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Tuesday 31 May 2016

Duvet Day and Visits!

Well almost – I hibernated under the duvet all morning! The rain hasn't stopped all day - torrential rain and wind and its still going on now. Looking at the weather forecast, it looks much the same for tomorrow! Miserable weather for May!

Several jobs to do when I finally got up – got a phone call from Social Services to arrange a family meeting this week, to discuss how father is settling into his hew home. Then I had to phone Social Service's financial team on Mother's behalf to find out loads of stuff we needed to know.

Drove over to Mother's house and took her to see father for the first time. Father has been in the new home just over two weeks now. Mother was very worried about going there, but it was all fine once she went in to see him. He was quite sleepy to begin with and we couldn't hear what he was saying, so we took him upstairs in his wheelchair so we could chat to him quietly and ask him how he was. As expected we got the requests to go home and when was he going back to his home etc. We explained the reasons why he couldn't and how lovely it was here etc, but he dismissed this and said he'd 'had enough of our chat'!!! I soothed things over with an offer of one of his Werther's sweets! We took him back downstairs and he was kindly transferred back into his comfy armchair by staff. Tea was served and I helped father to have his soup and bread and a banana – but he refused the cakes on offer. Mother and I were very kindly offered and given a cup of coffee. Shortly after that we left. Mother was impressed by the home and thought it was very nice and alot warmer than their house at Holme, I'll agree with that!

Mother and I went to Hunstanton so mother could buy a few items from Sainsbury's and then picked up fish 'n' chips for our tea and returned to Holme. Spent the evening with Mother and then went home. More parent jobs tomorrow!


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Arctic Terns x 3, Spoonbill at Titchwell RSPB.
Arctic Terns x 3 flew west past Cley.
Glossy Ibises x 2 yesterday from hide at Nunnery Lakes, Thetford.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

Suffolk Highlights
GREENISH WARBLER in hedge at Dip Farm, Gunton.

MEGA! WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in garden at Port Nis, Isle of Lews, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER again, mainland at Scatness, Shetland.
MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO again, Reap Lane, Southwell, Portland, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

Monday 30 May 2016

Bank Holiday Birding – Holme, Titchwell RSPB & Beyond in Wintery Conditions!

Very Blustery at Titchwell beach!
If I had wanted to book two weeks holiday in the winter, I would have booked December NOT May!!!

Today must have been the poorest May Bank Holiday for rare birds EVER! The strong northerly winds continued to batter Norfolk today and with increasing strength in the afternoon.

I see there are a couple of cracking pictures on Birdguides of the Red-breasted Flycatcher taken yesterday at 11.30am! I presume these were taken by the finder and congratulations to them for finding the only good bird in Norfolk over the entire weekend! Such a pity though, that it took so many hours for someone to clarify the identification, resulting in the news going out approximately 7 hours later and at a time that was impossible for many to come and enjoy this fabulous bird. Pity P.E wasn't around to ID the picture!

Today's Birding!
Arrived at Holme village car park early morning and sat in the car to watch the scrub for any migrants – nothing terribly exciting, but Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Robins, House Sparrows, Great Tit and Goldfinches. I then walked up to the main beach gap to search the sea-buckthorn and found Linnets and Reed Buntings. The peace is later shattered by armfuls of dogs being walked – yapping, barking, scrapping and owners shouting, car doors slamming – time to go!

I stopped at my Mother's house to cook a vegetarian breakfast. Mother's hip/leg is now so bad, she can hardly walk, but if I mention the doctors I get shouted at! There was no news either way on last night's Red-breasted Flycatcher on the pager, so I presume either not seen or departed. I head to Titchwell RSPB, just in case the news hasn't been put out and was intrigued to see if it was still there. No other news on the pager at this point.

 Titchwell Beach

Titchwell RSPB car parks were pretty full with day trippers, rather than birders I noticed. Anyway, along the main path, I reached the brackish marsh to find a handful of birders hoping and waiting for the RBF to appear. I heard that apparently one birder did see the flycatcher this morning, but no one else had. I stood here for a quite a while in the cold winds, trying to stop the scope from being blown over as I scanned the bushes! I saw the briefest of glimpses of a small bird under the line of my scope when scanning, but no idea what is was. I gave up and headed to the sea. It was exhilarating on the beach to say the least! There was a serious sand storm going on and the sea was ferocious! Also tons of foam was being whipped across the sands, which reminded me of the foam being scattered over the sands at Blakeney Point, when walking up/back for the Alder Flycatcher twitch in 2010! I hoped that J.M et al wouldn't get me up there today! Blakeney Point would have been an atrocious walk in these winds. I took some arty farty pictures on the beach and then departed quickly. With no shelter or windbreak here, the winds were too strong to scope the sea, seriously!

Walked back along the main path – no positive views of the RBF from the small crowd there, so I headed back and walked around the Fen Trail. Heard a Cetti's and a Sedge Warbler and that was about it. Met another blog reader, nice to meet you. Bought a hot cheese & onion pie and left.
Stiffkey Churchyard
The view from the stone wall in Stiffkey Churchyard

Next stop was Garden Drove at Warham – parked up on the concrete pad and found that Eddie M. had just worked Garden Drove and found 'nowt' of note, so I didn't bother. The sea was rolling at East Hills – can't imagine anyone silly enough to go out there today! I decided to look for sheltered spots to find some birds and for a change went to look in Stiffkey churchyard – I had never been here before, its a beautiful place and the view from over the old stone wall at the back of the churchyard was lovely. I watched two Common Buzzards gliding on the wind over the tree tops. Also saw a Great Tit and a Robin in the churchyard. Long grass and flowers with a few mown paths – just how a churchyard should be – an idyllic place to stop.

Parked up at Stiffkey Campsite car park to walk the clifftop wood. Lots of campers and people around with dogs. Change of plan..... I had a wonderful sleep in the car and woke up an hour and a half later – lovely! Still nothing on the pager for Norfolk, no birds at all.
Lupins and Rhododendrons at Friary Hills

Ox-eye Daisies at Friary Hills

Friary Hills at Blakeney – I can't remember the last time I'd been here and I had a wonderful walk around the hills, enjoying the ox-eye daisies, vetches, lupins, rhododendrons, the gorgeous yellow flowers of the laburnum tree, foxgloves etc – no birds at all apart from Woodpigeons and Mute Swans on the marshes. I was impressed to see that no dog walkers had disobeyed the 'no dogs' sign whilst I was in there – made a nice change.

Walsey Hills NOA produced a Cetti's Warbler, a couple of Chiffchaffs, Chaffinch and a male Blackcap. Bumped into Steve G. and had a birdy catch-up. I then finished the day at Coastguards with Eddie M and another man called Matt who reads my blog, nice to meet you. Saw a few Gannets gliding in the rolling waves and three Kittiwakes flying west and then another one later on and a Fulmar flew west fairly close in. I noticed that James M's car was still here, he would have had a gruelling walk back from BP!

It was dreary and tiring driving home. Hoping to visit Father tomorrow morning. The weather looks pretty bleak for the rest of my holiday with continued north winds for the rest of the week and then turning North Easterly/East on Monday/Tuesday when I return to work – typical!


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER again, in bushes on brackish marsh at Titchwell RSPB.
Little Gull at Stiffkey Fen.
Spoonbill, Little Gull east of East Bank at Cley NWT.

This must be the poorest May Bank Holiday for rare birds in Norfolk EVER!

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

RED-FOOTED FALCON Adult Fem. at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.
MEGA! EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER mainland at Scatness, Shetland.
MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO viewed from observatory, Portland Bill, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN still at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Burnham Overy Dunes & Titchwell RSPB!

Red-breasted Flycatcher
This evening on the brackish marsh at Titchwell RSPB

I had Blakeney Point hip ache this morning and I didn't rise very early at all! I eventually ventured out of the house to search Burnham Overy Dunes for migrants. I don't why I bothered to be honest, it was a strong north wind and it was freezing, I had scarf and gloves on and I still felt cold as I walked along the track. I totally agree with what Chris Mills was saying on twitter recently, about the atrocious scalping of the sea wall at Burnham Overy Dunes – the entire bank, all the way to the end of the boardwalk has been stripped back to soil in a lot of places. It has ruined the bank and as he also said, gives dogs and people more excuse to run riot down the slope, into the sueda and onto marsh, all of which I witnessed today. It looks a complete and utter mess – its not the city, its not a park, its wild and beautiful and holds so many plants and insects and in turn feeds hungry migrant birds. I cannot see any logical, sensible reason as to why this has been hacked to pieces! Anyway rant over. I had several texts from birding friends today with words like 'crap birding, crap weather' – lots of people seemed to be in the doldrums!
The scalped sea wall at Burnham Overy Dunes!

Along the track I heard a Whitethroat singing, lots of Swifts flying over the pool east of the sea wall and a handful of Linnets. Greylags, Lapwings and Redshanks were on the marsh and that was it! There were more dogs than birds! It did amuse me that people were wearing their trendy shorts and dresses for the bank holiday weekend and then complaining of the cold! I was dressed up in winter clothes and chilly! What do they expect, its Norfolk! Ok, its May – but since we don't really have seasons any more, it can be freezing one minute and hot the next. The weather forecast does not look hot for the rest of my holiday either! At the bushes at the end of the boardwalk there wasn't a single bird to be seen. I sat on the dune above the apple tree so that I could watch the fence line that runs east as well and poured myself a coffee. Nothing in my apple tree or anywhere else. It was so cold and dull I didn't go any further. I gave up and walked back to my car. However I did get a nice surprise on the way back – a Bittern boomed a few times!

Back at my car, I put the heating on full and headed to Holme to visit my Mother. Picked up some bread for her from the farm shop on the way. I spent a long time at Mother's house and we had a good chat about all kinds of things. The pager bleeped off every now and again with 'spoonbill' and 'little gull' etc – nothing to entice me out of my chair! I was just thinking of going home when the pager bleeped up at 6.38pm with 'Red-breasted Flycatcher at Titchwell RSPB at 6.10pm and showing well....' !!! Off I flew! Mother didn't want to come and to be honest I'm glad she didn't, it was even colder later on.

Parked the car up in the side entrance for speed and headed off up the main track with camera in bag. I passed a few birders who were strolling back and looking happy with their fill of the Red-breasted Flycatcher! I was kindly told that it was on the edge of the island at the brackish marsh. I jogged every now and again and eventually joined the last man standing, who was Ian Lycett (works at Birdwatch) who had very kindly had seen me coming and waited so I could like through his scope. My initial view was the worst view ever of an RBFly – it was sitting hunkered down behind brown vegetation on the edge of the island – it was camouflaged beautifully. Ian told me it had been sitting here motionless for the last 10 minutes. I would never have found it had he not waited, so thank you very much indeed.

Red-breasted Flycatcher distantly on the island
You'll need your glasses or magnifier out!
Looking shattered and exhausted in freezing conditions

Shortly after Ian left, the flycatcher started to feed and flicked around catching flies back and forth from the mud. Photography from here was atrocious with my 300mm lens, so marched quickly back to the car to get my scope so I could phone scope/video (should have brought the scope in the first place!). The light was dire, there was heavy mist and it was spitting with rain every now and again. I managed to get some distant video and then the bird disappeared for a bit. A couple turned up to see the bird and they luckily did see it. The Red-breasted Flycatcher then re-appeared in the sueda in the corner close to the path!!! I got some better SLR shots but still not good in the failing light. But, the phone scoped video I was about to take looked top notch – the bird filled the screen, just as I put my finger on the play button the phone went black! Frustrated was an understatement! Long story short, I discovered that iphones switch themselves off if they get too cold! I warmed the phone up in my pocket and tried again, but as soon as I got the phone on the scope it switched itself off again! So I lost out on what would have been fab video footage, although I did manage to get a few seconds of footage at this close range. The couple left and the bird returned to the island and was then out of view. A single man turned up and also very luckily saw it when it appeared again later. I stayed to watch this fabulous little bird until 8.50pm. Bird of the day, in fact the only good bird in Norfolk was this wonderful Red-breasted Flycatcher!

Popped into Mother's briefly just to show her my video and then drove home tired and still cold. Serious thermals and serious birding tomorrow!


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spoonbill on Arnold's Marsh, east of East Bank at Cley NWT.
Spoonbill at Rockland Broad.
Osprey at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB.
RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER on brackish island from main path at 6.10pm until 8.50pm, Spoonbill, Arctic Terns x 2, Little Gulls x 2 at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbills x 2 at Burnham Norton.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

MEGA! EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER mainland at Scatness, Shetland.

MEGA! LAMMERGEIER again, 2 miles NE of Warren House Inn, Dartmoor, Devon.
MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, Reap Lane, Portland, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

Saturday 28 May 2016


The Plantation, Blakeney Point

It was a beautiful day, which kicked off with James Gilroy finding a mega Black-eared Wheatear at Cart Gap, Happisburgh!!! However, it was only seen for a short while. At last, it was hopefully going to be a multiple mega day in Norfolk!

I cruised along the A148 and arrived at Coastguards, Cley to walk Blakeney Point. A light north easterly breeze and full sunshine meant a perfect temperature for the gruelling walk! James M. pulled into the car park just as I set off and he along with Kayn F. were not too far behind me as I set off to find some birds.

Apart from the Terns, Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls, Reed Buntings, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Swallows heading west, there was nothing else to be found! A long hard walk and I didn't even see any LBJ's! However, it was a stunning day and it did my soul good. I worked the point more than usual, but nowhere near as much as James and Kayn did – they are younger, fitter and far more dedicated than me!
Lupins at Blakeney Point
The Tamarisk
The Plantation

Black Redstart at The Plantation, Blakeney Point

I arrived at The Plantation at 2.10pm and was delighted to find a lovely Black Redstart sitting on the fence wire. It was extremely difficult to photograph and I had to spend a long time camoflagued under my khaki scarf, in order to get a picture! Also found a Chiffchaff in here, Meadow Pipits and Linnets. I was hoping for a spotted flycatcher, but none appeared. I spent a long time here, enjoying my lunch and waiting for that one mega to drop out of the sky – long wait Penelope! A Marsh Harrier flew overhead, mobbed by Oystercatchers. The Black Redstart was very mobile and spent a good bit of time around the beautiful pink tamarisk and generally at a good distance away from my camera!

I caught a brief glimpse of a possible Blackcap diving into the sycamore tree, just before James and Kayn joined me. They had seen nothing more than me really, apart from a Reed Warbler in the elders on Yankee Ridge – they were pleased to see the Black Redstart. They helped me to search for the Blackcap, just in case it had a red eye ring! But James nailed it a bit later and confirmed that it was indeed a male Blackcap, not my hoped for Sardinian Warbler! A Hobby flew over as we were watching the scrub. James and Kayn left to walk back via the dunes, which meant I could leave! They laughed when I said that I wasn't leaving until they did – I didn't want to be walking back again when they had found a first for Britain!
The long walk back to Coastguards, Cley

I made a coffee and then set off back alone via the beach. I have found a new way of getting back to Coastguards much quicker. The walk back is a killer, so I stuck my apple earphones in and listened and sang to music – it seriously seemed quicker! It was a beautiful walk back in the evening sunshine listening to Ed Sheeran 'X - Wembley Edition'. I can't remember what time I got back to Coastguards, but I think it was about 7.15pm. Pete S. had phoned me earlier to say he would meet up with me to give me a present from his friend Graham – chocolates, thanks Graham! (who had been down to Norfolk this week), so I texted him to say I was back and I was now going to walk to Gramborough Hill. Normally I would be completely zonked after walking BP, but I didn't want to end the day yet and there had to be a rare bird somewhere!
Meadow Pipit at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse

The scrub at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Sunset walking back from Gramborough Hill, Salthouse

Pete and I parked our cars up at Beach Road, Salthouse and walked to Gramborough Hill. There were a good number of Meadow Pipits, the usual Stonechats, Whitethroat and Linnets. We sat on top of the hill overlooking the scrub and watched the Meadow Pipits and the Whitethroat singing and Sand Martins speeding overhead in the failing light. A Barn Owl was also hunting near Kelling Water Meadows. It was extremely chilly now – we walked back to the cars and found that there were several camper vans setting up for the night. Also, unusually there was a car with four men in drinking/smoking, playing music loudly and staring at us without averting their gaze, which was quite intimidating – it seemed as though they were watching both ours and other people's every move. Pete and I both left to go home.

Looking forward to searching for birds again tomorrow! Good night.


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
MEGA BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR fem, viewed from beach just north of car park on sea wall, then flew to gardens and no further view by 9.20am, 1 mile SE of Happisburgh at Cart Gap (JG).
Short-eared Owl south of Horsey Mill.
Whinchat midway along the Nelson Head Track at Horsey.
Spoonbills x 3 on The Serpentine, east of the East Bank at Cley NWT.
Osprey SE of Surlingham.
Black Redstart at The Plantation, Blakeney Point (PAC).
TURTLE DOVE at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

MEGA! BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS over Sheep Rock on Fair Isle.
MEGA! BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR fem. at Cart Gap, Happisburgh, Norfolk.
MEGA! LAMMERGEIER again, SSE of Princetown, Dartmoor, Devon.
MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, Reap Lane, Portland, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall. 

MEGA! SNOWY OWL at The Burren, on Black Head Loop, County Clare, Ireland.
MEGA! FORSTER'S TERN ad Dorrus at Tawnagh, then at Inishro, County Galway, Ireland. 


MEGA BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR fem 1 mile SE of Happisburgh at Cart Gap, Norfolk.

Just north of car park on sea wall, viewed from beach then flew to gardens and no further view by 9.20am.

Discussion of today's bird on Birdforum.
Found by James Gilroy and only seen briefly!
James's pictures are here:

Fortunately I don't 'need' it, as I saw the male Black-eared Wheatear at Holme in 1975 when I was 10!!! I talked to mother about this later on today and she told me that it was found by NWT Warden Peter Singleton, whilst walking his dog in the evening. This bird stayed from the 2nd to 21st June.

Friday 27 May 2016

A Visit To Father & Birding at Sunny Hunny!

Me with father in the garden at Summerville House Care Home, Heacham

Today did not go to plan at all – I won't bore you with the details. It was a sunny day and I decided to visit Father this afternoon and hoped to take him outside in the sunshine. On my arrival he looked like he had the best seat in the house and was sitting in a lovely chair in the corner of the conservatory and he was toasty warm – his hands were warmer than mine and that's a first! He always suffers with cold hands, so it was nice to feel that he was so warm. However, he looked extremely tired and he was mumbling more than usual. I gave him a green bear for comfort (his favourite colour is green!) – he painted Holme Bird Observatory's door and woodwork green and the heligoland traps – everything was green! He nodded in agreement when I suggested we go outside in the garden, so the staff very kindly transferred him to his wheelchair. I brought down his old sunhat from his room and he put it on himself which made me smile!

Sitting outside was so lovely – initially he said it was chilly, but it really wasn't – he's just not used to being outside. The garden is very sheltered and has a bird table and feeders and also a raised concrete bird bath. I was most interested to see that father noticed something fluttering by him – it was an Orange Tip butterfly, although he didn't know what it was and the same thing happened when a Jackdaw flew past. A few moments later a Blackbird came to the bird bath for a wash and brush up. I chatted to father about mother's letter from 1967 (see my recent post), but I don't know if he understood what I was talking about and told him how there were hardly any birds on these easterly winds so far and general bird news for the UK. Also told him about mother's new hair cut, but he didn't respond. He seemed very tired indeed – he had a very sad look on his face, which I tried not to get upset about. I also chatted about all the things I could see in the garden including a beautiful large yew tree. After about twenty minutes he wanted to go 'back in the warm' and so we went back inside and staff transferred him back to his armchair. When I asked him if he wanted me to take his hat off, he held on to it tightly and said 'no' – I think his hat reminded of the good old days down at Holme Bird Observatory, which he always wore with his shorts. I sat and held his hands whilst he fell asleep for a while and then I said goodbye. I hated leaving him, but all the staff here are very kind. 
Father dozing with 'Erin' the green bear I gave him today
at Summerville House Care Home at Heacham

Mother is coming to see him with me next week – she is struggling to come to terms with living alone, even though it was so tough looking after father. I think she will feel a little better after she has seen him here – she has the awful memory of him leaving the house in a very emotional state after Social Services messed up big time with the transport. I can understand fully, why she decided to let father settle in a bit before she visited – he would have been requesting to come home if she had visited too early and that would have been distressing for all concerned.

Old Hunstanton
After visiting father I decided to go birding in hope of finding something good! Parked along the cliff top by the gardens adjacent to the lighthouse and sat and had a snack in the gardens – it was very relaxing sitting here in the sunshine. I then headed east along the cliff top. Several House Sparrows were sitting around chirping in the alexanders next to the path. I have always hoped of finding a rare bird feeding on the lawn in the lighthouse garden, but that hasn't happened yet!
Hunstanton Lighthouse

I stood by the pine trees at the bottom of the pitch 'n' putt to look for migrants – there are lots of elders underneath the pines and also sea buckthorn and some fir trees. I got very excited about a bird moving around in the elders, but it turned out to be a female Blackcap – it would have been nice for it to be a Sardinian Warbler or something!!! (a Sardinian Warbler was found here in September 2002) There was also a Coal Tit, Robin, Chaffinch and the usual fat Woodpigeons (yawn) and Magpies. I then followed the coastal path through the bushes, further east. A Whitethroat was singing and I saw a couple of LBJ's disappearing into bushes, other than that, nothing of note. Walked past the beach huts and the Lifeboat Station to the very pretty area of bushes and pines next to some chalets and houses, just before Old Hunstanton Golf Club House. Only Linnets and Greenfinches seen here, feeding on the edge of the dunes. There is a wonderful tamarisk bush in the garden of the last house – this reminds me of the spectacular specimen by The Plantation at Blakeney Point.
Walking along the cliff top towards Old Hunstanton Beach Huts

Scenery just east of Hunstanton Lifeboat Station

I walked back through the village at Old Hunstanton, past the Ancient Mariner's pub and past the pine tree belt, where I had seen the Blackcap earlier – then along the cliff top to my car. Tomorrow, this clifftop will be teaming with holidaymakers for the Bank Holiday Weekend!

Went to visit Mother for a while and showed her the pictures of father in his hat. Shared my sandwiches I had made for the day and the last piece of the ginger and pear cake from Cley Deli which I had bought yesterday. Mother is happy with her new binoculars thank goodness. The cat seems to be taking over the house and has a cat bed upstairs, a cat bed in a chair in the living and in the dining room – very few places for guests to sit!

Drove home via Ringstead – beautiful sunny evening. Edited pictures for the Norfolk Bird & Wildlife Fair, which I have now added to my post. Good Night and hope you all have a fabulous bank holiday weekend! Let's hope some good birds turn up with more eyes to the skies!


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Great White Egret yesterday at Thorpe St Andrew.
Great White Egret at Heigham Holmes.
Great White egret at Burnham Overy Staithe.
Serin at Gun Hill late morning, Burnham Overy Dunes.
Short-eared owl at Breydon Water.
Icterine Warbler in sea buckthorn and pines though elusive, in car park at Weybourne.
Serin at Weybourne Camp.
Red-backed Shrike fem. still at Newport Cottages, Hemsby.
TURTLE DOVE on power cables opposite fish 'n' chip shop at Snettisham Coastal Park.
Osprey at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB.
Spoonbill at Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT.
Garganey at Buckenham Marshes RSPB.
TURTLE DOVES x 2 near road at Winfarthing.
Short-eared Owl at Horsey.
Common Cranes x 2 at Welney WWT.
Montagu's Harrier male (probable) flew east at Acle.
Short-eared Owl at Holme.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

Suffolk Highlights
SAVI'S WARBLER singing at Island Mere, Minsmere RSPB.

MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, near Loch Sandary, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, Reap Lane, Portland, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

MEGA! LAMMERGEIER again, 2 miles west of Princetown, Dartmoor, Devon.

Thursday 26 May 2016

CleySpy, Walsey Hills and Gramborough Hill!

I returned the Kowa binoculars to CleySpy and exchanged the binoculars for another pair to trial! Bought a vegetable pie and some pear & ginger cake from Cley Deli and went to have my lunch at Coastguards. The forecast North East winds kicked in by mid afternoon, so I hoped something good would be found.

Searched Walsey Hills NOA thoroughly – found a good number of Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap singing, a couple of Reed Buntings and Hedgesparrows. Also Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Small Copper butterflies seen.

Bumped into Marcus Nash who had just seen a Glaucous Gull flying west and a Short-eared Owl. Walked to Gramborough Hill which produced the usual Stonechats, Whitethroats, 2 Goldfinches, Meadow Pipits, Swallows and Sand Martins. Disappointed not have found any migrants, I left at 6pm to give the new binoculars to Mother. Phoned Sommerville Care Home to ask how father was and then returned home.

Typical that the Weybourne Icterine Warbler turns up an hour after I leave! Out early in the morning to find my OWN Icterine Warbler!


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Short-eared Owl flew west over Cley.
Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint at Titchwell RSPB.
Spoonbills x 2 at Breydon Water.
Red-backed Shrike fem. at Newport Cottages, Hemsby.
Short-eared Owl south of Horsey Mill.
Garganey at Welney WWT.
TURTLE DOVE on Tuesday, near Wilton Bridge at Hockwold cum Wilton.
Black Terns x 2, Sanderling, Little Gulls 1s x 2 at Pentney Gravel Pits.
PALLID HARRIER male (probable) flew south over A148, West Rudham.
Glaucous Gull flew west +Short-eared Owl at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse (MN).
Icterine Warbler in pines in car park at Weybourne.
Icterine Warbler singing, along Cliff Hill, just north over Cliff Hotel at Gorleston-on-Sea.
Garganey x 2 on lake at Felbrigg Hall NT.
Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper at Hickling Broad NWT.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, in gardens 1 mile WNW of Bayhead on North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still, flew from Culverwell to Top Fields, Portland, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

MEGA! LAMMERGEIER again, 3 miles WNW of Princetown, Dartmoor, Devon. 

Priceless Letter Written By My Mother In 1967!

I bumped ito Moss Taylor at the Bird Fair on Sunday and he told me that Alan Wood had sadly passed away. I'm pretty sure that Alan used to do some drawings for the NOA Reports in the early days. Friends of Alan's passed on RAR related items to Moss Taylor recently – this included a letter that my mother had written to Alan and his wife Carol in May 1967! Moss kindly said he would send me jpg's of the letter, so here it is. I was rolling with laughter when I read the references to me. This letter has made my week. How fascinating to read that my mother flushed a corncrake at Holme and the retrap of a Cuckoo from a couple of years ago, but the highlight for me was my mother talking about taking me along the promonade at Hunstanton to keep me amused and going on the roundabouts and eating ice-cream's and how much I loved the noise – she then goes on to say that 'she definitely won't be a birdwatcher, or will be very surprised!!' She also mentioned that in their new flat, I was smacked twice for throwing pegs etc out of the window! I was aged 2 at this time!

My sister Lucy was born in the same flat, approximately a year later. My little sister Vivien was born a couple of years later in the house at Holme, where my Mother still lives (was about to say where my parents still live!).

Wednesday 25 May 2016

North West Winds, Rain & Jobs!

It was north west winds and rain for most of the day, so I stayed at home as planned. My MacBook Pro has run out of space and I had to move thousands of photos onto two external hard drives. Copied other stuff too and this all took several hours to complete.

Went to Mother's early evening to see if she liked her new binoculars – she didn't! I have been instructed to return them and buy binoculars with a wider field of view and she insists the weight doesn't matter – ok! Back to CleySpy tomorrow!

The wind is currently now south west and easterly winds are predicted to hit Norfolk at 1pm tomorrow – these east winds continue all the way through until late Saturday evening, so hopefully something BIG will turn up! Friday and Saturday I will be searching very hard for my Spring Mega!


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Garganey x 2 on lake at Felbrigg Hall NT.
Spoonbill at Breydon Water.
Garganey at Patsy's Pool, Titchwell RSPB.
Great White Egret flew in off sea at Hopton-on-Sea.
Garganey at Buckenham Marshes RSPB.
Spoonbills x 2 off East Bank at Cley NWT.
Spoonbill on Bob Hall's Sands at Wells.
Little Stint at Snettisham RSPB.
WHITE STORK esc. on roof at East End Farm at Aldeby.
Common Cranes x 2 west of B1159 at Horsey.
Stone Curlew in sheep field, east of B1159 and south of Horsey Mill.
Common Crane at Stubb Mill, Hickling Broad NWT.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, 1 mile NW of Bayhead on North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still at Reap Lane, Portland, Dorset.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN at Drift Reservoir, 2 miles west of Penzance, Cornwall.

RBA Weekly Round-Up 18th to 24th May!

By Mark Golley

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Holme & CleySpy!

I feel the need to spend more time with my Mother than I thought I would be – she feels like she's grieving. I do understand – you spend your entire life with someone and then they are gone. She wants to visit father, but feels initially this will make him worse, which I am inclined to agree with to be honest. I know he will plead to come home when she visits and that will be very difficult for her to deal with – he says to me that he wants to come home when I've seen him, but I know he can't, so I'm probably coping with it better than mother would.

I arrived at my mother's house, a few minutes after her new mattress was delivered and helped her put all the sheets etc back. I spent a good while trying to persuade her to come to CleySpy with me, as she wants to buy some new binoculars. Her old Carl Zeiss Dialyt 7x42's are pretty old now and are out of alignment – but she refused to come with me and said she didn't feel up to it, but was happy for me to choose a pair! So, I left her my 'car/work bins', which are a pair of Nikon 8x25's and took the Carl Zeiss bins with me to get repaired, as she wants to keep these anyway.

Arrived at CleySpy and spent ages in there, selecting binoculars. Mother insisted she wanted a pair with a wide field of view, but I didn't want her having anything too heavy. My Swarovski EL 8.5x42's are heavy and I didn't want her to have anything of that weight. I ended up choosing either the new Swarovski EL 8x32's or the Kowa Genesis 8x33 Prominar binoculars. Obviously I would have chosen the Swarovski 8x32's, but the Kowa bins were on offer at £497 and there didn't seem like a £1000 difference between them to me. Also the field of view was obviously a fraction better on the Kowa's. I sought further advice from a local birder who turned up in the shop and long story short, bought the Kowa bins – very difficult buying binoculars for someone else. I also treated myself to a new Healthy Back Bag in black – my holiday treat!

Went to Beach Road, Gramborough, but it was so bitterly cold, I decided it wasn't worth the walk to Gramborough Hill – may sound lazy, but I felt really tired and it was seriously cold and very windy.


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Hooded Crow 1/3 mile east of Lady Anne's Drive, Holkham.
TURTLE DOVE yesterday in garden at Blofield Heath.
Garganey x 2 on lake at Felbrigg Hall NT.
WHITE STORK esc yesterday, by railway east of Acle.
Spoonbill flew east over A149, Spoonbills x 2, Continental Black-tailed Godwits x 2 at Cley NWT.
Garganey at Buckenham Marshes RSPB.
WHITE STORK in ploughed field at Burgh St Peter.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, 1 mile NW of Bayhead on North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still at Portland Bill, Dorset.
viewed from Winnard's Perch, Cornwall.
flew east over St Just, Cornwall.

Monday 23 May 2016

Crazy Day!

Arrived at Summerville House Care Home to assist the manager in doing the official 'Care Plan' for father. I presumed this would take an hour tops – how wrong was I!!! I actually thought they were joking when they said we had to answer 400 questions – you heard that correctly!!! The plan is all done on line and each question has a choice of answers that you click and then choice of typing in the 'Comments' box if required. As you answer the questions, there is a tally on the screen that tells you how many questions you have left to answer – eventually it gets down to three hundred odd left, and then ages later to two hundred and something and by this time I was losing the will to live – then onto one hundred and something – I was ready to end it!!! Three coffees and a plateful of biscuits later we had finished! I had no idea that any questionnaire could be THAT long!!! I was mentally worn out and felt like I had done an entire weeks work! I was supposed to be on holiday! How awful that staff have to go through that with every new resident – mind blowing! It took four hours to complete!!! However, I had a fabulous surprise today when I found out that the cook here, was a lady I used to go to primary school with – she was in my sister Lucy's year – so nice to know that she works here and thank you for your very kind support.

Father had hardly eaten any main course and was tearful, but had eaten his dessert I heard from the staff. I took father outside in the wheelchair and we sat by the horse field which had two ponies, one donkey and a cute foal amongst the flowers. I soon realised I had made a big mistake – it was too cold for him and he was not impressed – got him back inside and the staff transferred him to a very comfortable armchair. He was not happy at all and asked when was he going home and also said 'no one wanted him anymore and he had just been dumped here' – I explained again, why he was here and did my best to cheer him up, but he turned from being sad to grumpy and told me to go and said 'I don't want to see you for a month'!!! Obviously I didn't take it to heart! I left him as he closed his eyes in an attempt to nap, but the television and radio was on, so it would have been difficult – my guess is that this is why he is going to bed alot earlier than he does at home, as he likes to be quiet – difficult to achieve that in a care home. Anyway, left here at 2.20pm and headed to Hunstanton to do a couple of chores.

Went to Holme to see Mother and found her asleep in the chair – she is still very upset. At 5pm she agreed for me to take her out for a little drive for a change of scene. I drove her to Choseley Drying Barns, but compared to last night, there was nothing of note aside from Woodpigeons, one Pheasant and Yellowhammer – this is probably due to the fact that there were three other cars here and one couple standing out in the open. Left here and went to Titchwell RSPB, but Mother didn't feel like getting out of the car, so went to buy some chips from Eric's fish 'n' chip shop at the Thornham Farm shop complex. I then drove up to the reservoir, pulled into a field lay by and we had a lovely time eating our chips with the fabulous views of the coast and sea! It was lovely sitting here and we had beautiful views of a male Yellowhammer singing away in the blackthorn of the hedge, right next to us. Swallows skimmed past over the corn field and a pair of Red-legged Partridges scurried along the roadside. Drove back but took a detour via Thornham boat house and the Lifeboat Inn and then returned to Holme.

Mother said it had done her good to get out of the house. I left here shortly after that and had to drop an electric air cushion off at the care home, but didn't go in as didn't want to disturb father again. I fell quite ill this evening when I got home – the 400 question care plan had wiped me out! Good night!


Norfolk Bird News via 'Rare Bird Alert'
Spoonbills x 2 at Breydon Water.
Garganey on lake at Felbrigg Hall NT.
Little Gull yesterday at Ranworth Broad.
Spoonbills x 2 yesterday, flew over Walsey Hills NOA.
TURTLE DOVE in garden at Tivetshall St Mary.
Quail singing, Short-eared Owl at Holme Dunes NWT.

Cambridgeshire Highlights
GREAT REED WARBLER still, singing at Paxton Pits NR at Little Paxton.

MEGA! BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO again, 1 mile NW of Bayhead on North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
MEGA! GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO still at Reap Lane, Portland, Dorset.

MEGA! LAMMERGEIER reported 1.75 miles west if Princetown, Dartmoor, Devon.
MEGA! DALMATIAN PELICAN NE of St Just at Tregeseal, Cornwall.

Sunday 22 May 2016


Me with celebrity 'Biking Birder' Gary Prescott!

A fabulous day at the Norfolk Bird & Wildlife Fair at Mannington Hall! The weather was a bit dull when I first arrived, but the sun came out and everything looked beautiful. The moated hall looked just as idyllic as I remembered it – a beautiful setting indeed. Saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker bounding through the trees and a Grey Wagtail sat on the roof of the hall. I heard that the Spotted Flycatcher was seen in the rose garden, but I wasn't lucky in seeing it.
Rob and Jill Wilson
Organisers and hosts of this wonderful event

I started the day off with Richard Brooks's talk on 'Lemnos, The New Lesbos?' and very interesting it was too, the variety of birds there looks amazing, only wish I could afford to go. Took some lovely pictures of Richard and Jessica after the talk. Bumped into Andrew Bloomfield who was one of many who kindly asked after my father. Met several blog readers today, lovely to meet you all and hope you enjoyed your day in this spectacular setting. Also chatted with Moss Taylor and other Norfolk birders.

Richard Brooks with his better half Jessica!

The moat around Mannington Hall

Met the new owner of CleySpy in the optics marquee, nice to meet you Tim. Bumped into Gary Prescott, The Biking Birder, who had his own stand with bike in the main marquee! Also saw Roy Robinson, who have not seen for many years, he was a warden at Walsey Hills NOA a few decades ago – lovely to see you!

A good variety of stands where on offer including artists, photographers, Jessops Academy who are branching into 'Photography Breaks and Holidays', Optics Tripod Chair Company, book sellers including WildSounds, Second Nature etc., craft stands, clothing, boots, sculpture, a very nice assortment of bird tables for sale, chainsaw art, basket weaving, a very tame raven, tortoise, Lamas!, falconry, bird ringing, moth traps and more!

Food outlets on offer were Vette's Veggi Van (my favourite), home-made cakes, fudge, ice-cream, hog roast, fish 'n' chips etc, beer tent. I very much enjoyed my veggi lunch under the shade of the trees with a nice cup of tea.
Scenery around Mannington Hall

Gary Prescott 'The Biking Birder' with Mike Linley who worked with Sir Peter Scott on the Survival series and also with
Sir David Attenborough on Life on Earth.
Jill Wilson

Food Vendors
The Optics Marquee
A wild Raven drops in!!!

Jill and Rob Wilson did an amazing job, pulling off their third
Bird Fair – congratulations to them both!
Next year sounds bigger and with celebrities in the pipeline.

Headed north to the coast. I arrived at Beach Road, Salthouse to find out from 'Dave' that the Bee-eater over Gramborough Hill earlier was John Furse! So pleased for him to have seen/heard this stunning bird on 'his' hill!!!

Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Stonechats x 2, Common Whitethroat, Sand Martins.

East Bank, Cley NWT.
Fabulous views of two Short-eared Owls hunting along the shingle ridge, east of north end of the East Bank, mid evening. Met Paul, a birder from Leicestershire (hello Paul's mum!) who was in the new shelter overlooking Arnold's Marsh and as I was walking back along the East Bank,  I met a lovely couple who read my blog – made me chuckle when the lady said I was her husband's other girlfriend, because of the amount of time he spends reading my blog! Bumped into Eddie M. at the car park end of the East Bank and had a catch up before I drove home.