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.



WVBS Trip to the Western Isles 28.08 – 05.09.20

9 club members and 2 leaders (Ashley Saunders and Nick Parsons) from Oriole Birding, enjoyed a very
successful trip to the Western Isles of Scotland earlier in the month – a great week of wonderful birds,
scenery and each other’s company. Ashley’s excellent trip report is included as a separate attachment
along with this month’s newsletter for anyone that would like to read a full account of the trip, but here I
have recorded a few “favourite moments” plus some photographs, to provide a flavour of what we
experienced. All of us would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Keith for organising this, and to Ashley
and Nick for their excellent leadership and birding skills.

Some favourite moments:-

• The Dippers at Stornoway
• The juvenile Cuckoo, of course!
• The interaction between a Golden Eagle and a Short-eared Owl
• Finding and identifying Storm Petrels
• The juvenile Ruff at the Butt of Lewis that was so tired and hungry (having presumably just made
landfall) that it took no notice of us
• A fall of Greenland race Northern Wheatears
• Fabulous scenery and the best food ever on a birding trip
• The easy company of fellow WVBS members
• Watching small waders feeding at the edge of the advancing tide in an estuary: The Dunlin were
taking and swallowing tiny invertebrates from the surface of the sand, whilst Curlew Sandpipers
took long red worms which they carried over to the water to wash, before swallowing them
• The moment when a man in a furry hat and shorts, displaying indecently thin legs, waved a
mobile phone at us, and asked a bus load of old people, which school we were from!
• The excitement of nearly getting arrested (You will have to ask individual members of the team if
you want details – as far as I am concerned, what goes on tour, stays on tour…..Ed)


PHOTO CREDIT TO: Ashley Saunders, Joe Beckham and Mary Walker


PHOTO CREDIT TO: Ashley Saunders, Joe Beckham and Mary Walker


Field Trip to RSPB Titchwell Reserve 31.10.2020

Leader: Alan Hughes
Reporter: Emily Leonard
Species List: David Gibbons


We started our trip out to RSPB Titchwell at around 9.15am, on a stunning morning. The sun
was shining and there was a bit of warmth to the air as well. With our face masks and hand
sanitiser in hand, our group of 6 ventured off onto the reserve to see what we could find.
We had agreed that we would aim for the beach as high tide was around 5am, so the tide would
still be reasonably close in and the birds would be closer to us. We glanced over the scrapes
but knew we would come back to them at a later time.
On the beach we had many adult and juvenile Gannets flying along the horizon, who were
joined by 2 Great Crested Grebes nearer to the shoreline and gave us very good views. Also
on the sea was a Red Throated Diver which is always a sight to see.
We scanned the shoreline, which resulted in Brent Geese, Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers, Bar
Tailed Godwits, as well as Sanderling whizzing up and down!
As we looked back out to sea in the scopes, I found a large brown bird sitting on the water. I
pointed out the directions as to where the bird was, and we soon worked out it was a female
Eider. She was diving under the water every few minutes, and we enjoyed very good views of
her. I personally didn’t realise just how big their bill is!
As the wind started to pick up, we decided to head back up and investigate what was on the
pools. We walked along the main wall and were greeted with Redshank, Little Egret, and

On the marshes we saw 1 Golden Plover and 1 Ringed Plover, good numbers of Teal, Avocet
and Wigeon, as well as some Pintail and Lapwing too. We were battling the winds while
standing on the main bank, trying to hold our scopes still so we could see clearly!
We walked through the woodland before the visitors centre and we found a small mixed bird
flock, which contained Blue Tits, Long Tailed Tits (lots of these!), Chaffinch and Goldfinch. It
also included 1 Goldcrest that was very vocal.
We walked back to the visitor’s centre/ car park for a quick coffee break. On our way back onto
the reserve, we had to go through the new visitor’s hut; it was very nice!
We next walked round through the woodlands and up to the Fen Hide. We caught up with the
small mixed bird flock again as they flew around our heads.
A little Chiffchaff flitted around the scrub beside us, we didn’t even need our binoculars to enjoy
A few Coots were present at the Fen Hide. We had to turn around at the Fen Hide, as the rest
of the trail was cordoned off due to the new works that have been planned for the reserve.
On the rainy walk back to the car park for lunch, we had Starlings flying over our heads as well
as some Redwing too.
At the car park the rain started getting heavier and we made the decision to call it a day, having
enjoyed a lovely morning out on the reserve.

Although the rain stopped us from continuing into the afternoon, I for one (as I’m sure the others
were too) was very grateful to be able to get out and see some wonderful birds with good
company too.
I look forward to when we will be allowed to do another outdoor meeting again. Keep safe
everyone and take care.


Titchwell Sightings 31.10.2020.

Jay   Jackdaw    Pheasant      Woodpigeon
Blackbird      Robin      Chaffinch      Goldfinch
Mallard       Black-headed Gull           Marsh Harrier      Great Tit
Magpie             Lapwing               Little Egret           Cetti’s Warbler
Pied Wagtail          Redshank           Curlew            Skylark
Turnstone                 Common Gull               Oystercatcher           Golden Plover
Brent Goose         Dunlin         Bar-tailed Godwit             Herring Gull
Cormorant              Great Crested Grebe            Great Black-backed Gull
Sanderling             Linnet              Red-throated Diver              Gannet
Eider Duck             Stonechat           Pintail            Grey Heron
Rock Pipit             Little Grebe           Shelduck           Teal
Gadwall           Wigeon           Grey Plover         Ringed Plover
Avocet            Moorhen        Shoveler            Meadow Pipit
Black-tailed Godwit        Pink-footed Goose         Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit       Goldcrest         Starling            Chiffchaff
Coot     Wren

60 Species in total.

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