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Post Info TOPIC: East Anglia


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RE: East Anglia


We finished our Norfolk trip on Monday (22nd) with a visit to the Yare Marshes at Cantley where we managed to find c. 12 Bean Geese along with a small number of Pinkfeet. Not many other geese on the marshes though. As we were heading away Karen spotted a Red Kite quartering a field of gone-over cabbages. Unfortunately while we were at a business park scanning the gulls at a recycling plant, the 2nd year Caspian Gull was down the road at The Nunnery. Still the kite was a good bird to finish on, with another 6 en route home.

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Despite the unpromising weather forecast a better day today. A pastel striped sky turned into plain grey as we headed to the North Norfolk Coast but we left the drizzle behind and found dry weather at Sheringham where Karen was straight onto the Black Redstart this time at the R.N.L.I car park. A cracking male, showing well despite the chill. The redpolls at Kelling were a little more difficult as they were very flighty between the set-aside and the trees of the footpath but between us we managed to see 7 Mealy and at least 1 Arctic among them before part of the flock flew off into the village taking the Arctic(s?) with them. 26 Snow Buntings were still around Gramborough Hill at Salthouse, including 2 smart males and a Red-throated Diver was just off-shore. We passed Brent Geese and Avocets at Cley and 35 White-fronted Geese were on the marsh to the west of Lady Anne's Drive. By the time we got to Thornham the rain had started then turned to sleet and the Twite flock had taken shelter somewhere so we headed back to a very quiet Titchwell. A range of common waders and wildfowl included both Godwits, Common Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser, but others such as Spotted Redshank and Pintail had moved on or taken shelter as the weather worsened. We spent about 25 minutes in the Fen Trail hide looking over the reed beds, but the encroaching reeds at the front of the pool gave us no hope of the great views of Kingfisher, Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler and Bearded Tit we've had in recent years, so we gave up around 4 p.m. and headed back to warmth and food.

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Perhaps appropriately for a Saturday a day of two halves; better weather in the morning, better birding in the afternoon. The dry morning was a succession of dips, most notably the Hume's Leaf Warbler, Sheringham Waxwings and the Black Redstart but we managed to see the Purple Sandpiper before it was flushed from the slipway. As it started to drizzle we headed back to the area around the now mainly ploughed Ludden airfield and found ourselves a nice mixed herd of 15 Whooper and 14 Bewick's Swans, together with 5 Pink feet, 51 Egyptian Geese, uncounted Greylag Geese and a mixed flock of gulls. From here we headed to Stubb Mill for a rather murky raptor roost featuring 16 Marsh Harriers, 1/2 Peregrines and 1 Common Buzzard, along with 1 Kingfisher and c.11 Common Cranes including an obviously smaller juvenile. At least 1 Woodcock was flying around the car park at Hickling Broad as we left.

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A more sensible route for our January 2018 trip got us to Santon Warren in reasonable time and pleasant if slightly chilly weather. A walk along the Little Ouse from the St. Helen's car park to the level crossing produced a good selection of woodland and water birds both resident and migrant, including several Marsh Tits and a couple of Bramblings as well as as the bonus of an Otter swimming along the river surfacing at regular intervals to eat its' catches. After a comparatively short wait 10 Parrot Crossbills materialized in the trees over Mr Rigby's head giving all present reasonable views, before a couple moved into their favorite bush then down to drink at the ice-rimmed puddles. Unfortunately a passing train flushed them back into the trees quite quickly where they preceded to nibble on bark and buds before heading off to feed elsewhere. We noticed that they hadn't called in flight as they arrived but kept up a constant subdued call as they fed. The walk back to the car park produced even better views of the Otter mostly out of the water in a tangle of branches.

We failed to locate the Great White Egret at Colney Gravel Pits so in a break with tradition headed to Great Yarmouth a day early for the traditional ceremony of lobbing bread at Mediterranean Gulls and any of their relatives present. Adult and 3 immature birds obliged among the mob. A call at Halvergate Marshes en route to our accommodation produced 2 Barn Owls, a ring-tailed Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Marsh Harrier.

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This year's Oldham Birders' trip to East Anglia turned into a tour of English Counties (17 not including West Midlands & Avon according to the person doing the counting) as four of us set off overnight on Thursday night to visit Drift Reservoir (see Cornwall thread). Having 'banked' the Dalmatian Pelican "just in case" biggrin we headed across to join Mike A at Weeting (clocking up 23 Red Kites en route) where the best views of the Stone Curlews were to be had across the road. A couple of Wood Larks chased each other there and a Cuckoo perched silently at an angle proved initially perplexing. The day was distinctly overcast and chilly, so we headed off to dump our bags before heading out for chippy tea and a visit to Lakenheath. Bitterns were heard, singles of Hobby and Common Crane seen and there were plenty of Cuckoo's and Cetti's Warblers around to distract from the rather wintery conditions.

Saturdays' forecast was supposed to be better, but here was still quite a mist at Clay as we set out to look for the Red-backed Shrike at Walsey Hills. Riggers managed to spot it twice on our first visit, but despite calling in a second time after a visit to Kelling Heath none of the rest of us got lucky. A Spoonbill east of The Serpentine was a bit of a consolation. Kelling Heath was more productive, with good views of several Dartford Warblers and even better ones of a Wood Lark beside the railway track. Despite it feeling more like winter than June at Chosely Barns we did manage singles of Turtle Dove and Lesser Whitethroat to go with Yellowhammer and both Partridge species. The fresh marsh at Titchwell had good numbers of Knot, along with Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits, plenty of the larger gull species, Little Gull, Little Tern, and a single smart Spotted Redshank. On our evening visit to Dersingham Bog the breeze was strong enough to keep midge levels bearable, but not too strong to discourage a great display by up to 8 Nightjars and plenty of Woodcock. A reeling Grasshopper Warbler and another Cuckoo were the supporting cast.

On Sunday we headed to Ixworth and managed to see one of the Glossy Ibises in the vicinity before heading over to Minsmere. The breeze was tolerable in the sunny conditions, but may have been the reason we only saw two Hobbys during our visit. Good views of Bitterns as usual at the well-named hide, with Sandwich Terns and Mediterranean Gulls adding to the trip list, along with a single drake Wigeon. A female Bittern at Island Mere Hide gave really good views and photo ops. We sorted out the distinctive features of Variable Damselfly at the stickleback viewpoint and saw plenty of Banded Demoiselle together with a couple of Hairy Hawkers at another. This year's visit to Lackford Lakes only added Great Black-backed Gull to our tally but an after dinner drive found us a hunting Barn Owl. The head on view of the bird flying over the car with prey was particularly pleasing for one of the party.

This morning Mike A chose the sensible route home, spending the day at Paxton Pits (but without seeing the Great Reed Warbler) while the rest of us chose the scenic route via Portland Bill (see thread) where we crowned a trip that had begun with a plastic Pelican with a cracking Cuckoo. 112 species seen (Plus Great Spotted Cuckoo and Dalmatian Pelican) and 5 heard.

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My friend Will and I made an attempt to see as many birds as possible in a day in East Anglia on 18th May and I thought I would share the results. Me started in Paxton Pitts at 4.30am and finished in Titchwell at 8.30pm. Each change in destination will be shown to the right. The gaps between destinations were birds seen en route. We have been planning this for a while so the atrocious weather was a bit of a shame but the ultimate success made it all the more sweet.
1 Blackbird ---- Paxton Pitts 4.30 am Drizzle
2 Robin
3 House Sparrow
4 Carrion Crow
5 Magpie
6 Jackdaw
7 Collared Dove
8 Wood Pigeon
9 Canada Goose
10 Grey Lag Goose
11 Starling
12 Common Tern
13 Black Headed Gull
14 Great Crested Grebe
15 Cormorant
16 Nightingale
17 Garden Warbler
18 Blackcap
19 Grey Heron
20 Tufted Duck
21 Willow Warbler
22 Dunnock
23 Blue Tit
24 Great spotted Woodpecker
25 Green Woodpecker
26 Egyptian Goose
27 Great Tit
28 Mallard
29 Chaffinch
30 Cuckoo
31 Pied Wagtail
32 Wren
33 Chiffchaff
34 Sedge Warbler
35 Swallow
36 Sand Martin
37 Reed Bunting
38 Mute Swan
39 Rook
40 Pheasant
41 Whitethroat
42 Moorhen
43 Song Thrush
44 Reed Warbler
45 Coot
46 Oystercatcher
47 House Martin
48 Swift
49 Red Legged Partridge
50 Lesser Black Backed Gull
51 Gadwall
52 Goldfinch
53 Greenfinch
54 Stock Dove
55 Mistle Thrush
56 Marsh Tit
57 Lapwing ---- En-route 8.30am Driving rain
58 Skylark
59 Kestrel
60 Grey Partridge
61 Little Egret
62 Redshank ---- Welney WWT 10.00am Driving rain
63 Black Tailed Godwit
64 Shelduck
65 Whooper Swan
66 Avocet
67 Wigeon
68 Great White Egret
69 Shoveler
70 Grey Wagtail
71 Common Buzzard
72 Water Rail
73 Cetti's Warbler
74 Yellow Wagtail + Blue Headed Wagtail
75 Ringed Plover
76 Dunlin
77 Linnet
78 Meadow Pipit ---- En-route 11.45am Drizzle
79 Herring Gull
80 Turtle Dove
81 Sparrowhawk
82 Feral Pigeon
83 Corn Bunting
84 Jay ---- Lakenheath RSPB 12.30pm Stormy with driving rain clearing to sunshine (Finally)
85 Hobby
86 Marsh Harrier
87 Common Crane
88 Kingfisher
89 Stone Curlew ---- Wheeting NNR 3.00pm
90 Goldcrest
91 Long Tailed Tit
92 Curlew
93 Spotted Flycatcher---- Lyndford Arboretum 3.30pm Sunshine and showers
94 Nuthatch
95 Siskin
96 Treecreeper
97 Firecrest
98 Crossbill
99 Short Eared Owl ---- Titchwell RSPB 6.00pm Sunshine
100 Pochard
101 Bearded Reedling
102 Spoonbill
103 Little Tern
104 Teal
105 Common Sandpiper
107 Turnstone
108 Golden Plover
109 Grey Plover
110 sanderling
111 Kitiwake
112 Scaup
113 Gannet
114 Auk (Razorbill or Guillemot undetermined) ---- 8.30pm

It was quite a day and 114 in total is the best I have ever had in Britain. an awesome and tiring day all round.






-- Edited by Lawrence Hindley on Saturday 20th of June 2015 05:37:56 PM

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Saturday 20th of June 2015 06:08:53 PM

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May 15th -18th.

Friday:
We started our annual Spring visit to East Anglia in the usual roundabout fashion, with Karen F., Riggers, John R. and self heading to Bison Hill in Berks in pursuit of Duke of Burgundy butterflies. It wasn't the best weather for it but we did manage to see one, along with a couple of day-flying moths and several skippers. There was a good compliment of farmland birds, with Common Whitethroats particularly plentiful as well as Common Buzzard, Blackcap, Red Kite, Bullfinch and a very showy Garden Warbler. From here we headed over to Weeting to meet up with Mike A. The Stone Curlews were all concentrated at the West End, with (eventually) five birds visible at once, together with at least six Wood Larks, a Spotted Flycatcher on station near the hide and a hunting Stoat. The highlight of the Woodland Walk was a Tree Pipit, perched at the top of a dead tree for long enough for everyone to tick off all the identifying features.

After booking into our usual Travelodge (sadly without its' own Nightingale this year) we headed off to explore the local farmland in the hope of at least hearing a Turtle Dove. No luck there so we continued to Lackford Lakes to add a good selection of water birds to our list, including a pair of Egyptian Geese performing a timely flyover. A brief glimpse of a Cetti's Warbler, distant Cuckoos and Nightingale and a Barn Owl hunting around the main lake were the highlights of the evening.

Saturday:
The forecast suggested that this would be the better day of the weekend, so we headed for the North Norfolk Coast, planning to end the day at Dersingham Bog. Unfortunately, the winds were rather stronger than anticipated, so things were quieter than normal along Clay's East Bank with Reed & Sedge Warblers and Bearded Tits mostly keeping low in the reeds and only one sighting of a Marsh Harrier during our visit. Arnold's Marsh and The Serpentine held a reasonable selection of water birds, with a drake Pintail an unexpected bonus. The Wood Sandpiper was initially quite distant, before re-locating nearer to the embankment, where it still managed to blend well into the vegetation at times.

From here we headed to Chosely Drying Barnes. Again the wind was a factor, with singles of Yellowhammer and Pied Wagtail the only small birds around and the wires which had held four species of Columbiform last year devoid of even a Feral Pigeon this time. Luckily the trip of 22/23 Dotterel didn't seem too bothered and gave ample opportunities to be counted from various viewpoints. Red-legged Partridge and Corn Bunting were also seen in the vicinity. Titchwell was very busy, except for the birdsbiggrin. A temporary obstruction on the path meant that none of us got to see the Short-eared Owl before it dropped back into the reed beds towards Holme, but subsequent watches for it proved profitable with sightings of Cetti's Warbler for those who'd missed it the previous night, Beaded Tit, Red-crested Pochard and Bittern. Elsewhere on the reserve we had 5 Little Gulls, both species of Stint, and a selection of plovers including several smartly plumaged Grey Plovers. The wind had dropped by the time we made our after dinner visit to Dersingham, but the cooler temperatures meant that we heard rather than saw the Nightjars here. There were at least two, along with three Grasshopper Warblers and several roding Woodcock, with two of the latter seeming to fly in parallel. Our thanks to the quartet of sound recordists there, who explained their craft and let us listen in on their 'view' of the natural world. No sign of any Golden Pheasants, despite several circuits of the Triangle.

Sunday.
Actually a better day weather-wise than Saturday hmm but it still wasn't that warm around Minsmere. We got off to a good start with several Nightingales along a footpath from the approach road, including one which tucked itself into a tree at just the right angle to still be visible as it sang. Another Garden Warbler here was more elusive, but still gave Mike A good enough views to make up for missing the Beds bird. Westleton Heath produced several Stonechats, a pair of Dartford Warblers and another Wood Lark. On the reserve a Bittern was particularly active over the scrapes, where the installation of Badger-proof (they hope!) fencing has temporarily reduced the number of nesting gulls. Apparently the work was still going on at Easter and quite a few birds settled elsewhere - or so one of the locals reckoned. Even so, we had a good count of C16 Little Terns together with Kittiwake, Mediterranean Gull and Curlew Sandpiper, with a couple of Hobbys over the reed beds . Unfortunately, the Bluethroat had moved on, but we had better views of Bearded Tit from the North Wall. A colony of Ant Lions near the visitor centre and a gathering of Freshwater Shrimps in one of the ditches were the other highlights of the visit.

Acting on information from the volunteers at reception we headed south for the evening for another Nightjar watch. Conditions were much more favourable (but not too midgey biggrin) and we had good views of two males displaying at very close quarters. A couple of Grasshopper Warblers were reeling here as well.

Monday:
The day dawned as wet as forecast, so we headed straight off home - with the usual diversions! The Lesser Scaup eluded us at the Anglers/Winterset/Cold Hiendly complex, with just a Lesser Whitethroat added to our tally. Better luck at Fairburn, however, with the Spoonbill and a Whinchat near Phalarope Pool. A quick trip up to Featherbed Moss failed added Red Grouse and brought our trip total to 129 seen and 4 heard

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Late post for last weekend when I spent an excellent few days at various Norfolk and Suffolk sites. I am lucky enough to have a friend down there who is a keen birder and far more knowledgeable than I am and therefore makes a great guide.

The trip produced 5 lifers for me, the highlight of which was Parrot Crossbill at Waveney Forest, which actually turned out to eventually be a flock of 18 birds, stunning.

Next up was a Rough Legged Buzzard at Holkham, which we scoped for about 10mins on a fence post devouring a small prey item.

Other firsts for me were Common Crane (2) at Lakenheath RSPB, Velvet Scoter (2) at Holkham Beach and a single Female Smew at Minsmere.

All in all a cracking weekend which also included a visits to Blythburgh and Titchwell Marsh. Will definitely be going back ASAP.

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Our usual January trip got off to a disappointing start, with most of Friday (24th) spent in fruitless pursuit of Smew around various Cambridgeshire gravel pit complexes. Very necessary road-widening works on the A11 meant that we were too late for Marsh Tit at either of our usual Norfolk sites.

Sat 25th
A gloomy start to the morning, as well as lack of news from either Yare Valley site meant that we headed straight to Great Yarmouth for the usual bread-chucking event. Only 3 Mediterranean Gulls (2 Adults & 1 2nd Winter) showed up among the comparatively few Black-headed Gulls competeing with the local pigeons for cheap processed white bread, but there were a few more further along the promenade when we parked up for our search for the Shore Larks. After a long search of the dunes by at least a dozen birders the 2 birds were disturbed from the access ramp to the beach by a late-comer! Having proved elusive for some time they then showed extermely well, in company with the 6 Skylarks which had been causing false alarms all morning.
We then headed to Colton Woods, where, after a mix-up with the locals, who were twitching a Lowestoft rarity (Nuthatch), we had decent views of 2 of the 3 Firecrests around the wood's small pond. On to Ness Point to risk limbs, if not life, viewing the flock of 10 Purple Sandpipers feeding on and in the sea defences, before heading to Waveney Forest in search of Rough-legged Buzzard. No sign of that, but a smart male Hen Harrier was a consolation ( for some of the party). We called at Ludham Airfield for the mixed flock of Bewick and Whooper Swans en route to Stubbs Mill for the Harrier roost, where a surprisingly small group watched at least 35 Marsh Harriers gather for the evening, along with 2 ring-tailed Hen Harriers. Seven adult Cranes were seen (2-2-3) as well as one juvenile with the second pair, which was displaying to its' parents. Just as we started to head back to the car there was an enormous orange flash on the horizon, heralding what someone described as 'the mother of all thunderstorms'. It certainly was that. It's the first time I've seen a broad orange flash on either side of the usual white-hot bolt and the speed at which the storm approached was second only to that achieved by us as we raced for the car park in the face of rain, hail and strong winds!

Sunday 26th
A better start to the day, despite the overall forecast. We made use of the dry start to tick Waxwing at what must be one of their regular sites in Norwich before heading up to Holt. We arrived just as the Parrot Crossbills had been spotted, getting especially good views when the group of 8 flew out to a dead tree in the cleared area, where they seemed to be dropping down to drink. We headed on to Cley (past a much altered coastal skyline) but failed to find the Glossy Ibis, so continued to Wells (no Black Brants with the Brent Geese this year) and the goose-free zone at Lady Anne's Drive. A Ruff here was a useful addition to the year & trip lists. There were several coveys of Red-legged Partridge in the fields leading up to Choseley Drying Barns, but the strong wind and rain kept all the small passerines wisely tucked into the hedges. After lunch in Titchwell carpark we headed out to the beach, where the effects of the big storm were obvious, not only in the destruction of the boardwalk and viewing platform, but also in the distance between the site of the platform and the remains of the backing sand dunes; not to mention the smell of decay over the salt marsh. There were Bar-tailed Godwits and Sanderling on the beach, with Common Scoter, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser off shore, but conditions were now too poor to have any chance of finding any Velvet Scoter seen earlier, so we headed off to the hides. With most birds taking shelter, Avocet, Shelduck, Turnstone, Grey Plover and an elusive Ringed Plover were the only birds braving the weather. After a warm-up in the cafe we headed round to Fen Hide. The weather now improved considerably as the clouds on the horizon parted to cast a warm winter glow over the reserve. No Bittern here this trip, but we added Scaup and Cetti's Warbler to the trip list, while watching around 15 Marsh Harriers pass east along the coast. A couple of ring-tailed Hen Harriers also came in to roost, with one bird giving particularly good views as it settled just at the back of the pool. A Barn Owl on our way home was a good end to the day

We headed back to Manchester first thing on Monday morning, via Broomhead Reservoir, where the Two-barred Crossbill eluded us, and Pugney's Country Park, where the drake Smew didn'tbiggrin. Between us Miss Foulkes and Messers Rigby, Rayner and self managed a trip total of 108, which wasn't bad, considering the conditions.

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I just back from a week around the Hunstanton area going to Snettisham, Holme, Titchwell, Cley and Welney this is my weeks list. Lots of good things but some obvious things I didnt get like Reed Bunting

1. Red-throated Diver
2. Little Grebe
3. Great Crested Grebe
4. Manx Shearwater
5. Gannet
6. Cormorant
7. Little Egret
8. Grey Heron
9. Spoonbill 6 at Titchwell
10. Barnacle Goose
11. Brent Goose
12. Shelduck
13. Wigeon
14. Teal
15. Pintail
16. Shoveler
17. Eider
18. Common Scoter
19. Marsh Harrier
20. Buzzard
21. Kestrel
22. Hobby
23. Moorhen
24. Coot
25. Oystercatcher
26. Avocet
27. Little Ringed Plover
28. Ringed Plover
29. Grey Plover
30. Lapwing
31. Knot
32. Sanderling
33. Little Stint seen at Titchwell, Cley and Welney
34. Pectoral Sandpiper 1 at Titchwell
35. Curlew Sandpiper probably 20 on the Sunday at Titchwell
36. Purple Sandpiper 1 at Titchwell
37. Dunlin
38. Ruff
39. Snipe
40. Black-tailed Godwit
41. Bar-tailed Godwit
42. Whimbrel
43. Curlew
44. Spotted Redshank
45. Redshank
46. Wood Sandpiper
47. Common Sandpiper
48. Turnstone
49. Great Skua
50. Black-headed Gull
51. Lesser Black-backed Gull
52. Herring Gull
53. Great Black-backed Gull
54. Sandwich Tern
55. Common Tern
56.
57. Woodpigeon
58. Collared Dove
59. Green Woodpecker
60. Swallow
61. House Martin
62. Yellow Wagtail
63. Pied Wagtail
64. Dunnock
65. Robin
66. Whinchat at least 3 at Cley
67. Blackbird
68. Reed Warbler
69. Willow Warbler
70. Bearded Tit
71. Long-tailed Tit
72. Coal Tit
73. Blue Tit
74. Great Tit
75. Jay
76. Magpie
77. Jackdaw
78. Rook
79. Carrion Crow
80. Starling
81. House Sparrow
82. Chaffinch
83. Greenfinch
84. Goldfinch
85. Linnet
86. Mute Swan
87. Greylag Goose
88. Canada Goose
89. Mallard
90. Egyptian Goose
91.
92. Pheasant


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A weekend in Norfolk has turned up some good birds. This afternoon I managed to see my first Pink Footed Geese of the Autumn, with half a dozen arriving in a field just West of Holkham.
Yesterday (13th) I managed the following highlights at Titchwell:
1 Pectoral Sandpiper
2 Little Stint
1 Spoonbill
12 Curlew Sandpiper
7 Grey Plover
3 Ruff
2 Marsh Harrier
1 Snipe
2 Bearded Tits

Snettisham beach:
1 Hobby
1 Marsh Harrier
1 Whimbrel (a first for me)
Lots of the usual waders on what was a great days birding.biggrin

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This year's East Anglia was slightly later than normal, which made some of our sightings unusually interesting.

Friday May 31st.
4.48 a.m. Riggers, Karen Foulkes and I started the day at Little Paxton as usual. The Nightingales seemed a little subdued by the less than Spring-like weather and we had got a good way around the Heron Trail before we even heard one. We were nearly back at the car park before we saw one. Neither sight nor sound of Turtle Dove here, but we didn't try our alternative site on the reserve, hoping to pick these birds up elsewhere. We had good views of Cuckoo & Lesser Whitethroat, Riggers spotted a Kingfisher and there were plenty of Blackcaps and Garden Warblers. Other wildlife included a Muntjac troting down the path in front of us and both Smooth and Great Crested Newts in the visitor centre's pond.

On to Berry Fen, near Earith, which seems a promising wetland reserve. We only visited the flooded watermeadow at the eastern end of the reserve, but among the usual suspects (which now includes Little Egret!) we found the Pectoral Sandpiper, which obliged by flying in from a more distant corner of the meadow. Yellow Wagtail was a pleasing addition to the list here as well.

After calling at one of our regular Breckland stops for Tree Pipit, we headed to Weeting to meet with Mike Ausberger in improving weather. A Stone Curlew was visible, but not particularly active at the top of the slope in front of West Hide, unlike the three Spotted Flycatchers, one of whom was having a punch-up with a local Chaffinch. Queue lots of frantic chasing around the tops of the Pine trees (The birds, not usbiggrin). Marsh Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were on the feeders here.

After checking into our digs we headed back out, this time to Lakenheath. Unfortunately, we picked a day when not only the Red-footed Falcon but all the Hobbys had decided to go elswhere. In fact we couldn't even find a Kestrel anywhere near the reserve. No Golden Orioles either, but a comparatively short wait brought great views of the Savi's Warbler. We arrived at the western viewpoint just in time to see one of the Cranes fly out to feed in fields just across the Little Ouse. Several Marsh Harriers were quartering the reeds, we had a Bittern flypast and this year's bonus bird from the river bank was a very pale Barn Owl. Fortified by a chippie tea we ended the evening with some of the best views of Nightjar I can remember, inculding a head-on flight view with all four white tip spots visible at only a few yards distance.

Saturday June 1st
Yesterday's disappointing weather returned, so it was almost as cold on Cley's East Bank as on some of our winter visits. This didn't seem to purturb the male Bluethroat, who obliged by sitting and singing on various bushes out in the reeds. Good views of Bearded Tits as well, along with Sandwich Terns and a variety of common waders. After a quick warm-up in the visitor centre we headed off to Titchwell. A pair of Garganey, Spoonbill, 8 Little Gulls (of various ages) and 71 Bar-tailed Godwits were the highlights here. The interesting thing was that the Godwits were all still in winter plumage, whereas the local Gadwall were already moulting into eclipse. This seems to reflect a general situation, with some species still in winter plumage or early stages of breeding, while others are well advanced. The Orioles at Lakenheath were particularly late arriving, for example and there were the reports of very large arrivals of Spotted Flycatcher at Portland and on the LLeyn Peninsular this weekend. Other highlights here were Chinese Water Deer and a very confiding Water Vole. A quick stop at Chosley Barns for Corn Bunting, then off to Dersingham Bog to brave the midge onslaught for even better views of Nightjars than the night before, including one churring on the branch of a Birch Tree close to one of the paths and a pair flying together. According to one of the local birders the females were just in, maybe just the previous evening. Roding Woodcock and calling Tawny Owl ended the evening.

Sunday June 2nd
A much better day. Karen's spot of a hunting Barn Owl was the highlight of our journey to Minsmere and Dunwich. We saw fewer Dartford Warblers about this year, the winter seems to have taken more of a toll this year. No Little Terns on the Scrape this year and only fly-over Mediterranean Gulls. 2 Little Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Cuckoo, Cetti's Warbler and Hobby enlivened a three hour wait before the Great White Egret flew back to the pool behind South Hide to give good views as it fished. A visit to the Levels produced 4 more Spoonbills to go with the 2 seen spiralling up from the reserve earlier in the day, a variety of other waterfowl and a Wheatear in the dunes. We ended our stay here with a lively 15 mins(out of 2 hours) in the Bittern hide. Male & female Hobbys and Marsh Harriers, a flyby from the Great White Egret and some excellent views of 2 Bitterns which landed in the pool in front of the hide. One gave a great display of its' hunting techniques in fresh short reed growth, while the other headed deeper into the reedbed, climbed up and was still sky-pointing when we left. The evening proved a bit too windy and cool for any Nightjar activity, but Westleton Heath still provided two more Dartford Warblers, a Woodlark and a small group of Red Deer.

Monday June 3rd.
On our way home we called in at Roydon Common for a very high-flying Wood Lark before visting the excellent little RSPB reserve at Framton Marsh for great close views of a pair of Black-winged Stilts. Sadly, even here the Turtle Doves eluded us yet again. All in all a good weekend, despite two mornings of very chilly weather. Inevitably, it's impossible to be everywhere at once, so we missed a few things, but a trip total of 123 seen and 3 heard only was still good. Other wildlife included a Stoat with prey being chased across a Minsmere heath by Rabbits, Brimstone, Peacock, Orange-Tip, Speckled Wood, Small White, Small Copper and Small Heath butterflies, China Mark and Ermine Moths, plenty of Hares (including one which didn't see us comingsmile) and a good array of

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Like Nick and Neil, Riggers, Karen Foulkes, Mike Ausberger and I spent last weekend in East Anglia.

Friday 25th:
Riggers, Karen and I arrived at Little Paxton not long after 5 a.m., calling first at Diddington Pit. As well as a good collection of water birds we managed to track down a Turtle Dove, heard Cuckoo, and had good views of several Garden Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats. Also added Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker to the trip list together with Yellowhammer. Moving on to Little Paxton we finally managed good views of Nightingale, together with fly-over male Cuckoo's (including one christened 'Klangers Cuckoo' due to it's comical call)
Other wildlife here included male Banded and female Beautiful Demoiselles, Muntjac, Brimstone and Orange Tip. 60+ bird species seemed like a good start to the weekend.

We arrived at Weeting and headed for the West Hide and soon located the Stone Curlew and the 3 Woodlarks. Mike A. joined us at lunchtime and, after checking out the pair of Stone Curlew at East Hide we headed back west, where we also found the Spotted Flycatcher.

After checking in at our hotel we headed to Lakenheath. After a fairly long wait (enlivened by aerobatic Hobbys, calling Cranes and Cuckoos and booming Bitterns) we had some of the best U.K. views I've had of the male Golden Oriole. An added bonus was the Osprey Riggers spotted as we walked back along the embankment.

We finished the day in Thetford Forest. A cool breeze reduced Nightjar activity to one burst of churring and brief flight views, but roding Woodcock and a Tree Pipit were added before we headed back to the lodge to be lulled to sleep by the local Nightingale

Saturday 26th:
With negative/discouraging news from North Creake and Swanton Novers, we headed straight for the East Bank at Cley, for good views of Cetti's Warbler and Bearded Tit, among others. A short sea-watch produced Little and Sandwich Terns, plenty of Gannets and a Red-throated Diver. The Temminck's Stint at Bishop's Hide was just about viewable around the backs of several large photographers, as was a Little Gull. Pat's Pool was much quieter, with nothing to disturb the Spoonbill's slumbers

We made our way to Titchwell via the south entrance to Holkham Hall, to enjoy good views of the Red Kite with our lunch. Titchwell was fairly quiet, with the plastic Red-crested Pochard, drake Garganey and female Red-breasted Merganser on the reserve and both species of Godwit among the usual waders on the beach.

Chosely Barns were devoid of Tree Sparrows and Corn Buntings, so we headed on to Hunstanton to add Fulmar and Brent Goose to the list before opting for Sandringham for our second nightjar watch. The weather was the same as the previous night, as were the results, with Coal Tit substituted for Tree Pipit. Still, the midges seemed happy to see us

Sunday 27th:
Headed across the region to Minsmere, calling first at Dunwich Heath. Several male and female Dartford wrblers here, together with a family party of Stonechats and a couple of Dingy Skippers.

Unfortunately, we failed to locate Mediterranean Gull, Garganey and Little Stint at Minsmere, so had to make do with a Bittern sky-pointing in a reed patch too short for it, several Kittiwakes and an Arctic Tern on the Scrapes, together with a good collection of waders on the South Levels. These included 1 Greenshank, 2 Wood Sandpipers, several Grey Plovers in various plumage phases and a nice 'compare and contrast' summer and winter plumage Sanderling pair. A distant view of one of the Stone Curlew pairs completed the circuit.

We were too early for the Barn Owls at Eastbridge, but a Water Vole, and a variety of dragon and damselflys were among the distractions, before we headed back to Dunwich for Long-eared Owl and a cracking early dusk view of a Nightjar. On our way back to Eastbridge Karen spotted a Little Owl on a fence post and a distant Barn Owl completed the trio.

Monday 28th:
News of the local Red Kite drew us back to Manchester via Swillington Ings and a stop off near a picturesque children's play area added Peregrine, Siskin and Redpoll to our overall total of 138 bird species - the best any of us can remember for a trip here.

Other wildlife included: Water shrew, Red-eyed and Blue-tailed Damselflys, Hairy Hawker, Four-spotted Chaser, Scarce Chaser, Sea Spurge, Sea Milkwort, Amsinckia, and Dovesfoot Cranesbill

-- Edited by Mike Chorley on Wednesday 30th of May 2012 11:23:16 PM

-- Edited by Mike Chorley on Wednesday 30th of May 2012 11:27:56 PM

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This should be read in conjunction with Nick Isherwood's posts on Paxton Pits and Norfolk as we were in the same localities, maybe even on the same reserves at the same time.

Thursday 24 May

Drove down to Rutland Water to set the weekend off with a nice easy Osprey. And, on this occasion, we were in for a treat as the female on the nest at Manton Bay was out hunting - magical! We also picked up Common Tern, Sedge Warbler, Egyptian Goose and Garden Warbler along with a host of common birds to start us on our annual aim to see 100+ birds in the short break. Down the road at Edith Weston we stopped at a shop and spotted another bird of prey overhead - a Red Kite! Starting an East Anglian weekend list with Osprey and Red Kite as the first two birds of prey seems bizarre but I wasn't complaining. Lack of usual Tree Sparrow on the feeders at Manton Bay was to cost us as we never saw any at all elsewhere.

Down the A1 to Paxton Pits for Nightingale; well, we heard them, plus a yaffling Green Woodpecker, but saw neither. However as we walked round the Heron trail we did get to view a calling Cuckoo plus a pair of Red-Legged Partridge.

We retired to a guest house near Mildenhall for the evening.

Friday 25 May

Down to Lakenheath Fen and a long fruitless stake-out for the Golden Oriole, clearly calling but not showing well, although a few of the large number of visitors had spotted it. Several Marsh Harriers, a couple of Hobbies and a pair of Bearded Tits were easier and it was a pleasure to visit this great fairly-new reserve.

Short drive to Weeting Heath for an ice cream then two pairs of Stone Curlew showing adequately and a bonus with three Woodlark, which have apparently got rarer here recently. No Green Woodpecker though.

Down the back roads to Welney, a reserve which doesn't seem to get many visitors in the summer unless a rarity turns up and one didn't, though there always seems to be one or more stayover Whooper Swans to add to the list. Stock Dove and Little Egret boosted the numbers, plus a Common Gull with a broken wing, but the high water levels meant a dearth of waders (a feature of the weekend).

We drove down deeper into Suffolk to stay at a farmhouse near Halesworth, from where we made our evening pilgrimage to Westleton Heath for Nightjar; my wife spotted a Barn Owl on the way but as I was driving I only got a glimpse. We found a very obliging Nightjar on the heath, churring well before dark and briefly visible on a horizontal branch.

Saturday 26 May

My wife got up early to do a spot of geocaching and found another Barn Owl around six a.m. but I'd picked up a cold and opted for a couple more hours in bed.

Over to Minsmere and straight to Bittern Hide for a long scan of the reedbeds, which produced more Marsh Harriers, another pair of Bearded Tits and the odd Hobby; however after admitting defeat on the star bird we were walking down towards West Hide when a Cetti's Warbler decided to flit between bushes, giving a reasonable view for once, followed within a few seconds by something flying high over the north part of the reserve. We swung our bins - Bittern!

Those two great sightings turned the morning somewhat, although Minsmere was hardly at its best with just a few waders amongst the gulls, and nothing on the dunes. One of seven pairs of Stone Curlews on the reserve was just visible through the heat haze on the northern side.

A repeat visit to nearby Westleton Heath was better though, with good views of Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Linnet and Woodlark all in the same small area just off the Roman road.

We then drove cross-country via Beccles and Dereham to stay for our final night in Burnham Market, omitting Cley (which we don't like very much) and Salthouse Heath (our "reserve reserve" for Nightjar which we'd safely got). No sign of Montagu's Harrier though, or indeed any other hopeful birders at its usual site for the last few years.

Sunday 27th May

Somehow we always rely on Titchwell, our final big reserve, to boost our trip numbers but again the high waters meant fewer waders than expected, although we found Knot, Turnstone and Sanderling on the beach, though the sea itself seemed devoid of birds. A couple of Little Tern flying past were very welcome. However we dipped out on a briefly-showing Common Crane and possibly Little Gull.

Back home I verified the trip count - 95 seen, three heard but not seen (Golden Oriole, Green Woodpecker and Nightingale). Ridiculous omissions such as Ringed Plover and Long-Tailed Tit not seen or heard - I then realised I'd not written down Mistle Thrush so added it in - and no rare migrants, although we rarely go out of our way to chase such. No Turtle Dove, sadly, for the first time - this looks to be getting a real scarcity.

On the other hand we'd had four glorious sunny days, great accommodation and food, we'd also done a bit of geocaching and we'd seen birds which were just fantasy birds when we started the hobby, without going mad and running round all day getting exhausted. I rechecked the list - I'd missed out Avocet, which made the total including heard-only 100 after all. Sign of the times, being so blase about Avocets that you don't note them down.

I do wonder whether we'd have been better off omitting Minsmere and making sure we cover the Norfolk reserves better with less driving and more birding but I just love those three RSPB reserves and like them to be the main focus of our three days.

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RE: East Anglian weekend


I'm surprised we didn't bump into you, Henry. We did many of the same sites 3rd- 6th, with similar results. Little Paxton, Weeting, Titchwell, Roydon (cracking view of Woodlark in the carpark, with two more in flight) & Lakenheath.

Also visited Welney, Minsmere (several Bittern, Sandwich, Little & Roseate Terns, Spoonbill, several Cetti's), Gt. Ryburgh & North Creake (no luck at either site), Grimes Graves (beware low-flying Nightjars!) and some of us came back via Hartlepool!

As you say, a great part of the country.


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East Anglia


4th-5th June: Popped down with Phil Owen to take in some of the special birds of this region on my first summer trip here. Generally good weather but the wind kept a few species down and therefore not seen. Overall a successful trip to a fab part of the country. Some of the sightings included:

Paxton Pits - 8+ Nightingales, 2 Turtle Doves, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 4 Common Terns, 3 Green Woodpeckers.

Weeting Heath NWT - 1 Stone Curlew (plus another a short way from the reserve), 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2+ Common Crossbills, 3 Stock Doves, 2 Green Woodpeckers.

Strumpshaw Fen RSPB - (visited mainly for Swallowtail Butterfly) 1 Hobby, 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Marsh Tits. A Marsh Warbler was reported but heard/saw nothing on a short search.

Titchwell RSPB - 9 Avocets, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 24 Black-tailed Godwits, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Gannets, 5 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Little Terns and a face full of sand in the strong northerly!

Dersingham Bog NNR - 4+ Nightjars, 6+ Woodcocks, 1 Tawny Owl, 1 Grasshopper Warbler.

Wolferton Triangle - 1 Golden Pheasant, 1 Siskin.

Roydon Common - 2 Woodlarks (heard only), 4 Yellowhammers, 2 Curlews, 2 Red-legged Partridges

Lakenheath Fen RSPB - 1-2 Golden Orioles (heard only), 2 Garganeys, 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Hobbys, 5+ Cuckoos, 1 Turtle Dove, 2 Bearded Tits, 1 Common Tern, 1 Green Woodpecker.

Spurn YWT - Slight detour on way home proved successful for Marsh Warbler at the point. It eventually showed really well amongst the Sea Buckthorn. No sign of reported Icterine Warbler but 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and 1 Little Tern also here.

Thanks. Henry.

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Tuesday 29th of May 2012 10:32:00 PM

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