Sophie said she had "never seen it like this in all my twelve years of being at Holme". I didn't really chat, as it was like a military operation going on in the ringing shed. Two people ringing and one writing in the data!!! After Sophie assured me that she hadn't got anything mega in the bags, I left. I was very kindly offered a lift back with the NOA Chairman (now dark) to where I had left my car.

Visited my parents and give them all the bird news. Mother said she had seen lots of birds flying over the garden today including a flock of redwings that had stripped a hawthorn in her garden in under half an hour!

Phew! I am shattered now. Wish I had been shattered from birding all day, rather than work and one hour of birding though! I am going to pray that it stays foggy all week. Just imagine that – fog all week, birds grounded, more birds coming in and a gloriously sunny day on Saturday. If that were to happen, Saturday could be the most awesome day's birding in Norfolk EVER!!!! For those of us working all week, ensure you keep Saturday free - cancel dates, dinners, family outings and all things secondary to birding!!! For those of you able to get out in the field this week – good luck and enjoy!

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
I can't even begin to add all the birds listed on Rare Bird Alert today but in summary:

Thousands and thousands of thrushes all along the coast including: redwings, fieldfares, blackbirds, song thrushes. Also thousands of robins, bramblings and goldcrests. Hundreds of ring ouzels. Black redstarts, redstarts, redpolls, tree pipits, lapland buntings, woodlarks, twite, firecrests short-eared owl.

RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL at Stiffkey Campsite
Siberian Chiffchaff and Shorelark at Salthouse
Yellow-browed Warblers at Horsey, Holkham, Stiffkey, Warham, Trimmingham and Snettisham
Hawfinch at Snettisham Coastal Park
2 Snow Buntings Hunstanton
Long-eared Owl at Holkham
Richard's Pipits at Waxham and Sheringham

Fog still forecast for all day tomorrow

Sunday 21 October 2012

Bird News!

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Red-necked Grebe x 2 at Cley
Osprey at Lyng
Richard's Pipit at Scolt Head Island and Burnham Overy Staithe
Ring Ouzel at Hopton and Salthouse
Redstart at Great Yarmouth
Hawfinch at Holme
Great Northern Diver at Titchwell RSPB
Short-eared Owl at Thornham
Water Pipit x 3 at Buckenham
Black Redsart at Stiffkey
Probable Olive-backed Pipit at Burnham Overy Dunes

Easterlies forecast all this week - think I might have booked the wrong week off!

Saturday 20 October 2012

Bird News!

I was completely burnt out and stressed from work this week. I just couldn't set the alarm this morning, so woke up naturally. By the time I left the house and did some chores for my parents it was lunch time. It was very foggy in north west Norfolk up until midday. Westerly winds again today.

I cruised along the coast road and couldn't make my mind up where to go. I ended up going to Wells and having a look in 'The Dell'. I don't often go here for one main reason – you have to pay to park, something I don't like doing. £2.00 for one hour. I was slightly over the hour when I got back to the car, but luckily didn't get a ticket! Quite busy with birds here, long-tailed/blue/great tits, goldcrests, jays, blackbirds, but nothing else exciting.

Was just going to indicate left to go up the West Track at Warham, when the pager bleeped up that the Eygyptian Vulture was seen going east from Warham at 2.25pm. It was now about 10 minutes later, so I zipped to Morston in hope of having a glimpse of this monster bird. No luck whatsoever. I questioned all walkers and birders that had just walked east and west of the carpark and no one had seen it. I have no idea where that vanished to!!!

Walked up to the whirlygig and only saw a couple of redwings, nothing else really of note. Back at the carpark I saw a hen harrier by East Hills.

Cley NWT Hides: Yellow-leg Gull on Pat's Pool – Eddie said there were 4 there. The Sacred Ibis did not cruise into roost this evening. No sign of the white-rumped sandpiper either.

Pretty boring afternoon. Work tomorrow, it will all kick off then!

Main Highlights in Norfolk - RBA
Eygptian Vulture, Warham
Hen Harrier at Titchwell, Burnham Overy Staithe
White-rumped Sandpiper at Cley
Richard's Pipit at Holkham
Firecrest at Great Yarmouth
Great Northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, Scaup at Titchwell RSPB

Friday 19 October 2012

Bird News!

Main Highlights in Norfolk - RBA
White-rumped Sandpiper, Black-throated Diver and Hen Harrier at Cley
Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Long-tailed Ducks x 2 and
Jack Snipe at Titchwell RSPB
Rough-legged Buzzard at Holkham
Scaup and Red-necked Grebe at Holme

RBA Weekly Round-Up 10th-16th October

Thursday 18 October 2012

Bird News!

Main Highlights in Norfolk
EGYPTIAN VULTURE still at Burnham Overy at1.20pm – good picture of this bird HERE
Richard's Pipit at Hunstanton
Great Grey Shrike at Roydon Common
Scaup and Ring Ouzel at Holme
Red-necked Grebe, Long-tailed Ducks x 3 at Titchwell RSPB
Rough-legged Buzzard at Holkham, Blakeney and Acle
White-rumped Sandpiper at Cley

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Egyptian Vulture in Norfolk!!!

Hot Birding at CLEY!!!

If the Egyptian Vulture seen today had been wild, I would have been hopping mad to say the least!!! Its a good job that I didn't see news about this bird at lunchtime, it would have been very worrying indeed, as the initial message read MEGA: Norfolk, Egyptian Vulture juv. Morston flew west along A149 at 1.22pm (earlier flew west over Cley). Obviously nobody knew 100% if this bird was escaped or wild at this point, until the anklet and bell was seen, 12 pager messages later!!! My lunch break finishes at 1.15pm, when I switch my phone off. The first message came out at 1.22pm. I first knew about this bird when I was looking at the pager, whilst sitting in queues of traffic after work this evening on route to the hairdressers. If this bird had been wild, which of course would have been highly unlikely anyway, I would have been cancelling the hair appointment on route to the bird!!! I would still love to see this monster of a bird, so if it sticks around West Norfolk tomorrow, I will certainly attempt to see it after work.

Congratulations to Chris Abrams who found the Egyptian Vulture as it flew over the East Bank at Cley. It then flew across Pope's Marsh and then all along the coast road! It was last seen going west over Burnham Norton Marshes at 3.09pm. The seven year old vulture is called Manfred and has escaped from Wales! See HERE.
Also see picture taken by Dave Curtis HERE

M.A.G. found the Red-rumped Swallow this morning and a White-rumped Sandpiper was also found in Cley.

Main Highlights in Norfolk Today - RBA
EGYPTIAN VULTURE at Cley and continued its journey along the A149 to Burnham Norton where it was last seen flying west at 3.09pm
White-rumped Sandpiper at Salthouse
Red-rumped Swallow and White-rumped Sandpiper at Cley
Sacred Ibis, Salthouse
Pectoral Sandpiper at Kelling
Osprey at Briston
Common Cranes x 13 at Welney WWT
Rough-legged Buzzard at Holkham (circling with the E.Vulture!)
Pom. Skua, Hen Harrier, Long-tailed Duck at Titchwell RSPB

World's Great Birdwatcher sets new Record!!!


Tuesday 16 October 2012

Rain, Continued West Winds and still no RARES!

Today started fairly well, but went downhill after that!

Arrived at Titchwell RSPB early morning in the vague hope that I might see the Red-rumped Swallow, that apparently roosted in the reed beds at dusk last night with other swallows. Not knowing where it roosted, didn't help birders looking this morning. It was incredibly windy and the light was diabolical which didn't help either. It was brilliant that someone found this bird last night and I congratulate them and thank them for letting others know, but it would have been extra helpful if they had put roughly where the bird went to roost – it could have been reed beds either side of the main bank or even on the new East Trail.

As soon as I started walking along the main bank a swallow appeared which got me excited, but it wasn't THE bird! Further along the bank I had a fantastic sighting of 50 house martins (in two groups) and another swallow going west over the main path. 5 greenfinches flew over west.  I was quite surprised to see that several people had travelled from other counties to see the Red-rumped Swallow! James H. turned up as he needed it for his Norfolk list and also another man from Essex. I felt sorry for them, coming all this way and not seeing the bird, but that's that way it goes I suppose – twitching can be an expensive and disappointing game! James found a fantastic albino type Golden Plover that stood out like a sore thumb amongst the other Goldies on the fresh marsh. The blustery winds continued for most of the day.

James and others went to look at the sea, but I decided to walk back and have a look round the Fen Trail in hope that there might be a bit of shelter and maybe something exciting to see. I heard a chiffchaff calling in the trees opposite the Fen Trail entrance and saw another swallow on the East Trail. The Red-crested Pochard was in Patsy's Pool along with several coots and a Cetti's Warbler burst into tune near the Fen Hide, but didn't find anything else really of note.

After writing my findings in the sightings book in the visitor centre, I sat in the  in the 'Feeding Station' and enjoyed scrambled eggs on toast, whilst watching a Crane video. It was great being out of the wind!

I then spent two and half hours waiting for a kingfisher to appear in a friend's garden pond – it didn't! 8 more house martins were seen.

Wells - bought fish 'n' chips and then drove to the concrete pad at the West track at Warham and sat and enjoyed my lunch whilst watching the sea lashing on the beach distantly. It was an exceptionally high tide today, not ideal for walking East Hills! The skies looked moody – the afternoon was a mixture of brilliant sunshine, black clouds, rain and a rainbow!

I walked along the track in hope of having better views of the recent yellow-browed warbler. Several blackbirds and redwings scattered as I walked along and I also flushed a kestrel, but little else. In the copse at the end there were only a couple of chaffinches. I walked to the 'Pit' as this is a good place for any migrants that may have dropped in to shelter from the wind. I found several blackbirds in there along with chaffinches, blue and great tits, robins and wrens, but nothing else exciting. 11 Redwings landed momemtarily on an elder before continuing west. On the way back I found a ringtail Hen Harrier flying east past East Hills. Back into the copse of the end of the West track I found the tit flock, but couldn't see the yellow-browed warbler with them! Left and went to Cley.

Cley, Church Lane to have a quick look for M.A.G.'s Firecrest he found this morning – no luck. Went and had a quick look in Walsey Hills, but nothing there of note. Went to Kelling Water Meadows to have a look at the Pectoral Sandpiper as it has been showing well, I have been told and I had not been to see this bird yet. I passed a photographer along the track to the pool who had just photographed it and it was 'showing well in the corner' he told me. NOT when I arrived it wasn't – I just couldn't believe it – it wasn't there!!! My heart sunk – I had been planning to see and photograph this bird in evening sunshine, all day!!! The local barn owl, didn't cheer me up either. Obviously there was no sign of the firecrest reported here either!!! I trudged back to my car in a grump and then realised the light was going so quickly now, that I didn't even have time to go to the NWT hides at Cley. It was almost dark by 6.20pm! I hate the evenings closing in with a passion and even more so when the clocks go back on the 28th October, which then means going to work in the dark/coming home in the dark and that then also means only being able to go birding on a Saturday/sometimes Sunday. Moan over – back to work tomorrow.

The highlight of my mini break was photographing the gannets fishing at Cley – I will post some of these pictures this week, but won't be until at least Thursday, as I am in the hairdressers for a couple of hours straight after work tomorrow!

Looking forward to my last holiday of the year – not long to go, the very last week in October!

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Ring Ouzel, Lesser Whitethroat at Winterton
Red Kite at Wells
Firecrests x 2 and Red Kite at Holkham
Firecrest and Pectoral Sandpiper at Kelling (showing well for some!)
Firecrest and 7 Yellow-legged Gulls at Cley
Hen Harrier at Brancaster Staithe
Great Skuas x 5 at Hopton on Sea
Red-necked Grebe and Long-tailed Duck at Titchwell RSPB
Scaup at Holme NOA

Monday 15 October 2012

Viz Mig and the continued Search!

Hunstanton Cliffs
I am ashamed to say that I arrived very late for the Viz Mig Spectacular at Hunstanton Cliffs this morning. I almost felt cheeky joining the regulars (A.B., G.H. et al) at 8.30am! I was told that I hadn't missed too much on my arrival, there had been good numbers of Jays that I had missed though. From 8.30am to 10.00am I saw the following:

Crossbills  2 at 9.05am
Lapland Bunting  1
Jays  24
Pied Wagtails  3
Skylarks  16
Greenfinches  120
Chaffinches  137
Goldfinches  12
Siskin  7
Brambling  2
Meadow Pipit  5
Blackbird  1
Starlings  122
Collared Dove  1
Carrion Crow  1
Black-tailed Godwit  1
Woodpigeons - forgot to count!

Birds started to tail off, so left the cliffs at 10am.

Did some errands for my parents in Hunstanton and dropped off shopping etc to them.

Holme Reserves
Parked the car by the 5-bar gate half way down the Firs Road at Holme and walked round the NWT Forestry. Birds seen here were from Gore Point: 19 Oystercatchers on the beach and 3 juv. gannets flew east along the receeding tide. In the forestry: 9 goldfinches, a huge 100+ flock of chaffinches flew over west, 7 magpies, at least 3 blackbirds, 1 song thrush, 50+ starling flock. Walked back to my car and then walked behind the 'standing caravan' (that was, now massive wooden chalet) along the River Hun footpath which is VERY overgrown, past NOA Redwell Hide and to the Hun Bridge. Just before the bridge opposite the horse paddock I had 3 redwings, several blackbirds, 14 greenfinches, 3 robins, a blue tit, a green woodpecker and a great spotted woodpecker. Along the road in someone's garden I watched a jay gobbling acorns.

Walked past the village carpark and toilet block, round to the golf course – saw two mistle thrushes on the west fairway. Crossed over the golfcourse east and joined the path along the back of the bungalows that lead up to the NWT pay hut. No birds of note really along here, apart from a small starling flock swirling round 'The Saltings'. Back at my car I bumped into Dave Holman, who kindly informed me there was a Scaup on the Broadwater. Drove down the road and parked on the NOA carpark and had a quick lunch.

Saw and photographed the female Scaup at 3.10pm with mallards on the Broadwater. Sophie said the Firecrest had been seen today around the carparks, but I couldn't find it when I had a good look round. Found a couple of goldcrests round the back of the pines, but that was about it really. Oh and another mistle thrush on the top of a pine tree by the Firs house, just before I left.

Went to the hides in the village and only saw a wren, couple of little grebes and a marsh harrier.


Main Highlights in Norfolk - RBA
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW this evening and roosted at Titchwell RSPB
Pectoral Sandpiper at Kelling
Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest and Richard's Pipit at Waxham
YBW at Wells
Firecrest at Holme
Lapland Buntings at Titchwell, Hunstanton, Stiffkey and Morston

Sunday 14 October 2012

Seawatching at Holme!

I finished work earlier than expected today, so flew over to Holme for a seawatch. A furious sea lashing up to the dunes with strong north westerly wind, produced 11 Great Skuas between 5.15pm and 6.30pm. There were about 6 people seawatching – the only person I knew was James G. I even managed to get some shots of the Bonxies as they twisted through the breakers! Everyone left by 6 (ish) and James and I hung on for the Leach's Petrel (ha ha).

11 Great Skuas (mostly west)
2 Brents west
3 Eider on sea
Grebe sp.
5 Wigeon west
2 Turnstones west
30+ Sanderling west
30+ Common Scoter
100+ Knot east
Auk sp.
2 Kittiwakes west
12 Gannets

I would have thought there was a good passage of seabirds at Cley and Sheringham today on north westerlies, yet there is nothing on the pager apart from a Leach's Petrol?

Seawatch from A.B. at Hunstanton HERE

Eddie's list from Cley here: Black Guillemot flew west at 4.35pm. Red-necked grebe made off east at 5pm. 145 Common scoter, 130 Little gulls, 39 Bonxies, 50 odd Red-throated diver, 4 Manx shearwater and a drake Eider. A Peregrine hunting out over the sea at 9.45am, knocked a bird into the sea and a Bonxie flew in and stole it's prize.

Also nice selection of birds at Holme today HERE

Main Highlights in Norfolk – RBA
Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest,  several Lapland Buntings,
Pom. Skua, 212 Little Gull, 2 Red-necked Grebe, 3 Velvet Scoter,
Ring Ouzel, Crossbill, at Holme
Ring Ouzel at Thornham Point
Yellow-browed Warbler at Warham
Lapland Bunting x 2, Mealy Redpoll and Jack Snipe at Burnham Deepdale
Great Northern Diver at Cley
Firecrest and YBW at Great Yarmouth
Pectoral Sandpiper, Firecrest, YBW at Kelling
YBW, 10 Crossbills at Wells
Osprey at Lyng
Firecrest at Winterton
13 Common Cranes at Welney
Leach's Petrel at Sheringham
RED-THROATED PIPIT reported at Walpole Highway


Saturday 13 October 2012

The Big Search

Miles of walking and searching were conducted today to find that one special bird.

A beautiful, sunny morning with blue skies. Arrived at Walsey Hills at 8.30am and searched in vain for the yellow-browed warbler. 3 Jays flew over west. A few goldcrests were seen and a bullfinch was heard.

At Gramborough Hill I had a wonderful time watching a Stonechat on the fence wire, shortly joined by another (ringed) and then a Whinchat landed on the post too! Hedge sparrow in the bushes and a flock of goldfinches and meadow pipits flying over, but no larger pipits were seen!

Cley Visitor Centre for social interaction! An arctic skua was seen flying west over the shingle ridge from the visitor centre and also a jay and a common buzzard.

I decided to walk Gun Hill, Burnham Overy Dunes and Holkham – there just had to be a good bird somewhere! Parked my car in one of the free spaces near the pub at Holkham and then caught a Coastliner bus to Burnham Overy. Walked along the track to Gun Hill. Blackbirds, song thrushes, robins, brent and egyptian geese were the only birds seen on route. A couple of reed buntings appeared in the sueda just before the brambles at the end of the seawall. In the apple tree (where the Pallas's Warblers were in 2010) a male blackcap was skulking around and also 5 house sparrows. Walked all the way round Gun Hill and the only bird I saw was a kestrel, that was it!!! Not another bird was seen, not even in the bushes on the seaward side of the hill. I sat here to have a coffee and a sandwich – I felt very despondent. Walked back and then through the dunes towards Holkham. The sun had disappeared and rain filled clouds added to the doom and gloom of no birds. At the east end of the dunes just before the pines I saw 11 Redwings fly out of the big hollow and also several blackbirds and song thrushes were seen. Walking through Holkham pines, I saw almost no birds at all. I didn't even come across a tit flock. In fact the only birds seen here were four little grebes in the 'Salt Hole'. My original plan was to walk onto Wells woods aswell, but the massive lack of birds did not inspire me to walk any further, so I diverted along Lady Anne's Drive and back to my car. The sun was shining again, so I decided to go to Warham to the the West Track in hope of seeing one of the two Yellow-browed Warblers reported there. When I arrived on the concrete pad, a lady came across to tell me that there had been a Richard's Pipit at Holme NWT today near to the Firs House. I dipped out on the YBW half way down the track and only saw a goldcrest with the tit flock. At the north end of the track I didn't see the second one either. I returned along the track to my car and did manage a few glimpes of a Yellow-browed Warbler at 5.45pm. It was freezing cold this evening, even with double coat and gloves on. Left here and drove home.

There were so few birds around today, it was quite depressing. I am quite happy to walk alone, but its very lonely when there are no birds to see! So far, this has got to be one of the worst autumns in Norfolk for a while! Although I expect things will change tomorrow when I'm at work! I hope my two days off on Monday and Tuesday improve.

Update: I have just noticed several good birds have just come up this evening on the pager for Holme today including the Richard's Pipit I mentioned earlier a Rose-coloured Starling and a flyover Great Grey Shrike. Perhaps I had better listen to Andy Brown when he said to me the other day 'West is best'!!!