Wednesday 28 April 2010


Sometimes a little twitch is a nice distraction. A male Woodchat Shrike provided a chance for a quick visit to Winterton. A smart nominate male with large white primary patch and smallish bill.

3 Wheatears and a Lesser Whitethroat on Strumpshaw Hill first thing.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Fen Hide Photographer Convention

Popped into Strumpshaw Fen Fen Hide this morning to find a photographers convention in full swing. Five blokes with five huge lenses all snapping away at a pair of displaying Great Crested Grebes getting five sets of identical photos no doubt. Sadly, nobody bothered to shift up - this was clearly their hide- and so after a few minutes of crouching to see out the front, I left. Selfish buggers! I hope they were a little bit more accomodating to other visitors.

West End

A quick walk around the west end of the patch this morning revealed my first Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo and Common Tern of the year. Three Bitterns were booming somewhere in the Strumpshaw Fen reedbed in the distance.

Monday 26 April 2010

Not a lot

25 Blackwits on Buckenham and a handfull of Yellow Wags mid-afternoon. Nothing on the hill first thing.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Good vibrations

Woke up hoping for some good pre-breakfast action. But settled for some birding...:-)
Outside, I was greeted by murky low cloud and a light southerly breeze, mmmm. Then, 5 Whimbrel flew over - Wow! A good start.
Went round to the paddock just north of Strumpshaw Hill and immediately found this:

My second Rouzel in this spot in the last week. A quick look on the hill revealed nothing further. Down into the murk of the valley...this was starting to look good. Steady on fella!
A fab hour was had down on the marshes, though not quite living up to Squacco or Marsh Sand level of expectation, with highlights being my first patch Greenshank and Reed Warblers of the year. Several small flocks of Dunlin headed east along the river along with a few Whimbrel. Birds were obviously moving and being forced down to observable altitudes by the low cloud. Sadly, I had to get back to reality.
An old friend had popped by from Vietnam and I took him round the patch in the afternoon. Three Wheatears had turned up on the hill though we didn't see the Rouzel. A smart Whimbrel was stalking about in the grass down on Buckenham but little else of note and a close male Marsh Harrier gave breathtaking views in the sunlight. I tried to not worry about missing the two Honey Bs that went east over Strumpshaw this morning and the Whinchat at Buckenham. I will find my own one day! Some of the best days seem to be those full of anticipation. And I can't grumble with a second inland Rouzel. Oh and a Blackwit with a ludicrous beak. Good to do some birding with an old mate too.

Saturday 24 April 2010


It didn't really live up to expectations in the 2 hours I was out. A few good birds around nationally, but maybe it will all happen tomorrow...
Most exciting moment was when Lesser Kestrel was reported from Holme, only to be rubbished later. Nevermind, saved me some stress.
Strumpshaw Hill at 7am had 3 Wheatears and a Tree Pipit.
Buckenham at c8am had 3 Wheatear, my first Swift, several House Martins around the pub and 7 Blackwits. Lots of Whitethroats and Sedges in today, really boosting the numbers.
House Martins over Lingwood later whilst performing the inaugural meat cremation of the season*

Thursday 22 April 2010

It's going southeasterly tomorrow!!!

Bring it on!
Rouzel still present on the hill first thing, plus a Whitethroat. No sign of the Wheatear though.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Mountain Blackbirds

Tuesday 20 April:
Had a quick trip up to Horsey yesterday morning to get Adelaide out of the house for a couple of hours. Went north from the gap and ran into a pair of 'tuccing' male Ring Ouzels, that flew off ahead of us towards Waxham. On the beach, little of note except for a solitary female Northern Wheatear and several Sand Martins and Swallows heading west.

Four Blackcaps in the garden today.

Wednesday 21 April:
Having been checking Strumpshaw Hill for the last couple of weeks to no avail, today finally worked out with a smart (and relatively confiding) female Ring Ouzel in the field just north of Buckenham Road. She was flushed by a male Blacky and went over the road and on to the hill. Later, I got cracking views of her feeding on the short turf. Whilst watching my first Turtle Dove of the year was purring in the hedge in the northeast corner and a Tree Pipit called overhead as it flew north - Sublime! On the south slope a smart male Wheatear was hopping about with the resident Mistle Thrushes. A great start to the day.

Later, a mid-afternoon visit to Buckenham revealed 12 Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel, the male Wheatear near the pub with 2 Yellow Wags and a female Pochard. Still c30 Wigeon present and 80 Mute Swans.

Last thing a Garden Warbler was singing in the garden.

Monday 19 April 2010

East Wind

Monday mid afternoon at Buckenham: Whimbrel over east, 2 Black-wits, c20 Swallow, 2 Sand Martin, male White Wag, 2 Yellow Wags over east.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Sunday morning Buckenham revealed 5 Blackwits still, but no sign of the two Barwits, 5 Curlew, a splendid male Wheatear and a Yellow Wag. Several Sedge Warblers singing and a male Marsh Harrier.

Saturday 17 April 2010

heathaze mini panic

A hazy shot of the male Barwit from earlier and a small Black-headed Gull (on far left, compared to the standard BHG on right) that had me going momentarily, until I decided it was too pale, the bill was a bit then flew revealing white primary coverts and a darkish underwing. One day I will find a Bonaparte's...


A glorious, warm sunny day with the wind having shifted round to the west and a clear sky. Mid-afternoon I got a chance for a walk down to Buckenham where I found to my delight a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits feeding with 5 Black-tailed Godwits on the marshes. Nearby, a Yellow Wagtail glowed like a knob of butter on the grass. Loads of avian activity, but nothing else of note.

Friday 16 April 2010

New arrivals

Main highlight was the arrival of Solomon from hospital last night. So we had our first sleepless night of many! Great to have him home at last.

Managed a quick visit to Buckenham yesterday afternoon, where I found 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 38 Curlew feeding on the marshes and over 30 Avocets. Still c50 Wigeon, c30 Teal etc around.

Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Coal Tit all singing in the garden.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Monday evening

Male Garganey, still present. Several Sand Martins flew south. Apparently there are plenty of summer migrants at Strumpshaw now: House Martin, Sedge and Willow Warbler etc.

Monday 5 April 2010

Monday Water Pipits

After seeing 6 Water Pipits yesterday, I had another look in the same spot this morning and was pleased to see at least 12 mooching about. It was difficult to count them as they were spread over the patch in front of the hide. Some were stonking in full sumplum. Another look round Strumpshaw Hill proved fruitless. Maybe mid-April will be better once the Rouzels start to come through properly.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Easter Eggs

5 Water Pipits, 6 Avocets and a White Wagtail at Buckenham first thing. Had a look for Rouzels on Strumpshaw Hill following belated news from yesterday morning of two nearby (Strumpshaw and Brundall; I mean, why put the news out c16 hours late?!). Sadly, loads of perfect space for a Wheatear, Rouzel or Thick-knee, but little of note except for plenty of dog eggs and Red-legged Partridges. Looks great though...will check this spot again. Seems that there is a hirundine party going on at Strumpet Fen, despite none being seen at Buckenham. I might need to set my scope west...

Saturday 3 April 2010

A long-awaited tick and a few bits

1 April:
Saw a bunch of Swallows and Sand Martins hawking over the water at Whitlingham on a lunchbreak trip with Reg.

2 April
Found ourselves at Kessingland for 6.30am, waiting two hours for the Pallid Swift, which arrived on cue at about 8.20am, arriving from the north, having presumably roosted in the village (on the church maybe?). The bird performed very well at times coming overhead at low altitude. Seemed to be for all intents and purposes like a pale, chunky swift. In good light the sandy inner primaries contrasted with the darker outer two or three (one primary missing on right wing). The pale fringes to the belly were only seen on close views and were not very obvious. The diffuse white throat patch was large and went on to the forehead, making the dark patch around the eye stand out. Whilst hard to judge on a lone bird, the flight appeared slightly more steady and laboured; less flickering than common swift. The bird's blunter wingtips did not seem particularly pronounced, but the wings did seem broader, particularly in the secondary area. A smart, but subtle bird.

Pallid Swift, Kessingland: this is what I call a record shot (not like those pretentious prats who post awesome shots online and call them 'record shots')
3 April:
Dawn at Buckenham revealed the drake Garganey resting on the pool by the hide, where two Water Pipits scuttled about on the grass, one of which was a corker in almost complete breeding plumage, looking like a monochrome Blue-headed Wagtail. Nearby a White Wagtail was with Pieds and Mippits; a big female Peregrine had cleared the floods and was hanging out on a fencepost, and a couple of Little Egrets were kicking about. The air was alive with horny Lapwings and Redshank, but no other waders of note.
Peregrine in the marshes

Sleepy Garganey

Thursday 1 April 2010

Look what the southerly wind blew in

So, last Thursday night our son Solomon David arrived among the southern swifts, lesser kestrels and other migrants. 8 weeks early and weighing in at a mighty 4lb 5, he has stayed in hospital, but is thankfully doing well. This cut my migrant hunting; sometimes other things take priority! Here are a few pics. Thanks to everyone for their support and best wishes.