Field Trips in 2019

Annual Bird Count Sunday 6th January

Organiser: Lin Pateman

As always, this event was very popular, but with 12 teams participating, this was the biggest yet. Congratulations are due to the joint winning teams – The Italian Nutjob and the Red-faced Cake Eaters, with an excellent score of 77 species seen between 8am and 4.30pm all within our Wensum Valley recording area. Many thanks are due to Lin’s hard work in organising the count, and for baking all those delicious cakes. We should also thank her helpers in the kitchen serving us all well-earned cups of tea and coffee at the end of a tiring day. Several teams have written reports of this splendid day:-

Barry’s Boys (Alan Nobbs, Ian Doble, Barry Pummel)
Well the 2019 WVBS Bird count was hard work for us this year. We had 40 on the list after about an hour and half and then it took another seven hours to find 24! We did not even see or hear a Wren.
We started along the A47 corridor from North Tuddenham then into the Taverham Ski Lake before making a figure of eight route out to East/West Raynham church and back, taking in all the likely spots, bumping into other “racers” along the way. Perhaps there is an opportunity to change the way the bird count is tackled. How about splitting the area up into say zones then “draw” which team will search which zone, then any extra teams could be roving and go where they want. Each year the teams could rotate around to a different zone. Suggested zones have been sent to the editor – food for thought?:-
We spent a significant amount of time scanning flocks of gulls in the pig fields for something unusual, a Great Black-backed Gull perhaps, but no luck.
Like others we tried hard to find one of the more “difficult” birds which entailed traipsing through some roadside woodland to flush a Woodcock, and I’m sure other teams tried similar tactics for some of the more enigmatic species, which does raise the question of how ethical this is? Perhaps we should not be encouraging this method for finding a few extra species, but without it then we would not have a full picture of the birds in the valley – another “grown up” debate required, I think?
Nevertheless, the dull day had a silver lining as we watched two Otters chasing and eating fish at Elsing bridge and understandably watching them took priority over trying to find more birds.

Dereham Dippers (Paul Riley, Ian Brittain, Chris Stone & Steve Connor)
An 08.00 start at Hoe got us most of the woodland species by their call, although we did glimpse two Woodcocks and the posing Tawny Owl.

Keeping to a confined area within the WVBS recording area didn’t prove as fruitful as last year and hoping to find a recent Green Sandpiper in Dereham was unsuccessful and cost us time. However seeing eleven Red Kites at their roost and a very close Barn Owl certainly did boost our spirits.
Were we fortunate in ticking Kingfisher and Whooper Swan at 16.10 or just unlucky missing Redwing, Green Woodpecker and House Sparrow??
Coming in third with 75 species was just about good enough though to redeem ourselves after coming bottom in the WVBS Christmas Quiz.
Great event as always and congratulations to the joint winning teams!!

The Italian Nutjob (Sacha Barbato and Joe Harkness)
The day started in my back garden (SB) at the strike of 8am. Armed with a cup of coffee myself and Joe managed to get the day started with Meadow Pipit, Siskin, Great-spotted Woodpecker, but not the hoped for resident Little Owls.
A quick drive to a ‘guaranteed’ Stock Dove location at the end of my road and we were then off to Haveringland Hall to get the day started properly.
Here we got the hoped-for wildfowl, including Pochard. Then alarm calls alerted us to a hunting Sparrowhawk and a flock of Pink-footed Geese low over were the only ones of the day. The resident Reed Bunting seemed to have moved on but, surely, we would see these elsewhere?
We then stopped at Horsford Woods in the hope that Crossbills were present but it was so quiet we quickly moved on.
We headed into Norwich and saw the Peregrine, on its usual spot on the cathedral spire, without the need to leave the car. We checked the river here where I had seen Kingfisher and Grey Wagtails just a few days prior, but no luck on the day.
As we headed back out of the city to better birding spots we had fantastic views of not one but two Red Kites low over the car.
We headed into the valley proper, first swinging up the hill in Lyng Easthaugh to the slurry pit where our first Yellowhammer of the day was added. Then we headed back along the Lyng Easthaugh Rd, where a chance look through the hedge at the Catch 22 fishing lakes, added GC Grebe and Egyptian Goose. Further along the road towards Sparham, we checked a stubble field which had, on Friday, held myriad finches and a flock of 50+ Skylark – no birds today but we chanced upon a few later in the day.
Sparham was our first real ‘blanker’ of the day. Friday had seen the long-staying Whooper Swan on the main pools but there was no sign today. A Little Egret over on the boggy ground by the NACA lakes, helped assuage all disappointment – but was merely a similarly coloured consolation prize.
We drove along the Fakenham Road with a change of plan, to check Bintree Mill. A quick stop off added Wigeon to the day list before we headed back ‘inland’ to North Elmham. First we stopped at County School Station, where Cetti’s Warblers weren’t singing. However, a luscious lemony Grey Wagtail added some light to the situation. The day-roosting Tawny Owl was kindly viewable from the chapel car-park, meaning we could move on quickly.

Beetley next, where at least 10 Snipe flushed at School Pit – but alas – no Jack. We stupidly avoided Bittering, where we later learnt we could have racked up some additional birds. Compounded further when out next spot, Scarning Fen, left a Green Sandpiper shaped void in our count list.
Decisions… we opted to head back towards our patches and see if we could pick up some of the desirables that were left. Marsham was eerily quiet, but as we despondently headed back to the car, c40 Redpoll chattered their way above and over us, into a nearby alder top. Three Mealy’s stood out from the flock, adding us two species on the cusp of leaving.
On to Buxton Heath, where, armed with Joe’s knowledge of the boggy areas, we were lucky enough to see a Jack Snipe. A real highlight of the day, I’m so pleased that these cryptic waders reside at my patch. We finished at Haveringland, where we tried, but failed to add any new species. We were hoping to hear a Water Rail and perhaps see some finches, Reed Buntings preferably, arriving to roost but to no avail.

Connecting through competition by Joe Harkness
Every year at the start of January, my local area birdwatching group orchestrates an annual bird count – often referred to as their bird ‘race’. The boundaries are set to the confines of the recording area the group operates in; and the count itself begins at 8am – ending at 4:30pm I noted to utilise all of the available hours of daylight. Shorter in these early days of the year.
In principle, the idea of a bird race jars with my overall approach to birdwatching. I champion a backto-basics approach and often find that adding these unnecessary layers to any interest, starts to make it complicated and more difficult to emotionally regulate. That said, I also champion the connective power of birdwatching and an inclusive activity, like the bird race, radiates with it.
Mainly though, in these shorter and darker days, when our moods and tempers fray with the loose ends of rising and falling in blackness – the bird race is a respite and a reason, to spend a day outdoors and invigorated, with a sense of purpose. An aim.
In the lead up to the day of the race, my teammate and I were in regular contact as we tried to narrow down the places we were going to visit. I have a decent grasp of the local area and have spent lots of time, alone at various sites, looking for and enjoying the resident and visiting birds. In-fact, my connection with the local area is a tangible force.
It’s a bit like licking your finger and sticking it in the air to determine the wind direction; just being out there, in the measured wilderness, I know. A lot of it comes down to the innate calendar of winter – a rhythm – that beats through me in these colder and more static times. A constancy in their presence. The Pochard on the lake. The Jack Snipe in the mire. I know what’s going to be there because I can feel it in the air.
He trusted my intuition and we were rewarded, my friend and I. The day was frenetic. It rushed and darted, paced and paused. From site-to-site, lake to field and hedgerow to mill-pool – we checked and noted every new species until we reached 77. Ducks and finches, tits and grebes, to thrushes and geese. A plethora of birds, variety bringing wonder and consistency as it does to every nature experience and nuance of exploring a local area. A place.

Wee Three (Cath Robinson, Alan & Janet Hughes)

2 novices and 1 with just one race under his belt: we were just aiming not to be humiliated….and we weren’t! Well, not in our eyes anyway.
What was memorable? Best bird has to be the sleepy Tawny Owl spotted roosting on Hoe Common, an otherwise relatively disappointing tick venue. Most frustrating would be Great Spotted Woodpecker that frequents the Hughes’ bird feeders but of course not while we were there on the race day and not spotted (sorry!) anywhere else. Most annoying would be Grey Wagtail known to be in several locations we visited but not on show. Most surprising might be missing any Partridge anywhere. Luckiest might be the flying Green Woodpecker spotted from the car window by the 2 non- drivers as we whizzed by. Most satisfying would be the Nuthatch which we tracked down from a occasional hammering from the depths of a huge ivy encrusted oak tree as we were getting to the end of the day and were light on woodland birds. Stand out fact might be the number of Buzzards that we saw; at least 7. How times have changed from the buzzard free East Anglian desert of years ago.
I found some new good places to go and we all enjoyed a different mode of birding involving much jumping in and out of the car and are full of ideas of how to carve up the day next year.

The MillStreeters (Charles and Fran Neale and Carole and Alwyn Jackson)

Four go in Search of Birds – with apologies to Raymond Briggs.
Sunday 6th January – 6.15am. “Bleep! Bleep! Bleep! Bleep! What’s that? Oh, the bloomin’ alarm! What day is it? Sunday. What’s happening today? Oh, the bloomin’ Bird Count! It’s at times like this that I wish I had a Wallace & Gromit fully automated system to get me out of bed, dressed and downstairs for breakfast!
7.40am Carole and I stagger down the road to meet up with our fellow team members, Charles and Fran Neale. We are soon on our way to our first stop, the NWT Sparham Pools Reserve. A walk down the footpath towards Lenwade as far as the entrance to the fishing lakes and then round the reserve produces 32 species, a reasonable start. Where have all the bloomin’ Teal and Wigeon gone though?
For the rest of the day we search the valley as far as Sculthorpe airfield and the outer reaches of the upper Wensum valley. Our three Little Owl stake-outs draw a blank, but Charles’s keen eyes pick out a wintering Chiffchaff at Bylaugh Sewage Works. Our Kingfisher sites also have something missing – a Kingfisher! Undaunted, we press on. Great Crested Grebes at Swanton Morley Gravel Pits, viewed from afar but no bloomin’ Little Grebes.
At Broom Green we find a species we didn’t really want to find – a dead Tawny Owl at the side of the road. After a quick inspection of the corpse we return to the fray. Our journey is interspersed with calls of, “What’s that? Of another bloomin’ Blue Tit” or, “Oh – another bloomin’ Buzzard.”

A large flock of migrant thrushes attract our attention and after close inspection find Skylarks creeping along the ground. It takes a little while to get everybody onto them. Imagine the scene – a car parked at the side of the road with four adults inside wrapped up in winter coats, woolly hats and in some cases gloves. The car windows are wound down and the occupants of the car have binoculars to their eyes trying to follow some instructions.
“Looking at one o’clock can you see a white object like a large stone on the field about thirty feet away?”. “Er…yes”. “If you look straight beyond it there is a large dark clump of muck, have you got that?” “Whereabouts?” “Straight back from the white stone.” “Er… yes.” “Well the skylarks are just to the right walking towards the big clump of muck. Have you got them?” “No I can’t see them.” “Keep watching the clump of muck. There’s one walking to the left of it now!” “ it!”
That’s 57 species we’ve seen so far so we move on to Great Ryburgh and at last we find Teal and Wigeon. As we approach Pudding Norton I notice two partridges on the field across from the road junction. We decide to take a closer look so Charles drives the car a short way up the farm track. Peering through the windscreen in the gathering gloom we are pleased to discover that they are Grey Partridges. These prove to be our final species for the day despite searching well known areas for Barn and Tawny Owl.
We rapidly return to Great Witchingham and are welcomed back with a glorious cup of tea and a piece of Lin’s homemade cake. The four of us had thoroughly enjoyed the day despite only finding 63 species, four short of our target. What a delightful way of spending a bloomin’ day – birdwatching with friends.

The Newbee (Paul Jeffery)
As a WVBS winter bird race debutant, I did a recce the day before and scored 73, but was back indoors by 15:00 but felt certain I could improve on that the following day. It also seemed apt to call myself “The Newbee”. Come the big day, I was at Castle Acre water meadows for 08:00. The Barn Owl was hunting the meadow as it was yesterday. Also, here were fellow Narvos members Allan Hale and Ian Black; Ian soon pointed at the river, Little Grebe and Moorhen. The surprise here was a Water Rail lurking in the cress. A Little Egret landed in the river and a Kingfisher sped up stream under the bridge we were standing on, cracking start. Allan had given me a couple of tips which I would utilise later if need be, at 08:10 I bid them farewell.
I decided I had spare time so I popped into West Raynham Church and Lake. I was greeted by a rather noisy Nuthatch and a singing Song Thrush, I had failed on Song Thrush yesterday. Also here Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare all were tricky yesterday and on the lake Mallard and Teal. I checked the farm yard out but Pied Wagtail was not forthcoming.
Moving on swiftly Sculthorpe Mill is as good as place as any for Grey Wagtail, on arrival I checked all riverine vegetation and exposed muddy fringes upstream and downstream of the mill, no bird! I failed yesterday and I was firing blanks here again today, I made my way back to the car park and my car. There was a small puddle in the middle of the car park playing host to the Grey Wagtail, why didn’t I look there first?

Sculthorpe Moor has an abundance of well stocked bird feeders in the woodland there. Brambling, Bullfinch and all the Tit species including Marsh Tit was seen in no time at all. Chaffinch and Goldfinch were plentiful, Jay, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were added too. The vast expanse of reed bed was seemingly devoid of Reed Bunting despite my best efforts. Yesterday I had had Siskin, Redpoll and Treecreeper, despite my protracted stay here I cut my losses at 10:15 and departed without seeing any of them. The highlight here was three Otters but I couldn’t put them on my bird list. Walking back to the car a Red Kite was a welcome tonic.
Fakenham STW was the next port of call, to my horror Anglian Water staff were working here on a Sunday!! Didn’t they know there was a bird race on? Needless to say all the filter beds were devoid of birds, luckily all the Pied Wagtails had taken to a nearby field but there was no sign of yesterday’s Meadow Pipit, there was no sign of the small Lapwing flock in an adjacent field either.
Cursing my luck I continued to Bintree Mill, here a pair of Shoveller was on the flood water along with a few Wigeon. Along the approach road I had noticed a good flock of birds which I decided was worth a look. They were mostly Brambling and Chaffinch but here were several Linnet and in the hedgerow a Goldcrest too. It was about noon and I checked my score and found I had a score of 62 which was very pleasing, perhaps 80 was attainable?
I now utilised one of Allan Hale’s tips and visited the wee church at Worthing. Searching the trees there was no sign of any Little Owl though there was a Kestrel here. I found the twin story nest box but was anyone in? A wee stick was found to tickle the front door with to see if any Little Owl was in and to see if it would peer out at the irritating nerk at his front door, there was no one in!
I felt Bittering GP was my last trump card of the day. The shooting fraternity was out in force yesterday, I was hoping they were not here today. Thankfully they were not. On the western pit a huge flock of Lapwing but not a Goldie in sight. The lone Whooper Swan had moved onto this pit too but little else. On the middle pit the Greylag Goose flock took off and flew east before I could get to scan through them. In the trees here I finally caught up with Treecreeper here. Scampering round to the eastern pit the Greylags had settled, I patiently scanned through them until the lone Pink-footed Goose came into view. On the rough ground to the south of the pits there was an extensive area of weed growth and cover crop. Skylark, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Shelduck was here. In the hedgerow eventually I caught up with Greenfinch, I had seen over 70 species before seeing a Greenfinch perhaps a sad sign of the times? I had seen several Meadow Pipits here yesterday but no amount of walking about was going to flush one today.
The afternoon had seemingly slipped by quicker than the morning and on 75 I felt I had hit a wall especially with the elusive Meadow Pipit. I was also aware I was a long way from the finishing line in Lenwade. In Lenwade Great-crested Grebe was my final species on the fishing lake. I felt the trees here could offer a Siskin or Redpoll, but it wasn’t to be and I eventually settled for 76 my final total. It had been a great day out despite the hard work.

King?shers Team (David Knight and Bernie Marsham)
When we met up at Bernie’s the sun was just rising in a pink/red sky and a promise of a good, ?ne day. Shortly after the sun disappeared for the rest of the day.Standing by the cars we picked up the usual corvids and a lovely Green Woodpecker ?ew over into a nearby tree. Swanton Morley ?shing lakes was next with all the usual common ducks and geese and a lone Meadow Pipit. Our total was now 30 and we were feeling quietly satis?ed. Apart from Pied Wagtail and Buzzard there was little to add at the nearby pig farm but a co?ee break at Bernie’s was more fruitful. The Little Owl was seen brie?y appearing only when Bernie called out his name! On the feeders we had a pair of Nuthatch along with Coal Tit, and Gold?nch, Buzzard, House Sparrow, Mistle Thrush and Herring Gull were added locally. Suitably refreshed we headed for Worthing and onto Hoe Common. The Tawny Owl we recorded at our last Hoe Bird Walk in December was waiting for us
in the same tree and then disappeared from view. There was a nice ?ock of Redwing in the meadow and Little Egret and Song Thrush were seen. We were now on 46 and the morning was still young. On the way to Bylaugh we added Red-legged Partridge and after a struggle a Grey Wagtail appeared at the sewage works together with 20+ Pied.
A quick stop at Three Bridges Farm added Egyptian and Canada geese. Then onto Sparham Pools where we spent the best part of an hour to only add Shoveler and Teal. No Siskins! No Whooper Swan! Not happy!. We grabbed a quick lunch there and moved on. It was nearly one o’clock. Still time? Great Ryburgh added nothing new. At Gateley a Sparrowhawk ?ew over the car. That’s 53 species.
Sculthorpe next where we judged we had a good 1 ½ hours to bring our list to a record-breaking total!. Bull?nch a- plenty, Green?nch, Marsh Tits Great Spotted Woodpecker and Reed Bunting but, sadly no Brambling. This brought our total to 58. It had been a struggle on a dark, dull, grey day Were we in with a chance of victory? Not con?dent as it proved later. At least we were not last on the list but a good way o? the joint ?rsts. Well done them. How did they see all those birds? More importantly we had had a very enjoyable day in good company. Fourteen teams had entered, the most I can ever remember. What a great turn-out. What a great day.

Red-faced Cake-eaters (Glenn Collier, Lucy Topsom and Lin Pateman)
Our names were down for the WVBS Winter Bird Count on Sunday 6 January. As we hadn’t been birding in the WVBS Area since this time last year Lin joined our team and we named ourselves the Red Faced Cake Eaters. Tactic for this Year’s Race – I could concentrate on directing, navigating and completing the bird list allowing the more able to run around looking for the birds. I’d join in as much or as little as I felt able to cope with knowing that only 2 out of the 3 needed to either hear or see each bird. Our route was along the lines of previous years and as we hadn’t birded in the area since the previous Bird Count had to take pot luck as to where to find birds rather than knowing the up to date situation . We did however know that the Peregrines were still at Norwich Cathedral so we made sure we were in Norwich for 8am. High fives as both peregrines seen on spire at 7.55 only to see the male flying off and the female go round the other side of the spire immediately afterwards. Quick jump into car to get a different angle of spire to start off our list for 8am. That was a sticky start and certainly got the adrenaline pumping.
Off to Easton, showground and surrounding areas. Lot of stops, leaping out of the car and yays as birds were gradually ticked off the list. Blast along the A47 towards Bittering. Yep, good, more to tick off the list. On to Beetley, Hoe, Ling, Lenwade, Guist, Sparham to gradually tick off the list.
The day went so quickly with the light failing we managed to get back to Lenwade Village Hall with 10 minutes to spare. There were certainly a few birds that eluded us. No stonechat at Guist, but other groups counted it. Not even a lucky barn owl flying over the road or Bernie’s little owl. The Tawny Owl at Hoe was a real show stopper. Tea, cakes and the lists counted and verified! Joint first – Wow, it was a really good day out, lots of excitement, laughs, camaraderie and cake. What a combination.
Thanks for a really smashing day and lets hope it can be repeated next year.

What a lovely day out, searching for bird species in the Valley never knowing what you’ll see on the day.
Thanks Lin for your help with our birds, your cakes and as results co-ordinator. Well done Lucy for doing well, so soon after your operation.
Thanks Chris for all the work in the tea room. Life saver!

Team PISA (Philip, Ian, Stewart, Allan)
‘West of WVBS, East of NarVOS’

NarVOS no longer runs a bird race but does encourage a Winter Bird Count which, by coincidence, falls on the same day as the WVBS Bird Race. The PISA Team started on the River Nar in Castle Acre, where we spotted the first of several sightings of WVBS Racers (this one came 3rd in the WVBS Race), and by 07.30 we had Kingfisher, Water Rail (out in the open), Little Egret and Barn Owl. Moving on through the Lexhams, we added ducks, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal and other water fowl including Grey Heron and Moorhen, together with Greylag and Egyptian Geese. Litcham Common gave us some woodland species, Nuthatch, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits and the first of our sightings of Bramblings.

Attracted by various bodies of water around the Raynhams, Creaking Gate and Bittering Pits, we picked up more species Shoveller, Tufted, Wigeon, together with our first Coot. A rather ambitious sortie into one area of diggings, saw our vehicle up to its axles in soft mud but low-range, 4WD extricated us from this potentially embarrassing situation.

By now we were encountering more WVBS groups and, by the time we called it a day, we’d ticked at least five of these teams. Our raptors included, Tawny (as well as Barn) Owl, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Common Buzzard and our thrushes comprised Song, Mistle, Redwing and Fieldfare. A point picked up by several of the NarVOS teams was the relatively high numbers of Jays. As usual, we all commented on the fact that we’d ‘failed’ on a number of supposedly common species but this happens every year. A thoroughly good day was enjoyed by Team PISA which spent 99% of its time in the joint NarVOSWVBS territory and came up with 64 species, against a total for NarVOS of 88 (Given the WVBS total of 89, there has been a call for a re-count!).

This event was clearly a very enjoyable and successful day. Since then, the committee have had some discussion as to whether, in running it as a “bird race”, we have actually moved away from the original intention of holding a comprehensive count of all the species that we, as a club, could record in the Wensum Valley area in one day. Some of the reports suggest that there were other participants that have had similar thoughts too. Should we drop the competitive nature of this event, and in future use it as a strictly scientific recording exercise? What do you think? If we were to revert to an annual count only, with no competition between teams, would you be more or less inclined to attend? Please let your committee know.
Many thanks to everyone who wrote a report, and to Cath Robinson for the lovely photos (including the Pale Morph Common Buzzard at Sculthorpe Moor).
Alan Hughes

Field Trip: Lynford Arboretum and Cockley Cley Sunday 24th February

Leader/Coordinator: Ray Gribble Reporter & Bird List: Paul Jeffery

As the day dawned, a frost lay on the ground, however with the clear night the sun was soon warming the day. We all began to gather in the car park at Lynford Arboretum a Song Thrush serenaded us in, singing from a high and invisible position. Alas, a song all too seldom heard nevertheless one of my favourite songsters. Ray Gribble freshly arrived back from New Zealand was looking for someone to keep the birds list and write the report, some fool took the bait (!).
With all of Ray’s twenty followers all gathered he gently led the way up the slope into the Arboretum. It wasn’t long before the usual woodland species were on hand, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit. The tree arching over the track was host to an obliging Treecreeper, high up in a Larch, Brambling and Siskin too. Other birders were suggesting are best chance of Firecrest was on the other side of the Arboretum where the Snowdrops were, walking across to the suggested location shards of light pierce through the trees illuminating the woodland floor and the little white flowers too. We toiled away here but there was no Firecrest forthcoming.
Ray lead us down the hill to the lake and to the horse paddock which just so happened to have cattle today. The cattle had grazed the grass short ideal for finding Hawfinch – if only they were there. The lake had added some common additions to the list but on the opposite side of the bridge a superb Water Rail foraged in the reeds oblivious to its audience. Eventually a splendid pair of Crossbill would come to drink here too, affording excellent views of this species. Our stay overlooking the paddock was protracted, our quarry bird long since departed roost and disappearing into the forest. A distant Goshawk and Woodlark was seen over the paddock, a Mistle Thrush came down to feed. Just as we were about to move on three Hawfiches were seen briefly by the few.
We had received fresh information of a Firecrest by the folly so up the hill we went. Once again the bird was nowhere to be seen. On the feeders here Nuthatch and Marsh Tit came and went, still no quarry bird. All of a sudden Alwyn was shouting “Lesser-spotted Woodpecker”, sadly the bird took to flight all too soon and was not relocated, flying over the trees into the distance – time for lunch. At lunch Alwyn took his leave as he was lunching elsewhere but he had certainly earned his early departure.
With lunch taken we investigated the nearby lakes, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Egyptian Goose, Teal and Tufted Duck were added to the list. There was an open rough piece of land Ray suggested we should look at. Despite all the Sunday walkers along with the little doggie friends out and about here it was somewhat surprising to find two Woodlark still here, they gave us a wonderful flight views over our heads. Walking back to the car park there was some fresh news on the Firecrest front. Walk to the road, turn left and look at the trees opposite the swings; well we had nothing to lose, it was our final chance. We had barely all arrived by the swings when Phil yelled out “Firecrest”. The beautiful little bird was flitting in and out of the sunlit Ivy, working its way higher and higher into the open branches. It was a certainly a workout for the neck muscles, time to move on.
Cockley Cley Warren was the next port of call and hopefully there would be some Goshawks to see. It was now early afternoon but the Goshawks were showing superbly well on arrival, some large female Sparrowhawks too just to test our metal. Common Buzzard were numerous over the distant woodland too, closer to hand a superb pair of Crossbill were perched in a nearby tree. Some common farmland species were also added to the day’s list.
With our fill of Goshawks complete Cockley Cley Wood was the next port of call in the hope of a Willow Tit. Despite yet another wait, there was no Willow Tit coming to the feeding station, it was mid afternoon perhaps they had had their feed for the day. Over head there were plenty of Brambling feeding on Fir Cones. We all began to set off towards the cars a superb male Bullfinch alighted in a tree top and Mealy and Lesser redpoll were here too, rounding the trip off nicely. We had been specialising rather than generalising but we recorded 58 species for the day without seeing a cloud in the sky all day.

Species list for the field trip is 58, 57 I saw plus Hawfinch which I didn’t:-

1) Mute Swan 2) Greylag Goose 3) Canada Goose 4) Egyptian Goose 5) Shelduck 6) Gadwall 7) Teal 8) Mallard 9) Tufted Duck 10) Red-legged Partridge 11) Pheasant 12) Cormorant 13) Grey Heron 14) Little Grebe 15) Red Kite 16) Goshawk 17) Sparrowhawk 18) Common Buzzard 19) Water Rail 20) Moorhen 21) Coot 22) Oystercatcher 23) Black-headed Gull 24) Lesser-blacked Backed Gull 25) Stock Dove 26) Woodpigeon 27) Great-spotted Woodpecker 28) Lesser-spotted Woodpecker 29) Magpie
30) Jackdaw 31) Rook 32) Carrion Crow 33) Goldcrest 34) Firecrest 35) Blue Tit 36) Great Tit 37) Coal Tit 38) Marsh Tit 39) Long-tailed Tit 40) Nuthatch 41) Treecreeper 42) Wren 43) Starling 44) Blackbird 45) Song Thrush 46) Mistle Thrush 47) Robin 48) Dunnock 49) Brambling 50) Chaffinch 51) Bullfinch 52) Lesser Redpoll 53) Mealy Redpoll 54) Crossbill 55) Goldfinch 56) Siskin 57) Yellowhammer 58) Hawfinch

It is a job to know what birds 21 people saw: There was a shout out for a Raven at Cockley Cley Warren – they have been recorded in the area three times this year. However I was stood next to Ray and I believe we both saw two Rooks, I didn’t see a Corvid bigger the a Rook, and I didn’t hear a Raven call, I have omitted this from the list. There are some common birds missed too – House Sparrow and Greenfinch are the obvious ones, whilst I didn’t hear or see Redwing or Fieldfare either.


Field Trip: Breydon Water & Burgh Castle 23rd March 2019

Leader/coordinator: Sue Gale

Reporters: Lucy Topsom & Glenn Collier

A small group of members met up in Asda Car Park, Great Yarmouth, not for their weekly shop but to explore Breydon Water at high tide. A few species were seen from the Car Park including Common, Herring, Black Headed and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Goldfinches, Pied Wagtail and two Linnets flying over.

The walk took us under the main bridge for approx. 300 yards to scan the water and marshes. Some of the highlights seen were several Snipe feeding in the water’s edge, Avocet, Little Egret, Curlew, Pintail, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Shelduck, Black Tailed Godwits and Buzzards. After exhausting the area, the eager birders made their way back to their cars to travel further along the estuary to Burgh Castle. No luck with Bittern, but male and female Marsh Harrier, Sparrow Hawk, Kestrel, Water Rail (heard only), Cormorant, Common Sandpiper, a distant Greenshank was heard calling and we heard and saw our first Chiffchaffs of the Spring. It has been a long time since we’ve birded Burgh Castle and we had forgotten just how beautiful the view point is which overlooks Breydon Water. It’s well worth taking a look.

A total of 63 birds were seen for the morning. A Muntjac, Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Comma and Brimstone butterflies added to the total.

A few of us had to leave by early afternoon but some birders went elsewhere for the afternoon.

Field Trip: Woodcock Walk  13th April 2019  Coordinator: Mary Walker

Reporter: Mary Walker

Norwich midday, the hail pelted down and the Easterly wind blew. Was this to be another ill-fated walk for WVBS members? Last years’ event at Sculthorpe Moor, Hawk and Owl Trust was cancelled as the reserve was flooded. Heading towards Fakenham we were met by gritters. My heart sank and I feared the worst.

Pulling into the already busy car park at Sculthorpe, twenty WVBS members cheerily grinned beneath several layers of coats, hats and gloves. A full turn out, brimming with anticipation.

Nigel Middleton was all ready for us, and following a short video clip about Woodcock, we were wired up with the “Whisperers” (i.e. listening devices). This enabled Nigel to walk a good distance in front, with the back markers still able to clearly hear everything he said.

We worked our way slowly to the Whitley Hide, where Nigel and Sculthorpe volunteer/WVBS member Lin Garland expertly served us delicious home-made soup: Pea & Mint or Leek & Potato. A very sociable time was spent scanning the fen whilst enjoying supper. Dusk was falling so only a few TEAL, GADWELL, PHEASANTS, and a single MARSH HARRIER were about.

A slow meander back to the normally off-limits area where Nigel hoped to find WOODCOCK quickly became a march, as shouts of “overhead” and “behind us” rang out.

The WOODCOCK announced their arrival by the males giving 3-4 grunted noises followed by high pitched, short explosive sounds. When they encountered a rival in the air, there was a frenetic plip-plip pissp psi-plip. Nigel believes he has two pairs present, with the dominant male continually circling us.

By the end of the evening, when we could barely see each other in the dark, we all reckoned we could identify the WOODCOCK call, and we certainly had excellent views.

Nigel had brought his thermal imaging camera in the hope that the WOODCOCK would land on the ground, but it was not to be.

An excellent evening and huge thanks are extended to Nigel & Lin for all their hard work, and making WVBS so very welcome.

N.B. Nigel has suggested that WVBS may be interested in participating in a Glow Worm walk with him at Sculthorpe. This would be in high summer, with approximate timings of 9p.m to midnight. Full details will be circulated when received. Bird List
Magpie Rook Great Spotted Woodpecker Woodpigeon Great Tit Greenfinch Chaffinch Blue Tit Collared Dove Dunnock Red Kite Ling-tailed Tit Tufted Duck Treecreeper Marsh Harrier Pheasant Cormorant Reed Bunting Greylag Goose Woodcock Canada Goose Song Thrush Mute Swan Common Snipe Mallard Robin Goldfinch Teal Moorhen Buzzard Tawny Owl

Total: 31 species


Field Trip: Cantley Sugar Beet Factory  28th April 2019 Leader/Coordinator: Mary Walker


Reporters: Sue Gale & Ray Gribble

Cantley Beet Factory doesn’t sound like a promising venue for a bit of birdwatching, but it turns out it is a very good one. Around 17 members assembled in the beet factory car park, after being granted a pass by Security, in spite of the very grey skies looming over us. It managed to rain on and off for the whole morning, but the birds didn’t seem to mind as much as some of us. Of course, the star turn at this time of year, and the first bird many of us saw, is the Peregrine Falcon. A pair is nesting on the tallest tower, and before we left we watched one of them settle on to what must be a clutch of eggs. First thing, however, there was just one on a nearby tower, hiding from the rain and facing inwards as if disgruntled.
The walk along the riverside walkway produced a surprising variety of birds among the shrubs and trees on our side of the river and the reeds on the other. Frequent discussions could be heard. Was that a Sedge or a Reed? Was that Blackcap or Garden? There were newly arrived warblers aplenty to test our rusty ID skills. By the time they leave again we will be better – perhaps. Continuing Eastwards we found ourselves beside one of the very large pools that cover much of the area, and heading out to a great view over the marshes at the end. Whitethroats added to the warbler count, and a Cetti’s was heard. We were thrilled to see a party of 6 Whimbrel in the field, plus a Reed Bunting, the first of many, and Marsh Harrier. Perhaps our only disappointment was the failure to find Yellow Wagtails among the many groups of cattle. Perhaps they have moved on, or just found shelter from the rain.
The return walk included some woodland and small natural pools, as well as interesting waste ground that is well-vegetated and therefore excellent habitat. The total count was 58 species, and with longer, or more clement weather, more would doubtless be added, such as migrant waders like the Green Sandpiper. We all thought the site worth a future visit. Many thanks to Mary Walker for organising and leading the walk.
Bird List
Jackdaw Lesser Black-backed Gull Woodpigeon Herring Gull Black-headed Gull Carrion Crow Mallard Grey Heron Peregrine Skylark Pied Wagtail Reed Warbler Chaffinch Great Tit Blackcap Wren Mute Swan Whitethroat Blackbird Teal Shelduck Swallow Coot Tufted Duck Gadwall Greylag Goose Cetti’s Warbler Rook Dunnock Stock Dove Buzzard Linnet Goldfinch Sedge Warbler Cormorant Oystercatcher Lapwing Marsh Harrier Meadow Pipit Whimbrel Stonechat Reed Bunting Redshank Starling Snipe Pochard Egyptian Goose Collared Dove Magpie Pheasant Kestrel Jay Robin Song Thrush Little Egret Blue Tit Willow Warbler Greenfinch

Total: 58 species


Field Trip: Dawn Chorus Walk at Pensthorpe Natural Park  11th May

Coordinator: Ray Gribble

Leaders: Glenn Collier and Lucy Topsom
Reporters: Alan Hughes & Steve Chapman

It was a cool, damp and cloudy 6am when a couple of dozen club members assembled in the staff car park at Pensthorpe, to begin the annual Dawn Chorus walk (a little later than usual as staff members had to be present for insurance purposes). We took the route around the park familiar to those of us that conduct the regular monitoring sessions there, stopping off along the way to look out from the hides. The gravel paths proved challenging as the noise from our footsteps tended to mask the sound of birdsong, but with regular stops to listen quietly, and thanks to the brilliant ears of Glen and Lucy, we gradually built up a decent list of species, and we were all able to revise and learn our bird songs and calls. Thankfully, the rain held off until we were finally walking back to the café, where the kitchen staff served us a lovely cooked breakfast – a great end to a lovely birding walk. Many thanks to Ray for organising this with Pensthorpe, and to Glenn and Lucy for leading the walk and guiding us.

Bird List
Firecrest Blackbird Robin Oystercatcher Woodpigeon Collared Dove Barnacle Goose Goldcrest Wren Rook Blue Tit Songthrush Canada Goose Dunnock Goldfinch Moorhen Greylag Goose Greenfinch Swallow Mallard Lesser Black-backed Gull Common Gull Shoveler Tufted Duck Coot Long-tailed Tit Blackcap Garden Warbler Black-headed Gull Shelduck Reed Warbler Reed Bunting Lapwing Herring Gull Great Tit Stock Dove Chaffinch Willow Warbler Skylark Magpie Little Egret Cetti’s Warbler Pochard Gadwall Pintail Little Grebe Common Tern Teal Carrion Crow Sand Martin Coal Tit Swift Sedge Warbler Chiffchaff Treecreeper Cuckoo Nuthatch Buzzard Green Woodpecker Great-spotted Woodpecker Whitethroat Jay Cormorant Little Ringed Plover House Martin Grey Heron Egyptian Goose Linnet House Sparrow Avocet Red Kite Kestrel Sparrowhawk Hobby

Total : 74 species



Pensthorpe Bird & Wildlife Fair 18th & 19th May 2019

Reporter: Keith Walker

Nineteen intrepid members trekked around Pensthorpe doing their loyal duty. There was enjoyment, tremendous merriment and an amazing discovery of hidden skills, with intense rivalry amongst the sales staff as to who could sell the most new memberships. Meanwhile the Guides beavered away!!!: They managed to find two Knot in breeding plumage, a Sanderling and a Garganey, amongst other more common sightings.

The end result was the coffers of the Society grew by c £300 and thirteen new members signed up. The enduring memory for me was the elfin Bill Oddie being pursued by Helen Jones who obtained his signature to two second hand books with his name on, which swelled our coffers. It looked like a scene from The Goodies!!

We are grateful to our friends Oriole Birding who donated a Grand Draw prize of a day out for two in Norfolk.

A big thanks to all members who helped including those who also donated items to sell. This includes Alan Fordham whose generosity with unwanted bird books led to the inspiration of selling them on the stand, which in itself was a bait to lure people into the hands of our predatory sales people.


Holme NNR and Dersingham Bog. 24th June 2019

Co-ordinator Alan Hughes

Reporters Nick Edwards

Field Trip: NWT Holme Dunes Reserve and Dersingham Bog (22.06.2019)
Leader/Coordinator: Alan Hughes
Reporter: Nick Edwards

Dear reader this is the tale of twelve birders who visited Holme and Dersingham Bog. If you are sitting comfortably I will begin……….

We met at Holme NWT car park at a little before 2pm. After introductions, we started off with our first bird a Mediterranean Gull flying over the car park. We began our walk following a path near the dunes in search of more birds. After a slow start the bird count made it to 10 with Goldfinch, we had lots of common birds along the pathway with Linnets being the most common. A Yellow Shell Moth made it on the list as well as Cinnabar Moth and a dragonfly with its lunch.

As we moved away from the dunes and made our way to the road, we came across lots of orchids: After a lot of head scratching and conferring about what type they were the day was saved by the appearance of NWT warden Gary who not long ago gave us a wonderful talk on Holme NWT reserve. He was quick to point out the following orchid species:- Bee Orchid Southern Marsh Orchid Early Marsh Orchid Common Spotted White Orchid Pyramidal Orchid Plus, a lot of Latin names which, dear reader, the writer of this report could not spell let alone say! On we walked with Kestrel bringing up bird number 20 to our list. We carried on down to the road and looked across the grazing fields at more birds, mostly Common Redshank, Marsh Harrier and Lapwing. We turned back up the road to walk to the bird hides and could hear a reeling Grasshopper Warbler, but after a stop and long hard look we failed to see the reeling bird so we carried on to the bird hides: Avocet, Sedge Warbler and Coot (number 30) and many more common birds made it our list. Bird number 40 was a Swift. Time was ticking on now, so off to the car park and there we said our goodbyes to 3 of  our group. The remaining 9 made off to the golf course and after parking up walked across the Hunstanton golf course to the beach, where we soon added lots more birds: Bird number 49 was a Curlew and then with great excitement Tony shouted out “Big Dipper, Skegness” which from our position on the beach was clearly visible in the distance. Bird 50 was a Common Tern… Little Tern, Sandwich Tern also made our growing list. We then decided it was time to head to Eric’s fish and chip shop. So as we slowly walked off the beach, a male Cuckoo flew directly over our heads and as we watched this bird fly into the distance Alan heard a Turtle dove giving its distinct call. Within seconds, hawk-eye Ray had located the bird for the group and everyone had excellent views of this red-listed bird This wonderful picture was taken by Steve… Many thanks for this.

Once back to our cars we had to say goodbye to another of our group, so now the 8 of us drove to Eric’s where waiting to join our group we found Laura. After some wonderful fish and chips, and dear Reader, I can tell you that they were very yummy, we then drove in convoy to Dersingham Bog arriving just before 8pm. After a short walk we settled down to look for Stonechat and any other birds Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay along with Pheasant made our list as well. And also Woodcock flying in the distance. At about 9.30 we had a Nightjar churring but only briefly Then two males were spotted and they then flew right over our heads giving us
great views of these wonderful birds. Then the whole area seemed to wake up with Nightjars churring Then we were treated to some wonderful fly-pasts by female Nightjars One female hovered only yards in front of the group. At about 10.30pm our small but happy band of birders called it a day and what a day it was. Thank you everyone who came along you were all great company and good fun. That’s what birding is about.

Thank you, Alan, for leading a happy group of birders.

Species List:- Mediterranean Gull Chiffchaff Black-headed Gull Magpie Skylark Linnet Oystercatcher Woodpigeon Herring Gull Goldfinch Yellowhammer Meadow Pipit Buzzard House Martin Marsh Harrier Stonechat Little Egret Common Whitethroat
Lapwing Kestrel Shelduck Barn Swallow Stock Dove Common Redshank Wren Bullfinch Grasshopper Warbler(h) Moorhen Grey Heron Avocet Coot Sedge Warbler Egyptian Goose Tufted Duck Gadwall Greylag Goose Mallard Starling Jackdaw Swift Blackcap Chaffinch House Sparrow Great Tit Cuckoo Sandwich Tern Little Tern Lesser Black-backed Gull Cormorant Ringed Plover Gannet Greenfinch Turtle Dove Grey Wagtail Jay Great Spotted Woodpecker Pheasant Woodcock Nightjar Raven

Total = 60 species


Upton Fen. Saturday 6th July 2019.

Leader Dr Pam Taylor

Coordinator: Mary Walker
Reporter: Barry Pummel (an Upton Veteran!)

Disappointing day to go Dragonflying, but we were all keen to start. Some veterans and a few having their first visit to this magical site.
Our guide for the visit was Dr. Pam Taylor, a highly respected Dragonfly expert, who gave the group an illustrated talk a few weeks ago at Lenwade HQ.
Pam is the county dragonfly recorder for Norfolk.
As the weather was cool and damp, Pam warned us that we would have to search to find our insects. We quickly tracked down a Southern Hawker (male), just emerged from the night before and waiting for the sunshine to take its maiden flight. Ideal to have very close views and detailed description by Pam.
This continued throughout the morning and after 3 hours of searching we arrived back at the car park.

Species Lists:-
Norfolk Hawker Aeshna isoceles
Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea
Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
Four Spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata
Emerald Lestes sponsa
Blue Tailed Ischnura elegans
Common Blue Enallagma cyathigerum
Azure Blue Coneagrion puella
Variable Blue Coneagrion pulchellum
Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum
Butterflies Moths
Meadow Brown Common Carpet
Ringlet Burnett Moth
Large White
Small White
Green veined White
Marsh Tit Woodpigeon Blue Tit Great Spotted Woodpecker Swift Chaffinch Blackcap Reed Bunting Lapwing Reed Warbler Stonechat Long-tailed Tit Jackdaw Swallow Mallard Black-headed Gull Marsh Harrier Chiffchaff Marsh Harrier Lesser Black-backed Gull Grey Heron Great Tit Sedge Warbler Carrion Crow Wren Cormorant Pheasant Goldfinch House Martin Collared Dove Willow Warbler Common Whitethroat

Total = 49 species.
A good list for the day.
Upton Fen is also is also rich and diverse for its plant species, some unique to Norfolk and UK. Perhaps another visit is called for?
Pam Taylor was delighted to receive donations of £79 for the British Dragonfly Society from members who were on the walk. Thanks to Mary for organising such a wonderful morning.


Field trip: RSPB’s Frampton Marsh Reserve Saturday 24th August.

Leader/Coordinator: Alan Hughes.

Reporter: David Laurie. Bird list compilers: Nick Edwards and Steve Chapman.

A day of blue sky and high wispy cloud found us travelling the flatlands of Lincolnshire to the west of the Wash. Gathering at the car park for a 9:30 start, it was already warm as we watched a charm of sixty plus Goldfinch and passing Little Egrets, Sand Martins and Swallows.
Waders aplenty were visible from the Visitor Centre, with numerous Black-tailed Godwits, Knots and a Common Sandpiper. Down the road towards the sea wall we passed a strip of bright sunflowers and in the pools to our left we could see over a dozen Spoonbills showing typical behaviour (standing on one leg, fast asleep) and an Emperor dragonfly cruising in suitably imperious fashion.

Pools to the right held Wood and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruff, Snipe, Little Ringed and Golden Plover while four Greenshanks flew over, calling in their inimitable way. The long-staying Long-billed Dowitcher had been seen earlier, but when we arrived it had disappeared. We moved onto the sea wall and turning left on the “Wash Trail” found a Wheatear and some splendid Yellow Wagtails among the saltmarsh cattle while a pool on the landward side gave us good views of a Little Stint. Further along, the main group caught up with others who had gone ahead in search of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper: And there it was, beautiful and obligingly active.
Heading on to the hides the breeze that cooled us on the sea wall disappeared, leaving the paths to collect the heat to soup-like thickness. Inside the hides, especially the 360, we had closer views of waders, including Spotted Redshank, and the Spoonbills (still asleep). Little Grebes were seen but according to the visitor centre volunteers the Black-necked Grebes that nested this year were no longer present. A minor miss on an already excellent day.
With so many birds to see we had made slow progress and stomachs were reminding us it was lunchtime, so it was back to the car park to collect provisions. The visitor centre picnic area had nesting Swallows and an impressive Wasp Spider in among the vegetation, complete with its own celebrity poster board. A first for the reserve, and the most Northerly record so far in the UK, it is a colonizer like the Little Egret so expect one to appear in a garden near you soon. For more info see the photo gallery at

After reviving ourselves it was out to the sea wall again in search of the elusive Dowitcher, pausing on the way to view some splendid Whinchats. Turning right this time we went along the “Grassland Trail” to find the bird showing well in the pool below. A large wader, similar in size to a Greenshank but considerably chunkier, it looked dark compared to nearby Black-tailed Godwits and I wondered if I would have picked it out it if I had been on my own. Probably not: which illustrates one of the numerous benefits that come from WVBS membership. I joined in January and the more experienced of you will know this, of course.

It was now 2:30 and with the Dowitcher seen and the temperature climbing further most of our party headed back to the visitor centre and the cars, while three of us, more hardy (or foolhardy) than the rest, continued the long way round. The sea bank and the viewpoint where the path turns inland are good places to see raptors and though we saw distant Marsh Harrier and Kestrel this was really a day to appreciate the reserve’s array of waders. The remainder of the trail showed none of the hoped for Turtle Doves (though they were seen elsewhere), but we added Wigeon and Tufted Duck alongside more Little Egrets. Quiet though it was, bird wise, it afforded a striking contrast between the arable landscape on our left and the reserve to our right. Fields itself not so long ago, Frampton is now a mix of reedbed, scrapes and wet grassland teeming with wildlife and contented visitors.

Many thanks to Alan for organizing and leading this very enjoyable outing, and to Nick and Steve for compiling the bird list (69 species).
Buzzard, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Greylag Goose, Common Sandpiper, Ruff, Pied Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Little Grebe, Redshank, Knot, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, Canada Goose, Spoonbill, Snipe, Reed Bunting, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Swallow, Goldfinch, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Magpie, Starling, Green Sandpiper, Lapwing, House Martin, Sand Martin, Mallard, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Golden Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Herring Gull, Spotted Redshank, Wheatear, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Teal, Oystercatcher, Marsh Harrier, House Sparrow, Feral Pigeon, Swift, Sedge Warbler, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Whinchat, Blackbird, Long-billed Dowitcher, Stock Dove, Turtle Dove, Chiffchaff, Robin, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wigeon.
And eight more seen by Steve Chapman later on after the meet: Peregrine, Crow, Turnstone, Hobby, Short-eared Owl, Whimbrel, Linnet, Common Gull.


Field Trip to Breydon Water and RSPB Strumpshaw – Sunday 29th September

Leader/coordinator: Ray Gribble

Reporter: Liz Bridge

Weather forecast worrying, but ten of us were optimistic and met at Asda car park in Yarmouth. Someone said there were not many birds around the corner under the bridge but, undaunted, we set off and positioned ourselves under the bridge and out of the breeze. High tide was about now. Calls started coming in: ‘look at all the Avocets’; ‘aren’t those Shelduck gorgeous’; Cormorant standing guard. Then more scrutiny: how many Common Redshank do you think there are in the vegetation, impossible to count. A cry about an exciting bird to see at this time of year, a Hobby, and not just one but two, or was it three. One sitting on a post gave a really good view; some discussion about a juvenile but a ‘tick’ nonetheless.
Meanwhile no rain. Gulls came into prominence; Great and Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed. But maybe they are not the most fascinating so we looked at more waders. Along with the Shelduck on the spit there were many Black-tailed Godwit. Suddenly Knot were seen rising up and fluttering their wings as the water moved. That was fun! Then Bar-tailed Godwit was called and sure enough we all saw them. The whole of the time calls of Marsh Harrier came from all quarters. But we had to look at the wildfowl: Mallards obviously, Wigeon and Teal; however, perhaps the best were Pintail, 19 in total I’m told.
Again, back to waders as a lone Oystercatcher was seen and quite a few Curlew but, alas, no Grey Plover or the smaller Dunlin although they might have been hidden by the vegetation. I have almost forgotten Little Egret, a species of which there were quite a few. Oh, and a Pied Wagtail flew over.
Then the inevitable happened, rain drops, so the Asda cafe called and it was time for coffee.
The rain stopped so where shall we go now? A unanimous decision was Strumpshaw and it was on the way home. We had a fine time dodging showers at Strumpshaw. Gathering at the Visitor Centre we watched Marsh Harrier and Red Kite flying in the breeze. What was so surprising was a Red-legged Partridge sitting on a low branch on the edge of the island in the middle of the water, surrounded by Mallard. The feeders showed us Coal, Marsh, Blue and Great Tits and a Pheasant sitting underneath looking rather lonely. After lunch a Chiffchaff was calling by the level crossing as we wended our way down to Fen Hide, hearing a flock of Long-tailed Tits and several Robins on the way. A Kestrel was seen. From the hide a lone Snipe showed how easy it is to miss them, perfectly camouflaged in the cut down reeds. A Cetti’s Warbler sang and ‘squeaks’ called our attention to two young Water Rail with a parent. One Gadwall flew in for a few minutes before taking off again. Stock Dove, Common Gull and a Heron flew past. Sharp eyes spotted a Stonechat atop a dead tree in the middle of the reed bed. A Reed Warbler was flitting about low in the reeds opposite the hide. Heavy rain thundered down on the hide roof but we were safe, not so the poor chap who came in absolutely soaked.
A stroll along to Tower hide, noting a Great Crested Grebe on the river. One lucky member spotted a Kingfisher going from one side of the reeds to the other. The track was a bit wet but not at all muddy as it will be later in the season. We really wanted to see if the Garganey last reported on Friday would come out from hiding in the reeds, but no such luck. But luck we did all have, three sightings of Kingfisher, one as he flew across right in front of the hide. A lot of noisy Mallard along with Gadwall, Teal and Shovelers. More Marsh Harriers regularly seen over the reeds.
Eventually time to go home. We were disappointed to hear we had missed an Osprey flying over Tower Hide.
Many thanks to Ray for standing in so capably to enable the trip to go ahead.
Breydon Water Little Egret Feral Pigeon Redshank Shelduck Common Buzzard Cormorant Greater Black-backed Gull Wigeon Black-headed Gull Avocet
Teal Curlew Carrion Crow Mallard Woodpigeon Oystercatcher Knot Marsh Harrier Heron Lapwing
Pintail Hobby Bar-tailed Godwit Black-tailed Godwit Starling Mute Swan Pied Wagtail Magpie

Strumpshaw Fen Robin Marsh Harrier Coot Cormorant Heron Woodpigeon Red Kite Blackbird Jay Shoveler Canada Goose Reed Bunting Moorhen Jackdaw
Carrion Crow Teal Blue Tit Coal Tit Marsh Tit Pheasant Chiffchaff Long-tailed Tit Kestrel Snipe Chaffinch Stock Dove Common Gull Reed Warbler
Greylag Gadwall Kingfisher Little Egret Little Grebe Great-crested Grebe Sparrowhawk Wren Buzzard Water rail Cetti’s Warbler Stonechat House Martin


November Field Trip: Horsey Wind-pump and Hickling Broad – Sunday 24th November
Leader/Coordinator: David Gibbons

Reporter: Martin Spriggs
Species List: David Gibbons
The weather forecast a grey day for the Club trip to the Horsey grazing marshes and true to promise a party of 12 Club members gathered on the NT carpark with the Horsey Mill stark and tall against a grey sky. Local birds were noted and everyone prepared to set off by 10a.m. –i.e. coffee was taken along with other assorted items, buns, cake etc. Finally, we were off and started along the path by the mill and cut. The first 200metres or so were fine and straightforward along the cut towards the main Hickling Broad. Nothing was seen over the marshes towards Somerton, then ooops! A determined notice informing us that the path was closed for the next 3 months! However, being true Boy Scouts and Girl Guides the entire troop ignored the said notice and gamely set out along the north edge path. We soon discovered that the going was not straightforward. Glutinous mud covered the centre of the path so we had to walk somewhat awkwardly along the irregular edges trying not to slip. To the left the dead reeds spread out into the broad, a beige, ragged carpet ending in a grey line of distant water with a few ducks far away. A boardwalk cut cleanly a clear path through to the thatched boathouse from which ridge two Egyptian Geese regarded our progress with interest. A few Tits were in the scrub to the right of the path but generally little was about. As the route followed the edge of the broad and reeds it became a) more interesting and b) much muddier, a slidey, slippery, single file trek. More interesting as a line of small Birch on the edge of the grass grazing Fleating Meadow became a feeding highway for Long Tailed Tits, Blue and Great Tits, Coal Tits, Wren, and Chiff-chaff. Behind them the taller grasses and reeds forming a cover area on the meadow suddenly shook and deer heads began bobbing up and down as a small 12-strong band of Red Deer dashed along and across the meadow for more cover. Reaching the Bograve water channel we came upon a further, even larger red notice inviting us to retreat and go no further due too, ` works on the bank.` “Oh come on,” it was a Sunday, no one was working, the heavy bucket tractors and cutters were silent so of course, sliding around the fence erected to prevent onward progress we continued! The cut was being dredged out and reeds cut back. The rich, dark, sediment smelling of rotting cabbage being spread along the bank like a thick dark brown layer of treacle cake! Luckily the path on top of the bank was useable. Tits and Cetti’s Warbler accompanied us to the Bograve Drainage mill – derelict, grey against the sky, a single Cormorant sitting forlornly on a jagged cross beam on the old sail arm .Moving back towards habitation around the field paths of Horsey Corner, feeders in a cottage garden attracted Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Starling and Chaffinch whilst on the field a group of 12 Common Gulls loafed . Tall trees were decorated with both Redwings and Fieldfares.

Back at base it was decided to run for Hickling immediately as rumour was that on this day of all days the RSPB were also having a Raptor Watch! OH, OH carparking alert, position on viewing platform- red alert – off we went at speed, well steady speed! Arriving at Hickling the carpark was available (RSPB turned up much later) and whilst lunch was taken more Club members arrived for the p.m. session making a group of now 18. Down the track to the marshes good views of two Cranes were had, just inside the scrub line. More Fieldfares high up in the hedge trees were also seen. Still moving on, we passed the Stubbs Mill and took up positions on the vacant viewing platform. As the light faded the 20 or so RSPB group arrived, the area began to look crowded. Marsh Harriers were slow to appear but came in as singles, each taking up a perch on the taller scrub. One bird, one bush. A Merlin had been seen earlier but failed to put in a further appearance. At least a dozen Harriers were scattered around as entertainment came from a Barn Owl flying back and forth along the marsh edge. A Kestrel tried to discourage it but failed. Cranes were nowhere in sight, shame. By the time daylight was beginning to die at least 45 watchers with a forest of `scopes crowded the platform. On my arrival back at the carpark it was almost dark and my final magical sounds were of a skein of Pink-footed Geese passing over head chatting away to each other and a single call from a distant Crane out on the marsh. An excellent, if muddy and grey day.

Species List:-

Starling Woodpigeon Collared Dove Blue Tit
Buzzard Jay Magpie Carrion Crow
Pheasant Blackbird Robin Common Gull
Pink-footed Goose Lapwing Little Egret Kestrel
Skylark Egyptian Goose Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull Great Tit Chaffinch Dunnock
Long-tailed Tit Marsh Harrier Green Woodpecker Wren
Golden Plover Cetti’s Warbler Water Rail Mallard
Chiffchaff Jackdaw Stonechat Cormorant
Redwing Fieldfare Grey Heron Teal
Wigeon Kingfisher Meadow Pipit Goldfinch
House Sparrow Coal Tit Great Spotted Woodpecker
Greenfinch Stock Dove Yellowhammer Linnet
Curlew Rook Goldcrest Common Crane
Shoveler Bearded Tit Barn Owl Reed Bunting
Greylag Goose Moorhen Pied Wagtail Tawny Owl
Mute Swan Black-headed Gull.
64 species.


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