Six of us made the journey to RSPB Fairburn Ings for an evening trip. We gathered in the main Visitor Centre car park and as we walked towards the lake we were greeted by the sight of a flock of cormorants flying right above our heads. Amongst the usual suspects on the lake – Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler and Shelduck was a lovely female or juvenile Mandarin Duck.
Female Mandarin at Fairburn, 21st August 2014 ©Christine Booth
We walked back towards the reserve centre and stopped to take a look on the bird feeders which were full of Goldfinch, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Tree Sparrows and at least one Willow Tit. Walking further into the reserve, we sat a while and were treated to the sight of at least three juvenile Spotted Flycatchers plus Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Linnet flitting around the branches, giving us ample opportunity to observe them at our leisure.
Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher at Fairburn, 21st August 2014 ©Christine Booth
No luck at the Kingfisher screen unfortunately, but we did get a good sighting of a Jay in flight and also another Willow Tit and Robin. Moving further round the reserve we caught a glimpse of the Sand Martins entering an artificial nesting bank, a Moorhen and chicks and plenty of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins feeding over the lake. In the distance was a dead tree where a flock of circa 20 Cormorants had settled down to roost, amongst them a lone Little Egret.
Time was passing on and so we got back into our cars and drove along the lane to our next stop further around the reserve. After stopping for a quick bite to eat at the Lin Dike car park, we walked along the path to Lin Dike hide overlooking Spoonbill scrape. It was fairly quiet on the lake here – plenty of Mallards, a couple of Little Grebe, Coot, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and flocks of Greylag and Canada Geese sat amongst the grass. As dusk fell, we witnessed several flocks of geese and Lapwing flying overhead, a couple of Kestrels hovering in the distance and up to six Little Egrets appearing above Fairburn village looking to land in a tree on the lake. A nice evening ended with a Grey Heron and two Curlews which flew west over the hide. A trip list of 64 species isn’t too bad for just a three hour visit!
Once again, another lovely trip out in the company of lovely people!
Posted on Sunday 24th August 2014 at 16:45pm
Four of us, plus my husband Mark who drove some of us there, arrived at Blacktoft on a lovely Summers Day. Our main task was to look for young Marsh Harriers, but we had one or two bonuses as well! The warden, as usual, was very helpful and we set off on our travels around the reserve. The photos speak for themselves so here you go.
Thanks again to Andy Shooter for a lovely walk round Clumber Park on Friday evening, 6th June.
The sun, for once, was shining brightly as we set off through the fields – a beautiful evening for a walk. Within the first few minutes we had sighted a Yellowhammer perched at the top of a pine tree and a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a birch tree.
Some of the group were lucky enough to get a glimpse of a Redstart. Other birds we spotted whilst waiting for dusk to fall and the Nightjars to come out were Mistle Thrush, Linnet, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, a group of Jackdaws flying in and out of nest holes in the trees, Cuckoo, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tits.
The Nightjars proved a bit elusive to begin with. We heard plenty of “churring” but no sightings at first, although whilst we were waiting we saw several Woodcocks flying overhead. Eventually patience paid off, and we did spot one or two Nightjars flying overhead and as we made our way back to the cars were lucky enough to find one perched on a branch. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.
Posted on Sunday 24th August 2014 at 17:45pm.
Six raptors, three Bitterns and one Savi’s Warbler (or Four Go Mad at Minsmere)
Following a 5.30 am departure from chez Braund I picked up Colin Smith from Retford and set off for Rutland Water to pick up Paul and Emily Hobson. Zoomed off down the A1 then ‘Janis’, the sat nav decided to miss out Oakham altogether! So driving around the back lanes of Rutland we suddenly saw an object flying out of a wood. Being birders we quickly established that it was of avian origin. Closer inspection revealed a Red Kite (Raptor 1), this was then mobbed by a Hobby (Raptor 2). Clearly ‘Janis’ has strong birding instincts. As we were a little early for picking up Paul and Emily we stopped off at Manton Bay to look over Rutland Water. Great views of two Ospreys - one consuming a fish (Raptor 3) silhouetted against the morning sunshine. Further inspection of power lines revealed a Buzzard (Raptor 4) and Chiffchaff and Garden Warbler were singing in the trees nearby. It was now time to pick up Paul and Emily, but not before we picked up a hunting kestrel (Raptor 5).
A fairly uneventful journey to Minsmere, though we did record two 'Adult Stores' on the A1 and also noted that rather too many attractive houses in Suffolk are painted a disgusting pink colour. A quick bit of 'googling' by Paul revealed that this is a traditional practice and the colour is known as Suffolk Pink.
On arrival at Minsmere we were quite surprised and pleased by the relative lack of cars given that the BBC were still there. A quick visit to the shop, where Paul became rather excited by a bug viewer. Emily told him that he could have it as a present BUT he must come birding first!
First stop was the Sand Martin Bank by the visitor centre, superb views and amazing photo opportunities. Then on to the North Hide for a view over the scrape. This is the site used by many of Minsmere’s breeding Avocet and Common Terns. We also picked up Little Egret, Grey Heron, a Female Red-crested Pochard and some dubious Barnacle Geese and other wildfowl. A flock of Black-tailed Godwits flew over but failed to land. Paul and Neil then engaged in a discussion about the exact origins of the Barnacle Geese (was one a hybrid?). This clearly bored Emily because she then left the Hide, and at that moment a Bittern (Number 1) emerged and flew across the reedbed towards the North Wall and then landed out of site….. Emily returned. Fortunately another Bittern (Number 2) later flew across the reedbed in the opposite direction so all four of us were able to record it.
We then moved onto the North Wall, towards the Seashore. But first we were distracted by a sign indicating the presence of a Stone Curlew. Neil picked up a bird that looked promising but then decided it was a Red-legged Partridge. We spent some time here trying to trace this elusive bird, but to no avail so we moved on to the shingle beach, as a Mediterranean Gull flew overhead.
Lunch on the beach was enlivened by a movement of Sandwich Terns (Above) between the sea and the East Scrape. A number of Little Terns and Kittiwakes were also flying parallel to the shore. Paul then refocused his scope on the Stone Curlew area. Though distant he found the hide and cameras used by the Springwatch team. Neil and Colin proceeded at a leisurely pace towards the East Hide. Here we found resting Sandwich Terns and Kittiwakes as well as two early returning Knot and a Ringed Plover. The presence of a Spoonbill (Below) was especially pleasing as we were hoping for gloating opportunities. These hopes were dashed when we returned to Paul and Emily as he had picked up the Stone Curlew! Needless to say we did not locate it again.
Finally we moved along to the Bittern Hide. This was rather crowded but we did see another Bittern (number 3) fly across the reeds to settle out of sight. We then moved on to Island Mere Hide for Marsh Harriers (Raptor 6) and were duly rewarded with superb views of an adult female, and more distant ones of a male. Bearded Tits were clearly pinging nicely and just before we moved on an adult male popped in front of us. It was now time to return to the visitor centre.
As we strolled back we were hoping for a Sparrowhawk but none materialised though we did find lots of evidence of BBC Springwatch. This included their hut/studio which was cleverly positioned to avoid views of Sizewell B nuclear power station. After a quick return visit to the visitor centre to collect a bug viewer for Paul (well he had led us very well) we moved onto Walberswick for a reported Savi’s Warbler.
On arrival at Walberswick we had some difficulty in finding the exact location of the bird and a suitable parking place. Eventually through the use of new technology (Paul again on google maps) and old (Neil’s copy of Where to Watch Birds in Britain) we located the site. The short walk to the marshes yielded a couple of commoner species and we finally reached the disused Windmill and a group of local birders. While waiting for the target bird to start singing we had great views of a male Marsh Harrier and Bearded Tits. A few minutes before we were going to call it a day a small warbler flew across one of the channels and then we heard a very distinctive reeling! A Savi's Warbler! A wonderful finish to the day!
Overall a superb days birding and many thanks to Paul Hobson for leading this trip and we never did locate a Sparrowhawk!
Posted on Saturday 14th June 2014 at 16:30pm.
· Deciding to go despite the rain. Worst thing that could happen: we’d get wet!
· Morning coffee and lunch in the café which was dry and warm!
· The frequent booming of the Bittern
· Many young chicks, but especially the Oystercatcher’s chicks
· Opportunities to take photos
· In summary: good company, good birds and good food.
Full bird list: Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Pheasant, Mallard, Magpie, Robin, Black-headed Gull, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Jackdaw, Swift, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Coot, Bittern (booming), Great Crested Grebe, Oystercatcher, Moorhen, Wren, Sand Martin, Gadwall, Pied Wagtail, Wigeon, Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler, Pochard, House Martin, Greylag Goose, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blackbird, Bullfinch, Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon.
Posted on Thursday 12th June 2014 at 20:35pm.
Frampton and Frieston Trip Report - 21st September 2013
As the alarm went off and a cup of tea arrived, I wondered whose idea was this? However once awake and on the way, it just seemed like a normal trip! On arrival we were well rewarded by the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen, and I was quick to gather the group for the traditional photo to prove our early start!
So we walked down by the roosting lake and couldn’t believe our eyes! Mostly Oystercatcher and knot, with a few other species intertwined. Thousands of birds!
(Above) - Mixed Shorebirds mainly Oystercatchers to rear and Knots at front. ©Janet Nyland
(Below) - Mixed Shorebirds mainly Redshank with a few Dunlin. ©Janet Nyland
We made our way to the shoreline and waited. The time of the high tide came and went, but the waters didn’t recede! In the meantime other species were spotted, and noted, and notably an Arctic Skua! Great excitement....and we waited. After about an hour and a half, we saw the water level drop and a few at a time, the birds took off. After three hours, one of the party suggested we should wait another 10 mins and then go, the birds ‘heard’ and obligingly set off in great groups.
(Above) Mixed Shorebirds mainly Oystercatchers. ©Janet Nyland
(Below) - Mixed Shorebirds but mainly Knots. ©Janet Nyland
The complete list for Freiston was Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Knot, Redshank, Turnstone, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Moorhen, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Swallow, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Marsh Harrier, Grey Plover, Brent Goose, Little Egret, Lapwing, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Snipe, Meadow Pipit, House Martin, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Gannet, Arctic Skua, Sandwich Tern, Mute Swan, Magpie (sat on a sheep’s head!), Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon and Jackdaw.
48 species so far after we had stood on the shoreline for three hours! We deserved a sit down and a cup of coffee. So off to Frampton, to be greeted by the warden pointing out a Tawny Owl. We set off around the site, and started to add to the list. Canada Goose, Skylark, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Linnet, Avocet, Golden Plover, Kestrel, Blackbird, Pintail, Curlew Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Shoveler and on the way out a Little Owl. The highlights were a juvenile Little Stint, a Snipe and a juvenile Winchat! - did I tell you friends on the trip that I managed to take a picture of the Winchat!
(Above) Common Snipe preening. ©Janet Nyland
(Below) Juvenile Little Stint. ©Janet Nyland
(Below) - Juvenile Whinchat on Thistles. ©Janet Nyland
By this time, tiredness had set in and we were looking out for a ‘Spotted Redwit’ and a ‘Paraskua!’ On the way home, a Rook, Buzzard and Bullfinch were spotted and 72 was the grand total.
Did we enjoy the trip? Yes. Did we learn anything? Four new birds for me anyway. Did we see any birds? Thousands! ‘Saw more than expected’ one was heard to say.
If you would like to join us on another trip please do come along. You will be sure to learn from the more experienced birders (they are very patient with me!), and have a good laugh as you go around. Thanks to the drivers, and to Robin for listing the birds for me.
Blacktoft Sands Trip Report - Tues 30th July 2013
We set off from the car park - the ‘Cetti’s Warbler hunters’ and headed for Marshland Hide, where 30 minutes earlier there had been nothing! One and a half hours later we left, with a long list of birds, and a lot of learning by the ladies!
Avocets, with juveniles, Ruffs, Lapwings, Snipe, 60+ Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Teal, Gadwall, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Greylag Geese, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Bearded Tit and Dunlin.
Here you can see the ‘chaps’ doing all the work, while Lesley and I take a break! After this remarkable list, we popped into Xerox hide and then had lunch, watching a tree sparrow pop into a nesting box to feed young.
After lunch, we split our time between the other hides and recorded Mallard, Little Grebe, Pied Wagtail with a juvenile, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Marsh Harriers passing food to juveniles, Mute Swans, Coots, Water Rail, Black-headed Gull, Moorhen, Sand Martins and the Koniks Ponies on the islands. More birds seen on site included Wren, Dunnock, Starling, Wood Pigeon, juvenile Pheasant, Blackbird, Swift, Barn Owl, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Magpie, Reed Bunting, Blue Tit and Goldfinch.
Generally voted one of the best, if not the best, trip to Blacktoft Sands, and I am sure we will return again. I would like to report that we had seen a Greenshank, but we didn’t! A few more photos for you, and a big thank you to all The Team for making it such a successful, fun day out.
Re-posted on Friday 9th July at 19:35pm
A Resounding Success!
On behalf of the Janet Nyland and those members and visitors who attended the walk at Clumber on Friday 21st can we hereby thank our walk leader Andy Shooter for an enjoyable and interesting evening. We saw Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Woodcock and Nightjars and it was a good night had by all.
Lound Bird Club members and visiting birders at Clumber Park. ©Janet Nyland
On Sunday 9th June, 10 members and friends of the club amalgamated at Weeting Heath and Lakenheath RSPB reserve sites for what has become one of the club’s most popular annual outings; target birds for the day were Stone Curlew and Golden Oriole respectively. Suffice to say that we failed on both counts. A return call to Weeting in brighter light on the way home later revealed evidence which suggested that some form of motorised sport was now allowed on the traditional heathland north of the reserve itself. This would certainly explain the lack of birds! Apart from an Oystercatcher and a few Eurasian Curlews, nothing else of any interest was observed here.
We moved onto Lakenheath a little later than had been planned and finally met up with Peter and Judith from Melton Mowbray who were away in Norfolk for the whole weekend. On leaving the reserve car park we immediately spied a Cuckoo, showing very well and calling as it flew along the Little Ouse River. The group proceeded along the main trail out to the west. Both Gary Hobson and I remarked on the clearly evident management improvements which had occurred since our previous visits. Of particular note was the new viewpoint overlooking the New Fen. This location afforded us great views of a Great Crested Grebe chick being transported on its parent’s back, a first for many I am sure and up to 3 Kingfishers feeding in the reedy channels.
A Wren sat on his song perch along the main trail. ©Stuart Allen
Both Lesley Noar and Neil Braund were sorting out the identity of some of the many marshland flower species, Gary just agreed with them, not being a ‘plant’ person. Another success for this trip was the exceptionally close views we had of Bearded Tits (or Reedling’s) at several points along the trail. Our recently joined new member Robin Jones, his partner and Stuart Allen were all frantically taking photo’s of the Bearded Tits. On occasion and showing little fear of human presence they came really close, you could even suggest they were checking us out!
A male Bearded Tit showing well in one of the reserve reed beds. ©Stuart Allen
Our onward walk to the end of the trail took us through extensive reed beds which gave us excellent views of Cetti’s Warbler, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats and Reed Buntings. Not surprisingly, with so many parasitic opportunities around, there were a good few Cuckoos present. We also had a Great Crested Grebe in flight. We stopped at Joist Fen viewpoint for lunch, a good move! In the space of half an hour we saw two of Norfolk’s much publicised Common Cranes, a Hobby, two Bitterns, up to 10 Marsh Harrier, a flock of 31 Common Terns passing through, 2 Buzzard and yet more Bearded Tits and Cetti's Warblers.
We returned to the visitor centre by walking eastwards along the riverside track where we again saw the pair of Common Cranes feeding in a distant field. Along here a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were busy in food forays and a few of us were lucky to see a male Marsh Harrier do a classic food pass to a female which rose from her nest site, took the prey item then proceed straight back to the nest, to probably feed their young.
Walking back along the river with the reserves New Fen reed bad on the left and a Poplar plantation in the background. ©Stuart Allen
Sadly, no Golden Orioles were seen (or heard) and though birds are present even the wardens are perplexed about the current situation with these birds; “it’s a funny year” was a quote from one volunteer there. The weather was unkind with a stiff and breeze across the marshes but all in all still not a bad day. We parted company soon after the second look for Stone Curlew and we headed home. Later I heard that Gary, Colin Smith and Stuart Allen later heard a Nightingale calling on the heathland behind the nearby Lakenheath USAF Air Base, a site where we have seen them on previous trips. A total bird count for the day was a respectable 69 species including birds noted at other sites nearby and on the journey. Thanks to Janet and Gary for organising and laying on this trip.
John Wilkins (with a few bits added in by Gary Hobson)
Posted on Wednesday 12th June at 20:17pm
Nine club members set out to go to Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve on a bright Saturday morning. Travelling to Norfolk we passed through sleet, under dark black clouds, yet arrived there in sunshine and although cold at times, the day was generally bright. One car headed first to Hunstanton to view the sea and cliff top car park for migrants. Several Fulmars paraded up and down the cliff tops but very little was on the sea which had by now turned chocolate in colour because of the rough seas. Across to the pitch and put course we saw a few Pied Wagtails, three Meadow Pipits and two Red-legged Partridges.
We arrived in the Titchwell reserve car park at 9.15am and soon set off down the path stopping first for a 'cuppa' at the reserves excellent visitor centre before moving on to the various bird hides. Our first destination was the feeding station near the centre which held a single Tree Sparrow, Jay, several commoner finches, a couple of Pheasant and some nicely plump Wood Pigeons gorging on the feeders. Here, several Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps could also be heard singing plus the song of a distant Garden Warbler and Stuart spied a Kestrel overhead. Heading over the Fen Trail to the Fen Hide we were pleased to be able to get out of the cold wind.
Here we noted Sedge Warblers flitting around the reedbed and distantly we had views of two adult Little Gulls, plus huge numbers of Brent Geese, a large flock of Knot heading out to the beach, a few Black-tailed Godwits and Neil even saw a male Red-crested Pochard briefly. We had more fleeting glimpses of Sedge Warbler, the occasional Reed Warbler and a male Reed Bunting. Exiting the hide we carried on round to the East Trail, which was a new experience for some who had not visited for a good while. Here a few Swifts were noted above us and a Lesser Whitethroat sang in the hedge behind the screen overlooking Patsy’s Reedbed. Arriving at the screen saw all of us begin an amazing series of new bird sightings. A pair of Pintail swam on the water, three Little Ringed Plover fed on the edge of the pool, a small flock of birds flew low over our heads, initially four, then a fifth Wheatear headed north over us towards the beach. Peter, Vic and Colin saw a distant Marsh Harrier quartering the reeds at Thornham Marsh, first a male bird was noted before we all got excellent views of a female, this time over the reserve reeds.
The wind here was almost unbearable so having had a great twenty minutes of good birding we headed back towards the visitor centre and to the main West Bank path. Janet saw and photographed a very approachable Water Vole, more Swifts flew over and we heard at least three Cetti’s Warblers were heard in the Willow and reeds. On reaching the West Bank path we then heard a Water Rail ‘squealing’ from the main dyke. To the west of this path is an area of salt marsh and brackish lagoons where we saw Great Crested Grebe, Brent Geese, a couple of Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits, a fine Grey Plover and best of all a striking summer plumage Spotted Redshank in all its glory. Stuart was very happy to have seen this and took pleasure in letting other visitors look through his scope at the bird. Distantly, you can see Holme NOA Reserve but in the area between Titchwell and Holme the wide channel was teeming with birdlife. A Little Egret flew occasionally across the marsh, several Skylarks paraded and sand loudly high in the air and Redshank and Oystercatcher were found in almost every creek. Looking back towards the reserve itself we watched Pochard and Tufted Ducks on the Reedbed Pool with a couple more Cetti’s Warblers singing again close by. As we approached the Freshwater Marsh we saw the two adult Little Gulls from earlier now roosting with resident Black-headed Gulls.
The two birds were not quite full summer but had a few white flecks on their black ‘hoods’. Out on the fresh marsh Avocets were busy in their initial stages of breeding with some birds sitting on nests and some birds communally displaying. A couple of Dunlin, a few more Grey Plover and nice group of Black-tailed Godwits were seen. Here we saw other ducks including, Teal, Wigeon, another female Red-crested Pochard, Tufted Ducks, Shelduck, Shoveler and numerous Gadwall and Mallard. Here to, Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martins all fed low over the water with some of the Swallows gathering to rest amongst the reed stems. Passing on along the West Bank path we came across more and more Avocets and on entering the access path to the new ‘state of the art’ Parrinder Hides Rachael tried to get some shots of the Little Gulls which were now displaying and calling loudly above us.
On entering the north facing hide we saw quite a few Ruff, more Avocet and amongst a few more Black-tailed Godwits here, Gary identified a single Bar-tailed Godwit which was initially asleep but it soon came alive and fed with the Avocets. A male Pheasant showed very well near the hide, giving all a good opportunity to photograph him. Moving then into the south facing hide we got good views of the female Red-crested Pochard, another distant first-summer Little Gull, a couple of Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, two Ruff and distant views of Marsh Harrier again over the reedbed.
Leaving here we retraced our steps back towards the West Bank path and headed north towards the beach. A couple of Linnet whizzed around and on nearing the Tidal Marsh we saw a few more Grey Plover, Redshank and more Skylarks singing high above us. The beach in the cold north-easterly wind was very unpleasant and we didn’t stay there too long. Stuart almost immediately got us onto a female Common Scoter just offshore and Neil showed everyone the nearby shorebirds including Sanderlings, Turnstones, Black-tailed Godwit, numerous Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers.
There was very little to see offshore other than the odd Cormorant so we decided to head back onto the reserve. The two adult Little Gulls were still on the Fresh Marsh and eventually we came across a mini-twitch! Was there a rare bird in the dyke by the track? Unfortunately not this time, but what was there was a very nice and easy to see Water Rail, basking in the sunshine bathing the side of the dyke. If you had a good camera like Rachael and Janet had you were in for a treat. The Water Rail, normally a bird of just fleeting glimpses just sat there preening itself totally oblivious of the huge gathering of fans it was attracting.
You have to give the RSPB the credit they surely deserve, this is one of their finest nature reserves and the facilities there are excellent and improving year on year. Where else could you get this amazing and fantastic scenery plus the wonderful wildlife for free? It’s very inspiring to know that this country has so many nature reserves of this standard and the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts and some local councils and conservation groups all do their bit to preserve the environment for not only the birds but for our benefit to. Having had a bite to eat at the kiosk and raided the lunch boxes we chatted about where to go next. Some were not that fussed about Cley and others didn’t mind, they were enjoying the day no matter where we should go next. The suggestion “Why not head off home and drop in at Frampton RSPB reserve near to Boston” was made and everyone seemed to agree it was a great idea. We needed a few more species for the day list which was heading nearer to the 90 species total by now. Gary and Janet suggested we have another hour at Titchwell then head for Frampton. Some of the group headed back along the West Bank path whilst others went across the Fen Trail again to the Fen Hide. Here we had very close views of another Water Vole chomping away at fresh Bulrush stalks totally oblivious to being photographed at a range of just a few feet.
Cetti’s Warbler sang again and Swift numbers had built in number overhead. The Fen Hide produced our first Whitethroat and Stock Dove of the day before Neil and John both had brief views of single Bearded Tits crossing from one reed patch to the next.
Time was ticking on fast so we headed off to the car park before setting off for Frampton, just over an hour’s drive away. On arriving at Frampton we checked out the notice boards to find that there had been a Black-necked Grebe on the main Reedbed pool plus a few other bits of interest. We all headed off towards the 360 degree hide and just before we got there John heard an Arctic Tern calling overhead which was soon located in Neil’s scope. At one point a huge flock of Brent Geese, numbering c400 birds, covered the sky to the north and there were good numbers of Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits on the scrapes. Redshanks fed close to the hide and a single Common Tern was also sat roosting close to the hide. Frampton is a very exposed reserve which adds to the wonderful ‘air about it’ feeling, yet another great RSPB reserve, still in its infancy compared with Titchwell but obviously being managed well for birdlife. We crossed back to view the Reedbed pool where loads of noisy Black-headed Gulls were busy nesting. Just off to the north again Curlews fed in a nearby field and Brent Geese continued to fly around. There was also a huge Black-tailed Godwit flock with many of the birds now in full summer plumage and was a very nice sight to behold.
Gary was time limited having needed to get back home for around 6:30pm so his cars passengers headed back to the car park but not before Gary finally located the Black-necked Grebe, interestingly sat next to a Great Crested Grebe! A fine summer plumage bird and another new bird for the ever growing day list which as per usual included travelling to and from Retford. Yellowhammers in the car park plus a couple of other missed species including Mistle Thrush, House Sparrow and Grey Partridge on our way home gave us an eventual combined total of 101 species which was great for everyone having topped the magic 100 mark.
Posted on Tuesday 30th April 2013 at 11.50pm
Ten club members, friends and family members visited Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust's Attenborough NR near Long Eaton, Nottingham on Saturday 18th May. We arrived at the visitor centre for 10:00am and had a walk around a large section of the central part of this massive nature reserve. It was typically very busy but added to this was a large party of birdwatchers that were being led around by Nigel Slater who we met when he came to give us a talk on Bird Migration last winter. Bird highlights were few but there were numerous Cetti's Warblers, now a resident bird here, a single summer plumage Black Tern seen from the tower hide, about 10 Common Terns around the reserve, several Red-crested Pochard and a family party of Egyptian Geese. Summer migrants were aplenty and everyone got to hear the different calls of Garden Warbler and Blackcap and Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. The walk itself was pleasant in fairly good weather and was I'm sure enjoyed by all. A mid walk visit to the extensive and well stocked cafe and retail shop facility was a good break and much needed refreshment. We finished our walk about 1:30pm and headed home. Here are a few photographs taken by walk leader Janet Nyland.
Great Crested Grebe ©Janet Nyland
Cormorant drying its wings ©Janet Nyland
Egyptian Goose with young ©Janet Nyland
Club members at Attenborough ©Janet Nyland
Posted on Friday 31st May 2013 at 21.10pm.
The Hunt for the Cetti’s!
An intrepid band of five birders set off from a wet, muddy car park to visit Blacktoft Sands Reserve. Almost immediately the call of the Cetti’s Warbler was heard - one success already! We visited most of the hides, in random order, and found ourselves part of a waterfowl recognition course at times! Some other birds we saw included Redshank, Dunlin, Shelduck, Marsh Harriers, Little Grebe, Goldeneye, Common Snipe, Shelduck and not forgetting the Konik’s ponies, a Roe Deer and a Fox. Where, you ask, is the photo of the Cetti’s Warbler? The group gathered for the official photo - pointing towards the sound of the Cetti’s. Just as I clicked...a shout went up...there it is! No chance of a decent photo!
Thanks to the entire group for an enjoyable birding trip.
Janet Nyland (Events Organiser)
A group of just ten club members decided to go on the car trip to North Norfolk and having already made arrangements to meet up in the car park at the 'premier' Cley Marsh’s reserve we all duly arrived safely and decided on the plan of attack. The majority were happy to pay the entry fee for the reserve so all but one of us made our way to the three central birdwatching hides which on this reserve are sited in very close proximity to the waters edge and very close to the birds. The day was already becoming very warm with almost a cloudless sky and little in the way of a breeze. Stuart had decided to walk East Bank to view the reserve from the edges and sea watch so we arranged to meet up with him a little later.
On approaching the 'Avocet' hide Neil and Mike chanced upon a small group of Bearded Tits 'chipping' away in the reeds close by but they unfortunately didn't show themselves. A Marsh Harrier flew over the north edge of the reserve briefly but that was unusually the only sighting of the day. A Little Egret skulked on the 'Whitwell Scrape’, only showing occasionally as the grazing cattle passed by. On entering the 'Avocet' hide we were soon aware that there were good numbers of waders on 'Simmond's Scrape'. A distant Green Sandpiper, many Dunlins, at least two Curlew Sandpipers, lots of Ruff and a lone Bar-tailed Godwit. A short while later a large group of Curlews and a few Black-tailed Godwits flew in and a couple of Whimbrel were also noted nearby. Juvenile Shelduck dabbled in the mud close by and small numbers of Goldfinch danced around the hides. Our target bird here was a Pectoral Sandpiper but it had eluded us so far.
Shelduck - Juvenile, Cley, 9th September 2012. ©Mike Vickers
Moving on to the adjoining and much busier 'Dawke's' hide we soon saw more waders and got yet another angle on the reserve, this time overlooking both 'Simmond's Scrape' and 'Pats Pool', almost to much to take in at once. A group of birders already in the hide pointed out the juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper which was feeding with some Dunlin at fairly close range on 'Simmond's Scrape', obviously the bird must have just flown in.....lol. A 'lifer' for several members of our group including Lesley who was struggling with the numbers of waders present and how similar they are in plumage. 'Pat's Pool' produced more and more waders with more Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and Ruff noted. Amongst the waterfowl present a few Pintail and a couple of 'feral' Barnacle Geese were notable amongst the many Mallard, Wigeon and Canada Geese and a Cetti’s Warbler sand briefly from one end of the hide. There were lots of photographic opportunities for those with a camera and a good telephoto lens and Mike and John continued to click away happily.
Pectoral Sandpiper - Juvenile, Cley, 9th September 2012. ©Mike Vickers
Having spent quite sometime in the two hides here and by now having seen everything on offer we decided to head back to the main road and head to the north facing 'Bishop's' Hide, named after the long standing family who have wardened the reserve from its inception in 1926. Robert Bishop was warden from 1926 to 1937, and was followed by his grandson, Billy, from 1937 to 1978. As of 2012, Billy's son, Bernard, who was appointed in 1978, still managers the reserve today. From this hide we got very good views of some of the roosting gulls and amongst them a single adult Yellow-legged Gull was noted and photographed by Mike.
Yellow-legged Gull - Adult, 9th September 2012. ©Mike Vickers
The sun behind us made it perfect for photography and everyone enjoyed the time we had in this hide. Having decided to move on to Titchwell in the afternoon we needed to regroup, have our packed lunch and set off soon to our next destination. We had a flying visit to a packed Salthouse beach to eat our lunch and get in a bit of sea watching. A few Sandwich Terns, several Gannets, a single Guillemot and a couple of Common Scoters were seen here before we set off to Titchwell.
Our Group - Salthouse, 9th May 2012. ©Peter Harrisson
For one member of our group Norfolk was a new place so hopefully it will now inspire her to return time and time again as most of us have done for many years. You cannot really tire of Norfolk, its good at any time of the year and on a lovely day like today it’s perfect. Not masses of rare birds but good birding all the same.
Arriving at Titchwell we hovered around the visitor centre, some stocking up on food and drink and others buying new books and gifts, the shop here being very good, although the numbers of books on the shelves has obviously dwindled with the Cley reserve actually having a far bigger range and stock. Heading out along the main reserve track we came across a Kestrel sat on bales in a nearby field, a lone Spotted Redshank fed in the reeds on the first pool on our left where we also saw a Little Grebe and Pochard, new birds for our ever increasing day list. Heading out further both Neil and I briefly heard a Water Rail and after passing numerous people on their return leg we eventually came to the main scrape on our right. "Wow, look at all those birds", I thought, the place was teeming and in the distance we could see at least some of the Spoonbill that had been around for a few weeks.
Knot - Titchwell, 9th September 2012. ©Mike Vicker
Spoonbills - Titchwell, 9th September 2012. ©Mike Vickers
Heading away from the first hide to the new ‘hotel’ hide and now having caught up with Peter & Judith who had gone on ahead earlier we were told about a Water Rail which had walked along the reeds. I would have liked to have seen this so whilst others looked at the Spoonbill etc I looked for the rail which duly came into view for several minutes before heading back deep into the reeds. A Meadow Pipit delighted as it fed very close to the hide and Mike again managed a few shots.
Meadow Pipit - Titchwell, 9th September 2012. ©MikeVickers
Time was getting on and we still needed to get to the beach, something that you just have to do on a visit here. On our way we saw a Turnstone feeding in the brackish marsh along with a few Godwit and Curlews. The shore was fairly quiet and the tide was low by now so there were now masses of shorebirds to sift through. We still hadn’t seen any Sanderlings and there was always chance of more seabirds. Just offshore we located a nice male Common Scoter, at least one Great Crested Grebe, another Guillemot, two more Scoters heading west, many Sandwich Terns and even more Gannets. Eventually a small party of Sanderlings were located farther up the beach and as Mike continued to snap those images some of us walked to be nearer to the shorebirds. Godwits were everywhere with a supporting cast of Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Knot and Curlews, all busily feeding in the sand. A loud ‘call’ came from one of the group alerting us about a small flock of Pink-footed Geese that were now heading eastwards towards Brancaster. Another addition to the huge day list which now stood well over 85 species. Time now to head back to our cars and home – but not just yet? Peter and Judith headed back towards Cley as they were staying overnight and Alan & Christine decided to head off home early but we had other plans, let’s try for the Barred Warbler at Holme? Ten minutes later we were pulling up at Holme dunes where the Barred Warbler had been seen mid-afternoon. Unfortunately the bird was not showing and may have already left in the good weather. You cannot win them all!
Heading off home we hit heavy traffic between Hunstanton and Kings Lynn but the A17 was the usual ‘paced’ ride back home. A very nice day, some great birds seen and with good company. Thank you to all who came along and who hopefully enjoyed their day with us.
Posted on Wednesday 12th September at 11.45pm.
Blacktoft and the 'Bittern' Bonus!
On what was a fairly clear Saturday morning with a bit of warm sunshine to boot seven club members (four ladies and three gents!) arrived at Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve near Goole, East Yorkshire at 9.00am for our half day's birding trip to this fine reserve.
Our group outside the Blacktoft visitor reception centre. ©Janet Nyland
After completing the formalities we headed to the nearby Xerox hide where we were delighted to be greeted by many waders at such close range. Spotted Redshank and Common Redshank were very much in evidence with smaller numbers of Greenshank, Ruff, Snipe, Avocet, Lapwing and Green Sandpiper. Over the reedbed at least two juvenile Marsh Harriers with their bright 'ginger red' crowns were giving excellent views as they sat in vegetation at fairly close range. A few Shovelers and Little Grebes were noted here but apart from the waders nothing more of note except half a dozen Curlews heading over the reserve. Moving on to First Hide briefly then on again to Marshland Hide we again saw more Greenshank, plenty of Swallows feeding and drinking from the water, at least one Sedge Warbler and a small party of three or four Reed Warblers including adults still feeding fledged young. A nice juvenile Starling also showed the first signs of acquiring the more typical adult 'spotted' plumage. Leaving here we headed to Ousefleet Hide by way of the edge of the reserve bordering the ploughed field. A recent report of two Hobby sat in the field was good and we were lucky to witness at least one bird when we looked for them. Janet got a reasonable photo despite the distance from us to the bird.
Probable 'first-summer' Hobby sat in a field at Blacktoft. ©Janet Nyland
At Ousefleet Hide we saw masses of Yellow Wagtails, the more you looked the more seemed to have arrived. A few Stock Doves and a couple of Linnet and Meadow Pipits were noted here. A very interesting and unusual wooden bird, a 'warbird' in fact, the Fokker DR1 'Red Baron' Tri-plane was seen flying over. A break for lunch at the visitor reception then we re grouped and visited the next series of hides. At Townend Hide we saw the lovely Koniks pony herd which are being used to graze the reserve. Very little here apart from three very close Green Sandpipers and a few ducks so on again to the final hide, the Singleton Hide. This was were we had expected to hopefully see a Bittern with several recent sightings of adult birds flying off away from the reserve to feed at Alkborough Flats over the River Trent to the east. Here we sat and enjoyed seeing more species to add to our increasing day list. Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and Wigeon were noted amongst more common Mallards and Teal. To the east the reedbed extends all the way to the Trent shore and here we saw a male Marsh Harrier, a Buzzard and two Little Egrets flew up the Trent. A shout of 'Bittern' came from someone in the hide but by the time directions were given it had already alighted again. Well, at least one bird was mobile so we still had a good chance to see it again. A short time later another shout of 'Bittern' echoed from the hide, and within seconds we were all looking at a bird flying off east towards Alkborough as was predicted. A distant but prolonged view and good to watch it fly so far without anything in its path to obscure the views.
(Above Left) - The Bittern seen high over the reedbed heading towards Alkborough. ©Janet Nyland
(Above Right) - The Koniks ponies having a break from the grazing. ©Gary Hobson
Excellent, our group had added the Bittern to the day list and along with good views of Hobby earlier it was deemed a successful trip so far. After another half an hour here we decided to call it a day and make our way back to the cars, but not before we were summoned by Janet to have our photo taken. A last minute visit to Xerox Hide again added a Common Sandpiper to the day list but it was notable that we had not recorded a 'godwit' species, something that you would not expect from Blacktoft. A great mornings birding in great company and a total of 64 species recorded, what more could you ask for? If you read this and would like to join in with our trips there is usually space in somebody's car that could easily be filled.
Thanks to all those who attended this trip - hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Gary Hobson (Club Secretary)
Added on 19th August at 17.20pm.
Eleven members and visitors gathered at Old Moor RSPB reserve on a day when we saw a welcomed break in the rain and gloom that we had experienced the week previous. It was a cold day, dry in the morning and with a hint of blue sky and sunshine thrown in. We gathered all our belongings and our optics and cameras and booked in at reception.
Our first glimpse of the reserve was at the feeding station hide by the visitor centre. Here we saw a male Bullfinch and a fine male Reed Bunting amongst other more common birds. After a few minutes here we headed onto the reserve where our first birds of note were several Swifts feeding overhead. Arriving at the first hide, the family hide, Gary had just sat down and almost straight away located a fine summer plumage Black-necked Grebe on the water some way across the scrape. Everyone managed to get reasonable views of the grebe which was continuously diving to feed. Other more common grebes here were a couple of Great Crested Grebe and two or three Little Grebe. A pair of Redshank were seen displaying and copulating right in front of the hide and from here a Kestrel and several Swifts could also be seen.
Moving on to the next hide a lovely group of five summer plumage Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the grassy banks whilst getting to much attention from the resident breeding Lapwings. A couple of Little Grebe and a Stock Dove were noted here before we moved off to the next hide. Walking along the main track we saw more Swifts and a few common passerines in the hedgerows including Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler and Linnets. Arriving at a very busy wader scrape hide we quickly started to see a couple of new birds for the day list. Three Avocets were being spooked by the numerous Black-headed Gulls, a single Curlew was seen feeding on the far bank, a single Common Tern flew in high and over the main scrape before it disappeared from view and a further 10 Black-tailed Godwits were busy feeding on the grass banks. There had been a report of a first-summer Mediterranean Gull in front of this hide earlier but this had now gone Awol and could not be re-located. Other birds seen here included a few Pochard, a nice pair of Teal, more Swifts and Swallows, half a dozen Cormorants, the Black-necked Grebe still busily feeding to the left of the hide, several Starlings and a few more Redshank.
Moving again we headed out of the hide to find the sky had by now turned a menacingly dark grey colour so rain was surely imminent. We heard a singing Lesser Whitethroat in the nearby hedge and several more swifts fed over our heads. The last hide in the chain was rather quiet because it had quite a lot of water in it and there were a few Greylag Geese and several Swallows, Sand Martin and Swifts feeding low over the water. The rain had begun to fall and on this we decided to head back to the visitor centre for a well earned break for lunch. The Gannets cafe, though I have to say again is still rather expensive, was very nice and the mushroom soup was lovely. A quick look in shop then I, my wife Helen and my two children headed off on our way to continue my genealogy search for the Hobson family in the nearby Ecclesfield area of Sheffield.
The remaining members of the group stayed and continued their journey around the reserve visiting the hides and scrapes to the western side of the reserve. Here they saw two Wheatears from the Reedbed hide and some House Martins above. Interestingly, Janet Nyland managed to get a couple of photos of a very hungry Grey Heron as it caught and unfortunately for the victim, then swallowed a Coot chick. Something you don’t see that often as most people just tend to assume Heron’s only eat fish!
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea - Adult swallowing a Coot chick, Old Moor RSPB, 28th April 2012. ©Janet Nyland
Leaving Old Moor, a quick visit to nearby Wombwell Ings brought further interesting bird sightings including a Garganey, a Common Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover, Shoveler, Shelduck and Teal. A final tally of 63 species was recorded over the two sites during the trip and we are sure everyone enjoyed the day. A big thank you to all those who attended and we hope you will join us again on our next birding trip out.
Gary Hobson (LBC - Secretary)
Posted on Sunday 29th April 2012 at 22.15pm
Our first local walk this year saw around a dozen members and visitors enjoy a lovely walk in the Bellmoor Lake and Bellmoor Pits area walking as far as Tiln fishery before returning to the Rural Learning Centre.
The walk began with a look over Bellmoor Lake where we saw a nice pair of Red-crested Pochard, a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Kestrel and three Swallows. The walk itself saw a surprisingly high number of Chiffchaff recorded with up to 19 birds noted. Such a high concentration in what is still a relatively small area could indicate a change in habitat suitability, especially now that most of the woodland in this area is maturing. Nearby we saw up to four Goldcrest, two Willow Warbler, five Blackcap, two Bullfinch and a male Sparrowhawk and near to the Bailey Bridge over the River Idle we saw a pair of Treecreepers with nesting material. Further along the riverside walk we saw a small party of four Meadow Pipit associating with three pairs of Skylark. With Tiln fishery eventually coming into view we had good views of a large flock of Sand Martin and Swallow with just a single House Martin feeding with them over the lake. The lake itself had a sprinkling of birds with a single Great Crested Grebe and two pairs of Wigeon noted. A look towards Tiln Wood produced a total of seven Grey Herons and a single Buzzard in the air together.
Just as we turned around to head back a quick flash of 'blue' appeared overhead, a Kingfisher heading over the river from the finger ponds behind us. Not everyone saw it but those who did were very happy, one of our members, had actually just bagged himself a new species and 'a lifer' for the recording area. Similar birds were noted on the way back and everyone agreed it had been a pleasant and informative walk.
Thanks to everyone who attended and we hope to see you all again on our next walk. Check out our events calendar for future walks.
Posted on Friday 20th April 2012 at 22.10pm
An early start on March 20th saw us arrive at Frampton Marsh by 8.10am. Total species seen here was 37, notably, waders included Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Oystercatchers and Lapwing. Ducks included Teal, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Shoveler, Shelduck, Pintail and a female Scaup? Brent Geese numbered 500 plus, Greylag and Canada Geese, Egyptian Goose and a Black Swan! Small birds included Skylark, Twite and Linnet. Raptors were scarce with single Kestrel, Buzzard and Marsh harrier seen.
Time flew and at 1.00pm we moved on to Freiston Shore. We had sandwiches on picnic tables overlooking the water. Total species seen here was 32, some are repeated from Frampton plus notables including 8 White-fronted Goose and 1 Pink-footed Goose. A close view of a Barn Owl hunting and returning with its prey. Three Tree Sparrows and 1 White Wagtail. Now 5.30pm so we had a hot drink in car park and then headed off for home.
Weather, breezy warm and dry.
Posted on Monday 21st March 2011 at 20.30pm
Paul Bennett, warden of Beckingham Marshes and Langford Lowfields, had given a talk to the bird club about the two reserves that the RSPB is developing in Nottinghamshire. This field trip arranged by Alan Bradford was an opportunity for members to have a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the two reserves with Paul.
A group of six LBC members, two members of SK58 Birdwatchers and a local RSPB member met Paul at the Willow Works on Old Trent Road, Beckingham. The weather had been variable, with periods of heavy rain on my drive up from Newark, but we were fortunate during the walk around the site that it remained almost dry. At present, the reserve can only be viewed from a public footpath that crosses the western end of the reserve or from Old Trent Road; so we were fortunate to be able to have a walk across the site.
As Paul gave an introduction to the site a chaffinch was singing from the hedge and once on site we soon saw two tree sparrows perched in a hedgerow hawthorn, a flock of c50 starlings in the top of an ash tree and a couple of red-legged partridges. Four lapwings were displaying over the grassland, calling and tumbling in the air. Gary Hobson found a curlew and after careful scanning four were found feeding in a field. Skylarks were singing overhead and several brown hares seen running across the fields. Paul gave a detailed commentary on the development of the reserve as we walked around and all were impressed by his knowledge. Two grey partridges flew across a field, a kestrel was hunting and as we walked back a buzzard flew low over the marshes being mobbed by a carrion crow. Some of the group managed to see a female sparrowhawk dash across the marsh before landing in a hedge.
We then drove to the Langford Lowfields reserve near Collingham and had lunch in the RSPB office, where warm drinks were most welcome. Walking out onto Phase 2, the second reedbed to be developed, a smart male goldeneye was on one of the silt lagoons, a flock of 15 golden plovers flew over and Gary found a green sandpiper feeding along a ditch. Two roe deer were seen running accross the reserve which gave us distant but excellent views. We spent some time scanning the established reedbed of Phase 1, but unfortunately none of the reedbed specialist birds put in an appearance; however, it was windy over the reedbed with a cold north westerly wind blowing across the reserve. From our watch point though we could view the bird feeders and we saw two bramblings, a tree sparrow, a male bullfinch and several reed buntings, greenfinches, goldfinches and chaffinches. Walking back round to Phase 2 an immature male peregrine was found sitting on a bank and whilst watched for about 15 minutes was seen in flight twice. Water birds seen on Phase 2 were grey heron, wigeon, teal, gadwall, mallard, tufted duck and Coot. Three long-tailed tits were flitting through willows and a pair of great crested grebes was on one of the silt lagoons, resplendent in their breeding plumage.
I decided to stay on and watch the reedbed after the group left, and a female marsh harrier came in to roost.
For updates on wildlife sightings and forthcoming events at both reserves see
Carl Cornish (LBC - Liaison Officer) (RSPB Conservation Officer - Nottinghamshire)
Posted on Friday 4th March 2011 at 17.30pm
After a bit of a false start, Paul Hobson forgot to leave his car keys at home, we finally set off to Norfolk for what is now an annual event for the Lound bird club. Nine birders in three cars motoring along the A17 on a bright Sunday morning. After a brief stop at the Farm Shop Cafe we headed to Holme-next-the-Sea near Hunstanton. After a little discussion with Alan Bradford our organiser we decided that our aim would be to get the reported Arctic Warbler in the coastal pine belt on the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve there. On arrival we paid our £3.00 entrance fees and made our way to the main car park and walked the short distance into the pines to where the Arctic Warbler had been showing. After a ten minute wait the majority of the party then had reasonably good views of the bird as it fed in Elder bushes a short distance from the line of birders.
Adult Arctic Warbler re-trapped, 7th September, Holme NOA Reserve. Photo used with the kind permission and ©Robert Williamson
The bird had been trapped and ringed on the 6th September and was found to be a worn adult bird with interestingly only a small faint wing bar on its left side and no bar on its right wing. Other birds nearby were one or two Spotted Flycatcher, Goldcrest, Great Tit and a few Chaffinch.
The 'mini twitch' at the Arctic Warbler site. Spot the bird club members? ©Gary Hobson
On leaving the remaining birders some of the group headed to the beach where we found some bird passage offshore including many hundreds of Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot and smaller numbers of Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Sanderling, Curlew and Ringed Plover. A single juvenile Gannet and half a dozen Sandwich Tern were the best seabirds noted but three Pintail were notable over the sea.
Alan Bradford - the man never stops eating his snap! ©Ken Wilson)
Heading inland into the reserve we then came across the Norfolk Ornithologists Association (NOA) Holme Bird Observatory and in the knowledge that a Barred Warbler and a couple of Pied Flycatchers were showing, some of us forked out another £3.00 to enter this site.
The Holme Bird Observatory building. ©Gary Hobson
The others headed back to the beach or the Arctic Warbler site whilst three of us looked for the Barred Warbler which eventually showed fairly well for a few minutes in the brambles within the reed bed near the heligoland trap.
First-winter Barred Warbler trapped and ringed, Holme NOA Reserve, 31st August. Photo used with the kind permission and ©Robert Williamson.
Nearby one or two Pied Flycatchers performed in the edge of the pines and two Willow Warbler flitted around an oak. Spotted Flycatchers, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Coal Tit and a few other common birds were noted walking back to the car park but looking out over the marshland and farmland just inland from the reserve there was up to four Marsh Harrier noted and a large flock of Greylag Geese amongst more common farmland species. The pools adjacent to the reserve had a few common duck species and at least three Little Grebe were noted. Stuart Davenport soon arrived back from a second successful visit to the Arctic Warbler site and time for refreshments. After light snacks and coffee in the Wildlife Trust shop and a few sandwiches we set off to our next destination but before hand we had a quick look at Redwell Marsh (NOA) Reserve just down the track from the Holme reserves. Here from the small hide we saw the Red-necked Phalarope feeding on a small pool alongside a single Ruff and three Green Sandpipers. Behind the hide over the stream we noted three Lesser Whitethroat and a couple of Chiffchaff. In the main this whole area was very productive and despite being busy with visitors we all enjoyed our visit. The only down side being a £6.00 bill for seeing all the rarer birds on offer.
At this point Roger Stevens, who had travelled by himself, decided that Frampton RSPB Reserve would be a good spot and headed off back to South Lincolnshire. Hope he had a good afternoon there!
The next obvious destination for us was Cley-next-the-Sea and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes reserve there. On arrival and having a little difficulty parking cars we all eventually walked the famous East Bank of the reserve towards the sea wall. Here we noted large numbers of Egyptian Geese in the cattle field, one or two calling Water Rails in the reedbed dykes, several brief views of Bearded Tit but there were obviously many more calling. Heading further along East Bank we noted a few Marsh Harriers over the reserve and several types of waders including Avocet, Spotted Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. A few Sandwich Tern and Little Egrets on the pools near to the beach shingle banks and a few Curlews feeding in the fields nearby.
A Little Egret on pools by the East Bank at Cley Marshes. ©Ken Wilson
The gathered crowed ahead on the shingle bank were probably on the next target bird. Hopefully we would still see it when we get there? On arriving at the spot were the crowd of birders had been earlier we were informed that the Wryneck had not been seen for an hour but had gone to ground in the scrub along the fence line at the edge of the reserve. We waited and watched the area picking up a few new birds including a single Wheatear, several Linnet and a few more Sandwich Tern and a Common Tern offshore. The sea here was now becoming a mill pond with the offshore wind now dropping off significantly. Within twenty minutes of our arrival here a few birders a little further along the bank found the Wryneck feeding along the edge of the scrub. We were soon treated to prolonged views in the open of a bird that is often very secretive and skulking in its habits.
This Wryneck showed very well for well over half an hour. ©Ken Wilson
A favourite bird of mine, the Wryneck flew a short distance and sat in a small bush preening for several minutes before moving back to feed on the short grassy areas by the fence line. As we watched the Wryneck Carl Cornish and I became aware that a bunting had just passed directly in front of us calling as it flew by. We both remarked that it was a Lapland Bunting and a few seconds later we were treated to excellent views on one bird feeding with Meadow Pipits on the shingle nearby. Whilst we all watched the bunting they spooked and flew off towards where the Wryneck had been and Carl then thought he had heard a second bird calling but could not see anything of it. We soon headed back along East Bank and on our way all of us were treated to what can only be described as a 'wildlife spectacle' with by my reckoning at least 60-70 Bearded Tits seen very well transiting across the reedbed.
Just one of many Bearded Tits we noted along East Bank. ©Ken Wilson
Some very close views were had even with a scope. Amazing numbers and an amazing sight. They must have had a bumper breeding year. We then saw a couple of Marsh Harriers undertaking ariel food passing with the adult male passing a small prey item to a juvenile over the reedbed. The juvenile then being bullied by the other Harriers until it went to ground.
A truly inspiring days birding and one to remember. Having two new members along was also good to see. Kevin Rose (the one who forgot his bins) and Andrew Cliff (a time served local birder) enjoyed the trip I'm sure and it will be good to see them again on the next trip.
Gary Hobson - LBC Secretary & Web Site Administrator
For Tuesday evenings walk 10 people turned out and it thakfully it stayed dry. We had a good bunch and had a good laugh as those people without wellingtons or over trousers were wet up to the knees. Our leader for the walk Andy Shooter gave us an excellent walk and everybody enjoyed it and thanked him at the end of the evening. Some excellent birds were seen on the walk including 2 Nightjar being the target species for most, 2 Redstart which was a nice surprise, 4 Tree Pipit, 2 Woodcock, 2 Cuckoo, 3 Kestrel, 2 Mandarin, 1 Jay and up to 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker.
LBC members 'pose' at Clumber Park during the walk. ©Tony Tomlinson
I would like to thank everyone who attended the walk and once again thank Andy Shooter for his time and efforts on our behalf.
Alan Bradford (LBC - Events Organiser)
Nine members and freinds enjoyed a very good days birding on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Great weather, great birds and great company - here's what you would have seen if you had gone along too.
The day got off to a fantastic start with a successful visit to a traditional Stone Curlew site near Brandon where we saw a pair of Stone Curlew and also a surprise find in also seeing a Common Curlew and several other common species. Club members Alan and Christine Ollerenshaw and their sister-in-law were all new to this species and were very pleased with the find, Alan more so than the others.
Some LBC members at the Stone Curlew site. ©Alan Bradford
Moving on to the RSPB's fantastic Lakenheath Fen Reserve just a few more miles down the road. Members were greeted by what was described by many as excellent, very orderly, welcoming and informative staff. Well done to the RSPB for a great team.
Lakenheath holds breeding Bittern, Golden Oriole, Bearded Tit and Marsh Harrier to name just a few of the star birds. We managed to hear or see all these and more.
Walking through the reserve to the farthest viewpoint we saw several Marsh Harrier and lots of Reed Warbler, Whitethroat and Reed Buntings. A brief stop at either of the three Poplar plantations to listen and look for the lovely Golden Oriole proved fruitless so on to the farthest viewpoint where everyone sat in awe of the spectacle before them. Scanning the fenland reedbeds and surrounding farmland we had a minimum of 7 Marsh Harrier, two Hobby, a Kingfisher and a probable Red Kite amongst other more common birds.
Marsh Harrier - Two female/immature birds over the reedbed. ©Rachael Theaker
Whist enjoying the raptors the shout of Bittern! came from the screen as Stuart Davenport ran out to point at an increadibly close and extended view of a Bittern has it flew close and across our vista before dropping into the reedbed some way off from the viewpoint. Club member Rachael Theaker was on-hand to record this amazing bird with her new camera lense and an excellent photo was recorded below.
Bittern over Lakenheath RSPB, 30th May 2010. ©Rachael Theaker
Nearby Marsh Harriers continued to come back and forth onto the fenland and on several occasions there were up to five birds over the reedbed. Stuart was again lucky to see a brief glipse of a single Bearded Tit but unfortunitely nobody else saw it. Gary Hobson hooked onto a nice Kingfisher has it wizzed past us and down into a dyke and several of us heard a Cetti's Warbler occasionally singing from nearby scrub. Single Common Tern, Buzzard and Little Egret were also noted.
Marsh Harrier - a probable sub-adult female seen flying over the reedbeds. ©Rachael Theaker
After an exellent hours birding we set off to look at the river but apart from a few Canada Geese, some common duck species and the Common Tern again very little was in view. We decided to return via the same footpaths and within less than a minute a second shout of Bittern! was heard from our party and we were again enjoying very good flight views of what must have been another Bittern as it flew in from another area of the reserve only to drop into reeds about 50 yards in front of us. Missing a second urge to look from the view point we continued back to the first of the Poplar plantations were we saw little in the way of bright golden looking birds but we did see two Cuckoo very well with one bird perched in the plantation for several minutes.
Cuckoo - One of two birds seen at Lakenheath Fen RSPB. ©Rachael Theaker
Moving on a little further we were rewarded with excellent views of a Hobby has it rested in a Poplar tree at the woodland edge between feeding flights. John Wilkins had by this time decided to make his way back to the visitor centre alone and on his way he was lucky to bump into a singing Golden Oriole in the middle 'small' Poplar plantation. Telephoning Gary Hobson to alert other party members we soon caught up to where John had heard the Oriole singing. After several minutes trying to hear the calling bird over the wind noise and swaying trees both Alan Bradford and Gary Hobson heard a Golden Oriole very plainly singing towards the far edge of the wood and decided that the best bet for us would be to walk around to the calm side out of the wind. We all arrived shortly after to be greeted by several bursts of song from a male Golden Oriole but unfortunitely it would not show itself to our party. A single Great Spotted Woodpecker and several more common birds were noted here. We decided that hearing the Oriole was good enough and then went to meet up with John Wilkins again. Arriving in the reception we were again greeted by the excellent staff and facilities with tea and snacks available through self service at a minimal cost. A single Sparrowhawk was noted over the car park and a female Pheasant had a small group of recently hatch youngters closeby.
We discussed a few ideas for the next venue and decided to go to nearby St Helen's picnic site at the picturesque village of Santon Downham, once a former breeding site for Red-backed Shrike. Here we had a short walk around the car park and bird trail area and bumped into a few more birds including a small group of Siskin feeding on flowering Maple, another excellent view of a Hobby hunting over nearby pine woodland and a couple of Marsh Tit. Now starting to rain we decided to leave and look for another site nearby for Woodlark. Just leaving the picnic site we came accross two birders who had found Spotted Flycatcher so we had to have a look and several of our group enjoyed good views of a pair of flycatchers and a single Nuthatch briefly before it flew off with the flycatchers. Time to move on but a short while later we were still looking for the next site when it rained heavily.
It was decided that we should now head home to Retford and before leaving Breckland we would try once more at the Stone Curlew site just in case the birds were a little closer. A short time later and just out of the rainstorm we arrived at the site but unfortunitely there were no Stone Curlews this time and despite a few minutes grilling the heathland none could be located.
The Stone Curlew features on the village sign in the small village of Weeting near Brandon. A dedicated Wildlife Trust Reserve catering solely for the conservation of this species can also be found nearby. ©Vic Theaker
All in all an excellent day and a good list of species seen. It was also good to bump into some familier faces at Lakenheath. Former co-founder of the Lound Bird Club David Atkinson was birding there with former club member Colin Marshall. Another familier face here was that of Chris Mills, a former resident birder of Nottinghamshire who now leads birding tours around the globe but mainly concentrating on his new resident county of Norfolk. Des Parmenter, another Lound regular was also found sat enjoying the birds at Lakenheath. A LBC reunion almost!
I'm sure everyone enjoyed the day and will return with us on a follow up visit hopefully next spring.
Gary Hobson (LBC - Secretary)
Despite the forecast of rain we were all pleasantly surprised to find dry weather for the trip this morning with no rain noted until early afternoon. Our party of twelve members, their partners and friends were taken on a very enjoyable and informative walk around theby two of the nicest birders you should ever have the pleasure of meeting, Roger & Susan Bird.
The walk started off with a look at the Decoy Marsh where c75 Pink-footed Geese flew over north west.
Decoy Marsh - Reed cutting here has allowed better feeding habitat for waterfowl and Bittern. ©Gary Hobson
We then walked around Childers Wood which gave us the chance to see c100+ Siskin, a few Redpoll, a Treecreeper and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker. A brief look over Lower Ellers Marsh found a single Heron and then moving back over the railway and looking around the southern end of Old Eaa Marsh we heard a single Cetti's Warbler giving several brief bursts of song. A quick stop for refreshments at the cafe then on to Piper Marsh to hopefully find a Bittern? Unfortunately, as is often the case here, Bitterns often never show and today was no different. We did however see a pair of Kingfisher which were nest prospecting in a steep bank on one of the islands and all present had fantastic and prolonged views of a bird that more often than not you just see as a blue flash along some water course. Venturing out onto the large expanse of Huxter Well Marsh we had a single Oystercatcher, 15+ Shelduck, 4 Golden Plover and several small groups of Lapwing while high above this area up to 4 Buzzard were noted and a Peregrine was in action over Wadworth Carr. Heading back to the Field Centre Cafe for dinner we saw a few birds of note with one member managing to see a Water Rail at the Willow Marsh feeding station.
Water Rail - Willow Marsh feeding station, Potteric Carr. ©Janet Nyland
The feeding Station here can give anyone with a camera some fantastic results and on the odd occasion you can even get that elusive sighting of a Bittern with one recently seen here taking a Brown Rat.
Dunnock - Willow Marsh feeding station, Potteric Carr. ©Gary Hobson
Canada Goose - Willow Marsh feeding station, Potteric Carr. ©Gary Hobson
The whole reserve is a fantastic place to visit and we will look forward to making a return trip next year if we don't get back there this year. Well worth a visit and with the added bonus of some fine food and good exercise you should definitely plan a trip.
Thanks again to Roger & Susan Bird and all the Lound bird club members, their partners and friends for joining us on a very enjoyable days birding.
Gary Hobson (LBC - Secretary)
A very enjoyable day was had by the eight bird club members who attended the trip today. Despite the cold weather we had bright winter sunshine which helped us amass a day list of 80 species and everyone enjoyed the birds.
We first visited Frampton Marsh RSPB south of Boston where highlights were as follows. A pristine male Hen Harrier flew low over the reserve showing fantastically at close range. Up to four Lapland Buntings were seen well amongst a flock of 20+ Snow Buntings and Skylarks. A single female Merlin, 1 Marsh Harrier, 6+ Pintail, 1 Barn Owl, 22 Whooper Swan and 2 Bewick's Swan were also noted.
Whooper Swans - Frampton Marsh RSPB Reserve. ©Vic Theaker
We then visited Frieston Shore RSPB reserve north of Boston where a single winter plumaged Black-necked Grebe was present on the main lagoon with 30+ Black-tailed Godwit, several hundred Brent Geese and off shore we had distant views of a Peregrine attacking waders, 3 Eider, many waders offshore and a female Sparrowhawk over.
BLACK-NECKED GREBE - on the Lagoon at Frieston Shore RSPB Reserve. ©Vic Theaker
Black-tailed Godwit - on the Lagoon at Frieston Shore RSPB Reserve. ©Vic Theaker
Both the above reserves are very well set out with Frampton having several state of the art bird hides and a small but well positioned visitor centre. We all said how good the reserve looked and said we would make a return visit a priority.
A brief visit to Friskney produced another female Merlin but little more was seen.
Next and last port of call was Gibralter Point NNR at Skegness where we had fantastic views of a Bittern roosting in the reedbed on The Mere and two male Hen Harrier noted over the salt marsh and dune system.
BITTERN - Roosting at The Mere, Gibralter Point NNR. ©Vic Theaker
Gary Hobson (LBC - Secretary)
A full run down of the Lound Bird Club's east coast birding trip will follow soon but here are a couple of photographs taken by Vic Theaker during a fairly successful days birding.
COMMON SNIPE (Top) & JACK SNIPE (Bottom) - Titchwell, 4th Octobe, 2009. ©Vic Theaker)
SNOW BUNTINGS - Two of 35 birds seen at Holkham Beach between Lady Anne's Drive and the Lifeboat Station Car Park at Wells-next-the-Sea, 4th October 2009. (Photographs courtesy of Vic Theaker)