Archive | December, 2014

Sunday 28th December 2014

28 Dec

What a fantastic day, a hard frost last night followed by hours and hours of blue sky and sunshine. The breeze was biting this morning as Lynda and I made our way along the shoreline at RSPB Snettisham in Norfolk. We had left home at 06:15 to ensure we arrived on the Norfolk coast in time to watch the pinkies leave their roost on the Wash  We were not disappointed, leaving in waves and stretching out over the sky like scribblings from a calligraphers pen nib (do calligraphers scribble?). We must have easily seen upwards of 30,000 birds all heading off to feed inland on sugar beet tops on any suitable field.

After the spectacle of the geese we walked and looked at shorebirds, though they were spread far and wide due to the fact that the tide was well out leaving a vast expanse of mud.  Lots of Dunlin, maybe 200, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatcher all interspersed by hundreds of Shelduck.

From here we called in at the Thornham Deli for a most agreeable Deli Breakfast then on to RSPB Titchwell. A quick top up of Christmas cards, well they were 50% off and I bought the 2013 Norfolk Bird Report. Dumped these in the car then we set off for the beach and some more birding.

2014-12-28 12.58.14    The beach at RSPB Titchwell looking towards Brancaster

With just an initial quick scan of the scrapes we made our way to the beach to check for shorebirds and sea duck. There were a few Sanderling and a couple of Dunlin and approx 50 Oystercatcher on the shoreline as we walked towards Brancaster. A small flock of Goldfinch were flitting about along the dunes with 3 Linnet in amongst them.  The only birds scopeable on the sea were a couple of Goldeneye.  As we turned to make our return journey the tide was a bit higher and a few more shorebirds were gathering, more Sanderling and a few Turnstone.

We now continued along the beach in the opposite direction walking towards Thornham and Holme Dunes. The sea appeared to be more fruitful with a small group of Long-tailed Duck, more Goldeneye and about 50 Eider. Now on the shoreline we had Turnstone, Sanderling and 30 Bar-tailed Godwit.

2014-12-28 13.10.38 The beach at RSPB Titchwell looking towards Thornham and Holme Dunes.

As we approached the creek which feeds Thornham Harbour there were about 200 Dunlin roosting on a raised sand bar. Gulls included Great Black-backed and Herring.

Re joining the main footpath we walked back past the scrapes this time giving them a more thorough going over. 20 Avocet, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, lots of Redshank, some Lapwing and about 100 Brent Geese.

Full list for today as follows:

Pink-footed Goose 28,000+
Greylag Goose 100
Canada Goose 10
Shelduck 200
Wigeon 150
Mallard 50
Teal 350
Goldeneye 8
Grey Partridge 8
Pheasant 12
Little Grebe 8
Cormorant 30
Grey Heron 1
Little Egret 1
Oystercatcher 350
Grey Plover 6
Golden Plover 200
Lapwing 50
Common Redshank 20
Curlew 100
Dunlin 400
Black-headed Gull 20
Barn Owl 1
Little Owl 1
Jay 1
Magpie 1
Great Tit 4
Blue Tit 6
Wren 1
Robin 1
Blackbird 4
Bullfinch 2
Goldfinch 30
Linnet 8

Saturday 27th December 2014

27 Dec

After a night of heavy rain the sky was blue the sun shone and the wind blew a cold biting blow across the fields. Lynda and I walked from Hinderclay, close to Botesdale, round to Redgrave and back to Hinderclay, about 2.5 miles.

Walking down Cowfen Lane we disturbed a few Blackbirds which were feeding on fallen Crab Apples, otherwise it was quiet down the lane. When we emerged at the end into open countryside we noticed several Black-headed Gulls on and over the fields, there were a few Carrion Crows with the gulls on the ground. A Pied Wagtail flew over and as we continued walking we flushed a small flock of approx 20 Skylark.

The rivers were swollen after the heavy nights downpour with silty water pushing through the bare partially submerged trees. As we approached the edge of the fishing lakes 3 Cormorant  circled overhead.

After yesterday it was pleasing not to have dozens of dogs running around our feet.

Walking past a stretch of wet grassland and sedge I notice the silhouette of a bird flying low over the field it had rapid wing beats and a very direct flight. This was a Kingfisher, I picked it up in my binoculars as it continued flying over the field then noticed that in front of it was a second bird. Always a pleasure seeing one Kingfisher two together was a bonus.

Turning away from Botesdale and walking towards Redgrave another Cormorant flew over and a quick scan, albeit distant, over Redgrave Lake revealed 2 Mute Swan.

In Redgrave we saw a couple of Jay’s about 20 Rook, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tit. The only remaining highlight for the walk was 6 Roe Deer on a field as we walked home.

Total list for the day including yard birds.

Mute Swan 2,
Cormorant 4
Sparrowhawk 1
Common Buzzard 1
Black-headed Gull 10
Woodpigeon 20
Collared Dove 4
Kingfisher 2
Jay 2
Rook 20
Carrion Crow 8
Skylark 20
Coal Tit 1
Great Tit 3
Blue Tit 6
Wren 1
Robin 2
Blackbird 3
Fieldfare 30
Starling 10
Dunnock 2
Pied Wagtail 2
Chaffinch 10
Greenfinch 1
House Sparrow 3

Boxing Day 2014

27 Dec

Today Lynda and I went for a walk around Knettishall Heath Nature Reserve, as site owned and managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust. It was Boxing Day and there were a lot of people blowing off the Christmas Day cobwebs and no doubt walking off a few mince pies.

We have linked the Woodland, Heath and River walks together together to make one large circular walk of probably 2.5 miles.  The trust have owned this site for 5 years and now have it listed as a nature reserve as opposed to its former status of Country Park. it is 175 hectares in size and has a few remnants of typical Breckland habitat.

The woodland walk started off very quiet on the bird front, no doubt due to the noise of barking dogs and people shouting and whistling dogs. We did manage to hit upon a small flock of Chaffinch and mixed tits; Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh, also a few Blackbird. Sadly that was it for the entire walk we just encountered more dogs and most of them were off the leash bounding about.

The trust arrange/allow special days for a group calling themselves Hounds of the Heath it has a membership of close to 200, this is very alarming. My assessment of the site on this day is that in 5 years of ownership and management by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust it has gone to the dogs in every sense of the word.

In total we saw around 60 dogs and I do not think 10 were on leads. As a New Years grouse I have emailed the trust to inform  them of my feelings and the fact that I have cancelled my subscription. I have also tweeted and Face booked some comments.  I am appalled by what I witnessed today the trust have ruined a decent site.

Christmas Day 2014

26 Dec

A fantastic sunny morning after a frosty night.

Could not miss the opportunity so Lynda and I went for a walk around our local fens (Hinderclay, Thelnetham, Blo Norton, Webb’s and Parkers Piece). All part of the Little Ouse Headwaters Project (LOHP).

First stop was the duck farm slurry lagoon in the hope of an overwintering Green Sandpiper. No such luck just 8 feeding Teal and a Carrion Crow.  Walking through Hinderlay Fen several wrens were seen along with Blackbird and a few Woodpigeon. Overall it was quiet.  Approaching Thelnetham Fen I scanned the marsh area for Jack Snipe, must be on holiday with the Green Sandpipers, it was void of birds.

From here we crossed the river Little Ouse and continued through Blo Norton Fen. More wrens a few Great Tit and Blue Tit. Then we came across a small tit and finch flock. Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Marsh Tit, with yet more wrens and Chaffinch. Eagerly checking for Brambling but none of those either. Re joining the river we flushed one Little Egret and heard a Great-spotted Woodpecker calling. 2 Pheasants a few more wrens and that was about it until we were walking back into the village. High up I could hear Golden Plover calling but could not locate them, they called again and this time I spotted them, about 60 birds flew over wheeled around and dropped just over the brow of a hill onto a field we had walked past.  It was great to see them as they turned and called the light. They did not stay more than a few minutes then up and over the county boundary into Norfolk

Fairly quiet all in all with goldies being the bird of the day.

Christmas Eve 2014

24 Dec

At home most of the day today. Breezy but lots of sunshine, so nice and clear.

Not  much activity at the bird table just Starling, Blue and Great Tit, Dunnock, Blackbird. Plenty of Lesser Black-backed Gull flying over and several Black Headed. 3 Raptors seen from the garden, frequent views of a Kestrel, a female Sparrowhawk and a quick sighting of a Common Buzzard being chased by Carrion Crows.

Went for a walk very close to the village, plenty of Blackbirds eating the remnants of Crab Apples on the floor, also saw a small party of Long-tailed Tits. Spindle berries have just about dropped off the bushes or been eaten.  Back home now to wait for the International Space Station to fly over.

Merry Christmas