We popped to WWT Welney to see the White Stork that had been present since Saturday. The bird was showing very well on Lady Fen and was viewable from the visitor centre. It was feeding well close to centre until 10:25 when it flew NE and was not seen later that day. The bird was later confirmed as belonging to Shorelands Wildlife Garden, Dickleburgh which has other White Storks in captivity that had collided with powerlines and been taken into care. This one obviously was feeling much better! There were still plenty of Whooper Swans present in front of the Observatory. A Female Marsh Harrier seemed to have a bit of prey by the water, that it was feeding on. We moved on to Rutland Water to see the Long - billed Dowitcher that had been showing well from Shoveler Hide. The 1st Winter bird had been a bit elusive during the first half of our visit but eventually showed well late afternoon. The Smew were still present on Lagoon 4. One of the Redheads came close enough for a picture but the Male & the other 2 Redheads were much more distant. The cottage we stayed in Norfolk was rather nice, we shall certainly come back there next time.
Norfolk 26th - 29th February 2016
We went back to Norfolk to try and see the Shorelarks. We started the weekend off at Thornham Harbour where the Dark - bellied Brent Geese were still present. There was Knot, Spotted Redshank & Bar - tailed Godwit in the creek. There was plenty of Common Redshanks & Curlews at Thornham but no Twite this time. We popped to Titchwell RSPB as we were nearby. The Water Pipit was still present on the pool. Numbers of Avocets are beginning to increase around the reserve. A Little Egret was fishing in one of the pools. The same patch of water also had a Bar - tailed Godwit. We went to Parrinder Hide for the Harrier roost. We only saw 3 Marsh Harriers in the gathering gloom. We then headed to the cottage where were staying in Great Bircham.
Mum was awake early this morning & saw a Barn Owl fly down the road in front of the cottage. We all looked out the back & saw 3 Barn Owls over the fields. We went to Blakeney first to see the Lapland Buntings that were present on the freshmarsh. There were 7 birds mixed in with Reed Buntings. Lapland Buntings are scarce Winter visitors to Eastern Britain so seeing 7 birds at Blakeney is quite a good number. On our way to the car we saw 4 Knot by the harbour mouth. Afterwards we went to Burnham Overy to look for the Shorelarks at Gun Hill. We saw Grey Plovers, Little Egret, Curlews, Redshanks, Rock Pipit, Ringed Plovers, Golden Plovers, Lapwings & Pink - footed Geese on our way along the path. Sadly we didn't see any Shorelarks at Gun Hill, only a Female Red - breasted Merganser, Goldeneye & Turnstones. The Shorelarks were last reported on Thursday 25th February, the day before we arrived. We suspect that with the clear skies recently and mild weather had led to them leaving early, as there were still a couple on the Cleethorpes coast. In the evening we went to Warham Greens for another Harrier roost. We saw a Male Hen Harrier flying distantly along the coast and a Ringtail. A Merlin also made quick dash across the saltmarsh. Back along the track we saw a Brown Hare and a Male Grey Partridge in the field.
We went to Abbey Farm, Flitcham to see what was about. A pair of Red - legged Partridges chased another 2 out of their territory. A Little Owl was sun bathing in the big tree opposite the hide. A pair of Egyptian Geese had some goslings. A Stoat was also racing around the area as well, which is one of the main predators of young birds. Let's hope it didn't get any goslings. I wanted go back to Sculthorpe Moor to see any Bramblings were still present. There were still plenty of Bullfinches around the feeders, also a Male Reed Bunting. We did see four Bramblings during our visit, but not as many as we saw in January. A flock of Long - tailed Tits also came to the feeders as did the Marsh Tit. Also a good number of Siskins & Lesser Redpolls around by the Tower Hide. On our way back to the cottage, near Snettisham I spotted 3 Muntjacs and got out to take some pictures of them. By that time one had disappeared & there was a pair feeding together on the bank. The Male was more nervous than the Female and quickly ran into cover when he realised we were there. The female didn’t seem to give two hoots about us and just carried on eating!
We went down to Dorset for Mum's Birthday and our first port of call was Radipole Lake RSPB for some Bearded Tits. Me & Dad didn't see any, Mum saw them briefly in the reeds before they flew over. We saw a Cormorant perched near to one of the bridges on the reserve. On the way to North Hide we saw some Otter spraint on one of the bridges. At North Hide were a couple of Grey Herons & a very distant Marsh Harrier. The Juvenile Heron was being chased by the Adult. While Dad went back to the car, me & Mum walked back the Buddliea loop. We saw a flock of Siskins & Goldfinches. The Hooded Merganser was still present by the Visitor Centre. In the afternoon we went to Arne RSPB, we saw some Siskins by the feeders with the usual garden birds. We then walked to Coombe Heath to see if the Dartford Warblers were showing. We saw quite a lot of Sika Deer including a leucistic Hind. There were more Sika Deer on the heathland & a pair of Dartford Warblers. At Middlebere Creek were a flock of Dark - bellied Brent Geese, most of the waders had gone. A Barn Owl was an unexpected bonus flying up Middlebere Creek. On our return we saw the leucistic Sika again feeding with the other Deer.
Grey Heron [Juvenile]
Grey Heron [Juvenile]
Tufted Duck [Female]
Tufted Duck [Male]
Hooded Merganser [Male]
Dark - bellied Brent Geese over Middlebere
Leucistic Sika Deer
Sika Deer [Pricket]
Portishead & Sand Bay 15th February 2016
We went to Battery Point at Portishead to look for some Purple Sandpipers. There were about 7 birds present at high tide. It was nice to them in good sunlight but a bit too harsh for photos at times.
We headed off to Sand Bay for the Dartford Warblers. Also saw a couple of Stonechats & Meadow Pipits. Only the Male Dartford Warbler showed a bit closer briefly and there was even a bit of song heard. Sadly the Dartford Warblers afterwards didn't corporate at all during our visit. It was very difficult with just 2 birds present around the site especially when they kept flying back & forth.
We went to Hazleton to look for the Bramblings that had been present for a few weeks. There were flock of 20+ feeding on the path. In one of the fields was a very obliging Buzzard, normally they fly off as soon as you stop. This bird carried on foraging for worms. There was also a flock of Golden Plover mixed in with Lapwing. Other small birds we saw around Hazleton were Chaffinches, Greenfinches & Linnets. Then 5 Red - legged Partridge came with some Pheasants. A couple of Red Kite flew around and one landed in a field at one point, before taking off again. On the way home we saw a Short - eared Owl sitting on the wall briefly before it flew off. Then a Barn Owl flew past giving us excellent views.