Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Bit of a jammy afternoon. While walking around the Meadow Trail I had a fly-over rook (128). Not exactly a rare bird but a surpringly hard species to catch up with at Titchwell. We get loads of crows breeding in the area and moving west in the spring and good numbers of jackdaw but rook is another matter. I radioed the office but it had gone over before the others could get out. We also had a very early sedge warbler (129) singing near the Island Hide briefly mid-afternoon. Not sure on when we had the 1st bird last year but in 2007 I didn't record one until April 12th! It does seem that several species are a bit early - sand martin and swallow have both bee at least 10 days earlier this year.

A quick stop at Choseley drying barns on the way home produced 52 corn bunting and 22 yellowhammer feeding on spilt grain on the concrete pad.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A reasonable mornings ringing, despite a slight frost, included the first chiffchaff and blackcap for the year in a total of 19 new and 35 re-traps. Also around the site included a probable firecrest singing briefly (it wouldn't come to a tape), grey wagtail, 2 tawny owls and a green woodpecker.

Bit of a raptor movement yesterday wth 5 buzzard and 2 sparrowhawk west over the garden. Found a blackbird nest in the garden and the robins are now incubating.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Two more species added today taking the total to 127. Swallow (126) west this evening with 6 sand martins and a tawny owl (127) calling from Willow Wood while we were listening for bitterns. One bird 'grunting' again this evening for an hour.

A new moth species for me in the work trap this morning was this cracking oak beauty.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Bit of a red letter day today with 3 yearticks and my 250th species for Titchwell.

Started off well with a drake garganey (123) on the grazing marsh which later moved onto the fresh marsh and the first 'grunting' bittern of the season was on the edge of the grazing marsh. Then came the radio message from Dave, '6 cranes heading west along the ridge', the office emptied and we ran up to the main road to see the six birds slowly drifting west along the main road. They are always awesome birds to see(124). The best was still to come...

While out on a guided walk, Dave radioed to see if I had looked at my pager. I had left it in the office so didn't know what was heading our way. 'Alpine swift heading west from Holkham' was his reply. Having missed two a couple of years ago I was hoping that it would contuine towards us. At about 15:20, on our way back, I picked up the bird distantly over the saltmarsh towards Gypsy Lane heading our way. The bird flew directly towards us over the reedbed and right overhead at about 30ft before disapearing on to Holme (125). I managed to contact the NOA who had the bird continue west.
A fantastic bird to make the 250 landmark.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Photographers are always moaning that they get a bad press when the are accused (rightly or wrongly) of flushing birds or being where they are not meant to be and this bloke hasn't helped their cause. Unfortunatly I was not close enough to say anything but he climbed over a fence to get closer to a perched barn owl. He didn't get that close before he flushed it - what a tw*t!! Rant over

Last day of my holiday so decided to go out to Gun Hill to look for migrants. Got off to a promising start with 3 chiffchaffs in the hedges near the road along with a late fieldfare. The grazing marsh was alive with displaying lapwing, redshank and skylarks and there were 6 ringed plover feeding on the pools. Two male wheatear and a fly through sand martin were the only other migrants and the wind picked up from the south. A quick look at the sea produced 5 common scoter, single gannet and a horbour porpoise close inshore.

Thought I would try for some shelter in Holkham Park but apart several singing nuthatch and a nice female green woodpecker it was quiet.

Holkham church and hall

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A cracking spring morning that didn't quite meet up to its promise.
WeBS count this morning so had to spend a few hours on the reserve. Started off well with a brambling (122) in the trees around the picnic area. The lagoons are very quiet now most of the wildfowl have moved off. Loads of avocets, water pipit and aythya hybrid still about. The news of 2 cranes moving west along the coast encouraged me to sit by the fresh marsh but once they had got to Morston they decided to turn around and go back east - doh!
28 velvet scoter with 1900 common was probably the highest for a number of years.

Robins in the garden have now got 3 eggs

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Rain ended today's ringing session early but it was still a decent morning. Highlights were a re-trapped female nuthatch (top birds in the hand) and 3 new goldfinches. Around the site were the first singing chiffchaffs (2), 3 tawny owls, adult med gull and a barn owl.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Not much change on the reserve from yesterday. The firecrest was still showing really well flycatching in the willows between the carpark and VC. 4 chiffchaff (2 at Thornham Point, 2 on Meadow Trail), water pipit, and the male wheatear (121) still on the grazing meadow.

Peacock butterfly in the garden this afternoon.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Another cracking days birding on the coast. Started at one of coastal ringing sites and although the nets were quiet the birding around the site was great. Started off with a fly-over calling lapland bunting which dropped onto the marsh. There were loads of singing skylarks and displaying lapwing, 3 marsh harrier, peregrine, ringtail hen harrier, 42 pink feet and 6 sand martins west. After about an hour a large flock of small birds got up started to fly around. Once they landed I managed to get onto a coupe of the birds which also turned out to be lap bunts. We decided to get a better angle on the area where the birds were feeding and eventually had at least 50 birds feeding and flying around together! Many males were coming into summer plumage and looking very smart - certainly the most I have ever seen together.
Also had the first butterfly (peacock) of the year, several bumblebees and a toad.

With the sand martins on the move I decided to try the reserve for the afternoon. Got off to a good start with firecrest (118) feeding along the edge of the carpark giving views down to a few metres. Also on the reserve was a singing chiffchaff (119) on the Meadow Trail and 7 sand martins (120) west. 2 male stonechat in the scrub from Fen Hide and a bittern over the reeds on the walk back.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Cracking day out and about and it was made even better by bumping into this!

For some reason I decided to look at the 'big white bag' it the top of the wood and was surprised to see that it was a bird and not a bag. Scoped it and realised it was an egret that had to be great white considering its size and the fact I was probably half a mile away from it. The bird was on one of our ringing sites so I called Keith so we could go onto the farm and get closer views to confirm the ID and get some images. Thankfully the bird stayed until Keith and Ann arrived and showed until 16:15 at least. By the time I had got to the car and driven back it had gone. I checked Thornham Harbour and saltmarsh but no sign.
Barn owl, 670 golden plover, 30 yellowhammer and 20 corn bunting were also in the Choseley barns area.

Spent the morning on the reserve and managed to add 2 more species to the yearlist. Grey partridge (116) on the saltmarsh and 2 tree sparrows west at 09:45 (117). Also had snow bunting on the beach, 80+ avocet and this ring-necked x tufted duck hybrid on the fresh marsh.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Good morning ringing at one of our other sites just to the east of Fakenham. It is a great little site with good selection of habitats that pick up a variety of species. Real spring-like weather produced a good number of moving finches with the highlights being 7 siskin (new bird ringed) and 7 goldfinches. Other goodies included a female nuthatch which delighted in drumming Keiths' fingers, and a marsh tit. Ended up with 24 new and 27 re-traps including a controlled goldfinch from another site.
There were also plenty of other bits about including 4 displaying buzzard, 3 sparrowhawks, 2 singing marsh tits, med gull and the first bumblebee of the year.

male siskin, female siskin, female nuthatch
Decided to head off to Holkham but very quite now the geese have gone - only 21 pinkies were still on the marshes. At least 5 buzzards displaying over Holkham Park and 4 female marsh harriers over the grazing marsh. Nipped over to Wells harbour for the black brant as I haven't caught up with any yet this winter. Got good views of it bathing in the harbour channel but the photos were rubbish.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Managed a couple of hours ringing before work on Saturday and got a ringing tick and a new bird for the site.
After a few weeks of trying we managed to tempt one of the local moorhens into a net. Usually they are too wary and tend to fly off steeply and avoid the nets. When they do go in, becauce their feet are so big they have a nack of just walking out of the net. Thankfully we got to this one in time.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Don't panic, I am still alive. Stupid Tiscali and BT couldn't sort their ar**s from their elbows but after nearly 2 weeks we finally have the Internet again.

You haven't missed much really. With the combination of the weather and working in the garden I have barely done any birding recently. Spent a pleasant day birding in the Brecks last week looking for some of the speciality stuff. The weather wasn't great but it was calm if a bit overcast.

Started at Santon Downham looking for lesser spots. No joy as usual and from talking to other people they are getting very difficult here and hadn't been seen for a few weeks. Had a walk around the forestry and got good views of at least 3 singing woodlarks and several groups of crossbills going over. There was also 60 bramblings (over 200 earlier in the winter) feeding under the beech trees around the carpark. Moved onto one of the regular sites for goshawk and after an hour got lucky with a displaying pair for a few minutes. Finished off the day with 10 hawfinches and 40+ crossbills at Lynford but no firecrests.

singing male hawfinch at Lynford and male brambling @ Santon Downham