Field Trips in 2020

Annual Bird Count Sunday 5th January

Co-ordinator Lin Pateman


My thanks to each and everyone for taking part; a record number of 16 teams this year. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day out in the Wensum Valley and a great start for the records to add to our growing database. As always, it was great fun meeting other teams and individuals out and about, optics at the ready, cars loaded with teams sharing and clipboards hidden up on the seats…. three cheers for all the drivers! A special mention is due to one member, David Stubbs, for his zero-carbon birding; walking and cycling around “The Raynhams” – thanks for sparing us time for a natter which enabled us to catch up with calling Water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler (and for some to have a bite of lunch). The overall species list for the day was 87. The team results were as follows:-
1st: Italian Nut Jobs……..………………………………….79
2nd Dereham Dippers…………………………………..….78
Joint 3rd

The Terrible Trio & The Red Cheeked Cake-Eaters (after a re-count) 76
5th The Broomers……………………………………………72
6th The Parakeets……………………………………………69
Joint 7th Hawkeye & The Raynham Stubbs…………………………………………………………..68
9th Kingfisher……. ..………………………………….…….63
Joint 10th The Wensum Wanderers & BP Plus One 60
Under 60: Worthing Worthies// Josh’s Jollies// The Norwich Girls// Him ‘n Her// Go it Alone


Holkham 26 January 2020

Coordinator/Leader: David Gibbons

Reporters: David Gibbons & Jacquie Fenn

Seventeen keen Wensum Valley birdwatchers met at the village car park outside the gates of Holkham Estate at 9.30am. It was a brighter than expected day with a keen bite to the air. Hats and gloves the order of the day. As we headed towards Lady Ann’s Drive we notched up Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits as well as Jackdaws prospecting for nest sites in the chimneys of the estate houses. Greenfinches glowed in the top branches of nearby trees. Just as we were about to cross the road a Red Kite glided over from the fields on our right towards us. Once in view of the flooded fields we had our work cut out for us as there were lots of geese and ducks enjoying the wet conditions. Brent Geese were joined by Greylags and White-fronted and these in turn were surrounded by hundreds of Wigeon which looked spectacular in the winter sunlight, these were interspersed with Gadwall and a small number of Teal. 

The water levels had dropped since Christmas but small lakes still seemed to be attracting a good variety of birds. Lapwings, Curlews and the odd skulking Snipe were feeding happily in the muddy areas.

To our right we spotted a perched Buzzard on a fence post along with Shelduck and Shoveler on the larger areas of water. One lonely Stonechat perched on top of a clump of grass. Some people managed to get good photos of a Mistle Thrush which perched above our heads. Grey Partridge were feeding in the long grass near to the drive and seemed unphased by the increasing numbers of dog walkers, horse riders and walkers which were steadily building up. Near to the Visitor Centre there were 20/30 Ruff, with Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks.

Along the boardwalk to the beach Glen picked up a Goldcrest call so we all scanned the firs and spotted the bird high in the tree amongst the cones. We headed east along the beach. There was a flock of 50/60 Snow Bunting which moved around the fenced off area and finally landed between the sand dunes. Unfortunately, the Shore Larks stayed out of view. Meadow Pipits joined the buntings from time to time and Skylarks could be heard singing.

Looking out to sea there were very large rafts of Common Scoter with just a few Velvets amongst them. Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Mergansers were also spotted along with a Red-throated Diver. Herring, Black-headed, Common and Great Black-backed Gulls were all seen off shore along with Cormorants. After a bracing dose of fresh sea air we walked back to the cars for our lunch break before heading to the lake on the Holkham Estate.

Following lunch in the village Car Park, we said goodbye to some of the members and ventured into Holkham Park. Turning right towards the Monument we focused our attention to a bird feeder and were rewarded with Blue and Great Tits and 2 Nuthatches. Overhead, low-down and close, came a Kestrel and high above another Red Kite. Treecreepers were heard but we did see a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Reaching the lake, we came across Tufted Ducks, about 50 Gadwall, Mallards, a couple of Pochards and a Little Grebe. Walking towards the House at the side of the lake, we saw over 300 Shovelers, some on the lake and many on the banks, quite a sight! Coots and Moorhens were on the water and also on the banks.
At the back of the lake, in the field, were Greylag Geese and best of all 12 Red Deer, sitting down, all with the most magnificent sets of antlers. Light was now beginning to fade so back to the Car Park.

Sightings: 78.
Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Great Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Carrion Crow, Lapwing, Jackdaw,
Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Black-headed Gull, Robin, Song Thrush, Collared Dove,
Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch, Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Wigeon, Red Kite,
Moorhen, Linnet, Starling, Common Gull, Shoveler, Brent Goose, Meadow Pipit,
Curlew, Kestrel, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Coot, Shelduck, Herring Gull, Skylark,
Marsh Harrier, Teal, Buzzard, Grey Heron, White-fronted Goose, Grey Partridge,
Redshank, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Mute Swan, Pheasant,
Stock Dove, Common Snipe, Tufted Duck, Golden Plover, Goldcrest, Dunlin,
Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe,
Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Sanderling, Jay,
Red-throated Diver, Kingfisher, Goldfinch, Rook, Great Spotted Woodpecker,
Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Gadwall, Pochard, Blackbird, Canada Goose, Little Grebe,
Stonechat, Snow Bunting, Coal Tit, Cormorant, Ruff.


 Santon Downham and Lynford Arboretum

29 February 2020

Coordinator/Leader: Sue Gale

Reporter: David Laurie

Species List: David Laurie and Nick Edwards

A 7:00am start found eleven of us gathered in the Forestry Commission car park at Santon Downham in mild, overcast conditions with Song Thrush and Robin singing and a Green Woodpecker calling. We were in hope of seeing Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers* and headed out downstream by the Little Ouse. It was running high from recent rain but the path, though turning muddy in places, was thankfully not flooded. We saw Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin and two Mandarin Duck flying downstream before a band of rain set in, heavy at one time, which may have discouraged our main quarry from showing itself. However, we did see Mistle Thrush and Nuthatch. Returning, we saw Fieldfares and Redwings in the trees on the Suffolk side and five Little Grebes on the river. Taking the loop through the railway underpass to the cleared area on the North side of the track a Woodlark flew over, singing in the rain (not really like Gene Kelly – by now it was only drizzle). Back at the car park at 9:30 we were joined by two others but rather than trying for the Woodpeckers again we decided to look for Hawfinch and Firecrest at Lynford Arboretum where daffodils and snowdrops were in flower, combining with the voices of Song and Mistle Thrushes to give a fine spring feeling to a brightening day. Taking the path south we saw Brambling, Nuthatch, Coal, Marsh and Long-tailed Tits plus Great Spotted Woodpecker. In the reedy pond at the foot of the hill a Little Grebe was calling and in the field between Zigzag Covert and Ash Carr were Highland cattle and a selection of finches, Mistle Thrushes and a Redwing. A search of the trees revealed four Hawfinch (including two males in full breeding plumage) which dropped to the ground to feed with Chaffinches and very green Greenfinches. When they took flight together you could really appreciate the greater size of the Hawfinch. Coming back, we saw a pair of Yellowhammers, the male resplendent in bright spring yellow, and though we found a Goldcrest in the trees we were unable to locate any Firecrest.

The day was clearing, blue sky was appearing, and a half a dozen of us decided to return to Santon Downham to see if the improving weather would lure the Lesser Spotted into an appearance. After a pit stop at Brown’s in Mundford to warm up over coffee we drove back and set out again. The sun was out, silvering the river, but a strong wind from the outer edge of storm Jorge gave the air a distinctly chilly feel. We added Marsh Tit and Mute Swan to our Swanton list but despite a trek up and down the path we saw little else: less, in fact, than in the rainy morning.

So the Lesser Spotted remained, on this occasion, the Completely Unspotted Woodpecker. Never mind, it was still an excellent day and a pleasure to be out and about after the recent wet and windy weather. Our thanks to Sue for organizing and leading a very enjoyable day, and to Nick for compiling the Santon bird list. 

51 species: S at Santon Downham, L at Lynford Arboretum. Blackbird (SL), Brambling (L), Buzzard (L), Chaffinch (SL), Cormorant (L), Carrion Crow (SL), Collared Dove (S), Coot (S), Stock Dove (S), Mandarin Duck (S), Dunnock (L), Fieldfare (S), Goldcrest (L), Goldfinch (SL), Canada Goose (L), Egyptian Goose (S), Little Grebe (SL), Greenfinch (SL), Black-headed Gull (S), Common Gull (S), Lesser Black-backed Gull (S), Hawfinch (L), Jackdaw (SL), Jay (L), Kestrel (S), Woodlark (S), Magpie (SL), Mallard (SL), Moorhen (S), Nuthatch (SL), Pheasant (S), Redwing (SL), Robin (SL), Siskin (S), Sparrowhawk (S), Starling (L), Mute Swan (S), Mistle Thrush (SL), Song Thrush (SL), Blue Tit (SL), Coal Tit (L), Great Tit (SL), Long-tailed Tit (L), March Tit (SL), Grey Wagtail (S), Pied Wagtail (S), Great Spotted Woodpecker (SL), Green Woodpecker (S), Wood Pigeon (SL), Wren (SL), Yellowhammer (L)

* The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is in serious decline and is one of the species in the Red Sixty Seven book featured in the February Newsletter. Well worth the £19.99, with profits going to conservation work.


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