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RE: East Anglia

East Anglia trip 12th - 15th May.

I'm blaming the people picking the Webs dates, Matt biggrin More and more seem to tally with our long-established trip dates.

After a more successful Lincolnshire start than last year (see that tread) we headed to Weeting for a lateish lunch. We tried to check the field on the other side of the road but were facing right into a strong wind, so settled for the sitting bird at the West End. Back end views at first, until a Common Buzzard came over low, to be mobbed by the Curlew pair and Lapwings etc, which got the sitting bird up and then re-positioned side on. That field over the road has always had birds, I think, as I had a great view of one close to the road on my first visit there in about 1983. Seen a few more in there since. We could hear a Spotted Flycatcher in the area of the West Hide but couldn't locate it. Checked the area down to the Woodland Pool as well but no luck so headed off to check in to our hotel. Seemed too windy for Nightjars so we headed down to Lackford Lakes and had good(ish) views of one of three Nightingales singing on the approach road. First Hobby and Cuckoo of the trip here too

The forecast said Saturday was the better day for Minsmere, so we headed there with a diversion caused, we think, by the trio of hay barns still on fire when we can back on our original route in the late afternoon! Started on Westleton Heath with a pair of Woodlarks then found a few Dartford Warblers, before heading onto the reserve itself. Seemed a bit quiet (fewer waders than usual) but we got good views of a Garden Warbler, Pintail, summer plumage Turnstone, 3 Med Gulls, the usual flock of Kittiwakes, and all the usual's on the scrapes. The Wood Sandpipers were tucked in at the near side of Chapel Floods and stayed out of view. Up to 5 Hobby's at once from Bittern hide, a few views of Bittern (including one flying in to hunt in the short reed right below the hide) and a distant Great Egret

Back for a chippy tea in Thetford, then on into the forest. Checked suitable areas for Tree Pipit and found one with 5 singing males, plus Stonechats, Great Spotted Woodpecker etc. Then had a bonus of an over-flying Woodcock - not roding, possibly flushed. One Nightjar started up early at a regular location, did a couple of fly arounds, then flew off, so we took ourselves home out of the wind.

Sunday started with a misty drive to Snettisham. One Turtle Dove was seen on the telegraph posts at the start of the north track along the embankment, with at least 4 more heard. Even the ones 'purring' in the isolated groups of hawthorn in the burnt-out area were difficult to find. The Long-billed Dowitcher at Wild Ken Hill pools was equally hard so until a Marsh Harrier flushed the large flock of sleeping Black-tailed Godwits and Riggers picked it out. Even when the flock landed again and started to feed it was getting pushed about the place and obscured by the grass. A couple of Lesser Whitethroat at the road end of the path as we walked back.

On to Choseley to tick off two distant Dotterel (Wheatear en route), then a quick look around the old drying barns failed to locate the reported Med Gulls but got us a Corn Bunting. All the Little's at Titchwell - 3/4 Little Gulls inc 1 adult, pair of Little Terns and Little Ringed Plover. We all got views of different Bearded Tits but couldn't find the Spot Fly around the car park. On to Swanton Novers for a raptor watch. No Honey Buzzard for us in three hour wait (nor any in the three preceding 3 hours apparently) but we got good views of a pair of Goshawks, 2 Sparrowhawks, inc. one attacking the female Goshawk, 1 each of Marsh Harrier, Red Kite and Kestrel, half a dozen Common Buzzards and 5 Cormorant high over. Had an evening drive round but failed to find any Barn Owls. Fly-by Cuckoo, 2 Hobbies, pair of Garganey and a screaming Water Rail from the embankment at Lakenheath.

Nothing local reported on Monday morning, so we headed home via short stops at Rutland Water to watch one of the Osprey pairs, and St Aidans for Little Owl and Black-necked Grebe. Group total of 126 species seen, with Spotted Flycatcher, Water Rail and Green Woodpecker only heard.

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East Anglia Trip - 8/5/2023 - 10/5/2023

Day 1 - 8/5/2023

Weeting Heath

As neither myself or the Riggers / Chorley / Rayner trio can manage to sort a mutual date we can all do, another solo trip.

West hide always seems best for Stone Curlew and it didnt take long for one to show its self. Lots of rooks, lapwing, shelduck and a calling curlew also. No spotted fly or Woodlark, but there were three Stone Curlew on the other side of the road which I have never witnessed before.


All the usual stuff seen at Lakenheath with highlights being 35 Hobbys in the air from Joist Fen, a close flyby of a Cuckcoo, and the loudest Cettis Warbler I have ever heard! One day I will take a walk down to Botany Bay Wood to see the Hobbys at close hand.


At this point I should have gone to Lackford Lakes to look for Nightingale, but decided (wrongly) that I would pick up Nightingale at Holme as one had been seen regularly.... See below.

Last year, this was the place for Turtle Doves, but a terrible fire had destroyed lots of the coastal scrub and trees. However, life was growing fast at low level, and lots of good habitat remained at the start of the sea wall. A Lesser Whitethroat gave good views and I was soon hearing the purring of a Turtle Dove. Later reports after I left suggested 6 were seen. Good to see they are back after the fire.


No Nightingale....


A quick search (and assistance from another birder) put me onto at least five of the seven reported Dotteral. Very difficult to see in the ploughed fields at quite a distance. Also Red Legged Partridge and Yellowhammer.

Thornham / Holkham / North Point Pools

A quick stop off at each. The drake Garganey showed very well, and was with a female too. Not a lot at eithe Holkham or North Point Pools so off to Deepdale to put the tent up and go to the pub.

A Spoonbill flew over the pub and Tawny and Little Owl heard on the way back to campsite put the list on 76 for the trip so far.

Day 2 - 9/5/2023


Not a great deal on the sea. A Few Fulmar and Great Crested Grebes added to the list. A very showy Little Gull on the freshmarsh, and all the usual wildfowl and waders you would expect. Some nice close views of Little Tern. I heard that they have put a feeding station at the end of East Trail for Turtle Doves but I didnt see or hear any.


A walk along East Bank gave good views of Bearded Tits and Reed Warbler. No signs of reported Wood Sandpiper on the serpentine and not a lot on the sea. On the main reserve a nice summer plumaged Spotted Redshank gave good views and a bittern booming in the reed bed. Four hobbies flew high above the visitor centre and brief visit to a part of the reserve I have never been to before gave no joy on the previous days reports of Black and Grey headed wagtails.

Day 3 - 10/5/2023


A quick stop off to see Temmincks Stint. Which was difficult to see after the jungle expedition down the paths. Four sleeping Spoonbill were also there and some Widgeon.

North Point Pools

Nothing much again other than another drake Garganey. Speaking to a dad and lad, they reminded me of Swanton Novers watchpoint. Its on my list but I had sort of overseen it. So off I went ...

Swanton Novers

It much have been 20 years since I had been here. The first thought was the sheer noise of Skylarks, Warblers, Yellowhammers and Linnets. They were everywhere. And a welcome vision of wildlife and farming co existing.

Dad and lad turned up. I had only seen Common Buzzard up to this point. The lad didnt take long to pick up a Goshawk. Then a Honey Buzzard.

Titchwell and Snettisham

Wrapping up the weekend, another brief look for Turtle Doves at the feeding point at Titchwell with no luck, but purring Turtle Doves at Snettisham again.

I ended the trip on 106 species with a few obvious missed birds. Great weather again. Id probably try and include Lackford Lakes and Minsmere in next time!


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East Anglia Trip - 6/2/2023 - 8/2/2023

Day 1 - 6/2/2023

Smithy Fen.

First stop off was Smithy Fen. A very misty start so I was hoping to be able to see anything in the glolom! Plenty of reports of Caspian Gull for this site so I thought I would give it a try. Walking along the flood embankment of the River Lode, I soon saw the flooded field where the gulls were.

Setting up the scope, a loud bang sent everything up into the air, but the flocks soon settled and I was onto an adult Caspian Gull pretty quickly. A couple of first winter birds also identified. No Kumliens Gull which had been reported on and off, but a Yellow Legged Gull put in an appearance as I was leaving. 

A nice site for gulls and one for the list on next visits. Usual waterfowl and waders plus a few yaffling Green Woodpeckers got a count up to 14 in 30 minutes.

Lynford Aboretum

The sun had burnt off the mist by now giving excellent blue skies and sun! Hawfinch sightings had been thin on the ground this winter with ones and twos being seen. A couple of hours didnt produce a Hawfinch but plenty of other woodland species including more calling Green Woodppeckers and a small number of Marsh Tits giving good close views got the list up to 39.



Target species here is the Tree Sparrow. And watching them whilst enjoying a pasty and coffee is always nice. Cattle Egret was putting in a good show, as were the usual waterfowl and waders, including a solitary Avocet. As I was driving away, the first Barn Owl of the trip was seen by the road, and a Green Woodpecker was seen flying out from the fields. With the list now up to 57.


Mr Chorley put me onto the place. I expected to be their on my own, but the car park was full and lots of birders there. I quickly got the Short Eared and Long Eared Owls in the hedges. And a Tawny Owl in a hole in a tree. The tree owls were almost signposted with muddy patches where birders had been, and were stood. Walking back to the car park to look for the Cranes, I saw a male Hen Harrier, which everyone got to see when I pointed it out. Lots of Whooper Swans out on the flooded flields, but the Cranes were not playing, and approx 40 had been seen earlier were now behind a wood. As the afternoon drew on, three Short Eared Owls were out quartering the marshes, and took a dislike to a Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier. Three Barn Owls were out hunting also as well as a Red Kite.

An excellent site, and with wall to wall sunshine all afternoon it was  great start to the trip. Including birds en route, the total now tallied 80 species. 

I was staying at the excellent Deepdale camping Barns in Burham Deepdale. Which was conveniently close tot he Jolly Sailors pub. On the way back from the pub, a recognisable calling led me to a small bird on a telegraph pole - a Little Owl. All five (usual) Owls in one day!


Day 2 - 7/2/2023

Filby Broad #1

After a brief stop off at Great Rybugh (whoever put the map location of Birdguides wants to learn how to read a map...) to spot a herd of Bewicks Swans I arrived at Filby Board. The light was terrible, with looking into bright sunshine and blue sky so decided to come back later in the afternoon. More Green woodpeckers heard!

Great Yarmouth

In usual style, a loaf of bread chucked on the beach at Great Yarmouth brought in all the gulls. I was practically feeding Med Gulls out of my hands!! 

A Black Redstart had been reported at the Power Station at the other end of the prom road. No sign but a high pitched calling alerted me to a Peregrine Falcon heading over mobbed by crows and perched up on the chimney giving excellent views. 

Filby Broad #2

A quicks top off at Ormesby and Rollesby Broads didnt produce the reported Smew and Red Crested Pochard, but plenty of Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe.

Second attempt. Yes you guessed it, more Green Woodpeckers! The light still wasnt great but the sun had moved so was better than this morning. Two birders managed to put me on to the area the Furruginous Ducks had been seen. It took a while, but after we all got a female Ring Necked Duck a male Furruginous Duck swam into view.

A brief drive around Ludham Airfield produced no herds of swans, and a look around Clippesby saw no Cranes.

Stubbs Mill

A very quiet Stubbs Mills this visit, which seems to be a more a more regular occurrence. When we used to visit 'back in the day' with Chorley and Riggers, it was very productive. A lone male Hen Harrier and sever Marsh Harriers were pretty much it. Not even a Barn Owl! Or a Green Woodpecker! However there were two Great White Egrets flapping about.

Determined to see Cranes, I had a walk onto the reserve. Three more GW Egrets flapping about and having a scrap!  And I discovered that there is now a path to Stubbs Mill! I dont know how long that has been there, Ive been walking down the lane for years now! Anyway, with the sun almost set and about to give up, a flock of somethings appeared far on the horizon, with a feint sound of Cranes calling. Scope up and you could just make out a flock of Cranes which landed on the marsh at distance. 

With the list now up to 93, I drove back to Burnham Deepdale, and back to the pub for a pint or six of Wherry!

Day 3 - 8/2/2023

North Norfolk Coast

First stop Titchwell. Plenty of Brent Geese flying about and sat on the reserve. More Marsh Harriers and plenty of waders including Golden and Grey Plover, Bar and Black Tailed Goldwits, Redshank and a Spotted Redshank. Seawatching was a bit quiet, Red Breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye and GC Grebes plus a few Fed Throated Divers were the highlights.

Onto Holkham. Shore Larks in the usual roped off area. Seawatching again quiet. A Chiffchaff in the pines by the car park got me excited thinking it was 'something else' but it was still a Chiffchaff. No sign of the Firecrest despite a long search. Plenty of Gesse on the marshes including Russian White Fronts and Pink Footed Geese.

No sign of the Twite at Blakeney. Speaking to a birder there, he had been insitu for over two hours and saw a few 'earlier'! 

Up to Cley and the Long Billed Dowitcher was very showey. With a few Ruff and Dunlin. A flock of 50 or so Show Buntings on the beach. And a few more Red Throated Divers on the sea.

Final destination Wareham Greens for the 'Everynight it turns up Pallid Harrier...' Obviously it didnt turn up tonight!! But a very close and showy Barn Owl, Marsh Harriers and a great view of a perched up Merlin. More Great White Egrets (remember when they were rare??) No Green Woodpeckers either! :D

An excellent trip with superb weather and a total of 117 species.



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Not quite as beautiful a start to today, under a waning crescent moon, with some darker cloud to the north east, but clear and cold as we arrived in Great Yarmouth. The annual bread-chucking ceremony once again produced just one, unringed, adult Mediterranean Gull, which seemed more cautious than the rest, standing back on the beach until it saw food being thrown, then dashing in or circling away and back, often to land on the lamps. Dived right into the melee though, landing at quite close quarters, despite the presence of a good number of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, as well as the usual squabbling pack of Black-headed Gulls. Like it, the few Common Gulls present kept their distance.

From here we headed south to Reydon in Suffolk, where 4 Waxwings were settled quite contentedly on one of many berry trees in a modern housing complex, before heading home via Lynford Arboretum. Although the journey across East Anglia was visually quite pleasant and gave us an opportunity to add a few common species to our lists, it was a little depressing noting the scarcity of both game birds and raptors on a journey of roughly 60 miles through what should be prime habitat. Plenty of groups of corvids and pigeons, but only 3 Red-legged Partridges and a couple of Buzzards during the whole trip. Compared to numbers last Sunday and even in between, this was a very low count. Numbers only picked up again on the outskirts of Thetford Forest, mostly of Lesser Black-backed Gulls around pig farms and one large covey of Partridges at a point where it was impossible to stop and check them out. At least we had 1 more Red Kite to add to our tally.

Lynford Arboretum had reasonable numbers of woodland species, including Marsh Tits and Greenfinches, but a combination of past reports of low roost numbers and a chain of reported negative sightings since this morning led to a decision to leave looking for Hawfinches to another day and head home. All in all a reasonable trip and a combined total of 118 species seen with Grey Partridge and Skylark heard only. The latter sensibly keeping very low during the strong winds blowing through Holkham Gap last Monday afternoon.

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We headed to Cantley this morning in a freezingly beautiful winter dawn, arriving just as it sounded like all the geese were leaving. Luckily good numbers of Pink feet remained, with more arriving, Dotted among them were at least 6 Russian White-Fronts, along with the first Canada Geese of our trip. Next was a return to Filby Broad where, with local help, we located two Ferruginous Duck, then spotted a bonus bird in the shape of a drake Red-crested Pochard. A female Scaup was still here but we all failed to find the young Ring-necked Duck this time. On to Rollesby Broad, for 4 red-head Smew, a third Kingfisher of the trip and another Great Egret.From here we went to Sheringham Lifeboat Museum to look for Purple Sandpiper. One of the locals told us they usually arrived later on the incoming tides but put us on to a bird he'd seen just before we arrived. A short sea-watch here produced more Red-throated Divers and 2 Guillemots. Unfortunately we were too late for the Iceland Gull travelling west along the North Norfolk Coast.

There had been no news from Cley about the Long-billed Dowitcher, but we decided to call in anyway. Walking the East Bank revealed that The Serpentine and adjacent pools were frozen, but Arnold's Marsh had open water, with a large collection of gulls, waders and waterfowl, including Grey Plover for those who missed it yesterday() and Ruff. A couple of the latter were rather smart white-headed birds. We also 'scoped a flock of about 50 Snow Buntings between the remains of the dunes and Arnold's Marsh.

We returned to Wareham Greens for the rest of the afternoon in drier, sunnier, less windy but equally cold weather than yesterday. A single Grey Plover, 33 Golden Plover, a second Great Egret of the day, numerous Little Egrets, Mallard, Curlew, Redshank, assorted gulls, crows, parties of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, together with the massed flocks of Knot on the shoreline, provided a backdrop for the raptors. These comprised 2 separate Red Kites; 2 Common Buzzards; 1 male Merlin; at least 1 Peregrine; several Marsh Harriers including at least 1 adult male, and 2 ring-tailed Hen Harriers, the latter of which was confirmed as being the visiting Pallid Harrier; also confirming our thoughts on the distantly seen "interesting" ring-tail from yesterday. Back up the track behind us a Barn Owl was hunting. Not as many new species seen today, but enough to boost the trip total to 110. With many small birds keeping down in yesterday's wind not too shabby.

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Headed to Brancaster first this morning, with 2 more Red Kites being the only birds of interest en route. The Hulme's Yellow Browed Warbler lead us a merry dance east to west along the trees fringing its' favoured pool, calling regularly, but keeping to the leeward side of them, before showing well in a large willow at the western end. 2 Red-throated and 1 Black-throated Divers were fishing in the quieter water between the beach and a sand bar here, with Brent Geese and a few commoner species being added to the trip/year lists.

Next stop was Titchwell, for a walk out to the sea and back, adding a good selection of waders, including Avocet, both species of Godwit, and Grey Plover to our lists, along with Cetti's Warbler, Bearded Tit, Spoonbill, Pintail, Brambling and common woodland species. Plus another Red Kite.

The White-fronted Geese had moved away from Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham leaving stragglers of Pinkfoot and Greylag among the Wigeon and waders, some of which were spooked by, guess what? - yet another Red Kite. biggrin. A very strong wind was blowing through Holkham Gap, keeping small birds low. We made our way to where people were watching 14 of the 24 reported Snow Buntings in the shelter of the dunes. A good selection of smart males in this flock. When we located the other 10, flying into the roped off area, they rapidly disappeared into the ground cover. The area over the path from the roped area held Skylarks, Linnet, 1 Meadow Pipit and 4 Rock Pipits. Shore Larks had been seen in the area just before we arrived but could not be found. A lucky glance behind us located what proved to be all 10 reported birds in the roped area in quite short vegetation, giving us good views as they foraged in a tight group.

The weather was turning wet as well as windy as we headed down to Wareham Greens to scan for harriers. A cold, wet and very windy watch in often obscured conditions, including light hail, produced several Marsh Harriers, a male Hen Harrier, at least 2 ring-tailed harriers and an interesting smaller ringtail that might have been the immature Pallid Harrier, but distant views in less than idea conditions failed to confirm it as the bird being reported from a viewpoint nearby. Hopefully better views tomorrow will prove conclusive. On our way back to the hotel via a chippy in Cromer we added Tawny Owl to the list, now just short of 100.

-- Edited by Mike Chorley on Tuesday 17th of January 2023 10:52:39 PM

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Usual Oldham Birders Jan 'weekend' trip but with slightly shifted dates.

6 a.m. start in windy rainy Oldham. Weather improved as we headed down the A1 to Eldernell on the Nene Washes. Good number of Red Kites en route heralded a good raptor day. At Eldernell a Short-eared Owl showed very well in the hedges, with three of the 6 reported Long-eared Owls slightly better concealed near by. Barn Owl and yet another Red Kite were added to the day/trip lists. The birds were obviously popular and one of the other birders had located 4 of the Common Cranes reported here. Good numbers of waterfowl, large flocks of Lapwing and the days' first Marsh Harrier were also noted.

Near by we saw the first Whooper Swans of the weekend, then more Red Kites, Barn Owl, and good numbers of Kestrels were seen en route to Welney, with one field holding 30 Egyptian Geese - a species we struggled to see in January 2022. The Welney reserve was flooded, so with few new species on offer we opted to grab lunch and a trio of Egret species (1 each of Cattle, Little anf Great) then headed off to Horning where the 4 Bean Geese and 15 Bewick's Swans showed well before tucking themselves in against an icy blast. Yet another Barn Owl seemed to have made a successful strike (or maybe just wanted out of the wind for a minute). Is there a pattern to our sightings emerging?biggrin

From here we moved on to Filby Broad, unfortunately arriving just as the Ferruginous Duck departed north as part of a large flock of wildfowl. Among those remaining - mostly Tufted Duck, Pochard and Goldeneye, we located the female Scaup and a first winter male Ring-necked Duck. A Kingfisher was heard/seen by all three of us.

By the time we had got round to Rollesby Broad the sun was against us, so we opted to head for Stubb Mill at Hickling instead, adding 4 Red-legged Partridge to trip/year lists on the way. Another quiet watch at the old windmill in terms of Common Crane sightings, with a few glimpses of one bird fairly close in deep reed cover, two in flight to the east of us, one behind us on the reserve and a second bird 'bugling' with the first as both walked away north. A total of 3 more Barn Owls here, another Kingfisher giving longer and better views, 30 Marsh Harriers gathering to roost, plus an adult male and a ring-tail Hen Harrier coming in. The latter, by size, probably a female. No Tawny Owls or Woodcocks this evening, but Grey Partridge heard as we walked back to the car park. With a group list of 63 species, a very satisfactory day.

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Originally posted today by Mark Jarrett:

Decided on a trip to Grafham Water, this morning, with Mrs J. Two hours and forty minutes after leaving Northwich, we pulled up on the large car park and quickly made our way to the dam, where a throng of birders could be seen in the distance.

Over the next hour and a half, we watched the Cape Gull at the shoreline, on the railings, in flight and sat out in the middle of the reservoir. It was baking hot in the sun and the bird was clearly feeling the heat as well, panting away and, at times, going for a paddle and brief swim, before returning to the shoreline.

As everyone will no doubt know by now, this is a first for Britain and, whilst news was put out on 7 August, I understand the bird was found on 2 August, photos were taken and later identified as Larus dominicanus vetula, the Kelp Gull subspecies, normally found in Southern Africa. The bird has also been re-aged as a second summer.

Didnt really look at too much else but several Yellow-legged Gull were also present along with Common Tern and several Yellow Wagtail, including a Channel Wagtail. 


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Originally posted by Dove Ousey today:

Cape Gull at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire. 7/8/2022

  After a very hectic night out for me at a couple of friends wedding reception, getting into bed at 1-20am. The last thing you would expect is for a first for Britain to turn up! As we know us seasoned twitchers Always expect the unexpected Waking at around 10-15am my fuzzy head was plotting what to do with the day, when a message from Craig B stated Cape Gull at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire the usual panic set in when a possible first for Britain occurs. Next thought, who wants to go? Texted/phoned around, the usual A teamers had already made plans for a summer Sunday. Then Rob D from Huddersfield and Dave W (now residing mainly in Barnsley) said they would come along, both ardent twitchers and plans were made. The fuzziness cleared as my man`s brain concentrated on getting to the bird as soon and within the law as possible. Picked up Rob D at 12-30pm and we headed for Barnsley, on the way a nice juvenile Cuckoo flew over the car. The usual morass of people going shopping, visiting garden centres, roadworks with nobody actually working on them slowed us. Arriving at Dave W`s abode at 1-30pm helped as we were only a few miles from the A1. Now progress could be made on this road, always aware of lots of sneaky camera`s etc that are positioned on it. As we got near the Newark A17 turn off, Dave`s pager told us that the Cape Gull had flown off. Sorry but the words used for the next few minutes are certainly not printable! We slowed down a little but 5 minutes later a further message told us that the last message was erroneous (that means lies or rubbish) the mood in the car changed and my foot began to feel heavier again.

   We arrived at an already busy carpark at Grafham Water, a place I have never visited before, and found a parking spot, dashing off to the place where the Cape Gull was last seen. It was incredibly hot down here, no wonder they are running out of water. Along the path we saw lots of smiling faces and we heard that the bird was still there, after a couple of minutes we could see the considerable crowd that had assembled from all parts of Britain, so quickly. A look at the bird confirmed the sighting for us all, but we all agreed that if we had seen it for ourselves at some other location on our own that, apart from saying that looks a little strange that we wouldnt have been able to identify it. After watching the Cape Gull for over an hour we all began to recognise the more salient features of the bird. This species has been expanding its range northwards over the last 20 years and it was predicted to grace our shores a couple of years ago. The bird had been initially found a couple of days before by a very diligent man, who is too be congratulated for his identification skills. Once the heat had got to us we retreated to the café, where I had my first food of the day and an ice cream.

Dave O.



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Mike Chorley wrote:


May 20th -23rd

Friday. Started this year's Spring trip in Lincolnshire at Whisby


A couple of trip phonescope photos:

Great Reed Warbler and Turtle Dove, Snettisham


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May 20th -23rd

Friday. Started this year's Spring trip in Lincolnshire at Whisby where Nightingales were conspicuous by their absence, but Garden Warblers were everywhere, including 1 very visible bird. As the rain had arrived further west than forecast we decided to bypass the possible Garganeys in Cambridgeshire and head straight to Weeting Heath. All the activity was centred around West Hide as usual, where a pair on specially prepared broken ground had 2 quite well developed chicks, sensibly sheltering under mum, darting out in turn to be fed. The absence of rabbits has meant the grass is even higher than ever, so it was no surprise that the only Woodlark heard was off site. A Green Woodpecker flew by close to the hide and a distant pair of Egyptian Geese made up for their total absence anywhere during our January trip. A male Wheatear was also present. Fewer than usual common woodland species at the woodland shelter, with just 1 Yellowhammer over in what is now a horse paddock across the road. Mike A had arrived to join Riggers, John R and me by now, so we headed back to the West hide for a look at the Whimbrel which had turned up. A walk down to the East hide was unproductive, but in the meantime one of the Spotted Flycatchers had been seen again and was finally located before we headed to the digs to check-in. After a cuppa and a pub meal we headed out to try our luck around Thetford and eventually located a couple of Nightjars. An attempt at some basic moth-trapping was uninspiring and so to bed, with a calling Tawny Owl for company.

Saturday. Headed straight to Snettisham, where the first of c6 Turtle Doves was heard before we had set foot on the embankment path. The birds were as elusive as usual until a pair did a brief flypast. Unlike them, the Great Reed Warbler showed very well, occasionally flying along the channel to check out the competition from the local Reed and Sedge Warblers. A Red Kite was seen, a Garganey and a couple of Pochard were among the Gadwall, Mallard, Shelduck and Shoveler on the marsh, along with a very large flock of Oystercatcher and a Barn Owl gave plenty of good views as it hunted across the area. Another flypast by a pair Turtle Doves resulted in a couple of short views of perched birds, but by the time we had walked back to the road, glimpsing Cetti's Warblers en route, one was perched up on a telegraph pole purring away. We grabbed lunch then headed down to Titchwell for a walk as far as the brackish marsh. No sign of the Great Egret, but we saw 5 Little Gulls of various ages up to adult on the inner lagoon, along with the usual collection of waders, gulls etc including a Mediterranean Gull. Stopping on our way back to scan for Bearded Tits, we picked up the Great Egret in one of the channels, showing well as it fed. From here we moved on to Muckleburgh Hill, where the Golden Orioles were still singing and occasionally showing. After some slightly confusing directions from locals we made contact with Simons Warford and Johnson, who were part of a small group focussed on the distant Ash tree which the 2 males were visiting regularly, although they were obviously singing closer to us out of sight. Eventually they flew back to the tree but disappeared before most people could get a view of them. A walk along the surrounding paths yielded another brief glimpse and more singing, plus their Jay-like mewing calls but nothing more. Chippy tea and back to the digs.

Sunday. Started the day in Thetford forest, where we managed to find some suitable habitat for Tree Pipits as well as a good range of day-flying moths and our first Stonechat of the trip. On to Lackford Lakes, where we connected with two Nightingales (thanks Warfysmile) before heading over to Minsmere. We stopped at Dunwich first for some very obliging Dartford Warblers and a bit of lunch before moving down to the RSPB reserve. Our main focus was the South Scrape, where the Roseate Tern had been reported, but unfortunately it had flown off for the day. The usual flock of Kittiwakes, adult and juvenile Mediterranean Gulls, a group of Sandwich Terns and a courting pair of Little Terns whiled way our wait until we decided to head for the Bittern hide. We were told it had been a quiet day, so they were obviously saving themselves for the select few, as we had 6 fly pasts, from a minimum of 3 birds, including a couple close enough to give the remaining photographer screen-filling shots. The cool breeze (a feature of the weekend) reduced the number of Hobby sightings, but again a nice close pass gave very good views. A pair of Bearded Tits gave much better views than the Titchwell birds, to the delight of some of those who had stuck it out. A quick visit to the pond for some aquatic action, including an early female Emperor ovipositing and a dragonfly nymph eating a small newt, then back towards base with a meal en route and another attempt at mothing. It proved inconclusive (I think the bats did better!).

Monday. Opted for Lakenheath as the start of our trip home, and spent a good morning there, mostly looking at other wildlife and plants. Three Cuckoos interacting together (including a "Clangers Cuckoo"biggrin) filled a gap for those who missed the one at Muckleburgh Hill, as did the two drake Garganey on the flood across the Ouse. Cranes were heard (as were Guineafowl!) another Bittern, 3 Hobbies and a Cetti's Warbler seen, and we rounded the trip list off with Kingfisher and Curlew. 116 species seen with 3 more heard.

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Mike Chorley wrote:

Finished our East Anglian Weekend with three good birds in Cambridgeshire

First at Milton Country Park on the outskirts of Cambridge, where the Yellow-browed Warbler showed well, very actively feeding in ivy-covered trees in the SE corner of Dickerson's Pit.

Then round the city to the west, for the Great Grey Shrike at Comberton, which kindly re-appeared after a short absence, in hedges to the west of The Drift, before dropping down and re-locating to the north side of the "1st wood" east of the lane. Good views again at reasonably close quarters.

From here we headed to Bainton Gravel Pits (now a private fishery with limited viewing facilities) where the drake Smew was located at the north end of the main pit. Trip/year list additions of Redwings (not associating with a nearby Fieldfare flock) and Grey Wagtail rounded out our trip list total to 123 seen with another 5 species (Tawny Owl, Goldcrest, Cetti's Warbler, Bearded Tit and Bullfinch) only heard.

A good total for us and some very good birds, especially to top and tail the trip, but we commented on the generally low numbers of birds seen. There were large flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover at Titchwell, more big flocks of Lapwing at Cantley but none elsewhere. A few big flocks of different species of geese too, but previous visits have seen goose flocks in many more locations as we've travelled, particularly along the North Norfolk Coast, and some potential target species (Rough-legged Buzzard, Waxwing, etc) were completely missing. On the Friday Riggers spotted a Stonechat as we were driving, but we elected not to stop for it. It was the only one seen all trip! It's possible that, like the swans at Welney, everything had an 'away day', but maybe our warmer, wetter winters mean smaller aggregations of raptors at the coasts along with the end of the cold weather movements of late winter that brought larger numbers of Smew and other ducks to the UK. More quality than quantity.


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Finished our East Anglian Weekend with three good birds in Cambridgeshire

First at Milton Country Park on the outskirts of Cambridge, where the Yellow-browed Warbler showed well, very actively feeding in ivy-covered trees in the SE corner of Dickerson's Pit.

Then round the city to the west, for the Great Grey Shrike at Comberton, which kindly re-appeared after a short absence, in hedges to the west of The Drift, before dropping down and re-locating to the north side of the "1st wood" east of the lane. Good views again at reasonably close quarters.

From here we headed to Bainton Gravel Pits (now a private fishery with limited viewing facilities) where the drake Smew was located at the north end of the main pit. Trip/year list additions of Redwings (not associating with a nearby Fieldfare flock) and Grey Wagtail rounded out our trip list total to 123 seen with another 5 species (Tawny Owl, Goldcrest, Cetti's Warbler, Bearded Tit and Bullfinch) only heard.

A good total for us and some very good birds, especially to top and tail the trip, but we commented on the generally low numbers of birds seen. There were large flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover at Titchwell, more big flocks of Lapwing at Cantley but none elsewhere. A few big flocks of different species of geese too, but previous visits have seen goose flocks in many more locations as we've travelled, particularly along the North Norfolk Coast, and some potential target species (Rough-legged Buzzard, Waxwing, etc) were completely missing. On the Friday Riggers spotted a Stonechat as we were driving, but we elected not to stop for it. It was the only one seen all trip! It's possible that, like the swans at Welney, everything had an 'away day', but maybe our warmer, wetter winters mean smaller aggregations of raptors at the coasts along with the end of the cold weather movements of late winter that brought larger numbers of Smew and other ducks to the UK. More quality than quantity.

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Suffolk & Norfolk Trip. 5th to 7th July 2019

   A good birding friend of Bob K`s from Australia, Paul Mc, was visiting the UK with a view to seeing a few of the more difficult bird species that grace our little island. A trip was planned and at 4am start on Friday from Bob K`s, with myself and Kev C making up the four in Pauls car. We planned to meet up with Billy J from Middlesbrough & Martin Q from Uppingham at RSPB Minsmere between 9 & 10am. Nice drive down and with the promise of a sunny day, we all met near to where the Stone Curlew`s are usually found at Minsmere. We had a good search around the area without any luck but, a few local birders gave us some information that would prove useful in time! We headed up onto Dunwich Heath for tea and scones then all enjoyed really good views of a male Dartford Warbler, a dashing Hobby was missed by most people. The search for the Stone Curlew`s was well and truly on after going back to our cars. We tried a few tracks without luck, then a tip off from another local soon had us looking at a sitting bird with another walking around, on guard. Great to see them doing really well in this area already having produced a first brood. It was time to get to RSPB Lakenheath next, Paul led the convoy, with a few diversions added in for a bit of fun! The sunny conditions inland at Lakenheath meant that we were all getting a little thirsty, so a drink stop was made. People that know this reserve understand that it is a fairly long walk either by the Little Ouse river track or the one that runs parallel with the train line, also with it being July not many bird songs/calls could be heard. At the end of the long slog we managed to see a cracking Bittern, lots of Marsh Harriers, Buzzard and a lone Kestrel. The reserve is much better visited during the springtime, but never the less it was enjoyable. We headed to our overnight stop at The Bell in Brandon and enjoyed various pints of beer (to stop us all dehydrating) and lovely sit in meal next door of Fish & Chips.

   A not to early start, around 8am, had us all heading to Thetford for a Weatherspoons breakfast and then towards Potter Heigham on the Norfolk Broads after a report that two Black Winged Stilts were still on the marshes. What followed reminded me of a Monty Python sketch. Six grown, fairly clever men, all looking at their phones, maps etc trying to decipher the message provided by Rare Bird Alert as to the whereabouts of the Potter Heigham Marshes. A couple of false starts didnt exactly bode too well as we headed of in the general direction. A walk through a cornfield had us all wondering if this was the right path, the rain certainly didnt help either. We next entered a wood and a map on a board clearly showed us were the marshes were, but the advanced party clearly ignored the correct footpath and headed towards Hickling Broad! We trudged on as the rain eased off and after about 20 minutes met a local man who told us about a bird hide around the corner. We all agreed that we were all now on the right path and were soon rewarded by finding two Common Cranes, after a while they flew away, cracking birds. The whole area began to open up and it looked like marshes rather than watery broads, we pushed on. In the distance we managed to find the two Black Winged Stilts, Whimbrel, Marsh Harriers and lots of ducks & geese, nice area. We headed back to our cars along a road/track, a lot quicker than our outward journey, but it was fun! Our final stop was to be Cley next the Sea in north Norfolk, the temperature was beginning to drop as we searched Walsey Hills, the famed east bank and onto the main reserve at Cley, kindly paid for by Paul Mc who was amassing a good selection of new birds in the UK. We met a warden who told us about a Yellow Legged Gull, Yellow Wagtail and a Green Winged Teal that were present, best viewed from Simmonds Scrape. The gull & wagtail showed well but the GW Teal proved difficult, especially as it had moulted out its main vertical white flank stripe, after about an hour of searching and looking at every teal in the area we headed away! Our overnight stay was to be in South Creake in the old school house, it was very quaint. We headed to Fakenham for a lovely evening meal and a couple of pints in another Wetherspoon`s establishment.

   After a continental style breakfast we packed up and headed for RSPB Titchwell to see what we could find. Firstly a couple of Red Crested Pochard were seen in advanced eclipse plumage and on the main freshwater area around 20+ Mediterranean Gulls were busy feeding their offspring, they are certainly well established now. A walk to the sea had us watching Sandwich & Little Terns but overall a quiet time for the birds. After tea and scones Billy J bade us all farewell and he headed off home in Middlesbrough. We managed to see a Red Kite about a mile from Titchwell that we thought was a little unusual. Our final reserve was actually in Lincolnshire at RSPB Frampton near Boston, Paul was still doing a sterling job at the wheel, especially along the famous A17. We had to call at The Farm Café near Sutton Bridge for a cup of tea before arriving at Frampton. This reserve improves every time we visit it, a Hobby chasing a few waders around was a highlight for Paul and a pair of Black Necked Grebe complete with young on their backs was a great sight. Now could we get an icing on the cake bird for Paul? Well a visit to the manmade reservoir at Frampton reserve (that feeds the lagoons) might be the place? A sign saying Watch the Turtle Doves from here soon had us actually watching a single dove that sat out for a full 10 minutes! Great bird to end a cracking weekend. Martin Q headed back to his home in Uppingham and we set of for Rochdale. Thanks for driving Paul and hope you enjoyed some English hospitality as much as we enjoyed your company.

Dave O.



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Originally posted today by Phil Greenwood:

Where are all the Corn Buntings...well,

4 seen singing alongside A505, Royston to Duxford road, whilst crawling towards the airfield at Duxford for the D-Day Dakotas.
Also, a Hobby being chased by a Swallow and a Red Kite over the airfield. 


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Started our trip home with a visit to the RSPB reserve at Ouse Fen in Cambridgeshire. Part of a rewilding scheme to reclaim a set of gravel pits as they are decommissioned. We only got to explore a part of it as we made our way to the spot where a Great Grey Shrike is over-summering(?) but there is plenty of good habitat and a nice variety of species of all types with dragon- and damselflies (Four-Spot Chaser, Common Blue & Blue-Tailed Damsels) Butterflies (Northern(?) Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Copper, Speckled Wood) and plenty of variety in the plant life. Birds seen included Turtle Dove, ChiffChaff, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker and Cuckoo. The Shrike was missing when we got to its' regular haunts but soon appeared on the compound fence to the working pit, where the damage to its' tail was clear to see. This didn't appear to limit the bird which soon disappeared into the surrounding willow hedge, re-appearing at various points along it and showing how well an apparently showy black, white and grey bird can blend in with the surroundings. At one point the bird dropped to the ground and appeared to be eating a large insect, either bumblebee or beetle judging by the size.
When if flew through a gap in the hedge we headed back to have lunch in the carpark, eventually locating one of the elusive Turtle Doves en route after a very pleasant morning. The Brown Argus confirmed as a local variant with reversed eye spot colouration, probably deriving from a common ancestry with Northern Brown Argus.

-- Edited by Mike Chorley on Tuesday 4th of June 2019 11:41:36 AM

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A nice Sunday drive out around the North Norfolk Coast, followed by a pleasant evening meal and some postprandial birding.

Started at Salthouse, where the Spoonbills had moved on so along to Cley for the Curlew Sandpiper, a couple of Greenshank and another Little Gull, then onto East Bank to tick Bearded Tit before heading to Blackeney Fresh Marsh, where 7 of the 9 Cattle Egrets were visible with no effort at all. Next port of call was Titchwell, but the Purple Heron was elusive and the Turtle Doves silent (or absent). Chosely Drying Barns were a little more productive, with a Yellow Wagtail, a Corn Bunting singing on the wires and a pair of Grey Partridges. A cross-country return to Holkham Fresh Marsh produced a Red Kite, with the marsh itself yielding Great and Little Egrets, Grey Herons and 3 Spoonbills. Just needs some cattle on it nowbiggrin

After a pub-based point to point around the Barton Mils area to find one actually serving food on a Sunday night, we investigated a new area for possible Nightjar etc. No luck with them, but we did get to see an impressive corvid roost (by summer standards, against an interestingly cloudy East Anglian 'Big Sky'. Running total for the weekend now on 115, with the potential for more on the trip home tomorrow.

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A little re-arranging of plans was needed after our early morning trip to Wakefield to start our annual Summer long weekend in East Anglia. However, with good traffic conditions we arrived at Weeting Heath at around 12.45 p.m. and made our way to the West Hide, where we finally located a Stone Curlew, after proving once again that 'straight out' is a relative concept. After a short while a second bird revealed itself to our left and the two commenced a strange slow-motion stalking game, before settling down a couple of yards apart. An Eurasian Curlew was lurking nearby, together with a couple of Lapwings, but otherwise the heath seemed rather quiet. The decline in the rabbit population has made quite a difference to the vegetation on the heath and previous sightings such as Wood Lark were noticeably absent. A strong breeze probably accounted for our failure to find the usual Spotted Flycatcher, but a trip to the small hide and pool along the route to the Woodland Walk was rewarded with sightings of Yellowhammer (3 min), Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh Tit, all feeding young, a smart pair of Blackcaps bathing, Green- Gold- and Chaffinches, Jay, Mistle Thrush, a rather washed-out Nuthatch, Dunnock,Stock Dove (2) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

After checking in and enjoying our traditional chippy tea we headed up onto the banking to view the marshy pasture at Lakenheath. Cuckoos called, two Cetti's Warblers threw caution to the winds and showed themselves extremely well as they chased back and forth through sedges and willows, a dozen species of waterfowl and waders dabbled and paddled on the flooded pasture and a Barn Owl obligingly did a couple of fly-pasts as we watched a smart male Marsh Harrier quartering the reed beds.

From here we headed back to the Thetford area for excellent views of Nightjars, Wood Larks and Tree Pipits to round off a pleasant evening.

One for the 'ones that got away' list was a large raptor seen south of the A17 in the area of Tilney All Saints. The head-on view suggested a Red Kite but as the bird passed uf heading in the opposite direction behind the tops of roadside conifers, the lack of a deep fork in the tail was noticeable. Against the sky it was difficult to pick out any clear features and the line of stopped traffic queuing back from Sutton Bridge on the opposite lane made any hope of turning back to follow it impossible. The escaped Black Kite previously seen in the area is the most likely candidate, but it would have been nice to get better views to confirm if it was this ringed bird or something more interesting. 


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Mike Chorley wrote:

Riggers and I started the exclusive version (biggrin) of the Oldham Birders' East Anglia trip at a frozen Frampton Marsh in Lincs where we missed the Long-billed Dowitcher by about 5 mins but collected a good number of commoner waterfowl and wader ticks plus Cape Shelduck(hmm)before heading over the Cambridgeshire border to Welney, trip-ticking all the way smile

We had better luck here, managing to pick out the smart drake Ring-necked Duck in front of the main observatory before he flew off with some of the Pochard. Added Pintail and Black-tailed Godwit to our trip list before moving down to Friends hide where a good selection of birds included 5 egrets (1 Great, 4 Cattle), 2 Marsh Harriers, Water Pipit and very close views of a quartering Short-eared Owl.

Our next destination was the recycling plant in Thetford, where the Iceland Gull had been reported today, but realizing that Mr Blessed was directing us via Mundford we opted to call in to Lynford Arboretum instead. There were decent flocks of Siskin and Brambling about, we had three good, if distant, views of the local Hawfinches (Max of 4 together) and encountered several Marsh Tits -including one Great Tit impostor. Nothing outstanding on our list, but steady birding all day and a joint list so far of 81 species on a cold and often cloudy but dry day.

In recent years the Saturday leg of our trip has proved to be a little quieter than the other days and today proved no exception. We started well at Cantley. When we arrived there were only 2 geese visible on the marsh but the birds who obligingly stuck their heads over the junctus as we were scanning proved to be Bean Geese biggrin. As the quagmire was still frozen we decided to walk on a bit for better views. However, they did the same and were still distant when we reached the channel where they had been, and now obscured by a 5 bar gate. We passed on our info to the group assembled at the usual viewing spot but when we bumped into them again at the end of they day they had had no luck.

A short visit to chuck Tesco white sliced * around on the front at Great Yarmouth caused the usual scrum of gulls with at least 3 Mediterranean Gulls (1 ringed) among them. One of the many Black-headed Gulls also sported a red ring. From here we headed to Ipswich as the Waxwings had been reported, but decided to detour for the birds at Reydon. Unfortunately they had moved on, so we did the same and headed back to Ness Point in Lowestoft to tick 3 Purple Sandpipers and 7 Turnstones over lunch.

Next port of call was Waveney Forest but changes to access and parking due to forestry work meant that we missed our way to The Mound. Scans from a couple of other vantage points over the marshes failed to locate a Rough-legged Buzzard so we headed off to Stubb Mill, getting good close views of a Barn Owl at Hickling Green en route. Things were rather low key at the mill. The gorse bush pair of Common Cranes were further back than usual and although very vocal, only appeared late on flying over the bushes then a bit later walking back into view. Eleven more tried to sneak past behind us all, but were spotted by one of the crowd on the viewing platform and finally in the gloaming a lone bird flew right to left quite close to us. Marsh Harrier numbers were low again (Max 21 in the air at once) there were no sightings of Merlin, Peregrine, Hen Harrier or Short-eared Owl and the two Barn Owls kept their distance. I blame the Man City fan next to us who'ed brought his camera this time because he'd had good views of everything previously. At least he got a nice clear shot of the moon, although it was neither Blue or Wolf Blood biggrin Hopefully a better day on the North Norfolk Coast tomorrow will boost our trip list (now 96)

* other economically priced slice white bread is availablewink

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Riggers and I started the exclusive version (biggrin) of the Oldham Birders' East Anglia trip at a frozen Frampton Marsh in Lincs where we missed the Long-billed Dowitcher by about 5 mins but collected a good number of commoner waterfowl and wader ticks plus Cape Shelduck(hmm)before heading over the Cambridgeshire border to Welney, trip-ticking all the way smile

We had better luck here, managing to pick out the smart drake Ring-necked Duck in front of the main observatory before he flew off with some of the Pochard. Added Pintail and Black-tailed Godwit to our trip list before moving down to Friends hide where a good selection of birds included 5 egrets (1 Great, 4 Cattle), 2 Marsh Harriers, Water Pipit and very close views of a quartering Short-eared Owl.

Our next destination was the recycling plant in Thetford, where the Iceland Gull had been reported today, but realizing that Mr Blessed was directing us via Mundford we opted to call in to Lynford Arboretum instead. There were decent flocks of Siskin and Brambling about, we had three good, if distant, views of the local Hawfinches (Max of 4 together) and encountered several Marsh Tits -including one Great Tit impostor. Nothing outstanding on our list, but steady birding all day and a joint list so far of 81 species on a cold and often cloudy but dry day.

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Moltoni`s Subalpine Warbler at Blakeney Point, Norfolk. 3/6/2018

    There are some things in life that we say, I wont be doing that again then look what happens? A rare bird turns up at the end of Blakeney Point, Norfolk. Last time I slogged myself along the shingle for seven miles (return trip) was in 2010 for an Alder Flycatcher and I vowed I would not do it again!  Now without thinking about my vow we arranged to meet at 6am in Castleton and head east and try and pick up any news of the warbler on route. Bob K, Kevin C and myself at the wheel headed along the M62 and onto the A1. At about 7am the news broke that the Moltoni`s Warbler was still present, we all seemed happy but knew of the difficult trek we had now to make.

   We got to the carpark at Cley Coastguards at 9-25am having had a good run along the A17 and set off along the difficult shingle path. The weather was quite warm and the tide was in, so we couldn`t walk along the firmer ground of the tideline. We all had to make a few stops to shed heavy clothes and take on water etc. We met a few happy birders returning from the point, who told us the bird was still present. After about an hour and a quarter of walking on the shingle we reached the dunes and the better paths. The news reached us that the bird had flown from its feeding area and hadn`t been seen for a while. After all the effort we had put in to reach the area and for this to happen was a little bit sickening. We sat down for a rest near the lifeboat station in amongst other birders and feared a dip coming on.

  After around 10 minutes there was a sudden movement of birders and the news that the bird had been re-found was well received. A little dash towards some bushes with lots of Lupins around soon had us watching the bird. It sat out in full view just behind two small sheds then came nearer and gave better opportunities to watch it. The bird was heard to be calling quite like a Wren and gave little bursts of typical Sylvia warbler scratchy song. After 15 minutes on show the bird was lost to view. We enjoyed the sunshine and the other birds present: - Linnet, Reed Warbler, Little & Sandwich Terns, it really is a nice place to visit, but if you can, catch the boat! We headed back towards Cley along the firm sand tideline in about an hour and had a nice rest as we reached the car. Next stop was to try to see a Common Rosefinch at Salthouse, but despite our best efforts the bird had gone. Time for home after a long day out, reaching home at 7pm.

David Ousey


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A cross-country day today. First from west to east to visit Westleton, Dunwich and Minsmere. Good views of Dartford Warblers at Dunwich, then a walk in the Westleton Heath area produced Garden Warbler, Nightingale and Green Woodpeckers along with commoner species of tits, warblers and finches. Then to Minsmere to scan the scrapes for the 50+ Kittiwakes; Sand Martin, Great Black-backed Gull and the plastic Barnacle before moving on to Bittern Hide. Our arrival there coincided with that of another 'fret' which had decided to come onshore. This provided extra concealment for a Bittern among the reeds below the hide and produced the interesting sighting of a hobby taking a dragonfly in silhouette.As there was now even less likelihood of catching a glimpse of any Purple Heron which might still have been lurking on The Sluice we headed back north into Norfolk.

The Common Rosefinch at Salthouse was an audible but not visible presence during the one and a half hours we spent there.The bird seemed well ensconced and obscured in a garden just along from where it had been initially seen, so we moved on to Kelling Water Meadows. The 'fret' added an odd aspect to the scene, as the background appeared and disappeared, with shape and general jizz taking on extra importance in identifying birds around the reedy channel. Eventually the Bluethroat made a very brief appearance quite close to the small group of watchers, calling a couple of times as it flew along the ditch next to us and quickly dropped into the reeds. Another 40 mins wait failed to produce any further sightings so we called it a day and headed back to base via The Two Lifeboats in Sheringham.biggrin

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Today seemed unpromising with showers forecast and negative news on some of our target birds. However by the time we had reached Cley the temperatures had risen, the humidity had decreased and a walk on the East Bank seemed a good choice. We added 15 species to our trip list including Avocet, Sandwich and Little Terns, Spoonbill and Rock Pipit. Bearded Tits were active and there were C500 Common Scoter just on the edge of visibility as the 'fret' stayed just off-shore.

From Cley we headed on to Holkham. Things were quiet along Lady Anne's Drive but a view over the fresh marsh gave us Great White Egret and a second Red Kite to go with the one seen en route to Cley. Having weighed up the pro's and con's of the Coastal Path v Blakney Point's shingle we headed back to Stiffkey and walked west to the whirligig, arriving just in time to see Mr Evans and a couple of other birders disappearing into the distance. After a wait of almost 2 hours we headed back to the car and were almost there when we had news that the male Red-backed Shrike had re-appeared! Back we went and after initial, obscured views the bird showed well on a distant briar, regurgitating a pellet and swallowing a large bee.

After a late lunch we continued to Titchwell via Choseley Barns. Things were fairly quiet around the barns themselves, but a drive around the area gave us exceptionally good views of a singing Corn Bunting. As usual at this time of year, Titchwell was fairly quiet but a male Bearded Tit gave some very good views, both species of Godwit provided a good range of plumages from brick red to pale grey, we counted a total of 6 Red-crested Pochard, added Mediterranean and 2 Little Gulls to the list and were entertained by the antics of a family of Egyptian Geese. Our cross-country route home provided us with another good tick in the form of a single Grey Partridge. Trip total now 101 seen and another 7 species heard.

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Saturday 2nd of June 2018 11:15:38 PM

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Riggers, Karen and I started our East Anglian weekend this morning just after 9 a.m. at Lakenheath with good views of a Kingfisher on the pool just behind the visitor centre. Shortly after the first of several Cuckoos (including Clanger Cuckoo- now in about his 6th year) made an appearance. We called in at Mere Hide, adding several common species along the way, and had good, if brief, views of a male Bearded Tit as we approached the hide. After a short wait a Bittern flew past and dropped into the reedbed, emerging about 10 minutes later and heading towards the western end of the reserve. We followed suit and had a pleasant hour or so looking over the reedbeds. We reckoned on around 6 Bitterns during that period, including one having a go at a quartering Marsh Harrier - one of at least 3 seen, with a distant pair making a food pass. Up to four Hobbys were hawking insects and a Cetti's Warbler showed well in dead Elder to the right of the rain shelter. Female Reed Warbler and Bunting had a face-off in front of us, and several more common species were added to the day list. On our way back to the car park we had a good view of a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and at least one Great Spotted Woodpecker chick was loudly demanding food from the entrance to a nest hole.

From here we headed over to Weeting to meet up with Mike A, who prefers a post 5 a.m. start to his weekend. Mike had already located the Stone Curlew at the west end, but the much taller vegetation on the largely rabbit-free heath meant that the site isn't really suitable for Woodlarks at the moment. Three Yellowhammer were the best of the birds from the woodland hide.

After checking in to our accommodation we headed out for our traditional chippy tea in Brandon, called in again to Weeting, where the Stone Curlews were less visible, then scouted around the Brecklands for Barn Owl and a suitable site for Nightjars. No luck with the former, but we did better when we stopped at a likely looking spot with public access, adding a displaying Woodlark, 2 singing Tree Pipits, a pair of Stonechat and a roding Woodcock to our list, as well as having good views of a pair of Nightjars both perched up and in flight, Churring, 'quipping' and wing-clapping all noted at the end of a good day with decent weather.

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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

L Hindley

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May 15th -18th.

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.

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.

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.

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
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
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

Bus pass birdin' great innit?

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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.

Bus pass birdin' great innit?

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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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