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Thursday 31 March 2016

Dreaming spires!

Linda and I took a quick Easter break with Mum-in-Law Mary to Oxford, a city that never fails to delight and entertain! A great opportunity to use our bus passes, too!

My favourite spot is the indoor market, which has some of the finest food shops and funniest T-Shirts I've ever seen! I bought a fabulous Louvre statue of Nefertiti in a charity shop for a tenth of its Paris retail price and Linda bought some jewellery and three dresses! After  lunch and a visit to the 'Castle' and its stocks, we headed back to Maidenhead.

Predictably lots of Kites and Buzzards: I suppose it won't be long until even I become blasé, now they've been released to breed to the west of Norwich.



Wednesday 30 March 2016

Alba wagtails?

Lots of these Pied Wagtails were moving through Buckenham today in groups of four or five. I'm pretty sure they're so-called 'White Wagtails' of the continental alba race, but no doubt an expert out there in Blogland can put me right!

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Bemusing Buzzard, majestic Marshie and confiding Cetti's!

A quick five-miler around Strumpshaw and Buckenham produced decent views of most of the 'usual suspects' (although we didn't see any of the single-witness Cranes, Storks or Great White Egrets!)

At least eight Marsh Harriers were displaying in front of Fen Hide, including a beautiful pale male: an atypically showy Cetti's Warbler was singing to the right of the hide for half an hour!

A really amazing pale - almost pure white - Buzzard drifted high east. If one were in southern France or Spain, one might consider Booted Eagle: a cracking bird in any case...

Buckenham produced a flock of twenty or so Fieldfares flying south west, two alba Wagtails as well as half a dozen Avocets. Still lots of Wigeon in the dykes, while four Common Buzzards displaying over the woods were good to watch.


Sunday 27 March 2016

Penduline Tits: are they breeding in the UK?

In the twenty-five years Linda and I have been birding together, we've seen / videoed / photographed Penduline Tits at Titchwell, Minsmere, Dungeness and Strumpshaw Fen. We've also seen (and heard!) plenty in France at reserves such as Baie de la Canche, Marquenterre and Sailly Bray. (Photos below!)

Over the past few months there have been lots of UK records from places as far apart as Cleveland, Devon, Gloucestershire and Essex (as well as Norfolk, of course!) Doesn't it seem likely that these delightful little birds will soon be added to the list of regular breeders, along with other recent colonisers such as Spoonbills, Great White Egrets and Cranes? May they already be here!?

The best way to prove breeding would be to locate the characteristic nests of the species, of course: but even in places where Pendulines are known to breed, the nests aren't easy to see...

What other colonists can we expect in the next few years? My money would be on Purple Heron, Cattle Egret and Little Bittern, with the outside possibility of Common Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike re-establishing a toe-hold!

Friday 25 March 2016

Garganey at Strumpshaw and Buzzard-fest on the Heath!

Following a four-mile cycle ride (the first for Linda and me since we bought our new bikes) a walk around the Fen seemed a good idea, given the glorious Spring weather. Almost the first bird we saw - and heard - was the elusive Penduline Tit, just before the sluice in company with Long-tailed Tits. I clicked away, but as I tried to review the images I saw the dreaded message 'No card'. I'd left my heavy Jack Pyke camo at home with all my spare SD cards and had failed to check that I'd replaced the one in the camera! Oh dear! (Or words to that effect!)

We carried on round to Tower Hide, where we quickly added a pair of Garganey, several Chiffchaffs and a Buzzard to the list, but I was still kicking myself for my failure to check the camera. On the way back to the car we bumped into photographer Elizabeth Dack, who kindly lent me an SD card. Lin agreed to pick me up in an hour, so I scuttled back to Tower Hide to capture some distant images of the Garganeys and of the tattiest Water Deer I've ever seen!. Thanks Elizabeth!

Later, while I was putting a new pump in the splash pool in our garden, Linda called out that a group of Buzzards were circling high overhead: sure enough six of these beautiful raptors passed over the garden in tight formation, calling continually. A terrific short session!

Thursday 24 March 2016

Some in, some out!

It's that time of year: birds leaving for colder climes and arriving from warmer ones! I needed to spend the day in the office today, but, as usual, there were a few bits and pieces passing through the garden. At lunchtime a brief spell of sunshine revealed a good passage of Redwings heading east across the fields. Later on, despite the gloom, the first Sand Martin of the year briefly circled the oak at the end of the garden, allowing a single photo. Still: summertime starts this weekend, so maybe we can look forward to some exciting arrivals!