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Friday 31 January 2020

Breckland bash: Hawfinches, Siskins, Willow Tits but no Lesser Spot!

Sue, Linda, Peter and I made a fairly early start for our first trip of the year to the Brecks. First stop was Lynford Arboretum, where we immediately came across a flock of twenty Hawfinches: first in the Hornbeams and then on the ground. Other interesting birds we added to the day list included Siskin, Brambling, Yellowhammer, Nuthatch and Redwing.

After coffee at Brown's, we drove the short distance to Santon Downham. Despite a longish walk we saw very few birds at all - just a couple of Little Grebes.

Next was lunch at the 'Twenty Churchwardens' before a damp walk along a woodland ride to the traditional Willow Tit feeding station. Before the rain set in for the day, we saw - and heard - at least two Willow Tits, as well as Marsh, Coal and Great Tit.

A last stop at Oxborough Hall (for a cuppa!) and then home.

Thursday 30 January 2020

Still a few about!

Fieldfares, that is... Several hundred spread out across the newly-manured field between Dyes Lane and Bonds Lane yesterday: no sign just now, though.

Wednesday 29 January 2020

North Coast with Brian: Waxwing, Woodcock, Snow Buntings and much more!

Brian and I took a drive through the early morning sunlight to the North Coast, starting off at Holkham. Several Red Kites were worthwhile on the walk out to the Bay, as well as a possible Black Brant on the saltings. A thorough search failed to locate any Shorelarks, but we did add Snow Bunting (40+) and two Velvet Scoters (among a huge raft of Common Scoter) to the year list. Two Grey Partridges were a nice surprise along Lady Anne's Drive.

Next stop was Titchwell, where it was good to renew acquaintances with the long-staying Woodcock and one of the several confiding Water Rails. Half a dozen Long-tailed Ducks were occasionally visible beyond the surf.

After a cup of tea, we carried on eastwards: no sign of the Rough-legged Buzzard nor anything else noteworthy until we reached Cley. Here - after a couple of false starts - we enjoyed good views of the solitary Waxwing at Salthouse Church.


Half a million thanks!

Well: we got there! Thanks to all of you who follow or read 'Birds of the Heath': at a time when blogs are dying off in favour of thirty word tweets, it's most gratifying to be one of the survivors!

Tuesday 28 January 2020


A lovely clear sky (and no wind!) meant it was possible to find Neptune in my 5" refractor, but also photograph it. Visibly blue in colour, it was amazing to look at and reflect on the fact that this planet is nearly three billion miles away! The crescent Moon and Venus were good to see as well...

A rare chance to see Neptune!

Just after sunset you have a great chance of seeing the outermost planet of the Solar System: Neptune. It's close to the Moon and Venus (You'll need bins or a scope to see it!) so it could be quite easy to pick out: normally it's just a faint 'star' among many others. It'll appear blueish!

Ring-necked Parakeets in Norwich

This morning Linda and I made a short detour to look for the group of Ring-necked Parakeets that have taken up residence just off the Dereham Road in Norwich. We're used to seeing these, of course: a few Christmases ago we came across a roost of 2000+ in Slough and we almost always saw a few when we visited Mum-in-Law in Maidenhead. However, apart from a single that flew across the garden a couple of years ago, these are the first we've seen in Norwich.

Whooper Swans at Ludham Airfield

A couple of short videos: sad to think they'll be gone soon...

Monday 27 January 2020


At some point tomorrow, someone will be the 500,000th visitor to 'Birds of the Heath'
Amazing! I wonder who it will be? A free copy of 'Birds of the Yare Valley' to whoever it is!

Wild Swans and Goldeneye - but no Red-necked Grebe...

Linda and I were supposed to be making a trip down to the Brecks with Sue & Peter, but when we crawled out of bed we discovered that the central heating boiler had gone u/s! This necessitated one of us being at home all day until the service team arrived. Since Linda 'volunteered' to be the one, I decided to go for a bash at the Red-necked Grebe at Filby. Despite a good two hours scanning the two Broads from both of the wooden platforms, neither the grebe nor the recently-present Long-tailed Duck put in an appearance. (Nice to enjoy a chat with fellow cockney ex-patriot Ted!) Lots of beautiful Goldeneye were some compensation.

I drove home via Ludham Airfield, where two groups of Whooper Swans took a bit of finding - they were a mile or so distant from their regular feeding area.