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27th January to 3rd February Islay 7 day tour - Another very successful trip again this year, with fantastic views of Golden & White-tailed Eagles, plus lots and lots of geese!! Read the full 2018 tour report here.
16th February 2018 - Day 1 of 3 Day Group Norfolk birdwatching tour
We started the day at Holme but couldn't locate the usually reliable Snow Bunting flock. But several hundred Brent Goose passed by along the shoreline, numerous Skylark, Reed Bunting, Plus several Rock Pipit.
We then had lovely close up views of several Fieldfare. The pools from the hide held good numbers of c1500 Wigeon, c300 Teal, c40 Gadwall, c100 Lapwing, 4 Marsh Harrier and 5 Snipe. At Thornham we had excellent views of the wintering flock of Twite, around c40 Twite in the harbour area now. A search for Grey Partridge was unsuccessful, but a Yellowhammer was noted. The weather was now bright and sunny, ideal raptor weather so we headed to Burnham Overy area - this proved to be a reat decision, as we watched Rough-legged Buzzard, 5+ Buzzard, 8+ Red Kite, a Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, 3+ Kestrel and 5+ Marsh Harrier all in the same area and at times nearly all the species in the air together!! Also lots of Pink-footed & Brent Geese, good flocks of Golden Plover, Lapwing and also 2 Grey Partridge. A nice selection of shorebirds - Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and many Curlew.
We finished the day off with an excellent raptor roost 4 Hen Harrier, 1 males and 3 ringtails, plus a Merlin and a nice couple of Barn Owl.
17th February 2018 - Day 2 of 3 Day Group Norfolk birdwatching tour
We headed for the broads today, but stopped off in North Norfolk en-route to look first at the sea, there was a few Red-throated Diver, 2-3 Common Scoter. The brackish pool attracted a nice flock of 29 Snow Bunting, that flew up and then returned, revealing their beautiful dramatic black and white plumage. Also beautiful glittering flock of c1200 Golden Plover, plus plenty of Lapwing. The next eye-catching bird was a first for the year, a superb male Marsh Harrier entertained us and a female Marsh Harrier as it gave full display overhead!! We then stopped off in Sheringham where we streated to gr
eat close up views of a superb Purple Sandpiper, just 5m away. No sigh of the Iceland or Glaucous Gulls seen earlier in the week. We then headed down into The Broads, we located a nice small group of Whooper and Bewicks Swan, and a larger group but more distant nearby.
Next stop c1500 Golden Plover and many Lapwing, several Snipe and Ruff were amongst the masses.. Also 3500 Pink-footed Geese including a Barnacle Goose. Several stops searching for Cranes were unsuccessful, but eventually we located a group of 3 Cranes, good scope views as they fed.
We finished the day off with yet another great raptor roost of c50 Marsh Harrier, plus 3 Hen Harrier including 1 male and 3 Woodcock.
18th February 2018 - Day 3 of 3 Day Group Norfolk birdwatching tour
Our day today was down into the Brecks. We started with a stop to search for raptors, by 9.45 the first Buzzards were in the air, shortly followed by a marauding Peregrine. A singing Wood Lark was a lovely distraction. Suddenly the Woodpigeons all flushed into the skies, but the culprit remained unseen! Not so a few minutes later when a superb 1st year male Goshawk went flashing past us, and we all realised there was a second bird an adult Goshawk in hot pursuit!! A few minutes later the young bird came screaming back past us at close range, before heading full into a flock of Woodpigeon, twisting and turning at the last moment, but apparently unsuccessfully. A fantastic few minutes, with some of the best Goshawk views I have ever had.
We then spent a couple of hours in the forest, we enjoyed excellent views of Treecreeper, Nuthatch and numerous Marsh tit, unfortunately no sign of any Hawfinch or Crossbill. We then met up with my good friend and BTO BirdTrack co-ordinator Nick Moran, First we headed for a series of feeders on the BTO reserve, here we had stunning close up views of c15 Brambling and 5 Lesser Redpoll, in all their guises! Also Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Marsh Tit at the feeders. We then headed off to another feeder site and we lunched here whilst watching c80 Tree Sparrow plus several more Brambling.
We decided to head to Lakenheath for the rest of the afternoon. The weather had settled and the skies cleared and it was a pleasant, if still chilly afternoon. A Great White Egret was present, and dwarfed several present Little Egrets. We then headed up the river path, a Cetti’s Warbler called, a Marsh Harrier was hunting and calling Bearded Tits eventually provided excellent close views.
As the late afternoon light faded, 2 Barn owls were hunting, with one Barn Owl showing down to point blank views.
A great 3 days with 112 species recorded.
23rd February - Raptor & Owls group day
A dedicated day of searching for our raptors and owls, a very successful day too, we were very fortunate with excellent weather!
We started with good views of 2 Goshawk, including a superb adult male partially displaying. Also in this area 2 Red Kite, c15 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel and a singing Woodlark. Up in North Norfolk we scored heavily! 12+ Marsh Harrier, 4 Red Kite, 6+ Buzzard and Peregrine Also here c2000 Golden Plover and c800 Brent geese added to the spectacle.
The day was well rounded off at a raptor roost with 2 Barn Owl, a Short-eared Owl, 4 Marsh Harrier and 3 Hen Harrier including a smart adult male. A cracking days raptor watching!!
February 2018 Tour reports