Snowy Owl and Glossy Ibis, 11 March 2018

I awoke this morning and it's fair to say I wasn't in the happiest of moods (just ask Belinda!). The news that the Snowy Owl had flown inland and been lost to view at 18.15 yesterday semed to have spelt the end of my hopes to see it. I sought consolation in the fact that I saw one in Norfolk at Warham in 1991!

With  nothing much else on my agenda I decided to head down to Hopton near Garboldisham, an area I know well, for the Glossy Ibis of the last few days. Parking up a local angrily told me to move my car so my wheels weren't on the path. Despite my declaration I was only going to be a few minutes he insisted 'because someone in a wheelchair might come past'. I really wasn't in the mood for his shit so did some insisting of my own in the form of a 'f*** off' and went on to enjoy some nice views of the bird from about 30 meters from my car!

Back at my appallingly (not!) parked car I poured a coffee which promptly got thrown out of the window as I'd got messages from Jus and Craig Shaw that the Snowy Owl had been relocated at Snettisham! So, I admit, I drove like a nutter up to NW Norfolk via Thetford, Mundham etc

Arriving at the RSPB carpark I began the long walk to the far southern end of the pits where the 1w female Snowy Owl was showing nicely on arrival - yay! At only c80-90 yards distant it was sat in the long grass on a hummock behind Shore Hide. Apparantly it was sat on prey although I didn't see it. After having my fill I made the long sweaty walk back noting Grey Plover, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Curlew on the near edge of the Wash.

A 20 minute look at Wolferton Triangle revealed no Golden Pheasant, just a Common Buzzard low through the trees.

There were several Rookeries along the A47 on the way home including a particularly large one at Little Fransham

Yearlist = 156

Snowy Owl

           Glossy Ibis

Covehithe & North Warren, 10 March 2018

I'd planned a day out with Belinda today so it was no dashing up to the North Norfolk Coast for me. That will have to wait until tomorrow ;-)

Instead we went for a walk at Covehithe where the cliff and tree damage from winter ravages was much in evidence. Birdwise there were 6 Avocets on Benacre Broad plus a calling Kingfisher and a Marsh Harrier but nothing else of interest. On the walk back however a 1w Glaucous Gull flew south along the clifftop giving really close views as I looked over my shoulder at just the time if flew past me.  An albino Common Pheasant was near Frostenden as we cut though the lanes.

Later in the afternoon while visiting Aldeburgh I popped in to a soggy North Warren where 3 Spoonbills dropped in quite close to the hide after about 5 minutes and began feeding. One was tagged on both legs (yellow and green rings). c6 Little Egrets and c80 Barnacle Geese were also about in the very brief look I had.

A Barn Owl was perched on a post by the road in the usual spot at Starston on the way home.

Yearlist = 155  

A confiding Red-breasted Merganser, 4 March 2018

A very quick look on Oulton Broad this lunchtime and the drake Red-breasted Merganser was showing very closely by the boats on the front edge. I'd have got some great shots if only I had my lens so had to settle for using Belinda's 55mm one to get the shot below! There was no sign of anything else much there and walks along the coastline at Corton Cliffs and Gunton revealed no Little Gulls, just a 2w Mediterranean Gull on the beach carpark at Gunton.

Still, it was nice to be out as the thaw begins...

Yearlist = 154

Red-breasted Merganser

Whitlingham CP, Coues's Arctic Redpoll etc, 3 March 2018

After the enforced 'stay at home' due to the so called 'Beast from the East' which gave us c15 inches of snow in Pulham it was nice to finally get out today.
I headed into Norwich where I had other things I needed to do noting c15 Fieldfares feeding on berries in the village on my way out. After my chores I slunk off to a very slippery Whitlingham Lane.
Walking along past a frozen Little Broad I bumped into Dave Russell and soon after a small group of c12 Lesser Redpolls and c6 Siskin. I picked out a nice Mealy Redpoll amongst them but they quickly spooked and it was some while before we got them settled again up near the start of Great Broad. When they did I quickly picked out the Coues's Arctic Redpoll and it went on to show nicely. A quick stroll around the adjacent path into the trees and I flushed a most welcome Woodcock (a species that seems to have been suffering badly from the cold snap) before I turned my attention to the water. Eventually, Dave picked up the redhead Smew and I had a quick squint through his scope as I'd come out with just my bins. On the walk back I saw the Coues's Arctic Redpoll again, this time lower down and even better. A lovely frosty individual with just a single dark feather shaft showing on the undertail coverts. I watched it for a while with Dave Holman and David Bryant before leaving.
While visiting Mum and Dad a little later Jus rang to say the drake Mandarin was a Thorpe Green. I had a look on my way out of the city but couldn't find it. I walked down Girlings Lane to the old Norwich Union boat clubhouse and my hunch paid off as the Mandarin swam out from the bank of the River Yare near the railway bridge with some Mallard. A single Little Grebe was also there.

Yearlist = 153

Mandarin (far right) with Mallards

        This Mute Swan wandered up to birders and just sat down. Obviously just needing some love in these frigid temperatures!

Out on the patch, Weybread GPs, 25 February 2018

A little bit of patch birding this afternoon - it's good for the soul!
What I like about doing a local patch is that it doesn't take much to get you excited, a peak count, a patch rarity (even if it's not exactly rare!) or a patch tick.
Today it was a peak count of 8 Little Egrets that hit the mark, especially as I'd never seen more than 2 before. Other than that 3 Kingfishers were making a lot of din near the fisherman's carpark, a Common Buzzard flew over as did a Stock Dove. There were counts of 102 Tufted Duck, 2 Gadwall and 5 Egyptian Geese plus Song Thrush and then a nice male Grey Wagtail down Watermill Lane on the mill pond and a charm of 12 Goldfinches.

Excuse the iPhone photos below - I'm missing my big lens but a new upgraded version has been ordered, and I can't wait to try it out! 

8 Little Egrets in a row


Weybread GPs, it may be shit but it's my patch!

Disaster day, 22 February 2018

Today won't go down as my best ever!

I managed to dip on the Bittern at Glandford and couldn't find any Lapland Buntings at Weybourne either. All I did manage to see was the adult Black Brant with c600 Brent Geese just west of the Iron Road at Salthouse and point blank views of c60 Snow Buntings at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse. The photos in lovely light would have been mega if only my lens hadn't malfunctioned. The error message it's been intermitently showing now seems to be permanent so I can't take anything.

It looks like my Friday is going to involve some phone calls to camera repairers/shops and hope I can get it sorted out. If not it may have to be an earlier than expected upgrade to the Canon 100-400 mark 2!

Snow Buntings (handheld with iPhone to show how close they were!)

Brecks Bonanza, 18 February 2018

I resisted the temptation to have a Sunday lay-in and set my alarm for a nice early start to drive across to Santon Downham. About halfway there I realised I'd left my coat at home and with temperatures down to minus 2 when I arrived it wasn't ideal!

The drive gave me yeartick no.150 in the form of a Little Owl, 2 Roe Deer near Garboldisham and an amazing 100+ Red Deer near Rushford after which I walked the river bank path in the crisp frost. Kingfisher, a few Siskins and a squealing Water Rail were clocked up on the way together with Song Thrush and several calling Nuthatches. Bumping into Ashley Banwell for a quick chat I arrived at 'the spot' and after some great views of an Otter by some fallen trees in the river and several Great Spotted Woodpeckers I eventually got onto 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers albeit a little way away, they chased each other around from tree to tree but were gone again in a flash. Treecreeper, several Redwings and Marsh Tit were added and the Otter remained ever-present often fishing and frolicking just 10 feet away! 2 Nuthatches were visiting a feeder in the village on the way back enabling a quick photographic stop.

I moved on to location no.2 next where I spent about and hour and a half managing to see 2 Goshawks, 1 Red Kite, c15 Common Buzzards, 1 Sparrowhawk and 2 Woodlarks.

Back home in the afternoon a walk with Belinda in the Waveney Valley near Mendham the usual small group of c12 Barnacle Geese were with Canada Geese, several Fieldfares were chacking in the trees and a male Bullfinch showed nicely.

Yearlist = 152



North East London and Abberton, 16 February 2018

A Friday out in the sun with Jus. It was very spring-like down south today for a great day of birding and banter with little brother!
Our first port of call was Walthamstow Wetlands for our main target of the day - the wintering Little Bunting. And in the sun we were pleasantly surprised how quicky we saw it. During an hour and a half it showed about half a dozen times popping up into the same bush each time in the company of c10 Reed Buntings and c40 Linnets. While we were there chatting to a couple of local birder we also had 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Sparrowhawks and a handful of Ring-necked Parakeets. A wander round to no.4 reservoir and we were soon watching the adult drake Scaup with a small group of Tufted Duck, job done! After a coffee in the seriously impressive visitor centre (an old converted Victorian pumping station) we moved on.


Little Bunting

Walthamstow Wetlands visitor centre

A short drive away in Snaresbrook a 3rd year Caspian Gull has been frequenting Eagle Pond and we found the bird within a few minutes as it flew in and was eventually tempted closer with a loaf of Kingsmill! There were good numbers of Tufted Duck there plus a dodgy Canada Goose with lots of white on it's face that got Jus excited but little else.

Caspian Gull

Connaught Water on the edge of Epping Forest is somewhere I've not been for years and a quick circuit of the lake on our way out of London revealed 15 Mandarin (3 females, 12 drakes) a single Pochard and a Common Buzzard before we headed up the A12.


With time on our side for once we opted to finish the day at Abberton. It was an excellent call. Starting at the viewing screen in Wigborough Bay we quickly located the 3 Little Stints on a muddy spit striaght out from the screen plus c10 Goosander in the distance and c40 Pintail before we moved to the Layer Breton causeway for the remaining light. In abiut 45 minutes there we had 8 Smew (2 drakes) even including some displaying with the males sticking their head crests up and putting their heads back a little like a Goldeneye would, a point blank Black-necked Grebe, Great White Egret, c380 Shoveler, c40 Goldeneye and finally 2 fly-over Ruff.

Yearlist = 149

Black-necked Grebe


A non-birding day with 2 yearticks, 15 February 2018

Despite doing no actual birding today I still managed to bag a couple of yearticks.
On the way to visit Belinda's Dad an adult Yellow-legged Gull was in fields near Wickham Skeith and then I finally managed to connect with a Marsh Tit at Dunwich Bridge Tearooms while having a coffee in the spring-like sun!
From a moving car I did notice the 14 Bewick's Swans in their usual spot near Westleton but we spent most of the afternoon taking photographs around Blythburgh Church and Greyfriars Priory.

A day out with Jus tomorrow will hopefully be more fruitful...

Yearlist = 144

Lowie, 14 February 2018

A morning visit to Lowestoft on a grey cold day. It was hard work with nothing of note at all on Oulton Broad despite looking for the Red-throated Diver. Over the road on Mutford Lock Basin I eventually located the wintering Common Sandpiper but it took some time! Also there were a Little Grebe and 5 Redshank.

On Lake Lothing it took me an age to locate the wintering Shag from the railway bridge having already tried from the Asda carpark and the Oulton Broad end! A Peregrine perched high up on the grain silo was a nice bonus but there was no sign of anything of interest at Ness Point.

Hard work but at least my 2 yeartick targets were nabbed!

Yearlist = 142