Monday, 27 February 2012

Spring is in the air

Avocets Snettisham RSPB Aways a special treat to see the first ones back, even if we will see them every day throughout the summer!

With several pairs of Black headed Gulls laying claim to their summer nesting islands and the first returning Avocets, flocking together on the pits, it was easy to imagine that summer was only just around the corner. After recent landscaping work, with two of the spits flattened and a new island placed in front of Shore hide, the nesting Gulls and Terns will hopefully make the most of the new habitat and breed in even higher numbers. A very small passage of southbound Corvids and Siskin made for the first signs of overhead migration, and a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose was the first of the winter period.

Tundra Bean Geese Ken Hill Marsh Six of 13 birds feeding with the Pink feet.

After my first record in January 2011, followed by the 2nd in Dec 2012 and the two birds last weekend, it seems hard to believe that I spent the first eight years around Snettisham not seeing a Bean Goose! Woodlarks were making the most of the warm sunshine, with two birds singing over the fields on the edge of Ken Hill Wood, and three Yellowhammers were singing from the surrounding hedges.

Grey Partridge Female

Grey Partridge Male One of five pairs seen around Ken Hill Sunday morning

Monday, 20 February 2012

Feb Half term

A mixed week of weather with bitterly cold temperatures and fresh snowfall resulting in a significant increase in the number of Woodcock, with three birds watched from the kitchen window feeding together in the field at the back of the garden, and a total of 72 birds seen coming out to feed on Ken hill Marsh on the evening of Friday 10th. Prior to last week I had been seeing a fairly consistent average of about 10 birds on each evening visit; much lower than the previous winter, when the heavy snow bought large numbers to the coast at the beginning of the year. In a similar pattern to last winter numbers started to drop, once the snow had begun to thaw, and more areas were opened up for feeding.

A foggy afternoon at Heacham South Beach

Lapwings making the most of the snow free footpath on top of the inner bank at Snettisham Coastal Park

An immature drake Smew, close inshore off of the RSPB reserve, was only my third Snettisham record, on a morning that was so cold (-16 overnight in Holbeach) that the feathers of sleeping Lapwings, Geese and Ducks were all coated in frost! Three Goosander flew south and a Ross's Goose was seen with the Pink Feet on Ken Hill Marsh, that afternoon.

Ross's Goose Ken Hill Marsh

An excellent seawatch off of the coastal park, on the morning of the 12th, produced a record count of Red-throated Divers, with the heavy fog resulting in a total of 115 birds moving North out of the Wash. A Great Northern Diver was only my third Snettisham record, and two Slavonian Grebes (my first multiple sighting) were a most welcome sight after only two previous, and rather distant, records. Backup was provided by Six Little Gull, two Razorbill, and 354 Common Scoter (North)

An equally productive seawatch off of Holme (14th) came up with three Great Northen Divers, two Slavonian Grebes, a single Red-necked Grebe, a close drake Scaup and at least one Long-tailed Duck, whilst a redhead Smew dropped into Broadwater late afternoon.

Tundra Bean Geese Two of Five, in fields East if Ringstead village

Tundra Bean Goose Ken Hill Marsh One of two birds

Only my 3rd and 4th Patch records, and the first that I have seen with the Pink feet on Ken Hill.... finally!

Other highlights from the week included 11 Hawfinch at lynford, feeding in the Alder trees on the edge of the lake, and the Titchwell Arctic Redpoll which showed well in the Alders around the Picnic area. A walk from Sedgeford to Holme produced 47 Corn Bunting (two flocks) and a Little Owl at Courtyard farm, as well as good numbers of Yellowhammer and Grey Partridge, and an abundance of singing Skylark. At least six Woodlark were still present around Ken Hill Wood, and a circular walk from Snettisham village to Sedgeford and back yielded a total of at least 65 Grey Partridge, mostly within a walking distance of not much more than half a mile.

Arctic Redpoll Titchwell Good views with the scope but terrible light conditions for any pictures

Woodlark Ken hill Wood Two birds were heard singing by the end of the week

Monday, 6 February 2012


Dark-eyed Junco Hawkhill Enclosure

A day out and about around the New Forest thanks to the generous company of Sharon O'Reilly who I first met on the October ringing course at Eccles, East Norfolk.

After a picturesque morning drive through the frost covered heaths, we arrived at Hawkhill enclosure, where after a relatively short wait, the Dark eyed Junco showed at close range feeding on the seed that had been put out that morning. An excellent support cast was provided by a flock of six Woodlark, numerous Crossbills, singing and displaying from the nearby pines, and a mixed herd of Sika Deer which crossed the path into the open clearing.

Spanish Sparrow Calshot

After failing to find the Sparrow mid morning we returned in the afternoon, where it was located along the main road opposite the entrance to Calshot Close, staying in the hedge untill at least 16:30, roosting on its own amongst a section of Ivy covered Hawthorn.