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Thursday 31 October 2013

Norfolk Bird News!

Main Highlights – RBA
Velvet Scoters x 2, Snow Buntings x 24 at Winterton
Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrests x 2, Whooper Swans x 2 (flew west) at Great Yarmouth Cemetery
Hooded Crow, Little Stint, Pomarine Skuas x 2 at Titchwell RSPB
Hooded Crow at Trimingham
ROSE-COLOURED STARLING remains at Caister-on-Sea
Snow Bunting at Holme
Yellow-browed Warbler at Old Hunstanton
Lapland Buntings x 3, Snow Buntings x 8, Shorelarks x 2, Caspian Gulls x 2, Whooper Swans x 6 at Cley NWT
HUMPBACK WHALE at 11.30 only, Sea Palling
Rough-legged Buzzard at Horsey
Snow Buntings x 29, Slavonian Grebe, Velvet Scoters x 4 at Holkham
Common Cranes x 27 at Potter Heigham

Other News
MEGA! MOURNING DOVE remains Isle of Rhum
MEGA! HERMIT THRUSH remains at Porthgwarra, Cornwall
MEGA!!! CAPE MAY WARBLER remains for eighth day on Unst, Shetland!
MEGA! WHITE'S THRUSH, remains St Agnes, Isle of Scilly
Northern Harrier remains at Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Norfolk Bird News!

Main Highlights – RBA
Lapland Bunting, Shorelarks x 2, Snow Buntings x 32 at Winterton
Whooper Swans x 14 at Salthouse
Whooper Swans x 14, Water Pipits x 2, Lapland Bunting, Shorelarks x 5, Caspian Gulls x 3 at Cley NWT
HUMPBACK WHALE still at North Beach, Winterton at 9.25am and seen at Horsey, Waxham and Sea Palling.....
White-fronted Goose, Lapland Buntings x 3, Little Stint at Titchwell RSPB
Osprey at North Wootton
ROSE-COLOURED STARLING remains at Caister-on-Sea
Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Snow Bunting, Great Skua, Twite at Holme
Great Northern Divers x 3 at Sea Palling
Snow Buntings x 23 at Holkham
Yellow-browed Warblers x 2 at Old Hunstanton
Hen Harriers x 3 at Garden Drove, Warham Greens
Great White Egret at Lakenheath Fen RSPB
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL (male), Crossbills x 40 at Lynford Aboretum

Other News!
MEGA! MOURNING DOVE remains Isle of Rhum
MEGA! HERMIT THRUSH remains at Porthgwarra, Cornwall
MEGA!!! CAPE MAY WARBLER remains for seventh day on Unst, Shetland!
MEGA! WHITE'S THRUSH, remains St Agnes, Isle of Scilly
Northern Harrier remains at Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire

RBA Weekly Round-Up 23rd-29th October

By Mark Golley
Thanks to the RBA Team for using two of my Pallid Swift Pictures.

Humpback whale Norfolk coast recording 'a first'

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Pallid Swift Shots Now Added

Norfolk Bird News!

Main Highlights – RBA
*HUMPBACK WHALE seen at Hemsby at 7.35am and then continued north and seen at Winterton, Horsey, Waxham, Sea Palling, Eccles-on-Sea, Happisburgh and then at Sea Palling at 2.10pm
*Pictures and write up in the EDP can be seen HERE
PALLAS'S WARBLER still at South Dunes,Winterton
Shorelark at Gore Point, Holme
Great Skuas x 7, Short-eared Owl at Holme
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS (both males), Hawfinch at Lynford Aboretum
Slavonian Grebes, Long-tailed Ducks x 3, Snow Bunting, Little Stint at Titchwell RSPB
Ring Ouzel at Nunnery Lakes NR, Thetford
Great White Egret a Lakenheath Fen RSPB
Yellow-browed Warbler at West Runton
Long-eared Owl at Barton Turf
Caspian Gull at Cley NWT
Shorelarks x 2 at Thornham Point

Other News – more Mega's!!!
STOP PRESS! MEGA! HERMIT THRUSH, Porthgwarra, Cornwall
STOP PRESS! MEGA! LESSER KESTREL, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

MEGA! MYRTLE WARBLER remains Lundy, Devon
MEGA! MOURNING DOVE remains Isle of Rhum 
MEGA! WHITE'S THRUSH, remains St Agnes, Isle of Scilly
MEGA!!! CAPE MAY WARBLER remains for seventh day on Unst, Shetland!
MEGA!!! SORA remains at Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Northern Harrier remains at Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire


Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon (for second day)
Discussion HERE


By carpark at Porthgwarra, Cornwall
Discussion HERE 
Pictures HERE, HERE and HERE. Previous records HERE

Monday 28 October 2013

Norfolk Bird News!

Main Highlights – RBA
Great Skua x 2, Pomarine Skua at Hemsby
PALLAS'S WARBLER, Shorelark, Velvet Scoters x 2 at Winterton
Great Northern Diver, Caspian Gull, Richard's Pipit, Snow Buntings x 3, at Cley NWT
Glossy Ibis at Welney WWT

Other News
MEGA! WHITE'S THRUSH, remains St Agnes, Isle of Scilly
MEGA!!! CAPE MAY WARBLER remains for sixth day on Unst, Shetland!
MEGA!!! SORA remains at Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Northern Harrier remains at Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire 

No storm occurred here at all this morning – missed North West Norfolk completely.


In garden at Kinloch, Isle of Rhum
Discussion HERE and pictures HERE and HERE


Millcombe Valley, Lundy, Devon
Discussion HERE. No picture yet that I could find, but finder's account HERE

Sunday 27 October 2013

Sunday Update!

I was working as usual today, but couldn't do my second shift as felt too ill – headache, felt sick etc so have been asleep on the sofa all afternoon! Watched Lady Ga Ga perform on the X-Factor tonight, she is just fascinating to watch!

The winds are ferocious here now, goodness knows what it's going to be like later on! One of my neighbours has the biggest willow tree I have ever seen, it towers up in the sky. If it comes down in these winds, depending on which way it falls, it WILL hit my house! I have asked him about cutting that tree down to a more sensible size before and he still hasn't trimmed the line of 40ft+ leylandi's down, since the nearest one fell through my fence/garden last christmas!!!! Any damage that occurs to my new fence, he can physically repair himself this time!

Not well enough to go through Pallid Swift shots from yesterday, so will crack on with this tomorrow evening after work (if I am well enough to go).

Norfolk Bird News!

Main Highlights – RBA
PALLAS'S WARBLER, Black Redstart, Shorelark, Snow Buntings x 30 at Winterton
Shorelark, Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated Diver, Little Stint at Titchwell RSPB
Shorelark at Thornham Point
Hen Harriers x 2 at Burnham Norton
Richard's Pipit at Cley NWT
Richard's Pipit at Old Hunstanton
PALLID SWIFT at Sidestrand
PALLID SWIFT at Trimingham
Snow Buntings x 6 at Holkham
Lapland Buntings x 3 at BactonVelvet Scoters x 4 at Hemsby
Caspian Gull at Cley NWT
PALLID SWIFT/Swift reported at Mundesley
PARROT CROSSBILLS x 2 at Bacton Woods
BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS Possible, North past Hopton-on-Sea at 12.25pm, Ian Smith
MEGA! BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS, West past Overstrand, Norfolk at 4.10pm

Found more information about the Black-browed Albatross on Facebook:
 "was also seen further west from West Runton ... but was heading north by then apparently. It wasn't seen at Sheringham........."

Also note that a birder saw a Swift with a "pacific-type white rump patch" today whilst birding at Bacton – see HERE and look at post 21702.

Other News
MEGA! WHITE'S THRUSH, remains St Agnes, Isle of Scilly
MEGA!!! CAPE MAY WARBLER remains for fifth day on Unst, Shetland!
SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER remains at Sandy Point, Hampshire
Northern Harrier remains at Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire


Cape Clear, County Cork!!!
Trapped and ringed at 2.45pm

Discussion HERE Picture HERE and HERE

Major Atlantic Storm Coming Our Way!


Flew west past Overstrand, Norfolk at 4.10pm.

Flew north past Hopton-on-Sea at 12.25pm, though distant.

Found more information via Facebook:
 "was also seen further west from West Runton ... but was heading north by then apparently. It wasn't seen at Sheringham........."

Saturday 26 October 2013

'Swift' Twitching!


Last night the Pallid Swift at Cromer was seen flying around the church in the town centre and some thought that it may have roosted there. It was therefore far too tempting not to be standing there at first light this morning, just in case! I was up early and got to Cromer just after 7.10am.

Cromer Church
By 7.20am I was standing next to the huge church in the high street and scanning the turrets and ledges for a Pallid Swift. Minutes after I arrived a very familiar face appeared next to me – James McCallum, who's reputation for not twitching is disappearing fast!!! I remarked to James a bit later that he would be 'doing Happisburgh next for the 'Radde's'!!! All four sides of the church were covered, there were six birders including ourselves, waiting and hoping for a Pallid Swift to wake up! It was fascinating standing here for all kinds of reasons. As James remarked, the light was stunningly beautiful – as time progressed the spire of the church glowed orange, which increased in intensity as the sun rose. Racing Pigeons, Jackdaws and Starlings were seen on the church itself. Birds overhead included 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 Siskins, 1 Heron and best of all a Chiffchaff was heard and seen in the small ornamental tree in the churchyard (saw it after you left James). It was a beautiful morning and the bright blue skies above, beckoned to be adorned with a Pallid Swift! Several passers by stopped to ask what we were looking at and seemed quite interested and wished us good luck. It was cold standing here and remained fairly chilly throughout the day. I gave up at 9am, phoned RBA to update and then left. At 9.09am the first message came through of a Pallid Swift seen at Overstrand flying east at 8.40am. A message came via the pager that there was no sign of yesterday's Radde's Warbler at Happisburgh Church, but I wanted to go and look myself anyway.
 Jackdaw – Cromer Church.

 Jackdaw – Cromer Church.

  Jackdaw – over Cromer Church.

 Ferel Pigeons flying over Cromer Church.

Heron flying over Cromer Church.

Trimingham Clifftop Wood
Stopped here on route to Happisburgh. As usual when I walk into this wood I found no birds at all, oh apart from a robin. But I did find lots of sweet chestnuts and filled my pockets! Walked back to the car and as I drove past the church, thought about stopping to search the scout hut area and bushes next to the cliff edge, but decided to carry on to Happisburgh.

Happisburgh Church
This magnificent church is set in such a grand setting, on a hill on the seaward side of the village. The churchyard is partly formal with mown areas, but has wild flower areas and brambles bushes and had that kind of rambling look about it – it was really lovely. I searched hard for the Radde's Warbler, but they are such skulky birds, it could still be in there! Lots of cover here and no other birders around. Hundreds of Starlings flying over, Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits. In the trees at the bottom of the churchyard, there were Great and Blue Tits, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Hedgesparrows. It was so beautiful, I could have spent the rest of the day birding round here. I was very tempted to climb the 133 steps up to the tower of the church for the spectacular views, but decided to continue birding. I must do that another time. If climbing church towers is your thing, you need to do 'The Stump' at Boston (Lincs) – its hard work, but the views from the top are jaw dropping – you can see Holme Reserves from the top! Anyway, I digress. As I was having a coffee and snack, a text came through from a friend, that James Mc. had seen TWO Pallid Swifts at Trimingham near the church!!! How frustrating was that!!! I left to return to Trimingham.

Trimingham Church
Parked the car by the church and crossed the road to walk around the scout hut and bushes around the cliff top. No birds of note really. I sat on the white chair on the cliff edge and scanned the skies for a Pallid Swift, but no luck. As I was walking back through the bushes another birder walked towards me who had just had a swift sp. over his head as he was driving – he stopped the car by the church but could not re-find it. A message then came through on the pager of a Pallid Swift at Trimingham, by the church at 'The Brambles' – OMG.... there was one here, now! The moment had gone, the swift had gone and by the time I found where the 'Brambles' house was, it was most definately gone! I decided to stick it out and stood by the church and waited and watched. Graham Etherington was driving past and stopped to tell me he had seen a Pallid Swift at 'The Mast' and had also photographed the bird. He then drove east, but came back a little later and very kindly told me there was one showing now, a bit further up the road, just past Trimingham Wood layby, where several people were watching it. I jumped in the car and joined others in a layby on the A149 to watch a distant Pallid Swift. The bird swept over a wood near to the cliff, so I walked along the field edge to get closer views, which I did obtain for a while, but it returned to where I had first watched it. I walked back up to the main road and shortly after this the swift appeared to head towards Trimingham Clifftop wood. So I drove the car to the next layby and walked part way along the track to the wood and had stupendous view of this wonderful Pallid Swift right over my head. It stayed in here for ages and Carl Chapman also joined me a bit later. It was so difficult to photograph and I took hundreds of shots. News came through of another Pallid Swift at Cromer, below the lighthouse. I fancied photographing a different bird, so off I went!

Cromer Lighthouse
Parked the car in Warren Lane and walked through the hedge to the cliff top and then walked east towards the base of the lighthouse. As soon as I walked over the ridge to view the lighthouse, my second Pallid Swift of the day appeared right over my head! This bird was much paler than the Trimingham bird. Again, very difficult to photograph, especially in the now failing light. Fabulous views though in dramatic dark clouds. Watched the Pallid Swift with a few other birders, updating RBA throughout and then left.
Cromer Lighthouse

Parked up at the carpark on the cliff top in Cromer and had a coffee and a sandwich. I had a horrible headache, felt really cold and didn't feel well at all. It was a real job to drive home.

I don't think anyone knows how many Pallid Swifts were seen today in Norfolk – there has been so many sightings!

Norfolk Bird News!

Main Highlights – RBA
PALLID SWIFT at Trimingham
PALLID SWIFT at Overstrand
PALLID SWIFTS x 2 at Sidestrand
PALLID SWIFT at Happisburgh
Hawfinch at Norwich
Crossbills x 15 at Sidestrand
Richard's Pipit at Cley NWT (ETM)
Crossbills x 4 at Hemsby
Bittern at Ormesby Broad
Shorelark at Titchwell RSPB
Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Woodlark at Holkham
Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Hen Harrier, Whooper Swans x 600 at Welney WWT
Lapland Buntings x 5, Snow Bunting at Bacton
Scaup at West Runton
Lapland Bunting at East Hills, Wells
Shorelark, Snow Buntings x 17, Crossbills x 2 at Winterton
Short-eared Owl at Mundesley
Whinchat at Blakeney Harbour
Great Northern Divers x 2, Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebes x 2, Long-tailed Ducks x 2, Velvet Scoters x 5, Short-eared Owl at Holme
Richard's Pipit, Lapland Bunting at Hunstanton Cliffs
Red-necked Grebe at Ranworth Broad
Firecrest at Great Yarmouth Cemetery

Other News
MEGA! WHITE'S THRUSH, St Agnes, Isle of Scilly
MEGA!!! CAPE MAY WARBLER remains for fourth day on Unst, Shetland!
SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER remains at Sandy Point, Hampshire
Northern Harrier remains at Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire

Friday 25 October 2013

80 MPH Winds Heading Our Way!


Got up late and whizzed over to Advanced Camera Services at Watton. I say 'whizzed' – its not a quick place to get to at all! David looked at my lens and did some tests shots – he could only get it to malfunction at f4.5. David is ordering a new diaphragm which will take a couple of weeks to arrive, by which time I won't need the camera for 'rares' anyway!

Made my way to Garden Drove, Warham, Wells. The track up to the concrete pad was extra muddy and water logged. My car is in a seriously muddy state at the moment! A couple of people I know were searching Bacton Woods this morning for the Parrot Crossbills that were seen there yesterday, but found nothing at all.

I decided that if R.M. had found a Western Bonelli's yesterday, then I couldn't see any reason why there couldn't be one flitting about in the sycamores on East Hills! So off I went. I started the walk out earlier than normal after a high tide, but bait diggers were already off out there, so I guessed I wasn't going too soon! I crossed paths with two wildfowlers returning + dog + their catches! I had fabulous views of a Peregrine chasing a Meadow Pipit, which it ultimately caught, just by the dunes of East Hills. It was extremely disappointing when I got out there. Three Redwings in the first big pine tree, one Blackbird, one Robin and one Wren!!! Yep, that was it, a very sorry state of affairs. Not a single goldcrest or anything else flitting about in the sycamore leaves. I worked the whole area hard, but achieved nothing for my efforts. Trudged back without falling over, always a bonus! I didn't see a single bird along Garden Drove track on the way back to the car either. It took forever to get the wellies off this time. That was probably my last walk out to East Hills this autumn, well maybe!

News came on the pager of Raddes's Warbler at Happisburgh at 4.50pm (no way was I going to get there in time) and then the Pallid Swift at Cromer, this time over Morrisons!!!! Why was I not there!!! Carl Chapman was – see his picture HERE. I looked at my watch and realised I wouldn't make it in time, so had a look in Stiffkey Campsite Wood instead and found absolutely nothing. I was then going to Cley to look at gulls for the rest of the evening, but felt exhausted so went home and fell asleep on the sofa as soon as I got in!

My last day birding tomorrow, well until next Saturday that is! Think I might just twitch everything going tomorrow, rather than attempting to find my own birds! Seems like a good plan to me!

Norfolk Bird News!

Main Highlights – RBA
Great White Egrets x 2 at Holme
Shorelarks x 9, Snow Buntings x 6, Black-throated Divers, Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebes x 2, Long-tailed Ducks x 10, Jack Snipes x 2 at Titchwell RSPB
TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL Male at Lynford Aboretum
BLYTHE'S PIPIT Possible at Cley NWT
Woodlark at Holkham
Snow Buntings x 2 at Salthouse
Lapland Buntings x 2, Great Skuas x 2, Velvet Scoters x 2, Arctic Terns x 2, Yellow-browed Warbler, Bewick's Swans x 2 at Holme
RADDE'S WARBLER at Happisburgh
Caspian Gull at Cley

Pictures of the Pallid Swift taken by Carl Chapman at Cromer this evening HERE

Other News
Stunning shots of a Pallid Swift in Christchurch, Dorset today (sadly then eaten by Sparrowhawk!):

MEGA!!! CAPE MAY WARBLER remains for third day on Unst, Shetland!
SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER remains at Sandy Point, Hampshire
Northern Harrier remains at Ouse Washes RSPB, Cambridgeshire

Thursday 24 October 2013

Second Pallid Swift & A Western Bonelli's Warbler!

By Washington Hide, Holkham Pines – Found By Richard Millington

I arrived at Glandford to see the Black Redstart, which has been showing well the last few days, but it wasn't this morning! It was a beautiful sunny day without a hint of rain or cloud in the skies. Had a lovely time photographing the House Sparrows on the roof tiles opposite the CleySpy Shop. Stopped at the Cley 'Deli' to buy a scrummy piece of Ginger & Pear Cake!

 House Sparrows at Glandford, next to 'Cley Spy'. 

Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Apart from a few Goldfinches, there were no birds in the bushes at Gramborough at all. I saw a 'Small Copper' at the base of one of the brambles, but it vanished when I got the camera on it! But I did find this spectacular Parasol Mushroom and an aircraft flew low over the sea!

 Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera), Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Plane going over Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Little Eye, Salthouse
Beautiful walk, but no birds of note. It seemed as though it was going to be one of those stunningly warm days with no rares turning up at all. It seemed so unfair that Shetland was being spoilt with so many mega birds, one after the other. Back at the carpark I felt a bit fed-up and decided it was time for a mid-morning snack. I was just tucking into the Ginger & Pear Cake, when I had a phone call from Mark Golley to say that Richard Millington had found a Western Bonelli's Warbler at Holkham Pines, near the boardwalk by 'Washington Hide'! Seconds later it bleeped up on the pager. That's more like it! I didn't even finish the cake!

So many slow cars in front of me on route to Holkham, that just had to be overtaken!

Holkham Pines
Parked at the top end of Lady Ann's drive and reluctantly put £4.50 in the machine for four hours. I even beat James MacCallum and Mark Golley here, who pulled up in the carpark after me! Lots of beach people around and bouncing dogs – is it half term? It was a very hot day for late October, probably one of the last hot days we will have. The clocks go back on Saturday, which I absolutely hate – this means going to work in the dark, leaving work in the dark and also means no birding in the evenings until Spring, absolutely rubbish!

At Washington Hide, Richard M. was trying to re-locate the Western Bonelli's Warbler he had found. He showed me the branch where he first saw the bird, which was right next to the path he had been walking along! I imagined this and felt both excited and mortified that he had seen it THAT close! We searched and searched for that bird, but no sign. The doldrums set in big time. I continued alone, along the main path towards 'Meals House' and as far as the 'Joe Jordan Hide' hoping to find a tit flock with the Bonelli's. Met a nice couple who read my blog – nice to meet you. Found a couple of Chiffchaffs and a few Long-tailed Tits. Three Common Buzzards were soaring in the blue skies above 'Meals House' which was nice. I searched down the path east of Joe Jordan Hide and found nothing. I then walked along the path which veers off inland from the hide and leads to a pond which is a really good spot for birds – I was really peed off to find that there is now a 5-bar gate and fence up across the path with a no entry sign!!! So you are not allowed to walk to that pond now at all – I don't quite understand why, maybe someone will be able to let me know please?
Western Bonelli's Warbler in flight – arty, farty shot!

I had just started to trudge back along the path, when Mark G. rang me to say the Western Bonelli's Warbler was showing again by the hide – my reply "you're joking"! I speed walked back and joined a crowd of people crammed in on the boardwalk next to the hide. It was fabulous to see this wonderful Western Bonelli's Warbler at 3.05pm finally! I managed to get some good views of the bird and a few record shots, before it shot off through the bushes. There was, as is typical nowadays at twitches, far too much noise going on. I don't understand why people talk so loudly, it may or may not have been the reason the bird flew off, who knows! To add to that a few minutes later, two greyhounds appeared in the bushes where the bird was, having a massive play scrap and barking like crazy – no owners in sight anywhere, my temper was rising! Time to leave and for a very good reason, as the pager bleeped up with PALLID SWIFT at Felbrigg Hall!!!

James and Mark decided to twitch the Pallid Swift too and we all marched back to the carpark and sped away to Felbrigg. They got there before me, which I couldn't quite understand!

Felbrigg Hall
There were lots of birders here including LGRE, Joan, Andy Stoddart, James Mc., M.A.G., David Norgate, Julian B. etc etc. The Pallid Swift was not in view when we first arrived. Lee was standing much further back in the field behind the carpark and suddenly shouted with excitement that it was 'over the trees and coming towards us'. Within seconds, I was watching my second Pallid Swift at 4.35pm!!! There was no possibility of photos though, it was sadly too distant. We watched it on and off over the hall but it was always distant. A bit later Lee said he saw the bird flying way off into the distance in what seemed a westerly direction – had this bird gone towards Muckleburgh and Weybourne? Was it the same bird as the one I saw yesterday? Who knows!

It was a really nice social gathering too. Lots of banter going on! Lee seemed fascinated by my Pallid Swift shots from yesterday and said that I had the best shot he had seen to confirm ID, out of all of the recent Pallid Swifts photographed – he said it was a 'classic Pallid'. Funny really that such an out-of-focus shot of a bird against a black rain cloud, has such importance! Andy Stoddart also seconded what Lee was saying. It got very cold as the sun was setting. We were all hoping that the swift would come back to the hall to roost, but that wasn't to be! What a wonderful end to the day!

 A spectacular day after a very slow start!

 Mark Golley, Lee Evans & James McCallum at Felbrigg Hall.