Redgrave and Lopham Fen, 22 April 2023

A long walk around the western 3/4 of the reserve to the source of the River Waveney and back in a loop. The section through the woods is closed but we didn't let that stop us!

The highlight was a reeling Grasshopper Warbler but we also had a male Marsh Harrier, 2 Pochard, Little Grebe, Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler, Blackcaps and several Cetti's Warblers.

Of botanical interest was a curious white form (alba?) of Marsh Lousewort amongst plants of the usual colour plus plenty of Field Woodrush. While enjoying a coffee from the weekend coffee guy by the carpark I had my first Orange Tip and Green-veined White of the year.

A call-in at New Buckenham Common later on was disappointing with just a handful of Green-winged Orchids seen, all still in bud except the sad specimen below. I will give it a couple of weeks before I look at Winks Meadow! Sticky Mouse-ear was also seen there.

                                                                                                                           Marsh Lousewort
                                                                                                                              Field Woodrush
                                                                                               Konik Ponies used for conservation grazing
                                                                                                                            Green-winged Orchid
                                                                                                                           Sticky Mouse-ear

Friday Fungi at Strumpshaw, 21 April 2023

Acting on a very kind tip-off from Steve Judd, Belinda and I had a stroll at Strumpshaw Fen this afternoon.

Along the 'Sandy Wall' I quickly found both species I wanted to see - Thimble Morel and Vinegar Cup. Both pretty scarce it was nice to see some spring-fruiting fungi for a change. On a walk around the eastern half of the reserve we also had numerous Willow Warblers and also my first Sedge Warbler of the year. Insects were also good with Clarke's Mining Bee in the usual spot and also at the sandpit in the woods. Speckled Wood was also seen.

                                                                                                                              Thimble Morel

                                                                                                                                    Vinegar Cup
                                                                                                                               Clarke's Mining Bee
                                                                                                                                Crab Apple

Dunston and Tyrrels Wood, 19 April 2023

After work in Norwich today I stopped a couple of times on a meander home.

Around the back of Dunston Hall I had a rummage about and to my great surprise found a new plant for me - Blue Anemone in full flower. Also in the same spot were my first Bluebells of the year and a nice Comma of the pale spring form 'hutchinsii'

When nearly home I then had a wander in Tyrrels Wood to check on the Early Purple Orchids. I found a few in flower, not many yet but plenty still to come. 3 Brimstones, Song Thrush, a pair of ground-level Nuthatches and pair of Marsh Tits made it a very pleasant stroll.

                                                                                                                                Blue Anemone

                                                                                                                            Early Purple Orchid

A couple of recent new plants

In the last week or so I've popped out/called in to see a couple of new plants.

The first was in Bressingham on the way to price a job up in Stonham Parva. Directions from Alex Prendergast were spot on and I quickly found the clump of Bird-in-a-Bush with Summer Snowflake and Abraham-Isaac-Jacob growing nearby. Through the lanes to Stonham Parva I then found 2 nice patches of Drooping Star of Bethlehem

Then, while in Norwich I popped in to Earlham Cemetery to have a gawp at a Fragrant Olive tree that Vanna had stumbled upon recently. It was in full flower and smelling rather gorgeous!

NE India, Day 20, 26 March 2023 - NH13 at Jameri & Nameri NP

Our final day birding ahead of a long day travelling home tomorrow.

Leaving Dirang we made our way slowly along the NH13 towards our final destination of Nameri NP in the lowlands. En-route we made prolonged stop near the village of Jameri to look for some specials. At a site known only to Lobsang (because he found it by accident!) we scored with some major views of Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler (now split from Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler that we saw in the Mishmi Hills) in between much scouring of the rocky river for Blyth's Kingfisher which ultimately ended in failure! Nevertheless we did find 3 Slaty-bellied Forktails plus 3 Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, Small Niltava, Short-billed Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, White-naped Yuhina, 5 Silver-eared Mesias, Black-throated Sunbird and a new bird in Lemon-rumped Warbler. Lobsang called a Green Cochoa which was calling and after a good 30 minutes of trying to locate the call I finally got onto it on the opposite side of the road from where we'd been looking. Just before we left the area 3 Scarlet Finches showed beautifully in roadside bamboo as the rain started to fall.


After a rather spicy lunch in a roadside cafe we continued on to Nameri where we checked in to the nice Nameri Baligora Camp and headed out to get a boat over the river into the national park for the afternoon. While waiting for our armed guard to arrive we had a Black Eagle then small group of Himalayan Swiftlets overhead which contained a single Asian House Martin. When we got off the boat after the short river crossing we had 2 River Lapwings, Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper on a small pool before we walked through grassland to the trees. By the only buildings in the NR we were entertained by a pair of Oriental Hobbies nest building in the top of a huge tree as we set off on a walk along the edge of the forest. Common Iora, Green-billed Malkoha, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird were followed by a distant Indian Thicknee on the shingle, c150 Little Cormorants, 2 Ruddy Shelduck and c50 Little Egrets in a feeding frenzy. Just as we reached some pools in the forest we had a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo but we could hear Elephant activity ahead so our guard wouldn't let us go any further. Sadly this scuppered us for seeing our main target of White-winged Duck. On the trudge back Indochinese Roller, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Red-breasted Parakeet, Rufous Treepie, Yellow-browed Warbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Golden-fronted Leafbird and Verditer Flycatcher were all seen showing how 'birdy' the place was. As we walked back through the grass to the boat for the last bit of birding c4 Small Pratincoles flew over as did a Sparrowhawk, several Green Imperial Pigeons and 2 Oriental Turtle Doves. Reaching the sandy beach just before the boat a small pale bird flew in and proved to be a Sand Lark, the last tick of the trip. Luckily we were able to re-find it further along for the others. 

Back on the other side of the river 2 Capped Langurs gave some great views then at the camp while chilling c12 Long-tailed Broadbills flew into adjacent tree as a fitting finale to the best of trips.

All that remained was the long trawl home the following day starting with a 5 hour drive to Guwahati.

My total triplist was 408 of which 150 were lifers 

16 Mammal species were seen  


NE India, Day 19, 25 March 2023 - Sela Pass, Jaswant Garh & Sangti Valley

A 4am start today for what proved to be a memorable one. We needed to start early to make the 2.5 hour drive from Dirang to the Sela Pass and get there before the Saturday tourists. 

Stopping a few km before the pass we exited the car and immediately saw White-browed Rosefinch in a roadside bush followed by 2 Plain Mountain Finches in treetops. A little further along and above the clouds White-winged Grosbeak and Alpine Accentor shared almost the same spot while overhead we had Red-billed Chough and Himalayan Buzzard. Above the cloud base it was sunny and a joy to be out and about, especially in such spectacular scenery. Lobsang got a call from a fellow guide with a tip-off so we drove to where he was rather fast. With snowy/icy roads, few barriers and only a 2-wheel drive car it was a nerve-wracking 10 minutes but we arrived unscathed. Here we were treated to the rare and elusive Snow Partridge, 2 'glow in the dark' Grandala and a flock of 25+ Black-headed Mountain Finches gradually working their way downhill towards us. Then a distant thrush was spotted on a rock which proved to be a male Tibetan Blackbird.


Moving up and over the pass we went past Sela Lake which held 5 Shelduck! Stopping a few km further down by a roadside stream/pool we feasted our eyes upon a Solitary Snipe that showed amazingly well. A distant Blood Pheasant hinted at what was to come too!


Further along the road is the small hill station of Jaswant Garh where we stopped for a while. Initially we had c6 Nepal House Martins circling below us then a lovely flock of c40 Snow Pigeons flew around for a while. A rubbish-strewn steep drop by the road was attracting birds with Nutcracker being the most obvious. With some patience we also added some other fantastic species here - White-collared Blackbird, Black-faced Laughingthush and a stunning Spotted Laughingthrush being the highlights. Blue Whistling Thrush and Green Shrike Babbler were also not to be sneezed at.


Back up at the Solitary Snipe spot we then enjoyed 2 Blood Pheasants as they responded to playback and ran down a mountainside towards us. Stopping on a rock together they showed beautifully providing one of the moments of the whole trip. At the same spot we also had c6 White-browed Rosefinches, Wren (singing rather differently to the ones at home), 2 Tufted Duck and 2 fly-over Goosander.


After a lunch at a roadside shack by the pass we ventured back over the top and down a few km. By now the thick cloud/fog had returned but we did still manage Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch, Grey-crested Tit, Rufous-vented Tit, Coal Tit and Goldcrest before we began our descent.


Back down in the Dirang area we had an hour or two to re-visit the Sangti Valley. After drawing a blank the previous day there was a rather special bird we desperately wanted to see. Along the wide shingley river we found a Wallcreeper strangely hopping about on the rocks in the river. Apparantly they breed in rock crevices by the water - who knew?! Lobsang then thought he might have spotted what we were looking for. Putting the scope up in haste I got onto it quickly to confirm it was indeed a marvellous Ibisbill! Driving down to the meadows by the river enabled us to even get some shots.