Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Second half of the month

As expected the last couple of weeks of the month have been fairly quiet round the patch, although a Canada Goose (108) on Felbrigg Lake was a welcome new arrival.

A couple of Goldeneye also put in an appearance on the lake joining the long staying Whooper Swan, and a party of 4 Common Buzzards circling high over the park were also noteworthy.

With a fairly stiff easterly breeze blowing today, a bit of a seawatch seemed like a good idea, which was rewarded with 3+ Little Gulls (109) feeding offshore. Good numbers of Guillemots were also noted passing by, along with a few Gannets and Red-throated Divers and a single Wigeon.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

More of the same

More seawatching off West Runton on the 13th revealed a steady passage of Kittiwakes moving east, plus the first Red-breasted Merganser (101) and Brent Geese (102) of the year, along with the usual Red-throated Divers and Guillemots offshore.

A visit to Felbrigg produced a Pochard (103) new in on the lake along with the lingering Whooper Swan. A male Peregrine made a brief visit trying to land in the cormorant trees but was immediately seen off by the local crows, a pair of Common Buzzards were over the park and a few Redpolls, Siskins and Bramblings were evident there too.

More seawatching from West Runton on the 14th produced a Great Skua heading west, harassing a few GBB Gulls whilst on its way, with 2 drake Eiders (104), and a single Common Scoter amongst the other notable birds.

Another check of Felbrigg Lake finally produced Water Rail (105) with two or three birds seen briefly along the edge of the reedbed. No sign of the Pochard or any Mandarins today but the Whooper Swan seems happily settled in there now, and 4 Cormorants were squabbling over perches on the island and looking positively prehistoric as they spread out their wings to dry.

A check of various areas of suitable habitat finally paid dividends when a Woodcock (106) was found on East Runton Common, as it exploded from the undergrowth at point blank range as is the usual encounter with the species.

A bit more seawatching today produced a single Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Brent Geese and 2 Eider west, Red-throated Divers and a few Guillemots were as usual offshore, and the first Lesser Black-backed Gull (107) of the year headed east along the beach.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Early January

The last ten days have been spent mopping up those few birds missed on Jan 1st and also seeing a few surprises too.

A check of Felbrigg on the 2nd revealed 3 Mandarins (78) and a female Goldeneye (79) on the lake, and a Marsh Tit (80) was present in the alder carr next to the reedbed. Seawatching off Cromer on the afternoon of the 5th produced a few Fulmars (81) passing by, and some more seawatching on the 6th from West Runton was rewarded with 4 Goosanders (82), a few Knot (83) and a group of Shelduck (84) all heading west, and a Lapland Bunting (85) flew over the car park. Another visit to Felbrigg produced both Bullfinch (86) and Common Buzzard (87) in the park. A couple of Redshanks (88) were feeding on the beach at West Runton on the 7th, and a flock of Wigeon (89) and a couple of Sanderlings (90) were noted passing by out to sea.

A text message on the morning of the 8th alerted me to the presence of a Whooper Swan (91) on Felbrigg Lake, and upon hot-footing it down there was treated to excellent views as it mingled with the newly established Mute Swan flock.

Whilst watching the Whooper I then received a very fortuitous phone call from my Dad, who had coincidentally just pulled into the main car park at Felbrigg, to say that he was watching a Red Kite (92) circling over the park, and upon looking up it was immediately picked up as it slowly drifted off southeast towards the village.

A male Blackcap (93) in the garden first thing on the 9th was a nice surprise, and a walk along the cliffs between Sidestrand and Trimingham on the 10th produced Green Woodpecker (94), a flock of Golden Plover (95) and a Peregrine (96) flushed off the cliff face and then watched as it slowly made its way inland. A check of the reservoir produced a Grey Wagtail (97) and then a search round the fields of Northrepps finally resulted in the first Yellowhammers (98) of the year.

A visit to Felbrigg on the 11th produced Mistle Thrush (99), a pair of Mandarins and the Whooper Swan were on the lake, but the flock of Redpolls, which contain a few interesting looking pale individuals, proved as mobile and near impossible to view satisfactorily as ever. With temperatures hitting 12 degrees it was no surprise to see a Red Admiral had been awoken from its winter hibernation and was basking in the warm sunshine.

It was then on to West Runton where a flock of 40+ Common Scoter heading west brought up the 100 for the patch this year in record time, and rounded off an excellent start to the year on the patch.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Years Day List

As usual the first day of the year saw me doing a day list round the patch, with last years total of 75 being the record to beat.

Robin and Blackbird were pre-dawn singers, but the first bird seen in the first glimmers of light was a Magpie (1), closely followed by Black-headed Gulls (2) and Woodpigeon (3). A familar sound then had me rushing back to the window as the days first skein of Pinkfeet (4) headed west silhouetted against the early morning sky. Chaffinch (5), Great Tit (6), Blue Tit (7), Dunnock (8) and Robin (9) were all noted visiting the feeders at first light, and a few foraging Blackbirds (10) were also noted as I left the house.

First stop was to check the sea off Overstrand, and whilst parking the car Starling (11), House Sparrow (12) and Goldfinch (13) were noted. A Song Thrush (14) was in early morning song on the cliff face, and down on the beach Herring Gull (15), Great Black-backed Gull (16), Carrion Crow (17) and the surprise of a couple of Lapwings (18) on the tideline were noted, a Cormorant (19) was fishing close inshore and a Pheasant (20) was on the clifftop. Deciding to quickly move on, driving through the village produced Collared Dove (21), and a flock of Greenfinches (22) and a single Redwing (23) were noted perched up in a tree.

A quick stop opposite Cromer Golf Club produced a flock of Long-tailed Tits (24), Feral Pigeons (25) were noted as I passed through the town, and then a stop by the carnival field produced Common Gull (26), Rook (27), Turnstones (28), and a flock of Oystercatchers (29) on the beach below. East Runton duckpond produced Mallard (30) and Greylag (31), and then a check of the sea there revealed a Great Crested Grebe (32) close inshore and a number of Red-throated Divers (33) passing by.

I then made my way to West Runton picking up Jackdaw (34) on the way, and on arrival quickly noted Ringed Plover (35) and Grey Plover (36) on the beach and a Guillemot (37) close inshore. The wintering Med Gull (38) appeared over the car park, Skylarks (39) and Meadow Pipits (40) were flying round the fields, which also held a couple of Stock Doves (41). I then settled down for a bit of a seawatch and noted Gannet (42), Kittiwake (43) and the big surprise of a Great Skua (44) passing by, despite this being the third year running now that I have seen one in January.

Heading up to Felbrigg a Jay (45) was seen by the Shirehorse Centre, and a brief stop near Roman Camp produced Coal Tit (46) and Goldcrest (47). Walking down towards the lake at Felbrigg a Lesser Redpoll (48) was noted flying over and slightly further on a larger flock of 40+ birds were encountered which contained both Mealy Redpoll (49) and Siskin (50). A Nuthatch (51) was heard calling and then quickly located, and a Treecreeper (52) was also noted in the same stand of trees.

On the lake Moorhen (53), Mute Swan (54), Gadwall (55), Teal (56) and Tufted Duck (57) were all noted, an Egyptian Goose (58) was on the meadow infront of the hall, a Reed Bunting (59) was in the reedbed and a Heron (60) was fishing around the Mandarin-less trees. A Snipe (61) was flushed from the meadow north of the lake and Fieldfares (62) were noted flying over. Heading back to the car the hoped for flock of Bramblings (63) was encountered by the main car park, but time was then wasted chasing a calling Bullfinch through the trees which I never caught up with.

Moving on, Roughton Road produced a nice flock of Linnets (64) and a Wren (65) and then a quick foray was made into Warren Wood for the Tawny Owl (66) which remains ever faithful to its roost tree. Great-spotted Woodpecker (67) and Red-legged Partridge (68) were seen en-route to the private wood where the Yellow-browed Warbler (69) and a Chiffchaff (70) were quickly located.

Another private site produced Little Grebe (71) and the surprise sighting of a Marsh Harrier (72) drifting over southeastwards. Driving round the back roads of Northrepps in search of Yellowhammer drew a blank but Sparrowhawk (73), Barn Owl (74) and Kestrel (75) were all seen.

Time and the light were fast running out and a check round East Runton for a few remaining targets drew a blank, so I quickly made my way back to Felbrigg where the Little Owl (76) was located immediately in its favourite tree. A dash down to the lake failed to produce Mandarin or Water Rail, although Green Woodpecker was added to the heard list, and the second Barn Owl of the day was noted. In the fading light I made a dash back to Cromer to enjoy the roost of Pied Wagtails (77) at Morrisons, with up to a hundred birds gathering there.

I returned to Felbrigg in the hope of a Woodcock, and whilst waiting totted up the days total for the first time and was delighted to find that I had beaten my previous record by two, so with rain now setting in I decided to call it a day with the excellent haul of 77 species seen plus a further 2 heard only.