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Saturday 30 April 2016

Fulmars at Cromer!

Linda and I had scheduled a run around a few collectors' fairs and antique markets in North Norfolk and found ourselves at Cromer around lunchtime. We parked on the cliff top car park, walked into town and took care of some business. As we walked back along the cliff top path we noticed a small group of perhaps five Fulmars wheeling in and around the cliff face. It was surprisingly hard to get a decent shot, but nonetheless it was terrific to add these elegant tube-noses to the year list without a long drive to Hunstanton!

On our excursion we encountered plenty of Buzzards, including this pugnacious individual along the Glaven Valley.

Friday 29 April 2016

Little Ringed Plover and Short-eared Owl: racking up the year ticks!

It's a funny time of year: there are still winter birds lingering in the hope of decent weather to assist their migrations, while each easterly blow brings in a new crop of spring arrivals.

Knowing how impossible the traffic will be, I decided more in hope than expectation to have a solo run around the coast. I started at Winterton, where a four mile walk eventually produced a Short-eared Owl but little else. I followed the coast road through Waxham to Walcott (where Common Terns flew onto the year list) and on to Trimingham, where a Whinchat posed near the radar base.

Next stop was Cley Coastguards: a good passage of both Swifts and Sandwich Terns was underway, and a walk eastwards along the reserve boundary resulted in terrific views of a pair of Little Ringed Plovers. That was about it, really: a cup of tea with Alan and Carl ( who runs 'Wildlife tours and Education') and a futile attempt to find the reported Greenshank on Pat's Pool and it was time to return home and start supper!

Thursday 28 April 2016

Holding our breath....

OK: today (April 28th) is the date our Turtle Doves arrived last year. This was quite early - the previous year they first flew in to feed in mid May. Nevertheless, it's a tense period, wondering whether our beautiful visitors have made it through the Maltese artillery barrage for an eleventh year.

Meanwhile, there's still plenty going on in the garden, with daily visits by the cock Yellowhammer, as well as our breeding Stock Doves and Red-legged Partridges. (By the way: we don't have any pets: the object by the Yellowhammer is a stick!)

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Temminck's Stint at Cley and all kinds of nice things at Holkham!

Brian, Norman and I met at my house for an early start, reaching Cley by 7.45. We had apparently missed the Wryneck by five minutes, enjoying a fly-by Barn Owl as we chatted to a small gallery. After a quick walk out to the Centre Hides and back, we moved up the coast to Holkham, where the pines provided some welcome respite from the chilly northerlies.

From the Jordan Hide I quickly added three year ticks: Grey Partridge, Spoonbill and Great White Egret: there were at least four Spoonbills flying backwards and forwards, occasionally carrying nesting material.

We returned to Cley for coffee and were delighted to hear that a Temminck's Stint had been found, viewable from Bishop's Hide. To our surprise we frequently had the hide to ourselves as this delightful little wader worked closer and closer until we eventually managed reasonable shots.

Backup was provided by some beautiful breeding plumaged Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits, while a Little Egret seemed determined to come into the hide out of the wind!

Last good bird was another Barn Owl, perched by the road at Buxton.


Tuesday 26 April 2016

Global warming kicks in!

A couple of days short of May and I awoke to find the lawn hidden under snow and hail! While I accept (obviously!) that some form of climate change is occurring, as an astronomer I'm aware that similarly strange things are happening elsewhere in the Solar System. Still: there's no money to be made from the putative inhabitants of Mars, Europa or Titan!

Meanwhile - with the temperature outside a cool five degrees at midday and worse expected - what will become of the newly-arrived hirundines, swifts and warblers?

Monday 25 April 2016

Garganey and Yellow Wagtails at Buckenham Marshes

I grabbed the chance for a quick walk around Buck Marsh this morning, in anticipation of the nine days of poor weather we are promised by the Met Office!

Lots of Cetti's and Sedge Warblers everywhere, as well as Linnets and Meadow Pipits. Almost the first dyke held a pair of Garganey: hard to photograph against the morning sun, but always a pleasure to watch with binoculars. On the other side of the path a couple of Ruff, seven Avocets and a few Redshank fed along the pool margins, while two distant Yellow Wagtails tried to look like dandelions! A White Wagtail was more co-operative near the strangely-positioned hide, while a Typhhon and an F-15 practised for WW3 above the Cantley Factory.

Returning via Pedham, a Buzzard wasn't unexpected, but a pair of Marsh Harriers (with a well-marked male) was: especially as they displayed above a cereal field like they do in France!



Sunday 24 April 2016

Quiet day at home: but not without interest!

Having spent three days in the field this week (in anticipation of a predicted run of six days bad weather!) Lin and I thought we should put in some 'office time'. Nevertheless, since our offices both look out on the garden and a clear northern horizon, there was still a few birdy moments.

Buzzards are constant now: there's one with a damaged / moulting wing that is over the garden every day. The cock Pheasant and his harem share the feeding station with pairs of Jays, Partridges and Yellowhammers, while the hanging feeders attract Goldfinches, Coal Tits and Great Tits.