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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thursday 28th February Exclusive Norfolk Day tour

Thursday 28th February Exclusive Day tour
Today got off to great start at Buckenham,  We started with lovely views of several 1000 Wigeon. In the great light early in the day our clients were able to take some beautiful images of the Wigeon, around  plus lots of Lapwing. We did extremely well for raptors this morning as well with  4 Marsh harrier, 2 Buzzard, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine & a male Hen Harrier. A nice surprise as well thsi morning with 110 Bewick Swans at the east end of the marsh, several flying west over our heads.

We stopped off at Buckenham & although the Geese have now clearly gone, there was around 
c3000 Golden Plover along with 1000+ Lapwing.

I stopped off further east so we could have lovely close up scope views of
 c70 Bewicks & 34 Whooper Swan. We made another stop & had lovely views of a hunting & then perched Barn owl.

We then moved further north, we had several  large flocks of 
Lapwing & Golden Plover, plus another good flock of Bewicks - around another 200.

Cranes were proving more elusive today but we enjoyed a good flock of 
Pink-footed Geese around c1200.

A stop for lunch still failed to produce any Short-eared Owls, but some consolation was nice views of swarming flocks of 
Golden Plover & lots of Lapwing.We searched around the east end of Hickling & were rewarded with a hunting Short-eared Owl, a male Hen Harrier & several Marsh Harrier.

We finished the day with another good raptor roost at Hickling,
  2 male Merlin, a male Hen Harrier very close views & perched on the ground including plus c30 Marsh Harrier, a Barn owl & 2 Cranes.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Monday 25 February Exclusive Day tour

Monday 25 February Exclusive Day tour

I picked up the clients today from Catfield & it was just a short drive before we having lovely close up scope views of
 c240 Bewicks & 28 Whooper Swan. We made another brief stop for a roadside hunting Barn owl.

We then headed down towards Great Yarmouth. We stopped off briefly at one of the Broads & had nice views of 
Great Crested Grebe, Shoveler, Tufted Duck & the first Marsh Harriers of the day. At Great Yarmouth armed with a loaf of bread, we were able to feast our eyes over around 80 Mediterranean Gulls, with point blank views of 1st winters, 2nd winters & adults. We also noted 4 birds with darvic rings on, I hope to have the details of these birds soon. We also noted Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Black-h-Gull, lots of Common Gull, Herring Gull & Lesser BB Gull. Offsore there was around 300 Cormorants roosting & an obvious northerly passage of Gannet.

We then moved further north up the coast towards Horsey, a large flock of 
Lapwing & Golden Plover were overhead, & a good flock of Pink-footed Geese around c1200 were located, amongst the flock was  2 White-fronts, 6 Barnacles & a Ross's Goose. There was an odd large leucistic Pink-foot but I couldn't find any Tundra Bean Geese. Overhead 2-3 Marsh harrier pplus Buzzard & we heard Cranes calling in distanceA stop for lunch still failed to produce any Short-eared Owls, but some consolation was nice views of swarming flocks of Golden Plover & lots of Lapwing plus Egyptian Goose, 2+ more Marsh harrier 

Shortly after lunch a 2-3 scans from various vantage points produced a  group 
11 Cranes in a flock feeding out in the fields. We then searched the beach at Sea Palling, but the tide was out & I couldn't find the Purple Sandpipers, Gannets were still moving & a nice flock of c40 Sanderling were present

We finished the day with a great raptor roost at Hickling,
 1 male Merlin, 2 Hen Harrier including superb views close of a grey male, c30 Marsh Harrier, 4 Barn owl & 2 Cranes.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday 24th February Day 3 of 3 day tour North Norfolk

Another cold, grey day - with a gusty NE wind, made it feel very chilly! However, we still had an excellent day......first we stopped off in a rough field full of unharvested rape & maize. A lovely mixed flock were scoped as they dived in & out of the hedgerow - 30 Brambling, 50 Linnet, c20 Chaffinch, 20 +Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch, 1-2 Yellowhammer & Reed Bunting.

A brief stop for a smart Red Kite overhead & then another farmland stop; this failed to produce Tree Sparrow, but at least c60 Yellowhammer & more Linnet & Chaffinch, plus Buzzard & a Marsh harrier.

We weaved on along the lanes towards Burnham Overy, but were again distracted, this time for a nice flock of skyward Pink-footed Geese, after a bit of driving around we found them feeding inland of Burnham Deepdale - around 1500-2000 Pink-footed Geese. Despite 30 minutes of scanning we failed to pull out anything unusual.

We then headed to Holkham/Burnham Overy area, we had 1000's of Wigeon & Teal, plus Shoveler & Shelduck, several Marsh Harrier, plus 5+ Buzzard & a hunting Barn Owl, but we couldn't make any of these into Rough-legs! However, a nice surprise was c20 White-fronted Geese.

We lunched at Cley, 3 Red-throated Divers flew past, but the sea was relatively quiet. After a thaw & coffee in the cafe plus a close hunting Barn owl we walked out along the East & Sea bank, a lovely mix of birds along here - c130 Dunlin, c30 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Knot, Redshank, Curlew, Turnstone & a single Purple Sandpiper. In the dunes there was c20 Linnet, a few Skylark but no sign of Lap Bunts.

Total 3 days - 108 species

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Saturday 23rd February Day 2 of 3 Day tour

Today got off a little slowly! We arrived at Buckenham, but couldn't find any White-fronts or Bean Geese, nor were they at Cantley either. We did however have lovely views of the beautiful Wigeon, around c1500 still present, plus lots of Lapwing, 2-3 Marsh harrier, 2 Buzzard & a selection of wildfowl.

Next stop still failed to produce target birds! With no sign of any Short-eared Owls, but some consolation was nice views of Golden Plover, 500+ Pink-footed Geese, Egyptian Goose, 2+ more Marsh harrier & lots of Lapwing.

Finally our 3rd stop came up trumps, with lovely close up scope views of c180 Bewicks & 26 Whooper Swan. A stop for lunch was brief in the biting cold wind! This produced more Marsh harriers, 2 Barn owl en-route; but lacked the desired Cranes. However shortly afterwards a 2-3 scans from various vantage points produced a fantastic group & the largest I have seen together this winter with 27 Cranes in a flock including 3 juvs.

We then headed for the coast, we did well (not only the birds we saw, but managing over an hour in the absolutely arctic wind on the beach!!). First up were a couple of really smart adult Mediterranean Gulls feeding along the shoreline with a mass of other gulls. The shoreline was littered with seaweed & closer scrutiny revealed a good number of shorebirds as well, c100 Turnstone, c20 sanderling, 2 Knot & the real stars 2 Purple Sandpipers. Close offshore beyond the reefs were c80 Common Scoter & 3 Red-throated Diver flew south.

We finished the day with a great raptor roost at Hickling, 2 male Merlin, 3 Hen Harrier including a grey male, c50 Marsh Harrier, 1 Barn owl, 5 Bewicks swan & 12 Cranes

Day two 101 species running total

One of todays Purple Sandpipers - 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Friday 22nd February Day one of 3 day Group Tour NW Norfolk

We started the day with a couple of quick stops en-route to the coast first to enjoy 4-5 Grey Partridge, then  a few Golden Plover mixed in with Lapwing

We reached Holme a took a walk into the dunes & on to the shoreline, there was a nice group of Skylark & Linnets. The shallow pools yielded a nice mixture of shorebirds, Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit c200, Curlew c100 plus Redshank & c200 Brent Geese along the waters edge. Eventually after a bit of waiting the Snow Bunting arrived firstly flying past & overhead, a nice group of around c40, but they landed distantly. We walked over & were soon enjoying them at close quarters. They were restless & mixed up with a nice flock of Linnet & Goldfinch.

We then headed up to the Observatory where we seawatched, producing close inshore Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye & several flocks of Teal. More distantly several 1000 Common Scoter were to be seen occasionally in flight, plus 3 Long-tailed Duck flew east.

It was a very cold day, with biting easterly wind & we warmed with a cup of tea, but were soon distracted as I Peregrine put 100+ Curlew, 200 Brent Geese into the air. A distant Marsh harrier & Buzzard also present.

En-route along the coast we stopped off much closer views of 2 hunting Marsh harrier. We lunched & then headed off inland & had a couple of successful stops around farm barns with a lovely flock of c100 Yellowhammer, c20 Corn Bunting, c30 Linnet & c30 Brambling.

We then headed on to Titchwell & had a good slection of wildlfowl & 1000's of gulls. Highlights were female Red-crested Pochard, several really smart Pintail, c30 Snipe, 5 Ruff, c20 Black-tailed Godwit, c30 Dunlin & 2 Spotted Redshank.

We finished the day at a raptor roost with good success 2 Merlin, 7 Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine & Kestrel 

88 species recorded

Monday, 18 February 2013

Islay Winter Birding Tour Report 8th-16th February 2013

Friday 8th February

We collected the clients from Nottingham & then headed north for Glasgow, where we collected the final member of the group in Glasgow. Overnight in the Premier Inn, at North Stepps.

Saturday 9th February - Kennacraig harbour & ferry crossing.

We left Glasgow at 0730 & arrived at the ferry crossing from Kennacraig to Islay in the late morning of Saturday 4th Feb. En-route we had seen our first Hooded Crows, Raven, Buzzards, Red-breasted Merganser & Eider. For those in the front of the vehicle there was also a very brief view of a Dipper!

We had breakfast or brunch as it was, by 11am & enjoyed a full Scottish, before finishing the final leg of the journey to Kennacraig harbour. We had around 30 minutes to spare & scanning the bay produced several Red-throated Diver & Black Guillemot.

We boarded the ferry for the crossing shortly after midday and took our position for birding during the crossing on the side deck.

The crossing as usual provided a good cross section of wintering seabirds.  Several Red-throated Diver, numerous c40 Great Northern Diver & a fantastic raft of 15 Black-throated Diver.

There was also lots of Shag, Red-breasted Merganser & Wigeon.  Also of note were several more Black Guillemot, Kittiwake, c10 Common Scoter plus a fly-by Velvet Scoter & Gannet

We arrived late afternoon at Port Ascraig and decided to head for the accommodation, via the Supermarket at Bowmore.

We stopped off several times for the big flocks of Barnacle & Greenland White-fronted Geese, we also scanned the Loch Indaal bay just from the outskirts of Bowmore, where we had nice scope views of some c40 Common Scoter, c12 Long-tailed Duck, 5 Slavonian Grebe, Eider & Goldneye.

We eventually dragged ourselves away, deciding that we really ought to make sure we secured our food provisions for the next few days! After shopping we did have wonderful views of around c7000 Barnacle Geese going to roost at the head of Loch Indaal.


Sunday 10th FebruaryLoch Gruinart RSPB Reserve & Ardnave Point

Breakfast was arranged for 7.30, and we were all in the van & on our way by 8.15am. It was cold grey morning, with a biting cold SE wind, plus occasional showers making birding difficult.

As we headed out along the lanes to the famous and magnificent Islay RSPB reserve we were very quickly looking at spectacular flocks of 500+ Barnacle Geese  & 100+ Greenland White-fronted Geese. We scanned hard through the flocks, but unfortunately we didn’t find the Lesser Canada Goose on this occasion.

I find a sheltered spot & we had just got out the minibus when a Barn Owl,  flew by a nice surprise!
We scanned the masses, & suddenly all the Lapwing were in the sky as a female Merlin flashed by & then popped up on to a gate post allowing nice scope views!

We then headed off to Ardnave Point eventually we convinced ourselves to head out, donning all our layers & waterproofs – it proved worthwhile! We eventually located a nice flock of 50 Chough, plus nearby a few minutes later a flock of c25 Twite also appeared & a pair of Stonechat appeared, suddenly the weather didn’t seem quite so bad!

The walk back produced lots of Raven & a scrutiny of Ardnave Loch produced 10 Whooper Swan, 2 Little Grebe,  c150 Teal plus Goldeneye & Tufted Duck.

Next stop was the RSPB Visitor centre where we treated ourselves to some warmth, lunch & a hot drink, the group were able to provided an educational talk by James How the RSPB Site Manager. James explained the history& importance of the reserve and we then headed off to the viewing platform. From here there was a mix of ducks & geese, Wigeon & Teal were in abundance, with a 64 Pintail amongst them. A single Snipe flew over providing fairly brief views for those wjo were quick enough!

We ended the day heading towards Saignamore, where we noted Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush & Redwing in the fields. But the best bird was late in the day as I fired the minibus up the track to get up closer to a superb juvenile soaring Golden Eagle,  a great way to end the first full day on the island.

Monday 11th FebruaryLoch Gruinart East Shore & Loch Gorm area

After breakfast we headed for the shores of Loch Indaal, as today was much calmer & brighter.

We scoped the bay from several vantage points & had good views of Great Northern Diver, c12 Slavonian Grebe, c50 Greater Scaup, 30 Eider, 12 Long-tailed Duck, c40 Common Scoter Shag, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser & Wigeon. Once on the shoreline there were also large numbers of wildfowl & shorebirds, notable counts were 50 Shelduck, 100+ Oystercatcher, 100+ Teal, 200+ Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank & a few Dunlin.

We then headed towards the Bridgend area of the estuary, a male Hen Harrier flew by but disappeared very quickly hunting low across the fields. As we headed back towards the head of the Loch, suddenly the skies were full of panicking geese, the culprit a low juvenile Golden Eagle, skimming across the tops of the woods. It disappeared over the trees, we jumped in the minibus & made a fortunate decision to head north, as we gunned the minibus out of the trees the Eagle appeared ahead of us. I sped alongside & we eventually jumped out & were able to watch as it soared above us – fantastic!

We stopped off along the Gruinart flats, there was a good number of Barnacle Geese today on the south  side of the road, so I checked them thoroughly. I didn’t take too long before I had located the Richardsons Canada Goose amongst them, we were all able to get good scope views

We then headed up to the Loch Gorm area where we located a confiding adult Iceland Gull feeding on a carcass & nearby the fields held c20 Twite, c10 Linnet, c10 Ringed Plover & c100 Lapwing.

Tuesday 12th February – The Oa & SE to Claggan Bay

Today was a challenging day with strong easterly winds ensuring that most of our birding was done from the minibus or in short stops, but never the less we still saw some new birds & Otter!

We started briefly in Port Ellen harbour and here we were treated to nice scope views of an Otter for around 20 minutes as it dived, fished and swam, climbing out on to the rocks each time with a new prey item!

We then headed to the Oa & walked out on to the sea cliffs, it was difficult conditions in strong winds & despite this being an excellent area for raptors, they clearly had decided to sit tight! We did note several Fulmar & Gannets though.

We then took the minor winding road from Ardbeg to Claggain bay in the south east corner of the island. In the various bays there were Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, and Rock Pipit.

The scenery and rocky bays are wonderful along the south east stretch of coastline. After a couple of stops, we reached the pier 1 mile west of Ardbeg, and there was good numbers of Oystercatcher & Turnstone. Plus nice views of a group of Common Seals hauled out on the rocks.

We stopped off to look for woodland birds, but were interrupted as a Golden Eagle passed overhead, again we sped off after it, we managed to keep pace as it headed eastwards, but this bird eventually disappeared, but yet another great encounter with these wonderful birds!

We reached Claggan Bay & had lunch in this beautiful south eastern spot of the island, offshore several Great Northern Diver & Eider were noted.

I then stopped off at some feeders, which in the past have been very productive, but sadly they were empty & there was no sign of the scarce Yellowhammers I have seen here in the past.

Wednesday 13th February – Portnahaven

We had already noted the weather forecast for today with 40 – 50 mph winds & driving rain! Sadly the forecast was correct! We ventured out in the morning & watched the sea crashing on the shores, we took in some shorebirds & had very close views of c12 Pale-bellied Brent Geese.

We stopped off at the Wollen Mill & walked the river but couldn’t find the Dipper, there was a great selection of Chaffinch, Coal, Great & Blue Tits at the feeders there!

We settled in the afternoon for a visit to a couple of the islands Gift shops!

Thursday 14th February – Loch Indaal, Loch Skerrols, Bunnahabain & Bridgend Mill

The day dawned fine, with much lighter winds & we vowed to make up for the lost birding time of yesterday! A pair of Chough greeted us from the door of our accommodation calling as they flew over, plus c20 Reed Bunting were perched nearby. Angus & Isobel our accommodation provider also showed the group his new prize Bull – “George” whom seemed a pretty placid creature.

We started the day proper, with a visit to Loch Skerrols, it didn’t hold too much in the way of waterfowl, but 3 Treecreeper & one of the rare “commoner” birds a single Moorhen were worthwhile birds in the context of Islay birds! There were a few Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, but little else of note. 

We then stopped off again at the woollen mill, before we had even left the minibus we were watching a single Dipper. This bird delighted everyone with 15 minutes of swimming & acrobatics just below the bridge providing great views!

We then headed off to Bunnahabain. We climbed the road in the minibus, stopping off for Buzzards & the lovely views. We arrived at the distillery & the usual adult Iceland Gull, was in residence showing very well, we then watched 2 Otters in the bay & just offshore Great Northern Diver, Red-breasted Merganser, Eider & 3 Black Guillemots were present in the bay.
This preceded an amazing next hour where we were able to watch fantastic views of 2 adult Golden Eagles firstly perched on the hillside, just some 500m away, followed by both birds soaring overhead! We lunched & also along with the eagles noted Kestrel, Buzzard & Raven.

I tried a couple of short visits to wooded areas, but couldn’t locate any Great
Spotted woodpecker or Long-tailed tit but we did note a nice flock of Fieldfare & a few  Redwing.

Friday 15th February –  East Shore of Gruinart,

A really good weather day, dry with some sunny spells.

We headed off down the east shore of Gruinart, this excellent area produced a good number of birds,  c8000 Barnacle Goose, 5 Great Northern Diver, 10 Goldeneye, 1 Goosander, 4 Eider, 6 Red-breasted Merganser,  great views of a hunting Merlin, 120 Wigeon, c300 Shelduck, 120 Oystercatcher, 100 Curlew, 500 Bar-tailed Godwit, 30 Turnstone, 14 Grey Plover, 20 Sanderling, c120 Dunlin, 25 Redshank, c40 Ringed Plover, 6 Rock Pipit, 6 Skylark, c15 Reed Bunting & flocks of 20, 40 & 60 Twite.

We lunched at the RSPB centre Gruinart & then headed off to Saignamore, halfway along the minor road a Barn Owl crossed the road ahead of us out hunting in the middle afternoon! Possibly due to the poor weather earlier in the week. Buzzards were everywhere, plus a Kestrel.

We were soon stopping again as a good flock of finches lifted out ofan adjacent field. A good scan showed a really nice mixed flock of c250 birds – c200 Chaffinch, c20 Linnet, Skylark & real star birds c10 Brambling. I had an inspired moment as I suggested a Merlin might pass by if we sat & waited……30 seconds later a Merlin came hurtling through. It gave close pursuit & disappeared down the road weaving between the bushes!

We eventually reached the bay & decided that on a short walk in the beautiful sunny blue skies. As we walked out a raptor appeared moving along the ridge, a Golden Eagle plus a 2nd bird, 7th & 8th sightings of the trip! The beach was beautiful & we didn’t see another soul, scattered along the beach were Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher & Turnstone.

We finished the day with a drive around Loch Gorm, c240 Teal were on the loch plus a few Tufted Duck & Mallard. A Pair of Stonechat showed nicely & we finished off with a hunting ringtail Hen Harrier crossing the road in front of us.

Saturday 16th February – Port Ascraig harbour & ferry crossing to Kennacraig

We headed down after breakfast to Port Ascraig said our farewells and were aboard the ferry heading back to the mainland by 9.30am.

The crossing provided a good selection of birds to finish the trip, c15 Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, 5 Kittiwake, 1 Razorbill , several Black Guillemot & Common Scoter.


Overall we had a successful trip, recording 104 species of birds.

The number of species was just half the story, the continual observations of quality species, with good views of many scarcer species was one of the really enjoyable factors, cumulative sightings over the week produced – 8 Golden Eagles, 100 + Great Northern Diver, 20+ Slavonian Grebe, , 60+ Chough, 5 Hen Harriers, 3 Merlin,  Black Guillemot, Long-tailed Duck, 150+ Twite, plus the Small race Canada Goose amongst the vast numbers of Barnacle Geese.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday 3rd February 3 Day Norfolk Winter Tour

Day 3 of 3 East Norfolk

Another day started with yet more lovely views of hunting Barn Owls
in fact by the end of the day one member of the group had seen no less than 12 individuals!!

We headed over to the Yare Valley & were soon enjoying a mass of wildfowl, thousands of Wigeon, plus Shoveler, Teal, Shelduck & geese. The Wigeon providing wonderful close up views. After a bit of searching I soon had a small group of 22 Taiga Bean Geese lined up, although a little distant, the long dark necks, heavy long bills, & orange legs could all be seen through the scopes. The fields were littered with small groups of Lapwing, plus a few Golden Plover & overhead Marsh Harrier & Buzzard passed by. 

As we were contemplating walking out along one fo the footpaths to search for further geese, a skein appeared on the horizon, as they dropped I could see they were our quarry - Eurasian White-fronted Geese, around c50 of them. They landed & everyone was able to enjoy scope views as they settled down to feeding.

We then headed north towards the Broads & were soon searching along some minor lanes for wild swans. It didn't take too long to find them; a good flock of around 220 birds were evident at some range. The first small group of 7 consisted of 2 ad, 4 juv Whooper Swan & 1 ad Bewicks Swan. These were nice & close & we were able to study them carefully from the minibus without disturbing them. Further over in the next field, the main flock was present, again viewed easily from the minibus & with no disturbance, we were able to really enjoy the beautiful sights & sounds of 200 Bewick's & 18 Whooper Swan as several birds dropped in to join the main flock.

I then took the group to a quiet lane for our lunch break, with a nice vista across on of the large inaccessible areas of Hickling broad, several Marsh harrier, plus another Barn Owl were noted. Dinner was suddenly & abruptly interrupted as 2 Cranes flew across. A successful lunch!

In the early afternoon we spent some time looking offshore at the sea, we had plenty of Red-throated Diver, with many flying past & several sat on the sea. A Shag was sat on one of the groins, & several Gannet passed by, we were fortunate to pick up 2 Purple Sandpiper flying by, which sadly landed well out of range.

We finished the day at a raptor roost, & were rewarded even before reaching the watchpoint as 2 Cranes were found in one of the fields just off the roadside! The roost itself surpassed expectations with an excellent number of birds, around 1000 Pink-feet were heading off to roost & a few thousand Starling also passed by - a brilliant end to a great 3 days. Raptors were excellent -  c50 Marsh Harrier, 2 ad male & 2 r/t Hen Harrier, 2 Merlin (one perched & flying over the perched bird), 2-3 barn owl & 8 Cranes, including a party of four showing well on the ground. 

Total species was around 112 for the 3 days.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Saturday 2nd February 3 Day Norfolk Winter Tour

Day 2 of 3 South Norfolk/Suffolk

The day started with lovely views of yet another hunting Barn Owl en-route to the Brecks, probably the 6th bird of this tour!

The first stop at a Hawfinch stake out proved fruitless for this species  & for the first half an hour the birding proved quiet & tough, a brief flyover Bullfinch, then the brief call of Firecrest, but no further sight nor sound. Slowly we teased a few birds out, a Nuthatch appeared, then a Marsh Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, a flock of c40 Siskin were overhead eventually settling & a thorough search revealed some beautiful, "rosy" Lesser Redpolls amongst them. Hanging from the lowest branches we had scope filling views, most of them were Lesser Redpoll, but one bird with white underparts, white undertail coverts & a paler ground colour to the mantle looking good for a Mealy Redpoll. 

We then headed to Thetford & met up with Nick Moran (my local source of info down here!) we scored easily & had wonderful close views of the Black-bellied Dipper (the Continental form of this species, incredible they cross the North Sea!) it was feeding, preening & doing everything that we all love to watch Dippers do!

We stopped off for some local Waxwings, but no sign, did a circuit of the local berry bushes still  no sign! We started driving south for our next stop, the mobile rang - I pulled over & could see it was Nick, which probably meant head back for Waxwing! Indeed I was correct, he had found a single Waxwing whilst walking back to his house. Five minutes later we pulled up & was relieved to see the Waxwing still sat atop of the trees, providing wonderful views for everyone of this exceptionally beautiful bird, Nick & I pored over the detail & decided on 1st year male!

We continued south to our late lunch stop, this proved very successful. Eating lunch whilst watching c50 Brambling & c20 Tree Sparrow, plus Siskin was a real treat all from the comfort of the minibus.

We had a decision to make now, Bittern or Hawfinch retry? We plumped for the latter & arrived in nice afternoon sunlight - after 20 minutes of tantalising views near the ground a single Hawfinch gave itself up allowing everyone good scope views. 

Good decisions all round as a call to Nick reported the Bittern not seen!! Another great day. Total for 2 days 99 species

Friday, 1 February 2013

Friday 1st february - 3 Day Winter Birding Tour

Day One - NW Norfolk

A really lovely day with beautiful, big blue Norfolk skies, accompanying a great selection of 83 species!

The day started with 2 Barn owl encounters as we passed along the lanes heading for NW Norfolk. We arrived just in time to witness a really good showing of shorebirds, in excess of 50,000 shorebirds hit the skies.
The mass bulk of the flock being of course Red Knot, but also massive flock of 7000+ Bar-tailed Godwit probably  & the usual supporting cast of 1000+ Golden Plover, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Sanderling etc. Also several nice skeins of Pink-footed Geese past overhead.

We had probably seen around 25% of the masses until a marauding Peregrine went skittling through them all, sending everything into orbit & the smoke clouds of shorebirds hit the skies, superb!

From the hides, there was plenty of Lapwing, wildfowl & several superb male Goldeneye, head throwing at the females. 

We left Snettisham & were now able to study more of the waders at close quarters as they fanned out on the mud to feed. As we headed back another Barn Owl was seen from the road.

At Holme we wandered out on to the dunes & soon found a lovely flock of c50 Snow Bunting, which obligingly after a few flights landed close by & walked straight towards us, affording great views plus more shorebirds to study & a flyby Guillemot, being hotly pursued by a Great-black backed Gull.

Lunch was taken with Marsh harrier, Buzzard, Pochard masses of Wigeon & Tufted Duck on view. The mid to late afternoon was equally successful with 3 hunting Barn Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 5+ Marsh harrier & a Bittern plus a supporting cast of c200 Brent Geese, c120 Curlew & several Fieldfare & Redwing. 

The day almost finished with a flyover Woodcock, but was usurped by a calling Tawny Owl at the accommodation!!