Some local Jack Snipe, 16 January 2022

It's been a while since I saw a Jack Snipe so acting on a tip-off about some reasonably local to me I headed off with my wellies this morning!

And low and behold I managed to find 3 birds with minimum effort. After a short visit I left them alone to enjoy their winter home.



Corporation Marshes, Walberswick, 15 January 2022

A good solo day out birding on the Suffolk coast was just what the doctor ordered. I left Pulham in the cloud and murk but by the time I reached Walberswick the sun was out. Walking down through Hoist Covert and across the marsh to the beach I'd seen little except Reed Buntings but as I neared the beach 2 Great White Egrets had a good fly around. Making my way north along the beach from there was very productive with 2 Spotted Redshanks in all their silvery winter splendor on the pools plus a single Dunlin, 1 Curlew and a few Common Redshanks. The species I'd hoped to see here followed on quickly with 1 then 2 Short-eared Owls showing beautifully in the sun. One in particular posed on several different fence posts. A lone Red-throated Diver was also on the sea. On the walk back a couple of Little Grebes were in a ditch and stopping by the path not far from the mill I had some nice prolonged views of 4 Bearded Tits. As usual they were frustrating to photograph but I was pleased with the shot I got of a beady-eyed female. A male Stonechat also posed along the path and a Cetti's Warbler gave a brief burst of song. Plantwise both Sea Mayweed and Sticky Groundsel were both unseasonally in flower on the shingle.

                                                                                                                                 Short-eared Owl
                                                                                                                                Spotted Redshank
                                                                                                                                    Bearded Tit
                                                                                                                            Great White Egret
                                                                                                                                    Sea Mayweed
                                                                                                                          Sticky Groundsel

After grabbing some lunch in Darsham I headed to Hen Reedbeds where, despite much searching, I couldn't find the recent Glaucous Gull. All was not lost however as a confiding Rock Pipit was on the seaweed by the edge of Wolsley's Creek. 2 Marsh Harriers were about including a red wing-tagged bird which didn't come close enough to read the tags. Also out on the mud flats were Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Avocet and Lapwing.

                                                                                                                                     Rock Pipit
                                                                                                                            Marsh Harrier

Local bits, mid January 2022

On Monday 10 January we awoke in Pulham to one of the best looking sunrise skies I've ever seen. See below! Later that day while working in Croft Close, Harleston a group of 5 Pink-footed Geese flew over which is a good local record. Apparantly beet fields are being dug up so the geese have to disperse. That may account for these birds.

On Friday 14 January Belinda and I did 2 walks - the first one at Wortham Ling yielded nothing at all but at Redgrave and Lopham Fen a Water Rail squealed and a flock of c70 Fieldfares were in a nearby roadside paddock.


The Whitlingham Shag, 9 January 2022

A very quick pop in to Whitlingham this morning.

The juv Shag of the last few days was found easily loafing on the green pontoon on Great Broad. At one point it took a disliking to a Lesser Black-backed Gull. By the slipway the usual culprits where hanging about - Barnacle Goose and Swan Goose x Greylag hybrid!



A New Year Break in the Peak District, 4 - 7 January 2022

But for covid travel restrictions we should have been in Mallorca over New Year. With that sadly having to be cancelled we were determined to do something with our time off work. A quick Airbnb search revealed a nice cottage on the very edge of Wirksworth for a reasonable price so it was back to our beloved Peak District for some winter walking.

We walked the following routes/areas:

Day 1 - Black Rock, High Peak junction, Cromford Canal, Cromford and Bolehill

Day 2 - Dovedale to Milldale and return

Day 3 - Burbage Rocks, Carl Mark Iron Age Fort and Higger Tor

Day 4 - Harboro Rocks

For 3 of the days we had bright clear blue skies but on day 3 it was extremely wintery with the walk being completed in a blizzard sweeping across the moors! The drive back to Wirksworth after that was very dodgy in rapidly worsening road conditions. 

Naturewise it was just the usual suspects with 9+ Dippers and 2 Ravens along Dovedale, 5 Red Grouse on Burbage Moor and a mix of Nuthatches, Grey Wagtails and Mistle Thrushes. There were plenty of Little Grebes along the Cromford Canal and a visit to Carsington Water very late in the day on day 2 yielded the Red-necked Grebe after a little while searching from the main visitor centre area. Several Fieldfares were in the gardens around our cottage in the harsh weather on day 3.

On the way home 5 Red Kites were seen along the A14 near Corby. 


New year, new bird! Belted Kingfisher in Lancashire, 2 January 2022

We had been debating going for the male Belted Kingfisher near Preston for a while now but availability and the somewhat erratic nature of the bird had prevented us taking the plunge. Yesterday the stars aligned though and we (me, Jus and Andy) decided to go. 

Despite the delayed departure due to a certain person's alarm not going off (!) we got to the carpark near Roach Bridge and walked in the half light to the site overlooking the River Darwen. The farmer is charging a tenner a head to enter his field so we duly forked out! To say the field is muddy is an understatement - it was like a scene from the Battle of the Somme! Cue lots of a staggering about, getting stuck and an accident or two! Within about 10 minutes of arrival the bird was found sitting in full view in a riverside tree about 200 yards away and gave some nice views as people scrambled for scopes. At least 5 people looked through mine! After about 3 minutes it dropped down out of view and disappeared for some while. Eventually it was picked up again at long distance perched high in trees beside Knights Bottoms fishing lake and showed surprisingly well (considering it was c800 yards away) sometimes flying down to fish before popping back up. We left the site at about 10.00 having had our fill and with other items on our agenda for the day.

                                                                                                                          Mud glorious mud!

Not on our agenda was a stop off near the village of Whitmore west of Stoke in Staffordshire where we quickly found the single Greenland White-fronted Goose, my first for many a long year. A Canada x Greylag Goose hybrid was also there. 

                                                                               Greenland White-fronted Goose (and dodgy hybrid!)

Then it was a stop that we had planned as we gradually wound our way in a homeward direction. This was Albert Village Lake just outside Swadlincote. Here we located the female Ruddy Duck after a short search and it showed really nicely. Sad to say it may be the last of it's kind in the country and is attracting many a 'johnny come lately' birder who won't have witnessed the species in numbers back in the day. A pair of Goosander were another bonus. 

                                                                                                                                      Ruddy Duck

Last stop was at Eyebrook Reservoir where there was a list of things we wanted to try and see. Despite only having about 45 minutes to dash round we managed to score with everything thanks to very helpful local birder Andy Shaw. 12 Smew (including 6 drakes), 5 Scaup, female Ring-necked Duck, a hybrid Tuftie x Pochard, 2 Whooper Swans, Great White Egret and 2 wintering Avocets. Also seen were 3 Dunlin, Pintails, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck loads of Goldeneye and a Little Egret. The place was full of birds! 

The day also yielded a total of 4 Barn Owls

We made or way home via a Burger King stop at Brampton. Our 2nd BK of the day but the only one that showed phtographically well!


Winding the year down at Weybread, 31 December 2021

We spent a very pleasant and unseasonally mild New Years Eve in our motorhome at Weybread. 

Finishing the year in the last hour of light I went on a wander around Bottle Pit and found 2 Chiffchaffs (colybita birds) flycatching from a hedge in the last rays of sun. These were my first local wintering birds. Also about were a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Common Buzzard, c150 Tufted Duck and c20 Great Crested Grebes on Ocean Pit. A Kingfisher whizzed past the sailing club calling at dusk and after dark the last bird of the year was a calling Tawny Owl


Carlton Marshes, 30 December 2021

What was probably my last meaningful birding of the year was at Carlton Marshes today.

The Spratts Water area near Tower Hide has hosted Siberian Chiffchaff over the last couple of days so I wandered in that direction and joined Peter Ransome along the path. c150 Goldfinches en-route was the largest flock I've seen in years. Despite initially unpromising news 2 Siberian Chiffchaffs popped up together at the back of a reedy clearing in the willows. They showed a few more times over the next hour but remained elusive for long periods, often staying very low. Both looked like classic tristis with one bird showing a stronger supercilium. A Water Rail squealed a couple of times and 2 Common Buzzards flew over. I shunned the cafe on the way back as there was too much of a queue and instead concentrated on a flock of gulls by the level crossing on Burnt House Lane. Here amongst the flock of Herring Gulls and Greater Black-backed Gulls I found a 1w Caspian Gull which was a nice bonus.

                                                                                                                               Siberian Chiffchaffs
                                                                                                                                 Common Buzzard
                                                                                                                                    Caspian Gull

God's Acre at Christmas

Over the festive period I paid a couple of short visits to Earlham Cemetery in Norwich.

One particular corner of the site proved to be good for overwintering ladybirds and I managed to find quite a few. 95% of them were Harlequin Ladybirds in their numerous guises but I also found Orange Ladybird, Cream-spotted Ladybird, Ten-spot Ladybird, Seven-spot Ladybird and Pine Ladybird. They favoured the gravestones, particularly those that were cross-shaped, sheltering under the cross. Rooting about had it's other benefits too as I found Walnut Orb Spider, Green Cellar Slug, Canestrini's Harvestman, Hawthorn Shieldbug and a new fungus for me Wrinkled Club. The usual Jays were there and a flock of c25 Siskins around the treetops.

                                                                                                                              Harlequin Ladybirds
                                                                                                                                  Orange Ladybird
                                                                                                                                         Pine Ladybird                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                               Seven-spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                                  Ten-spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                                   Green Cellar Slug
                                                                                                                          Canestrini's Harvestman
                                                                                                                                   Walnut Orb Spider

                                                                                                                                       Wrinkled Club
                                                                                                                             Cream Spot Ladybird


Waxham Beach, 21 December 2021

Another day that started with a dip - this time of Cattle Egrets at Martham. With Belinda working with a child in tow we headed to Waxham beach again. This time I had my camera and lens with me so managed to get some nice shots of the Grey Seals and a trio of Sanderling on the beach too. Wandering along to groyne 20 I was also chuffed to find the Purple Sandpiper again and with the right gear managed to get some nice pics of it. Before we headed home a quick drive along the coast road past Sea Palling revealed the wild swans again and I managed to pick out both Whooper Swans and Bewick's Swans but not get numbers as I only had bins with me.  

Fast forward to yesterday (22nd) and c25 Snow Buntings were at the extreme north end of Kessingland beach and on the long walk up I had c6 Reed Buntings, Sanderlings and large female Sparrowhawk.

                                                                                                                                   Purple Sandpiper


                                                                                                                                           Grey Seals
Whooper Swan

                                                                                                                                       Snow Buntings