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23rd Ouse Washes RSPB

On our way up to Norfolk, we popped to have a look at the Ouse Washes RSPB to see what it was like. Before we got there, we saw a flock of Whooper Swans in a ploughed field. Around the feeding station, were Reed Buntings, House Sparrows, Lesser Redpoll, Stock Doves, Blackbirds & 2 Tree Sparrows. We had a quick look for the Ring-necked Duck, but no sign. We continued our journey to our cottage in Bircham.

24th Thornham, Holkham & Salthouse

We started our first day in Norfolk at Thornham for the Twite, but only saw a Male Stonechat & 4 Meadow Pipits. Next was Holkham & in the fields along Lady Anne's Drive was a single Dark-bellied Brent Goose & a distant flock of Pink-feet. There was surprisingly a single & obliging Pink-footed Goose close to the field. We then walked out to Holkham Gap to look for the Shorelarks, but no joy that day. We headed to Kelling to look for the Coue's Arctic Redpoll that had been present for a few days, but due to the machines harvesting the sugar beet, there was absolutely nothing in the hedgerows, apart from the Common Chiffchaff. We decided to head back to Salthouse to look for the Snow Buntings, which had been present for quite a few weeks at Gambrough Hill. There were 30 birds feeding well along the beach, but were very flighty at times. The Turnstones were still present near the car park, they didn't care two hoots about people walking past. We then started to make our way to Bircham via Stiffkey Marshes to look for Harriers. There was only Marsh Harriers seen that evening sadly.

Whooper Swans

Stock Dove [Adult]

Reed Bunting [Female]

Reed Bunting [Male]

25th Thornham, Titchwell RSPB & Holkham

Early morning at the cottage, I  photographed a Goldfinch feeding on one of the feeders. We popped back to Thornham to look for the Twite, there was still no sign. However there was still Meadow Pipits & a Male Stonechat. We popped to nearby Titchwell RSPB to look for the Woodcock. We headed along the Fen Trail, where it had been seen the previous day. We had no luck so far, but I spotted some Bramblings from the boardwalk & another one was feeding near the visitor centre. Me & Dad walked along the West Bank footpath to the beach, but mostly deserted of birdlife not even any Sanderlings. We headed to the Parrinder Hide, but there was not much there beacuse of the flooded water levels, except a couple of Turnstones. From the other side were Dunlins, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Common Redshank & the odd Avocet or two. As we were walking back down the West Bank footpath towards the visitor centre, we heard on one of the volunteer's walkie talkie, that 2 Woodcocks were showing well in the open feeding from the Fen Trail. By the time we got there, it was resting in the undergrowth, which was viewable from the Meadow Trail. It woke briefly for a preen, before going back to sleep again. This is only the 2nd time I've seen this elusive bird during the day, also at Titchwell RSPB near the carpark in February 2015. This bird was much more rusty reddy colouring, compared to the last bird which was slightly greyer. A Male Common Pheasant was seen foraging by the visitor centre. A couple of Robins & a Blackbird were feeding in the carpark. We went back to Holkham & in the field along the Lady Anne's Drive was a pair of Egyptian Geese & the obliging Pink-footed Goose. Me & Dad headed out to Holkham to see if the the Shorelarks were about this time. Eventually we saw 9 birds feeding on the saltmarsh & gave very good views. These are very scarce Winter visitors from Scandinavia & are seen on the North Norfolk coast. We left the Shorelarks feeding on the saltmarsh & headed back to the carpark. We saw some Black-tailed Godwits & Ruff in the field along the Lady Anne's Drive. In the same field, I spotted a pair of Grey Partridges near the fence & they showed very well. Grey Partridge have become increasingly rare all over England & Norfolk is pretty much the only county in Britain that you stand a chance of seeing any. That was indeed the other highlight of the day.

26th Sculthorpe Moor & Lynford

Our last day in Norfolk began in Sculthorpe Moor, to see some Mealy Redpolls that have been showing well the past few weeks. The best place to see most birds there was the Volunteer Hide. We saw Lesser Redpolls, Bramblings, Bullfinches, Siskins & Mealy Redpolls. They are slightly paler than Lesser Redpolls, but not as pale as Arctic Redpolls. They are also scarcer in Winter as well. After seeing my first Mealy Redpolls, we went to look in some of the other hides & the first one was the Fen/Whitely Hide. We saw Bramblings, Bullfinches, Chaffinches & Greenfinch. But best sighting of all was a Female Muntjac foraging in front of the hide from left to right. We went outside of the hide to look for her again, but she already clocked us & ran into the woods. From the Woodland Hide, was Common Pheasants, Bullfinches & other common woodland birds etc. We had also heavy snow showers passing through all day. In a ploughed field was a Fieldfare with a massive flock of Lapwings. We had a look around the aboretum at Lynford near Thetford, but sadly no Hawfinches this time. There were Robins, Great Tits, Gadwall, Reed Buntings, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit & possibly a Willow Tit. But I still can't tell the diffence. Later in the day, we headed to the RSPB reserve of Lakenheath Fen. We saw plenty of Reed Buntings & I briefly saw a Water Rail crossing the path. Afterwards we made our way to our hotel near Rutland Water.

27th Rutland Water

Our final day of Mum's birthday weekend was to Rutland Water in Leicestershire. We went to see the Wintering Smew that have been present every Winter. We had quick look in the Grebe Hide, where the American Wigeon had been reported from a couple of days before. However the light was bad, so we didn't see anything. We went to the Sandpiper/Plover Hides where we had great views of the Smew in between heavy bands of snow showers. There were 8 birds which showed very well on Lagoon 4 & we pretty happy with those excellent views. There was a bit of displaying within the group & I heard one of the Males display call, which is deep croak. A Cormorant was seen with it's wings hanging out to dry. After we had our Smew fix for the year, we went to try for the American Wigeon. We thought we didn't have a chance whatsoever of finding it. But no sooner that we got into the Smew Hide, Dad managed to pick up the American Wigeon, through the scope amongst the Eurasian Wigeon. There was also a couple of Gadwall in front of the hide and another Cormorant. The Soay Sheep that graze on the reserve, were in the field next to the path. Back at the feeders, were House Sparrows, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Common Pheasants, Reed Buntings & I know they've not everyone's favourite, Brown Rats. In another part of Rutland Water, we saw a Fieldfare foraging for earthworms. We also had a quick look for the Red-necked Grebe near Lyndon, but another heavy snow shower passed through & we decided to call it a day. We started to make our way back south via Eyebrook Reservoir, where we saw a Red Kite & Common Kestrel. Fantastic few days in Norfolk & the best part was, at least it started to snow on our final 2 days and we managed to get home before it got too bad. But 2 weeks later, a flipping Snowy Owl turned up in Norfolk, probably in a result of the Beast from the East. Oh damn!

Yate 1st/2nd/3rd March 2018

With the Beast from the East having arrived in ernest, we were not able to go anywhere far or in this case nowhere at all, because it was all snowy & icy. Still we had plenty of Fieldfares & Redwings in the garden, even though the Redwings kept getting chased off by the larger Fieldfares from the Pyracantha bush. We also had Blackcap, Mistle & Song Thrush.

Weston-super-Mare & Aust Warth 10th March 2018

We headed down south to Weston-super-Mare to see the Male Common Scoter, which had been showing well for he past few days on the marine lake. The bird had been feeding & frequently diving in the middle of the lake during our visit. The latest news on the bird is that it's now being seen on the sea quite distantly. In the afternoon we popped back to Aust Warth to look for the Owls. On the 4th March, we missed the Owls by just 2 hours, but saw a very nice Common Kestrel on the log. This time we struck lucky with about 4-6 Short-eared Owls hunting along the Severn Estuary & we had a couple of close perched birds on the log. What a great way to end the day!

Marshfield 11th March 2018

We popped out for a drive around Marshfield, but sadly prouduced very little in a way of birds. There was 6 Common Pheasants, 4 Corn Buntings, 3 Yellowhammers, 4 Red-legged Partidge & 4 Meadow Pipits.

Pink-footed Goose [Adult]

Dark-bellied Brent Goose [Adult]

Egyptian Goose [Adult]

Stonechat [Male]

Turnstone [Winter]

Snow Bunting [Female]

Snow Bunting [Male]

Snow Bunting [Pair]

Woodcock

Goldfinch

Brown Hare

Brambling [Male]

Dunlin [Winter]

Grey Plover [Winter]

Common Redshank [Winter]

Ringed Plover

Ruff [Female]

Shorelarks

Grey Partridge [Female]

Grey Partridge [Male]

Shorelarks

Lesser Redpoll [Male]

Mealy Redpoll [Female]

Lesser Redpoll [Female]

Lesser Redpoll  [Female]

Mealy Redpoll [Female]

Mealy Redpoll [Female]

Bullfinch [Male]

Bullfinch [Female]

Brambling [Female]

Brambling [Female]

Brambling [Female]

Brambling [Male]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Muntjac [Female]

Muntjac [Female]

Reed Bunting [Female]

Reed Bunting [Male]

Marsh Tit

Willow/Marsh Tit?

Smew [Male]

Smew [Female]

Smew [Male]

Smew [Flock]

Smew [Female & Males]

Smew [Male]

Cormorant [Adult]

Cormorant [Adult]

Great Tit

Greenfinch [Female]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Common Kestrel [Female]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Redwing [Adult]

Redwing [Adult]

Blackcap [Male]

Mistle Thrush [Adult]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Fieldfare [Adult]

Robin [Adult]

Common Scoter [Male]

Short-eared Owls

Corn Bunting

©  Christopher Teague 2018