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.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Wissington, Welney and Burnham Overy

On Saturday 10th June I started off locally and then headed out to Wissington Beet Factory and had a walk along the Wissey to opposite Hilgay Fen.  Nice to see Red Kite at Wissington and even better to see and then hear a pair of Nightingales.  I don't recall hearing the female Nightingale calling before, though perhaps I have done at some point in the past.  Unusual to see Nightingales before hearing them - these, or at least one of them, were feeding in the weeds across the path from the scrub and seen flying across from one to the other.

Nightingale, Wissington Beet Factory, 10th June

The rest of the walk produced more insect interest than birds (see my mothing diary if you're interested).  There were a few more birds at Welney though, if not very unusual ones.

On my way in I spent a bit of time chatting with the warden (?) about limosa vs. islandica Black-tailed Godwit identification and we attempted to identify some birds viewable from the centre.  They may have included limosa but I couldn't be sure.  Some more birds showed better from the main observatory but I'm pretty sure they were islandica (I guess I'll find out for sure when I get the ring details back).

Black-tailed Godwits, Welney, 10th June

I could see at least 11 Whooper Swans from the observatory but it was hard enough to see the adults in the long grass let alone the cygnets of the pair that had bred.  There was at least one Little Ringed Plover here but from Friends Hide there was a pair of Little Ringed Plovers with 2 tiny chicks.

Little Ringed Plover chick, Welney, 10th June

Given the amount of grief the parents got off the Avocets it's amazing they managed to rear any chicks here.  Here they are being chased off...

Little Ringed Plovers and Avocet, Welney, 10th June

...and again...

Little Ringed Plovers and Avocet, Welney, 10th June

...and still the Avocet doesn't give up...

Little Ringed Plovers and Avocet, Welney, 10th June

There was also a family of Shelducks here (11 ducklings) and a Yellow Wagtail for a bit (another had put in a brief appearance at the observatory).

Yellow Wagtail, Welney, 10th June

Common Tern, Welney, 10th June

That evening the Green Sandpiper was still at Ryburgh and I saw Little Owl and Barn Owl near Sennowe.

Green Sandpiper, Ryburgh, 10th June

I saw another Little Owl nearby the following morning followed by the Green Sand remaining at Ryburgh and a Grey Wagtail briefly.

Chiffchaff, Ryburgh, 11th June

As I was heading up to Holt on 13th June I received news of a Roseate Tern at Cley, so I popped in there first.  There was no sign of the tern but some Bearded Tits were seen along East Bank, a Razorbill on the sea and a group of 10 Kittiwakes flew west.  Later on a Woodlark was singing at Holt Lowes, I'm pretty sure I heard a Tree Pipit a couple of times and a Crossbill called from the Country Park.

Next day I saw 3 Red Kites on the way up to Burnham Overy where another Red Kite showed brilliantly in the dunes.

Red Kite, Burnham Overy, 14th June

A Great White Egret was perhaps the best bird seen, though becoming quite normal here nowadays.  Likewise Mediterranean Gull, one or two of which were heard calling today.  There were 4 Barnacle Geese, presumably feral birds from Holkham, and an over-summering Dark-bellied Brent Goose.  The Pochard's 3 ducklings are getting big now.

Pochards, Burnham Overy, 14th June

You can often see Redshanks perching on the fence posts at this time of year.

Redshank, Burnham Overy, 14th June

There were plenty of Little Terns around and Stonechats continue to be evident in the dunes.

I occasionally hear Lapwings calling at home, often at night, so I guess they must breed in the fields nearby but on 15th June one was flying around calling all morning much closer to my house than usual.  I can't imagine why it would have led its chicks this close to my house but I can't think of any other explanation for its behaviour.

That night I heard a Whimbrel calling over the house at 11.50 pm - not something I expected to hear here in mid June.

A Green Sandpiper was still at Ryburgh on 16th along with 14 Barnacle Geese and a heard-only Kingfisher.

Green Sandpiper, Ryburgh, 16th June

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Half a Cackler

There is a large free-flying flock of Barnacle Geese based at Pensthorpe and birds from here are frequently encountered at Ryburgh.  Steve had seen a bird resembling a Cackling Goose among them last winter and had seen it again recently, and suspected it may not have been a pure bird.  I managed to connect with it on 9th June, though it was elusive and out of view for most of the time I was there.  Eventually I managed reasonable views of it and indeed everything wasn't quite right about it.  The dark breast relatively sharply demarcated from the paler belly seemed wrong for Cackling Goose and there was a fair bit of grey in the bases of the feathers on the upperparts, although this wasn't obvious.  It was surely a hybrid involving Barnacle Goose, presumably Cackling Goose x Barnacle Goose.  I think Cackling rather than Canada due to the extreme shortness of the bill - typical Canada x Barnacle hybrids are a bit longer-billed than this, and perhaps a bit bigger overall too.  On the other hand it can't be one of the smallest races of Cackling Goose involved (despite these generally also being the shortest-billed, and this was very short-billed) because it was too big for that.  Maybe Richardson's hutchinsii or perhaps Taverner's taverneri?

Cackling Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid (with Barnacle Geese), Ryburgh, 9th June

This Green Sandpiper doesn't seem to be in a hurry to head north.  Maybe this is as far north as it will go this year?

Green Sandpiper, Ryburgh, 9th June

You have to be quick to get a shot of the Kingfisher when it visits - if it perches up close it never does so for more than a few seconds, and often it isn't facing the right way.

Kingfisher, Ryburgh, 9th June

Nice to see a Gadwall with 4 ducklings - though I haven't seen them again since.

Gadwall and ducklings, Ryburgh, 9th June

Goldfinch, Ryburgh, 9th June