January 2013


Wednesday 30th January

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Pheasant, Sandringham, 30th January


Saturday 26th January

Today we planted a tree in Battersea Park in memory of my wife's sister - it had been a special place for her and her tree is close to one she had had planted for her partner to mark his 40th birthday. Obviously a family occasion not a birding one, though I couldn't help noticing the Ring-necked Parakeets squawking around us, and as I had my camera at the ready it seemed silly not to point it in the direction of some birds when the opportunity presented.

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Moorhen (left) and Grey Heron (right), Battersea Park, 26th January


Friday 25th January

More lunch break wanderings:

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Grey Partridge (left) and Red-legged Partridge (right), between Fring and Inmere, 25th January


Monday 21st January

A Woodcock flew out and back into the wood south of Barrow Common as I headed up to Brancaster Staithe during my lunch break. Nothing much when I got there but on the way home aafter work a Tawny Owl in the road at Barmer.

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Wigeon, Brancaster Staithe, 21st January


Saturday 19th January

The day started well as I drove down into Weybourne from the heath and a Woodcock sat in the snowy road in front of me allowing fantastic views in the headlights. Unfortunately the day didn't improve after it got light. A couple of hours seawatching from Sheringham produced a Great Skua, 130 Red-throated Diver and a Harbour Porpoise but few wildfowl. That wasn't a great surprise as the wind was too far round and it wasn't cold enough on the Continent to produce a real hard weather movement. The wind was biting cold and as I moved west along the coast I found it hard to find the inspiration to get out of the car and bird properly, electing to check various sites from the car instead. Lots of Snipe (31+) feeding in the snow at Salthouse, but not much else.

At Cley I pulled up beside the shelter and scanned the sea from the warmth of my car, and two passerines flew past me, coming from the direction of Blakeney Point, the beach side of the shelter. I didn't get a clear look but I got the impression they may have been Shore Lark. They went down near the Half-moon pool so I headed off in that direction for a better look. As I did they flew again, away and over the Eye Field until they were nearly out of view, but then they turned and came back, landing near the path to North Hide. I didn't get any more detail in this view, other than confirming my impression of structure. I was tempted to leave them to it and carry on, but I've been thinking lately that one of the reasons I don't find good birds is that I give up on them too soon. I see something that looks interesting but not well enough, don't relocate it immediately and convince myself it's probably something common and give up. I've made up my mind not to do that this year, and here was my first opportunity to not give up. I headed out into the biting wind and passed the area where they'd gone down - nothing. I popped into North Hide which was overlooking a nearly empty frozen scrape (a Stonechat was behind the hide). On the way back to the car the two birds flew up from behind me and again headed over the Eye Field. I saw them really badly and didn't add anything to my previous views, but this time they called - they were Shore Larks! Not the most satisfying Shore Larks I've ever seen with such poor views, but in a winter when there have been so few around I suppose I should be grateful for any views.

Morston harbour didn't produce much (a Spotted Redshank called) so on to Wells and Holkham, neither of which delivered anything better than a cheeseburger. I wanted to go for a walk somewhere but not somewhere too exposed, so I settled for Holkham Park. Heading out to the lake I could see the area of ice-free water at the east end was literally heaving with birds. Sadly it was a case of quantity not quality, and the same was true for another unfrozen patch further round. Most excitement here was a Peregrine flying over, though Barn Owl and 2 Woodcocks flushed were nice to see.

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Woodcock, Weybourne, 19th January


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Turnstone, Salthouse, 19th January


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Black-headed Gull and Lapwing (right), Salthouse, 19th January


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Herring Gull (left) and Mallard (right), Wells, 19th January - presumably the Mallard is a late-developing first-winter?


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Peregrine (left) and Red Deer (right), Holkham Park, 19th January - having only seen Fallow Deer at Holkham before I was surprised to find a dozen or so Red Deer; I wondered for a while if they were wild animals joining the herd, until I noticed yellow tags in the ears of some of them


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Hairy Curtain Crust (left) and King Alfred's Cakes (right), Holkham Park, 19th January - as usual please correct me if my ID is incorrect!


Friday 18th January

Popped over to Wolferton in my lunch break where a male Golden Pheasant was on the verge. Returning to work I had to stop for some birds in the road, one of which was a Brambling.

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Brambling, Bircham, 18th January


Wednesday 16th January

A lunch-time visit to Brancaster Staithe produced another Water Rail.

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Ringed Plover (left) and Turnstone (right), Brancaster Staithe, 16th January


Saturday 12th January

I didn't have the whole day spare today but fancied a visit to Burnham Overy - one of my favourite places and where I'd not been for a bit. On the way Dave and I had a quick look down Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham where we located the Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid, though I couldn't see its backcrossed youngster that has apparently been there too. Among the Greylags were two birds with extensive white - normally I would assume that such birds were of domestic origin but in this case I suspect not. Firstly both birds showed the same pattern, whereas even siblings of domestic birds seem often to vary from one another (unless they are pure breeds, which these weren't). Secondly the pattern of white was similar to the pattern that occurs naturally on many leucistic Pink-footed Geese, and thirdly neither bird showed any other sign of domestic heritage (e.g. structure).

Burnham Overy produced large numbers of geese as usual, and among them a hybrid which I assume is the one that keeps getting reported as a Snow Goose. It looked much like a Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid, and never seemed far away from 5 Barnacle Geese. The two leucistic Greylags we'd seen at Holkham dropped in here too. The fields were heaving with Golden Plover - must have been well into 4 figures. The estuary might have been more interesting had we not timed our visit with low tide and the sea too was quite disappointing. Returning to the car park I picked up a Water Rail at the back of the field opposite, in the open just in front of the hedge. Then a second bird appeared, then a third, and in the end we saw at least 4 Water Rails here, all out in the open feeding among Blackbirds, Redwings and Moorhens. I normally only expect to see Water Rails in those sorts of circumstances in very harsh weather, which it wasn't.

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leucistic Greylag Goose, Holkham, 12th January


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presumed Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid (with Pink-footed Geese), Burnham Overy, 12th January


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Water Rails, Burnham Overy, 12th January


Friday 11th January

All those warm evenings this week produced absolutely no moths then tonight when the temperatures dropped in comes a Chestnut.

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Chestnut, Bawdeswell, 11th January


Monday 7th January

Had a quick look to see if there were still any Pink-feet in the Flitcham area in my lunch break today. There weren't, but a field full of gulls contained another Mediterranean Gull - my second inland Med in 3 days.


Saturday 5th January

Group birding at Sculthorpe Moor today. Lots of Brambling, a few Lesser Redpoll among the Siskins, Marsh Tits, Nuthatches, Bullfinches, Water Rail: all the sort of stuff you'd expect to see there really. A Stoat performed for a while in front of Whitley Hide, as did a Bank Vole, but we didn't see the Stoat in ermine that others saw there next day.

On the way home stopped briefly at Bintree Mill where gulls were being attracted in sugarbeet harvesting activity - including a first-winter Mediterranean Gull.

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Bramblings, Sculthorpe Moor, 5th January


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Bullfinches, Sculthorpe Moor, 5th January


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Nuthatches, Sculthorpe Moor, 5th January


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Water Rail, Sculthorpe Moor, 5th January


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Hairy Curtain Crust, Sculthorpe Moor, 5th January - thanks to James for correcting my ID (despite a new book I'd identified it as Turkeytail)


Friday 4th January

Another Chestnut sp. tonight but not identified. Its wing shape was that of Chestnut, not Dark Chestnut, but it was worn so this is not reliable. Its colour and markings were suspiciously similar to last night's Dark Chestnut and I'm not convinced it wasn't the same moth having battered itself about a bit.

One moth was easier to identify: a Pale Brindled Beauty. Early, but several other moth-ers in Norfolk have been getting them over the last 2-3 days.

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Pale Brindled Beauty, Bawdeswell, 4th January


Thursday 3rd January

First moth of the year was a Dark Chestnut.

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Dark Chestnut, Bawdeswell, 3rd January


Tuesday 1st January

I spent dawn to dusk today hammering the broads but turned up very little for my efforts. I took in Wroxham Broad, Salhouse Broad, Ranworth Broad, Malthouse Broad, Filby Broad, Ormesby Little Broad, Rollesby Broad, Ormesby Broad, Martham Broad, Ludham Airfield and the Potter Heigham side of Hickling Broad. Wroxham Broad at dawn held 82 Tufted Ducks and about 50 Siskins, but nothing more exciting. Salhouse Broad produced 164 Coot and about 100 duck including a probable Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrid (female). Ranworth and Ormesby Little Broads both produced Kingfisher and several sites produced Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin. Martham Broad was especially disappointing - there were 210 Coot but just 5 ducks - 2 Tufties and 3 Goldeneye! 4 Crane flew over here. Overall today diving duck were very thin on the ground - I suspect they were all on the broads I didn't have time to visit.

Attempting to drive through Horsey was a big mistake as the bank holiday traffic was unbelievable. The road was utter mayhem with people everywhere, cars parked all the way along the edge of the road and gridlocked traffic unable to pass in either direction. Eventually I got through but it was hard work and a waste of time. The flash inland of Sea Palling held 10 Bewick's Swans, unlike Ludham Airfield which was virtually devoid of birds! I finished off at Hickling Broad where Rushill Scrape was heaving with 1620 Teal.

So not a roaring success for new year's day, but I enjoyed it anyway. I'm really hoping to find some good birds in 2013 but I'm sure this won't be the last unproductive day. I don't mind that, so long as there are a few good days as well.

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apparent Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrid, Salhouse Broad, 1st January


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Coot, Malthouse Broad, 1st January


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