I had a fabulous day's birding in the sunshine, but it was bitterly cold and every layer of clothing was required! The main aim of the day was to see Willow Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve – both of which were reported yesterday. Got the car washed on route too – way overdue!
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
I had not been to this reserve for a long time, which is dreadful really as it is a cracking reserve and has improved even more since my last visit. As a member, I should visit more often! Andrew, Nicky and another warden whose name I can't remember, asked me to mention them on the blog and very helpful they were too with lots of birding information and advice.
The new (two years old now) 'Volunteer Hide' has spectacular views of feeders and a bird table that produces just about everything! Its a very popular hide and several photographers were already seated in the hot seats. I managed to squeeze in and then later on gave up my spot to an elderly man with a little boy – always good to encourage the youngsters.
Birds seen at this reserve were: Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Bullfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Siskins, Redpolls, Bramblings, Hedge Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Robins, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mallards, Red Kite, Common Buzzard.
I walked round the entire reserve and noticed that several new seats were positioned at view points. It is a very well laid out reserve and continually improves to make it a top reserve to visit in Norfolk. Its a good job its not on the coast, otherwise it would be jam packed with birders and visitors. I also love the fact that no dogs are allowed, meaning you can walk freely without having to look down or have to see plastic bags of dog crap adorned from bushes! All good!
I spent a long time trying to see/hear Willow Tits, but failed miserably. There is also a Ermine Stoat on the reserve and it was seen today, not by me though! I also failed, as did everyone else to see Lesser Spotted Woodpecker – but I was told that someone had taken a picture of it on their phone a few days ago!!!
Back in the visitor centre it was toasty warm! It felt wonderful to be out of the bitter cold for a short while. The centre provides a hot drinks machine and a few snacks, so you need to bring your lunch with you. There a nice little range of things to buy, including notebooks, reserve hats/clothing, jewellery, walking sticks and more. Toilets are also inside (what a treat!). Sat and had my 'diet' lunch in the car park whilst watching a Robin.
Hempton Marsh Reserve, NOA
This reserve is a short distance away from Sculthorpe, so decided to have a quick look, just to see if there were any Willow Tits. The only bird here of note was a Marsh Tit. There are two locked hides at this reserve, (only NOA members with key can access). The last time I visited here there were lots of feeders to view from the hide and it was a really busy spot, but the few feeders left were all empty, so no birds to see. But, there is a new set up of feeders positioned just to the right of the boardwalk path and although they were all freshly filled, I didn't see any birds on them – maybe just unlucky or wrong time of day. Left here and headed north.
Along the B1454 between Tattersett and Syderstone I saw my second Red Kite of the day. Headed to Thornham Farm Shop to buy some vegetables etc for mother and then headed to Titchwell.
I walked as far as Island Hide where I saw Brent Geese, Shelducks, Avocets x 3, lots of Gulls, Teal and Pochard. It was seriously cold now. I walked back and around the Fen Trail in hope of seeing a Bittern from Fen Hide. No Bittern, but I had the wonderful surprise of watching a Water Shrew swimming across the front edge of the pool! 4 Marsh Harriers were over the reed beds – I'm sure there would have been far more later, but I needed to get to Holme before sunset.
Holme Bird Observatory
Drove to Holme Bird Observatory to pay my respects to my father. The road was like a roller coaster! 'Sandy Ridge' (where we once lived for a short while) opposite the 'standing caravan' (that was) is no more – the little bungalow that has stood here since time began has gone – looks like its going to be replaced with a massive great house.
Tons of Fieldfares flew over the pines at HBO and across the marshes, a Woodcock flew over and a Tawny Owl was calling. Where we had scattered the ashes, I sat and played 'The Lark Ascending' whilst watching the glow of the deep pink sun setting over the marshes. My mind filled with fond memories of my time here with father and all who knew him, joyous days that will never be forgotten. I felt so sad, so upset, which is why I haven't been here for a while – in fact that last time I visited HBO, it was father's birthday on 2nd November 2017.
Delivered shopping to mother, chatted to her about my day and discussed the atrocious weather we have coming our way this week! http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/weather/snow-could-cause-rush-hour-delays-1-5408983
Little snippets from last week: went to hairdressers, took mother home from hospital appointments, lost 4lbs at WW!
LOTS OF PICTURES TO BE ADDED THIS WEEK!