Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Little to report

As expected we are currently in the midst of the mid-Feb to mid-March lull, with little new of note having been encountered round the patch over the last few weeks, the only bright spot being a large finch flock at Northrepps which contained very notable numbers of both Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings.

The Tawny Owl remains faithful to its roost tree in Warren Wood, with the photo below showing the typical view of it.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


An early morning visit to Felbrigg revealed that yesterdays Smew were still present, although they were later sadly flushed by a birders over enthusiastic pointing and shouting to his companions when he spotted them! They never really came close enough for high quality pics, but it was still a real pleasure to just enjoy them, especially the beauty of the drake.

A good number of other wildfowl were present on the lake including a pair of Shelduck and 2 drake Pochard which were both new in, with other notable species present being a single Goldeneye, the Whooper Swan and 2 drake and 4 female Mandarins.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Continued freezing conditions produces more birds

A check of the normally wader-less beach at Overstrand on the 5th produced an amazing tally of 12 different species, most of which had obviously been frozen out of their usual haunts and probably pushed over from the continent  - Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Knot, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Sanderling and Woodcock were all recorded, with the latter watched as it came in-off before landing on the beach. 

A check of the reservoir on the 6th revealed the big surprise of a Coot (115), a local rarity away from Felbrigg, and a nice addition to the growing list of birds recorded on there.

Daily checking of the lake at Felbrigg failed to produce the hoped for Smew, with a couple of Pochard being the only new arrivals; the Whooper Swan continues to linger. On the 7th I decided to check the stream which runs south of the lake for Jack Snipe, but this was more in hope than expectation, although with good numbers of Common Snipe in evidence as I walked along hopes grew, and eventually one was flushed which, unlike all the others, rose silently and flew only a short distance low along in front of me before pitching down again in the stream. I managed to see where it had landed but it again took flight before I could get a decent look at it, but thankfully this time it flew right past me at close quarters, giving me the opportuntity to confirm it was indeed a Jack Snipe (116) as it gave excellent flight views before returning to the stream further along, where I left it in peace really pleased with the find.

A flock of 11 Bewicks Swans (117) flew over Felbrigg Park on the 9th, and one of the Sheringham Purple Sandpipers (118) did the honourable thing of flying beyond the east end of the prom and consequently into the patch whilst I was there on the 13th.

The 15th finally produced what I'd hoped for over the last 10 days with a pair of Smews (119) gracing Felbrigg Lake, and as ever the male was just truly stunning to see with the added bonus of it being my first one ever for the patch following the 3 redheads previously recorded. Sadly with it being beyond dark (well at least for my 50x lens) only a few grainy pics were possible but still a nice record of their occurrence, and hopefully they'll hang around to allow some better shots to be obtained tomorrow.

Four pairs of Mandarins were also welcome visitors to the lake, and it was really nice to know that they are still about locally in fairly good numbers despite spending the majority of their time elsewhere now. The Whooper Swan was as usual in amongst the Mutes, and a Goldeneye was also present.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Cold weather gets the birds moving

A visit down to Felbrigg Lake on the 3rd revealed that it was virtually frozen over save for a ice-free patch in the middle around which all of the birds had congregated which included the Whooper Swan, 23 Teal, the pair of Wigeon, a few Gadwall, a pair of Canada Geese, Greylags, 22 Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks, Mallards and a nice gathering of Gulls.

Whilst walking back across the field towards the hall, I paused to check the Golden Plover flock and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had been joined by a Curlew (111) which is the first one I have ever seen at the site, and probably also the first one actually seen on the deck anywhere on the patch as they are usually seen just passing overhead or moving during seawatches, so a very notable record indeed.

Moving on to West Runton revealed that there was a good cold-weather movement of waders passing by, predominantly Dunlin (112) with numerous flocks going through west. Also notable were 5 Harbour Porpoise seen heading west (3 singles and a pair).

I headed back down to West Runton again today to check the wader passage, and with it being low tide first thing hoped that a few may stop to feed on the exposed beach. I wasn't disappointed as in addition to the usual Grey Plovers, Lapwings, Redshank, TurnstonesOystercatchers and Ringed Plovers were a dozen or so Dunlin, along with a few Knot and best of all 5 Bar-tailed Godwits (113) which were the first ones I have ever seen here.

There was also a small passage of wildfowl going past with a few Wigeon and Mallards on the move, plus a few flocks of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, one of which I was delighted to see contained a Pale-bellied Brent (114). Adding to the wader-fest a couple of Common Snipe flew over and a nice flock of Golden Plover were in the fields along the beach road.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


The month got off to a good start with a Firecrest (110) in the woodland behind Felbrigg Hall yesterday. Down on the lake a Goldeneye was present with the Tufted Ducks, a pair of Wigeon were new in, and the Whooper Swan continues to linger. A flock of 70+ Golden Plover were also new arrivals on the grassy field in front of the hall.

Highlight of today was a Little Gull lingering amongst a feeding flock of Gulls off West Runton late afternoon, and a couple of Sanderlings on the beach were the first ones I've seen this year on the deck.