A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Oystercatchers arriving inland

One of the big differences I noticed when I moved up to Norfolk from Kent was that Oystercatchers were much commoner inland in Norfolk than they were in Kent.  I used to see one or two annually at the local reservoir but they were decidedly scarce.  Here they are everywhere - at least in summer.

They mostly disappear in the winter but I normally see my first returnees in the second hald of February and this last week has seen several arrive back on their breeding grounds.  I heard one at work briefly last week but started hearing Oystercatchers displaying outside the office towards the end of this week.  They breed on the flat roofs, which seems to be a relatively new phenonemon for this species, and in the gravel round the edges of the car parks.  Their constant noisy presence throughout the spring and early summer ensures that even the most uninterested staff can't help but notice them.

I also saw the first birds on the patch this week and last night I heard one flying over the house too. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Grey Wagtails, Red Kites and patch Pintail

Monday lunch time was enlivened by the Grey Wagtail again at Ingoldisthorpe.  A second Grey Wagtail appeared twice, both times very briefly and both times flying off with the bird I had been watching, and singing as it did so.  Here's the first one, which may be the same bird I photographed here a fortnight ago.

Grey Wagtail, Ingoldisthorpe, 23rd February

Yesterday morning I found it difficult to concentrate in a work meeting as I could see a Red Kite flying around outside the window.  At lunch I nipped up to Burnham Norton from where another Red Kite was one of several species of raptor on show.

This morning I went to the patch before work, scoring a female Pintail at Hell Pit.  Good numbers of Wigeon (220+) and Lapwing (300+) but nothing exciting among them.  The white Pheasant was still along Rawhall Lane.  Slightly better photos than before, but still plenty of room for improvement...

white Pheasant, Beetley, 26th February

At home (I was working from home today) another Grey Wagtail flew past the study window.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Reeves's Pheasant hybrid

Had a look round the Hilborough - Great Cressingham - Little Cressingham - The Arms - Threxton Hill area yesterday morning.  Not many Pheasants on show and I managed to not see a single Reeves's anywhere.  I was keeping an eye out for a long-tailed dark pheasant Keiran had seen but no joy.  However I did see this, a Reeves's Pheasant x Common Pheasant hybrid.  I first saw this bird displaying 3 years ago: I've been back several times and not seen it, so was surprised to see that it was still surviving.  I'm pretty confident it was the same individual because (a) it was in exactly the same little copse and (b) it shows loose feathering over what appears to be a cyst at the back of the head.  Apparently Keiran's bird was much darker - could it be a Reeves's x Tenebrosus?  Let me know if you see that bird...

Reeves's Pheasant x Common Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill, 22nd February

The maize crop near the Arms was full of buntings and finches last winter and it is again now.  I couldn't find any rare buntings among the Reed and Yellowhammers, though I'm sure I didn't get to eyeball every bird in the flock.  There were a few Bramblings - I saw up to 4 at a time but I suspect the true number present was much higher.

The only finch I photographed was back at home:

Greenfinch, North Elmham, 22nd February

Quiet day in the Broads

Dave and I headed off to the Broads this morning for a change.  Wroxham Broad at dawn was quiet - 2 Kingfishers being the highlight.  Near Hoveton we flushed a Woodcock and got a few glimpses of a Cetti's Warbler.  Salhouse Broad was the first of at least 4 sites where we saw or heard Treecreepers today.  Also 2 Siskins here.

Great Crested Grebe, Salhouse Broad, 21st February

Pochard, Salhouse Broad, 21st February

On the river at Horning were 36 Tufted Ducks which, incredibly given the number of broads we visited, was the highest count of the day.  As we walked to Cockshoot Broad we heard Water Rail calling, more Cetti's Warblers and saw a Marsh Tit.  A Kingfisher sped past the hide and this grebe popped up in front of us briefly:

Great Crested Grebe, Cockshoot Broad, 21st February

As we headed back to the car Bearded Tit(s) called from the reeds.  This interaction between a Grey Heron and several Black-headed Gulls kept us amused for a while:

Grey Heron with Black-headed Gulls, Horning, 21st February

A longer series of photos of this interaction on this post if you're up for it.  Ranworth Broad had plenty of wildfowl - at least 115 Shoveler and 159 Wigeon among them.  4 Goldeneye were lurking at the back and another Cetti's Warbler was singing here.  There wasn't much on Malthouse Broad but we enjoyed watching the displaying Great Crested Grebes.

Great Crested Grebes, Malthouse Broad, 21st February

A longer series of photos of the displaying grebes on this post if you're interested.  Next we headed round to Potter Heigham from where we walked out to Rushill Scrape.  A raft of 350 Teal were on Hickling Broad but we failed to find any Green-winged among them.  We heard a Crane calling and Dave picked up an interesting Buzzard with extensive white at the base of the tail.  He thought it was nevertheless just a Common Buzzard and I agreed, but I could well imagine that being claimed as a Rough-leg sometime.  At least 2 Stonechats were feeding around the perimeter of Rushill Scrape, at one point passing a Chinese Water Deer.

Fish and chips at Martham were followed by a drive up to Waxham and back, during which the most interesting sighting was of Tim A.  Had a good chat with him before cutting our losses and deciding to head back via the patch.  I had a feeling that the 3 grey birds in a field as I sped past Billockby weren't herons so having woken Dave up I u-turned to have another look.  As suspected they were 3 Cranes.

Cranes, Billockby, 21st February

On the patch Creaking Gate Lake was full of wildfowl.  Mainly dabblers but 7 Pochard and 35 Tufted Duck were good counts of Aythya for this site.  12 Shelduck and a Marsh Tit were the best we could manage at the private site I'm now allowed to access, but close by 2 Pintail were much better - not often recorded on the patch.  Also 120+ Teal here.  Along Rawhall Lane there was nothing of note on the gravel pits but an all-white Pheasant was in the field opposite along with a herd of 21 Roe Deer - the largest herd I've ever seen.

white Pheasant, Beetley, 21st February

Grey Heron - Black-headed Gulls interaction

From the walk to Cockshoot Broad Dave and I watched as a Grey Heron landed on a roof on the other side of the river (Horning).  Successive Black-headed Gulls swooped by calling and each time the heron craned up to look and squawked back at them.  Went on for several minutes before the heron flew off.

Grey Heron and Black-headed Gulls, Horning, 21st February

Displaying grebes

We saw plenty of Great Crested Grebes in the Broads on Saturday.  Displaying birds are always fun to watch and this pair entertained us on Malthouse Broad.

Great Crested Grebes, Malthouse Broad, 21st February