Thursday 29 April 2021

Back birding in Norfolk after 13 months

It's been over a year since I last visited Norfolk. Finally, after thirteen months we made our first trip to Norfolk today. The day started with a brief stop at Hunstanton where the expected Fulmars showed almost immediately. Then it was on to Titchwell, where we planned to spend the majority of our day birding. We walked to the viewing screen overlooking Patsy's Pool where a scan for a Jack Snipe was interrupted by a reeling Grasshopper Warbler close by. We walked the track alongside the pool and found the gropper perched at the top of a bush in full song.

We returned to the viewing screen and soon found a Green Sandpiper feeding alongside a Common Sandpiper. Another birder managed to locate the Jack Snipe only metres from the viewing screen, and with a few directions, we were all watching it soon afterwards.

Jack Snipe

On the walk to the beach, another two Grasshopper Warblers were heard reeling and Brian added a Bearded Tit to his year list, several flocks of Brent Geese were a surprise but a welcome addition to my own list. The conditions at the beach were challenging, to say the least, but I added Knot and Gannet to my yearly total.

Brancaster Staithe was very disappointing, but boats were being removed from the water by cranes and disturbance was understandable and inevitable. We had planned on stopping at Thornham Harbour but with the road to the harbour closed, we drove to Wells North Pools instead. A Wood Sandpiper was showing relatively close to the viewing area upon arrival.

We stopped at Choseley and dad found a single Whimbrel and several Yellowhammers were seen around the bottom of the Pheasant feeders positioned along the edge of the fields.

A final stop at Lynford produced a Marsh Tit for Brians year list and a well overdue Coal Tit for my own. On the return walk, I heard a Firecrest singing in the ivy-clad trees and Brian managed decent views of it. At the feeding station another Firecrest was seen and this time it lingered long enough for all of us to get superb views.


Tuesday 20 April 2021

Black-winged Stilt, Rainham Marshes

Sitting at home this morning with no plans to go birding, but that soon changed when a Black-winged Stilt was reported at Rainham Marshes. Thirty minutes later the car is parked in the Rainham car park and I'm going through the track and trace procedures at the entrance. After entering the reserve I learn that the Stilt had flown West! A leisurely stroll around the reserve followed, the highlight of which was a self-found drake Garganey. Several Bearded Tits were heard and then seen for a year tick addition, A quick check of the news services and I discover that the Stilt had reappeared on Purfleet Scrape! We headed back towards the reserve centre and luckily met Howard V on the way who kindly guided us to the area the Stilt was feeding in.

Black-winged Stilt

Having returned home Brian phoned this evening to ask if I knew that there had been a report of three Black-necked Grebes present on Roding Valley Lake. The lake is almost on my doorstep, a quick walk to the lake and sure enough, the three Black-necked Grebes were spotted slowly drifting around in the middle of the lake! 

The lake has now recorded four of the five Grebe species seen in Britain, with a Red-necked Grebe seen in 2017 and Great Crested and Little Grebe almost resident. 

Unfortunately, they were not present the next morning having departed overnight. 

Black-necked Grebes

Monday 19 April 2021

Ring Ouzel. Easneye, Hertfordshire

An early morning visit to Easneye was delayed due to heavy traffic soon after leaving home. Thankfully it was only a relatively short journey and armed with detailed site directions from Ron C, I was soon parked up alongside Wilberforce cottages and heading up the footpath towards Waterplace Farm. Passing the beehives I reached the small horse paddock to find it shrouded in mist. 

The sun rose and began burning the mist off and after several scans I eventually found the Ring Ouzel feeding along the back of the paddock. It soon flew and was relocated feeding in the next paddock with the horses.

It began feeding among the horses before heading back to the previous paddock. It became more settled and began feeding with the numerous Fieldfares, Redwings, Song and Mistle Thrushes.

Thursday 15 April 2021

White Stork, Lee Valley

Having returned home from watching the Garganey at Hall Marsh Scrape, news came through that a White Stork was now present on the scrape! It appeared to be unringed and was certainly worth an early visit this morning. The Stork was still present when I arrived having roosted overnight. It was asleep but soon awoke and started to feed

It has since been reported as having a clipped wing, but it didn't seem to hamper its flight. As it was recorded flying high above houses. Whether it has a Clipped wing, escaped, or released it's still a stunning-looking bird.

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Garganey, Lee Valley

An afternoon visit to the Lee Valley in search of the reported Garganey proved successful when it was found busily feeding in the corner of Hall Marsh Scrape. Although it remained distant I grabbed a photo with my phone handheld to the scope. Luckily the hide was empty allowing time to scan the scrape for anything else that may be present and was rewarded with a single Little Ringed Plover.


A couple of hours birding added five additions to the year list. Garganey, Little Ringed Plover, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, and a pair of Kingfishers were all seen in the immediate area of the scrape.

Monday 12 April 2021

White-throated Sparrow, Barcombe Cross

It's been almost six months since my last twitch,  a Masked Shrike at Shuart in Kent. Today I cracked and at 4.45am this morning headed for Barcombe Cross in East Sussex. A White-throated Sparrow had been in the area since February but due to covid guidelines and the fact that it was frequenting a private garden news was understandingly suppressed. When the bird moved to an open recreation area near an allotment news and location were made available.

It's been over a year since we shared a car with Brian and as he had made the trip on Saturday he was able to provide detailed travel and on-site directions. Arriving at 6.30 it was over an hour before the Sparrow appeared. That anxious nervous wait of not knowing if the bird had decided to move on overnight or not was over. A brief appearance in the tree by the picnic table was followed by several trips to the table and the decking where small amounts of seed had been placed.

White-throated Sparrow

A Little Bunting had been present at Warnham Local Nature Reserve since early March and had already been reported today while I was watching the Sparrow. The reserve was on the same route as the return journey home and a quick visit was rewarded with superb views of the bird.

Little bunting

Warnham Reserve Centre and hide