March 2016 Tour reports
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February 27th - March 5th - 7 Day Islay, Scottish tour - 14 Golden Eagle sightings, Hen Harriers daily, Cackling Canada Goose, 3 Otters, Chough, Twite and more..........read the full trip report here
Friday 18th March Day One of 3 day March group tour
We started the tour on the doorstep of the accommodation, by heading down below the cliffs at Hunstanton. From here we had great views of the hundred or so Fulmar nests, we watched them gliding effortlesly in and out. Nearby on the shoreline there was a nice flock of several hundred Brent Geese, plus Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Turnstone, Curlew, Redshank, Sanderling and Grey Plover. We then visited an area of farmland, a nice selection of commoner birds in good numbers as well - c60 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 40 Starling, 25 Yellowhammer, 15 Reed Bunting, 4+ Tree Sparrow, c20 Linnet, 50+ Skylark, 1 Brambling. Grey Partridge, Sparrowhawk and a ringtail Hen Harrier passed overhead.
We then headed on to Thornham, where there were more waders with nice close views of Curlew, also 2 Rock Pipit, 100 BrentGeese, 10+ Avocet, 2 Snipe and 4 Marsh Harrier - including some display! A nice flock of c40 Golden Plover passed overhead. We then headed round to Holme, 6+ Marsh Harrier from here, with some nice aerial display again in the skies above us. There was still plenty of wintering wildfowl with 500+ Wigeon, 100 Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and 3 Goldeneye on the broadwater. There was also still a handful of c20 Pink-footed Geese still present, leftover from the thousands in mid winter. We had much better views of Snipe, fourteen feeding on the shallow pools. A nice surprise was a Red Kite passing south. Out on the sea it was relatively quiet, but we noted 2 Red-breasted Merganser, Common Scoter and Great crested Grebe. Around the Firs there was a few transient Siskin dropping in, plus several obliging Goldcrest.
We finished a rather grey, cool day off at Titchwell, which provided 40+ Avocet, a single Water Pipit, c1000 Common Scoter reasonably close inshore, plus Pintail, Kingfisher and Brambling.
Saturday 19th March Day Two of 3 day March group tour
A good day in the Brecks! We started with a search for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. A pleasant walk along the river yielded Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Siskin, Red poll, numerous Redwing, a singing Woodlark, noisy Nuthatches and just the calling of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Despite waiting some time, this bird remained elusive, just heard calling twice.
We then headed to Grimes Graves, but on our first visit couldn't locate the Great Grey Shrike, though we did later in the day! Next we were scanning for Goshawks, this proved a real highlight of the day, as at least 2 males and a "big" female Goshawk put in intermittent appearances over the next hour, with the female coming almost overhead! We then returned to Grimes Graves where we had good but distant views of the Great Grey Shrike also a male Stonechat.
We finished the day off at Lynford. On arrival we were greeted by the "cronking" call of 2 Ravens overhead, sadly they remained heard only as we couldn't get a clear view quick enough. We then had fine views of 10+ Hawfinch with pairs perched beautifully out in the open. Also Siskin, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, we heard a singing Firecrest and added a good supporting cast of woodland birds. En-route back we had 2 Red Kite plus a lovely Barn Owl hunting.
Sunday 20th March Day Three of 3 day March group tour
A great days birding to finish off this tour. The weather improved considerably and blue skies greeted us this morning! We started the day with stunning views of 12 Bearded Tit, perched atop the reeds and showing very well. We also had a pair of Mediterranean Gulls pass by, 5+ Marsh Harrier, c50 Lapwing, plus a nice selection of wildfowl, including Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gawal, Teal & Wigeon. Meadow Pipits were displaying, also 1-2 Rock Pipits were still on the saltmarsh, a light passage of Siskin overhead. The final bonus here was a lovely flock of 19 Twite that flew past us 2-3 times calling and eventually perching up on sea-aster.
We stopped off at Holkham, scanning the pools and freshmarsh produced 40 Avocet, 2 Pintail, 20 Shoveler, 6 Buzzard, 6 Marsh Harrier, 30 Dunlin, 4 Ruff, and a superb group of c120 Eurasian White-fronted Geese. We next stopped off at Stiffkey, where almost on arrival we were watching 2 Red Kite, the second Kite tangling and interacting with superb female Merlin. The Merlin eventually flying off before perching up and providing nice scope views! Next stop was Blakeney, where a short walk brought us great views of 5+ Lapland Bunting feeding on the ground just in front of us, this followed by a small group of 6 Twite that chose to join them.
We lunched late at Cley, a seawatch mid afternoon proved surprisingly productive, over an hour we noted 20 Red-throated Diver east, plus 2 Red-throated Diver feeding, 2 Fulmar west, 15 Gannet east, 20 Eider east, 100 auk sp. East, but both Guillemot and Razorbill noted, 1 Little Gull 1st sum east, and 1ad Kittiwake east.
A good 3 day tour with 121 species recorded, excllent total at this time of the year.
March 24th - Exclusive Birding & Photography day
A good day down in the Brecks with some nice views of Stone Curlew, Goshawk, Firecrest, Willow Tit - plus some nice images of
Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit & Reed Bunting.