Wednesday 12th October - Five Day Rare & Scarce bird tour
We started the day at Holme, lots of Redwing, and finches, including Brambling. For the first few hours the skies were alive with birds.
A flock of c60 Redwing dropped vertically from the skies, then Song Thrush, Robin, Blackbirds were around us in good numbers. Chaffinch, Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin all noted in parties overhead. We were just sifting through these birds, when a call from the Observatory has scrambling quickly up to the ringing hut. Fortunately we were just 5 minutes drive away and the ringers were still processing the net round when we arrived. They came out with several birds, but the group were undoubtedly pleased to see this little beauty up close! A stunning little Siberian Yellow-browed Warbler, these birds may have become more regualr but it's still amazing to see them up close! We also watched several other species being ringed, Meadow Pipit, Redwing and Blackcap. We then had an overview of ringing and migration, we were about to head off for some more birding when Gary Elton the assistant warden called us back! A superb male Bearded Tit, another treat to see up so close!!
We then continued birding and nearby had great views of 3 Lesser Redpoll feeding low down on some willowherb heads, nearby there were several more Blackcap, 2-3 Chiff-chaff and still regular groups of mixed thrush flocks overhead, plus 2 Snipe also appeared to be fresh migrants dropping high out of the skies! The Broadwater held good numbers of Wigeon, Teal Shoveler and Gadwall. These were disturbed by a Common Buzzard and over the grazing marsh 3 Marsh Harriers were present.
We then took lunch and then headed out on to the saltmarsh. We had a very successful couple of hours! After a bit of searching I found 3+ Lapland Bunting, these affording good scope views as they fed in and out of the vegetation. As we looked up a "large" egret flew towards us - on inspection, the long kinked neck, yellow bill, it was a Great White Egret. We carried out working through the saltmarsh and the next nice surprise was a Woodcock flushing from under our feet, this was then followed up with a Short-eared Owl, also from close quarters. These birds were clearly migrants that had just arrived and taken to the first cover they could find on arriving. A great first day with lots of migrants and some scarcer birds as well.
Thursday 13th October Day Two of Five Day Norfolk Tour
Today we started off at Titchwell. Having seen a Yellow-browed Warbler in the hand, it was nice to get good views of another Yellow-browed Warbler this time in the willows along the main footpath. Another repeat performance was yet another Woodcock that banked in front of us as we walked out to the first hide! Out on the main scrape, there was lots of waders and wildfowl. Highlights were a superb mass of c250 Golden Plover, 3 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 15 Snipe, Spotted Redshank of this beautiful and close
October 2016 Tour reports
We then moved on to look at Patsy's pool. We again heard a Yellow-browed Warbler, several Siskin flew over as did several more flocks of Redwing. The pool held several Ruff, Snipe and Little Grebe. We also had nice close views of 2 Marsh harrier. On the way back we had lovelyl views of a male Peregrine perched on top of the posts on the filed margin.
We decided to finish the day off looking for the Olive-backed Pipit at Wells, it proved very elusive today in the two hours we were there, with very few people being fortunate enough to see throughout the afternoon. We did, however, see lots of small groups of Redwing, Blackbird, a few Song Thrush, several Brambling called overhead. Plus a nice group of Redpoll flew over as well as more Siskin. There were numerous Goldcrest, the day was rounded off nicely with 2 Short-eared Owls.
Friday 14th October Day Three of Five Day Norfolk Tour
Today we had a slightly larger group than normal, with 9 people, so I provided an extra guide with an extra vehicle. This also gave us the opportunity to leave a vehicle at Wells-next-the-sea and walk from Burnham Overy through the dunes and pines. The walk out along the seawall from Burnham Overy gave us an excellent array of wildfowl and waders, highlights were 2 Spoonbill, good views of Bearded Tit, 3 Grey Partridge, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Redshank, 35 Dunlin, Teal, Wigeon and Brent Geese. Migrant passerines were noted as well, Wheatear, 20 Song Thrush, Redwing, 2 Swallow plus Cetti's Warbler was heard. Once into the dunes we found more migrants, and eventually two of the more sought after birds - Great Grey Shrike and a Ring Ouzel. It was nice birding with lots happening, next a Merlin whizzed along the shoreline and finches and thrushes were constantly on the move. We then birded our way through the pines, the deciduous belt along the southern edge proving the most productive. Blackcap, Chiff-chaff, Goldcrests and eventually a Yellow-browed Warbler, the 3rd one in so many days!
We next headed towards Warham and searched along the hedgerows where a Raddes warbler had been seen earlier in the day. But this remained elusive, migrants here included 4+ Blackcap, 2 Chiff-chaff, another Yellow-browed Warbler, Brambling, Ring Ouzel, & 500+ Golden Plover. On the way back to the accommodation we stopped off briefly at Burnham Norton for a beautiful perched Barn Owl, with a backdrop of around 1000 Pink-footed Geese heading to the roost.
Saturday 15th October Day Four of Five Day Norfolk Tour
We decided to head back to Wells woods today and try again for the Olive-backed Pipit which was still being seen albeit elusive!
There was again plenty of thrushes, finches and Goldcrests to sift through. We were very lucky though as after around an hour of searching a birder just behind us beckoned us over. The Olive-backed Pipit was sat motionless around 10m away on the branches of a conifer, it was so still it was hard to see initially! The Olive-backed Pipit then dropped on to the ground and we had good views for around 30 seconds as it crept along the ground, pumping it's tail. It soon disappeared amongst the vegetation! We then spent another couple of hours looking for a Pallas's Warbler, but despite seeing hundreds of Goldcrests, we failed to connect. Lots of other migrants though, Siskin, 20 Lesser Redpoll, 30+ Brambling, 10 Blackcap, 5 Chiff-chaff and another Yellow-browed Warbler. A Peregrine was also present sat on the ground with prey and drawing quite a crowd of onlookers!
We had our lunch and then headed off to Burnham Overy. On arrival there was a small crowd, we joined them and after about 20 minutes had our first views of the Barred Warbler that had taken up temporary residence in the hedgerow. It showed intermittently over the next hour or so, and everyone got great scope views.
Yellow-browed warbler - Holme
Bearded Tit - Holme
Jack Snipe - Titchwell
Great Grey Shrike Holkham
Bearded Tit - Holme
Barred Warbler - Burnham Overy
We then headed on to Brancaster and explored down one of the leafy lanes. There was again a good mixture of migrant birds, and we witnessed two flocks of Redwing dropping from the skies late afternoon. There was also 20+ Brambling, Blackcap and Chiff-chaff.
Sunday 16th October Day Five of Five Day Norfolk Tour
It was the first day of wet weather and with quite a few heavy showers forecast, it made sense to head back to Titchwell and use the hides. There was still a good mix of waders and wildfowl. But also 2 Spoonbill, 2 Jack Snipe - one again showing intermittently well, also 3 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 400 Golden Plover. We eventually had nice views of a Water Rail along the edge of the reedbed. Whilst watching one of the Jack Snipe, a Water Pipit dropped in and at one point both birds were in the same scope view! As we left the reserve we
After lunch the weather improved slightly, and we headed off to Holme and decided to spend the afternoon seawatching. We were treated to watching migration in action, as we scoped the sea we picked up several groups of thrushes, way out, heading for the shore! We almost wanted to cheer them on, over an hour we witnessed around c100 Redwing and c100 Fieldfare arriving in small parties.
The big flock of c1500 Common Scoter were offshore, small parties of Wigeon and Teal passed offshore. The first Red-breasted Merganser, of the autumn passed flying west, was shortly followed by an Arctic Skua and a couple of late Sandwich Tern.
There was a nice flock of Brent Geese on the shoreline, quite surprisingly there was also a single White-fronted Goose a nice surprise and unusual record, especially in October.
It had been a great 5 days and we had recorded 120 species.
17th October Exclusive Day Norfolk Tour
Today was a short venture out in the Cley area for a client with a gift voucher. We started with a look at sea, which proved to be reasonably productive, an hour soon passed by. Passage was steady with 8 Red-throated Diver, 10+ Gannet, several small groups of Common Scoter. Several flocks of Brent's passed by in quite a few good numbers, also Guillemot, Razorbill, also a few flocks of Wigeon and Teal, We next stopped off at Snipes Marsh, where true to its name there were several Common Snipe, a bit more searching eventually we located its smaller cousin, a smart Jack Snipe. We lunched here at Walsey Hills, and admired soaring Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. We spent a couple of hours after lunch looking around Salthouse area, there was 2 Wheatear, 32 Brent Geese and a nice pair of Stonechat showing very well.
Wednesday 19th October Day One of Three Day Norfolk Tour
Today was an early start to catch the high tide at Snettisham, it was well worth the effort! A fantastic display, we arrived an hour before the peak of the tide, but with an onshore wind, the tide was already high and we were immediately treated to some spectacular flights and mexican waves, as huge clouds of Red Knot swarmed on the gravel pits. Over the next couple of hours, we watched as a total of
c70,000 Red Knot swirled and swarmed over the pits and squeezed themselves on to the bare areas of gravel. It is always such an amazing experience to watch such a huge number of birds, whether they are all running or flying in parallel, its like pure art!! Another high tide roost, but yet again a real privelege to watch this astounding event at such close quarters, beautiful. Alongside the masses of course there were also plenty of other birds, 2000 Oystercatcher with one Avocet! Also big rafts of thousands also of Bar-tailed Godwit, 700 Black-tailed Godwit, 200 Turnstone, 250 Redshank, c500 Dunlin, Grey Plover, c500 Golden Plover also 5 Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank. Out on the open water there was a 2 Pintail and 2 Black-necked Grebes.
As the tide dropped we were also able to watch the Red Knot, flock by flock head back out on to the mud. We also had good views of 2 Rock Pipit feeding along the strandline. Over the saltmarshes a pale Buzzard and 2 Marsh Harriers were hunting. As we headed out of the reserve we stopped to look at 2 adult Mediterrenean Gulls.
We stopped off in Hunstanton for bacon butties, coffee and tea & then made our way towards Holme. After some searching we had brief views of Lapland Bunting, plenty of Skylark and Meadow Pipit. We then headed up to the Observatory for a lunch break, and were also treated to a Goldcrest and Blackcap that were being ringed. Nearby we watched a pair of Stonechat, but the strong wind & showers made looking for passerines tricky!
Stonechat - Salthouse
Barred Warbler - Burnham Overy
Lapland Bunting Holme
Thursday 20th October Day Two of Three Day Norfolk Tour
This morning there was quite a strong north east wind blowing so we started by having a seawatch at Cley. There was a reasonable passage, but perhaps less than might have been expected, still we had nice few birds - 10 Red-throated Diver flew east, 8 Eider west, 4 Great Skua east, 1 Arctic Skua west, 12 Kittiwake west, 6 Little Gull west, numerous Guillemot/Razorbill east, plus groups of Brent Geese, Wigeon, Teal and a few Common Scoter.
We then headed to Salthouse where we had nice close views of 100+ Brents, 1000+ Wigeon, plus a pair of Stonechat. All of these birds suddenly went into orbit in a mass panic, as a "Peregrine" type falcon appeared overhead - on closer inspection the Falcon appeared to be a huge bird!! It dived at the Wigeon and seem to dwarf them. It then briefly landed fairly close to a Great black-it backed Gull, appearing almost as large, also appeared to have a pale forehead and crown. It was a brownish bird, with heavy pale fringes, a juvenile female. It was suddenly back in the air and headed off west, I took a decision to put the bird out as a Saker Falcon, as it certainly seemed to remind me of the 1-2 I recalled from seeing them abroad. We headed off to Cley and fortunately the bird was still present hunting over the marsh and Eye field. We met Steve Gantlett and he managed to get some good record images. He had also seen the previous Arctic Peregrine that had been present at Cley the previous winter. He flet that this bird was another storng candidate for this sub-species. I couldn't quite believe the size of the bird, it was truly massive and way bigger than any Peregrine I had seen previously. It continued hunting and afforded excellent views, both with the scope and binouculars. It then tangled with a local female Marsh Harrier, it was nearly the same size! Steve managed to capture this perfectly, the image below bares witness to the huge size of what was identified as a Arctic Peregrine Falcon Falco Peregrinus Callidus.
We later walked along the east bank and enjoyed good views of Bar & Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Golden Plover also lots of Wigeon, Teal, plus Brent Geese. Also good views of Bearded Tit if a little flighty in the strong wind.
Arctic Peregrine Falcon - courtesty of Steve Gantlett www.cleybirds.com
Arctic Peregrine Falcon - courtesty of Steve Gantlett www.cleybirds.com
Friday 21st October Day Three of Three Day Norfolk Tour
The day started with showers and rain, so we headed for the hides and shelter at Titchwell, as per previous visits this month there wa slots of birds to look through. A roost of several hundred shorebirds with Red Knot, Bar & Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin and Golden Plover also lots of Wigeon, Teal, a few Pintail plus Brent Geese. There was also a nice scattering of Ruff. Out on the sea we soon found a Velvet Scoter sat close inshore. It was a female and the patch behind the eye was evident. It also eventually wing flapped and revealed the white speculum in the wing. Also offshore Red-throated Diver, Common Scoter plus a few Gannets.
As we walked back Bearded Tits were seen reasoably well, sitting out feeding.
We lunched at Holme, then walked out into the southern dune section - after a good bit of searching I eventually located 2 Shorelarks feeding along the edge of the dune system, they showed beautifully for a few minutes before lifting and flying overhead giving their light whistle call. They landed but over 800m futher down the shingle bar. We returned to the minibus and headed for up the reserve to explore around Gore Point area. We didn't make this far, as we drove up the track I noticed the distinctive outline and shape of a Waxwing sat atop the hedge. We got quietly and set up the scopes, it became evident there was actually 4 Waxwings, all sat feeding on the hawthron berries in the hedge. A thrilling end to a great 3 days.
Monday 24th October Day off Birding Burnham Overy
Had an interesting day off today studying these two are Wheatears, an Isabelline and a Desert Wheatear.
The Isabelline is on the lefthandside and the Desert Wheatear is on the righthandside. Great birds to see and also very educational
watching them feed at times very close together!
Tuesday 25th October Exclusive day Birding Burnham Overy & Titchwell
A general days birding, we had a lovely selection of waders and shorebirds, Bar & Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin and Golden Plover also lots of Wigeon, Teal plus Brent Geese. A Northern Wheatear provided excellent views at close range. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard & a Peregrine were all seen on the walk. We then headed over to Titchwell, where we had a nice selction of birds on the scrape, but the highlights was a close Velvet Scoter just offhsore.