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March 2010

 

Sunday 28th March

A call from Dave alerted me to a Firecrest at Sparham Pools, a species I've not previously seen anywhere within my local area. So after lunch I decided to pop in and have a look, but with no success. There were 3 Wigeon and 3 Goosanders on the main lake (the first Wigeon I've seen there in ages). Non-avian diversions were provided by Stoat, Muntjac and 1-2 Orange Underwings. Dave joined me towards the end of my search and confirmed that I was looking in the right place, but still no sign of the Firecrest.

I returned home and almost immediately took a call from Dave who'd re-found the Firecrest. Before I could get out of the house again the pager's mega-alert sounded - there was a Lesser Kestrel at Minsmere! Credit-card twitchers willing to go to any lengths for a new bird had an opportunity to see Lesser Kestrel on Scillies in 2002 but very few of the rest of us have seen one in the UK - the last bird seen by more than a handful of people was in 1974. The Minsmere bird was showing well and clearly it was important that I made haste in that direction. So, I went to Sparham Pools for a Firecrest instead!

Arriving at Sparham Pools I found Dave, passed on the news of the Kestrel, and discovered that he had not seen the Firecrest for a few minutes. However, as I went to leave, not wanting to delay any longer, I heard the distinctive song of the Firecrest coming from the ivy-covered trees just above the car. A few quick views confirmed and then I was off.

En route to Minsmere I received news that it had flown off towards Westleton Heath and by the time I arrived there had been no further sign. But before long pandemonium suddenly broke out as reports reached the gathered crowds that someone had seen it but noone seemed very clear exactly where. Somehow I ended up at a car park that turned out to be the closest point to where someone had re-found it and a few minutes later I was watching a fantastic adult male Lesser Kestrel! A superb bird if rather distant - no photos but if you want to see what it looked like check out my photos from Portugal a few years ago (click here).

Firecrest, Sparham Pools, 28-Mar-10 Firecrest, Sparham Pools, 28-Mar-10

Firecrest, Sparham Pools, 28th March

 

Westleton Heath, 28-Mar-10

Part of the crowd enjoying the Lesser Kestrel, Westleton Heath, 28th March

 

Orange Underwing, Sparham Pools, 28-Mar-10  

Orange Underwing, Sparham Pools, 28th March

 

Saturday 27th March

Another busy Saturday with no time for birding. A new Hebrew Character was this evening's only moth.

 

Friday 26th March

Worked from home today and before I started I'd added a new species to my garden list: Nuthatch. Also good for home was a Buzzard, though I expect I'd see them a bit more often if I spent more time looking out of the window. Another Early Grey arrived this evening.

 

Thursday 25th March

My lunch hour proved too short to find the Alpine Swift at Hunstanton but 3 Buzzards were probably migrants (two distant birds appeared to be well out to sea north of Old Hunstanton), as was, presumably, a Chiffchaff singing on the cliff top.

Not sure if either the Shoulder Stripe or Dotted Border this evening were new in or left over from last night.

 

Wednesday 24th March

More moths in the shape of 2 Dotted Borders, a Hebrew Character, a Twenty-plume Moth and what was probably the same Shoulder Stripe.

Dotted Border, Bawdeswell, 24-Mar-10 Hebrew Character, Bawdeswell, 24-Mar-10

Dotted Border (left) and Hebrew Character (right), Bawdeswell, 24th March

 

Tuesday 23rd March

At least 4 Buzzards and a Kingfisher at Abbey Farm, Flitcham at lunchtime. Shoulder Stripe and Early Grey represented the moths this evening.

Buzzard, Flitcham, 23-Mar-10 Buzzard, Flitcham, 23-Mar-10

Buzzard, Flitcham, 23rd March

 

Monday 22nd March

Not much to report today but I noticed that the pig farm at Houghton contained a fair number of large gulls, so worth keeping an eye on again. Interestingly nearly all the adults were Lesser Black-backed Gulls whilst all of the immature birds appeared to be Herring Gulls.

Grey Partridge, Houghton, 22-Mar-10 Grey Partridge, Houghton, 22-Mar-10

Grey Partridge, Houghton, 22nd March

 

Roe Deer, Houghton, 22-Mar-10  

Roe Deer, Houghton, 22nd March

 

Sunday 21st March

Popped in to Whitlingham on the way home from Norwich this morning in order to look for that elusive but intriguing hybrid goose that various people keep seeing there - James kindly let me know that he's seen it yesterday. However, no sign again.

Then, as we were the right side of Norwich, I decided to head over to Filby before going home, as 3-4 Slavonian Grebes have been frequenting the area. First we stopped off at the A149 side where a leucistic Black-headed Gull at Rollesby Broad was the only interest. Had Rollesby's new restaurant been open we would have tried it out but it wasn't yet so we went to an older lakeside pub restaurant nearby. To be positive, the food didn't make us sick and there were numerous examples of exotic wildlife very close at hand. Actually these were Harlequin Ladybirds and a bit too close at hand, especially when a dead one landed in Vitty's hair! Possibly we would have been able to see the Slavonian Grebes from here, but having skipped desert we decided first to return to Rollesby Broad for some ice cream - surely we can't go wrong with that!? Ah well, never mind, let's hope the new restaurant raises the local culinary standard when it opens!

Back on the Filby side a pair of Slavonian Grebes was showing, albeit a little distantly, at Ormesby Little Broad. One of them had a hint of colour starting to come through on the neck and with the occasional burst of display they were presumably a pair.

This evening's moths included Hebrew Character and Shoulder Stripe.

Slavonian Grebe, Ormesby Little Broad, 21-Mar-10 Slavonian Grebe, Ormesby Little Broad, 21-Mar-10

Slavonian Grebes, Ormesby Little Broad, 21st March

 

leucistic Black-headed Gull, Rollesby Broad, 21-Mar-10 leucistic Black-headed Gull, Rollesby Broad, 21-Mar-10
leucistic Black-headed Gull, Rollesby Broad, 21-Mar-10 leucistic Black-headed Gull, Rollesby Broad, 21-Mar-10

leucistic Black-headed Gull, Rollesby Broad, 21st March

 

Shoulder Stripe, Bawdeswell, 21-Mar-10  

Shoulder Stripe, Bawdeswell, 21st March

 

Saturday 20th March

For the first time in ages I had a look round Sparham Pools this morning. Nothing spectacular - Goosander, 2 Little Egrets and my first Chiffchaffs of the spring. Also some Redpolls heard calling but not seen - I was surprised to find when I got home that in 63 visits to Sparham Pools these were my first Redpolls. Shame I didn't see and identify them!

Goosander, Sparham Pools, 20-Mar-10 Goosander, Sparham Pools, 20-Mar-10

Goosander, Sparham Pools, 20th March

 

Great Tit, Sparham Pools, 20-Mar-10 Reed Bunting, Sparham Pools, 20-Mar-10

Great Tit (left) and Reed Bunting (right), Sparham Pools, 20th March

 

Friday 19th March

My work colleagues and I spent a couple of hours this afternoon participating in the Sports Relief thing by walking (well, I was hardly likely to run!) round Sandringham. A single Crossbill was the only bird worth noting.

 

Thursday 18th March

A pair of Stonechats were at Thornham in my lunch break and this evening saw the arrival of my second ever Common Quaker.

Common Quaker, Bawdeswell, 18-Mar-10 Stonechat, Thornham, 18-Mar-10

Common Quaker, Bawdeswell (left) and Stonechat, Thornham (right), 18th March

 

Monday 15th March

A brief lunchtime stop at Sandringham produced some variety in the form Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit.

Nuthatch, Sandringham, 15-Mar-10 Nuthatch, Sandringham, 15-Mar-10

Nuthatch (left) and Treecreeper (right), Sandringham, 15th March

 

Great Tit, Sandringham, 15-Mar-10 Great Tit, Sandringham, 15-Mar-10

Great Tits, Sandringham, 15th March

 

Sunday 14th March

No birding today, but I happened to look out of the window as 3 skeins totalling about 50 Pink-footed Geese flew high over the house. Another warm night produced 4 Dotted Borders.

Dotted Border, Bawdeswell, 14-Mar-10 Dotted Border, Bawdeswell, 14-Mar-10

Dotted Borders, Bawdeswell, 14th March

 

Saturday 13th March

Started off at Burnham Norton where I watched a Peregrine grappling with two different Marsh Harriers and then getting as good as it gave from a Carrion Crow. Also here, an adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 4 Barnacle Geese and 2 more Wigeons with green head bands.

Before heading home I nipped along the coast to Sheringham where I enjoyed the Glaucous Gull as it fed on small children and dogs. Well, ok, I didn't actually see it eat either, but it looked mean enough, and they would have deserved it.

Later in the day I had to pop in to Fakenham and took the opportunity to have another quick look for the Lady Amherst's Pheasant in Pensthorpe car park. This time I found a different bird to the hybrid I photographed last time, and I think this one is the same one that others have photographed here recently. However, although it's a much purer-looking bird than the red-bellied individual I saw here before I'm not convinced it's hasn't got some Golden Pheasant ancestry. The faint orange wash on the flanks is matched by other online photos of Lady A's, but not on the few I've seen that were photographed in the wild; likewise as far as I know pure Lady Amherst's should always show a dark green forecrown whereas on this bird (and on many hybrids) the red of the crown extends to the front.

Finally some moths at last - 2 Dotted Borders and 2 Agonopterix sp. which I imagine were heracliana but I didn't check their hindwings to rule out ciliella.

Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Burnham Norton, 13th March

 

Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Barnacle Goose, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Pale-bellied Brent Goose (left) and Barnacle Goose (right), Burnham Norton, 13th March

 

Peregrine, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Peregrine, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Peregrine, Burnham Norton, 13th March - with Carrion Crow (left) and Marsh Harrier (right)

 

Marsh Harrier, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Marsh Harrier, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Marsh Harrier, Burnham Norton, 13th March

 

Buzzard, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Buzzard, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Buzzard, Burnham Norton, 13th March

 

Wigeon or hybrid, Burnnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Wigeon or hybrid, Burnnham Norton, 13-Mar-10
Wigeon or hybrid, Burnnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Wigeon or hybrid, Burnnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Wigeon - or backcrossed hybrid?, Burnham Norton, 13th March

 

Wigeon, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Wigeon, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10
Wigeon, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Wigeon, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Wigeons, Burnham Norton, 13th March

 

Barn Owl, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10 Barn Owl, Burnham Norton, 13-Mar-10

Barn Owl, Burnham Norton, 13th March

 

Great Black-backed Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10 Great Black-backed Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10

Great Black-backed Gull, Sheringham, 13th March

 

Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10 Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10
Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10 Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10
Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10 Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10
Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10 Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10
Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10 Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10
Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10 Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13-Mar-10

Glaucous Gull, Sheringham, 13th March

 

Lady Amherst's Pheasant or hybrid, Pensthorpe, 13-Mar-10 Lady Amherst's Pheasant or hybrid, Pensthorpe, 13-Mar-10

Lady Amherst's Pheasant, probably a hybrid with Golden Pheasant, Pensthorpe, 13th March

 

Dotted Border, Bawdeswell, 13-Mar-10 Dotted Border, Bawdeswell, 13-Mar-10

Dotted Borders, Bawdeswell, 13th March

 

Agonopterix, Bawdeswell, 13-Mar-10 Agonopterix, Bawdeswell, 13-Mar-10

Agonopterix sp., likely Agonopterix heracliana, Bawdeswell, 13th March

 

Friday 12th March

Looking over Titchwell at lunchtime from Thornham's Choseley Road I didn't see a Glaucous Gull that was reportedly present at around the same time, nor did I see a flock of Whooper Swans fly through that must have been pretty close to the time I was looking. I did see what appeared to be the Red-crested Pochards on the grazing marsh, though from a mile or so away views weren't exactly crippling!

On the way home a Little Egret flew over Guist Bridge.

Barn Owl, Broomsthorpe, 12-Mar-10 Barn Owl, Broomsthorpe, 12-Mar-10

Barn Owl, Broomsthorpe, 12th March

 

Thursday 11th March

Attempted to have another look at the Wigeon today but the flock flew off again just after I'd arrived. Moved on to Brancaster Staithe where an adult Mediterranean Gull flew in. I stop here regularly during the winter (it's too busy in the summer) but I don't think I've seen Med Gull here before. Returned to work to find 2 Buzzards on site

Redwing, Burnham Norton, 11-Mar-10 Redwing, Burnham Norton, 11-Mar-10

Redwing, Burnham Norton, 11th March

 

Mediterranean Gull, Brancaster Staithe, 11-Mar-10 Mediterranean Gull, Brancaster Staithe, 11-Mar-10

Mediterranean Gull, Brancaster Staithe, 11th March

 

Red-breasted Merganser, Brancaster Staithe, 11-Mar-10 Red-breasted Merganser, Brancaster Staithe, 11-Mar-10

Red-breasted Mergansers, Brancaster Staithe, 11th March

 

Wednesday 10th March

If these birds with an extensive green band running back from they eye are just extreme variation of Eurasian Wigeon (and not backcrossed hybrids), why does this one appear to show a pale collar?

Wigeon or hybrid, Burnnham Norton, 10-Mar-10  

Wigeon - or backcrossed hybrid?, Burnham Norton, 10th March

 

Tuesday 9th March

Lady Anne's Drive would be a nice spot to go to during my lunch breaks if it wasn't for the extortionate £3.50 charge that's payable whether you're there from dawn to dusk or if you're just pausing for 5 minutes during your lunch break. A Taiga Bean Goose has been reported there for a few days, and showing well by all accounts, and as the only Taiga Bean Geese I've seen have always been fairly distant I was tempted. Moreover I figured that it was near enough the road that I might be able to park opposite and walk in to avoid paying!

The plan worked a peach, and I obtained marvellous views of the Taiga Bean Goose. It would actually have been worth paying the £3.50!

I'm always skeptical about reports of lone Taiga Bean Geese among Pink-foot flocks as I've seen so much variation in Tundra Bean Goose with all of the features that are supposed to distinguish them from Taigas. But this bird (which is keeping apart from the Pink-feet) seems to tick all the boxes for Taiga. I am a bit surprised by the extent of white on the tail though - I didn't think any Bean Goose should have so much.

Taiga Bean Goose, Holkham, 9-Mar-10 Taiga Bean Goose, Holkham, 9-Mar-10
Taiga Bean Goose, Holkham, 9-Mar-10 Taiga Bean Goose, Holkham, 9-Mar-10
Taiga Bean Goose, Holkham, 9-Mar-10 Taiga Bean Goose, Holkham, 9-Mar-10

Taiga Bean Goose, Holkham, 9th March

 

Barn Owl, Holkham, 9-Mar-10 Barn Owl, Holkham, 9-Mar-10

Barn Owl, Holkham, 9th March

 

Monday 8th March

Another bird-free weekend unfortunately - time that stopped! A quick stop at Wells in my lunchbreak today produced nothing of note so I resorted to photographing the gulls.

Herring Gull, Wells, 8-Mar-10  

Herring Gull, Wells, 8th March

 

Thursday 4th March

No photos worth sharing, but Nuthatch and Marsh Tit on the feeders at Sandringham were nice to see in my lunch break.

 

Wednesday 3rd March

During my lunchbreaks I have enough time to get to the car park at Titchwell, but not really enough time to walk out onto the reserve. Occasionally I stop off along the Choseley Road and look over the marshes from afar - if there's no heat haze you can just about pick out a few things on the reserve, but the view is a bit obscured. Recently I've realised that a much nicer place to stop is just south of Thornham, along the other road to Choseley. You're even further from the reserve here, so I don't suppose I'll be identifying any rare stints from this vantage point, but it's a great view - and rather better I should think for picking up raptors and things moving through and it's probably my best chance of seeing a Bittern during my lunch break. Nothing of note seen today though, apart from a black line on the sea which must have been a few hundred Common Scoters I should think.

Common Scoters, Titchwell, 3-Mar-10  

Common Scoters, off Titchwell (from over 2 miles away, south of Thornham), 3rd March

 

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