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.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Cranes but no Basking Shark

I only had a short time on Saturday 3rd October before meeting the usual group at Cley, but was keen to do some coastal birding with some good birds arriving the day before.  I would have liked to see the Blyth's Pipit at Stiffkey but didn't want to waste time there if it wasn't still present, or if it wasn't showing properly, so instead I headed up to nearby Stiffkey Fen and Stiffkey Greens.

The Fen was pretty quiet - at least I couldn't find anything unusual there (there were plenty of common birds to sift through).  As I stood there I thought I might have heard a call from two birders who were further along the footpath.  Wasn't entirely sure and turned round to look... but before I'd finished turning I heard a Crane overhead!  Looking up 2 Cranes were flying west over the Fen.  Nice.

Cranes, Stiffkey Fen, 3rd October

The footpath to the west of the Fen (Stiffkey Greens, I think), failed to deliver the migrants I was hoping to find, just a couple of Blackcaps and a flock of 30+ Ruff.

So on to Cley where the group and I walked down to Dauke's Hide. A Sparrowhawk showed nicely sat on a post and several Bearded Tits showed in the reeds.

Sparrowhawk, Cley, 3rd October

Bearded Tits, Cley, 3rd October

Waders on the scrapes included at least 6 Greenshank (but no sign of the reported Marsh Sandpiper) and at least 40 Ruff.  A Great Skua flew east over the sea, visible above the shingle ridge.

A charm of Goldfinches entertained us while a Moorhen was busy feeding on blackberries.

Goldfinches, Cley, 3rd October

Moorhen, Cley, 3rd October

House Sparrows, Cley, 3rd October

As we walked down East Bank a Merlin flew past - maybe fresh in.  From the end of East Bank we could see a few Gannets were passing by, and a couple of Red-throated Divers, but we didn't pick out the Basking Shark that was seen from the beach car park.  We looked particularly intensely for that when news of it came through a few minutes later, but no sign from where we were standing.  Another Sparrowhawk flew across the marsh as we walked back to the centre.

 Meadow Pipit among Glasswort (Purple Glasswort?), Cley, 3rd October

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

High tide roost at Snetts

I had a day off on Wednesday 30th September and decided to head to Snettisham for the high tide roost.  An early start was required to get there for the recommended time but I overslept and arrived later than intended.  As I walked down towards the hide I could see the last of the waders coming off the wash and on to the pits.  Not a good start, missing them coming off the Wash, but at least I'd be able to see them roosting and heading back out to the Wash.

high tide, Snettisham, 30th September

I stopped off on the way down to photograph this Eider.  I've rarely seen beached Eiders in Norfolk and suspect this one was sick.  Mind you, it's perfectly normal for them to rest on land further north so not sure why it shouldn't be here too.

Eider, Snettisham, 30th September

Little Egret, Snettisham, 30th September

From the hide the spectacle was great - Oystercatchers covering one shore but the moving carpet of Knot (among other things) was fun to watch. 

Oystercatchers, Snettisham, 30th September

Knots, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits, Snettisham, 30th September

Knots, Snettisham, 30th September

 Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot, Snettisham, 30th September

I tried hard to pick out something more unusual among the hordes of birds but struggled to find anything remotely unusual.  I eventually picked out 3 Greenshank and there was a flock of 8 Spotted Redshank away from the main flocks.  A Kingfisher showed and a Short-eared Owl did so very briefly.

 Spotted Redshanks, Snettisham, 30th September

As the tide turned the hide emptied.  I should have taken that as my cue, but with thousands of birds still on the pits I figured I had enough time to sift through them before heading out to look at the swirling around on the Wash.  Once I admitted defeat on that front I headed out of the hide expecting to find the water still pretty high, albeit going down, and huge and impressive flocks of birds swirling around the Wash, the spectacle Snettisham is so well known for.  What I actually found was that the tide had gone down far more than I imagined was possible in what seemed like no time (but in hindsight probably was much longer than I'd realised) and all the waders were tiny dots about a mile away, happily feeding away and not flying around at all.

So all in all a bit disappointing.  But at least I know for next time - get there in good time and don't stick around in the hide for too long!

Long-tailed Tit, Snettisham, 30th September

Other days this week were spent at work, getting out only at lunch times when I failed to find anything of note.

Blue Tit, Thornham, 28th September

Little Grebes, Thornham, 28th September

Monday, 26 October 2015

Stoat up a tree with a Yellow-browed Warbler before super moonrise and super sunset

I only had a few hours on the afternoon of Sunday 27th September so without enough time to do Burnham Overy properly I headed up to Brancaster.  Gypsy Lane might hold a few migrants and is perhaps poorly enough watched for me to have a chance of finding something, even if just a Yellow-browed Warbler.  Lots of Yellow-browed Warblers turning up at the moment so I thought I had a good chance of at least that.  But alas I could muster up nothing better than Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler, Greenshank and some Pink-feet over.

 Greenshank, Brancaster, 27th September

Redshank, Brancaster, 27th September

Little Grebe, Brancaster, 27th September

Tufted Ducks, Brancaster, 27th September

A walk west from Brancaster Staithe was more productive, though it didn't start well.  Nothing seemed to be doing around the copse at the start of the boardwalk where I found a Yellow-browed Warbler last year.  A Common Sandpiper was calling in the harbour and a couple of Kingfishers were whizzing around.  A Grey Wagtail flew west.

Further on I heard what I was listening for... just a single call but enough - Yellow-browed Warbler.  Eventually after quite a long wait it started calling again and finally I got a look at it.

Yellow-browed Warbler, Brancaster Staithe, 27th September

At one point it was flitting around in front of the most surprising sighting of the day - a Stoat 12' up in a tree!  Never knew they climbed trees before but this was clambering around in the tree for ages.  Is that normal behaviour?

Stoat, Brancaster Staithe, 27th September

Blue Tit, Brancaster Staithe, 27th September

Next I headed to Burnham Norton but it was late by now.  The super moon was rising looking huge and magnificent while looking the other way the spectacle was equally impressive with one of the best sunsets I've seen in ages.

Super Moon (with Barn Owl), Burnham Norton, 27th September

sunset (with Pink-footed Geese), Burnham Norton, 27th September

Super Moon (with Pink-footed Geese), Burnham Norton, 27th September

A few birds too - Hen Harrier and Barn Owl were both hunting while hundreds if not thousands of Pink-footed Geese were heading to roost.

Barn Owl, Burnham Norton, 27th September

Above my head at least 10 Bats (probably many more) were flying around.  My Bat identification skills are pretty much non-existent but I reckon they're perhaps Noctules... big bats anyway... can you tell from these pictures?  Let me know if you can identify them, please.

Bats (Noctules?), Burnham Norton, 27th September