Saturday, 28 January 2012

From the archives

Long-eared Owl Dungeness

A recently fledged bird (feather down still visible on head) that I found amongst the open scrub on the eastern side of the Long pits, in early August 2008. Walking alongside one of the clumps of mature sallows, I had to stop myself in my tracks, when I glanced to my right and saw the bird sat on top of the low Blackthorn scrub not much more than 10 feet away!

After raising my bins and slowly creeping backwards, I was able to watch it, still at fairly close range, as it shuffled around on the tops of bushes and made short flights between the stands of willows.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls Dungeness

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Strumpshaw Fen

A view from Fen Hide (Note the Black Swan on the left hand side of the picture)

A day out at Strumpshaw Fen for an RSPB internship interview, with the added bonus of what was only my second ever Otter sighting, seen swimming behind where the two Mute Swans can be seen in the above picture. After completing the circuit of the reserve (and getting rather muddy in the process...) I returned to spend a few more hours in the hide, with the best offering being a close fly past by a female Hen Harrier. Despite sticking it out untill dusk, the Starling roost failed to appear in any sizeable numbers, with just a couple of small flocks coming in over the main reedbed.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


A young bird which paid a brief visit, sat in the Beech trees at the back of the garden.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Check out the Moths page for a selection of new images (239 Macros recorded from the Snettisham garden last year!)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

January 14th -15th

Looking out from the inner bank across Ken Hill Marsh

A glorious weekend of light winds and largely clear skies, reminiscent of the early spring days that you hope for in February or March. Saturday was spent around Snettisham, with an early morning look at a calm sea producing six Red-throated Diver, five Eider, an adult Kittiwake, two Guillemot and a single Razorbill, with a group of four Bewick's Swan flying South overhead.

An afternoon exploration of Ken Hill Wood yielded two pairs of Nuthatch, at least five Treecreeper, three Marsh Tit, a single Woodcock, and a mixed flock of Goldfinch, Siskin, and Lesser Redpoll feeding in the Larch Trees close to the main road. Twelve Woodcock were seen late afternoon, coming out to feed, and at least 17 Bulfinch were recorded throughout the day.

Sunday morning started out at Snettisham, with at least 5 Grey Partridge heard calling in the half light on the way through to Hunstanton, where an adult Black-throated Diver, developing traces of striped breeding plumage along the flanks, gave excellent views from the cliffs feeding close inshore. A Red necked Grebe and an Egyptian Goose (!) flew south and three close Velvet Scoters flew North.

Black -throated Diver My 5th Norfolk record of the autumn/winter period!

Holkham produced decent views of both the Rough-legged Buzzard and four Shorelark, though the sea proved disappointingly quiet, despite the ideal viewing conditions, with just two Great Crested Grebes, three Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Eider on the sea, as well as the usual Scoter flock. A ringtail Hen Harrier was hunting the grazing fields to the East of the pines and 25 Barnacle Geese were seen in flight with at least 250 White fronts.

The Coues's Arctic Redpoll showed on arrival at Titchwell, feeding in the alders alongside the main path, and a Short eared Owl was perched on top of one of the roadside hedges between Chosely crossroads and Docking village on the way back to Snettisham.

A view from the sea wall at Burnham Ovary dunes looking back towards Holkham Park

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Buckenham Marshes

In contrast to the Snettisham bird, which spent all of its time hanging around with the local Greylags, the track record of the Yare Valley, and the birds choice of company (permanently attached to the flock of Taiga Bean Geese) gave the Buckenham Lesser White-fronted Goose as good a credentials as anyone could ask for. Its appearance last winter resulted in it becoming the first accepted British record since the Juvenile at Slimbridge in 2003.

Despite being present with a mixed flock of Taigas and White fronts when we arrived, the dips and hollows of the grazing marshes were enough to conceal the bird throughout the morning. Looking east from the track made viewing conditions somewhat challenging, with the choice of either viewing from nearest the railway line (closer to the birds but looking into the sun) or viewing from the car park at the end of the track (greater distance but viewing under better light) By mid day the sun had moved around enough to improve viewing conditions from the start of the track, where the Taigas had gradually come closer throughout the morning.

At Ranworth Broad, the female Ring-necked Duck showed well with the small flock of Pochards and Tufted Duck, before swimming out to the middle of the broad and flying off towards the main body of water. My first sighting of a female, having seen five different drakes. Arriving back at Buckenham the adult Lesser White-fronted Goose was showing on arrival, feeding with the Beans Geese close to the railway line. Not as close as it could have been, but still better views than a lot of people will have had, and near enough to make out most of the necessary features. Two Chinese Water Deer were running across the fields and a Bittern make a very brief flight appearance, whilst the skies were filled with flocks of swirling Lapwing and golden Plover, possible as a result of the two lingering Peregrines.

As the light bean to fade, several large flocks of Starling made their way across the grazing fields, heading towards the main reedbed at Strumpshaw RSPB, and the first waves of corvids appeared in the distance, heading for the fields behind the car park, where they would roost in the woodland opposite the church. After turning the field into a solid black mass, a second flock, numbering something close to 20,000 birds, appeared over the woodland, looking towards Strumpshaw Fen. With numbers now at their peak (70,000?) the birds from the fields began to lift, joining the flocks already swirling in tight clusters over the woodland, untill the fields were clear of birds, and the skies were turned black with crows.