Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Friday, 26 June 2009

North Norfolk 22nd June - 26th June 2009

Robin - Titchwell

Chaffinch - Titchwell

Marsh Harrier - Titchwell

Black Tailed Godwit - Titchwell

Distant Spoonbills - Cley

Snow Bunting - Cley

Oystercatcher - Cley

Mallard - Sculthorpe Moor

Snow Bunting - Cley (Above Arnolds Marsh)

Snow Bunting - Cley (Above Arnolds Marsh)

(More pictures on website)

Three full days in North Norfolk, very warm sunny days, a "brisk" coastal "breeze", but a very quiet period in the birding calendar. Still, amassed 112 bird species including one lifer and many year ticks, so can't be bad! However, everything seemed so distant and with the heat haze very few good pictures were taken.
Places visited:
NOA Hempton Marsh
Flitcham Abbey Bird Hide
RSPB Lakenheath Fen
NWT Weeting Heath
Hawk & Owl Trust Sculthorpe Moor
NWT Cley Marshes
Wells Harbour
Salthouse Heath
RSPB Titchwell Marsh
NWT & NOA Holme Dunes
and of course - the fantastic north Norfolk Coastal roads & fields.

June 22nd

Packed Abigail off on the coach to Butlins, Minehead with the year 8's, hitched up the caravan and off to a small campsite at Little Snoring (or a great deal of, according to Heather!) near Fakenham. A fairly mundane journey, the highlight being the Red Kites (3) between Oundle and Peterborough. Once pitched, we soon realised that Sculthorpe Moor was closed on Monday's, so drove around to the small NOA Hempton Marsh Reserve. Apart from a few common woodland species - zilch! Ahh well, on to Flitcham and Abbey Farm bird hide. A wonderful place to chill out for an hour or two. As we entered, a couple about to leave uttered the words "nothing about"! And so it appeared. However, perseverence and patience was about to pay off with the arrival of Turtle Dove, then a pair of Kingfisher and finally the resident Little Owl appeared in the roots of the "dead tree" which is actually alive! And so to bed.................

June 23rd

An early start, heading to Lakenheath RSPB Reserve and then on to Weeting Heath. Arrived at Lakenheath at 0700 and followed the river bank to the furthest point of the reserve. En-route we picked up Grasshopper Warbler and were entertained by two Barn Owl's hunting in the fields on the Norfolk side of the reserve. A hot, sticky walk had us arrive at the Bittern watchpoint (furthest point ? two miles). As we sat, listening to Bittern booming, a Bittern flew across the reserve and into the reeds in front of us. Bearded Tit's pinged nearby before displaying in the reed tops. With Hobby overhead, we walked to the Golden Oriole watchpoint, standing scanning the Black Poplars for this elusive bird. The enchanting flute like call was soon heard and the nest located, but the young had fledged. After about twenty minutes, the male and female were located, feeding two young but too distant for any pictures. Fantastic. A few enthusiastic calls from watching birders often misidentified a pair of Mistle Thrushes as Golden Oriole! The walk back to the visitor centre was very warm and the local insects chose my exposed legs to feast upon, the itches being almost debilitating!

On then to Weeting Heath, arriving early afternoon and facing a worsening heat haze. Weeting is not having a good season with no Woodlark and only two Stone Curlew. After about an hour one Stone Curlew appeared over the ridge, distant and in the heat haze. This was to be our best view. The other "secret" sites yielded none.

Arriving back in the Fakenham area earlier than expected, we paid a late afternoon visit to Sculthorpe Moor Reserve. Apart from the now well fledged Marsh Harriers (Springwatch stars!) only the usual woodland suspects greeted us.

June 24th

Off to Cley today arriving at the NWT visitor centre carpark at 0800 for a walk along the East Bank to the north hide. Usual suspects along the way, but a stiff breeze failed to put off the Bearded Tits. At Arnolds Marsh, Heather decided to walk on to the north hide, while I went in search of the unseasonal male Snow Bunting. This bird was showing well on the coast path, but flew inland much to the annoyance of arriving birders, and was not located again until late afternoon. On the sea, Gannets passed by with a super male Eider heading towards the Eye. Arnolds Marsh produced Avocet, Redshank, Greenshank and Dunlin with several Marsh Harriers. All the usual suspects were also making themselves known. My arrival at the north hide coincided with four Spoonbill that were getting rather annoyed with the low flying military aircraft. Large numbers of Black Tailed Godwit and lesser numbers of Bar Tailed Godwit interestingly provided a mixture of plumages. The water levels are very high at the moment and smaller waders almost non-existant.

A brief spell of retail therapy at Wells for Heather also provided a Yellow Legged Gull in the harbour, but little else. A fish & chip supper on the harbour wall went down very well and provided sustenance for a spell at dusk on Salthouse Heath. The evening was cool and windy so not ideal for our target bird - Nightjar. As darkness fell, a distant Tawny Owl was calling, but so far, no Nightjar. Then about 2215, they started churring and calling, but sadly no sightings. Should have gone to Kelling??!!

June 25th

Started the day with retail therapy in Fakenham and stocking up with lunch from a bunnery. Destination was Titchwell but stopped off at a "secret" raptor site. Several Marsh Harrier were soon seen but little else. Then, over a distant ridge, closing in, and flying within feet was our target bird, a male Montagu's Harrier, a lifer for me. No other birders were present to share the sighting but a return visit late afternoon, saw about a dozen birders, but alas no Montagu's.

Titchwell was quite quiet, birderwise when we arrived, but towards lunchtime, the masses were arriving! All the usual suspects, but highlights for me were Spotted Redshank, Ruff and Reeve in varying plumages, Little Tern, Little Gull, a large number of Knot on the beach, Eider and female Red Crested Pochard and young, Black Tailed and Bar Tailed Godwit.

A late afternoon walk through the double reserves at Holme Dunes (NOA & NWT) produced nothing new with the exception of a Ruddy Duck. Realised that I had left my NOA hide key in the caravan so unable to utilise these, and it made a visit to Redwell Marsh pointless. Back to the campsite, but en-route, driving down a country lane, produced a Kingfisher, just above the hedgerows!
Looked really out of place!
June 26th
And so to return home in time to meet the coach returning from Butlin's. I am always sad to leave Norfolk..................................................................................
Still, Red Kites near Oundle sweetened the bitter pill. I shall return, soon.


Great Crested Grebe; Dabchick; Gannet; Cormorant; Bittern; Little Egret; Spoonbill; Heron; Mute Swan; Canada Goose; Egyptian Goose; Grey Lag Goose; Shelduck; Wigeon: Mallard; Gadwall; Shoveler; Teal; Pochard; Red Crested Pochard; Ruddy Duck; Tufted Duck; Eider; Red Kite; Marsh Harrier; Montagu's Harrier; Sparrowhawk; Buzzard; Hobby; Kestrel; Pheasant; Red Legged Partridge; Water Rail; Coot; Moorhen; Stone Curlew; Avocet; Oystercatcher; Ringed Plover; Dunlin; Knot; Redshank; Greenshank; Spotted Redshank; Ruff & Reeve; Bar Tailed Godwit; Black Tailed Godwit; Lapwing; Curlew; Black Headed Gull; Little Gull; Yellow Legged Gull; Herring Gull; GBB Gull; LBB Gull: Common Tern; Sandwich Tern; Little Tern; Stock Dove; Wood Pigeon; Collared Dove; Turtle Dove; Cuckoo; Tawny Owl (H); Barn Owl; Little Owl; Swift; Nightjar (H); Kingfisher; Green Woodpecker; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Skylark; Swallow; House Martin; Meadow Pipit; Pied Wagtail; Dunnock; Wren; Robin; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Mistle Thrush; Grasshopper Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Cettis Warbler; Reed Warbler; Chiffchaff; Willow Warbler; Common Whitethroat; Blackcap; Garden Warbler; Bearded Tit; Long Tailed Tit; Cola Tit; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Starling; Golden Oriole; Jay; Magpie; Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Rook; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Bullfinch; Linnet; Yellowhammer; Reed Bunting; Snow Bunting.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Brandon Marsh



Grey Heron West Marsh Pool

Cute Coot Family! West Marsh Pool

Grey Heron West Marsh Pool

Cute Coot! West Marsh Pool

Kingfisher West Marsh Pool

Kingfisher West Marsh Pool

Redshank East Marsh Pool

Redshank East Marsh Pool

Juv Redshank leaving Teal Hide!

More Pictures on Website

Although the weather was rather gloomy and with a hint of mist, I decided to visit Brandon this morning, arriving at 0615. The carpark was empty, so I thought I had it to myself! Wrong!! At the bottom of the lane were parked half a dozen fishermens cars, oh joy! the custom of worm drowning has started! A walk around Newlands in gloomy conditions produced very little. At the corner, affectionately known by some as Cettis corner, were parked three vehicles with "Warden" stickers. Ahh. I thought, must be ringing. Wrong again!!! As I approached the East Marsh pool, I was aware that Common Tern, Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatcher were all in the air and making quite a racket. I scanned the sky expecting to see a raptor but nothing. As I approached the Wright hide, I could see the reason for the birds distress. Members of the Brandon Conservation Group were on the water in a boat and on the islands. Is it Thursday? I thought, no Tuesday. With the limited time I have available for birding, I would never visit on a Thursday due to the valuable and necessary conservation work that takes place. But this is Tuesday, my heart sank! It was pointless spending time on East Marsh, so I spent time in the other areas until they had finished. Eventually, the day began to brighten, the sun came out and the temperature rose. Highlight of the day came in the form of a very obliging Kingfisher on West Marsh. Although nothing out of the ordinary about, I amassed 54 bird species before leaving at 1100.

Todays Sightings:

Blackbird; Blue Tit; Pheasant; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Swallow; Carrion Crow; House Martin; Swift; Chiffchaff; Jay; Wren; Robin; Willow Warbler; Wood Pigeon; Tufted Duck; Magpie; Common Whitethroat; Grey Lag Goose; Moorhen; Lapwing; Blackcap; Cuckoo; Sedge Warbler; Reed Bunting; Canada Goose; Mute Swan; Cormorant; Common Tern; Coot; Heron; Great Crested Grebe; Mallard; Redshank; Great Tit; Cettis Warbler; Jackdaw; Stock Dove; Reed Warbler; Oystercatcher; Mistle Thrush; Linnet; Dunnock; Dabchick; Greenfinch; Song Thrush; Sand Martin; Ringed Plover; Little Ringed Plover; Teal; Gadwall; Shoveller; Garden Warbler; Kingfisher; Buzzard.

More Pictures on Web Site

Monday, 15 June 2009


Little Owl

Little Owl


Yellowhammer - singing in the rain!
More Pictures on Website
I noticed a report on RBA yesterday for a Quail calling near Yelvertoft, and not having one on my year list, decided to pay a visit. It was a case of dodge the heavy showers though! The Quail was reported near the canal bridge but failed to utter a sound (if still there) for me today. However, on my way, I came across this very obliging Little Owl begging for its picture to be taken. The rain was quite heavy for a time and I decided to walk along the canal towpath where Yellowhammer presented very well and in full song. Rain turned to sunshine and it was time to remove the waterproofs as the temperature soared. Still no sound of a Quail though. Somewhere distant, a dog barked!

Sunday, 14 June 2009


Working long hours in the NHS can make it very difficult to achieve a work - home - birding balance. Indeed, birding for me is a luxury and time in the field is not infinite. It is pleasing to note other birders sightings on various websites and blogs, sometimes I rely on these and rush out to see a lifer or year tick. How disappointing it can be to arrive at a site and see nothing. It has happened that a sighting has been sent to me by SMS and I am actually in the area, indeed, on one occasion actually within yards - but nothing, and no birders about either! Why do they do it? Who are they? Maybe we should name and shame?

My life list is not great at 231 and my year list stands at 174. I do not travel outside of the UK and it is rare for me to "twitch" unless local. My biggest regret is not going for the Woodchat Shrike (Lifer and NOT a string) at Brandon until the day after its sighting - big mistake but MY mistake!

So stringers are not welcome in my birding life and should be strung up by their gonads!

Rant over - and feeling slightly better now!!!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Cannock Chase

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

A window of opportunity opened this morning and liking what I saw, I decided to visit Cannock Chase in search of some year ticks. This was my first visit and I arrived at seven springs car park at 0730, opting to walk to the stepping stones and back. The day was bright with sunny intervals but once on the chase I was surprised how poor the light was. To get any camera speed I was having to use 800 & 1600 ISO which was a shame and all my pictures are poor and grainy. My first year tick of the day was Tree Pipit with several spiralling on the heathland, followed by female Redstart in the first wooded copse, then Spotted Flycatcher and finally Pied Flycatcher at the stepping stones. I was glad that I arrived early as I missed most of the dog walkers, horse riders, cyclists, joggers and school group that were increasing as I finished my walk at 1130. I had almost given up hope of a male Redstart but one eventually appeared, resplendent, but unfortunately too distant to photograph.

Despite the poor light quality, I thoroughly enjoyed my walk and will definitely return again (soon).

Sightings (36 bird species):

Robin; Chaffinch; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Song Thrush; Great Tit; Wren; Willow Warbler; Carrion Crow; Garden Warbler; Wood Pigeon; Tree Pipit; Blue Tit; Blackbird; Redstart; Green Woodpecker; Cuckoo; Spotted Flycatcher; Pheasant; Coal Tit; Treecreeper; Nuthatch; Chiffchaff; Pied Flycatcher; Grey Wagtail; Goldfinch; Jackdaw; Stock Dove; Jay; Greenfinch; Buzzard; Swallow; Common Whitethroat; Blackcap; Swift; Yellowhammer; Magpie.

Friday, 5 June 2009

North Yorkshire Coast 1st - 5th June 2009

Reed Bunting - Bempton Cliffs

Guillemot - Bempton Cliffs

Tree Sparrow - Bempton Cliffs

Grasshopper Warbler - Bempton Cliffs

Gannet - Bempton Cliffs

Gannet - Bempton Cliffs

Meadow Pipit - Bempton Cliffs

Fulmar - Bempton Cliffs

Fulmar - Bempton Cliffs

Puffin - Bempton Cliffs

Kittiwake & Puffin - Bempton Cliffs

Kittiwake - Bempton Cliffs

Razorbill - Bempton Cliffs

Fulmar - Bempton Cliffs

Puffin & Fulmar - Bempton Cliffs

Kittiwake - Bempton Cliffs

More images on website

June 1st
Waved Abigail away on the coach for a school trip to Germany at 0600, hitched the caravan onto the car and away up to Filey for a four day break. The journey was uneventful and once pitched at our chosen site in Filey, purchased fish & chips to eat on the Brigg then a walk to see what was about. Good views of Fulmar, Kitiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar and Gannet. Large numbers of Tree Sparrow were noticeable around the fields bordering the caravan site.

June 2nd
Today was very hot and sunny and a visit to Bempton Cliffs planned. Interesting to see a number of local Warwickshire birders have visited during the week! I doubt my photo's will be in their league though! Again, large numbers of Tree Sparrow were noted with Corn Bunting and a lone Grasshopper Warbler. The cliffs were as always a fantastic sight - "takes your breath away!". Vast numbers of Gannet, Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Rock Dove entertained us and it was not long before we spotted the first Puffins - a bird I had not seen for over 15 years! so long overdue. A couple of Shags were noted. Bempton Cliffs is really worth a visit, words and mediocre pics do not do it justice - get out there! Only disappointment was the visitor centre which the RSPB website advertises as providing snacks, light meals etc. but none were available! Only crisps and ice cream!
Late afternoon, we popped in to the small water reserve at Filey Dams. Usual common suspects, but also a Hobby.

June 3rd
Raptor day! We visited the raptor watchpoint at Wykeham Forest and spent over 4hours looking at the sky! Superb Mistle Thrush on the path leading to the watchpoint, which had super high backed and comfortable wooden benches! A Buzzard species was soon located but the jury remained out over ID! However a couple of Common Buzzard stirred interest and then a very distant Goshawk interacting with Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. After several hours, a Honey Buzzard appeared giving excellent views and two Turtle Doves gave a brief fly past. The best was yet to come with a really close encounter with a Goshawk displaying very nicely. Where was my camera? Heather had borrowed it to take some pictures of the woodland flowers! Bless.

June 4th
The temperatures had dropped dramatically and the wind was biting, making it feel like winter so decided to visit Whitby. Nothing much to see bird wise, but the chance for Heather to obtain some retail therapy! A visit to Robin Hood's Bay reminded me of the typical "honeypot" attraction but a check over the Kittiwake on the water produced a male and female Eider and two Sandwich Terns.
Fish and Chips in the evening and a very "bracing" walk on Filey Brigg was a challenge to safety, (understatement!), but did not yield anything further.

June 5th
Caravan attached and homeward bound. A hunting Barn Owl on the Wolds was a pleasing sight. At home, a quick flick through various websites indicated that Steve Seal, Dave Hutton and Richard Dawkins had all been to Bempton this week and some super images posted on their respective websites. Well done lads, pity I missed you.

Sightings (78 bird species in total):

Dabchick; Gannet; Cormorant; Shag; Heron; Mute Swan; Greylag Goose; Canada Goose; Mallard; Tufted Duck; Eider; Sparrowhawk; Goshawk; Honey Buzzard; Buzzard; Hobby; Kestrel; Pheasant; Red Legged Partridge; Coot; Moorhen; Oystercatcher; Lapwing; Black Headed Gull; Fulmar; Kittiwake; Common Gull; Herring Gull; LBB Gull; Sandwich Tern; Puffin; Guillemot; Razorbill; Rock Dove;Stock Dove; Wood Pigeon; Collared Dove; Turtle Dove; Cuckoo; Swift; Skylark; Sand Martin; Swallow; House Martin; Rock Pipit; Meadow Pipit; Pied Wagtail; Dunnock; Wren; Robin; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Mistle Thrush; Grasshopper Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Reed Warbler; Chiffchaff; Willow Warbler; Whitethroat; Long Tailed Tit; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Starling; Magpie; Jackdaw; Carrion Crow; Rook; House Sparrow; Tree Sparrow; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Bullfinch; Linnet; Corn Bunting; Yellowhammer; Reed Bunting; Barn Owl.

More images on Website