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.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Ruddy Shelduck from the house

I've done far too little birding over the last couple of weeks, but did at least get out properly yesterday.  Prior to yesterday highlights were in lunch breaks.  On 2nd March north of Stanhoe I picked up a bird flying towards me from low down on a field that was immediately obviously a Rough-legged Buzzard.  But as it was flying straight towards me I decided to grab the camera, which got caught in my handbreak and by the time I'd freed it the bird was over the top of my car.  I couldn't get out as I was blocking the track and now something was coming, and by the time I'd got out of the way the bird was nowhere to be seen.  Then I started questioning myself as to what I'd seen in the quick view before my hapless decision to grab the camera.  Was I really positive that I'd seen what I thought I'd seen?  I ended up deciding I'd best not claim it.  Annoyed with myself for stuffing it up, and probably being excessively cautious over what should have been a perfectly good record.  Whether it was one of the birds from the Chosely area or not I don't know - it's not very far away so quite plausibly so.

A Red Kite and 2 Barn Owls were in the same area and seconds later the huge grey cloud that was looming suddenly deposited an incredible amount of hail leaving the roads looking like there had been a major snowstorm.  It was very localised and half a mile away the thick white covering on the roads finished abruptly and colleagues just down the road at Bircham hadn't seen any hail at all.

On 3rd March I was working from home when I saw a duck flying straight towards me.  That might not sound remarkable, but in the 18 months I've been living here I have only once seen a duck before.  That was flying towards me on a similar flight path but I didn't have my bins to hand.  Bizarrely it looked like a Ruddy Shelduck, but in near-silhoutte and with no bins I didn't consider that rather unlikely identification sufficiently certain to record it as such.  This time I had one of those déjà vu moments as I got exactly the same impression as I saw it flying towards me along the same flight path.  But this time I had my bins to hand and was able to confirm that it was indeed a Ruddy Shelduck!

Next day I was driving through Burnham Norton in my lunch break, around 1.00 pm I think and in bright sunshine, when a small Bat flew across the road and disappeared behind the house.  First time I've ever seen a bat flying in the middle of the day in broad daylight.  It seemed to fly out from the top of a tree, though it may have simply come from behind it; a bird (Blackbird I think) had just flown into the top of the tree so I wonder if it might have accidentally disturbed the bat?

On Monday I popped in to Brancaster Staithe during my lunch break.  The Red-necked Grebe was still there, along with a Goldeneye.

 Goldeneye, Brancaster Staithe, 7th March

Red-necked Grebe, Brancaster Staithe, 7th March

rainbow, Brancaster Staithe, 7th March

Next day I paused at Flitcham where a Little Owl remains in the roots of the oak tree in front of the hide, visible from the road.

Heavy rain all morning on Wednesday hadn't relented by lunchtime when I headed over to Holkham.  The weather meant fewer people and in turn that meant more birds showing by Lady Anne's Drive including lots of Ruff, Snipe and loads of other common birds.  Nearby a pair of Egyptian Geese were like chalk and cheese - one looked wetter than a drowned rat while the other looked in fine condition.

Egyptian Geese, Holkham, 9th March

Yesterday I headed up to Burnham Overy early in the hope of finding one or two early spring migrants.  Rather fancied finding a Great Spotted Cuckoo in the dunes.  Good dreaming, but back in the real world I couldn't even find a Chiffchaff.  I did see 2 Peregrines including one that put on a fantastic show stooping at a flock of Starlings.  Other raptors included Red Kite and Sparrowhawk.

Lots of waders on the freshmarsh with the tide being high including at least 150 Black-tailed Godwits.  Surprisingly few geese though - took me a while to see any Pink-feet though eventually a flock of 40 flew west and another smaller flock appeared later on.  The Brents were in the channel later on when the tide had gone down.  Among them was the Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid.  I say 'the', but I'm not convinced it's the same bird I've seen each time I've seen one over the last 2-3 winters.  Maybe, but sometimes it looks a much better contender for pure Black Brant than other times.  Today it looked extremely similar to a Black Brant, but the neck collar was very thin at the front.

A Red-breasted Merganser flew past but apart from 3 Great Crested Grebes there wasn't much on the sea.  A Goldeneye was on the reedy pool.  The only passerine of any note was a Stonechat.

Dunnock, Burnham Overy, 12th March

In the afternoon I headed to the local patch - more on that later...

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