February  2016 Tour reports



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Wednesday 2nd February - Holkham Park
I nipped out in the afternoon to take a look at the "aythya selection" in Holkham park on the main lake. We soon located the adult female
Ferruginous Duck, which looked reasonable in plumage detail, was lacking any plastic rings and sat amongst a nice group of Tufties, though this may not be quite enough to raise this bird to "acceptable"! We will have to wait and see!! Also present was a  hybrid Ferruginous x Pochard, it looked more Pochard than Ferruginous, not ideal alongside the main contender.
Also amongst the Tufted Ducks were 2 1st winter Scaup.

Thursday 3rd February - Thornham, Holme, Flitcham & Roydon
A day off spent birding some local sites. Thornham, 25 Twite, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1pr Stonechat and Barn Owl.
At Holme c4000 Pink-footed Geese filled the skies and arrived on the grazing marsh. Flitcham, c200 Brambling, c100 Linnet, c15 Tree Sparrow plus a Peregrine. Finished off at Roydon with Stonechat, Snipe, 4r/t Hen Harrier and good views of the
Pallid Harrier.

Wednesday 10th February - Exclusive day guiding
We started off at Thornham with 21 Twite, Spotted Redshank, Rock Pipit, 1pr Stonechat, great close ups of the very tame Brent Geese in the harbour. Out at Thornham channel 3 Red-breasted Merganser, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, Turnstone, Grey Plover and Redshank along the shore. Also Marsh Harrier and a nice confiding Barn Owl nearby.
At Brancaster Staithe we had superb close-ups of the long staying Red-necked Grebe also nice pair of Goldenenye and more close ups of shorebirds and Brent Geese.
At Flitcham early afternoon, the Little Owl sat out sunning itself, the finches are still in much abundance here with  c200 Brambling, c100 Linnet, c15 Tree Sparrow plus plenty of Fieldfare, Redwing attracted the attention of a hunting Peregrine.
Finished off at Roydon with Stonechat, 4r/t Hen Harrier and wonderful perched views of the Pallid Harrier.

Thursday 11th February - Exclusive days guiding
The day started very well with a singing Willow Tit an unringed male, which fortunately was trapped and ringed later in the day as part of an ongoing study of this very small remnant population, also Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Treecreeper. A singing Woodlark flew overhead. Further south a couple of hours was spent very successfully with a smart male Goshawk in the air in the first 30 minutes, this was surpassed another thirty minutes later, when 2 male Goshawks were up and displaying in the air together. A single Sparrowhawk, 10+ Buzzard. At Lynford we had a small group of Siskin, several Nuthatch, 2 Treecreeper, but no Hawfinch.
We got some nice pictures of the Reed Bunting feeding on the reeds, and finished the day off watching 2 Barn Owls hunting.

Friday 13th February - Snettisham & Brecks
Great high tide at Snettisham with c30,000 Knot, 3000+ Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Turnstone, Curlew, Grey Plover, 4000 Pink-footed Geese and a hunting Pererine. Then headed down into the Brecks again to check out the Goshawks again, even better today with 3 Goshawks, with 2 males & a female in the air together - awesome!! We then scored with 3 Hawfinch late afternoon at Lynford.

Saturday 14th February - Thornham
Bit of light birding in the morning when we managed to find 2 Lapland Bunting in stubble field, with c150 Skylark, c60 Yellowhammer and 70 Linnet. In the afternoon we just drifted over the border into Suffolk, near Rymer Barn where we had good views of an Iceland Gull, plus 2 2nd cal year Caspian Gull.

Some images below from the last few weeks, also some video footage of the Pallid Harrier click here

                                                                                        or
for video footage of the swarming masses of Knot at Snettisham click here

Go to January 2016 Monthly reports
Snettisham high tide

Snettisham high tide

Snettisham high tide

Snettisham high tide

Snettisham high tide

Snettisham high tide

Red-neacked Grebe

Red-neacked Grebe

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit

Dark-bellied Brent Goose091216002

Dark-bellied Brent Goose091216002

Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Friday 19th February - Day one of three day winter tour
In fine conditions we decided to head down to the Brecks. After some searching we located a calling Willow Tit which gave brief views as it played “peek a boo” amongst the branches.
Also close by we had good views of Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Treecreeper. En-route back we heard another Willow Tit calling and a couple of the group managed to get reasonable views. Also group of Fieldfare and Redwing nearby.
We then headed to a viewing area for Goshwak, there was a single Goshawk up on arrival but this disappeared all too quickly. It was at least another thirty minutes later, when 2 male Goshawks were up and displaying in the air together, followed by a third Goshawk some time later. Also overhead good views of Red kite, lot of Buzzard and a more distant Sparrowhawk.
We made a short drive and were soon watching a singing Woodlark high up in the sky, more appreciated for it’s song than the views!

Next we stopped off at a new likely looking area for Woodlark, and were just about to leave when a bird was heard singing, we retraced our steps and watched as 2 Woodlark, gave great views both perched and flying around singing and calling.

We stopped off at Santon for lunch where we had a small group of Siskin, several Nuthatch and nice views of Grey Wagtail.
We then headed to Lynford where we had nice close ups of Marsh tit, Long-tailed Tit, Siskin, Nuthatch and late afternoon we scored with 3-4 Hawfinch with nice scope views as they sat atop the trees.

The day finished off with stunning close views of a Barn Owl hunting.

Saturday 20th February - day two of three day winter tour
We started the day at Ringstead, where despite not finding the Corn Buntings, we had ovely views of a superb flock of c150 Yellowhammer flighting between the headge and field margin. In amongst the flock were 10 Reed Bunting, plus good numbers of Skylarks 30+ in the field as well. Nearby we found a flock of c100 Linnet and c25 Goldfinch, hurrah for organic and HLS farming.

Next stop was Thornham where we were soon watching 20 Twite, albeit in tricky and very windy conditions! Also in this area good views of several Rock Pipit, and amongst the Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Curlew, we also found a Spotted Redshank. Out on the grazing marsh there was a nice mixed group of c500 Brent & c200 Pink-footed Geese.
We then did a bit of seawatching from Gore Point, no Long-tailed Duck, but c5000 Common Scoter, 5+ Red-breated merganser, 4 Red-throated Diver, 10 Great crested grebe  and 7 drake Eider flew east. Nearby on the pools we located a Greenshank and out over the grazing marsh we had wonderful views of a male Marsh Harrier doing full display!
Early afternoon at Titchwell saw a plethora of wildfowl and waders, c20 Avocet, c40 Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit  c100 Dunlin, Wigeon Teal, plus several very smart Pintail. Several Cetti’s warblers were vocal and the nearby drained pool provided views of 3 Water Pipit and 1 Rock Pipit. As we were leaving we were treated to superb views of a hunting male Hen Harrier, such a stunning bird!

The day finished perfectly with 4 ringtail Hen Harrier, accompanied again by the male Pallid Harrier, which showed superbly well in the air for around 15 minutes.


Sunday 21st February - day two of three day winter tour
We started off with a look for some local Lapland Buntings, but despite walking the stubble we couldn’t locate them, although there was a good mixture of other birds with c50 Skylark, c25 Snipe, c40 Yellowhammer, 5 Reed Bunting and nearby a superb flock of c200 Linnet.

We then headed to Holkham to look at the "aythya selection" in Holkham park on the main lake!! We soon located the adult female Ferruginous Duck, also present was a  hybrid Ferruginous x Pochard, close by was a female Red-crested Pochard and then a short walk to find the 2 first winter Scaup which are now loking very smart! Also c50 Tufted Ducks and c30 Common Pochard and 2 Goldeneye. Nearby from the roadside we scanned the grazing marsh, lots of Wigeon, Teal and c70 Shoveler, 2 Pintail, c500 Lapwing, c25 Ruff, Golden Plover and several Marsh harrier, Buzzard and a Red Kite.

We lunched at Cley, then headed up to seawatch, but stopped off to admire a superb flock of c1500 Dark-bellied Brent geese close to the road. We scanned through these and found a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Out on the sea we found 4 Red-throated Diver, but it was relatively quiet, so we headed on to the East Bank. From here we had c60 Dunlin, c400 Lapwing, Bar & Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Ruff, numerous Redshank, and  Ringed Plover.
We finished the day off with superb views and a really close group of c20 Snow Bunting.

Click here for the video of the Snow Bunting

Trip three day total 114 species.


February 27th - March 5th - 7 Day Islay tour - 14 Golden Eagle sightings, Hen Harriers daily, Cackling Canada Goose, 3 Otters, Chough, Twite read the full trip report here