Thursday, 28 February 2013

End of the month

Enjoyed a few days in North Norfolk whilst the allotment dried out enough to work on. It was certainly wet in the fields over there but the coastal path was dry enough to walk along. Got out early to look for the Golden Pheasant and it only showed itself after I gave up the watch and drove round to the north side and I had a minute of gaudy joy before a car sent it scurrying into the bushes. The first effort with the eagle failed but I did see the male Rough-legged Buzzard fly over the field in front of me and into the woods. The next day and the eagle failed to show again so we went off to Roydon Common and watched 3 ring tailed Hen Harriers sparring with each other (and some crows) and a rapid fly past by a Merlin.
Day 3 and a walk along the coastal path and beach. The sea has dumped masses of Razor shells and so there were enormous numbers of gulls including one Med Gull in almost full adult plumage. In the dunes there was a delightful group of Snow Buntings but Holkham Marshes held no Pink Feet!! just a few Whitefronts and several groups of Brents again. Titchwell was undergoing 'conservation work' the pool on the left of the track had been drained and the Freshmarsh was awash. The islands were so small there was only a handful of Lapwings and Golden Plovers. They must be employing the 'Brandon' winter trick. Another attempt at the eagle's preferred roosting site proved fruitless.
After a walk around Holkham Park, where there is a pair of Red Kites setting up territory, it was home until the message system directed us to Flitcham where the immature White-tailes Sea Eagle was sat in a field. This time got there in time and was directed to a large lump on the crest of the ridge, even had time to set up the telescope. After 2 minutes it got up and flew along the ridge; what a bird, each wing was the size of a Buzzard!! All in all a great break, hopefully the ground is dry enough to start the clearing up after the floods.

22nd February

A day out with Jim J to see what we could find down on the south coast. The news service helped as did our knowledge from previous years. Called in at Mercer Way in Romsey, not a promising site, and found in the tops of the trees and down on the ground at least 11 Hawfinches and this was before 9! Then down into the New Forest and found a superb male Black Redstart on the fences around Fawley Power station. The woods around Hawksmill enclosure were very quiet but eventually a Woodlark started singing from a tree top. Could not find a Dartie so headed on to Gosport and Portsmouth, found the Ring-billed easily and then Purple Sandpipers on Southsea Castle. On the way round to Langstone saw a flock of Dark-bellied Brents on the cricket pitch(10m from the road) and there in the middle was a stunning adult Black Brant. As usual rarely carried the camera so only the one bird to show you with a pal!!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


This little fellow brightened up our few days in Yorkshire. We stayed in Leyburn, mainly so that we could visit some of Cath's relatives. That is about all we could do as the weather was foul, torrential rain and gale force winds. Whilst Aysgarth Falls were quite spectacular the rivers were so high that the expected Dippers were nowhere to be seen. Where do they go when the rivers are in spate and over their banks?
A drive from Wensleydale to Swaledale on the driest day of the week and we were surrounded by Red Grouse; they obviously took advantage of the dry conditions to do some feeding. Most of them were in the grass rather than the heather banks making viewing easier. I presume there were plenty of grass seeds for them to pick up after the rain had flattened the seed heads.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Garden Birdwatch

Cath up with her mum so I sat down with my breakfast to see how the snow would affect the variety and numbers of birds visiting the garden. I must not be the only one putting out a banquet for the birds at the moment as numbers seem well down. In previous years Goldfinches have numbered 16, this year only 3. The huge flock of Fieldfares drawn into the garden because of the poor weather seem to have dispersed just leaving one in sole charge of the apple. The only birds to have increased in numbers were Woodpigeons and Reed Buntings. I'm not sure whether I can cope with the cost of feeding 12 avian dustbins(the pigeons), I might have to come up with a new feeding strategy.