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Friday, 26 April 2013

Purple Haze

A very quick look at Filby, armed with just my bins, meeting Neil M who said it was still there? "What is still there?" I asked, "Purple Heron" the reply, I'd been in a meeting at County Hall, most of the morning and had only stopped off to have a very quick look. At the end of the path, several East Norfolk birders were seen, but the Purple Heron had walked back a little way and could not be seen with just my bins, (but probably could have been through a scope) so without any offers, I promptly left. Note to self, put my scope back in the car! Returning after work, Perry F was holding court and after 1/2 an hour one birder left. Suddenly at 5 minutes later at 5.35pm, I spotted the excellent Purple Heron fly up from the scrub just left of the reeds and it flew left across ther broad and perched in a bush just by the northern edge, it looked away its large yellow bill seen clearly. A great sighting and at long last my first in Norfolk! After ten minutes it flew east down a dyke and out of sight. Meanwhile, a Garden Warbler sang from behind the platform area. The sky was getting increasingly dark grey and rumbles of an impending storm was ominous, so walking quickly back a quick check over Filby Broad revealed many hirundines (naturally in the conditions) and in the rain we saw many including 30 House Martins and 30 Swallows.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Male Blackcap & lunch at Filby

Male Blackcap seen and heard perched 12 foot up in a bush just a metre away from the back fence at 7.05am this morning (Wednesday 24th April), first record of a male of this species seen just outside the garden. Lunchtime at Filby Broad today, I initially saw 2 very vocal Marsh Tits chasing each other in the tall tree by the car park they chased each other flying first west then east to tall trees bordering the car park. Looking over the broad, 2 Common Terns seen on a floating platform, they later flew around the north- western section of the Broad, whilst 3 Goldeneye (2 males and a female) were at the back of the Broad.

Garden Birds and Lizardland male Garganey

At 12 noon today, Mon 22nd April, an excellent female Blackcap fed on the fatball at the left back of the garden. At 12.15pm, 3 calling Swallows flew low over the garden and the driveway calling away merrily. A fine male Garganey in the evening at Carlton Marshes Scrape swimming right in a pool was a very welcome new Lizardland tick! On the walk back, a Grasshopper Warbler heard reeling.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Zombie at Carlton Marshes!

Several Sedge Warblers seen and heard on the slow shuffling walk up the scrape, Willow Warber heard singing at the back of Wilton's Wound on Sunday 21st April, which I shall rename Ransome's Collapse! Initially on the scrape, I could only see 1 Yellow Wagtail a female plus a Pied wagtail and 1 fine White Wagtail. But then a further 6 Yellow Wagtails flew on the island right at the back of the scrape, at the end of my view heat haze was causing a few problems. On the long shuffle back it was good to see Paul & Jane F. Rest of the day in bed again, totally exhausted.

Zombie walking!

The shuffling slow gait and sickening pale palour that greeted onlookers at the newly named Blue Lokes causeway at Lound on Saturday 20th April, heralded the arrival of a very sick person who resembled either a very old man or a zombie, who'd suffered 3 very debilitating days of sickness, (it was me!) I had been sick at least 50 times & I hadn't eaten for three days, I had been suffering either a sickness bug or a severe bout of food poisoning. Not strong enough to carry the camera bag, I was able to just about concentrate on birding and soon focussed in on one the objects of my quest, a fine female Pied Flycatcher showing well in the sallows to the east. She flitted around here before flying over to the track and flitting about elusively in the large trees just west of the track. A family of walkers were far too quick for me and my deathly slow shuffling gait, meant I missed the Ring Ouzel that they flushed in the next field south of here. Back at the causeway a fine male Blackcap sang briefly from a large tree. Earlier driving down I had seen my first Whitethroat of the year fly along the hedgerow on the approaches to Lound and finally I was delighted to see the regular Little Owl fly into the regular brutally pollared tree with what appeared to be a large worm in its mouth. This excursion of just 30 yards had completely exhausted me and I spent the rest of the day in bed, but I'm glad to say the sickness had subsided and I was starting to eat a few morsels. Earlier on, Saturday 20th April, during early morning, I had heard the scolding of a Lesser Whitethroat from our bedroom window eminating somewhere on Fallowfields. My first record of this species for the year.

Red- rumped Swallow at Kessingland

Thursday 18th April was a very hectic day for me, perhaps too hectic following the bad illness that was to follow. I had half a day off work and having to report at work at 2pm, I drove down to Colchester to collect the repaired and fully serviced camera and converter. Afterwards, I nipped into Island Mere at Minsmere in the hope of testing the camera out on the very photogenic Garganey, only problem was, they weren't there! Male Marsh Harrier seen quartering the reeds to the west of here otherwise very disappointing save for my first Blackcap of the year singing from the rhodedendron tunnel. Instead I tried the camera out on a sitting Common Redshank! I then nipped into Kessingland Sewage works late morning and spied a White Wagtail and 3 male Reed Buntings on the north- western sewage bed and very unfortunatley had no time to check the fishing lake. After work, due to my phone being recharged I didn't get the breaking news of RR Swallow at Kessingland SW (should have checked this earlier!!) and rushed down at 6pm, narrowly avoided a large hail storm. I was greeted by Andrew E at the gate stating that all the hirundines had left following the hail storm and 1 or 2 were drifting back. Going through, I didn't see the crowd of birders further along and scanned the Hirundines on show, there were initially 2 Swallows and 3 Sand Martins but this increased over half an hour to include a House Martin, my first definate one of the year 7 Swallows and 5 Sand Martins and when someone shouted at 6.30pm there it is, and I saw the excellent Red- rumped Swallow fly right. It had a deeply forked black, almost stuck on looking tail, a pinky red rump and its more soaring style, almost House Martin-like flight, made it relatively easy to pick out by seasoned observers. It flew low over the water at times and often right round the lake and sometimes right over our heads at times, however, I found it difficult to photograph though. It was very good to see John E, I also saw Rob Wils (the photographer) & Chris D amongst the crowd. John E gave me a cheery greeting and he bagged easily the best shot of the day, far superceding my meagre efforts. It was sad to see the young lad from Lowestoft arrive just a few minutes too late to see the bird. A great sighting my first for Lizard land but it made me wonder if I'd had time to check the fishing lake in the late morning, would I have discovered my second ever finding of this species in East Anglia?

Sunday, 14 April 2013

4/6 Long- eared Owl's, RF Bluetail & 12,000 Redwing

I had a tweet from James B today who had done well to find a Long- eared Owl perched in some gorse on the east side of the railway line at Hopton, around 100 yards north of the bungalow and 200 yards south of Radar lodge entrance track, I saw Tony B here and some other birders walking up the stubble field. We saw the bird roosting in the gorse bush behind a thick horizontal branch, although most of the head was obscured by the gorse bush, although its orange left eye could be seen at certain angles. Walking along the green field just west of the old Sewage works, several Redwings flew north just along the hedgerow, and then a brown elongated Thrush flew up calling a distinctive Rouzel chacking, showing silvery wings and a whitish breast band , it was an excellent female Ring Ouzel. 3 then 5 Sand Martins were seen flying around just off Corton Cliffs and then Corton MOD, 1 Yellow Wagtail flew over the field by Corton MOD, calling but not seen. Visiting the Corton ORT by the plantation following a text from Ricky F, a Brambling was heard flying over the Corton ORT, but again not seen. By the Holm oak along the south east end, as I was texting a 1 Long- eared Owl flew from plantation towards Sallows (but I didn't see it this time). The Long- eared Owl was seen again briefly perched near the top of the sallows viewed from the south before it flew back to the track. Going back to the track Jane F cut across to western edge of the track just before the plantation and flushed the Long- eared Owl flew south again. By the hedge south of the Sallows, Comma seen on the ground and I pished out a lovely Firecrest, which simply worked its way east along the hedge. Driving along A12 just before Hopton roundabout, a Swallow flew south. At Horsey gap, the Red- flanked Bluetail seen just 100 yards north of Horsey gap car park, in a scrubby copse area, the Bluetail seen almost immediately as it darted onto to a twig just a foot of the ground the bird seen well for a minute. It showed the small white throat orange on the flanks and a blue tail. I assume the bird is a female. By the northern edge the bird was seen well perched in bare bushes through the fence and later it flew and perched twice on the fence and fence post. It later flew out and across the path and east to scrub here. Meanwhile, 2 Swallow and 1 Sand Martin flew south along here. At Winterton, 2 Long- eared Owls were seen in large Holly bush around 200 yards south of Hermaness restaurant down in the valley western slope. Looking down on them from some steps and a cliff top garden where the owners had kindly granted us access. We looked down at around 8 o' clock, into a hole in the bush where first one was seen, and the first bird could be seen almost full view from the breast up, it opened its lovely orange eyes within the heart- shaped warm brown facial disc and long ear tufts on its head. the second bird was 10 o'clock from it just a metre away and looking west sideways on, again the long ear tufts noted, gorgeous birds! Back in the garden 7 Frogs were seen in the fish pond and just 1 Frog in the wildlife pond. I decided to put 605 of the frog spawn into the wildlife pond as the Fish will ultimately gorge themselves on the fry. During, late evening an incredible gathering of Thrushes were seen from the field just west of Corton old Sw and just east of Corton Church. Together with andrew E, Robs Wil & Win, Paul & Jane F, Richard W we saw literally thousands of Thrushes especially Redwing, I saw 12,000+ with 1 flock totalling 3,000 birds, Redwings lined the nearby trees and comprised groups of several hundred plus as they flew out to sea. By contrast just 100 Fieldfare and 50 Blackbird seen. I spotted an Eared owl species, it was a Long- eared Owl at 19.58 hrs flying high in the sky, shorter winged than a SEO and it flew slowly out to sea. Later Rob Wil spotted another excellent Long- eared Owl flying behind the tree line to the north of the field. It then flew and perched in a tall tree, accompanied by a Thrush just beneath it for a couple of minutes before it too flew out to sea.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Benacre Migrants

A walk to Benacre Sluice from Kessingland with a fresh southerly wind, initially revealed very little save for the fact I saw the Norfolk Visitor and he informed me that the BNG had been spooked off by a dog leaping into the water. Richard M walked over and together we saw a female type Black Redstart on the grass just south of the sluice building. Walking over along the concrete road, by the bend looking north just metres away a fine male Common Redstart flew out and perched on a tiny sprig of gorse. A really smart bird, it flew left and perched in a bush before flying right again perched on the sprig of gorse before flying right further and showing on other small patches of gorse. A female Black Redstart then flew east by the edge of the bushes. A Swallow flew north over the sluice stream. Rene B joined us and we saw a fine male Wheatear on the bank between the stony grass area and the path leading south by the pit. I saw a hybrid Hooded Crow walking down the bank to the sluice and in a scene reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" it followed Rene and I over to the beach, by Beach farm and the copse just east of there! Walking over to the beach, we saw a further 2 Swallow follow each other in quick succession flying low past the path. On the beach we sadly saw a freshly dead Guillemot corpse and a decomposing headless Puffin corpse, a smaller dumpier bird with tell-tale orange legs. A brief look at the copse east of Beach farm failed to reveal the LEO that Carl B had just found. We went back to the sluice and we saw Carl B there, the ever sharp Carl spotted a distant Whimbrel walking around the path between the pit, the bird walked back away and the flew to the wsetern edge of the pit. and I decided to walk back to the car. At Kessingland Sewage works, seeing richard W briefly, I walked onto the large bush east of the path and initially saw a Chiff- Chaff and briefly a Firecrest, the olive green upperparts and bronze shoulders briefly apparent as it moved back through the foliage. Carl B appeared and his pishing conjured up not one but 2 Firecrest one posed nicely for several minutes right in front of us and they were joined by a Goldcrest. By the Sewage beds, initially no birds seen but several wagtails flew in including 2 Pied and the female Grey Wagtail perched on the edge of a Sewage bed at the back. I gave Carl B a lift to Lowestoft and next stop were the net posts, I immediately saw 1, then 2 and finally 3 female type Black Redstarts in the south west corner. The birds perched on the netposts along the vertical beams and flying down to the ground. A chap trying to film them with a standard camera walked in front of me and rather ungratiously pushed them further over to the corner and they were last seen perched on the top of the large bramble bush. As I left, Justin L and his brother arrived. After a brief visit home, I drove over to Lound Lakes on the approaches, 80+ Redwing flew south over the road. and could clearly see the fine male Goosander swimming between the 2 islands and latterly swimming further north out and into full view.

Frog Orgy!

Early this morning I heard my first Chiff- Chaff singing from Fallowfields from the garden, long over due this year. Walking over to the garden ponds, I was delighted to see initially a Frog and Frogspawn in the fish pond. Eventually others appeared, with 1 couple on top of another were mating, as were a further 3 couples, it resembled a scene of an orgy in ancient Rome!! Paul McCartney would have been proud as there was a real frog chorus of croaking, no doubt in ecstasy! So there were a total of 8 Frogs all mating! Tearing myself away from this sexual promiscuity and feeling less voyeuristic, I spied 1 Peacock butterfly which simply flew east over the garden and not to be outdone a Small Tortoiseshell flew in and perched on a Primrose in the middle flower bed. In the wildlife pond, 1 and then 2 Frogs were seen (making a total of 10 Frogs between the 2 ponds) side by side, this pair at least I hope were saving themselves for later, perhaps?! A Siskin heard calling as it flew north west over the garden, although not seen. A trio of single Fieldfare which were seen, betrayed by their distinctive "chackling" calls flew over north west over the garden in quick succession.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Woodcock seen from the house

I looked out of the bedroom window this morning, Friday 12th April at 8.35am and was delighted to see a Woodcock, a lovely chestnut brown dumpy bird with deep longish bill held at a 45 degree angled downwards in flight. I saw it fly up from the middle of Fallowfields and fly due east over the houses and eventually out of sight.

No Eagle at Benacre

Following a report of the Eagle going to roost in the woods the evening before. The omens weather wise weren't looking too promising with light specking rain. Having not seen this majestic raptor for some 13 years, I was very keen to see another. I drove to Covehithe raptor watchpoint early on Thursday 11th April morning (6am) and passing the woods, I saw a Barn Owl fly off a post and east through the woods. In the field were 5 Hares and looking over the field and the end of the Pine trees, I saw up to 3 male Marsh Harriers flying around. I then saw a dark 4 X 4 vehicle draw up and a young (30's) amiable chap disembarked, (like a tall Dave F) and he said that he'd drive through the woods and he might put the Eagle up. A quarter of an hour later, he came back and said he had seen it, he'd seen the Eagle and promptly drove off not stating exactly where he'd seen it, very frustrating! I decided to walk down the track running north and east alongside the woods, I looked east and still couldn't see it. The chap in the 4X4 drew up alongside again and I was finally able to question him further. He said he'd seen the WT Eagle doing low passes through the woods and best to view looking across from the gate. Again, I didn't see anything. I left at 8.15am for work. I didn't see the Eagle, despite extensive searching and the conclusion arrived at later was that he'd given me an erroneous report and the bird he saw was probably a Buzzard. If that is the case, I really can't understand how people can mistake a veritable giant of a bird like a WT Eagle for a smaller bird of prey like a Buzzard.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Marsh Lane, Carlton Marshes

Driving to work this morning, by Rackham's Corner, a Mistle Thush flew over the road and into trees just north of Barn Owl lodge. Driving down Marsh Lane, this evening at around 6pm, I couldn't find the flooded area and I rang Rob Wil he soon told me where to go! Following the road past the golf club car park and parking by the railway line, I walked over the railway line past some bricks on the path and by some tin huts, 200 yards further along I turned left and followed the path as it snaked right past some large fields/ marshes until around 800 yards past the railway line, there was a flooded field on the right. With a Buzzard seen flying off! By the large puddle on the east side of the field was an excellent lone Little Ringed Plover my first Lizard land one for several years. A Buzzard suddenly flew in and settled in a tree along the western edge! Its more elongated shape and prominent yellow eye- ring very apparent. At the back of the pool, 24 wagtails seen, including an incredible 6 White Wagtails (4 being adult males) and 18 Pied Wagtails. Also at the back was a striking summer plumaged Water Pipit, with grey head white supercilia and pinkish tinge on the breast feeding at the back, nice to see this species in this plumage as it's been a while since my last and particularly as I have missed the one at the Carlton Marshes north scrape. Walking back, an adult female Stonechat flew onto a gate just 12 feet away and would have posed very nicely for the camera if I had one! She later flew into a tree showing well yet again! This was a super new location and nice to see so many good birds in a relatively confined spot despite the now regular raw north- east wind. Returning home at around 7.30pm, 3 doors down from us, I spied a family of Wood Pigeons feeding at the front on the grass, including 3 well grown juveniles alongside 2 adults. The broody female Blackbird in the back garden was busy collecting an inordinate amount of nest lining in her bill and she flew to a large evergreen bush on the west side of the garden. I fear however for her ultimate success in raising a brood of youngsters here because next door have 2 very active cats.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Carlton Kite & half dozen Woodcock

Arriving at Carlton Marshes, I walked down with Richard W & James B, as we walked west, I saw a Woodcock fly north briefly and we joined Chris M, Jane & Paul F, Don & Gwen & Maurice B at Wilton's Wound on the raised area overlooking the new scrape. Not much seen here, but looking west, around 5 Marsh Harriers seen (4 males and 1 female) seen soaring up the distant sky, together with 3 Buzzards seen here. First one and then another Small Tortoiseshells flew west (my belated first butterflies of the year!) and east over Wilton's Wound. A further Woodcock flew a brief way east. A flock of 40 Redwing suddenly flew out from bushes behind us they flew south and around half their number doubled back and landed back in the bushes where we had seen fly out from originally. Suddenly passing overhead and soaring west, an excellent Red Kite soared over the fields and the suddenly circled around we could see the elegant rusty forked tail and dark and pale areas on the underside clearly seen as it circled around. It then took a beat of its wings and headed west. A male Reed Bunting flew in and settled in a bush. We were joined by Carl B and he spotted a distant adult Mediterranean Gull, a winter- plumaged adult flying west over Peto's fields. I also saw a Chinese Water Deer here. Just north of where we were standing, a Buzzard flew north. I walked back with Paul & Jane F and we saw a third Woodcock of the day fly east over the marsh. We also saw a further 3 Buzzards flying west in the distance. 9 Buzzards seen in total either over or from Carlton Marshes this morning. Back at home, I took a walk around Fallowfields and amazingly disturbed at least 6 Woodcock on 9 occasions with birds flushed from the middle (2), the south end (1), and 3 from the north end. By carefully following the Woodcocks in flight and where they flew to/ landed, I was able to work out that there were 6 different individuals. A record tally for Fallowfields. Walking back,a Small Tortoiseshell flew east. One bird even flew low over the garden and east over the pagoda. Back in the garden, a Small Tortoiseshell, flew east over the garden and over to next doors. Looking from the house, a male Reed Bunting flew south over Fallowfields (long overdue first sighting from the garden/ house!), a Heron flew south and 6 Fieldfare flew south but no sign of any raptor viz mig.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Grey Wagtail over

Working in the morning at Yarmouth today. However at 5pm I was out in the garden and heard the metallic call "tszchik" of a Grey Wagtail twice as it flew somewhere north over the garden and house (I didn't see the bird).

Friday, 5 April 2013

Gizza Job!!

Apologies for the lack of updates recently, but in the words of the estimable Yosser Hughes from the seminal 1980's BBC TV series "Boys from the Blackstuff" I have been channelling all my energies into applying for a new Library Manager job at the local Hospital in which I am glad to say I was ultimately successful!! Birding took an uncharacteristic second place over the Easter holidays, with several trips to my current work place (ie. Gorleston Library) on both Thursday (on A/L) and Easter Saturday to use the computer facilities there as I had to devise a Powerpoint presentation plus do the extensive research for my then impending interview. On Saturday 30th March, the fine Hooded Crow was seen in Hamilton Dock in the morning on the SLP island, I had initially sighted an optic free Richard S and we had both to see the bird initially, but after Richard left the bird flew up to a distant white crane and was obvious as a pure Hooded Crow through the scope. 2 Little Grebe were seen in the dock too. On Sunday 31 March, travelling to Great Yarmouth along the A12, I sighted a hybrid Hoodie feeding in a field just west of the A12 about 500 yards before the Beacon Park roundabout. At Bure Park in the morning a pair of shy and elusive Garganey on the water donutting the island in the middle of the park, were initially quite flighty but I grabbed glimpses of them on the water on several occasions until a well respected & liked Port Authority employee turned up in a high vis jacket after work and spooked the birds on a couple of occasions!!! 5 sightings of definite 3+ Woodcock between 6.30- 6.40pm at Fallowfields this evening, 1 Woodcock also seen at Bure Park am, Yar fl over pr Garganey On 1st April, no april fool but Little Owl in usual tree at Lound back of the field opposite and north of causweay also 30 Fieldfare by the approach road in field west of road, 2 Mistle Thrush opn the green east of the islands, no sign of Goosander late pm plus Woodcock seen in flight at Fallowfields early evening. On Thursday 4th April at 5.45pm following my interview at the JPUH and after work, I headed to Bure Park, Great Yarmouth where an excellent Long- eared Owl had been sighted on the island at Bure Park. When I sighted my good friend and colleague Peter C & his partner viewing the LEO. It was partially obscured but sitting out in the open half way up a bush and showed well. Meanwhile the pair of Garganey flew in the male resplendent in its fine plumage and the female showing more subtle shades of brown and dark colours. On Friday 5th April, Rob Wil had brilliantly found a LEO sitting 3/4 up a smallish Pine in the corner plot of trees at the far north end of Corton road, just south of the car park. Parking up at 5.50pm, I was pleased to note that ace LEO spotter and regular correspondent Paul W drew up behind me and together we walked south to the spot, looking into the copse we were initially unsuccessful but following a call to Rob, we were well directed to a a small Pine and going up the trunk and following a left fork of the tree and another brilliant spot by Paul W, I could make out the shape of the Long- eared Owl sat deep in the copse 3/4 up the tree, but it was initially hard to see.