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January 2007

First, a quick introduction. Having moved out to the countryside last autumn I've been hoping that birding in the local area might prove to be a little bit more interesting than before. I hoped that now I have a view from the house overlooking countryside instead of just other people's houses and rubbishy little gardens I might start seeing a few more interesting birds at home.

A mate spends a lot of time birding from his garden and manages to notch up an amazing selection of interesting birds. But I've got no hope of competing with him as he's not far from the coast and gets loads of migration. I'm too far inland to get anything like that - and I'm never going to put in as much time as he does. But Andy's blog has given me an idea. He's started doing a year list for his local parish, Aylmerton. OK, I still can't compete - I'm in Bawdeswell (Norfolk, UK) and there really isn't much birding territory here - he has half of Felbrigg Lake in his parish! But if I draw a 5 km radius circle around my house, that starts to look a bit more promising...

So my New Year resolution (OK, a bit late - it's the 13th as I type) is to do a bit more birding round the local area than I normally do. Whether I keep it up come the spring when the lure of coastal migration starts calling I've no idea, but here goes for a start... I'll mention stuff from further afield anyway, so if the Bawdeswell circle doesn't get off the ground there'll hopefully be other stuff to yap about. And let's be honest, I've never kept a New Years resolution before so why start now?

 

Tuesday 2nd January

Since moving to Bawdeswell in late September/early October I've managed to notch up a pretty unimpressive 41 species of bird from the house. These include a few species which I don't think I've seen from any of the houses I've lived in before, like Brambling, Tawny Owl and Moorhen, but there's still plenty more to see.

On Christmas Day I had discovered that Little Owls are in the area as I walked along a footpath east of the village. This evening as I got off to sleep I discovered that Little Owls are not only in the parish but also out the back of my house. Well, one was for a while anyway before it shut up and let me sleep.

 

Thursday 4th January

Brancaster Staithe provides easy photos of common waders when I'm not motivated to go searching for geese in my lunch breaks. Shame they've always got their bills and legs covered in mud.

Ringed Plover, Brancaster Staithe, 4-Jan-07 Ringed Plover, Brancaster Staithe, 4-Jan-07

Ringed Plovers, Brancaster Staithe, 4th January 2007

 

Dunlin, Brancaster Staithe, 4-Jan-07  

Dunlin, Brancaster Staithe, 4th January 2007

 

Saturday 6th January

OK, not a bird, but it flies. A surprise this morning as I don't think I've ever seen one before the spring, was a Bumble Bee in the garden. No idea what species - probably Bombus terrestris I expect. The warm weather we're experiencing is having all sorts of weird effects.

 

Tuesday 9th January

A Sparrowhawk zipped along the hedge as I left for work - only the second I've seen here. On the way to work a Buzzard flew over Little Ryburgh and my lunchtime goose hunt secured rubbish flight views of the white Snow Goose. I took these photos in October, but they're the same bird:

Snow Goose, S of Brancaster Staithe, 17-Oct-06 Snow Goose, S of Brancaster Staithe, 17-Oct-06

Lesser Snow Goose, south of Brancaster Staithe, 17th October 2006

Also popped in to Brancaster Staithe on the way past:

Turnstone, Brancaster Staithe, 9-Jan-07 Redshank, Brancaster Staithe, 9-Jan-07

Turnstone (left) and Redshank (right), Brancaster Staithe, 9th January 2007

 

Dunlin, Brancaster Staithe, 4-Jan-07  

Herring Gull , Brancaster Staithe, 9th January 2007

 

Wednesday 10th January

My lunchtime foray produced 3 Buzzards at Shernborne - these were a scarce county bird when I moved to Norfolk 16 years ago. Not so now.

 

Thursday 11th January

Finally found some Pink-footed Geese on the ground at lunchtime, but nothing amongst them apart from some pretty un-missable swans - 5 Whooper Swans and 1 Bewick's Swan.

Whooper Swan, Burnham Market, 11-Jan-07 Bewick's Swan, Burnham Market, 11-Jan-07

Whooper (left) and Bewick's (right) Swans, west of Burnham Market, 11th January 2007

 

Saturday 13th January

Time to explore my new local patch! The 5 km radius from home takes in both Swanton Morley Fishing Pits and Sparham Pools so I trundled along to see what I could find.

Swanton Morley was good, well, as good as I expected anyway. Biggest surprises were a Water Rail heard calling from the reeds round the back of Holkham Lake and a Little Egret in the meadow by the river. Also nice to see were a couple of Redpolls in amongst the Goldfinches - one was clearly a Lesser Redpoll and the other one probably was too.

Redpoll, Swanton Morley, 13-Jan-07 Redpoll, Swanton Morley, 13-Jan-07
Lesser Redpoll, Swanton Morley, 13-Jan-07 Little Egret, Swanton Morley, 13-Jan-07

Lesser Redpolls and Little Egret, Swanton Morley Fishing Lakes, 13th January 2007

 

Mute Swan, Billingford, 13-Jan-07 Little Egret, Swanton Morley, 13-Jan-07

first-winter Mute Swan (left) and Greylag Geese (right), Billingford, 13th January 2007

Sparham Pools was rubbish. Went there over Christmas and saw 12 Goosanders, Kingfisher, Marsh Tit and all sorts. Best I could muster up today was 25 Gadwall and 5 Bullfinches.

Bullfinch, Sparham Pools, 13-Jan-07  

female Bullfinch, Sparham Pools, 13th January 2007

 

Sunday 14th January

Nice sunny day, so why didn't I go out birding? Dunno. Nothing in the garden, except a Tawny Owl hooting as I got ready for bed.

 

Monday 15th January

Last week I was at Thornham in one of my lunch breaks looking at Redshanks in the creek and thinking, "This would be a good spot for a Lesser Yellowlegs to turn up." So when the pager informed me of a Lesser Yellowlegs in the very same creek on Saturday I felt robbed! Not the first time something similar has happened to me.

Any how, it was still there at lunch time today and I didn't even have to get out of the car. It wouldn't stop charging around though, so I'll have to go back for better pics. Why couldn't it have just sat there like the Redshank?

Redshank, Thornham, 15-Jan-07 Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 15-Jan-07

Redshank (left) and Lesser Yellowlegs (right), Thornham, 15th January 2007

 

Friday 19th January

Another attempt to obtain better photographs of the Lesser Yellowlegs at Thornham during my lunch break failed. Saw it, but being all togged up for work wading through the mud wasn't an option and it didn't chose to come near the car before I had to get back to work. Those who were prepared to get out of their cars must have got some cracking photos but all I got was a Curlew.

Curlew, Thornham, 19-Jan-07  

Curlew, Thornham, 19th January 2007

 

Sunday 21st January

A quick wander round Sparham Pools failed to produce any Goosanders but a Kingfisher was new for the year.

I've only been to Barton Broad once before and the presence of Great Northern Diver and Otter lured me over today. I've not seen Otter in Norfolk but was unsure how likely I was to find it with a late start. A number of people were already there when I arrived and hadn't seen either the diver or the otter. I hung around for a while anyway and just before giving up I picked up a bins-view of what looked like a diver way over the far side of the broad. Eventually telescope views were obtained and it was indeed the Great Northern Diver - not exactly magnificent views though and no hope of a photo. A glimpse of a long brown object flicking its tail up as it dived was promising and sure enough it resurfaced for just long enough to confirm it was a largish mammal before diving once more with another flick of its tail. Hardly a satisfactory view of my first Norfolk Otter, but it will have to do for now. Along the Board Walk 3 Marsh Tits were more obliging.

Robin, Sparham Pools, 21-Jan-07 Reed Bunting, Barton Broad, 21-Jan-07

Robin, Sparham Pools, 21st January 2007

 

Reed Bunting, Barton Broad, 21st January 2007

 

Pochard, Barton Broad, 21-Jan-07 Pochard, Barton Broad, 21-Jan-07

male and female Pochards, Barton Broad, 21st January 2007

A brief stop at Cantley Marshes involved a few Taiga Bean Geese among the Eurasian White-fronted Geese. I would really love to see Taiga Bean Geese well one day but as usual these were just identifiable with the 50x eyepiece on.

A canter round Swanton Morley on the way home failed to produce the hoped for Smew but a drake Goosander was nice and new for the 5k circle yearlist. Not much else apart from another Kingfisher and a distant Marsh Tit calling.

 

Monday 22nd January

Went back to Thornham for another go at the Lesser Yellowlegs in my lunch break. It was easily located in its favourite creek by the bridge and showing remarkably well as usual. Not well enough however for the three other photographers present who decided to go down on to the saltmarsh and get a bit closer. Now this bird is a photographer's dream and allows remarkably close approach, but three chumps stomping through the saltmarsh a few feet away was a bit much and it worked its way round the other side of the creek. But they weren't content with that and attempted to follow it whereupon it inevitably took flight and landed in the creek the other side of the road.

That much I can just about forgive. I mean, we've all done stupid things in the past, and we've probably all accidentally flushed a bird by trying to get too close. But then one of them then strolled right up to where the bird had gone down without making any attempt to approach unobtrusively and, surprise surprise, off it went again. At this point I started to get a bit annoyed and pointed out to him that it doesn't seem to like people walking right up to it (no response, just a shoulder shrug).

Anyway, I positioned myself along the creek with it in view, rather distant and with the sun behind it, but in the expectation that it would work its way back up the creek towards where I was parked. It began to do so until the three guys strolled out on to the saltmarsh right up to where it was feeding and of course it flew once more. This time it landed right beside me, but obscured by vegetation. It didn't need to move far before it would come into full view and I would finally get the photos I was after with the sun behind me. But that wasn't to be because as it started to move out the three approached once again and of course, it was off.

Flushed 4 times by the same guys in 15 minutes. Then when I approached them they claimed that the last time they were miles off and hadn't flushed it. Apparently I was a ****ing idiot for thinking they had! And there was me thinking an apology was in order. Silly me!

Here's a photo of the three - anyone recognise them (click on the photo to view large, as with most of the other photos)? The two without bins or tripod seemed to be the worst offenders - not sure if the other chap was with them or just drawn in.

(update: I've now know who the two are - apparently they have a bit of a reputation for this sort of thing)

flushers, Thornham, 22-Jan-07 Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 22-Jan-07
Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 22-Jan-07 Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 22-Jan-07

harassed Lesser Yellowlegs and harassing photographers, Thornham, 22nd January 2007

 

Wednesday 24th January

Still spending my lunch breaks trying (and failing) to get decent photos of this Yellowlegs...

Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 24-Jan-07 Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 24-Jan-07

Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 24th January 2007

 

Thursday 25th January

Another go at the 'legs. Flew around a bit today (without being flushed) and called a bit - nice to re-familiarise myself with the call. As usual, still no decent photos - shame it didn't pose like the Redshank.

Redshank, Thornham, 25-Jan-07 Spotted Redshank, Thornham, 25-Jan-07
Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 25-Jan-07  

Redshank (top left), Spotted Redshank (top right) and Lesser Yellowlegs (bottom left), Thornham, 25th January 2007

Interestingly one of the Redshanks present had yellowy-orange legs - something that's perfectly normal for juvenile Redshanks in the autumn when they sometimes lead to erroneous claims of Yellowlegs but I don't recall seeing it at this time of year before.

 

Saturday 27th January

Started off at Swanton Morley this morning where flyovers included Little Egret, Marsh Harrier and a Lesser Black-backed Gull with big white patches in its wings (albinism, not the white patches you can occasionally see in a black-backed gull's wing when it's moulting). A couple of Teal were new for the 5 km circle year list (as were Herring Gull and Green Woodpecker).

Great Tit, Swanton Morley, 27-Jan-07 Marsh Tit, Swanton Morley, 27-Jan-07

Great Tit (left) and Marsh Tit (right), Swanton Morley Fishing Lakes, 27th January 2007

 

Grey Squirrel, Swanton Morley, 27-Jan-07  

Grey Squirrel, Swanton Morley Fishing Lakes, 27th January 2007

Next stop Bawdeswell Heath - a place just down the road that I've driven past a few times but not stopped at before. It's basically a small wood used mainly by dog-walkers. Not sure who manages it but there was someone there with a chainsaw extending the clearing. Typical common woodland species including Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Treecreeper and my first Nuthatch of the year. Potential here, maybe...

Sparham Pools provided 3 Goosanders and another Marsh Tit. Another year list add-on came in the form of a Kestrel, at first invisible and doing its best to immitate a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Back home there are finally some birds feeding on the field - and not just Woodpigeons: a flock of Fieldfares plus the odd Redwing and a couple of Mistle Thrushes. Also a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the trees at the end of the garden again. Then I discovered that there is room between the bed and the window to put up my telescope after all and a whole new world opened up. Well, a few extra Woodpigeons anyway. Actually it was better than that, Jay, Sparrowhawk and a long-awaited addition to the house list (only the second this year, number 42) - a Herring Gull flying somewhere over towards Foxley Wood.

Goldfinch, Bawdeswell, 27-Jan-07 Great Tit, Bawdeswell, 27-Jan-07

shy Goldfinch (left) and Great Tit investigating some old fireworks left by a neighbour in November (right), behind my garden in Bawdeswell, 27th January 2007

 

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bawdeswell, 27-Jan-07 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bawdeswell, 27-Jan-07 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bawdeswell, 27-Jan-07

Great Spotted Woodpecker, behind my garden in Bawdeswell, 27th January 2007

 

Sunday 28th January

Woo hoo! Yesterday's Herring Gull was the first new bird for the house for over 3 weeks so this morning's run of SIX new species was quite unexpected! Not that any of the species were themselves surprising, but 6 in half an hour or so (3 at the same time) was great! Just shows what can be achieved by setting up a scope and sitting on the bed for half an hour.

First a pair of Mallard flew over then a distant pigeon sat on a wire looked interesting. Typically, it flew while I was changing eyepieces (time I bought that new scope with a zoom) but it didn't get far and was indeed the Stock Dove I'd suspected. Then a couple of minutes later a flock of c. 30 Lapwing flew past, immediately followed by c. 60 Golden Plovers and while I was still watching these a Buzzard appeared. Earlier I'd thought a flock of distant passerines were Skylarks but they were miles away and it was too stringy to make the call, but when one started singing in the sky (presumably it was singing, it was way too far to hear it) I could finally confirm.

OK, these aren't exactly exciting species, but before yesterday it had taken me 2.5 months to get 6 new species for the house!

Of the 6 (bringing the house total to 49), only the Buzzard and the Goldies were new for the 5 km circle year list.

Blue Tit, Bawdeswell, 28-Jan-07  

Blue Tit, Bawdeswell, 27th January 2007 - they've finally found the feeder we put up at Christmas!

 

Monday 29th January

My eighth lunchtime attempt to photograph the Lesser Yellowlegs! This time it was much more obliging (for car-bound photographers - it's always obliging to everyone else) although the light wasn't great. Best photos yet, though still a long way short of some of the others floating around the internet.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 29-Jan-07
Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 29-Jan-07
Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 29-Jan-07

Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham, 29th January 2007

 

Wednesday 31st January

Three Waxwings at Burnham Thorpe made for a pleasant lunchtime distraction. Unfortunately it was a bit gloomy for nice photos.

Waxwing, Burnham Thorpe, 31-Jan-07
Waxwing, Burnham Thorpe, 31-Jan-07
Waxwing, Burnham Thorpe, 31-Jan-07

Waxwing, Burnham Thorpe, 29th January 2007

 

So that's it for my first month. By popular demand (that's 1 of the 3 people who look at this) from next month I shall show the most recent entries at the top (like you get on a proper blog).

Also I shall keep the current month's url as http://www.gobirding.eu/Diary.html and link back to previous months from there. If you want to go there straight from this page, click here.

Click here for next month: February 2007

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Should anyone care about my 5 km circle year-list, I've now seen (or heard) 73 species within 5 km of my home at Bawdeswell: