Sunday, 31 January 2010

Frozen nets again yesterday morning thwarted our attempts to get our early so we had to go for a afternoon ringing session instead. Although quieter that recent weeks, despite the colder weather, we did manage to get into double figures with new birds ringed. Highlights were 2 woodcock and a female fieldfare. This is the first bird to be ringed at the site in the last 2 years.

female fieldfare

A couple of hours on the reserve this morning produced two more yearticks (fulmar and slav grebe). Although the tide was further out the sea was much calmer making stuff easier to sea. The two drake velvet scoter showed well fairly close in and stood out well in the good light. Good numbers of goldeneye are still present and the slav grebe was close in feeding with them. The fly-by fulmar was about the only thing on the move offshore. Good numbers of wildfowl on the fresh marsh now with the water levels lower. 209 pintail was the highlight.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Weather not been great over the last couple of days but I did manage an afternoon on the reserve yesterday. After a false start, 2 people spending 45 mins badgering me about the Fen Hide windows as usual, I did get great views of the bittern. Unfortunatly it didn't show for long and we were making too much noise with our 'detailed discussion'

Now the water levels on the fresh marsh have dropped a bit there were plenty of waders about. 4 avocet, 150+ lapwing and 38 ruff to roost plus at least 5 spotted redshank about. I tried to get some digi-scope images but the light was too poor.

Ended up at the sea but there was a large swell and the birds were very difficult to get a decent view of despite large numbers present. Large numbers of common scoter have moved closer inshore and at least 2 velvet scoters were with them as they flew further out along with over 50 goldeneye. The large waves have been churning up the seabed and large numbers of common gulls were feeding in the surf along with a cracking adult med gull.

Canada goose and velvet scoter take the total to 110.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Bit of a jammy day on the yearlist front today and there is already talk in the office of how to handicap me.
While messing about with water levels and adjusting pipes I flushed a kingfisher from the usual spot along the main path. The bird can often be found sitting on the outfall pipe catching small fry that get pushed through the pipe into the pool below. I also climbed onto the back to check that this pipe was clear and saw a drake goosander under the pipe! At first I thought it was dead but it soon moved and headed off down the creek onto the saltmarsh. Yearlist now up to 108.

Bittern seen twice feeding along the ditch next to the area we cut last week - inspired habitat management!!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

After 24 days I have finally caught up with turnstone taking the total to 106.
Good day for raptors with 2 common buzzard, red kite and marsh harrier in the same field along with kestrel earlier.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

After the last couple of days I haven't got many of my 9 lives left! Managed to get the Softrak out on Thursday but it was a bit of an ordeal as we managed to get the rescuing digger stuck twice. Thankfully, after about 4 hours, both machines were back on hard ground and my heart rate could return to normal!

Not much time for looking at birds over the last few days with everything else going on but another 3 species to the list. Cracking common buzzard sat on the grazing marsh fenceline and barn owl on Thursday and a flock of 11 mistle thrushes west late this afternoon (possibly the largest flock recorded on the reserve) takes the total to 105.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bloody typical, I should have kept my mouth shut the day! Things were going so well with the Softrak on Monday, working well in the conditions.

Well this is how I left it today...!

If you are thinking of writing a blog, some advice. It may look simple but it is not. You can't copy and paste into the blog, the preview looks nothing like post you have just created and it is difficult getting the images in the right place. Basically it is a pain in the arse. Having said that I am going to soldier on and see what happens.

Mealy redpoll added today but the total stays at 102 as the marsh tit from the other day turns out the be a mimicing great tit instead.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Most people don't like Mondays and many of them don't even like their jobs but I am not one of them - today was a great day
If you know a warden of a nature reserve you will know that we love big machines and today we had one arrive at Titchwell. The Softrak machine is designed to cut vegetation in very wet conditions and has wide rubber tracks to stop it sinking. It can work in areas that are over boot deep in mud! Pictures will follow later in the week.

The birds have been pretty good today as well. No yearticks but fantastic views of bittern in front of the Fen Hide. The bird was standing on the edge of the pool as the machine passed by and it didn't even bother to fly off. At least 2 birds are present at the moment.
At the end of the day we completed our monthly hen harrier roost count. Although there was a brief appearance of a ringtail, the marsh harriers were the highlight. 14 birds (1 male) were seen over the reedbed at dusk including 9 females circling around together. Probably the most adult harriers I have soon on the reserve.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Finally, after all the crappy weather, we managed our first ringing session of the year. Bit of a struggle to get the nets open as they have been frozen, covered in snow and soaked with rain for most of the last month.

With no disturbance recently we hoped for a good day but the first few net rounds were quiet - all the roosting redwings were missing the nets as they flew off and so did the 11 woodcocks that returned at dawn.

First quality bird was this adult redwing followed by a woodcock flushed from a net ride. IIt managed to avoid the first net but was caught by the next. As Kevin and I were watching one of the nets, an immature female sparrowhawk decided to blunder into it. Thankfully it was surprisingly quiet for these normally feisty birds.

With a load of tits towards the end of the morning we ended with 42 new birds ringed and 68 re-trapped.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Finally a quality species that I have managed to catch up with!

3 redhead smew turned up on the grazing marsh pool yesterday and have been commuting between there and the fresh marsh. A quick dash down the path provided me with my 249th Titchwell tick after the dodgy June male of 2005!

The weather the last couple of days has been terrible and the best place to be has been in the office. Persistent light rain, near darkness and fog have not made looking for birds an inviting thought. Saying that, I have managed to add beardie and great spot taking the total to 102. 2 bitterns kicking around at the moment but only managed to get brief views so far - apparently there were 5 roosting at Holme before the cold snap.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Marsh tit on the feeders today (99) but naff all else. A depressingly dull, damp and dreary day - roll on spring!!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Random bird sighting on the way to the reserve this morning. While driving along I noticed a large bark brown bird with a pale head standing in the middle of a stubble field. Managed to pull over in a gateway expecting to see a large raptor and it turned out to be a drake Muscovy duck!

The plan of the day was to search for any diver activity offshore. Things started off promising with 3 pale bellied brent geese feeding with brents on the grazing marsh and 2 water pipits on the fresh marsh.
Although the wind was light today there was still a large swell on the sea making viewing conditions difficult. I started off at Thornham Point with good views of the red kite preening in the bushes, 18 snow bunting and a red necked grebe offshore. A fly-by diver made me walk from the Point to the Brancaster creek but I couldn't relocate it. The lingering 1st winter glauc was still present on the beach along with 2 adult meds. A large mobile flock of common scoter (1200) offshore were too distant to check for any velvets. The 12 little grebes on the tidal pool was a good count and are probably birds escaping the cold of the Midlands.

Hard work with the yearlist (98) at the moment, struggling for turnstone and Canada goose still!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Managed to add another 10 species (91) over the weekend but the thaw has now set in and the weather has been shocking today - dark, grey and contstant sleet and rain showers. Highlights have been 2 woodcock and 2 water rails feeding outside the office window and 3 spotted redshank yesterday. Spring must be just around the corner as a pair of blue tits have been checking our a nestbox outside the window and the male is starting to hold territory and chase the other tits off.
Merlin and barn owl hunting near Choseley on the way home.

The crab apples did the trick with 15 fieldfares feeding on them yesterday.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Day off today as working over the weekend but the offshore conditions on the reserve made it pointless to check it out - 20mph NE with snow showers dosen't make ideal seawatching conditions!
Decided to go for a walk locally and although it was fairly quiet there were good numbers of fieldfare and redwing ( 1 unfortunate individual being nailed by a sparrowhawk), at least 4 woodcocks flushed and several buzzards in the area.

Collected some crab apples on the way round with was certainly appreciated by the 10 blackbirds in the garden.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thursday January 7th

Very cold day but the wind did produce some impressive 'skyscapes' on the beach especially over high tide.

Merlin and jay added to the yearlist today taking the total to 81 but no sign of the juv glauc. While checking some water levels in the reedbed I came across one of last years marsh harrier nests.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Wednesday January 6th

Another 4 species added today with the highlight being the lingering juv glauc on the freshmarsh. Not the best views as it slept on the ice but a brute of a bird. A brief flight view of a bittern and a ringtail hen harrier has taken the list to 79.

A new non-avian species for me at Titchwell came in the form of the harlequin ladybird. Several individuals were found sheltering on some willow bushes we were cutting in the reedbed. All were of the same colour type - black with 2 red patches on each wingcase.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Tuesday January 5th

10 species added to the yearlist today taking the total to 75. Highlight was the lingering red kite hunting over the saltmarsh this afternoon.

A snowy guided walk at Snettisham this morning produced a decent number of pinkies with at least 4000 present. Numbers are much reduced at the moment so it was good to see some - only 800 were recorded over the New Year. There was a good movement of skylark with over 200 south, 30 snow bunting and 2 shorelark were on the beach and 5 scaup on the 2nd pit.
Large numbers of thurshes (mainly looked like fieldfare) in the orchards between Thornham and Holme looked interesting but no time to check them.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Monday January 4th

Back to work and the yearlist is finally up and running but the biggest bird is still missing from it. The possible pacific diver was seen again today both times in flight at 09:05 and 12:15 but despite the fact I was out on the reserve doing a lagoon count I still haven't caught up with it. Many of the Norfolk listers have seen it and the murmerings I have heard so far have been positive.

Without the diver, the yearlist stands at 65 with highlights so far of water pipit, 14 twite and 23 snow buntings. Despite most of the water being frozen, good numbers wildfowl are still present with 300+ teal about.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sunday January 3rd

Gardens and birding just don't mix!

Early start this morning for the 1st ringing session of the year but a frosty night produced frozen nets at both our sites. Spent the day in the garden putting up pur new fruit cage unaware that my mobile was going crazy to tell me of the possible pacific diver at the reserve. By the time I found out about it there wasn't enough time to get there so I hope the bird is still around tomorrow.

Always keep your phone with you!!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Friday January 1st

The plan for this year is to try and beat the current Titchwell RSPB reserve yearlist that currently stands at 206 although the year hasn't got off to the greatest start as I haven't been to the reserve yet!

Follow my ramblings about my progress and other birding related 'goings on' throughout the year here. If you can't be bothered, don't worry I won't be offended!

The new year started well especially as I was staying at Minsmere for a few days. Not much time for birding (helping to look after 2 crazy children) I did manage to grab a few hours on New Years' afternoon. A cold but cracking walk produced 9 flyover white fronted geese, firecrest near Scott's Hall, calling tawny owl and 13 marsh and single ringtail hen harrier to roost from Island Mere.