October 2017 Tour reports

Wednesday 11th October Norfolk - Day one of five day tour
We started the days birding at Kelling and were immedistely greeted by several nice skeins of Pink-footed Geese over head. We then headed down the lane, there was plenty of activity in the hedgerow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Bullfinch on the way down. We soon reached the southern end of the pool and there was a nice group of waders, Ruff, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 5 Snipe and a Spotted Redshank. We walked on to the northerly end of the pool and soon located the Red-necked Phalarope, present for
around 6 days now. We headed closer and were soon getting absolutely stunning views at 5-10m as it pirouetted and picked insects from the water’s surface. This was then joined at super close range by 2 Spotted Redshank, a real treat. Out on the open water there was also Shoveler, Teal, Shelduck and Wigeon. We walked onwards to the sea and an overhead light passage of Pipits and finches was evident. Amongst these, 2 Rock Pipits were heard, plus a couple of “rippling calls” also gave us a Lapland Bunting flying around.

We then took a seawatch, as per the SW winds there wasn’t too much expected, but several Gannet, Razorbill and 3-4 Red-throated Divers flew past. Plus a group of Wigeon, Teal and Mallard flew in off the sea.

We then headed back up the track, Stonechat, Reed Buntings showed well and a nice fresh juvenile Wheatear was a bonus. We stopped off in a sheltered spot, from here we had a group of Long-tailed Tits, plus a Blackcap and a Lesser Whitethroat that would have been very interesting if it had stayed in view long enough.

We lunched at Cley, a circuit of Walsey Hills produced Goldcrest, but no sign of the Firecrest reported earlier. We then headed out on the marsh and watched a whole load more Pink-footed Geese flying over. We then headed out on the East bank, there was an excellent mix of wildfowl and waders, 30+ Ruff, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 100 Golden Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Snipe, Pintail, Wigeon and Teal. A Merlin flew past and eluded most of us, but fortunately a few minutes later the Merlin was relocated sat on a post and gave good scope views. Out on Arnolds marsh there was plenty more birds, and we added Knot, Grey Plover, Gadwall plus two more Curlew Sandpiper.

We had another look a the sea, but this was pretty quiet, so we finshed the day at Salthouse and there was plenty more Ruff, 2 Ringed Plover, Snipe, plenty of Teal and Wigeon, plus a welcome and very close flyover Little Stint.

A nice day with a total of 83 species recorded.

Thursday 12th October Norfolk - Day two of five day tour
En-route up to Stiffkey we stopped off by some pools adjacent to a hedge, there was a nice selction Greenfinch, Yellowhammer and Chaffinch coming down to drink. We then headed to Stiffkey and looked at the fen. On the walk through we heard Cetti’s singing, we also had Goldcrest, Blackcap and Chiff-chaff. Out on the fen, there was a good selection, lots of Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler plus 30 Ruff, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and surprisingly a group of 12 Greenshank. We then scanned out over the saltmarsh and a Kingfisher flashed by close in front of us. There was a nice flock of c150 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and also Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Turnstone. A Marsh Harrier caused a panic and there was suddenly masses of wildfowl and shorebirds in the skies. A message came through that 4 Cranes were heading our way, but despite scanning for the next 15 minutes we couldn’t find them.  The walk back was quiet and we headed in the minibus towards Titchwell, though not before a roadside stop, the recently found Cattle Egret from a couple of weeks ago was still present and faithful to the small herd of cattle!

A quick call from Trev Girling was very welcome, the Grey Phalarope was still present and now a Dotterel had been found amongst the Golden Plover. We head on hastily for Titchwell. We arrived on the West Bank, which was full of birders! The Grey Phalarope was first to be located, it was easily picked out being so pale in it’s winter plumage and feeding along the edge in front of Parrinder hide.

But the Dotterel was a lot more difficult sat amongst a large flock of Golden Plover. Eventually the Dotterel was found, being slightly smaller and paler with a clean, slightly peachy underparts. Just as it was located I noticed 4 fuzzy sillouettes way off in the distance, though I had my suspicions, once I had the scope on them there was no mistake 4 Cranes were heading towards us. Eventually they got much closer and we had reasonable views as they migrated past us along the coastline. After a great 20 minutes of birding, we then headed off for lunch in the picnic area.

After lunch we got much closer views of the Grey Phalarope, in fact literally down to a few metres. We also took in a nice range of duck and had c50 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Ringed Plover. Out on the beach the sea was quiet but 3 Red-throated Diver and a large flock of Common Scoter were added.

Friday 13th October Norfolk - Day three of five day tour
We started the day with some isible migration at Hunstanton cliffs, if we had arrived 2 minutes earlier we would have seen a Serin that had gone south, the frustrations of birding! Over the next hour we did have a nice selection of birds heading south, a steady stream of Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit included Siskin, Brambling, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Rock Pipit and Grey Wagtail.

We headed to Holme and looked off Gore point, there was a nice flock of c1500 Common scoter, an Arctic Skua flew east, several groups of Gannets and a late House Martin flew overhead and there was still small number so finches and pipits passing.

The weather was windy and slightly damp, the SW winds were unlikely to yield to many scarce passerines so we headed off to Holkham to take a peep at the now, long staying Osprey. We walked out and noted Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker. But were soon watching the majestic Osprey sat on top of the trees - these birds never fail to impress! We had lovely time and great scope views as it sat preening and balancing in the now gsty wind.

We had lunch and then chose a couple of vantage points at Holkham. There was lots of Pink-footed Geese, Egyptian Geese & Grey-lags. We soon located a Great White Egret and this was quickly followed by finding a second Great White Egret! Above these were several raptors, 3 Buzzard, 3-4 Marsh harrier and 3 Red Kites.

We all went out in the evening and had lovely and jolly evening meal, over a few beers and glasses of wine.

Saturday 14th October Norfolk - Day four of five day tour
With the winds still limiting the supply of drift or Siberian scarce or rare birds I decided we should head over to East Norfolk. We started the day at Hemsby, where Ryan Irvine had very kindly offered the chance of joining him in his back garden to seawatch in relative comfort. We caught up with quite a few groups of Little Gulls, plus a nice passage of 40+ Mediterranean Gulls passing south. Also several Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter. There was also a light passage of Goldfinch, Siskin and Chaffinch, plus a couple of Brambling moving south.

We then headed over to Potter Heigham marshes, we were greeted with excellent close up views of 5+ Bearded tits, as they moved up and down the dyke. Out on the scrapes there was a really nice selection of wildfowl and waders, Dunlin, 2 Little Stint, 3 Curlew sandpiper, Greenshank, c60 Ruff, c40 Black-tailed Godwit, c40 Shoveler, 25 Gadwall and numerous Teal and Wigeon. We also bumped into several more groups of Bearded Tits.

We lunched late on top of the bank, and several Marsh Harriers were soaring over the reedbed. Though lunch was firmly interrupted as 3 Cranes circled in the distance, we watched these at a nice range with good scope views. We just started lunch when another group of 6 Cranes and then a total of 8 Cranes were up and circling!

We headed over to Winterton to round the day off though it was a tricky couple of hours trying to see an elusive Yellow-browed warbler. We eventually saw it, it called and we managed to get some brief views of the Yellow-browed Warbler before heading back to the accommodation.

Sunday 14th October Norfolk - Day five of five day tour
We started the day with a loo at Geese. There was a nice group of Pink-feet and Greylags, the recently found Taiga Bean Goose was elusive though we did have excellent scope views of a juvenile Greenland White-fronted Goose.

We then headed out on into the dunes. It was fairly quiet until late morning when it clouded up the wind increased. Suddenly, it was quite amazing as waves of Starlings and finches started to pass overhead, including birds arriving in off the sea. Amongst the commonest birds, Chaffinches and Meadow Pipits there was small numbers of Brambling and Siskin.  The waves of birds almost became constant for a period an amazing spectacle.

We walked back eventually and had a late lunch. We headed to Holme and it was clear that the overhead passage was still ongoing, with more finches, pipits and Starlings.
We also watched over the sea, Common Scoter and Red-throated Diver passed by and were able to finish the tour on a real high when an adult Pomarine Skua flew south.

Wednesday 18th October Norfolk - Two day exclusive tour
We started the day looking through the geese at Burnham Overy, though there was lovely masses of Pink-footed Geese, the scrcer geese proved elusive. So we walked out on to the seawall. We had nice views of several Rock Pipits, plus Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Dark-bellied Brent Geese. There was small groups of Starling and a few thrushes arriving.

We then headed to Holkham, where we headed off to see the Osprey. As we headed out of the parking area I heard a Firecrest calling. I checked the nearby Holme oaks and soon found 2 Firecrest, they then showed really well coming right on to the front of the bush. Down by the lake the Osprey was showing well and finishing off a recently caught fish.

It was now raining quite hard, so we headed to Holme and had lunch up at the Observatory. The weather improved and we did a circuit of the Firs, we watched a nice group of c20 Brambling that had dropped in, plus several Redwing and a single Fieldfare, Blackbird and Song Thrush. A few groups of Siskin also passed over and a late group of 9 Swallows were over the dunes.

We spent the afternoon at Titchwell and worked through good numbers of ducks and waders, c40 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Ringed Plover and 40+ Golden Plover. Out on the shore, there was Knot, Bar-tailed godwit, Turnstone, Grey Plover and on the sea Red-throated Diver and a large flock of Common Scoter.

Thursday 19th October Norfolk - Two day exclusive tour
We headed to the Kelling area. It was clear as we headed north that quite a lot of thrushes were arriving with several groups passing over the minibus. A high pressure system over Scandinavia had seen temperatures drop and in nice still conditions, clearly many thrushes had decided to set off on migration. However, a low pressure system moving up the North Sea meant they were soon in poor visibility with strengthening SE winds.

As we headed down the hedgerows at Kelling, it indeed was clear that significant numbers of Redwing, Blackbird and Song Thrush had arrived and still were arriving. There was also groups of finches flying over and dropping into the hedges, the bushes were alive with birds. We made slow progress, as we took time to get views of the thrushes, the majority were Redwing. There was also lots of Chaffinch and Greenfinch. A pair of Stonechat obliged and down on the pool there was 2 Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, 2 Spotted Redshank and Snipe. A Jack Snipe was flushed by the local shoot, but just got on to a bit late to get good views. More waves of Starling, Redwing and Blackbirds arrived in off the sea we enjoyed these and also had brief views of Blackcap and a very frustrating and elusive Lesser Whitethroat.

We headed up towards Salthouse and we had several Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew and Grey Plover.
We had a look offshore and there was quite a number of close inshore Gannets, plus a Red-throated Diver. Visibility was poor and we note several groups of further flocks of Starlings and Thrushes heading in from the sea. There was a very significant and visible arrival of birds happening.

We then headed to Cley where we sat on the shore to have lunch. We were treated to lots more groups of thrushes, Starlings and a few finches all coming in off the sea. We got quite good at picking these flocks up way out over the sea, it was mazing to watch them come ashore! Some birds were clearly tired and landed on the shoreline, exhausted from their efforts. Out on the sea, there was also Razorbill, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver plus a constant stream of Dark-bellied Brent Geese arriving from the east. Out on the Eyefield there was a small group of Brents feeding and amongst these there was a really smart Black Brant.

We headed off in the afternoon to the East bank, a good selection of wildfowl and waders plus several smart Pintail. Still more thrushes arrived and more birds looked tired with Song Thrush and Redwing landing and recovering on the shore.

We finished a spectacular day of migration, with Arctic Skua, Mediterranean Gull and Little Gull.

21st October Norfolk - Three day group tour - Day One
We started at Burnham Overy and were fortunate to arrive and almost immediately find the Taiga Bean Goose feeding amongst Pink-feet and Greylag Goose. It ame nice and close and we managed great views and some pictures. Nearby we stopped off and had several Marsh Harrier, Buzzards, several Red Kites. There was also plenty of wildfowl, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall also Black-tailed Godwits. We didn’t have to wait long before we had reasonable views of Great White Egret, we didn’t immediately see the Grey Phalarope though. But just as we were about to leave David noticed, just sneaking out from behind one of the islands. The Grey Phalarope gave good scope views for a few minutes before again disappearing behind vegetation. We next headed to Holkham Park, the long staying Osprey had departed, but we did find a first winter male Greater Scaup.

We lunched and then headed to Stiffkey and were soon enjoying nice views of the Cattle Egret, stayig faithful to the small herd of cows! We then headed to the fen where there was a good selection of birds, highlights were Greenshank, Pintail and an amazing stooping Peregrine which caught a Ruff at a second attempt. We rounded the day off with a Black Redstart feeding on the rooftops at Cley.

22nd October Norfolk - Three day group tour - Day two
We headed to Snettisham early today for a high tide. Despite strong gusting winds and showers we still managed a very enjoyable morning. The tide was slightly held back by the strong westerly wind, but we still had a lovely spectacle as 50,000 Red Knot made beautiful smoky shapes in the skies. There was also c2000 Bar-tailed Godwit, 300+ Redshank, Sanderling, Dunlin, and Turnstone also several hundred Pink-footed Geese left their roost. There was also a late juv Common Tern and several Rock Pipits along the shore.

We then headed to Holme, where we managed to get some shelter from a now strong 40 mph wind! Out on the sea we had quite a few Common Scoter, Gannet, Wigeon Teal and Brents.

We made good use of the Observatory and had lunch in the dry and out of the wind!

The wind continued to make birding difficult, so we headed to Titchwell where we could make use of the hides. We had a good selection of wildlfowl and waders - highlights were 20 Ruff, 50+ Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Greenshank but the Little Stints seemed to have left. Out on the sea there was a close inshore Common Scoter, plus several Gannets.

After a very windy day, we were glad to head home for tea & cakes! Followed by a group evening meal.

23rd October Norfolk - Three day group tour - Day three
We started the day at Kelling and it was clear on arrival with the wind dropped and much brighter conditions compared with yesterday lots more birds were moving.
There were groups of finches flying over and dropping into the hedges and the hedgerow held plenty of birds.

There was also lots of Chaffinch, Blackbird, Redwing and 2-3 Song Thrush. As we walked down the track several flocks of Starling flew over west, plus Meadow Pipits were moving overhead. We then picked up other migrants Siskin, Redpoll and Brambling all passing overhead. As we reached the end of the main hedgerow two of us were fortunate to get decent views of the Yellow-browed Warbler, before it disappeared into the canopy. It called several times again, but refused to give a second viewing!

A pair of Stonechat obliged and down on the pool there was 3 Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Spotted Redshank and Snipe. Just as we started to walk back a Lapland Bunting called overhead.

We then headed for lunch at Cley, we arrived at the beach and were just enjoying nice views of the Black Brant, when a Snow Bunting flew in and landed. The Snow Bunting then obligingly showed very well right in front of us. En-route to Cley we enjoyed a nice flock of Golden Plover.

We enjoyed lunch on the beach on a very mild autumnal day! It was quiet out to sea, a few Common Scoter, plus Gannets offshore.

We rounded the day off on the East bank, good views of the masses of Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall plus smart drake Pintail. There was a good flock of Black-tailed Godwit, plus several Ruff, Grey Plover and Dunlin.

A series of pictures from the last few weeks tours - thanks to participating clients David Hill & Shirley Bain for their images
taken during the tours.

Go to September 2017 Monthly Reports

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Red-necked phalarope Chris Mills

Red-necked phalarope Chris Mills

Bearded Tit - David Hill

Bearded Tit - David Hill

Curlew Sandpipers - Shirley Bain

Curlew Sandpipers - Shirley Bain

Black Redstart - Shirley Bain

Black Redstart - Shirley Bain

Taiga Bean Goose - Chris Mills

Taiga Bean Goose - Chris Mills

Spotted Redshank - Shirley Bain

Spotted Redshank - Shirley Bain

Snow Bunting - Shirley Bain

Snow Bunting - Shirley Bain

Little Stint - David Hill

Little Stint - David Hill

High tide Snettisham roost - Chris Mills