Field Trips in 2018

Annual Bird Count : 6th January 2018

Here are excepts from participant teams about the day.

Norfolk N Chance:
It’s that day of the year when rarity status goes out of the window and every bird, Peregrine or Pipit, Coot or Kite, has even status. Every bird counts, and we want them all by the end of the day. Our strategy was to start from Dereham and bird the string of pits between Bittering and Lyng taking in any good habitats and its birds along the way.
Ian’s instructions were to just stand by the sewage works gates in Dereham. Sure enough, it brought us 38 species in half an hour which included 2 Little Egret, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a surprise 120 Pinkfeet flying North overhead. Other birds were picked up on the way to Bittering pit, which disappointingly had only Mute Swan. Overhead though
were 5 Shelduck, 4 Lapwing, Greylag Geese, Skylark and a Meadow Pipit. Turning the corner to the Poplar pit brought us Teal, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon. Then on to Creaking Gate pit where we had Siskin, Coal Tit and Pochard. Rawhall pit had Shoveler and Egyptian Goose. We donned our wellies for a quick stomp around the School pit and accidently flushed 14 Snipe one of which could possibly have been a Jack but after deliberation was not counted. There was a showy Chiffchaff in the hedge but no Little Owl at its usual haunt.
Chris picked up a Nuthatch at Hoe Common and despite Ian’s directions to look at the curly branch poking up in the air it took me some time to locate it. His directions for the Treecreeper however were spot on. It showed brilliant on a sunlit area of bright green moss. While walking back to the car a Tawny Owl flew along the hedgerow and almost immediately a Woodcock flew up which I missed, still stunned after seeing the Tawny. Our hopes of getting Canada Goose and Great Crested Grebe were fulfilled along with Coot and a squealing Water Rail at Swanton Morley. A pair of Bullfinches added colour to the day as we left towards Bylaugh. We had a tip off Stonechats were to be had from the delightful St Marys churchyard. We had to resort to using scopes to find them, much kudos to the team who also found them on the day! No Little Owl for us in the two likely trees nearby. Goldcrests were in the churchyard along with another Chiffchaff. The nearby sewage works never fails to produce a Chiffchaff on the birdrace and today was no exception with yet another on the fence.
It was now two o’clock and we were aware of some glaring omissions in our list but with a brief look at Three Bridges Farm Ian picked up a Kingfisher on the opposite side of the lake, it shone like a green blue jewel in the grey murk of the afternoon. We didn’t even have to get out of the car, nor for the Sparrowhawk flying up from a driveway a minute away. A dash up to the top end of Sparham Pools got us our Reed Bunting but nothing else we needed. The road between Lenwade and Hockering often has Golden Plover and there they were forty of them. We were doing well now, even had time for a trip to Norwich for Peregrine. “Well they’re normally here on the big pointy thing”, I said to Ian and Chris but couldn’t see them. Suddenly a monster of a bird powered out from behind the spire. Got to be Lady Ga Ga (ringed as GA) we agreed and were off. I couldn’t resist another peek from the car window as it cruised effortlessly around the spire.
Chris suggested we check perhaps for a Red Kite going to roost as they are often seen over the A47 in the Honingham area. We waited, got bored, then drove in a loop around the village with a false alarm that proved to be a distant Buzzard. “This one isn’t” shouted Ian. Red Kite in the bag then, but time was running out, maybe just enough to get a Barn Owl on the way back to
Lenwade. We never saw one, but were delighted to have seen 81 species in the Wensum Valley recording area on the day.
Paul, Ian and Chris

Barry’s Boys:
We decided to go somewhere different this year and explore the area to the west of the WVBS reporting area to see what we could find. Starting bright and early at Syderstone Common we meandered south via West Rudham, Broomsthorpe, Doughton to Raynham Hall. As we stopped by the church a bird with brilliant white tail bar flew up into the mature trees. Scanning quickly we found a lovely male Hawfinch drinking from what must have been a little pool in the fork of a branch. What a find, and it just goes to show that birding is more about Lady Luck than much else. We wasted far too much time here, so rather than meandering further south towards Castle Acre we went down the main road, and as we turned in towards West Lexham a small flock of finches flew up into a tree by the road. We anchored up pretty smartly and soon realised we had a mixed bag of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Redpolls. Closer examination revealed one very white Redpoll, which could have been an “Arctic” variety or a Mealy, but before we had chance to scrutinise it in detail another car came along and frightened them away! Murphy’s Law being applicable this time!
Barry, Alan and Ian.

All Star Lasses:
I enjoyed the bird race very much whether or not our team won. It was a fun day ,being outdoors to see and hear all we could travelling round most of the Wensum (Thanks to Sarah for chauffeuring us). I especially enjoyed seeing all the Buzzard’s and Bullfinches-and a lucky sight of a Red Kite in Sculthorpe! Then a much appreciated cuppa and cake back at the hall – thanks to all who helped. Look forward to the next one!

Ann, Sarah and Lin

 

Kingfishers:
A before-dawn rise on a cold frosty morning, joining with likeminded birding friends to reprise the“Kingfisher” team for our winter bird count “twitch” (tick and run!).
Off to a good start, visiting local hotspots, soon numbers were climbing , managed to spot a skein of Pink-footed Geese flying over westerly , Redpoll feeding in Alders, flushed Bernie’s Little Owl which flew off into hiding.
Highlight of the day was a Peregrine falcon dashing over the lake at West Raynham and a Fokker Dr1 tri decker in red colours of the Red Baron flying east over Lenwade, unfortunately not a tick but an interesting sight never the less. Considering the team name, the most elusive bird was a Kingfisher, many reported sightings from other birders but not for us!
As Light was fading we made our way back to base to collate our findings, keeping a look out for a partridge, plenty of pheasants though.
Well done to the winning team and thank you to all involved to make a very interesting and eventful day.

Paul and co

 

The MillStreeters:
65 species or bust!
6.30am alarm bleeping and flashing! – what’s happening? – oh, the Bird Count – I must be mad, being woken up in what feels like the middle of the night on a cold January Sunday morning.
By 7am I’m feeling much better and more enthusiastic after downing a mug of tea.
7.50am Charles and Fran Neale arrive wondering what has happened to us as Carole and I were supposed to be at their house by 7.45am. I explain the difficulties of getting two 70+ year olds moving in the morning.
By 8am we were at our first site scanning over the surrounding area for whatever species we could find. Charles noticed a large skein of geese flying west; scoping them confirms they are Pink-feet – a good start to the day.
A walk round Sparham Pools and to the barn nearby produces a good number of species – wildfowl, thrushes, finches, buntings. We then decide to go looking for Grey Partridge – Charles and Fran had seen one the previous day – no luck but we did happen upon a Barn Owl perched by a barn! – a real bonus.
As we go past the fishing pits at Lyng Easthaugh I think I can see a grebe so we check it out – we find two Little Egrets and eventually a Great Crested Grebe. We move off, pause by a field with thrushes, Pied Wagtails and Stock Dove but no Meadow Pips!
After a loo stop (essential during an eight hour birding stint at our age) we try two stake-outs for Little Owl. Nothing at the first site but at the second site we are successful. Onward to our regular Kingfisher site. It was there yesterday – but not today! We have another site up our sleeve.
Next stop Bylaugh Sewage Works, a good site for Grey Wagtail. After scanning through the numerous Pied Wags Fran calls, “There it is, over the white sign!” Well
spotted Fran. We try the churchyard next and meet up with Phil, Alan and Josh. We exchange pleasantries and they depart shortly afterwards. No Kingfisher in the ditch and we fail to locate the Little Grebe on the river but Charles hears a Nuthatch calling. Shortly afterwards it flies overhead, it is always a tricky species to find. Later we find out that there was a Stonechat on the meadow below the church. Some you win, some you lose.
We moved on to the Worthing area – a lone Lapwing with Fieldfares was added to the list. We searched for Little Grebe – no luck but there’s still a chance elsewhere. It was time to have a bite of lunch as we can’t survive eight hours without food. As we were munching our way through our sandwiches a Sparrowhawk appears over the woodland in front of us – well spotted Charles.
After lunch we try the Broom Green to Great Ryburgh road as we haven’t seen any large gulls yet and there are some pig units to check out. Moving along the road I notice a gamebird feeder with possible partridge species feeding under it – let’s check them out as they may be Grey Partridge. Through the scope we can see that they are Red-legs which we have already seen. Charles tries the field to the side of us looking for Golden Plover so I join him. I can see partridges on the other side of the field and so can Charles – “I’ve got some Grey Partridges”, Charles calls. I check them out – yes they are, well spotted again Charles.
We progress towards a possible Little Grebe site but stop in our tracks when Carole notices a large flock of birds on a field to our left. A quick reverse to get a better view – Lapwing but what are those birds on the furthest edge of the flock? Golden Plover – excellent, well spotted Carole.
Our Little Grebe site draws a blank so we have a quick look at Great Ryburgh – no joy so we move on quickly to Bintree Mill but no luck there either. We are running out of time so make a dash for Great Witchingham Village Hall where a cup of tea and a piece of cake beckons. Charles decides to divert to Whitwell Common to see if a Tawny is calling. We stop, listen but nothing calling but worth a try.
We arrive at the hall with ten minutes to spare having had a thoroughly enjoyable day together. Did we get 65 species? At the log call we tot up our sightings – 66 species, 2 better than last year – well done team! Put our names down for next year when our target will be 67 species or bust!

Alwyn, Carole, Fran and Charles

 

The Threesome:

For me the highlights of the day were:
The Peregrine at Norwich Cathedral. We arrived in the Cathedral grounds around 7.40am and watched the pair of peregrines flying about and resting on the spire and platform. It was a wonderful sight watching them so closely. Then at 7.55am they both flew off, presumably for their breakfast. “No! How could they do this to us?!”. Our luck changed as by 7.59am they both flew back again and landed in their favourite site. “Yes!” ,our first luck of the day. Off to our next site.
Next, was the Chiffchaff. We had been to Bylaugh Church the previous week to see if we could locate this overwintering bird. We had found it easily then. However, it was a different story this time. We searched and searched but to no avail. We were trying to locate a little egret at the same site overlooking the water meadows. We were just about to give up when we synchronised and shouted “Chiff chaff”. Yay, within a minute or so we located it. Now that was good field work.
Lastly, was the Stonechat. We had travelled to Guist Bridge and the surrounding area because the previous week we had seen a huge flock of water fowl together with the Stonechat. This was not going to be easy as the ducks had all disappeared, presumably back to Pensthorpe just up the road. We concentrated on finding the Stonechat. It was not easy, especially as it was late in the afternoon. We were certainly lucky because up he popped and gave us long views.
So, all in all, we had a very productive day.
I think we lived up to our team name, the three of us, three special birds and we also worked as a good team.

Lucy, Glenn and Alan

 

WVBS Bird Race (and NarVOS Winter Count):
As I was clearly not on a WVBS team why am I writing this note? Well, the NarVOS Winter Count coincided with the Race. There is a considerable overlap between the two societies’ recording areas and I was covering the eastern NarVOS area where this overlap exists. What a cracking day for birding. Apart from a couple of records in my garden (not in WVBS) I was at Castle Acre, with the moon reflected in the river, as 3 Little Egrets put in an appearance and a Barn Owl quartered the watermeadows – a good start. Winter thrushes, which seem to be in short-supply, offered up Redwing at Lexham and Fieldfare at Worthing. The rivers, Nar and Wensum were both in full spate, with flooding in some areas; possibly the reason for no sightings of the NarVOS emblem, Grey Wagtail. The gravel pits around Bittering yielded both
Geese (Greylag, Egyptian but not Canada) and Duck (Tufted, Gadwall, Wigeon and Teal). My most frequent raptor was Kestrel, though for NarVOS as whole, it was Marsh Harrier.
The great thing about these count events is, for me, the chance to explore new bits of the county; another piece of woodland, a new body of water, a previously unseen water-meadow. It was good, also, to bump into two WVBS teams pounding round the patch, chasing (as was I) those ‘expected species’ which has so far not been spotted.
Having contributed my sightings to the NarVOS count, the provisional total is 93 (though we still have a couple of teams to report) and I know the WVBS total was 91 – very close and lots of fun! I don’t know what totals WVBS has recorded in the past few years but for NarVOS, having been well above 100 species, one would have to ask, what has changed this year? Review, analyse and debate.
Ian Black

And finally, a note from Lin, who kindly organised the event

The Teams in winning order were: –

1st – Norfolk N Chance 81 2nd – A Threesome 76 3rd – Hawkeye 74 The Millstreeters 66 Kingfishers 65 Barry’s Boys 65 The Norwich Girls 65 No-eyed Deer 65 All Star Lasses 58

My thanks to all for entering this year. Well done to the trophy winners with new and youngest member, Chris, joining Ian and Paul. Personal thanks to Sarah for her first ever WVBS bird count, great spotting and superb driving. The overall number of bird species seen was 92. In competition on the same day were the Narvos bird club and they phoned in at the end of the day with a winning total of 93. They claim this was a low total for their area in the Nar Valley.

Special thanks to the catering team for a sterling job.

 

Courtyard Farm, Ringstead, and Holkham Marshes.  Co-ordinator  Phil Borley                    28th January 2018

Reporter: Lin Pateman.

Up extra early to open birthday cards and presents before setting off , the leader was in triumphant mood for birding. After the very mixed weather conditions recently, mostly grey and damp, we set off on a dry, cold day. Three Barn Owls were seen en-route from home to Thornham harbour, the Twite flock were in hiding! Phil had a lovely sight of a Kingfisher along the channel and Lin had two Rock Pipits the other side; a Curlew wandered up beside us, head down, until it looked up in surprise and flew off calling cheerfully: A rare encounter.
Meeting the group of 21 proved a little drawn out as some drove up to the farm, however we soon gathered with excellent views of Tree Sparrows on the hedges not too distant from us. Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings were present too. We walked the permissive paths at the farm, scanning the hedges and through lovely weedy fields whilst enjoying good views of Skylark, Common Buzzard, Goldfinch, Brambling, Fieldfare, Kestrel , Dunnock, Chaffinch, Red-legged Partridge, Carrion Crow ,Pheasant, Egyptian Goose, Collared Dove, Curlew, Greylag Goose, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull and two green tagged Marsh Harriers, although we were unable to catch the letters on them. Sadly no Corn Buntings to be seen!
At Holkham village car park we gathered for lunch and then a search for Hawfinch which had been seen in a large Yew tree just inside the park gate. Here we added Nuthatch flitting around the Lime and Sweet Chestnut trees, a speeding Sparrowhawk and hovering Kestrel. Excellent views were had of a Coal Tit tantalising us with movements around the Yew tree; no Hawfinch to be seen!
Along Lady Anne’s drive we saw Coot, Lapwing, Grey heron,Starling, Jackdaw, Shelduck, Marsh Harrier, two Red Kites, Brent Geese, Cormorant, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Mute Swans, Jay, Mistlethrush, Moorhen and excellent views of a Great White Egret and Common Snipe taking flight. We marvelled at finding two very close Grey Partridges and then enjoyed watching five on the way back.
Some of the group ventured out to find the Shorelarks in the bay and missed out on afternoon tea; namely Phil’s chocolate birthday cake, at the car-boot café! Birding first.
A smaller group ventured out to the perimeter roads of the park and watched Red Kites circling and gathering in the stunning sunset sky. They came in droves , first twenty and thirty, then forty. We counted 72 in all. Beside us in the hedge we added Goldcrest feeding in the fading light.
Another great day out with WVBS with around 55 species seen.

 

Birding Two Continents: Co-ordinator Keith Walker 20th April 2018 to 27th April 2018

Recently 8 members of our club were fortunate enough to enjoy a birding trip to Southern Spain and Northern Morocco, under the leadership of local guiding and conservation company “Inglorious Bustards” headed by Simon Tonkin. The trip was expertly organised by Keith Walker, to whom we are all very grateful. I asked each member of the group if they would let us have an account of one part of the adventure, and here are their offerings for us all to enjoy:-

The first day of our trip to Spain Reporter: Sue Gale
The weather was being very contrary at the start of our trip, and we left the UK in the middle of a heatwave. We were hosted by Inglorious Bustards at the lovely Huerta Grande lodge, where Nightingales and Firecrests made their presence known immediately. Our first full day in Spain found us on top of the Sierra de la Plata, near Bolonia, in a howling gale and temperatures more suited to the English winter. Fortunately it didn’t actually rain, and in fact it didn’t stop us from seeing some exciting birds. We were all thrilled to see Woodchat Shrikes on the way up the mountain, and these lovely birds became frequent sightings throughout the week. On parking at the top we were greeted by a Blue Rock Thrush, and a pair of Griffon Vultures on the cliff. Lesser Kestrels were nesting on the top. As the vultures and kestrels swirled around us, enjoying the strong wind, the really exciting birds were seen. A pair of Egyptian Vultures! What is more they are really beautiful, pale birds, something I never expected to say of a vulture. They are clearly nesting here, to the delight of Simon, and most of us got pictures of them. Chicks of the Griffon Vultures were too seen and photographed. A Booted Eagle and two Short-toed Eagles also put in an appearance.
A coffee stop at Bolonia was not only enlivened by my first Zitting Cisticola, but also by a cavalcade of around 40 motorbikes, their approach heralded by much hooting and honking! The highlight of our stop at Barbate, a wetland area, had to be the beautiful Collared Pratincoles, which nest there in numbers. Other birds did try to upstage them though. The first I hardly dare mention. It was a Red-necked Nightjar, for which we owe thanks to Alan, who unwittingly flushed it. Sadly he didn’t see the bird himself, and he was remorselessly teased about it for the rest of the week. The other was a Little Bustard, which was heard calling nearby. Those of you who attended James Lowen’s talk in April might remember its call – a wet raspberry! In spite of all our efforts we were not able to find it. Another favourite bird that we were to see more of was the Iberian Yellow Wagtail, a bright and beautiful grey-headed sub-species. Add in the Corn Buntings, Crag Martins, Cirl Buntings and Kentish Plovers, among others, and you will see that we had a great first day.

After the Levante wind the sky was dripping migrants Reporter: Mary Walker

7.30a.m saw us queueing for the 8 a.m ferry from Algeciras to Morocco. Despite being pre-booked it was full, and we were redirected onto an alternative newer ferry, all enclosed. The previous days’ sailings had been cancelled due to dangerous seas, caused by the Levante winds. An Easterly, usually gentle and damp, when blowing strongly causes heavy swells on the Strait of Gibraltar and carries fog and heavy rain in the Huerte Grande area of Tarifa where we were based. The Strait is only 15km wide at this point, and North Africa is a mere blink of an eyelid away from Spain.

Soon we were readjusting our watches in Ceuta, rather green around the gills. It hadn’t been a very smooth crossing, however the African sunshine was welcoming us. Getting through Border Control was somewhat of a challenge. All our bins, cameras, and scopes had been discreetly placed under our seats, however African paperwork after more African paperwork ate into our precious birding time. But hey-ho once waved through it was only 20 mins to Oued Marsa, a truck stop high on a splendid viz-mig spot for a second breakfast. What we really yearned for were big mugs of builders tea, sadly not on offer, but Moroccan mint and orange blossom tea soon settled our dodgy tummies.

What happened next was a once in a lifetime birding moment, something every birder dreams about. First out of the fog came hundreds of BLACK KITES, interspersed with WHITE & BLACK STORKS, HONEY BUZZARDS, MONTAGU’S HARRIERS, SPARROWHAWKS, BOOTED EAGLES (both morphs), SHORT-TOED EAGLES, KESTRELS & BEE EATERS, all kettling and trying to gain height for their crossing. We watched a female HONEY BUZZARD set off, lose confidence, turn around and head back, and then set off again, disappearing into the horizon, well on her way into Europe.

A cry of “SPOTTED FLY over here” turned our eyes to the ground. Soon all our group were shouting “REDSTART”, WILLOW WARBLER”, “GARDEN WARBLER”, “WOODCHAT SHRIKE”, “IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF” in unison. The most unusual find was a pair of BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA. Our host Simon said that the best migration was with a strong Easterly. How right he was. In a brief 30 minute stop we reckoned we saw 28 species that had been grounded by the Levante wind. The skies were dripping migrants. It seemed to be the case of name the bird and it will be there somewhere. I have never seen anything like it in my life. A truly memorable birding moment.

Very reluctantly we climbed back into our vehicles for the two hour drive to Merga Zerja wetlands, a tidal lagoon located on the Atlantic coast. Once the home of Slender-billed Curlew, last seen there in 1995, its threatened wildlife is under pressure from ever increasing agricultural expansion.

More mint tea was consumed at a restaurant overlooking the lagoon as we waited for our boats, and we marvelled at the aeriel antics of CASPIAN and SANDWICH TERNS, AUDOUIN’S and YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were dotted on the Lagoon shore. GLOSSY IBIS flew past in formation.

We picked our way through the lagoonside fish market, the fisherman seemingly preferred to sell direct from their boats, rather than the tailor made brick building. Plenty of waders were on the lagoon shores. Umpteen WHIMBREL, splendid GREY PLOVERS, DUNLIN, CURLEW, and OYSTERCATCHERS. GREATER FLAMINGOES glinted in the distance. RED-RUMPED and BARN SWALLOWS, COMMON & PALLID SWIFTS danced above our heads.

Back on land we pulled into a small wood at the edge of the Lagoon, lazily scanning for NORTHERN LAPWINGS and MARSH HARRIERS as we devoured our late picnic lunch. All were content.

However the day was not over yet. Simon had a “special bird” he hoped we would see at dusk. The secret location was alongside a fruit farm, producing strawberries, blackberries and potatoes for M & S and Waitrose. Quietly and in single file we followed Simon down the edge of a furrowed field, glimpsing ZITTING CISTICOLAS and SERIN on our way. Our target was the vulnerable MOROCCAN MARSH OWL, more and more of its habitat being claimed by the fruit farmers. Simon suspected it was nesting on the ground. We were told to be ready as we would get one chance only to see this special bird, before leaving it in peace. Preparing for a long wait, we were startled when suddenly there it was, rising out of the reeds in front of us. By sheer chance and good luck I was actually looking in the right direction, camera in hand. click, click, click. Not brilliant photos, but a brilliant momento. Satisfied, we turned around and headed back towards the vans. Liz and I stopped for a few minutes to admire a LITTLE OWL scowling out of his dead tree at us. We didn’t realise 2 male and 1 female MONTAGU’S HARRIERS were displaying behind us, and a COMMON QUAIL was lurking.

Never mind we had had the best possible day, and were perfectly happy.

Reading back it’s hard to believe we managed to pack so much into one day. WVBS birders are not known for their speed of birding and sprinting from one stop to the next. Well today we have surpassed ourselves. A day never to be forgotten.

Monday 23rd April. Reporter: David Gibbons.
Our first full day in Morocco, at Larache a town on the Atlantic coast, after a good night’s sleep in our hotel breakfast was taken in a restaurant across the road, duly checked out by Juan.Freshly squeezed orange juice, flat bread, pancakes, honey, fried eggs, cheese and more olives. Hot drinks of milky coffee and sweet mint tea, both served in glasses.
Simon had advised us to bring cameras and binoculars so across the newly refurbished Piazza, Place de la Liberation, to the old arches opposite and there in the corners were Little Swifts nests, these had been there for decades with swifts repairing and building on to them, swifts were busy feeding chicks and took little notice of us.
Checking out of the hotel and back in the minibuses we drove along the run-down beach and seafront area to the Loukkas river and along to the marshes. A couple of stops revealed Little and Cattle Egrets, Turtle Doves, Bee-eaters, Greater Flamingos, Savi’s Warblers in full song at the top on reeds, Red-crested Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Stilts, Cetti’s Warblers, Brown-throated Martins, Red-knobbed Coots, Great White Egrets, Zitting Cisticolas, a single Purple Swamphen, an elusive Great Reed Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kites and the list went on! LITTLE SWIFT NESTS
By 2.00 pm we had arrived at the little bustling town of Bni Arouss, several old white Mercedes taxis, heavily-laden donkeys, butchers shops with lamb carcasses hung in the open air and busy barbers shops. Having found a local to mind the minibuses Juan soon organized lunch. The eatery had sawdust on the floor, a home-made BBQ outside and inside about enough space to sit us and space for the cook to prepare our food.Flat breads, two types of spiced beans, grilled sardines, strips of beef and lamb mint balls, chips, water and mint tea, all very tasty.

Back on the road to the Bouhachem Forest a forest of Pine trees, Cork oaks and Olive trees.Our first stop was for a troop of Barbary Macaques to look at us, this made a change and the dominant male never took his eyes off us. As we walked, stopping here and there, Juan was left to move both minibuses to keep them in front of us.Booted Eagle, Ravens, Long-legged Buzzards, a Short-toed Treecreeper, African Blue Tits, Atlas Pied Flycatchers, Firecrests, Desert Grey Shrikes, Griffon Vultures but best of all with excellent views 4 Levaillant’s Green Woodpeckers, 3 seen the fourth heard.
By 7.30 we had reached our hotel for the next two nights, Auberge Dardara, just outside the mountain town of Chefchaouen.Sitting outside we reviewed our list to date now reaching 141 species.Dinner in the restaurant, red wine on the table! Olives, Anchovies and bread to nibble on followed by Leek and Potato Soup, Chicken & Lemon Tagine with Fish and Vegetarian options available,dessert of Goats Cheese Yoghurt with Nuts.The lasting image of the day was the continual croaking of the Bullfrog in the shallow stagnant water in the swimming pool.

A Few Ticks Reporter: Cath Robinson
As members of the wonderfully enjoyable WVBS trip to Spain and Morocco, we were sitting ducks for the editor to ask us to provide some copy for the newsletter.
In response, I thought I would share some of my highlights of the trip and try to enliven what might otherwise be dry words.
Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker…Picus vaillantii………………………tick
Northern Morocco was quite a surprise in terms of its vegetation and lushness. The Bouhachem forest in the Rif mountains of North Morocco is wonderful mixed woodland: the ubiquitous Cork Oak, but also cedar, pine, fir and cypress. It seems relatively unspoilt and has recently been assigned status as a “parc-naturel” so hopefully there will be some form of protection against the ongoing spread of developed land creep and technology.
So there we were, on a lonely forest road sitting in the van watching a troop of Barbary Macaques entertaining themselves. (This population was the originator of the macaques in Gibraltar). But as entertaining as these were as soon as David and Simon, the guide, saw a woodpecker fly into a tree in their midst, there was an eruption of bodies out of the van to try to spy it. Before too long Simon had it in his scope and we were treated to great views of a Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, its beautiful green back straight in front of us against the trunk of a pine tree. While we were congratulating ourselves on our luck to see this we heard another calling off stage right and shortly after heard drumming fairly close by. With luck I was able to spot this one in another tree drumming against some dead wood on part of the trunk. After everyone had a chance to see this we then saw another Levaillant’s woodpecker buzzing it and then them both flying off stage left across the road. So we got great views of 2, calling and drumming and a good barney to boot.

Nightingale….Luscinia megarhynchos…….tick
Not so unusual to see a Nightingale but what did seem to me unusual was that we heard nightingales practically everywhere we went, loud and long, day and night, protected areas and not. There is just so much good habitat: wasteland and scrub. So the Nightingale does not seem to be at risk (yet) in its heartland areas. But it made me think about how little land is available to them in the UK now and how hard it will be to maintain them at the edge of their range. Maybe Mr Gove will solve it all with his new environmental policy…….But it really was a treat to hear them singing so much and I did eventually get great views of one singing near our dining area at Huerta Grande our base camp in Spain.

Crested Tit …. Lophophanes cristatus….tick Firecrest….Regulus ignicapilla….tick
Both on the same tree whilst I was hurrying to breakfast at Huerta Grande. How nice was that!
Thekla Lark……Galerida theklae…………………tick
We were at a likely looking site of grazing and common land with patches of scrub and Iberian Broom. I was idly looking at a Crested Lark and asked the guide what the bird next to it was. He easily identified this as a juvenile Stonechat (duh) but suggested I look more closely at the Crested Lark, it’s distinct breast streaking and it’s more upright stance. While I was trying to take in this upright posture, the lark started lowering its breast to the dusty ground and going round in circles. Was it dust bathing? After several circles Liz suddenly shouted “there’s a snake” and a Horseshoe Whip snake at least a metre long weaved its way past the bird and on across the grass into the undergrowth. Did this explain the bird’s strange behaviour? Who knows.
Apparently one of the threats to whip snakes is being caught for use by local snake charmers although this one was in Spain so probably safer than in Morocco.

Flyway Musings Reporter: Liz Gibson
Migrating from sunny Norwich to wet, windy and chilly Southern Spain was a bit of shock! I didn’t expect to be gathering kindling and utilising my pyrotechnic skills in “sunny” Huerta Grande, but needs must when faced with seven shivering birders.
My highlights of the trip in no particular order:
? A lovely friendly bunch of people to spend time with ? Big dog and little dogs ? Waking to the wonderful song of nightingales ? Standing by a rubbish dump at a truck stop watching hundreds of raptors debating whether to brave the Levante wind and cross the Straights ? Weird, wonderful and rare birds: Egyptian Vulture, Northern Bald Ibis, Moroccan Marsh Owl, Levaillant’s Woodpecker ? Cartwheel sized flatbreads, fried fish and copious beans ? Little Swifts’ feathery nests in the Larache plaza.

Moussier’s Redstart, Moussier’s Redstart, Moussier’s Redstart ? Glorious mountain flowers ? Eating chewy snails from a market stall in the blue city of Chefchaouen ? Scarce Swallowtail butterfly – and a Common too ? White Storks sharing their nests with sparrows and starlings – imagine Edward Lear’s Old Man With A Beard! ? Friendly cetaceans ? An enormous Common Toad on my doorstep! ? Lesser Kestrels oblivious to tourists visiting the Castle in Tarifa ? THANKS TO SIMON TONKIN, NIKI WILLIAMSON, JUANLU, HASSAN et al

Its not over until the Birdie sings Reporter Keith Walker

We sat round the table in Huerte Grande for our final dinner. Eight elated birders whose trip to Southern Spain and Morocco had been tremendous. Excellent birding, brilliant bonhomie and conviviality.

We enjoyed a typical Spanish meal of Gazpacho, and Paella complemented by the usual generous helping of Spanish Wine which tonight was boosted by a wonderful dessert wine.

The plan was to take breakfast at 8a.m., and then head for Malaga airport.

We talked through our highlights and expressed a tinge of disappointment that we had missed seeing the Northern Bald Ibis, which we had hoped to see on day one, but failed due to bad weather.

Simon our guide suggested we might like to make a mad dash to see if we could find it before breakfast. Its location was likely to be some 20/30 minutes away in the opposite direction from the airport.

We all agreed to be up before dawn for our trip to try and see the bird.

I guess we should have known that guides always underestimate timings and we were still heading east some 50 minutes later as we desperately searched on both sides of the road for the target.

Simon sat there poker faced and said we could go no further, we would turn round, but would check out a Jackdaw roost he was aware of. Whilst anxiously looking at our watches, we all put on a brave cheerful face so we did not hurt his feelings. Sure enough the Jackdaws were active on their nests, and behind them we also a small number of nesting Bald Ibis. We were ecstatic.

Then a manic drive back for breakfast which was bolted down, and we then headed for the airport an hour later than planned.
The gods were with us and we made the journey to Malaga in record time.

When we arrived in Spain, we were told that Monk Parrokeets had invaded the local golf course adjacent to the airport. The course was only a good Three Wood from the airport departures, and I cheekily suggested that as we now had five minutes to spare we should check out the course. We saw the Parrokeets flying around within seconds of arriving there, and one very kindly sat on a dead branch within five yards of us. Having had lots of Eagles and now two new birdies I wondered if we could see an Albatross?????

We naturally arrived at the airport in high spirits having had two lifers that day!!

Birding 2 Continents – 2 Different Worlds? Reporter: Alan Hughes
In their contributions to this newsletter, my new friends from our recent birding trip to Spain and Morocco have described, far more eloquently than I could, the many positive aspects of our adventure (and it was a great trip, in so many ways!): At the risk of introducing a more melancholy note I would like to mention some of the conservation concerns that I have been pondering since we got back:-
Slender-billed Curlew. Shortly after crossing the Straits of Gibraltar we drove to a river estuary where we took two small fishing boats out onto the river. Apart from being a very pleasant (and, at last, sun-soaked) excursion, this site has a very sad birding significance as the last known recorded site of the Slender-billed Curlew, now believed to be extinct. Hassan, our local guide, is credited with being the last person to record the bird. There is a local café, beloved of visiting birders, in which the bird log records scores of annual sightings some years ago, then dozens, then a few, and finally none…..We saw lots of Whimbrel, a few Common Curlew, but no Slender-billed. This is a species that has become extinct in our lifetime. Ouch….
Nightingales. The wonderful gardens around our accommodation in Huerta Grande in Spain, and the hotel near Chefchaouen in Morocco, rang to the glorious song of many male Nightingales. They kept us awake at night, and woke us up in the mornings – and never have I been so pleased to suffer insomnia! This bird seems to thrive in less intensively farmed and developed areas in Europe, where the locals are less inclined to be so tidy. There are probably greater numbers of insects, and less deer browsing the understorey. Whatever the cause, we are about to lose this fabulous bird from the UK where numbers may have declined by as much as 90%. Surely, something must be done to halt then reverse this decline.
Moroccan Marsh Owl. After a packed first day in Morocco, Simon, our leader, took us to an area bordering a river estuary. We drove down farm tracks past fields and greenhouses where fruit and vegetables were being farmed intensively, almost entirely for the British market. One multinational farming company was responsible for draining and then eating up much of the land in this area to grow strawberries for our supermarkets. We were met on the edge of the cultivated area by Hassan and another local who knew exactly where to find a Marsh Owl, and they successfully flushed this magnificent bird for us all to see (although once too often for our liking). And what a fantastic bird this is, but now very rare, and if the farming company continue to swallow up the limited marshland habitat, the last few birds will be forced out of this area – and there is only one other site in Morocco known to hold any Marsh Owls.
Northern Bald Ibis. These birds have been reintroduced into Spain and had chosen a nest site in some cliffs just above a relatively busy road. An Eagle Owl had wiped out all the chicks one year, so the owl had been captured and relocated out of harm’s way. I asked Simon if there was any risk from egg collectors stealing, as these birds are so rare (this is currently their only European nest site). No, he said, as the local villagers are very proud of “their” Bald Ibis colony, and anyone threatening it would be likely to be dealt with quite harshly! This colony is small, but with care, will continue to prosper and hopefully grow in numbers.
Janet and I cannot thank Simon, Niki and Juanlu from Inglorious Bustards enough for hosting such a brilliant week. And we are very grateful to our 6 colleagues from the club that were such good company throughout. I would love to visit the area again, and, who knows, maybe a Red-necked Nightjar will appear….!?

 

Mannington Bird Walk : Co-ordinator Martin Spriggs – Saturday 21st April 2018

Reporter Lucy Topsom

It was a cold and overcast day when we met at Mannington Hall. This venue was a first for the club and I was eager to know what the Estate was like as they have around 20 way marked paths through woodland, farmland and meadows.

The circular walk took us through woodland, from the path we could view the Hall and Moated Gardens. Tree Creepers and Nuthatches were singing as well as the yaffle from a Green Woodpecker. We viewed from the board walk over the marsh and were greeted with several pairs of Reed Buntings but alas no Sedge Warbler, just a few days too early. From the marsh we walked along a wooded track and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into a tree directly in front of us. We started our walk through a meadow and heard a Lesser Whitethroat in the hedge. After perseverance he eventually popped up and we all had good views. A first for the year. From the meadow we walked through the primrose laden woods, but the paths were very boggy in places. No one lost their boots!! Through the farmland and saw Yellowhammer and a Wheatear flew close towards us and landed on the top of a tree. We were not expecting that. We finished off the walk looking at the field by the car park and found a lovely Mistle Thrush.

This was a beautiful area for a birding walk with 49 species found, which is good for an inland site. The bird of the day was undoubtedly the Wheatear. Thank you Martin for organising such a lovely walk.

 

A spring walk at Pensthorpe: Saturday 5th May 2018 – Co-ordinator Ray Gribble

Reporters: Jacquie Fenn & Ray Gribble

We had the opportunity to enjoy a free visit to Pensthorpe Nature Park on an absolutely glorious spring day. Fourteen members of the club were only too pleased to walk in the sunshine to enjoy not only the birds, but the butterflies, spring flowers and the sculptures secreted throughout the landscape.
At the entrance we were greeted by views of the swallows which made us feel that spring had eventually sprung! Kestrels hunted overhead and Pied and White Wagtails searched for food in the car park. Everywhere looked very lush and as we walked through the trees we were rewarded with the call of the Cuckoo and song of the Reed Warbler.
It was good to see the Goldeneye displaying and we understood that the birds had priority as they slept on the paths and we had to walk around them!
Rooks and Jackdaws flew overhead and many Black-headed Gulls were not to be ignored on the islands in front of the scrape hide. Greylags were grazing in the fields along with Egyptian and Barnacle geese. Buzzards swept over the woods.
Four Avocets fed on the scrape and Ray spotted two Little Ringed Plovers trying to disguise themselves as pieces of stone. Common Terns fished over the water and Great Crested Grebe swam close to the shore of the far bank.
A single Wheatear sat on a fence post and a flock of Linnets took off from scrub. Butterflies enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the nectar plants, We spotted Peacock, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Tortoiseshells and Large Whites. Obviously a huge effort has been made to provide a wide range of habitats to benefit all aspects of wildlife. In the hides and along the paths notice boards provide lots of useful and interesting information about why and how the land is used.
The river was high and had quite a flow on it. As we walked we expected to see Kingfisher and Grey Heron but they proved to be elusive. There were plenty of Mallards followed by their young ducklings and a few Shelduck spotted around. By the woodland hide we saw Blue Tits, Great Tits and Marsh Tits and a jet propelled Nuthatch. Three Mallards had sussed out a good puddle beneath one of the feeders where seed was plentiful.
Cettis were calling from the reeds but proved difficult to spot, likewise a Garden Warbler was a bit of a tease. Treecreepers were busy inspecting tree trunks and strange to see, also systematically inspecting fence posts no doubt seeking spiders lurking there. The repetitive song of the Chiffchaff followed us through the woods as well as the insistent call of Nuthatches.
The woods were full of Bluebells and later the Marsh Orchids, Water Aven and Devil’s Bit Scabious will be seen in the flower meadow, which is also an invaluable habitat for the dragonflies. Coppicing has also been brought back in the woods which apparently is 10 times more labour intensive than modern management methods but incredibly beneficial to wildlife and plants.We enjoyed the views from the very expansive new hide overlooking a lake where we watched four Lapwing chicks and saw our first cormorants high in the trees. A Marsh Harrier also put in a fleeting appearance. We notched up a list of 59 birds but really the whole experience of a sunny day in beautiful surroundings was just as appreciated.

We ended the walk with a welcome stop at the restaurant to complete a lovely morning. Many thanks go to Ray and Paul for leading the two groups and to Pensthorpe for having invited us.
78 Species: Mute Swan Red Kite Cuckoo Goldcrest Greylag Goose Marsh Harrier House Martin Blue Tit Canada Goose Sparrowhawk Swallow Great Tit Barnacle Goose Kestrel Cetti’s Warbler Coal Tit Eygptian Goose Hobby Long-tailed Tit Marsh Tit Shelduck Moorhen Pied Wagtail Nuthatch Mandarin Coot Wren Treecreeper Gadwall Oystercatcher Starling Magpie Mallard Avocet Dunnock Jackdaw Pintail Little Ringed Plover Robin Rook Shoveler Lapwing Wheatear Carrion Crow Pochard Black-headed Gull Blackbird Jay Tufted Duck Common Gull Song Thrush House Sparrow Red-legged Partridge Less. Black-backed Gull Sedge Warbler Chaffinch Pheasant Herring Gull Reed Warbler Bullfinch Cormorant Common Tern Garden Warbler Linnet Gt. Crested Grebe Stock Dove Blackcap Goldfinch Grey Heron Wood Pigeon Whitethroat Reed Bunting Little Egret Collared Dove Willow Warbler Muntjac Deer Common Buzzard Green Woodpecker Chiffchaff Roe Deer
Grey Squirrel Rabbit
Orange-tipped Butterfly
Speckled Wood Butterfly Pintail and Mandarin are probably escapes from the collection.

 

Field Trip: Wild About the Wensum Day, Pensthorpe Natural Park Saturday 12th May 2018 Leaders/Coordinators: Ray Gribble and Lin Pateman

A Message from Lin:-
Dear All, A big “Thank You!” for all your help and support on Wild About the Wensum Day last month; I think you will agree it was a very worthwhile activity and the club was very well represented. The day was judged to be a great success and Bill Jordan estimated around 2,500 visitors. Things drew to a close slightly earlier with the rain but everyone clearing up agreed it was a very nice day out. There were over 90 entries to our Draw a Bird competition, and less than half were Brownies! I invited two club members to assist Phil and I with the difficult task of judging the entries to our competition. Winners’ certificates were printed, and sent along with prizes and the original drawings. Please see 4 x photos below that gives you a snapshot of the winners. I shall display them on our board at the next indoor meeting and we have all the parents’ permissions to show them in our Newsletter. I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with adults on the day and had very worthwhile discussions with Rosie and other standholders on the future of voluntary organisations and ideas to engage with next generation of conservationists. We all seemed to share the same concerns and some of the students from Easton College (especially those working at Pensthorpe) are interested in what we do. We gained a new member from the day (thanks Ray) who is also a member of the Gt Ryburgh Group. Thanks again to all, kindest regards, Lin.

Ray also received a message from Pensthorpe Natural Park:-

Hi Ray,

Big thank you to you and all the members of the WVBS who attended the weekend event. It is such a good opportunity to inspire the next generation as many who attend wouldn’t normally think of coming to Pensthorpe if it wasn’t for the cheap day out! Without the hands-on activities and all of you to support it, it wouldn’t be the event it is!! Thank you also for all the continued work you all do to provide us with the regular sightings from around the reserve!! Best wishes, Mark (Mark Noble, Operations Director )

Birds identified by the “Guides in Hides” at Wild about Wensum 12TH May 64 Species: Mute Swan Red Kite Stock Dove Blackcap Greylag Goose Kestrel Wood Pigeon Whitethroat Canada Goose Hobby 2 Cuckoo Willow Warbler Barnacle Goose Moorhen Swift Chiffchaff Egyptian Goose Coot Swallow Blue Tit Shelduck Oystercatcher Cetti’s Warbler Great Tit Gadwall Avocet 10 Pied Wagtail Coal Tit Mallard Little Ringed Plover 5 Wren Nuthatch Shoveler Ringed Plover Starling Jackdaw Pochard Lapwing Dunnock Rook Tufted Duck Common Sandpiper Robin Carrion Crow Pheasant Black-headed Gull Blackbird Jay Gt. Crested Grebe Common Gull Song Thrush House Sparrow Grey Heron Less. Black-backed Gull Sedge Warbler Chaffinch Little Egret Herring Gull Reed Warbler Goldfinch Common Buzzard Common Tern Garden Warbler Reed Bunting

 

 

 

RSPB Lakenheath Fen and NWT Weeting Heath Saturday, 2nd June 2018

Leader/Coordinator: Alan Hughes

Reporter: Tony Forster

Arriving an hour early looked like it would pay off as we drove into the car park at the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath as news hot on the pagers was of a Red-backed Shrike showing at the visitor centre, no more than 50 M away. We couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes behind the sighting but in the few minutes it took to park and get there it had flown never to be seen again.

The day was warm but overcast with occasional light drizzle which cleared as the day progressed and became quite oppressive, not that the birds minded as they performed brilliantly all round the reserve. Cuckoos were calling, at least 4 heard, whilst Reed Buntings were abundant and constantly calling and posing in the improving weather.

Cetti’s erupting from deep in cover along with Reed Warblers, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warbler were all seen and heard throughout our 5 hour stay.

The walk to the New Fen viewpoint revealed 3 species of Dragonflies, 3 of Damselflies, Banded Demoiselle, 2 moths, 2 Butterflies and a Drinker moth caterpillar. We were all grateful to Steve Chapman for his expertise, patience and willingness to point out the salient features enabling us all to gain a better understanding of the features to look for.

Chris Stone picked up on a Garden Warbler singing from the view point whilst Ian Britain had the most fleeting of Bittern flights, we were hoping that wouldn’t be the only sighting, fingers crossed…

The walk to the Trial Point viewpoint gave us our first sighting of Hobby, plus Great-crested Grebe with chicks, Little Grebe and Water Rail were heard and some were lucky to see and hear Bearded Tits.

Mere Hide didn’t look promising, Mute Swan, Moorhen and dozens of Dragonflies was all it had to offer on arrival but we were hot and tired so it was at least good to sit in the shade. We had been there barely 2 minutes when a Bittern boomed from the Reeds opposite which heralded the start of 30 of the most magical minutes I and many others will ever enjoy. A Bittern walked from the reeds barely 60 feet away and proceeded to show us all in great detail his fishing expertise, firstly stalking like a sloth, moving so slowly it occurred to me a fish looking up would think it was a clump of reeds gently moving in the breeze such did his marking blend so well. With head held high his downward vision totally focussed he’d gently pivot from the hips lowering his head whilst wiggling his backside before plunging his beak into the water, 9 fish caught from 10 attempts.

The scene was enhanced when another Bittern took a leisurely flight over the pool whilst a male Hobby dived and swooped numerous times across the pool hawking the many Dragonflies on offer. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better a family of Bearded Tits flew in front of the hide pinging as they went, magic pure magic.

The walk back to the visitor centre via Joist Fen viewpoint and back along the river gave everyone the chance to concentrate on the many Hobbies, it is difficult to count the number of Hobbies seen but it has to have been in excess of 30, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harriers and Kestrel were also seen.

The RSPB reserve at Lakenheath is a truly magical place, a habitat rich in birdlife and I can’t remember the last time I saw so many Dragonflies, if you’ve never been you really must make the effort.

We arrived back at the car park almost exactly on schedule and departed to The Wellington PH in Feltwell, on arrival I wasn’t impressed but once through the door it was like a tardis, the bar was busy and the welcome genuine, a good range of beers, excellent atmosphere and the food was both very tasty and reasonably priced, highly recommended.

We left the pub early as we were keen to get to Weeting Heath, NWT, and on the way I saw my first House Martins of the year one of which narrowly escaped the attention of another Hobby.

Weeting Heath was a surprise, last time I was there the terrain was stony open ground, today it’s long grass, a victim of plunging Rabbit numbers. Apparently the Rabbit population has plunged by more than 85%, the cause a viral infection from imported Chinese pet Rabbits, the logic of importing a pet Rabbit from China totally eludes me…

We were lucky enough to see 2 Stone Curlews in flight along with two distant Barn owls as they quartered a Meadow in the distance. It was quite a trek up Avenue 49 to the Nightjar viewpoint but well worth the effort, these were probably the loudest and closest encounters I have ever enjoyed with Nightjar and almost certainly some of the best flight views as they flew well above the vegetation and almost close enough to touch. On one flight a Nightjar flushed an Owl, it flew low and soon disappeared was it Tawny or perhaps a Long-eared… A Grasshopper Warbler reeled away close by a Tawny Owl was heard on the journey back as we followed the bright light of Jupiter back to the centre.

Hot chocolate was order of the day whilst James, the warden, showed us some rare moths he’d caught the night before. The one I recall was the Grey Carpet moth, apparently Moth-ers twitch these because they are so scarce, I was left wondering why a carpet moth would spend it’s time in Thetford Forest???

There were many more moths in the trap outside, Poplar Hawkmoth and a Small Elephant Hawk Moth, identical to Elephant Hawk Moth but a fraction of the size. Brown Silverlines was one I managed to catch but trying to look at moths in semi darkness whilst making a note of their names proved too much for me so I just enjoyed the moths.

We spent 11 hours in the field, walked 28,000 steps that’s around 9 miles, recorded 70 bird species, 3 species of Dragonflies, 3 of Damselflies, Banded Demoiselle, 12 plus moths, 5 Butterflies, 2 Drinker moth caterpillars and a female Roe deer, all in all an excellent day that will live in my memory for a long time.

Birds List (70)

Canada Goose Greylag Goose Mute Swan Egyptian Goose Shelduck Shoveler  Gadwall Mallard Pochard Tufted Duck Pheasant Little Grebe Great-crested Grebe Bittern (3)
Grey Heron Cormorant Marsh Harrier Red Kite (2) Buzzard Water Rail Moorhen Coot Stone Curlew Oystercatcher Lapwing Curlew Black-headed Gull Lesser-black-backed Gull Common Tern (1) Stock Dov
Wood Pigeon Tawny Owl Cuckoo (4) Barn Owl Nightjar Collared Dove Swift Kingfisher Great-spotted Woodpecker Kestrel Hobby (30 plus) Jay Magpie Carrion Crow Blue Tit Great Tit Bearded Tit Skylark Swallow House Martin Willow Warbler Cetti’s Warbler Chiffchaff Reed Warbler Grasshopper Warbler (Heard) Blackcap Garden Warbler Whitethroat Goldcrest Wren Starling Blackbird Song Thrush Mistle Thrush Robin House Sparrow
Dunnock Chaffinch Goldfinch Reed Bunting

Butterfly List (5)

Peacock Common Blue Small Tortoiseshell Large White Green-veined White

Odonata List (7)

4 Spot Chaser Scarce Chaser Hairy Dragonfly Azure Damselfly Blue-tailed Damselfly Red-eyed Damselfly Banded Demoiselle

Moth List (7)

Cinnabar Carpet Moth Brown Silverlines Grey Carpet Moth Poplar Hawkmoth Small Elephant Hawkmoth Drinker moth Caterpillar

Mammal List (1)

Roe Deer

 

 SWT Carlton Marshes Reserve.  Saturday 30th June 2018  Coordinator: David Gibbons

Report: Liz Bridge Photographs: Steve Chapman

Following the Norfolk Hawker, we migrated to Suffolk for the day. An opportunity to look round Carlton Marshes reserve prior to the changes due to take place over the next two years. The only sign of these today was a couple of yellow diggers, idly waiting to resume work on the new scrapes on Monday. Matt Gooch, the warden, had explained where the new visitor centre would be, and the habitat changes, at the indoor meeting. We were there to see the reserve as it is in June 2018.
In the car park we were met with singing Whitethroat and Whitethroat feeding young in a nest nearby: Swallows and House Martins flying around and plenty of House Sparrows. About twenty Six-spot Burnet were around the vegetation near the visitor centre. Setting off, we meandered between reed beds listening for Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting. Dragonflies and Butterflies sparked much interest and we excitedly spotted several Norfolk Hawker, Black-tailed Skimmer, Scarce and 4-spot Chasers and Southern and Brown Hawkers, along with those very tricky blue damselflies. Meadow Brown butterflies and Ringlet were all over the reserve. Small and Large Skippers were spied, as were Tortoiseshell, Comma and Speckled Wood. Marsh Harrier was in the air, Kestrel out hunting and a Buzzard taking advantage of the warm thermals.

We were dawdling and enjoying the day, but had an appointment with the ferry to take us back into Norfolk across the River Waveney. The ferry took a couple of minutes and then we were at the Waveney River Centre enjoying coffee or other beverage outside the pub. A pleasant place; there is accommodation, boat and canoe hire, and a small shop and a marina.
A memorable highlight on the way back to the visitor centre for lunch was seeing Fen Raft Spiders among the lily pads in one of the dykes. This spider is the UK’s biggest and has been introduced to the reserve. We saw volunteers being trained to monitor them.

Being re-energized by our lunches, we made our way across the marsh to the scrape which lies beside Share Marsh, one of the recently purchased parcels of land, where incidentally the American Bittern had been lurking a few weeks previously. The scrape was good, more and more good birds were being spotted. About fifty Black-tailed Godwits in varying plumages showed brilliantly in the sunshine. Avocets, Lapwing and Mallard with young. Yellow Wagtails and offspring were there as promised, one a stunning male. Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler, the males in eclipse mode, Oystercatcher. And what was this? A Common Snipe looking resplendent by the waters edge. Several Redshanks with their brightly coloured legs and beaks. Then we started really searching, occasionally moving a few feet to left or right dependent on which way the reeds were blowing. Three Green Sandpipers , we all saw those. A Greenshank proved more difficult as he would keep moving. Two Little Ringed Plovers were a joy. Then, lo and behold, a Wood Sandpiper. That bird was a hard one to pick up with the reeds persistently blowing in the breeze.

Had we had our fill? We thought so and started the trek back to the car park. This time through a small wooded area trying to actually see a Blackcap instead of just hearing him. We heard a Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff instead. Along the way we found Southern Marsh Orchid and Ragged Robin. A stunning finale to round off the trip was a wonderful dragonfly – an Emperor ovipositing and a fine male sunning himself on a stem rising from the water.
A wonderful day in fine weather, appreciating some really good wildlife. Not yet mentioned were a Chinese Water Deer, a Longhorn Beetle and a Ramshorn Snail. Thanks to David for organizing this excellent day.

Sightings Carlton Marshes 30.6.18.
Birds:-
Magpie Wood Sandpiper Willow Warbler Kestrel
Little Egret Curlew Blue Tit Great Tit
House Martin Whitethroat Woodpigeon Jackdaw
Goldfinch House Sparrow Grey Heron Robin
Song Thrush Blackbird Carrion Crow Starling
Mute Swan Reed Warbler Swallow Wren
Herring Gull Chiffchaff Reed Bunting Dunnock
Cormorant Lesser Black-backed Gull Skylark Avocet
Sedge Warbler Lapwing Black-tailed Godwit Mallard
Greylag Goose Canada Goose Redshank Shoveler
Common Snipe Long-tailed Tit Blackcap Pheasant
Collared Dove Buzzard Yellow Wagtail Gadwall
Teal Green Sandpiper Black-headed Gull Greenshank
Oystercatcher Little Ringed Plover Egyptian Goose Moorhen
Stock Dove.
Butterflies:-
Small Skipper Large Skipper Small Tortoiseshell Comma
Holly Blue Meadow Brown Speckled Wood Ringlet.
Odanata:-
Brown Hawker Norfolk Hawker Emperor Dragonfly Southern Hawker
Banded Demoiselle Azure Damselfly Four-spotted Chaser Scarce Chaser
Black-tailed Skimmer.
Others:-
Longhorn Beetle Fen Raft Spider Burnet Moth Ramshorn Snail
Chinese Water Deer.

 

Field Trip: Wheatfen Broad Sunday 5th August Leader/Coordinator: Barry Pummel
Report: Steve Chapman Photographs: Allan Hale

Although WVBS is primarily a birdwatching society there are quite a few members, myself included, who are interested in other winged creatures, including butterflies and dragonflies. So I was delighted that a specific meet was included in the programme to cater for these interests. Originally planned for Sunday 22nd July, heavy rain (practically the only day during the heatwave) led to a week’s postponement. Thus it was that a dozen or so of us met on the Ted Ellis (Wheatfen) reserve with our very knowledgable leader, Barry Pummell for what turned out to be a fascinating exploration. Barry led on us on a wonderfully labrynthine walk along narrow paths alongside towering reedbeds and insect-filled dykes. We joked that it was like being in the jungle – hot and humid with swamps all around! Very soon Barry started to point out the winged insects around us – Migrant and Brown Hawkers, Ruddy and Common Darters, Skimmers and Damselflies; Whites, Brimstones, Gatekeepers, Speckled Wood, Common and Holly Blue. Close views of a Willow Emerald damselfly delighted everyone, while a late Purple Hairstreak and a Wall Brown, far from its usual coastal habitat, were added bonuses. Eventually Barry led us onto an open raised area to scan for Swallowtail. With no luck we started to turn back when a cry went up ‘Swallowtail!’ and one sped along parallel to the path, but too quick to photograph. Heading back to the car park Barry took us on a short detour for his piece de resistance, a beautiful Silver Washed Fritillary which gracefully posed for us on various flowers and bushes – a fitting end to a great morning.

All in all, 15 species of butterfly were seen and 9 dragonfly, with an additional 3 moth species. Birds were scarce, although some of us did manage to see 3 kettling Buzzard. Many thanks to Barry for leading and Mary for organising.

 

Butterflies
Common Blue, Meadow Brown,  Large White, Green-veined White, Brimstone, Speckled Wood,Holly Blue, Comma,                Red Admiral, Purple Hairstreak, Peacock, Wall Brown, Swallowtail, Silver-washed Fritillary, Ringlet

Dragonflies
Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Migrant Hawker, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Willow Emerald, Southern Hawker
Azure Blue, Black-tailed Skimmer,  Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Moths
Garden Carpet Moth, Silver Y Moth, Brown China Moth (Micro)

Field Trip: 25th August Potter Heigham Marshes NNR Leader/Coordinator: Phil Borley

No report was received from this trip

 

Field Trip: 22nd September. Blakeney Point. Coordinator Mary Walker

Reporter Philip Howard

 

17 members met at the Anchor Pub at Morston for a meal. After lunch we met the other members at Morston Quay : 23 members in total.

The tide did not come in until 4p.m., so we walked around the harbour and saw lots of waders; REDSHANKS, LITTLE EGRET, RINGED PLOVER,YELLOW WAGTAIL, PIED WAGTAIL, and CURLEW.

Time to board the boat for Blakeney Point. As we sailed we saw COMMON & GREY SEALS with two babies. The boatman had named one seal “Ronseal”!

We landed at Blakeney Point and walking on we came to one of the buildings where there were four WHEATEARS on the roof.

On we came to the Plantation which is good for migrants, but we only saw a LESSER WHITETHROAT.

We then headed up to the hill to look at the sea. On the sea we saw GANNET, GREAT SKUAS, ARCTIC SKUAS, MANX SHEARWATER, and COMMON SCOTERS.

Then it was time to head back and catch the boat.

Our thanks to Mary Walker for leading the walk.

Bird list for the day:-
Mute Swan Pink-footed Goose Shelduck Mallard Manx Shearwater Red-throated Diver Common Scoter Teal Gannet Cormorant Little Egret Spoonbill Moorhen Kestrel Common Buzzard Marsh Harrier Oystercatcher Ringed Plover Golden Plover Turnstone Black-headed Gull Arctic Skua Great Skua Curlew Herring Gull Great Black-backed Gull Common Tern Sandwich Tern Greenshank Redshank Dunlin Wood Pigeon Collared Dove Meadow Pipit Yellow Wagtail Pied Wagtail Wren Dunnock Robin Wheatear Blackbird Lesser Whitethroat Blue Tit Magpie Carrion Crow House Sparrow Chaffinch Goldfinch Linnet

Field Trip: Saturday 24th November 2018. NWT Cley Marshes Reserve.

Coordinators Lin Pateman & Phil Borley

Reporters Liz Gibson & Seamus O’Dowd

Weather: 0vercast, easterly winds, 4 degrees centigrade

Ten hardy souls met at the Visitor Centre and, after an abortive attempt to use the facilities, set off towards East Bank. Seamus volunteered to keep a record of the day’s sightings.

We stopped off at the roadside pond and tried unsuccessfully to see Snipe – Common or Jack, but we did disturb a Dabchick who swam furiously towards the shelter of the far bank.

Onwards to Bishops Hide with Marsh Harriers and Brent Geese above and on the adjacent marsh. We spent a deal of time focusing on a “Short-eared Owl” which eventually revealed itself to be a log – a common mistake! However, there were numerous whistling Wigeon, Shelduck, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit but fewer Golden Plover.

On to the shore in the biting wind. Keen eyes spotted a raft of Common Scoter but couldn’t see any Velvets. Gannet families flew towards the wind, followed by Cormorant, Little Auk and Kittiwake. Black-headed and Great Black-backed Gulls flew eastwards and westwards. Red-throated Divers appeared and disappeared in the waves and a couple of Grey Seals performed their usual trick of pretending to be frolicking chocolate Labradors.

Lunch at centre before driving to the beach car park for a final chance to see the elusive Snow Buntings – sadly no show – but whirling groups of Linnet and possibly Twite. The chilly wind drove us into the comfort of the hides to view the numerous waders.

Thanks to Phil and Lin for leading. Best wishes to Lucy – in our thoughts throughout the day.

Bird List:-
Avocet Bearded Reedling Blackbird Black-headed Gull Black-tailed Godwit Blue Tit Brent Goose Buzzard Canada Goose Carrion Crow Common Gull Cormorant Curlew Dunlin Gadwall Gannet Golden Plover Great Black-backed Gull Great Spotted Woodpecker Great Tit Grey Heron Grey Heron Grey Plover Greylag Goose Guillemot Kittiwake Lapwing Lesser Black-backed Gull Linnet Little Auk Little Egret Little Grebe Magpie Mallard Marsh Harrier Moorhen Mute Swan Pheasant Pied Wagtail Pink-footed Goose Pintail Redshank Red-throated Diver Rook Ruff Scoter Shelduck Snipe Sparrowhawk Starling Starling Teal Turnstone Wigeon Wood Pigeon

 

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