Sunday, 29 January 2012

Little and Large

In the blue corner, with a wing length of 54mm and weighing in at 5.6g - the goldcrest

In the red corner, with a wing length of 367mm and weighing in at 345g - the common gull
The joys of garden ringing, one minute you are extracting a delicate little bird with tiny legs that you are scared you might squash and the next you have a pecking brute that thinks your fingers are left-over sausages!
Perfect conditions this morning meant that opening the nets in the garden was a 'no brainer' although it did take me 30mins to defrost them! It was a decent morning (they could always be better) with 18 new (8 greenfinch, 4 blackbird, 2 chaffinch, 1 dunnock, 1 goldcrest) and 3 re-traps. 3 garden yearticks were added with a tawny owl (30) calling as I opened, 4 fly-over bullfinches (31) and the ringed goldcrest (32).
Spent the afternoon at the coast with a walk around Brancaster West Marsh/Gypsy Lane producing 3 woodcock, 86 brent geese, sparrowhawk and 8 white-fronted geese. They flew west before I could get any shots and we later found them feeding just outside Thornham in a beet field with pinks and greylags (including green neck-collar SXX).
A quick look from Thornham harbour for SEO's was successful with 2 birds hunting and interacting over the fields. It was a good 15mins for raptors with 3 barn owl, 4 marsh harrier and a kestrel in the area.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Rough justice for Dave

Got up this morning, clear and still but had to go to work so no ringing - gutted. Still conditions at work with cracking light and Dave went out birding while I was in the office - gutted again. Dave had a frustrating morning with only a mystery small auk he couldn't nail down being the 'highlight'. The other volunteers said that it was quiet too but I was in need of getting out of the office.
I walked down the path and met Stuart near the Island Hide watching a buzzard sp sat in a sueda bush out on the saltmarsh. Stuart though the bird may be a rough-leg and it looked good from the hazy views we could get. I radioed it back to Tony and carried on watching. The bird was sitting side on so the views were not great. As I was counting the pintail on the fresh marsh, 226 if you are interested, the bird moved and another birder said it was a rough-leg. I didn't see the necessary features so watied longer. I eventually moved further down the path and the bird took flight. Tony was on the path by now and we followed it slowly flying west and it turned out to be a common and probably the rough-leg lookalike that has been at Holme.
I carried on towards Parrinder Hide when Tony called up saying rough-leg! I got my scope on the bird and sure enough it had a white uppertail with the common buzzard lower down. 'Our' bird must have bought up the rough-leg from somewhere south of Titchwell village.
Yesterday, Nat and I went on an 'away day' to Lakenheath to look at some machinery they are using to cut reed with the possibility of using on some of our other reserves.
Golden oriole plantation @ Lakenheath
If you know anything about wardens, you know we like our big toys and this one was pretty impressive. Weighing 20 tons with a 16m reach, this is an impressive beast but probably a bit too big for our little reedbed!
Despite the 4 massive smoky fires and a very noisy machine, we managed to pick up a few birds with these 3 cranes flying over being the highlight. They were a bit distant and the light was rubbish but you get the idea.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


I had to check some of the scrubby areas around the Fen Trail and carpark in preparation for some coppicing while I am away which gave me the opportunity to look for woodcock. It doesn't seem to have been a great winter for them yet. We have seen and caught very few through our ringing activities and there have been none showing in the usual places between the carpark and visitor centre. This made my scrub search one of the few chances to find some. I was in luck and flushed at least 6 birds.
I did manage to miss a couple of seasonal goodies though. Stuart text me with the news that he had seen the Ross's goose fly along the ridge with a load of pinkies (I did see it at Snetts at the weekend) and Ray had a fly-over green sandpiper. I did have, what is probably the same wintering bird, back in November when we were scrub planting.
Yearlist now up to 102
Only 2 weeks to India, should really start revising the birds!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Rouzel still present

Not exactly the best ringing conditions this morning but it did produce 75 re-traps and 14 new including a nice woodcock.
On the way out of the site I was checking the local flock of fieldfares when the wintering ring ouzel flew after not being seen for nearly a week. The birds showed pretty well but I could only manage a few record shots.
Spotted redshank @ Titchwell last week

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Ton up

Had to pop into the reserve to pick up my bins (doh) yesterday afternoon so decided to spend a couple of hours spotting. There is not a great deal about especially on the sea. I managed to not see any of the long tailed ducks but did manage peregrine, rt diver and common scoter taking the yearlist over 100.
The morning was spent watching the birds in the garden as it was chucking it down. A fruitful couple of hours produced a nice lesser redpoll on the feeders taking the garden list to 29.
After a late night I had an early start at Snettisham for a goose walk. Thankfully the heavy rain had cleared by a strong westerly wind didn't help things. The geese were not great, probably only 5000, but the was a Ross's goose with them and about 35 snow bunts on the beach. Breakfast at the Old Bank was a monster as usual!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

X794060 - where are you from?

This was a goldfinch that I controlled (someone else ringed) in the garden back in early November and I have just recieved the details.
It was ringed at Gilbraltar Point in Lincolnshire on March 29th 2010 making a total of 583 days since ringing and a movement of at least 40km.
I controlled another goldfinch at the weekend so it will be interesting to see where that one has come from.

Monday, 16 January 2012

The perfect day?

Pretty much!

Today was a day of monitoring so most of my time was spent out on the reserve made all the better by the fantastic weather - cold but calm and an awesome light.
The morning was spent on a lagoon count and although all the fresh water was still frozen there was a nice group of wildfowl feeding in a small open area right in front of the hide. All of the diving ducks had cleared off but the mandarin was still about. A siskin in the alders was the first of 6 yearticks of the day.

The end of the day was taken up by the first harrier roost count of the new year. I was covering the Gypsy Lane area and it started well with a male hen appearing almost as soon as I arrived. Unfortunatly the appearance was only brief and it headed back east. While it was over the saltmarsh it flushed a small flock of passerines which looked dark but were too far away to ID. I was further up the path to check them and eventually could hear the calling - twite. After a short while they flushed again and there was at least 35. Bearded tit activity in the tidal reedbed was good and a jay was added to the list.

The evenings are already drawing out and it was still possible to check through the greylag flock that few overhead at 4:45!! Awesome red sunset too.

This is a shot of a juv herring gull I took a couple of weekends ago at Brancaster Harbour. It was digi-scoped out of the car window only resting on a beanbag. I have edited it through Photoshop but I think it has come out pretty well.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


that is thrushes to everyone else!

The common 4 species (blackbird, song thrush, redwing and fieldfare) are usually easy to pick up on a yearlist but the other two (mistle thrush and ring ouzel) are much harder. Despite being locally common, it is amazing how difficult it is to catch up with mistle thruhes but this year I have already managed to bag one flying over the capark earlier in the week. Ouzels are even harder to get and I don't think that I saw one last year. Having said that there is a nice female wintering at one of our ringing sites at the moment which I caught uo with this morning.

Picked up the debatable wildfowl on our WeBS count yesterday morning. A pair of red crested pochard (returning?) turned up on the fresh marsh on Friday and I finally saw the wintering female manarin. 10 cranes (8 and 2) have been through this week but despite missing them there should be plenty of chance in the spring, the traditional time for the Broads birds to be on the move.

Despite a morning temperature of -4, the conditions have finally been good enough for opening the nets in the garden, overcast and more inmportantly no wind!. I have now got a 40ft to add to my existing two which now gives me greater coverage. A few hours produced 24 new birds, 2 re-traps an a control goldfinch from somewhere else.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


I have just been collating my final ringing figures from last year and it makes interesting me anyway!
Most of my ringing activities took place either in the garden here or at our main site near Burnham Market although there was the odd excursion onto other sites.

By the end of the year I had extracted a total of 1612 birds, processed 780, and ringed 1161, a slight decrease from 1225 in 2010.

The garden has had an excellent this year although the last couple of were very quiet (15 new birds) mainly down to the dark evenings and windy weather. A total of 482 were ringed in the garden but it is the greenfinch figures really stand out. 235 birds were ringed and most of these were during the late summer and were youngsters. What is particularly interesting is the fact that most of them moved off to other areas with only 10 being re-trapped. Other high numbers included 48 blue tit, 48 goldfinch, 44 blackbird, 1 chiffchaff but the highlight of the year was the marsh tit I caught in March.

The main highlight for me was the opportunity to get involved with the pulli (nestling) ringing at Kelling Heath and especially the chance to ring some scarce birds. I was lucky enough to colour-ring stonechat, woodlark and Dartford warbler chicks in the nest.

This year I hope to set up a new ringing site on the coast which should give the opportunity to catch some acro warblers (something we don't do much of) and possibly some migrants and hopefully I may get back a few greenfinch controls!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Lists climb slowly

Bittern and stock dove added to the reserve list today (88), fieldfare and red legged partridge added to garden list (25).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Daves' found an Iceland

With the year well under way I thought I had better get some birds onto the yearlist. My plan is to use Saturday afternoon, after ringing, as my yearlist time while there is no chance of morning or evening birding.
Due to a shoot we couldn't go ringing so I decided to spend the morning on the reserve. Didn't worry about looking at the redpoll but headed straight to the fresh marsh to count the ducks and check for scaup and mandarin. Didn't manage to catch up with either but a phonecall from Rob changed things. Dave had just located an adult Iceland gull on the beach so I was in hot pursuit managing to leave my tally counter on the bench (it was handed in to the shop later). The bird had moved east along the beach but a quick call to Dave and the bird was located feeding on the tideline, only my 2nd reserve record.
The sea remains very quiet but I did manage to add fulmar, RB merg, GC grebe and guillemot taking the yearlist to 85.
After a couple of hours in Thornham Harbour things turned for the worse as the van cut out as I was heading home and I had to call out the RAC. They have towed it to the garage so I am expecting another large bill next week...stupid cars!!
Pied wag and turnstones at Thornham Harbour.
Added redwing (22) and coal tit (23) to the garden yearlist this morning.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Twitch and run

Sat in the office this morning when a call over the radio reported 4 white-fronted geese on the grazing marsh with the greylags. A quick dash out and they were on the yearlist. These birds are probably part of the flock that were in the Gypsy Lane area before Christmas as the flock contained the neck-collared bird SXX. With others, the yearlist now stands at 61.

A pheasant calling this morning takes the garden list to 21.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A check around the reserve after the strong overnight winds, produced a flurry of new birds although the only thing of note was 86 pochard on the fresh marsh.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Despite a manic New Year (child wrestling, cocktails, 4hr Wii marathon), Adam and I managed to escape the mayhem and catch up with a few birds. After New Year fish and chips in Wells we left Hayley and Rachael with the boys and headed to Cley for the Western sand. The bird showed as well as the last time I had seen it but the light was better. Once Adam was happy (Britsh tick for him) we headed back home via the Fakenham great grey shrike.
This morning we made a brief visit to the reserve so Adam could catch up with the Coues's Arctic redpoll. Eventually the bird showed well in the alders in the picnic area and we headed home happy.
I have decided to do two yearlists in 2012. The most important task is to get close to (and beat) the 210 I managed in 2010. Not got off to a flyer but the redpoll is the highlight in the 22 species so far. The other list is a garden yearlist with the aim to see and hear as many species as possible in and from the garden. An afternoon in front of the back windows produced 20 species with the highlight a merlin overhead.