Monday, 30 November 2009

Norfolk (Day 3)

The plan for Day 3 was hatched by Keith, one of our four friends, who desperately wanted to visit the 'Raptor Watchpoint' at Hickling Broad as he had read about seeing Harriers, Merlin, Owls and Common Cranes coming into roost at the end of the day. So after another hearty breakfast we set out in convoy to follow the coast road south-east via Cromer towards Hickling.

The first brief stop was at a very windy West Runton and a short walk down to the deserted beach.

This tractor has seen better days due to the effects of sea water!

Lesser Black-backed Gulls playing in the surf.

Our next stop planned stop was Sea Palling but the sighting of a day flying Barn Owl hunting in a roadside field provided a pleasant interlude. (Sorry no pics). In the 1840's one of Keith's ancestors was a stationed at Sea Palling. He spoke to a local who provided valuable information as to the former location of the 'Watch Keepers Cottages' and the inland wooden Watch Tower but most of the original properties in this hamlet  were destroyed during severe storms and flooding in the 1950's.

At my suggestion we then drove towards Horsey Gap stopping briefly to log Red-legged Partridge and a pair of Egyptian Geese in the roadside fields. As we headed out onto the dune system the sky darkened ...

... and small skeins of Pink-footed Geese constantly flew overhead moving up the coast. This area of coastline is also well known for its large colony of breeding Grey Seals.

Access to much of the beach is prohibited from October through to January so we battled against the strong winds and walked along the high sandy dune embankment to get these closer views.

Two Grey Seals were talking to one another as they played in the water.

On our return walk to the cars, while watching a single Common Ringed Plover on the shoreline, Keith spotted two Snow Buntings flitting along the beach but very close to the embankment. They quickly disappered out of view so he suggested that I walk ahead and try to get some shots. So fighting the wind I strode forwards and found a dip where I waited and a few moments later they reappeared again briefly before continuing their foray along the sand

Our next stop was Horsey Mere. A quick scan with the bins over the nearby fields produced a Marsh Harrier at long distance while everyone else was thinking of refreshments and other creature comforts.

The National Trust were selling off goods at reasonable discounts as they have to vacate the tea rooms etc in case of winter flooding. The plastic friend got a minor battering for some cards, a sovenier mug and a picture.

While Anita and Jean took a tour inside the Watermill (for free!) the rest of us followed a pathway around the edge of Horsey Mere in the hope of seeing some avian activity but very little was seen over the thick reedbed fringes. We finally made it to the Hickling Broad Reserve car park where we took the track that eventually led us to the ...

Raptor Watchpoint at Stubbs Mill.
Stubb Drainage Windmill was constructed between 1795 and 1825. It is estimated that there were once 200 wind powered drainage windmills in the Broadlands.

This was the scene from the viewing mound and during the hour that we spent here we eventually counted a maximum of 30 Marsh Harriers coming into roost well over a quarter of a mile away. Other sightings were 155 Lapwing, Jay, Wren, Woodpigeons, Stock Dove, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Starling and a Great Tit BUT no Cranes. Ah well there's always another year.

Borrowed distant view of Marsh Harrier from a previous Norfolk trip.  FAB

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Run out to Waltham Brooks.

Well I think I have tamed the 'poltergeist' (thanks Warren). Battery recharged yesterday and then reconnected this morning. After resetting the clock and date I took A's vehicle for a short drive but during this journey the radio which had been switched off again restarted automatically and the display said "No CD" so when I got home I inserted a music CD and everything worked AND the radio has stayed off when the car was put to sleep....Success at last, I hope.

At A's suggestion we decided to take the car for a much longer run this afternoon and headed south into West Sussex. We eventually stopped at Coldwaltham and navigated a very wet and muddy circular walk around Waltham Brooks starting and finishing near Greatham Bridge. I was hopeful of showing A a Barn Owl but perhaps we were a little early. We did however see a few perched Stonechats, Blackbird and Wren; a Snipe being closely followed by what looked like a Crow!; on the flooded marsh next to the River Arun were Mute Swan, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveller, Gadwall and Tufted Duck; and along the roadside a party of Goldfinches.  Below are a few pics taken in very poor light. (You can click to enlarge if you wish).

We should have packed the 'wellies'!

Mallards in hiding.

Mute Swan

One of the many grazing Cows.

  View southwards over Waltham Brooks.

We hit the forcated rain on the way home and finished off with a local take away fish and chips.  FAB

Friday, 27 November 2009

Change of pace starts here..

Well today was my last working day with the RHS (even though I've been on holiday for 3 weeks) and was confirmed by the arrival of my final payslip and P45 in the post this morning.

Well, do I feel any different? Not really as I have easily filled my days this week working on the laptop and sorting through various papers, shredding, re-filing etc., tentatively planning my birding for 2010, thinking (just a little) about all those jobs that have been put to one side for far too long and of course I now have time to window watch our garden visitors...what could be better. 

During the past few days we have noticed that the House Sparrows have been 'dust bathing' in the wooden planter on the patio wall containing a Clematis. Now this probably means that it needs watering but then where will the 'Spadgers' go for their daily clean up?

The Blue Tits are a treat to watch, flitting from perch to perch, constantly alert, twisting and turning in every direction before they make their minds up to feed or not as the fancy takes them.
Who's up there?
Anita also watched 6 or 7 Parakeets hanging around the garden feeder pole trying to decide if they could access a small seed feeder. Sorry no pics, I was having a lie in...and not the first one I must admit.

Car battery update: The battery has been on trickle charge for some hours today so tomorrow, weather permitting I will reconect and then check that all the radio electronic settings are correct. Must remember to read and follow the manual instructions rather than hit and hope for the best!

Have a good weekend everyone.  FAB.

Battery Recharge!

A frustrating few days this week with intermitent wet weather plus for the second time in two weeks Anita's car failed to start on Wednesday ....flat battery again! So on Thursday I acted as taxi driver to enable Anita and her delightful 'Irish' friend to do the weekly shop on the understanding that I went for a walk while the housekeeping kitty got used up. A quick look at the map suggested that I should be able to find something to look at on Burgh Heath Common.

As I trod quietly over the rain sodden leaf carpet I heard the scolding call of a Jay and then a small party of Long-tailed Tits twittered to one another as they fed in the nearly leafless canopy very high above me. Blue Tit and Blackbird made brief appearances but them apart it was very, very quiet. I eventually stumbled apon the pond where the main inhabitants were Mallards, a few Moorhen and Black-headed Gulls.


Is there room for another one?

An opportunity to try a few in-flight shots of Black-headed Gulls.

Can you pick your face while flying?

Message on the mobile indicates that the girls have returned to the car so just time to snap some fungi before switching back into taxi-driver mode.

P.S. Battery update - Car jump started and taken for a spin round the local roads but for some reason after switching off and locking the car the radio switches itself on! This is obviously the reason behind the flat battery so more investigation required. Just as well I have time on my hands.  FAB

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Skywatch Friday

To compliment my recent post here is another view of sunset over Holme in Norfolk

For more fabulous Skywatch Friday images please click the link here or in the sidebar.

Norfolk (Day 2)

The first port of call on day 2 was Salthouse to look for Snow and or Lapland Buntings but there was no evidence that yesterdays flock was still around.

We again struggled against the wind and walked towards the 'Little Eye', that overlooks a small freshwater pool behind the shingle seawall, and located a single Avocet and 2 Redshanks, Curlew in the fields and a Stonechat appeared briefly on one of the fence wires.

Turnstones were quite confiding as they fed around a small pool close to the car park. (For more pics please go to FABirding).

Our main location today was the RSPB reserve at Titchwell. The marsh is under increasing pressure as the sea continues to erode the land and The Coastal Project has commenced which will drastically change the landscape but hopefully protect the freshwater marshes and specific breeding species such as the Bittern.
I regret that I didn't take many photos as it was difficult battling against the constant high winds.

Black-tailed Godwit

Digiscoped view of a wet and bedraggled Little Egret.

Oystercatcher on the beach.

Distant male Red-breasted Merganser on the sea just before a heavy shower forced us to head back to the centre for refreshments and a bit of retail therapy.
Other species seen at Titwell included: Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Wren, Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Blackbird, Collared Dove, Redwing, Crow, Jackdaw, Avocets, Cormorant, Coot, Moorhen, Curlew, Red-throated and Great Northern Diver, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shelduck, Shoveller, Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Knot, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Creasted Grebe, Little Grebes, Slavonian Grebe, Lapwing and Brent Geese plus a brief glimpse of a Bearded Tit as it dropped deep into one of the reedbeds.

Our mid afternoon walk took us across the tidal marsh from Thorham to Holme. A mixed small flock of finches were seen flying around and then seemed to disappear into the vegetation. Using the scope I eventually located them and first to reveal itself was a Lapland Bunting (ID was its reddish brown wing panel framed by narrow white wing bars), and then a Linnet but the others were very indistictive, suggesting Twite? As the flock moved on to its next hideaway we distinctly heard the 'tveeiht..tveeiht' calls confirming that they were indeed Twite.  Two other mature gentlemen birders had been searching during their walk and were delighted to get a reasonable but brief view through my scope before the flock finally flew far away.

Thornham Marsh at low tide.

I hate to think how much energy was expended to insert these new 6 foot poles into the sand to provide a natural barrier to help prevent the constant errosion of the dunes at Holme by the sea!

Overhead a flock of Pink-footed Geese were moving to their overnight resting place.

Our return walk to Thornham was graced with another beautiful sunset over the marshes towards Holme.
See you next on Day 3.  FAB

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

FABirding - New Linked Site

In order to complement the posts on this blog I have finally activated my linked site FABirding where I will mainly post wildlife images.

Please feel free to click the link above or the one in the sidebar and let me know what you think by leaving a comment.  FAB

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Norfolk (Day 1)

After a four hour drive, including a lengthy crawl on the M25 and various roadworks throughout our journey to Norfolk last week, we finally reached Holkham Hall Estate. Holkham Hall is an eighteenth-century country house located adjacent to the village of Holkham, on the north coast of Norfolk. The hall is one of England's finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture, constructed for Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester by the architect William Kent, aided by the architect and aristocrat Lord Burlington. The Holkham estate, formerly known as Neals, had been purchased in 1609 by Sir Edward Coke, the founder of his family fortune and still remains the ancestral home of the Coke family, the Earls of Leicester of Holkham.

The park is home for around 800 Fallow Deer and a small herd of Reds. Just after midday one of the estate workers appeared and repeatedly bellowed a call out across the park. His voice was quickly recognised by the animals far and near. He then traversed the open grassland in a tractor and laid a trail of sugar beet. We then watched the procession of deer as they frantically followed the trail of food.

A pair of bucks quietly feeding beneath the oak canopy by the side of the exit road as we headed out along the coast road towards our our next stop at Stiffkey.

The open sky view across Stiffkey Marsh looking towards Blakeney Point. On a spring (marsh) tide much of this whole area is under water and a treacherous place to wander as you can very quickly become engulfed by the fast rising tide.

This has been a regular stopping place for me at the end of the day in past years to scan the horizon for raptors and owls returning to their roost at Warham Greens. Far too early today but a distant view of a Marsh Harrier floating along the beach margins, a Little Egret having a bad hair day as it looked for a meal in one of the many saltmash gullys. We also located Redshank, Brent Geese, Shelduck, Crow, Curlew, Black-headed & Herring Gulls, Linnet, Meadow Pipits and Starlings.

A very brief stop in the Beech Road at Salthouse produced a fleeting glimpe of a flock of 17 Buntings (probably Snow) flitting around the shingle bank but the strong wind prevented any attempt at long range photography from the shelter of the car....we would revisit later in the week to search again.

Mid afternoon we located our hotel, The Pheasant at Kelling, and after booking in we met up with two of our four friends and took a leisurely stroll through the wood fringed heathland overlooking the sea and caught a glimpse of our first, but not the last, Norfolk sunset before tasting the first of many cruptious meals.

See you next on Norfolk Day 2.  FAB

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Home from the Goose Chase!

We have safely returned from our wild and very windy trip to the North Norfolk Coast and as you can see we did eventually mange to catch up with a 'few' Pink-footed Geese at one of their favourite feeding locations.
The weather lived up to the forecast - VERY WINDY but it only rained towards the end of our visit so we could consider ourselves very fortunate compared to other locations in the north of the UK that have suffered severe and extensive flooding. However the conditions last week were not helpful in getting close to very many birds who prefered to hide out of sight or disappear as soon as we got anywhere near them! Despite this we enjoyed daily walks with our four friends at many of my favourite locations followed by some very tasty meals at our hotel plus plenty of cheerful 'banter' between us.
I logged around 86 species during this trip, which was well short of our anticipated target, but it did include some noteable sightings and a few images that I will share with you once I have sorted through the 'dross'! In the meantime I have posted one 'test' image on my other site FABirding so please feel free to take a peek.
I can see that many of you have been busily posting while I have been away and I will catch up with you all as soon as is practically possible.   FAB

Monday, 16 November 2009

Geese gathering.

This was taken in late August when on a brief early morning stroll around Epsom Great Pond I counted around 150 Canada Geese that had gathered together but in the weeks that followed I have hardly seen anything on this inland water.

We are off to Norfolk with four friends this morning and hope to see many, many more geese (Pink-footed etc) that have flown in from the far north to spend the winter in a warmer location. Just praying for a few days of calm, dry weather so that the camera might come out of its bag!

So...bye for now...I won't be posting while we are away but will eventually catch up with you all when we return. Hope everyone has a wildlife full week.   FAB

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Wey Navigation Walk (Part 3)

My recent reflective stroll along the Wey Navigation from Bowyers Lock to Send Bridge was not over blessed with wildlife sightings probably because I didn't start early enough! Quite a few Mallards patrolling the water and corvids flying around included Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies. Robin, Wren, Blackbird and a Mistle Thrush made brief appearances. I also listened to and watched a party of Long-tailed Tits foraging through the pathway foliage together with Blue and Great Tits.

Common Buzzard seen perched a quater of a mile away. (Original shot cropped)

A pair of Cormorants taking a rest some distance away.

Plenty of Alder fruits but no Siskins (I did hear Goldfinches.)

Young Mute Swan preening.

In the distance (half a mile away) I heard the skwarking calls of Rose-ringed Parakeets as they continually circled around a Common Buzzard

A long distance shot as the Parakeets flew away.

A second Buzzard was beig harrassed by a Crow.

One of the many Mallard enjoying the peaceful waterway.   FAB.


Related Posts with Thumbnails