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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Tuesday 29th January One to One Guided Birding

The weather was less than suitable for raptor hunting today, although the first few hours of the day were warm, cloudy with less wind. We decided to have a look for some woodland & farmland species at nearby localities.

We started off by watching a Barn Owl showing very well, both perched & hunting. We then walked along a stretch of the River Wensum, we had a lovely selection of birds & great views of Grey Wagtail, Siskin, Redpoll, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Reed Bunting plus c120 Teal, 4 Egyptian Geese & 4 Snipe.

We then stopped off in another area & had c20 Yellowhammer, 4 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, c20 Skylark & selection of commoner birds.

In the afternoon we visited a nearby reserve where we were treated to fantastic views of up to 100 Brambling, 3 Bullfinch, 3+ Marsh Tit, Water Rail & close views of a hunting Sparrowhawk, marauding through the finch flocks!

Monday 28th January One to one PhotographyTour

This One to One workshop was run by Josh Jaggard for Norfolk Birding.

The day started off looking for Barn Owls. One was perched but not close enough & unfortunately wasn't hunting. Whilst here we also had lovely views 3 Marsh Harriers, Red kite and a flock of over 100 Curlew. 

From here we moved into one of the harbour areas where we photographed some shorebirds & wildfowl. 

With in a few hours we had reasonable images of Teal, Redshank and Bar-Tailed Godwits coming close to the vechicle creating some nice images. Whilst there we also had nice views of Wigeon, Little Egret, Turnstone and Brent Geese. We were also treated to wonderful views of a  Bittern flying out of the reeds just in front of the car.

We then headed to Titchwell,plus used the  cafe for a warm up & a late lunch, followed by a quick session from a one of the hides. We had lots of wildfowl, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck and a Hen Harrier. 

The weather turned grey & damp late afternoon, so we headed for an area where Bitterns had been showing earlier, but sadly they didn't reappear. We had a great day with some nice images in the morning in the better light & good selection of birds throughout the day.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Monday 28th January 2013 Monday One to one Guided Birding

Chris guided a One to One exclusive 2 day tour with a specific slant towards raptors on Day one.

The day started well with a quick stop for a lovely hunting Barn Owl. We stopped briefly for a perched small bird of prey, that to my surprise turned into a Merlin with prey, but was on view all too briefly! We reached the NW coast 7 were soon admiring Buzzard & several Marsh Harrier, showing very well & even starting some early territorial display flight. A large female Sparrowhawk shot in & out of view & it wasn't too long before we watching a distant Red Kite, eventually this bird drifted towards & gave fantastic, prolonged views as it soared overhead. 1-2 Kestrel were noted. We had a great morning with blue skies & great views, but by lunch the cloud had arrived & we settled into the minibus to look for other raptors over lunch. Our luck continued when a ringtail Hen Harrier passed us, we jumped out the van & had nice scope views.

Another search along the lanes produced another or the same Merlin, but again the bird was cruising quickly & disappeared within seconds. A quick stop off elsewhere produced several Yellowhammer & 16 Corn Bunting.

We finished the day at a roost site & were treated to 5 Hen Harrier including a cracking grey male.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sunday 27th January Group Photography Workshop

Today we had a group of 5 photographers for a coastal bird photography workshop

We spent the morning with a 2 hour classroom session with a short presentation, with a question & answers period before heading out to take images. Working through equipment, technique, exposure, shutter speeds & apertures. 

Clients took home a Cd-rom with all of the information from the classroom session

We then spent the afternoon putting theory into practice. We split into 2 groups with Josh heading off to North Norfolk with a group of 3 whilst Chris visited an area in NW Norfolk with two others from the group.

The light was pretty good until mid afternoon & everyone bagged a one or two good images & learnt a lot.

Images of Turnstone, Teal & Bar-tailed Godwit from the workshop will be posted shortly.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Saturday 26th January Photography Workshop

Myself & Josh guided a single photographer today.

We started the day early & arrived at one of the Barn Owl locations we have been watching recently. Fortunately both Barn owls were out hunting & the female bird showed well for around 45 minutes, with us eventually managing to get her perched along the fenceline & getting some shots of her at about 20m range.

We then headed for the horse fields where the thrushes had been showing so well the previous day & they again performed very well with Redwing & Fieldfare coming within 5m of the camouflage netting we used across the side door of the minibus. The Lapwing weren't quite so obliging as the snow thawed they were noticeably spreading out & feeding in other areas.

We then moved on to a shorebird area where we have been feeding. Here we got some nice shots of Teal, plus Bar-tailed Godwit.

Images from this day will be published soon.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Thursday 24th January Photography Workshop NW Norfolk

The previous 2 days recces paid dividends, as myself & Josh Jaggard guided two photographers for thtoday & were able to get them in nice & close to a number of subjects, both photographers came away with some nice images of Lapwing, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush & Redwing.

We also had good views of 2-3 Barn owl& we did get some in flight images. We also noted Red Kite & Marsh Harrier.

Some images from today are below & further will be published shortly.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Weds 23rd January NW Norfolk

Unfortunately having had to cancel a 3 day tour due to the weather conditions, I managed to venture out today. 

Spent most of the day around Ringstead & Holme area, several Barn Owls noted hunting, several coveys of Grey Partridge & a Red Kite perched on fenceposts at Holme. 2 ringtail Hen harrier near Ringstead Most of the ground is still frozen & covered in snow, making life very harsh for many birds that have chosen to "tough" it out!

More Fieldfare than I have seen since the autumn with couple of hundred around Holme.

Few pictures below from today.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Thursday 16th January - Exclusive Day 2 for 2 persons in NW Norfolk

Again with icy roads & plenty of snow, we headed to nearby coastal locations, the temperature again down to -8 overnight & not exceeding freezing throughout the day.

We stopped off in one of the harbour areas & from the relative warmth of the minibus were able to watch a nice selection of birds. At least c30+ Turnstone flew straight in, eager to be fed & close by on the shoreline there was Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit & Curlew - all pretty close up, enabling excellent views. Also close by were some nice groups of Brent Geese, we noted the very low percentage of juveniles suggesting a poor breeding season for these birds back in the arctic.

We walked out on to one of the saltmarsh estuary areas & as the tide dropped we had a lovely selection of shorebirds, c40 Golden Plover, c15 Snipe, c100 Lapwing, c60 Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Turnstone, Grey Plover & Oystercatcher. Other birds of note were a very confiding & wonderful views of a male Bearded Tit, a Goosander flying over west was probably the most unusual species, plus
2 Barn Owls hunting, clearly hungry & trying hard in the snow covering to find food. Other raptors were 2 Buzzard, 6+ Marsh harrier, Sparrowhawk & 2 Kestrel all out hunting. 

A flock of c50 Skylark, plus a group of Pink-footed geese, Curlew & Lapwing seemed to have found a small area to feed in & 2 Barnacle Geese were also with the Pink-feet.

The saltmarsh pools held good numbers of Teal & Wigeon, these constantly flushed by Marsh harriers looking for any weaker birds.

We lunched in the warmth of the "feeding area" at Titchwell & watched 1-2 Brambling amongst the commoner visitors to the feeders. Out on the reserve - a good mix of birds, despite the freshmarsh being frozen solid! 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, c12 Black-tailed Godwit (noticeably scarce at present), 5 Pintail, c200 Wigeon, c150 Teal. 

Towards the beach the RSPB had laid seed down & this was a magnetic for many hungry passerines, 100+ Skylark, c40 Linnet plus one superb Lapland Bunting.

We finished off the day with a look on the sea which was high on numbers, but low on diversity! Two "black slicks" on the water truned out to be huge rafts of Scoter - at least c7000 Common Scoter! Also on the sea in excess of c70 Goldeneye, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1-2 Eider, c20 Tufted Duck & Great crested Grebe.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Wednesday 15th January - Exclusive Day for 2 persons in NW Norfolk

A great day with slightly challenging driving conditions in the morning, with snow & ice still affecting roads!

Our first port of call was Snettisham, but en-route we stopped off for nice views of 2 groups of  10+ Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer & several Brown Hare.

We eventually reached Snettisham after a slightly prelonged drive on the icy roads. We were just in time to see some nice big flocks of shorebirds swirling around in the skies, a great mix of Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover & Dunlin with the masses summing around 100,000 shorebirds albeit they were distant as it wasn't such a high tide the spectacle was still fantastic! The birds were performing "mexican waves" with some regularity & eventually I found the two culprits - Peregrine & a Merlin, the latter passing by closely in a swift flyby.
The spectacle lasted for a good 45 minutes, but in a temp of -10c it was soon time to move! 

We headed round to the nearby hide & from hear we had great views of 100's of Wigeon, Teal plus 1200+ Oystercatcher & 3000 Knot all carpeting the pits edges. Also several Goldeneye & many more commoner species. The whirl of feathers as they took flight was their reaction as 2 Marsh Harrier flew overhead.

As we walked back, Snipe, Skylark, Lapwing & Reed Bunting were much in evidence as they sought areas free from ice to feed, 2 Snow Bunting also dropped

As we headed back we stopped for closer views of Grey Plover, Curlew, Dunlin, Turnstone, Golden Plover & a group of 5 very confiding Snipe.

We lunched & enjoyed hot drinks before heading back out into the freeze, still -3c!

We then headed out on to the saltmarsh at Holme, good numbers of Fieldfare & Redwing were now feasting on the sea buckthorn berries. On the shore where a nice flock of Knot,100 Curlew, 100 Oystercatcher. It took quite a long search but eventually  c50 Snow Bunting were found giving excellent views. Also evident were c25 Skylark, c10 Reed Bunting, plus nice groups of Goldfinch & Linnet. The walk back proved fruitful with great views of both Barn & Short-eared Owls hunting in front of us!

We then finished the day at Titchwell with an excellent raptor roost of c23 Marsh harrier, 3 R/T Hen Harrier, 1 Buzzard & Merlin. Plus 10 Bewicks Swan flying SW, several Cetti's & Water Rail were heard.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Monday 14th January - Exclusive Days Guiding for 2 in North Norfolk

Today needed a little adjustment as the first serious snow showers fell, so we moved the tour from East to the North Norfolk coastline!

Heading up there we stopped off first for a couple of perched Buzzards, then again for a small group of 5 Grey Partridge, a group of 4 Roe Deer & several Brown Hare.

We then headed out on to the saltmarsh at Holme where a nice flock of 200 Knot greeted us, we were soon looking at good number of shorebirds with 100 Curlew, 100 Oystercatcher roosting up from the high tide. We didn't have to wait very long before a few Snow Buntings popped into view, eventually we noted a nice flock of c60 Snow Bunting & they eventually allowed very close approach providing excellent views. Also evident were c25 Skylark, c10 Reed Bunting, plus nice groups of Goldfinch, Linnet, Fieldfare & a single Redwing. Further out on the shore we had nice views of Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Redshank, plus notable was a single Greenshank.
A small flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew along the shore & we then headed back. All the waders went up & the culprit soon flew into view - a male Sparrowhawk carrying prey.

We ventured up the entrance track & had lovely views of a nice flock of Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler from the hide, these were accompanied by smaller numbers of Tufted Duck, Pochard & Little Grebe. Plus 2 Marsh Harrier

After a nice casual lunch in the warmth of the Observatory, we headed to Titchwell. The entrance track held some nice birds with a small group of Siskin & Lesser Redpoll, plus at least 4 Brambling at the feeders.

Out on the reserve there was great views of many Pintail, Snipe, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, small group of Black-tailed Godwit  many more of the commoner wildfowl plus 10+ Goldeneye offshore. The best birds were undoubtedly 5 Bewicks Swan flying SW. 
Several Marsh harrier roosted but sadly the visibility closed in & the snow thickened before we could really do the roost justice. We finished with very brief views of a Water Rail in the usual spot!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sunday 13th January - more images from the hide........

I decided with colder weather & some reasonable light, to use the hide still set up from yesterday. 

Three reasonable images from the day.

Nuthatch - Chris Mills

Blackbird - Chris Mills
Coal Tit - Chris Mills 
Stock Dove - Chris Mills

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saturday 12th January Exclusive Photography Workshop 2 Persons

Today was spent with a local couple undertaking a workshop on the principles of Bird Photography. We spent the first couple of hours working through, apertures, shutter speeds, ISO settings, metering, white balance, histograms, composition, Raw versus Jpegs.

Then they both took turns using the hide to practice & experiment some of their new found knowledge. 

Both Curney & Graham had a good working knowledge of their cameras & it wasn't long before they had grasped some of the new knowledge & were securing some good images.

Below are selection of Graham & Curneys images:-

Nuthatch by Graham Davis
Great Spotted Woodpecker by Curney Bray
Blue Tit by Graham Davis
Nuthatch by Curney Bray

Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday 11th January - One to One Guided Birding

One to one day of exclusive guiding North Norfolk
En-route we noted a Buzzard plus around c500 Pink-footed Goose.

We then started off with a walk along the East Bank at Cley. The day started very well with stunning views of a cracking male Bearded Tit, showing down to 10m. Then shortly after a single Whooper Swan flew west, whilst a 1000+ Brent Goose gave lovely fly-bys.

A Cetti's stuttered nearby along the bank & a colour ringed Stonechat popped into view. Over the reedbed 4+ Marsh harrier, with an adult female showing at close range. The first pools held, 40 dunlin, 40 Redshank & Sanderling, Grey Plover & Curlew, plus good numbers of wildfowl.

Along the shingle bank, we had stunning views of c40 Snow Bunting which eventually walked right past us at close range, accompanied by good numbers of Goldfinch & Linnet.

We eventually reached sea-pool where there was an equal mix of waders plus the Purple Sandpiper was still present & we had great scope views. The walk back added a calling Water Rail. 

After lunch we checked out North scrape, a lovely group of c50 Pintail, c60 Shoveler plus a passing Sparrowhawk. A short look on the sea was prodcutive with c40 Red-throated Diver including one flock of c20 flying south, plus a male Common Scoter just offshore.

We stopped off in Morston & found a Greenshank, before finishing the day at a raptor roost - with 3 Barn Owl, 4 Marsh Harrier & 4 Hen Harrier.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Thursday 10th January - Salthouse

A short & quick walk around the area produced a short but nice selection of birds - 1 Purple sandpiper, 1 Short-eared owl, 1 Peregrine, c40 Curlew.

Back at Themelthorpe several 100 Pink-feet could be heard lost flying around in circles for several hours in the morning!!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Thursday 3rd January - Bintree Mill

A nice walk around the Mill with my old "midlands" mate Tim Allwood area produced 1 Grey wag, c40 Siskin, 2 Brambling, c25 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, c100 Teal & a few Redwing, Fieldfare & Mistle Thrush.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year, New List Jan 1st 2013

I spent a lovely day at Holme, with a good selection of birds & good total of 85 species!

I started the day at 730am at Holme marsh, the undoubted pick of birds from here were 7 White-fronted Geese, a fairly scarce visitor to Holme. They flew over west, only to turn around & head back East. Also here 2 Grey Partridge

Out on the grazing marsh 1500 Pink-Feet were present & an obliging Barn Owl was showing well.

On the sea several 100 Common Scoter, a male Eider, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot & 12 Fulmar west were all welcome additions.

Other birds of note 3+ Buzzard,  5+ Marsh harrier, 6+ Bullfinch, Green Woodpecker & a nice selection of the usual shorebirds on the beach

The day ended with another Barn owl, a Tawny Owl but an unsuccessful search for Bittern.