Field Trips in 2012

These are the reports (latest first) of our monthly Field Trips for 2012.  Many thanks to all the contributors.

Sunday 25th November, 2012:  Field Trip – Strumpshaw Fen, Gt.Yarmouth & Hickling Roost (Stubbs Mill)

report by David Gibbons

In very blustery conditions, avoiding fallen branches, fence panels and driving through semi-flooded low-lying roads 8 stout members met at Longwater with the rain still falling. Along the A47 the cars were still taking a buffering from the wind, still a bit of shelter at our first stop at Strumpshaw Fen where we were joined by 3 other hardy members.

The Visitor Centre hide saw Gadwall, Coot, Mute Swan, Mallard and Cormorant a few Blue and Great Tits on the feeders nearby. A stroll down to Fen Hide rewarded us, on the way, when we heard a Cetti’s Warbler , in the hide we spotted a single Water Pipit some Marsh Harriers more Swans and a couple of Crow. Some Teal swam into view and we got a good sighting of an Otter. A single Snipe flew from right to left in front of the hide to add to our list.

Walking back through the woods we were engaged for a while with great views of Marsh Tits , Blue Tits and a Robin. Back at the Visitor Centre a Nuthatch entertained us on the feeders.

Great Yarmouth and parking near the Anchor Gardens Cafe?, ( our leader knows his refreshments spots as well as his birds!) we ventured onto the promenade , where we took shelter by an ice-cream kiosk, in the lee of the wind, where we also benefited from the warmth of the sun’s rays. Enticing the Mediterranean Gulls closer to read their ring numbers was the next task but the Lidl bread was not attractive enough to them, it was suggested to the leader that Hovis or Warburtons would have been better, please note for future reference.So the best solution was to resort to the cafe? for bacon butties with brown sauce and coffee.

Suitably refreshed we tried again, and having no better offer, this time the gulls came closer . E651 an 11 year old from Belgium on a white tag, E910167 again Belgian on a metal tag, AAZU on green was a German bird. These were 3 of the Mediterranean Gulls on the beach, we also had Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers and a single Dunlin. When the gusts of wind whipped up the sand they would fly up before settling down again further along the beach. On Scroby Sands we saw Seals, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Cormorants and with the waves crashing onto the sand, a superb blue sky in the background, it was a sight well worth getting up for on this day which started so wet and blustery.

Stubbs Mill , a spot of lunch, but 3 members had gone via Sea Palling, with sightings of auks and divers, they joined us at the Raptor Point as did some 5 or 6 other members, the track from the NWT centre was flooded in many places .

A Barn Owl ,on a post, gave us great views on the way, along with Jackdaw, Kestrel, Pheasant, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail and Egyptian Goose .

At the Raptor Point we had great views of Hen Harrier, 1 male and 2 females, up to 10 Marsh Harriers in the sky at one time, Long-tailed Tits, Little Egret, 2 more Barn Owls and a Wren.
2 Cranes flew in and kept us entertained for a while then 2 more, a couple of small skeins of Pink-footed Geese before a skein of around 500 circled in front of us and landed, with a lovely pale blue and pink sky and a rising moon as a backdrop to this manoeuvre, it was a fitting end to the day as 5 or 6 more Cranes came in to land as we looked back. Our thanks to Ray for a great day.

62 species recorded

 

28th October, 2012: Field Trip – North Norfolk Coast

report by Sue Gale

It certainly felt like the coldest day of the Autumn, and we started with a sea watch! But it was worth it, if only for the wonderful views of a Little Auk and the sight of our leader getting his feet very wet in his efforts to secure a good picture.

Cley beach did in fact provide much more than that. There were groups of Eider, Goldeneye, Teal and Common Scoter flying past, plenty of Gannets and Cormorants, and a single Shag showing off its diving technique. There were Red and Black- throated Divers, Long – tailed Duck and Red-breasted Merganser on the sea, and Skylarks, Pipits and Starlings coming in off it. We were ready for a warm-up in the visitor centre while we got tickets for the hides. Some of us chose to shoot off to Salthouse village at this point to see the Barred Warbler showing in a garden, with varying degrees of success. We all reconvened in the main hides, where the Dunlin all seemed to be dunlin, and didn’t include the White-rumped Sandpiper. Lots of water fowl though, including some of my favourites, the Pintails. A walk to the East Bank yielded many Redshanks, a lovely Grey Plover, a couple of Rnged Plover and more ducks.

Over the lunchbreak we made our way to Salthouse beach, stopping off again to see the Barred Warbler for those who had not yet seen it. It was a very obliging bird and showed well in shrubs very close to the road. Once on the beach we tracked down a Shore Lark (horned lark as we must now call it), losing and re-finding it several times. The only short spell of sunshine of the day came just at the right moment to show off the lovely colouring of this bird’s head. Several Snow Buntings flew over and were seen by many. We located the stray Barnacle goose among the Canadas.

On our way to Stiffkey we detoured to Glandford as a Black Redstart had been seen at Cley Spy. It was in full view on top of a roof for the first arrivals, but flew off before many of us had seen it. It took some time to find it again and get good views of it flicking its lovely red tail, during which time we found Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Bramblings feeding on the ground, and a Sparrowhawk soaring overhead. An excellent diversion.

Our walk down to Stiffkey Fen brought more surprises. There was a pre-roost gathering of 30-40 Little Egrets at one end of the pool, that eventually took off to roost in the nearby trees. Over 50 Black-tailed Godwits were in the water with many Lapwings. Starlings were swirling above us and flying in large numbers to a roost further along the coast. And on our walk back we were entertained by two Swallows and a possible House Martin. A great day and many thanks to Steve for leading it.

 

Sunday 23rd September, 2012: Field Trip – Wash Cruise

report by Lin Pateman

I was thankful for a later start and grateful for a lift (thanks Martin) to the wilds of Lincolnshire. We all duly arrived with no hiccups for the late tide meant a 9.30am start on board the Boston Belle. No need for flasks and packups today, as the bacon baps are real winners and wait a minute where was Katie with the bacon? Last to board and whilst we had one ear on the safety talk and all eyes on the water, June and her energetic team (Holly, Robin & Katie) provided steaming coffee and sizzling pork to set the taste buds to work. Immediately there was a guillemot as we left the lock, which was a rare sight this far down the river. As we steamed steadily past the Boston Stump all looking up to clear blue skies, a resident peregrine graced one of the many corners of this ancient spire. Passing through this major fishing centre in the Wash, we observed the processing bays for cleaning the boatloads of cockles & brown shrimp catches which are all exported today.

Pied & grey wagtail, redshank and common sandpiper graced the shallows as we sailed past the burnt remains of the Black Sluice. The outside deck was packed with eager birders, accompanied by speedy observations of John Bradley from RSPB and volunteers from the South Lincs. Birdwatching Society, whilst the inner cabin busied constantly with folk collecting their endless supply of delicious refreshment orders.

Pink foot, canada and greylag geese all in the same lens on the bank, cormorants balancing on the overhead wires, little egret…where ? went up the shouts…left! Starboard! one o clock!…after agreeing with John which location points to use, the list was growing rapidly. Swallow, house martin, lapwing, linnet, meadow pipit, ringed plovers taking off into the gathering grey clouds. Ponies lazing and grazing on the bank, plenty for the gull lovers at the tip. Curlew over, herring gull with colour ring, flock of starlings. Suddenly I was struck by the similarity of the shade of mud on the shallows to the feathers of the species lurking there….common sandpiper, redshank, curlew, none still for long. Keep looking, so much to see as we gather speed and herons, majestic, as one takes off and the rise and fall of the elegant neck of the other, stock doves take flight among the pigeons. We saw lots of bank work to maintain this busy river habitat, which used to meander through the Frampton Marsh until it was canalised for the larger vessels whose wash has eroded the banks.

Tony interrupted my note-taking to inform of 6 knots and as I stretched across to see these perky waders I spied the speed limit sign, I agreed to forgive the pun! As we sailed parallel to Frampton Marsh in bright sunshine, the cows lay silhouetted in the grass and we watched carrion crow and redshanks galore. Just mentioned I hadn’t taken any seasick pills this year due to the excellent record of this fine craft gently conveying us into the Welland channel, when a fast wash caused a big stir…’pilot’ went the shout…’whale?’ No – boat, as it whizzed past, the lighthearted humour, corny cracks and lively atmosphere continued throughout the day!

Linnets, sand martins and meadow pipits flitting above the banks and fields now showing their autumn hues in the hazy sun. Large vessels passing and the call of seal had some looking for teal, whilst John informed us the first 16 brent geese arrived at the RSPB Freiston Reserve on the left, only yesterday. The count was already fifty and flocks of dunlin and golden plover added to the sights and sounds of the day. Terns, common… sandwich anyone?…. No thanks we had bacon rolls!. Ooh lookout raptors…..kestrel, peregrine and a lovely comparison of common buzzard ( lighter brown ) hovering low under a marsh harrier in the sky at the same time. Along the banks of the River Welland which goes all the way up to Spalding, up to 5000 seals can pup in summer and the commons leave earlier than the greys. Purple sandpiper easily seen on the shore, pintails flying past, flock of dunlin and a luminous Josh in his all-in-one flotation suit is the only one to come in from the front deck and remove some clothing as the queues build for more hot drinks, including a wonderful treat for me of hot chocolate with a shot of brandy(thanks Jackie).

Out to sea and sailing into north easterly wind then arctic skuas flying past and overhead for close identifying. Sea birds don’t come into the Wash until its completely flooded and so many come down the Norfolk coast making magnificent autumn viewing, numbers of oystercatchers and shelduck, knots and bar-tailed godwits, dunlin and wigeon keep us avidly viewing today. Gannets, turnstones, knot, grey plovers, dunlin, ducks flying in V migration …wigeon. Excited gasps as we turn sharply back out of the roughening water to the channel , more skuas to follow and a marsh harrier putting up a large flock of oystercatchers. Juv. arctic skua fearlessly chasing common terns and guillemots on the water.

Seen the big North American migrant?….strangely a Dakota plane flying past near RAF Holbeach and juv. gannets up the Witham and then passing the Pilgrim Father’s Memorial to mark the spot where they boarded a boat after escaping from prison. We passed the Greenwich Meridian at 13.37 and an escaped parakeet flew past, ruff appear among the geese on muddy shores and a common sandpiper lands conveniently on the revetment, as we peacefully glide back along the river. As we are unable to moor due to easterly winds, I wander up front and pass my thanks to the crew and our quick-witted and informative guide, John, he tells me there is a worrying lack of their local mute swans on the river .One of our members who shall remain nameless ,spots something white on the bank ahead, ‘I think I’ve found your swans’ and as two dozen bins focus on the white sheep on the bank, the day is ended with the same amount of hilarity as was shared throughout.

The positive feed back from our members was great and we all pass on our thanks to Liz for organising the hugely enjoyable trip.

 

1st September, 2012: Field Trip: North Norfolk Coast (Choseley/Titchwell/Holme NOA)

report by Mary Walker

Saturday 1st September dawned cold and drizzly, as 21 WVBS members gathered in Morrisons Car Park. As always the optimists declared “ it will soon burn off”. We were heading for Titchwell, full of eager anticipation to test run the new trail from Fen Hide.

A brief stop was made at Choseley Barns, but yet again the Corn Buntings proved elusive, as we quickly ticked Chaffinch, Great Tit, Robin & Stock Dove.Yellow Hammer could be heard. Then we headed to a dry, but cold Titchwell. Colin Fenn was leading us today, and suggested we made for the sea first, and explore the new trail after lunch. There was plenty to see. We scanned the fields to the west of Titchwell for Kestrel, Lapwing and Curlew. One of the Curlew was pretending to be a Whimbrel, but we had it sussed. A slow walk down the sea path soon revealed an elusive Greensandpiper, a female Mandarin Duck, and two juvenile Red-crested Pochard, with their pale faces and dark crowns. A couple of Sedge and Reed Warblers were lingering, waiting to say their goodbyes to Norfolk and head South. The tew, tew, tew, of Greenshank could be heard overhead.
It was hard to know where to start looking once we reached the scrapes and lagoon. They were alive with birds. Juvenile Water Rail, Spotted Redshank, Little Stint, Snipe, Ruff of various sizes, Grey and Golden Plover, amongst all the usual delights. Suddenly everything lifted. The culprit was revealed as an elegant Hobby on the lookout for lunch.

The beach to was very productive with an obliging Purple Sandpiper, waders galore along the waters edge, and Guillemot,Eider, and Common Scoter on the sea. An Arctic Skua made a brief appearance.

The new trail from the Fen Hide opened today, and it felt rather strange walking past all the dead trees that we would normally look wistfully at, wishing we could get nearer to the home of the Marsh Harrier and Cormorants. The trail was expectantly quiet, but looked very promising for the months to come. Plenty of bushes for birds to hide in. The photographers amongst us welcomed the fact that the light was 100% better.

We quickly scooted up the coast to Holme N.O.A. It was their open day, and we were all keen to put in an appearance. Dozens of Swallows were gathering to head west, and a few Sandwich Terns were on the beach. Several Privet Hawk-moth caterpillars had been caught by N.O.A. Staff, and we marvelled at these huge green monsters. A juvenile Barred Warbler had also been caught and ringed by the N.O.A. We peered into the bush where it had been seen ten minutes before our arrival, but it must have made its escape quickly, as nothing was found. It was time to call it a day. Rumour was we had 97 species today. Nearly reached the magical three figures!

Thanks to Colin for organising and leading such a brilliant days birding.

Number of species = 93 ( some other species were seen/heard but only by a very few)

 

Sunday 29th July, 2012: Field Trip Weeting & Lakenheath Fen

report by Lucy Topsom

Well, an outdoor trip to the wilds of Suffolk, what an invitation, and as the newsletter described, anything could turn up!

Some of the group met up at Dereham car park to car share and others went directly to Weeting Reserve at the appointed time of 9.40am. We were welcomed to the reserve by “the Colonel” who proceeded to take us to the hide. He explained to us that they had never had such a disastrous season, with only one stone curlew chick managing to be bred on site this year. Another pair had bred two chicks which were unfortunately predated and these two pairs had now stopped holding territory so would not try for a second brood, which manifested itself by a further five stone curlew flying onto site and not being chased away by the two pairs. They flock up in the autumn ready to migrate, but this year it had happened at least a month earlier than normal. He said that he had never seen the reserve look so green and the grass look so long due to the wet summer. Let’s hope that next year will prove more productive. We all managed to see stone curlew and they were showing well, and I managed to see five at one time, and some of the group saw all nine, which was a good result. When we left the hide we could hear spotted flycatchers and managed to see a family of 3-4 which had nested near the hide. They were very obliging and came close to show well. Woodlark had been at the reserve until recently but appeared to have moved on as we could not locate them. We then went in convoy to Lakenheath Fen Reserve.

We crossed the borders into Suffolk and the weather was clouding up and the skies were grey but we Norfolk folk are hardy. We set off from the visitor centre, where some of the group had seen a grass snake swimming in the pond, and walked along the track running parallel to the railway track. Along the way we saw numerous meadow brown, gatekeeper, large and small skippers and large and small white butterflies. We also saw damsel, ruddy darter and brown hawker dragonflies . One of Lakenheath’s target birds is the hobby and we were rewarded with good views of these magnificent birds soaring above the track.

We made our way to the first hide where we soon heard the ping-ping of bearded tits. It was at this point that the heavens opened and we were grateful that we could shelter from the rain. We managed to continue birding throughout the deluge and saw several “beardies” as they flew round the first peninsular of reeds. We also heard and saw reed and sedge warbler and managed to get very good views of kingfisher. As soon as the rain stopped we continued to the next hide at the track apex. We saw a few more species at this hide including very good views of a flying bittern and then the heavens opened again. Once the rain stopped we then continued on our way up onto the river bank. Instead of turning right, we made a sharp left and walked a few yards and saw another (or maybe the same) bittern fly over again. We then started looking for the next target bird; cranes. We were just about ready to give up hope of seeing them and then we heard the call, “cranes”. Everyone soon had scopes up and viewed these magnificent birds. We then proceeded to walk back along the river bank towards the visitor centre where we saw a whooper swan that had not migrated. We managed to manoeuvre round the cows which seem to always be right where you want to walk and then the sky looked very dark and menacing again… We all hot footed it back to the visitor centre before the heavens opened. Whilst waiting for the rain to stop we spoke with the reception staff who told us that the cranes had faired very well this year and the flock were increasing in size. We saw 2 of the 3 target birds at Lakenheath; the hobby and the crane but unfortunately, the golden orioles had already left the reserve due to them not breeding. So a success story for the cranes where it had been a disaster for the orioles and stone curlew. We all thanked Ray for the day in wild and wet Suffolk and his immaculate timing getting us to the hides in between deluges. On the way home we were glad to see the Norfolk border, where it seemed to be much brighter!!

Birds seen at Weeting:
Gt. Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Swallow, House Martin, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Less. Black-backed Gull, Carrion Crow, Cormorant, Green Woodpecker, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Stock Dove, Pied Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Dunnock, Spotted Flycatcher.

And at Lakenheath Fen:
Great Tit, Wren, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Swift, Chiffchaff, Hobby, Gt. Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Bearded Tit, Kingfisher, Mallard, Bittern, Tufted Duck, Jay, Grey Heron, Mute and Whooper Swans, Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Cetti Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Blackbird, Common Crane.

Also
Roe Deer, Weasel, Grass Snake; Small Copper, Large White, Small White, Brimstone, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper; Essex, Large & Small Skippers; Comma, Red Admiral & Ringlet Butterflies; Brown Hawker, Ruddy Darter, Black-tailed Skimmer Dragonflies.

 

Sunday 27th May, 2012: WVBS Field Trip Dawn Chorus & Bacon Butterflies

report by Glenn Collier

We were pleased that the weather forecast was warm and dry for our annual dawn chorus at Sparham Pools. It was great to see a good turnout of 20 people who convened at 4.15 for a 4.30am start and the sun was rising on what was promising to be a sultry day. It is our one chance in the year we have permission to walk over Charles Sayers land and this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Just before we set off we thought we would listen to the birds that were about in the car park. Firstly a cuckoo, which was a good start, closely followed by a flying woodcock with its call and the usual loud wren and a garden warbler and blackcap.

We proceeded on our course around the lake and heard several tree creepers so we looked up into the trees to try to find one. On looking, we saw a lot of bats flying around the tops of trees, most likely pipistrels as they seemed small. Tree creepers can be motionless as dawn breaks and this would account for why we could not locate one.

We walked through the gate into the water meadow to scan for owls and we were greeted by a lovely mist rising from the river and marshland and everyone remarked on how beautiful this looked. We found a constantly singing garden warbler, common terns, gulls, reed bunting and tit family. We heard Canada geese and then located them on the lake with her goslings which gave the  “Ah” factor. Also on the lake was a family of Egyptian geese with young, tufted duck, a little grebe which promptly dived and disappeared and a great crested grebe. Little egret flew overhead together with oyster catchers and swallows and swifts. We had a close up view of a male reed bunting and sedge warbler in scope. Banded demoiselles were noted in the reeds together with a casing from a hairy dragonfly from which it had hatched out of, this gave an additional interest to the group. We continued our walk around the far end of the lake and heard the willow warblers but no sign of purring turtle doves as hoped in this area. A single sand martin was found at the far end of the lakes. A real bonus was the call from a female cuckoo bubbling three times which is a call that you hardly ever hear. Mmm, this was suspicious as a reed warbler was singing his heart out only 10 metres away.

Several orchids were seen along the water’s edge, which were probable southern marsh and the constant sweet sound of a sky lark singing overhead added to the atmosphere. It was nice to get a pair of stock doves in the scope and to see the lovely iridescent green shining on their necks.

As it was getting quite warm now we were surrounded by lots of azure and more banded demoiselle damselflies. In this area we had yellowhammer, green wood pecker, linnet, pied wagtail and whitethroat and a fox was also noted.

Towards the end of our walk at the back end of Sparham Pools reserve there appeared to be three pairs of reed warblers in the lake edge in the ever increasing reed bed which is a good thing for this species. A bull finch was noted in this area.

Nearing the end of our walk we could sense the tea and bacon butties luring us back to the car park and we would like to thank Chris Gribble and Lynn Pateman for their work in organising the purchase and cooking of the bacon. We found a lovely sunny glade to sit and eat our sumptuous breakfast. Whilst eating and chatting we noticed a few more species, a marsh tit, sparrow hawk and at last a turtle dove was seen flying over and to finish off the morning, the most noteworthy of birds, a spotted flycatcher. Also of note was green hairstreak, orange tip, holly blue, green veined white butterflies and 3 female broad bodied chasers, a hairy dragonfly and some azure damselflies and a few banded demoiselles. Whilst clearing up we heard a curlew call 3 times.

Species recorded – our total was 59 species, which is quite a lot for the area we walked, with 20 happy faces. Next decision, should we go back to bed for a few hours’ kip or off birding for the rest of the day.

 

Saturday 28th, April 2012: WVBS Field Trip to Foxley Wood

report by David Knight

It was a great surprise to find as many as 28 members assembled in the car park as the rain was already coming down quite hard and a wet,dismal walk seemed highly likely. We set off fully “rugged up” against anything the weather could throw at us. trying to listen out for any equally mad migrants. Most of us,fortunately,had brought our wellies as the ground underfoot was sodden. Pushing our hoods aside we picked out a Song Thrush who, by its song, was totally oblivious of the weather. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were heard and later seen. After a short time,however,the rain stopped and, luckily, stayed almost dry for the rest of the morning,so we were able to start enjoying the walk. Alan directed us around the reserve to areas not usually visited spotted some hares in the undergrowth. Then one approached us down the middle of the ride. He came quite close then, sniffing the air, realised our presence, looked up at us, then disappeared giving us all great,close views. It was like a repeat of Alan’s talk on the 19th April. We stopped at the old birch tree contorted by twining stalks of honeysuckle in it’s early years. Again a feature of Alan’s talk. Wherever you looked throughout the walk there were carpets of bluebells.They bring in many visitors to view the spectacle in this otherwise quiet ancient wood. Our eyes tended to be looking down towards the floor watching where we were treading to miss the worse of the puddles. Consequently we spotted some of the many plants and wild flowers that abound in this special place: like Primrose,Greater Stitchwort,Bugle,Dog’s Mercury and Early Purple Orchids etc.
We arrived back at the car park after about 31?2 hours wet,muddy but excited by what we had seen and what this woodland has to offer. We are already trying to arrange another visit with Alan in the summer months.
Birds seen:-
Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Jay, Magpie, Crow, Wren, Blackcap, Green W/Pecker, Gt.  Spotted W/Pecker, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Garden Warbler, Dunnock,Skylark, Sparrowhawk, Long.Tailed Tit, Pheasant, Marsh Tit.
Plants recorded:- Bluebells, Primroses, Gt.Stitchwort, Bugle, Dog’s Mercury, Violet, Early Purple Orchid, Wood Anemone, Water Aven
Other wildlife:-Frog, Wood Mouse, Muntjac, Roe Deer, Hare

 

Sunday 25th, March 2012:  WVBS Field Trip – Brecks for Breckland Specialities

reported by (and lead by): Glenn Collier

Our day of birding started at 7.30 for early risers at Santon Downham and 9.00 am for the main walk . We thought a few would turn up early , so it was a great surprise to see 20 people, especially with the clocks changed . The weather was cool but we soon warmed up in hot Santon Downham . We only had about an hour or so before we met the others, so with lots of beady eyes we had 33 birds and highlights were, Great Grey Shrike, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (seen by a few of us ) Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Brambling, Redwing ~ Full list below

We hot wheeled it to Lynford Arboretum to meet up with a few more WVBS members at 9.00 am and a cup of tea They felt deflated on hearing what we had seen, but there was more for all of us. With great enthusiasm 23 of us headed up the main track and it wasn’t long before we saw MarshTit, Crossbill, and a male Goldcrest ; unusually showing off his raised crest, that was a bonus. We were in search for the ( Beak ) you guessed it Hawfinch, We searched for quite some time and down a track with bird feeders, we saw another Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Linnet. A Hawfinch was eventually found in the Arboretum area, with great telescope views for all of us and soon followed by a lovely Firecrest, also showing his raised crest. Now we`re on a roll ~ Little Grebe, Chiffchaff, Canada Goose. The main lake gave us more goodies and near by were Buzzards, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Curlews and a lucky Goshawk ~ WOW!

We headed off to Cockley Cley area for lunch ‘n drinks with singing Woodlark. While enjoying lunch, Lucy located a Stone Curlew for us, but with a local man seemingly unhappy with our mass arrival, it was best for us to leave’n head for Nunnery lakes . We had some good birds and highlights were Snipe, Reed Bunting and a pair of Kingfishers .

A Quality Day ~ 68 species in total.

Greenfinch, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Redwing, Less.Redpoll, Gr.spot. woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Wren, Pheasant, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Starling, SongThrush, Treecreeper, Moorhen, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Coot, Coal Tit, Canada Goose, Siskin, Robin, Dunnock, Mallard, Red -legged partridge, Jackdaw, Great Grey Shrike, Stockdove , Rook, Brambling, Less.spot. woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Black h. Gull, MarshTit, Chiffchaff, Croosbill, Firecrest, Kestrel, Little Grebe, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Tuffted Duck, Great crested Grebe, Less.black backed Gull, Gadwall, Reedbunting, magpie, pied wag, little egret, linnets, lapwing, green woodpecker, yellow hammer, sparrow hawk, jay, teal, Goshawk, Curlew, Woodlark, Egyptian Goose, Skylark, Snipe,House Sparrow, Feral Pigeon, Kingfishers

Editors Note. Many thanks to Glenn & Lucy for leading(and reporting). What a cracking bird list. You miss their walks at your peril!

 

Saturday 25th. February, 2012:  WVBS Field Trip to the North Norfolk Coast

reporter: Liz Bridge

Holkham Park, Pines & Beach

Well, I’m not sure where to start! It could be the end of the day, sun still shining low in the sky and highlighting the 4 Shore Larks feeding on the marshes at Holkham: or it could be seeing the Rough-legged Buzzard at Egmere. (If you don’t know where this is look for the pink houses along the Fakenham to Wells Road and turn left in front of them along Creake Road.) About 1?2 mile down there we viewed him. A lot of other birds were seen around here, including 3 Oystercatchers standing on a wall, but I have to confess I did not see them, being entranced by the Rough-legged Buzzard sitting for a long time in a bush – a first for me! At least one other was also flying around. Eventually we made Holkham Park. Goodies in the woods included Nuthatch and Treecreeper. A Green Woodpecker yaffled; was that a Tawny Owl or simply the tree confusing us? Along with the, mainly, Black-headed Gulls the usual water birds were on the lake. It was a beautiful day, sun shining and wind not at all bad. A Sparrowhawk flew by, a Kestrel, a Great Spotted Woodpecker as we made our way back to the cars for lunch.

Then down to the pines and the beach. What a lot of discussion over two geese (all that remained!). Were they Pinkfoot, Bean or hybrid? Personally I found this discussion very helpful as the distinguishing features of each were gone over. Then this morning I watched the BTO video on ID-ing grey geese. It’s good.

A wander down to the hide picking up Goldcrests in the trees, Curlews in the fields. Here some of us were a bit naughty and, having seen black shapes on the sea through the trees, decided to make for the beach whilst the remainder of the group went along to the furthest hide! The beach was wonderful; almost empty, vast expanses of sand and a blue sky casting it’s blueness over the sea. Tide a bit far out but as we got closer the black shapes were identified as Common Scoter. A group of nine Snow Buntings flew by and landed a short distance away until a dog disturbed them. A Red- breasted Merganser swam by, a Long-tailed Duck lifted off from the water and flew away to the left. Eagle eyes spotted other shapes on the sea and what a treat to identify three Slavonian Grebes happily keeping station in front of us. Thank goodness they remained there until the party joined up together again.

The next target was these Shore Larks, so we made our way in the Wells direction, clambering up the dunes and setting up ‘scopes. They are difficult to see being the same height as the vegetation, so we didn’t see them and variously we made our way across the wet marsh, eyes peeled. A suggestion that we move further towards Wells; we saw 4 birds fly in on to the drier area, which I’m told they prefer, and they were not so far from us. Just the four which have been there for most of the winter. The sun behind us highlighted their head patterns in particular and the birds were very obliging lifting their heads from the task of feeding on a regular basis. That was a treat.

The day had been very good in every respect and we ended with a Barn Owl and 2 Grey Partridge. Many thanks to Mary for deciding on Holkham, a good move!

Species recorded:- 87

 

Sunday 29th January 2012: WVBS Field Trip to Hardley Flood

report by David Knight

We all met up as planned in Chedgrave church carpark and the weather was frosty but dry with the sun battling to break through. Already a number of birds had been spotted or heard and Glenn’s list had Goldcrest,Coal Tit,Treecreeper,Robin and Song Thrush on before most of us had `rugged up `. By 10 o’clock eighteen members were ready and we set off down the footpath at the back of the church onto the marsh. Bullfinch and Green Woodpecker were seen in gardens and an old orchard. As we got to the gate leading onto the riverside path a male Sparrowhawk was spotted perched in the woods on our left . A second bird,presumably a female came into view and the male flew up to meet her before coming down again to perch in the sun giving us all great views. We walked on, the frost making the plastic ground netting a little slippery,but what a beautiful morning. Our list continued to grow. We stopped along the riverbank where a footpath cuts back through Chedgrave Common for the group photograph and walked on towards Hardley Flood. Marsh Harrier was seen together with Reed Bunting ,Lapwing and Marsh Tit. The path was muddy but the frost in the ground helped. On the second raised broadwalk we had our first open view of the Flood..Formed in the 1953 floods and only a metre deep at high tide this area is known for its water birds. The tide was out and the whole area of water was a mass of birds. Lots in and around the many exposed tree stumps and branches . Here alone we noted over twenty species with all five gulls, Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks; all the usual wildfowl including some fine male Pintail,lots of Shelduck and a lone Snipe tucked up in the corner on the mud. On the marshes opposite eleven Curlew were feeding with Fieldfare and Pied Wagtails in the fields beyond. The Marsh Harrier was seen again both perched and on the wing. We stopped for a brief coffee at the only hide on the walk then walked on to the eastern end of the Flood where we stopped for lunch. We quickly moved on as it was getting quite cold . Bearing right through the gate onto more open fields a Great Spotted Woodpecker was sighted in the trees of Hall Carr on our left. As we approached the far corner where the pumping station and the elevated Barn Owl box is situated the cry went up `Short-eared Owl` and we all watched a dark, long-winged owl flapping around that corner. We were all convinced it was Short- eared until it landed on a metal gate and faced us . Barn Owl! To press home the point it flew up and disappeared into the owl box where it stayed. We were now surrounded by open farmland with Hardley Hall on our left. Golden Plover,and Redwing went on the list and further on before reaching the main road again we enjoyed closer views of Golden Plover ,Fielfare Skylark,Red-legged Partridge and several Ruff ,which was a surprise. Turning left at Stone Cross onto Hardley Road we were less than a mile from the carpark The weather was now warm and sunny . We arrived back at 3pm having seen 73 species with Muntjac,Chinese Water Deer,Brown Hare and Stoat thrown in for good measure. A great birding day in a great area. Must do it again sometime – soon.

Total species recorded 73

 

Sunday 8th. January 2012 –  Winter Count

reporter David Knight

It was just about light enough when we started our annual Winter Count. The weather was fine and dry and a good day was on the cards. This year seven teams entered starting from different parts of the Valley and following their chosen routes. Do we go to Costessey first for the Waxwing or Sparham Pools for the Goosanders, Fakenham for the Shrike or stay around our patch.? Decisions,decisions!

As we all assembled after 4.30 in the Fox and Hounds we began to have some idea of what special birds had been recorded and how many! A Short- eared Owl at Great Ryburgh was high on the list but possibly the rarest bird seen by only a few was Tundra Bean Goose with the pinks at Shereford near Fakenham. Ray did his species count and locations from all 27 assembled members and a remarkable 94 species had been recorded over the day. A possible record for the valley. Then we came to the best team total and the honour went this year to Ian Brittain, Paul Riley and Tony Forster who were well ahead of any competition with an impressive 77 species. Ray later presented the Winter Count trophy to them with Ian accepting on their behalf. Second place was 71 and third 67 species. A great birding day out was enjoyed by all and many thanks to Richard Norris for organising the event . Then, with many tales of the day, some 22 members settled down for a well- earned meal.

Do, please remember to send your records in to David Gibbons at recorder@wvbs.org.uk

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