Field Trips in 2016

Sunday 3rd January – Annual Winter Count

reporter David Knight

Twenty members forming seven teams started promptly at 8.00 am from various parts ofIMG_2655 the valley for our annual Winter Count. The morning was bright and relatively mild. We set out eagerly hoping to get the best total species of the day and lift that elusive trophy. Our recording sheet was filling up nicely. Some unexpected purple spots were, regrettably, balanced by blanks in expected spots We knew the weather forecast was rain for the afternoon so we pressed on with some haste and our legs crossed.
As we stopped for a bite about mid-day at Sparham Pools having missed the Goosander(s) the first drops of rain began. It got gradually worse and the next hours was a real trial. As you all know we Wensum Valley birders are made of strong stuff and all that but as the light faded and the rain got wetter I for one was already looking forward to that tea and cake and we still had some hours to go! As we, finally,drew into Great Witchingham’s new sumptuous village hall it was almost dark and still the rain continued to fall. We were a bit early and Peter and Ruth were still setting up but the lights and warmth of the hall were very welcome.and in no time hot drinks and cake were being served. Lin called the teams to order and ran through the lists to announce that a combined species total was an amazing 89.(same as last year)Then to the main item -the winning team total and trophy winners.-which this year turned out to be 3 Men and a Baby consisting of Steve Chapman,Ray Gribble,Joe Harkness and Richard Norris with a total of 77 species! What a great total and many congratulations.

 Our thanks must go to Lin Pateman ( and of course Phil )who organised the event,Ruth and Peter Harris for setting up the hall and organising the hot drinks and Mary Walker for supplying the cakes. Great day! Great company! More members should try it. You don’t know what you are missing.

Results as follows:-
3 Men & a Baby; Steve Chapman, Ray Gribble, Joe Harkness, Richard Norris – 77
Valley Searchers; Lucy Topsom, Glenn Collier – 73
Wensum Wonders; Lin Pateman, Sue Gale, Mary Walker – 69
House Sparrows; Lin Garland;Brian Bosley;Peter Lambley – 66
Kingfisher Dip; Bernie Marsham; Paul Adams; David Knight – 64
Hawkeyes; David Gibbons; Alan Fordham; Phil Borley – 63
Kestrels; Paul Riley; Ian Brittain – 62

 

Sunday 31st January  – Field Trip to the North Norfolk Coast    

coordinator Phil Borley           

report by  Martin Spriggs

Thanks to Phil and Lin for leading and for providing some excellent birding unfortunately the Long Tailed Ducks present for some time were nowhere to be seen buts that’s life! 9 a.m. saw a 15 strong group of WVBS members gathering in Red Indian style around an enormous puddle in the first car park at Holme.  Some of us only arrived with 2 minutes to spare but rapidly put on maximum cover against the cold, strong, wind and joined all the others on top of the sand dunes overlooking Gore Point. We had a 360 degree view of the sea, saltmarsh, serpentine water, dunes and fresh marshes inland. Quickly spotters called out names to the scribe — Curlew (large overhead flock), Little Egret, Marsh Harriers(more than one), Barn Owl, Lapwing, Little Grebe (on the serpentine) Peregrine (leaving the area), Magpie (being chased by a starling) and a superb view of a Merlin. This last perched for some time on the top of a nearby bramble bush. Then from over Chosely way came a faint flock of geese, getting larger as they approached, the flock was 2000 ish strong and all came whiffling down onto the fresh marsh — Pink- footed Geese, great. Various waders were also spotted, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover 80+ and out at sea a large group of Scoter including one Velvet. By this time the cold wind was taking its toll and it was unanimously decided to head for the now open visitor centre for coffee and a warm up. One or two stayed out searching the Broadwater from the bank and finding Gadwall, Teal, Pochard and common passerines. Now through the Pines we wended and arriving at the beach set out towards Thornham to find the Shore Larks seen in this area. We did see Red Throated Diver , Merganser(male) and a Golden eye flying by as if the shops were about to close! Finally having walked quite a way along the shingle and sand three beautiful little shore Larks were seen busily foraging in the down slope of the shingle. We watched them for some time before heading back to the Centre. After a pause for sustenance Thornham was hit. At the end of the harbour lane the `resident` flock of Twite entertained, on the roof of the Coal Barn and all around in the dykes and marsh. Continuously coming and going. A Rock Pipit trundled up and down the sides of the dyke, beautifully camouflaged as `mud`. Four seal were spotted hauled out on the mud. Well below the edge of the dyke and so out of the wind! Three Barn Owls patrolled the distant wood edge and grazing marsh.(We saw 5 in all and I saw 2 on the way over to Holme and 1 on the way back home). The light was becoming dull and a reduced number of birders pushed on to Ringstead Downs. There in a `particular` field a large group of buntings festooned the bare hedge line. 100+ Yellow Hammers were counted along with 50+ Corn Bunting, Goldfinch, Brambling and Linnet. The 8 or so remaining of the party now split further with 6 going on to Flitcham in search of Hen Harriers and  Tree Sparrows — but that’s another story………  .

A total of 88 species recorded for the day.


Saturday 6th February 2016 – A Morning Walk at Sparham Pools NR     

coordinator Alwyn Jackson

report by Alwyn Jackson

Six members walked round the southern and eastern margins of the NWT’s Sparham Pools Nature Reserve before heading east along the public footpath towards Lenwade to enter the Sparham Hall Farm fishing lakes area (with kind permission of Charles Sayer).  After spending some time searching the pools and surrounding trees and scrub they retraced their steps to explore some of the valley side via the permissive paths on Sparham Hall Farm before returning to their cars.

The weather remained dry despite the forecast to the contrary and the group enjoyed some good views of the birds they found as well as completing a count of all the birds they saw or heard.

The highlights were – a serenading Mistle Thrush as we met at the car park;  three flocks of Siskin totalling approximately 120 birds;  a close encounter with two Goldcrests as they were busy searching for their insect prey in a boundary hedgerow apparently oblivious of our presence;  an adult female Marsh Harrier which Eileen Wyatt spotted flying west along the valley side and a male Goosander flushed from the river by two dogs accompanied by their rather noisy owner.

In total the group recorded 43 species (recorded by Steve Chapman):-

Black-headed Gull 18, Blackbird 3, Blue Tit 10, Canada Goose 12, Carrion Crow 3, Chaffinch 12, Coal Tit 1, Common Gull 3, Coot 1, Cormorant 4, Dunnock 2, Gadwall 17, Goldcrest 4, Great Tit 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Greenfinch 1, Grey Heron  2, Greylag Goose 2, Jackdaw c60, Jay 3, Linnet 12, Little Egret 1, Long-tailed Tit 2, Magpie 3, Mallard 2, Marsh Harrier  1, Mistle Thrush 2, Moorhen 1, Mute Swan 5, Nuthatch 1, Reed Bunting 4, Robin 4, Rook c30, Siskin c200, Skylark 1, Stock Dove 4, Treecreeper 2, Tufted Duck 86, Woodpigeon 50+, Wren 1, Yellowhammer 1.

A very pleasant morning’s birdwatching around one of the valley’s local patches.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Alwyn for arranging and leading this morning walk.

 

28th February –  A  Field Trip to Lynford Arborethum & Santon Downham

coordinators – Glenn Collier & Lucy Topsom

report by Alwyn Jackson & Lucy Topsom

A good number of members met at Lynford Arboretum near Mundford  to enjoy their day IMG_3214together in the Brecks and Thetford Forest. The Arboretum was planted by forestry students when Lynford Hall served as a Forestry Commission forester training school between 1947 and 1957. It contains over 200 species of tree including Serbian Spruce which is extremely rare in the wild. At present the day to day management of the Arboretum is carried out by volunteers from the Friends of Thetford Forest.

The weather was fine, dry and cool as we left the car park to walk the track along the edge of the Arboretum towards the paddock.  Along the way Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Siskin were noted. Arriving at the paddock, a remnant of the former Victorian parkland, it was decided to wait a while to see if a Hawfinch or two would appear in the hornbeam trees. Whilst we waited a Kestrel kept us entertained by its hunting sorties from the overhead wires.

The Hawfinches did not put in an appearance so we retraced our steps a little way into the woodland.  As we crossed the bridge David Gibbons drew our attention to a pair of Little Grebes that had a nest platform on the lake.  As we entered the woodland Marsh Tit and Reed Bunting were added to the day’s list as well as a Great Spotted Woodpecker busily drumming overhead.

As we were about to enter the Arboretum Glenn’s eyes lit up as he glanced towards the paddock once more.  Up went the call “Hawfinch on top of the hornbeam”.  After a little scrambling to get a sight line through the trees everyone was able to enjoy good views of this very special Breckland species.

We progressed through the Arboretum itself and thanks to Phil Borley we were rewarded with good views of Siskins and Lesser Redpolls feeding in the tops of some spruce trees.

After a short coffee break at the car park we made our way to the nearby lake created from former gravel workings. Here we noted a stunning male Goosander, a Little Egret and at least three Great Crested Grebes.  Common Buzzards were seen overhead as we walked alongside the lake but these were quickly forgotten when Steve Chapman flushed two Woodlarks.  Once they settled down to forage amongst the tussocky vegetation we had prolonged but distant views of them.  A very satisfying end to a good morning’s birding.

Our mission for the afternoon : To find the Great Grey Shrike

Destination: Grimes Graves and its many localities.

We had seen most of our target birds during the morning session. However the Great Grey shrike had eluded us so we made this our mission for the afternoon.

We had visited Grimes Graves in the morning session due to a tip off that the shrike had just been located. By the time we arrived fellow birders told us that it had just flown over the pine trees in the distance.

Some thought went into our next destination to try. It may have flown to “Field Barn” which is on the Santon Downham Road by the water tower. We parked and walked along the track on the other side of the pine trees. By the time we got there, we were told by birders that it had just flown over the trees towards Santon Downham. Words that we didn’t want to hear. A bonus was that some members of our Group did see a Goshawk fly through like a bullet.

After more thought and deliberation we went to the track by the level crossing. After a short walk and lots of eye searching the word went up, “I’ve got it!” Oh such sweet words. The whole group managed to get on the Shrike and it showed well in the sun.

We then went on to St Helen’s Car Park and saw it there and then we carried on through the track from the church at Santon ,Ho! – and there it was again….. it was following us! A total of 56 species was recorded for the day.

Our usual thanks go to Lucy and Glenn for a great day.

Saturday 5th March 2016 – A Morning Walk at Sculthorpe Moor 

coordinator – Alwyn Jackson

report by Alwyn Jackson

On a cool, wet and breezy morning nine members of the Society met at the Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve visitor’s centre to take a walk around the only reserve in Norfolk managed by the Hawk and Owl Trust.

The 18 hectare site comprising of woodland, fen and reed bed habitats is nationally and internationally recognised as important for its wildlife.  The boardwalks make access easy for everyone and we followed these throughout our walk.

There are strategically placed bird feeders throughout the reserve and it was at one of these that we encountered at least 35 Siskins with 3 Redpolls.  At others placed near the hides there were close-up views of male and female Bullfinches, at least two smart male Reed Buntings, Nuthatches and three male Brambling tentatively joining the other members of the feeding flock.

A barn Owl made a brief appearance at the entrance to a nest box but realising the poor hunting potential in the wet conditions very quickly returned to the shelter of its adopted home. Two Little Egrets were seeking prey on the newly cleared wetland habitat and in the woodland we had brief views of a Marsh Tit, better views of two Treecreepers intent on finding prey and heard the distinctive song of Coal Tits – sitchu-sitchu-sitchu.

Apart from the birds we also saw a Stoat moving hurriedly in the undergrowth near Woodland Hide and a Muntjac deer below us as we walked towards the new 4 metre high Tower Hide.

In total we recorded 35 species:-

Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Pheasant, Blackbird, Egyptian Goose (2), Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Nuthatch (2+), Long-tailed Tit, Siskin (c100), Lesser Redpoll (3), Woodpigeon (c60+), Bullfinch (8), Buzzard (2), Marsh Tit (2),, Cormorant (4), Treecreeper (2), Grey Heron, Moorhen, Reed Bunting (3), Mallard, Coot, Little Egret (2), Barn Owl (1), Greylag Goose, Goldcrest (heard), Feral Pigeon, Lapwing (40), Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker (heard).

Not bad for such a wet, windy and cold morning. Our grateful thanks to the Hawk and Owl Trust staff and volunteers for their warm and cheerful hospitality during our visit.

Editors note: Once again our thanks go to Alwyn for organising another interesting mornings birding.

Sunday 26th  March –  A Field Trip to Lackford Lakes

coordinator – Alan Fordham

report by  Judy Hubbard

Ten members of WVBS set forth on a bright Easter Saturday morning to explore LackfordIMG_3278 Lakes, a beautiful reserve run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

We were all very eager to start off as the weather forecast was not promising! From the car park a Red Kite was spotted, a Jay flew past and we heard a plethora of bird song. We made our way, on the advice of one of the wardens, to Bernard’s hide to look for the Water Rail.  We were rewarded instead with very close views of two Common Snipe asleep at the waters edge. Red-legged Partridge, Canada Geese, Teal, Gadwall and Black-headed Gulls, along with a Lesser Black-backed gull entertained us with their antics. Two Egyptian geese flew noisily over the hide, and we could clearly hear the Cetti’s Warbler.en members of WVBS set forth on a bright Easter Saturday morning to explore Lackford Lakes, a beautiful reserve run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

We decided to try later for the Water Rail so made our way to the “Winter hide” or “Orchid hide”. Above our heads flew five Redwing and the call of the Chiffchaff was clear to all. This site tells the story of “Charlie the Chiffchaff’s” journey to Lackford from Midar in Morocco. The bird left Midar on 2nd March and arrived at Lackford ten days later.  That is a distance of 1200 miles, twice the length of Great Britain!

On arrival at the hide, where an impressive gull roost occurs over the winter, we were treated to lovely views of Great Crested Grebe, in their full Spring plumage, Teal, Wigeon, Goldeneye, and lots of Tufted Duck. We spotted a single Sand Martin cross the front of the island, a true sign of Spring and the Summer months ahead.

We walked on to Bill’s hide on a path strewn with catkins. A Song Thrush was heard, and from the path the Sand Martin was clearly seen by all.

In Bill’s hide we saw a large group of Shoveler, some Shelduck, and a female Pochard preening away. A Lesser Black-backed gull was on the island along with Black-headed gulls.  We noted that the Moorhens and Egyptian Geese were all in beautiful plumage.  Five Grey Herons were on the far bank, joined by two more, so we guessed there must be a Heronry near by. Little Egret and Oyster Catchers joined the throng, with Cormorants flying over. In the trees those amongst us with sharp eyes spotted Marsh Tit, a Female Reed Bunting and a Tree Creeper.

From here we walked out into an open area.  Good views through the scope of an obliging Redwing, and we could hear Green Woodpecker calling, and noted a Buzzard flying above.

By this time it was decided that lunch was necessary.  The wardens kindly allowed us to use their Educational room to picnic in, and it was great to see the children’s work around the room, very inspirational!

With skies greying up we felt there was no time to lose, and made our way to Steggall’s hide.  The treat here was a pair of Red-crested Pochard. There was another island full of Black-headed gulls, many displaying despite the cold wind ripping across them. Next was Atlas hide where Goldeneye was spotted along with Pochard, Teal and Tufted Duck.

We then started to walk back, and in an Alder tree found several Siskin, a Gold Crest, and a Coal Tit.  Walking on to the Kingfisher bank we spotted a beautiful male Kingfisher who, to our delight, flew into one of the concrete nesting holes! Above our heads, but too high to identify, hirundines flew over.  One of our group caught sight of a mink crossing the path.

This was a day well spent, and above all was made so enjoyable due to the helpfulness of all present. To spend time on a fieldtrip with WVBS, fires your enthusiasm, and encourages you to appreciate Nature with all her beauty.

Lackford Lakes is a great site for both able bodied and disabled visitors.  Birds can be clearly viewed with not an awful lot of effort!  Alan Fordham, our leader, had an app on his phone which displayed the total miles we had walked. 3.42 to be precise! Thanks to Alan for arranging all of this for us. Only one complaint, we never did find the elusive Water Rail!

Saturday 23rd April – Wild about  the Wensum  – Pensthorpe 2016  

coordinator Lin Pateman                                                                    

report by Lin Pateman

A BIG THANK YOU TO: Tony, Joe, Phil, Richard, Rosie, Philip, Josh, Chrissie, Paul, Steve, David  Colin and Ray for making this, such an enjoyable day. We had many little visitors taking away bird finger puppets and lots of interested adults chatting about birding in the Valley. It was a great opportunity for some of us to “network” with the other wildlife and conservation organisations and see lots of familiar faces. I particularly enjoyed sharing time getting to know some of our members a little better and discussing ideas for the club. It was also a great pleasure to meet up again with some of the newly qualified young students, currently working on the breeding programmes at Pensthorpe. The weather started off with heavy sleety showers and strong winds that blew a gazebo away from one stand; progressing to sunshine which brightened excellent views of a wild, white stork circling over the site during the day! Bill Jordan reported at the end of the day that although visitor numbers were down a bit compared to last year, the whole event was a resounding success.

 The Guide in the Hide Team recorded 70 species including the White Stork mentioned above, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Avocets and 2 Little Ringed Plovers. (courtesy Ray Gribble)

 Saturday 23rd April – A Field Trip to the Ted Ellis Trust at Wheatfen

coordinator Mary Walker

report by Mary Walker

Fifteen WVBS members settled down in the Wheatfen Study Centre to watch a short video on the life and work of  naturalist Ted Ellis. Ten minutes later we emerged into the sunlight, struggling with our feelings, and a few of us blinking back a tear or two, just at the remarkable lifetime achievement of one dedicated man – Ted Ellis.

David Nobbs has managed the Reserve for 26 years and he explained his low key management style as Ted Ellis did not believe in any kind of management. Just wilderness.

Wheatfen is tidal and is a spillway to stop Norwich from flooding. The winter of 2015/2016 has been very wet, and only four days before our visit the Reserve was flooded and hence closed. High tide today was 15.30, so no lingering allowed, or we would have very wet boots,

We headed out to Old Mill Marsh, lined by daffodils planted in 1925 by Captain Cockerill. The Flag Irises were just peeping through the cut reed beds. A male and female MARSH HARRIER flew above, and my first REED WARBLER of the year flitted about. Wigwam style piles of cut reeds were waiting to be burned on Smee Loke (the Norfolk term for Wigeon), but David needed a westerly wind to blow the smoke away from the village. Smee Loke has an abundance of flowers in the summer and is the haunt of Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and Red Admiral butterflies.  We paused, hats off, ears cupped, and yes the first CUCKOO of the year was about. Brilliant. He evidently comes back every year to perch in the same dead tree. Working our way down to the River Yare we passed many litter heaps – home for grass snakes. Otters are frequent visitors along the dykes.

SEDGE WARBLERS bounced up and down, singing in their display flight. CHIFFCHAFFS, WILLOW WARBLERS, CETTIS, and BLACKCAPS were calling everywhere. Our first WHITETHROAT had set up territory next to the river. A lucky few had a glimpse of a GARDEN WARBLER. SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS ducked and dived above us. We cupped our ears again, a BITTERN was booming away across the river at Strumpshaw Fen. Very few waterbirds nest at Wheatfen because it is tidal. In less than two short months Wheatfen will be alive with Swallowtail butterflies.

David showed us Ash die back. Very sad. Alongside in the dyke was a mink trap, a young female successfully baited with fish. David marvelled at the wonders of modern technology, that as the trap goes off an alert is sent to a mobile phone so that the mink can be dealt with as soon as possible.

 After lunch in the Study Centre we were shown round Surlingham Wood, the venue for 13 episodes of a  film production “The Secret of Eel Island”. Many mammals including tame otters and magpies were in the cast. Clearings are made in the wood to encourage brambles and honeysuckle to grow, which in turn supports a large colony of White Admiral butterflies. The woodlands are also tidal, very good for ferns and only 350 years old.

At Wheatfen Broad the tide was rapidly approaching, so we hot footed it back to base, just pausing to look at the remains of Ted’s Tree House, built to give him a panoramic  view of his estate. Now just a solitary ladder high above our heads, that Health & Safety would surely rope off. It was hard to believe at very low tide this broad was just mud flats.Before our departure, in true Ted Ellis tradition we were served Tea and Biccies, with water drawn from the Wheatfen well.

 What an enjoyable day. We were very privileged to be taken “off piste” by David, and the depth of his knowledge was amazing.

Thanks to Eileen Wyatt for keeping a bird list, whilst the rest of us splashed in the water and poked at tree stumps. Still children at heart.

Sunday  8th May – A Field Trip for the  Dawn Chorus  

coordinators  Glenn Collier & Lucy Topsom

report by Keith Walker

Wow what a wonderful scorching day to undertake the annual down chorus, which was at a new venue, the UEA in Norwich. Fifty two species were seen in wonderful surroundings.

Fifteen intrepid explorers all parked their cars neatly and quietly, close to the UEA woods where newly arrived Swifts and Swallows dived to greet us. Even before we entered the wood we were greeted by the noise of a Lesser Whitethroat in the hedgerow.

Then an early morning stroll through the cool woods, where we could see the mist rising in the fields. The woods had a resplendent carpet of Bluebells, dotted with Foxgloves. Blackbirds galore were making strident alarm calls , but the Tawny Owl was well hidden. For some of us the first cuckoo called – a late arrival. Last year he was here on 27th April. There was a cacophony of noise from the Green Woodpeckers, and Song Thrushes called everywhere and we saw and heard lots of our regular birding friends.

Out into the daylight to walk along the riverbank, where we were delighted to see lots of new arrivals, including a few Garden Warblers, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Whitethroat and Blackcaps.

Then a walk round the UEA broad where we were lucky to see a family of Great Crested Grebe. Father approached with a fish and one of the three babies left mothers side to rush towards him and was given a breakfast that seemed much to large. Nevertheless it went straight down the hatch of the youngster. Various Gulls, Common Tern, and Kingfisher were on the Broad with the Mallards and Moorhen, and we were startled to see passage visiting Common Sandpipers flitting about.

Then onto the board walk and along the River Yare, passing Snow Flakes in flower, to Cringleford Bridge where we saw Grey Wagtail and Treecreeper. Then back to to our start point where a hearty breakfast awaited and the happy band of travellers  bathed in the morning sunshine.

Thanks to Glenn for his patient teaching and his amazing ability of hearing the slightest of sounds and his encyclopedic knowledge of which bird is making the noise!

A total of fifty two species were seen during the morning

 

Saturday 11th June –  Half-day Birding & Nightjars Evening  at Kelling Heath 

coordinator Phil Borley

report by Jacquie Fenn

A group of over 20 Wensum Valley members met up at Cley Visitors’ Centre on an unexpectedly balmy Saturday afternoon. To start the walk a small group headed towards Steve Gantlet’s garden after hearing about a female Serin that had visited the feeder. He and his wife very kindly gave us written information through the window as to where to look out for the bird. A great start to the day!

 Heading towards the East bank we were serenaded by skylarks, whitethroats, sedge and reed warblers. Marsh Harriers, carrying quite large prey swooped down to nests in the reed bed and two Mediterranean Gulls flew overhead. We had intermittent views of Bearded Tits and saw a young one being fed by the adult on the edge of the reeds. A passing Little Grebe glowed in the sunlight. On the pools Gadwall, Shelduck, Tufted Ducks and Avocets were all busy feeding. It’s good to see such an expanse of water near to the path which makes it easier to see the birds, many of which had chicks in pursuit. Only one Spoonbill looked conspicuously lonely surrounded by Greylags and their chicks on the most seaward pool. One Little Ringed Plover flew in to its partner which was squatting on the grass, hopefully nesting. However, with all the Herring, Black Headed and Greater Black Backed gulls around the likelihood of success was bleak! Meadow Pipits enjoyed dust baths on the path heading towards the new hide where we rested on the bench soaking up the sunshine and the smell of new wood.

At the beach there was very little movement of birds. The horizon blended with the sky in a band of haze. There were distant views of Gannets and nearer ones of Cormorants, three Scoters and Sandwich Terns.

We collected our pre ordered fish and chips from Andrew’s in Holt and headed to Kelling to have our picnic supper. The weather held and Lin even produced Pym’s to accompany the meal! While eating we heard Garden Warbler saw Buzzard and stunning Yellow Hammers. Phil lead us onto the heath in search of Dartford Warbler, Turtle Doves and Nightjars. We had good views of the Turtle doves, perched and in flight, a singing Wood lark sang high up in a dead  tree and some people spotted Dartford Warbler. Just before the rain  two Nightjars were spotted at very close quarters.

 Thanks to Phil for organising the trip. We had a full and enjoyable day with a total of 77 birds.

Species List (compiled by Colin Fenn)

Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mute Swan;Shelduck; Gadwall; Mallard; Shoveler;Teal ;Tufted Duck; Common Scoter; Red-legged Partridge;  Pheasant ; Little Grebe; Gannet; Cormorant; Grey Heron;Little Egret;Marsh Harrier; Buzzard;Moorhen; Coot; Avocet; Oystercatcher ;Ringed Plover; Little Ringed Plover;  Redshank; Curlew; Knot; Black-headed Gull; Mediterranean Gull; Herring Gull; Great Black-backed Gull; Sandwich Tern ;Stock Dove; Wood Pigeon;  Turtle Dove; Nightjar; Swift; Green Woodpecker; Kestrel; Jay; Magpie; Jackdaw; Rook rion Crow; Bearded Tit; Sky Lark; Wood Lark;Swallow; House Martin; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Wren; Goldcrest;Willow Warbler; Chiffchaff ; Sedge Warbler;  Reed Warbler; Blackcap; Garden Warbler; Whitethroat; Dartford Warbler;Robin; Stonechat ; Blackbird;Song Thrush;Starling; Dunnock; Meadow Pipit; Reed Bunting;  Chaffinch;  Bullfinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Linnet;  Serin; House Sparrow.

Sunday 22nd May     Morning Bird Walk at Bintree Mill  

coordinator Alwyn Jackson

Report by Alwyn Jackson

Eighteen members enjoyed a walk around Bintree Mill by kind permission of the owner Paul Seaman.  The weather was fine and dry as we explored the wetland area upstream of the mill, a wonderful habitat for birds and other wildlife.  The water level was low in the old mill pond providing an excellent feeding area for six Lapwing which presumably were breeding nearby.  They were joined by a Little Egret, a recent addition to the valley’s avifauna.  A Grey Heron and twelve Mute Swans were also present, probably this year’s non-breeders.

We moved on to a large pond created by Mr Seaman some years ago and now surrounded by phragmites and scrub.  Reed and Sedge Warblers were heard singing in several places and a male Reed Bunting perched on a wire above the pool.  We eventually reached a summer house situated on the bank of the Wensum and had panoramic views of the valley floor.  Five Buzzards soared over the grazing meadows and a Cuckoo was seen perched in a small tree.  Along the river bank Azure Blue, Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Banded Damoiselle damselflies were on the wing and Barry Pummell pointed out a Drinker moth caterpillar feeding in the reed. Further along the bank we had fine views of a Barn Owl as it flew along the field edge towards the mill and a Four Spotted Chaser dragonfly basking on the poolside vegetation in the warm sunshine. As we approached the mill bridge a Marsh Harrier was seen flying towards us but disappeared from view shortly afterwards.  At the mill we stopped for a brief rest in the glorious sunshine.

Whilst scanning the area downstream a family party of Grey Wagtails was seen, the adult birds flying backward and forwards across the river. Eventually we made our way along the riverbank to get closer views of the birds although they kept moving downstream ahead of us.  Nevertheless it was wonderful just to have the opportunity to walk along this stretch of the Wensum.  We made our way through a plantation of azaleas and rhododendrons which had been planted by Paul Seaman’s grandfather when it was the fashion to add these plants to your gardens.  It was surprising they had managed to survive in such a wet area.  A Chiffchaff and a Garden Warbler were seen in this area by most of the group. Our route took us further downstream following the river bank and two members were lucky enough to see a Kingfisher as it flew into the trees to our right.

Eventually we turned away from the river to walk through the sheep grazing meadows back towards the mill.  The news that a White Stork had been seen flying over nearby gave us a reason to pause and search the sky but to no avail.  Crossing the final meadow two members almost stepped on a brooding Pheasant sitting tight on her chicks. We arrived back at the mill having had a good morning exploring this wonderful part of the Wensum Valley.

Our thanks must go to Paul Seaman for allowing us to wander at will and enjoy the Wensum valley at its best.

Species list compiled by Philip Howard was as follows:-

Song Thrush, Collared Dove, Black-headed Gull, Common Buzzard, House Martin, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Sedge Warbler, Lapwing, Cuckoo, Mallard, Reed Bunting, Egyptian Goose, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Jackdaw, Oystercatcher, Blackcap, Coot, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Barn Owl, Stock Dove, Green Woodpecker, Little Egret, Common Tern, Carrion Crow, Swallow, Swift, Grey Wagtail, Moorhen, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Kingfisher, Wren, Garden Warbler, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, Canada Goose, Pheasant.

Other wildlife; Drinker moth caterpillar; Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly, Azure Blue, Common Blue, Large Red and Banded Damoiselle damselflies; Orange-tip butterfly.

Saturday 4th June  –  A  Morning Walk at  Gt Ryburgh   

coordinator Alwyn Jackson

Report by Alwyn Jackson

It was a misty murky morning when four members met at Great Ryburgh Memorial Hall to search the local footpaths and lanes to find out what summer migrant and resident breeding birds there were in the area.  Great Ryburgh village gave the impression of being the House Sparrow capital of the valley as there were a considerable number of singing males on the rooftops and the gardens.  Has anyone ever counted them I wonder?

Along Westwood Lane the hedgerows proved to be very attractive to a good number of species including a magnificent singing Song Thrush, Bullfinch and several Yellowhammers.  At Westwood Farm we descended into the valley of a small stream which was a good habitat for small passerines but the weather was not encouraging them to be active or sing.  As we approached a copse of deciduous trees two Common Buzzards flew out and crossed the small valley.  When we reached the minor road leading to Gateley we noticed a small pond adjacent to the old railway line.  On closer inspection Paul Adams found a Little Grebe busy diving and feeding amongst the floating vegetation.  It was in breeding plumage so it was probably raising a brood on this little known wetland site.  Moving on we encountered a small flock of Linnets, probably a family party in a patch of bramble and scrub. Turning left we walked the lane along the valley floor towards the village.  Whitethroats were singing and Lapwing seen flying above the wet grazing meadows.

We stopped at the Great Ryburgh Wildlife Group’s scrape where we noted Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron and Common Tern.  Looking across the valley we noticed ten Egyptian Geese feeding and roosting on the sloping valley side and a group of Barnacle Geese near the river.

Leaving the valley we walked uphill to turn onto the old railway line leading back to the village.  There was a family party of Long-tailed Tits in the surrounding bushes and a little further on a singing Willow Warbler that was not deterred by the prevailing weather conditions.  After negotiating a flooded part of the track we re-entered the village and returned to the Memorial Hall.

It had been a very enjoyable morning’s bird walk despite the weather.

 The full species list was as follows:-

House Sparrow, Starling, Goldfinch, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Swallow, Black-headed Gull, Great Tit, Song Thrush(3), Robin, Wren, Swift, Yellowhammer(9), Skylark(3), Bullfinch(2), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pheasant, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Blackcap(2), Greenfinch, Stock Dove, Common Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Linnet, Whitethroat (4), Little Grebe, Mallard (fem+3juv), Greylag Goose, Common Tern, Egyptian Goose(10), Barnacle Goose, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler.

 

Sunday – 26th June – Field Trip to  RSPB   Strumpshaw     

coordinator Sue Gale

Report by Sue Gale

When we gathered in the car park at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB at 9.00am on a June morning the weather didn’t look too promising, but we did manage to dodge most of the showers.  With a bit of help from the hides.  Already in the car park we had a list of some ten species, including Swifts screaming overhead, Chiffchaff and Bullfinch.  We spent the morning exploring the main trail around the reedbeds, stopping at Fen and Tower hides and tackling the rather soggy Lackford Run.  From reception we had the first of many Marsh Harrier sightings, and a brief glimpse of a Kingfisher.   On the broad were great crested Grebes and a Grey Heron, with the usual Coots and Mallards, and plenty of Reed Warblers flitting about.  Stars of the morning, to my mind, were the Hobbies we watched from Fen Hide.   The four of them put on a splendid aerial display, catching dragonflies and perching nearby to eat them. 

As the day warmed up we began to see more insects, with Norfolk hawker, small tortoiseshell, large skipper and large numbers of meadow brown butterflies putting in an appearance.  Strumpshaw Fen is perhaps more famous for insects than for birds in the summer months, and we could see the Meadow Trail filling up, especially at the ‘hotspots’.   We continued around the reedbeds adding Bearded Tits, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, a surprise Wigeon and the regular (and lonely) Black Swan to our list.   A startled Chinese Water Deer shot past some two yards in front of us. Collecting our lunch as we passed the carpark, we made good use of the picnic tables outside Reception Hide, and were delighted to be called over to view the Otter hunting around the broad.

A smaller number of us remained for the afternoon walk out through the meadow trail and back via the riverbank and the woodland.  The meadow was alive with damselflies and dragonflies.   Signs at the entrance invited visitors to stray from the path if they wished, in search of better views, but didn’t mention that most of the meadow was under water.  An intrepid Phil did venture off path at one point for an elusive damselfly, but without success.   We did see more Norfolk Hawkers, many Black-tailed Skimmers, Blue-tailed damselflies and many Blue ones that we were mostly unable to specify.   And we got flight views of a Swallowtail butterfly.  It almost landed on the head of a photographer on the path behind us, and we thought at first that he had failed to see it, but he did have a good photograph of it settled on a stem.  He was so casual that this must be a frequent occurrence for him. Along the river we added Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler to our bird count, and finally a Treecreeper in the woodland.   Just as we were emerging from the woodland trail we found three freshly emerged Scarce Chaser dragonflies warming up in the sun.

  A successful day with 62 species on the list.


Saturday 2nd July   –    Bioblitz at Scarning Water Meadows

Report by David Knight

The Bioblitz at Scarning Water Meadows was attended by a good number of WVBS members mostly acting as volunteers for the many planned activities. A Friday evening Bat hunt started the event followed by moth traps being  set up  in a local garden overnight to be identified on the Saturday by WVBS members. The Elephant Hawkmoth was a clear favourite with the children and parents. An early morning bird survey was undertaken by a group of  our members and throughout the day Plant, Tree, Insect and Bee surveys kept other  experts busy. There was pond dipping and lots of other activities to entertain the families. The  WVBS stand was in the main marquee and the  display of stuffed birds which consisted mainly of owls  was very much the main talking point.

 We must thank Trevor and Wendy Brown who are WVBS members and were instrumental  together with Norfolk Wildlife Trust in organising the whole event. All in all a very successful day blessed with very reasonable weather. Some 300 different  species were recorded and the final survey totals are planned to be on the NWT website in due course.


Field Trip  – 30th July – Redgrave & Lopham Fen, Suffolk Wildlife Trust – leader/coordinator David Gibbons

Morning Report by Liz Bridge

Our July Field Trip saw us visiting a new location for the Society.  The Fen is run by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and is the largest valley fen in England and is also the source of the River Waveney.  A really diverse habitat comprising spring fed sedge beds, rush and grass meadows, wet and dry heath.  The fen is grazed by Hebridean sheep, cattle and Konik ponies, which were very relaxed in our presence.  There are several marked trails.  We followed the Waveney Trail with a divergence along the Spider Trail.  The small pools on the latter are home to the rare Fen Raft Spider.  Those of the group who stayed after lunch were chuffed to see this species.

We wandered along the trail, Chiff Chaff immediately singing, a young Blackcap spotted, Reed Warblers chattering among the reeds. A Marsh Harrier flew high in the sky and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across and settled itself at the top of a tree.  Suddenly there were Butterflies, Damselflies and Dragonflies.  All identified as you will see from the species list below.  My favourite was a Purple Hairstreak seen towards the end of our walk.  Another highlight that must be mentioned was a Hobby which we appeared to disturb and he flew rapidly away.

The Fen is definitely worth a visit and is not that far away.

Afternoon Report by Phil Borley

It was hot and sunny when four members stayed on site for the afternoon. The target being, to see a fen raft spider. Armed with laminated sitemaps, which are provided by the SWT for you to take from the dispenser, guide yourself round the fen, then return the guide for others to use. We duly sought out the most likely lagoon to scrutinise. After several minutes of studying the water’s edge with binoculars, a spider was found. Once your eye was in, others came to light. Around six or seven spiders were seen and common conclusion was, that they were youngsters. Whilst making our way around the footpaths, a hobby was seen again, this time actively hunting dragonflies. The bird could clearly be seen eating on the wing. Whilst looking at the raft spiders, an eye was kept searching for birds in the area and this showed dividends when a hobby was located perched on a branch high up in a beech tree. every few minutes it would fly out low over the fen, flycatcher style, grab something and return to its perch. Excellent views even allowed for some digi-scoped photos to be taken. The real highlight was when an eight year old boy, out with his grandparents, was asked if he would like to look at the bird through a hastily lowered scope and found the hobby on its perch, he was so excited  and proceeded to give a commentary every time the bird moved and returned. The same lad was then shown the raft spiders and unable to locate them with his grandparents binoculars from the other side of the water, calmly walked round and joined us. As it was difficult to show the spot in the water, I found a pointy stick, which did the job nicely, much to the laughter of the adults present. Even the three year old little brother attempted to join in the hunt, although he seemed content watching passing ruddy darters and butterflies.

 A yellow flower spike in the water looked unusual and I suspected it was bladderwort, which was confirmed once home and checking in the Simon Harrap wildflowers bible! Having seen a purple hairstreak  butterfly in the morning,  a concentrated look at all the oak trees produced a colony of these insects in one tree. They were easily studied in the heat of the afternoon sunshine as they were just above head height. A very enjoyable end to the day’s walk.

Species List     compiled by Eileen Wyatt

No. Species in order of sightings No Species in order of sightings
1. green woodpecker 24 marsh tit
2. stock dove 25 sedge warbler
3. wood pigeon 26 magpie
4. blackbird 27 kestrel
5. wren 28 coot
6. robin 29 water rail ( heard only)
7. blackcap 30 reed warbler
8. jay 31 moorhen
9. collared dove 32 pheasant
10. lbbg 33 lapwing
11. carrion crow 34 goldfinch
12. dunnock 35 jackdaw
13. linnet 36 mute swan
14. blue tit 37 long tailed tit
15. reed bunting 38 Egyptian goose
16. mallard duck 39 oystercatcher
17. whitethroat 40 hobby
18. marsh harrier 41 greenfinch
19. Canada goose 42 common buzzard
20. greylag goose 43 little grebe
21. little egret 44 herring gull
22. great spotted woodpecker 45 swift
23. swallow
Other species seen: –
common darter/ meadow brown/ small skipper/ gatekeeper/ red admiral/ brown hawker/ peacock/ black- tailed skimmer/emperor dragonfly/ small white/ common blue damselfly/ speckled wood/ southern hawker/ green veined white/ essex skipper/ small copper/ purple hairstreak/ four spotted chaser/ blue- tailed damselfly.

 

Sunday 14th  August – Field Trip to RSPB  Minsmere        

coordinator Ray Gribble

Report by Philip Howard

Nine members met at the centre to be greeted by our leader Ray. The weather was overcast but warm. We headed off passing buddleia bushes in full flower covered in butterflies. Walking on we came to the heath and saw the colony of Bee Wolf wasps and stopped to look around picking up Common and Lesser Whitethroat. We also saw the Stone Curlew and speaking to the R.S.P.B. guide were told that three chicks had fledged but two had been predated. Further along the path we scanned the reedbeds and picked up a Kingfisher and there were lots of Swallow and Sand Martins flying around We went into East hide which overlooks the scrape and over the far side near North hide  I spotted a Bittern flying. I called out to alert the group but they unfortunately missed it. It was now time for lunch and we all sat in the dunes watching the sea hoping for something special. We added Common and Sandwich Terns, Common Scoter and a seal to the list. Onwards,  following the circular path, we picked up Water Rail. Then made our way to Island Mere hide before walking back to the centre via the heath passing the Springwatch site. At the centre we headed for the Café for a cup of tea and watched the Sand Martins busy around their nests.                         The last bird of the day was a Pheasant wandering round the picnic tables. Many thanks to Ray for a successful day with 75 species recorded.

Sand Martin Black-tailed Godwit Greenfinch Spotted Redshank Swallow
Woodpigeon Chiffchaff Dunnock Little Stint Wheatear
Robin Reed Warbler Canada Goose Ringed Plover Blackcap
House Martin Teal Pied Wagtail Knot Water Rail
Common Buzzard Great Tit Stonechat Gadwall Cetti’s Warbler
Black-headed Gull Less. B.B.Gull Kingfisher Little Egret Mute Swan
Blue Tit Willow Warbler Reed Bunting Sandwich Tern Common Sandpiper
Lapwing Common Whitethroat Avocet Common Tern Greylag Goose
Magpie Lesser Whitethroat Ruff Common Scoter Common Redshank
Hobby Wren Snipe Gannet Green Woodpecker
Coal Tit Gt. B.B.Gull Green Sandpiper Jackdaw Cormorant
Long-tailed Tit Stone Curlew Little Gull Pheasant Coot
Chaffinch Goldfinch Barnacle Goose Artic Skua Little Grebe
Grey Heron Linnet Moorhen Kestrel Carrion Crow
Shelduck Starling Bittern Stock Dove Mallard

Bird Species :– 75 no

Butterflies:-

Red Admiral Grayling Gatekeeper Wall Brown
Peacock Painted Lady Speckled Wood Dark Green Fritillary
Meadow Brown Small White Common Blue

 

Dragonfly/Damselfly :-

Common Darter Southern Hawker Emerald Damselfly

 

Sunday 9th October     RSPB Wash Cruise      

coordinator Liz Bridge

Report by  Alan Hughes

My wife thought I was mad (not for the first time) when, back in the Spring, I booked myself onto a birding boat trip on the Wash in October! I even questioned my own sanity when my alarm woke me at 5.50am on a Sunday, and a non-working one at that! All doubts evaporated, however, as we drove across the flat land of Lincolnshire and saw the cumulus clouds illuminated in pink by the rising sun, and the most vivid rainbow – no time to stop and collect the pot of gold, but this was still going to be a good day!

We were headed to the docks at Boston (sadly, Lincolnshire not Massachusetts) where we boarded the Boston Belle at 9am along with other intrepid birders from several other local groups. This excellent boat, manned by a helpful and friendly crew, and lead by RSPB staff, quietly and steadily made its way through the lock and docks along the River Haven, out into the Wash, and then along the River Welland to Spalding where it expertly performed a 3-point turn (I didn’t know boats could do those) and returned to Boston for 2pm.

No exceptional rarities were spotted (by me, at least) but lots of great birds, some in large numbers. Highlights for me were:-

 A large flock of Pink-Footed Geese flying across the Wash in the distance – a sure sign that Autumn is well underway.

Several small flocks of Golden Plovers, seeming to light up as they turned and caught the sun.A huge flock of Oystercatchers roosting on the bank of the Wash.

A flock of grazing black-bellied Brent Geese (my personal favourite geese).

More Redshank, Little Egrets and Curlew than you could shake a stick at (but why would you want to, anyway?).

Several Common Terns fishing alongside the boat

Good numbers of Grey and Ringed Plover.

Several Marsh Harriers – oh how easy it would be us to take them for granted in East Anglia.

2 groups of Common Seals frowning at us from the banks as we disturbed their peace.

And to crown a lovely day, eagle-eyed Phil Borley (forgive the pun) spotted a very wet and bedraggled Peregrine Falcon on the Boston “Stump” (church tower) – looking very miserable as only a bird of prey can. 

So the birds were great, but for me the thrill was to see them from such a different perspective – from the water rather than the bank And the landscape was wonderful – those massive East Anglian skies, spectacular cloud formations with heavy showers viewed at a distance, and sometimes up too close, and the brilliant sunshine on the water. We are very fortunate to live in such a lovely part of the country.

And, as always, there was the delightful company of fellow birders, especially the Wensum group: During the second shower of rain I ducked into the covered part of the boat for a coffee, and found a real party atmosphere there with the enthusiastic consumption of raffle prizes – Trust our ladies to know how to enjoy themselves whilst the men got soaked on the outside  and got on with some seriously grumpy birding!! Thank you to Liz, the RSPB and the Boston Belle for a really enjoyable day.

Ps. On the way home we made a brief stop at RSPB Frampton Marsh in the hope of seeing the reported Long-Billed Dowitcher. We didn’t manage to see it, but were pleased with great views of Tree Sparrows on the feeders next to the visitor centre. Our appetite was whetted for a proper trip to that reserve in the near future.

Editor’s Note . 58 species were recorded for the day

Saturday 15th October – Wildlife & Environment Fair –  Wild About Norfolk      

coordinator Lin Pateman

To promote the WVBS at Easton College this year, we had the usual display stand and held a children’s drawing competition. In all, there were 88 entries aged 5-15yrs; some chose to copy from the bird books on hand and others just went with their wild imagination!  The day was interrupted with a fire drill (false alarm) during which we had to evacuate the hall for fifteen minutes, thankfully it was a sunny, dry day and there were plenty of birds to see, at the ringing stand. All the favourite nature and conservation organisations were represented and once again it made for a great family day out, free of charge. My huge thanks to our volunteers; Alwyn, Rosie and her daughter, Liz, Sue, Phil, Ray, David and our President; David K., without who the day would not have been possible ( Ed Note-Huge thank you to Lin as well who coordinated our whole show).

Sunday 30th  October  – The Hoe Bird Walk      

coordinator David Knight

When I drew back the curtains at about 7 a.m I could hardly see across the adjacent field for the fog. As I ate my breakfast I fully expected ‘phone calls  to check if the walk was still on but none came. I should have known that Wensum Valley birders are not easily deterred by minor weather problems. By the time I met up with the members  for the 8 a.m start the weather had improved a little but  walking down to Hoe Common we could hear the birds but not see them too clearly and the usual sweeping views over the Whitewater valley were non existent. We soldiered on and with the sharp ears in the group the list started to mount up. As we got back to the cars to head towards Worthing the visibility had improved greatly. It was very mild and not a breath of wind. We hit a purple patch under the railway arch at Barker’s crossing adding a good handful of birds with feeding flocks of Redwing, Fieldfare and Brambling and  a pair of Snipe winged their way over distant trees.. There were Goldcrests everywhere. The large lake near the level-crossing could only yield a pair of Mute Swans but we were luckier on the railway bridge over the Blackwater river. With Yellowhammer,   Common Gull and Treecreeper as well as a calling Lesser Repoll  and Siskin overhead. We walked back to the cars picking up a few more species and decided to go on a little way down to Manor Farm pond where a pair of Kingfishers had been seen recently. No luck today but a Common Buzzard came over and settled in a nearby tree for us to enjoy.  It really was a Buzzard this time not the buzzard-looking vegetation we all got excited about earlier!

 There were eleven of us on the walk with  a species count of 45 which beats the October average for this walk over 32 years by 3 species. Great result Wensum Valley birders!

Our thanks to Glenn Collier and Lucy Topsom for keeping the list.

Goldcrest Nuthatch Pied Wagtail Mallard Lesser Redpoll
Long-tailed Tit Wren Gt. Spotted W/Pecker Brambling Stock Dove
Wood Pigeon Coal Tit Bullfinch Fieldfare Red-legged Partridge
Rook Redwing Common Buzzard Snipe Marsh Tit
Great Tit Treecreeper Black-headed Gull Goldfinch Robin
Blackbird Chaffinch Canada Goose Meadow Pipit
Siskin Pheasant Cormorant Song Thrush
Carrion Crow Blue Tit Grey Heron Mute Swan
Jackdaw Jay Moorhen Yellowhammer
Mistle Thrush Dunnock Little Grebe Common Gull

 

Sunday  27th November – BTO   The Nunnery, Thetford  –  coordinator Mary Walker

Report by Lucy Topsom & Glenn Collier

I had been looking forward to this walk at the Nunnery for some time, especially as the Training Manager, Sue Gough was going to guide us around the reserve and then give us a talk in the afternoon.

After a welcoming coffee and biscuits we headed out on a lovely sunny morning.  Sue explained that the reserve  was a breeding ground for around 60 different species and that the reserve  had a mixture of dry grassland, woodland, riverside meadows and lakes.  This was a good mixture of habitat and we hoped for a good number of bird species.  We crossed over the Little Ouse River and   walked the circular permissive path and started clocking up the species. Sue not only had a good ear for birds but was also very quick at helping us get onto the different species.  There are occasionally several pairs of otters, water voles, slow worms and we were shown a splendid array of fungi, including stag horns and a star shaped rarity for the Reserve, Geastrum Triplex (see photo).

Several times as we walked the path parallel to the river we heard kingfishers calling.  Sue explained that there were two breeding pairs and showed us where they nested closely together last year.  After several fleeting glances the whole group were able to get onto not one, but two kingfishers, and gave us an amazing flyby, circled around us and then headed back up the river.  Wow, this really was the highlight of the morning for me.  After lunch, Sue gave us  a talk on the work the BTO and a guided walk around the historical buildings, some dating back to the 11 century.

We had a total of 48 species and these are some of the highlights: –

Marsh tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Red legged Partridge, Kingfisher, Siskin, House Sparrow, numerous Goldcrests, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit, a Water Rail calling, Redwing, Teal and Tufted Duck.

Thanks go to the Sue Gough for a very informative day and to Mary Walker who coordinated the day for us.

 

 

 

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