Field Trips in 2013

Here are the reports of our monthly Field Trips for 2013.  Many thanks to all the contributors.

 Sunday 6th January, 2013 Winter Bird Count

reported by Richard Norris & Ray Gribble

Our annual bird count took place on 6th January and on what, at the time promised to be a fine bright day the six teams taking part began to search the valley. However later in the day the weather took a hand and mist rolled in making conditions slightly more testing and resulting in lower than usual totals.
Nevertheless there were some good results with possibly the bird of the day being a Bittern seen disappearing into reed beds at Sparham Pools

The final winners were Paul Riley and Ian Britain with a total of 67 species and for the day the overall total was 82 species seen. The day ended with a welcome cup of tea and cakes in Weston Longville Hall and thanks to Chris Gribble, Gill Lambley and Beryl Norris for their help in organizing this part of the event, before the contestants arrived back and providing a fitting end to an enjoyable day.

 Sunday 27th January: Strumpshaw Fen and Buckenham Marshes

The snow had at long last gone and with eager anticipation a few members gathered at Strumpshaw for a day’s birding. A very quiet day on the Reserve, where much of the water was still frozen. So a move was made to Buckenham Marshes. It was beautiful as the sun shone brightly, but there was a very cold wind. The highlights were sightings of a male Hen Harrier and a Peregrine, which flew around for a while and then settled to rest on the ground. A lovely day out with 55 species seen in total.

Saturday 23rd  February: Sandringham & Roydon Common

In a very cold wind the starting total of 18 members slowly dwindled as the day went on with very few finishing up at Roydon Common. Dersingham Bog was particularly disappointing but despite the weather 54 species were recorded. Our thanks to our intrepid leaders Richard and Lin.

Sunday 31st March:  The Brecks     Leader Glen Collier

reporter:  Glenn Collier

We started our walk at Santon Downham on an extremely cold but dry day, with a very persistent north easterly wind which has been with us for weeks. Most of us met at 8,30am which was good considering the clocks had just changed and some others met us at 9,30am. Those who met up at 8.30am did so, in the hope of finding the Lesser spotted woodpecker, and all the usual places were explored but to no avail. However, Woodlark were seen and heard, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Moorhen, Siskin, Greylag geese, Reed Bunting and Redpoll were seen by the metal bridge. We were also pleased to locate Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail by the riverbank. There were also quite a few other more common species found around this spot. We then tried to locate Firecrest by the Santon Downham church fir trees, but it must have been too cold for them, as they were no where to be seen. It was such a shame, as they had been there the week before. We then moved on to St Helens Car Park area for a few more species. Meadow Pipits were located together with a Kestrel. We then travelled on to Lynford Arboretum and decided to have an early lunch before walking over to try to find Hawfinch in the paddock. Unfortunately, not today! However, joy of joys, the shout went out for Lesser Spot instead, RESULT!

There was a Little Grebe on the small lake and a Swan sitting on its nest, so spring must be in the air. Also a roe deer was seen. We then headed back by the brick folly and tried to get Firecrest but to no avail, back to the car-park and the lake beyond and we saw Great Crested Grebe,Tufted Duck, Teal, Cormorant, and Chiffchaff, (first of the year for some) Gadwall and Little Egret. We walked over the the vantage point and saw Buzzards flying overhead.
We then had a quick cuppa and headed for Great Cressingham and our next surprise! We were looking for Reeves Pheasants in an area where we have seen them several times in the past, and eventually we saw a nice male but only briefly as it went down a dip in the field and hid and didn’t show again. Grey and Red- legged Partridge were also seen here. We also had in the area Shelduck and Oystercatchers, a calling Fieldfare and various gulls. We headed on to another location for our last Breckland bird treat to finish off the day, where we saw Stone Curlew feeding in a maize strip.

We all headed off home, cold, but content that we had seen a good number of Breckland species. Total number of birds seen: 70 which is a good number considering only 4 sites were visited on such a cold day. Some of us may not have heard or seen all of these species. Also apologies if any birds are missed off the list.

Saturday 4th May: Bayfield Walk & Glaven Valley

reporters: Keith & Helen Jones

We met in the Cley Spy car park at 9.00 on a bright sunny morning with a cool northerly breeze. The walk was well attended with over 30 members turning up.
The walk followed tracks around the estate which is carefully managed in order to help support the local wildlife.Some members of the group were really good at identifying bird calls and then with patience we were able to get good views of some of them. Highlights included Whitethroat,a Lesser Whitethroat and several Blackcap warblers. A pair of Chiff Chaffs were seen in the Hawthorn blossom and we had great views of a male Yellowhammer. An Oyster Catcher was spotted in a ploughed field, apparently on eggs. We also heard Treecreepers and Nuthatches calling, as well as a distant Cuckoo.The bluebells were still not fully out, but we saw several hares enjoying the spring sunshine. Eunice was off piste looking for butterflies and found a Holly Blue. The woods were fairly quiet but there were plenty of birds on the lake in front of Bayfield Hall. Whilst there was a threat of rain thankfully this held off, and we were able to finish the walk with a cup of tea and cakes at the Wildflower Centre cafe before returning to our vehicles via Glandford.

Cley p.m second-half reporter Lin Pateman

The stalwart group that remained in the afternoon gave up the battle with the wind on Cley shore and made a quick detour to Bishop’s Hide . No need for the walkie-talkies here. There was much hilarity and discussion over identification ijh the bright sunshine and the highlight was a stunning Common Sandpiper picked up by our eagle-eyed leader. The WVBS trips never disappoint and some were so bouyed by the day they had to make a second cafe stop at the Cley visitors centre just before closing. Thanks to Mary Walker for leading a marvellous day out.

Saturday 18th May –  Wild about the Wensum

Guides in the Hides:  reporter Ray Gribble

As in previous years WVBS provided guides in the 2 scrape hides for the duration of the day. This is very well received by the visitors who ventured to the hides. While a few of the visitors are competent birdwatchers most are just interested in wildlife generally and are delighted to have birds pointed out to them that they have never, or rarely, seen before. Of special note this year were Little Ringed Plover nesting just in front of the hide; Kingfisher bringing food to young in their nest in a bank betweenthe 2 hides; Avocets rather distant and a pair of Hobbies sitting on distant posts then doing hunting flights. Our telescopes were much in use. In total 45 species were recorded from the scrape hides. It was particularly pleasing to see quite a few children showing great interest and some were very knowledgeable.
Thanks to all the WVBS members who helped with the guiding in the hides and increasing the WVBS profile.

. . . and the view from our Stand  –  reporter Lin Pateman
We were delighted to attend the day again this year and it was a great opportunity to chat to our own visiting members and their families, exchange news and views with friends from other organisations and greet all the new faces that came to enquire aboutbirds and wildlife in the valley. There was over 100 badges designed and made with enthusiasm and humour, it would be impossible to estimate how many hundreds of people visited throughout the day.
Sincere thanks to Richard, Ray, Bill, Martin & Phil & David for setting up and manning the stand, to Brenda & John, Trevor & Wendy and Eric for endless patience with the many badgemaking children and promoting the club in such a friendly and informative manner.

Sunday 26th May – Dawn Chorus & Bacon Butties

reporters: Glenn Collier and Lucy Topsom

We arrived at Sparham Pools at 4.15am for a cool start at 4.30am, and Glenn explained that the route from previous years had changed slightly due to young cows grazing in one field that we usually walk through. We always feel grateful for having permission from Mr Charles Sayer to do this particular walk as it covers some very beautiful countryside which we would not otherwise be able to walk over.
Glenn described different songs and calls as we went along and this was good for those who were learning. Before we started the walk there were many birds singing in the car park; Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, Pheasant, Chiffchaff. A little way down the track we soon picked up a Goldcrest with its high pitched song, Glenn described it as sounding like a sewing machine.
We picked up several other birds on the way, Egyptian Geese, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, members of the tit family,and it was not long before we heard our first Cuckoo, which was the first of the year for some members of the group.Further birds were Whitethroat, Jay, Heron, Great Crested Grebe and Oystercatcher. As it began to warm up we saw our first Swallows Martins, Swifts and a single Hobby. We began to see other ducks like Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted and one sharp eyed member spotted a Wigeon. Some of the group were lucky enough to see a Barn Owl and Kingfisher.
As the smell of bacon butties were looming, we had great views of a Red Kite, which circled the area for 10 minutes and gave us great views. This certainly was the bird of the day.
We would like to thank Chris and Lin for organising the purchasing and cooking of the bacon butties, and we certainly enjoyed consuming them!
We had a total of 66 birds.

Wednesday 5th June: Scarning Water Meadows

reporter: Sue Gale

A good turnout of around 30 members assembled in the centre of Dereham on a sunny but cool evening for a stroll around Scarning Water Meadows. It was a surprise to most of us that there was a reserve so close to the centre of the town. Two little egrets flew over as we waited in the car park, and swifts shrieked overhead. Our first impression was of a froth of cow parsley covering the whole of the meadows, although paths had been mown through the waist-high flowers. As we wandered through, several Greenfinches posed for us in the sunshine and we enjoyed watching a number of busy Whitethroats. There were splendid views of Water Voles in the river running through the middle of the reserve, and the sharp-eyed among us spotted Bullfinch and Turtle Doves flying through. Everywhere there was the sound of birdsong on a lovely evening.

Thanks to Trevor and Wendy Brown, who are much involved in the preservation of this special amenity.

20th June: Nightjars at Marsham Heath         

reporter: Steve Chapman

It was with some lack of optimism that I arrived at Marsham Heath at 9 pm, alongside about 20 other WVBS members. It had been raining earlier in the evening and low cloud had descended to give a misty, if not foggy, atmosphere. After a quick briefing from Josh, our leader, we made our way along the footpath to the corner of the heath where there was thought to be a good chance of a bird or two. As we stood in the gathering gloom the minutes ticked by with no sign of any bird. Inevitably people fell into conversation. Suddenly there was a ‘shhh – can you hear that!’ and we strained our ears. There, in the background, was the unmistakable churring of a nightjar. If you’ve never heard one before it sounds really strange, almost mechanical like a geiger counter. Soon one of the churrings was joined by another, and then one got louder and closer to us – it could only have been 50 metres away. Suddenly, the clear shape of a nightjar flew in front of us, with white markings on the wings clearly identifying it as a male. It flew into one of the birch trees on the edge of the heath, and a couple of us were able to get a ‘scope on it, allowing others to get good views of this elusive bird. After a short while it took off and we could hear the distinct wing-clapping of its display flight. Shortly afterwards there was a gasp from members as a female nightjar flew straight in front of us towards the birch trees and appeared to meet up with the male, (although it was so gloomy you couldn’t make out much at all!) with much wing clapping and croaking. Around this time another male was churring behind us, although we weren’t able to see this bird. After about 40 minutes from when we heard the first bird it all went quiet. Courtship and display behaviour was over for the night and the birds would now concentrate on nocturnal feeding. Time to go home. All in all it was a magical experience – only the second time I’ve experienced these wonderful birds. Many thanks to Josh for arranging and leading the walk.

29th June: RSPB Minsmere

reporters: Jacquie & Colin Fenn

The group met at a warm and sunny Minsmere on a June morning which actually felt like a summer’s day should. North Hide was our first stop for Med Gulls and an unexpected group of six Spotted Redshanks up against a far bank. Black Headed Gulls nested in profusion on the islands sitting on nothing more than a few twigs or small indentations. Egrets could be seen along with a small selection of ducks including Teal, Gadwall and Shelduck and far into the corner, a Common Sandpiper appeared briefly, feeding in the muddy inlet.

As we walked towards the beach we scanned the heathland for Stone Curlews, but instead came across a Green Woodpecker and a couple of Red Deer who didn’t seem at all perturbed by our presence.

The air was almost balmy as we looked out over the reed beds for Bearded Tits, which we heard before they were seen. It was a group of youngsters flying back and forth across the reed heads. Sedge and Reed Warblers were heard and seen along with Cetti’s warbler.

Believe it or not we weren’t tempted to take a dip even though the temperature was rising, but we were pleased to see the gleaming dorsal fins of two Harbour Porpoises and a raft of about twenty Common Scoter quite close to shore.

From the Beach Hide we had closer views of Sandwich and Common Terns who seemed to have all chosen the smallest island to settle on, no doubt trying to avoid the attention of the rather aggressive Black Headed Gulls.
Swallows nested under a metal girder in the sluice and wheeled over our heads as we turned back towards the South Hide. Little Grebes were to be found in the lakes on the left of the path and Hobbies flew low to the ground catching dragonflies. From the hide we spotted Greenshanks, Kittiwakes and Little Terns, which delighted a young birdwatcher who added them to his list with glee.

 After a quick lunch break we walked through the woodland towards the Bittern Hide. This happened to be very crowded especially with photographers who were keen to capture the perfect shots of the two Bitterns which came slowly out of the reeds to feed, only to turn and walk back in again at the sound of the machine gun like rattle of the cameras.
A garden Warbler sang hidden in the tree tops on the way to the Island Hide. Not having been to it for some time, I was pleasantly surprised to see how spacious and bright it had become. From the large windows we were treated to a close view of a very smart male Bearded Tit sitting on a reed head in full SUNLIGHT. On the lake in front were Great Crested Grebes and in the distance we enjoyed the Harriers hunting over the reserve.There were many dragonflies along with Southern Marsh Orchids along the boardwalk to the Island Hide.

After regrouping for a quick afternoon snack the group went up to Dunwich Heath to catch up with the Dartford Warbler and a Cuckoo.

 Thanks to Ray Gribble for a really successful day. All we had to do was ask for a bird and ‘Hey Presto’ it appeared! All that is apart from the Stonechat, which used to be guaranteed along the back of the beach, but which now seems to be more elusive.

Total species recorded = 77.

Sparham Hall Farm for Moths & Farmland Birds: 

reporter: David Knight

The heavy overnight rain would not normally be an ideal recipe for moth trapping but Charles had protected his two traps so we were hoping for a good haul. Sixteen members met up (not all in the same place!) at 8am and after his introduction, Charles led us through his garden to trap no 1. There was, certainly, a good haul and egg-boxes full of different species were passed around. There were Ruby Tigers, Black and Dark Arches, Buff Arches, Lilac Beauty, Common, Scarce, Rosy and Dingy Footmen, Poplar Hawkmoths and many more. One particular moth caught the eye of the keen moth-ers in the group, a Suspected which was a first for Charles and many others present. Cameras clicked to record it.
We moved on to the barn and Trap 2. There were some different moths to examine. Phoenix, Purple Thorn, Lesser Yellow Underwings and Peppered Moth were just a few. Charles undertook to list all he could remember and send it to us in due course. As we were engrossed in the contents of the trap we were suddenly aware of a Common Buzzard overhead together with a Peregrine! Wow!
With the mothing over Charles offered to take us on a tour of his farm and show off the environmental work he has undertaken and is so passionate about. With large field margins,and specially planted bird food areas his farm is abuzz with insects which in turn attract the birds. Yellowhammers were calling and as we rose up to a high vantage point we were greeted with the magical song of several Skylarks high overhead.. The view over Lyng and surrounding area is superb. We finished off with a walk though a field of wild plants and flowers. The aroma of Marjoram was almost overpowering. There were drifts of Lady’s Bedstraw and blue Scabius and many other plants making the whole field a rare picture. A great morning with special thanks to Charles Sayer. If only all farms were the same!.
The complete list is as follows:-
Drinker 2  Scalloped Oak 3  Dingy Footman 6  Antler 1  Buff Arches 6 Swallowtailed 2  Common Footman 15  Smoky Wainscot 2  Small Fanfoot Wave 3  Peppered Moth 1  Ruby Tiger 3  Common Wainscot 2  Single Dotted Wave 2  Willow Beauty 2  Heart and Dart 1  Grey Dagger 2   Small Scallop 1  Engrailed 3  Shuttle-shaped Dart 4  Suspected * 1 Riband Wave 8 Common White Wave 1  Flame 6  Dunbar 5  Red Twin-spot Carpet 1  Pine Hawmoth 1  Flame Shoulder 4  Dark Arches 15  Large Twin-spot Carpet 1 Privet Hawkmoth 1  Less. Yellow U/Wing 2  Cloaked Minor 1  Phoenix 1 Poplar Hawkmoth 3  Less.Brd..B.Yellow U/Wing 2  Common Rustic 10  Small Rivulet 1  Elephant Hawkmoth 1  Double Square Spot 10  Dusky Sallow 7  Wormwood Pug 1  Coxcomb Prominent 1  Nutmeg 6  Ear 2  Brimstone 1  Yellow Tai 3  Dot Moth 2  Uncertain 20  Lilac Beauty 1  White Satin 2  Brown-line Bright-eye 2  Rustic 20  Early Thorn 2  Rosy Footman 3  Clay 4  Nut Tree Tussock 2  Purple Thorn 1  Buff Footman 1  Bright-line Brown Eye 2  Silver Y 1  Plain Golden Y 1  Burnished Brass 2  Spectacle 5 Snout 3 Fanfoot 2
* Suspected moth is an unusual record for Mid-Norfolk.

24th August:  Snettisham for the High Tide

reporters: Lin Pateman & Phil Borley

Despite severe weather warnings along the coast and torrential downpours when we set off from home, we remained confident of a good birding day. Eight of us hardy individuals thought the same! Many thanks to all those who remembered to get in touch and let us know they wouldn’t be going.
A walk out in light rain to the RSPB hides had us searching both inland and along the shoreline as the tide pushed in. Whimbrel flew overhead and a large flock of black-tailed godwits headed onto nearby farmland. Roosting little egrets didn’t get up for breakfast as we passed. There was a distinct air of anticipation as we discovered some of our group had never been before, to the early morning high tide. As huge flocks took to the horizon, we watched a massive flock taking off from the flats as the tide raced in, with godwits, dunlin and oystercatchers the main contenders swirling and swooping up and down towards the roost on the scrape. The first hide was full of an RSPB group that set out from the car park before us and we later discovered that two of our group were watching from there. We settled into the last hide (plenty of room for our compact group) and scanned religiously through the wriggling mass of many thousands of dunlin on the scrape. Word went round to look out for the white-rumped sandpiper seen the day before and it wasn’t long before a green sandpiper created some excitement, quickly followed by a spotted redshank and a greenshank. Never before had we seen the far bank smothered in a single species, namely oystercatchers, spaced comfortably apart with no other species joining them the whole time we were there. As the light rain showers subsided and the air warmed up so did the mammals and we saw a stoat, a fox and a hare. Walking the path around the surrounding grassland we had close views of a large flock of black-tailed godwits and a group of common sandpipers added to the wader list. Returning along the shore with the tide in close, we were delighted to observe a small flock of ringed plovers on the shoreline with turnstones, knot and sanderling all easy to identify. The highlight of the morning walk was the dark cloud of tens of thousands of knot streaming directly over our heads as they returned to the sands as the tide receded, we couldn’t have had a closer view!

Six of us enjoyed a warm afternoon at Titchwell with brighter skies and excellent views of ruff, golden plover, curlew sandpiper, little stint and guaranteed marsh harriers bringing our day’s total to 66 species.
After driving back along the coast we couldn’t resist a quick look for the visiting red necked phalarope at our local patch in Cley square and were delighted to find conditions were ripe for a late summer fall. We were fortunate to have fantastic sightings of reed warblers, pied flycatchers, redstart and an icterine warbler in the same tree and a couple of infamous club members in the same hide!

Our twelve hour day was completed by catching the Salthouse chippy for an excellent supper.

22nd September: The North  Norfolk Coast 

Reporter: Liz Bridge

Our first port of call was the Norfolk Ornithological Association (NOA) site at Holme next the Sea. Bright, hot and sunny so outer garments were rapidly discarded. The sun and warmth brought out many Small White butterflies and the yellow-flowered buddleias close to the centre were covered. Among the birds sighted on the bright oranged berried Sea Buckthorn were female Blackcap and Dunnock and a Sparrowhawk was being hassled by Meadow Pipits. Gary, the assistant warden, had just completed his rounds of the mist nets and invited some of the group to join him in the Ringing Room. There they enjoyed watching as a Cetti’s Warbler and a Red Bunting were ringed, measured and recorded. The rest of us were making our way to the sea when we were halted by the sight of an abundance of dragonflies and damselflies up in the air. Photographers were delighted with 4 Migrant Hawkers glistening in the sun like jewels as they lined up on a bramble stem. Reaching the sea wall we were greeted by Sandwich Terns fishing, Gannets flying by, as well as a youngster in his black and white plumage sitting on the water close in. A group of Scoters flew past and landed and  Great Crested Grebes were sitting quietly on the sea as a Arctic Skua was flying around. But now it was really hot so we retreated to the centre to examine the moths which had been trapped during the night. We were really well looked after by the NOA.

Now we were ready for lunch and drove down to Titchwell. The car park was packed but we eventually managed to find slots. Meeting up again at the Visitor Centre, our leader for the day, Colin Fenn, led us down the path towards the sea. The usual water fowl, including Gadwall and Little Grebe, were on the pool on the left-hand side and an elusive warbler on the right. We birded the lagoons on the right from the path. Soon all had seen the Spoonbills, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwits as well as many Ruff in the water and on the edges. There were Golden Plover on an island together with a lone Common Sandpiper. But then, a sight we were privileged to see: 10 minutes of Raptor Bliss! 3 Red Kites high in the sky, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and then a Hobby veered away and over the path, watch out for the sun in binoculars, as we tracked its flight. And then, where did that Peregrine come from, so close you could see its facial markings. Then to cap it all, the Spoonbills took off and flew past in strict formation. We were entranced and suddenly it was all quiet again and the waders and others settle back down on the water and on the islands.

Now on to the sea which was a long way out. Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, some Knot on the rocks. Then a discussion over a bird at great distance sitting on the sea. Steve decided he had to go to confirm that this was a Red-breasted Merganser; he had to walk a long way, so we left him to it! Meanwhile a trip to the Parrinder hide, spotting a migrant Wheatear on the way, a juvenile Little Ringed Plover and lots of Curlews, which refused to become Whimbrel! A Curlew Sandpiper was seen standing amongst a group of Teal and a Little Stint doing its own thing along the water’s edge. A Greenshank just visible in the far corner of the water. A really good day was rounded off by the sighting of 3 Snipe as we wandered back for a well-earned cup of tea.

We all give our thanks to Colin who made sure we all saw the birds and pointed out identification features, and to Jacquie who managed to keep the list of birds and other sightings whilst also watching them.

Birds 76 species
Greylag Goose (Anser anser) Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) Brent Goose (Branta bernicla) Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) Crow (Corvus corone) Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) Bearded Tit (Panurus biarmicus) Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) Swallow (Hirundo rustica) Gadwall (Anas strepera) Redshank (Tringa totanus totanus) Great Tit (Parus major) Wigeon (Anas penelope) Curlew (Numenius arquata) Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti) Shoveler (Anas clypeata) Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) Teal (Anas crecca) Knot (Calidris canutus) Robin (Erithacus rubecula) Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra) Ruff (Calidris pugnax) Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) Blackbird (Turdus merula) Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) Sanderling (Calidris alba) Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) Common Pheasant (Phasianus Dunlin (Calidris alpina) Dunnock (Prunella modularis) Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) Little Stint (Calidris minuta) Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus) Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) Gannet (Morus bassanus) Guillemot (Uria aalge) Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) Common Gull (Larus canus) Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) Red Kite (Milvus milvus) Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) Buzzard (Buteo buteo) Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)eruginosus) Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) Common Coot (Fulica atra) Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

Butterflies & Dragonflies
Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea) Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) Large White (Pieris brassicae) Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

12th October: Wild about Norfolk 

reporter Martin Spriggs

The Club having offered to run a small stall at this local Conservation Fair and once again with no help forthcoming from members, committee members gathered at Easton College to set up at 9.15 in a classroom in the Jubilee Hall Building. We shared the room with two other organisations, The Ramblers and Pensthorpe.
Up went the stand and over went our Club Cloth onto the table. Out came the coloured pencils, crayons etc and the team began frantically to cut round the Owl outlines to be coloured in later. The public arrived and off we went, Brownies, Beavers and others all came to look at the pictures on the stand. Owls were coloured in ( Species totally unknown—colour combinations were incredible!!), drinking straws were attached and first flight birds soared away round the room and off to visit other stalls.
Most of us did a 2 hour stint and this gave a chance to look round the rest of the show. Quizzes on skulls and butterflies vied with a fascinating quiz with bird and animal wing/skins and the legs and skulls. We lost Ray for some time! When he came back shaking his head and muttering under his breath, questions were not asked. Much hammering and noise could be heard down one corridor. This proved to be a complete bird box workshop. Children, under supervision, were assembling standard, pre-cut out boxes with great enthusiasm. These were then carried round the rest of the stalls, usually under fathers arm. Several adults asked about the club and hopefully followed up on the information imparted. The food bar in the main hall did a roaring trade with very low prices. Generally there seemed to be fewer people than last year but some of this could have been due to the rather poor advertising and way markers from the main road. Packing up at 4pm, we all had an enjoyable day talking birds to young people, some of which were remarkably knowledgeable. It really isn’t difficult and is great fun.

27th October: Lackford Lakes  

reporter: Martin Spriggs

A Sunday outing to this Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve. The day began inauspiciously with heavy rain in Norfolk, so full waterproofing was required. Mind you in Suffolk the sun was out and several of us had to reduce layers!! Lackford is a series of ex-gravel pits in the River Lark valley on the southern border of the Kings Forest. The river runs close along the N edge and on the S is Flempton Golf course. The largest lake is given over to sailing and although there were no boats out because of the strong wind very few birds were seen. Too much disturbance perhaps. At 9.30 the 16 members gathered by the visitor centre were lead off by our stalwart leader for the day, Richard Norris. Like a Swift he was off down the path and into the first of the hides desperate to show us something. A birder in the hide lined us up on the far bank of a small pool to watch not one but three feeding Jack Snipe. What a start! A Common Snipe was also spotted. We moved slowly through the well developed bushes and
trees on good paths to visit a succession of hides. Most were not busy and we all had good views over the lakes picking up Goosander, Goldeneye and most of the more common ducks. On Jacobs’s pool a female Kingfisher put in an appearance, flashing across the small pool from reeds to a clump of scrub willow and then dashing back again. The sun caught the back and
the colour was superb. By lunchtime most of our birds had been seen, with Cetti, Coal Tit and other small birds added to the list. The open meadow area failed to produce much other than Pied Wagtail, green Woodpecker calling in the distance and Rabbit( Oh sorry, doesn’t count).

The lady running the centre for the day had kindly opened the teaching room for us and placed tea, coffee, milk etc ready for our use. Out came the sandwiches, these were quickly demolished as Lin was determined to find the Siskins and Crossbills on the centre `Whats About` list. Finally they were tracked down along a partially cleared waterway, in a group of Alder trees. Both species in trees next to each other! It did take quite a time to get everyone to have a good view but sharing `scopes and `left a bit –no right now` seemed to work. A fine male Crossbill and a pair of Siskin. Two other members had joined us partway through the morning. Starting the day before in Fort William Scotland they got away late on the Sunday morning (Surprise, surprise) and then lost the way! A fine example of determination to take part. The light beginning to fade a little we left for Norfolk after a splendid day.

Thanks are due to Alec Waller who was to have lead and had organised the day and to Richard for stepping in at the last minute. A donation was sent to the Lackford Lakes for their help and kindness of £20.

24th November: RSPB Ouse Washes 

reporters: David and Heather Smith

After an eventful journey carefully avoiding three loose horses on the A47, we arrived at Manea village. We followed a RSPB sign out of the village and guessed at the next left turn that this was indeed the reserve (there was no sign but the long and very bumpy track had that typical RSPB feel!). All in all there were 17 members on the visit. Our first impression was one of a ghost town sitting in a bleak, desolate fen (many years ago five houses were partially built without planning permission and have been left frozen in time at mercy to the elements). You have to admire the people who manage to actually live there! The weather in the morning was incredibly variable, one minute cool and misty, the next brilliant sunshine but by the afternoon it had warmed improving visibility and lifting our spirits (we must remember to take some with us next time!).

RSPB Ouse Washes sits facing Ely (the cathedral is visible on the horizon) and is directly opposite its more posh upmarket Welney neighbour. It has a small visitor centre which appears to be set up primarily to view Tree Sparrows (unfortunately none were seen on the day – there is a special nest box in the garden designed especially for their use but we understood there had been no recent sightings). To the left of the visitor centre there are seven hides equal distances apart along the washes and to the right a further three.

Looking from the visitor centre bridge we saw a large flock of Whooper swans on the field. We decided to tackle the left hand hides in the morning, and we were rewarded with some fine views of Golden Eye and Pintail. At various times small groups of Whoopers flew past. At one stage a Kingfisher flew a low straight path along a ditch just in front of our hide, and a Reed bunting sat in front of us on the reeds. Large numbers of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Widgeon and Gadwall were present along with a lone Little Grebe.  Marsh Harrier were seen intermittently. A Northern Harrier had been reported (although maybe meaninglessly as the report was followed by a question mark) but despite persistent checks we did not see one.  Being unable to resist the draw of our lunch we returned to the centre leaving a few members in hide number five. Isn’t it always the case that that extra 10 minutes is always rewarding, they managed to see Stonechats on their return journey which we regrettably missed. Nice to know they are still around, we haven’t seen any since last winter.

During lunch taken in the visitor centre we witnessed many birds on the feeder outside the window including a Greater Spotted Woodpecker who was eventually driven off by a cheeky Grey Squirrel.

In the afternoon we visited the right hand hides. To us these seemed to have much more attractive outlooks. Besides the previous birds, various distant waders were added and also a “flock” of 4 pintail!

Our best view of Whoopers was actually on our way home where a large flock was close to the road. We were disappointed we did not see any Bewick Swans on the reserve although two members saw two on the drive in. Unusually and notably two members also identified a Chiffchaff before we arrived.

All in all 61 species were seen,.

 Thanks to Liz for organising and leading a very enjoyable day out

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