Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Brandon Away-Day

Another chance to borrow the Warwickshire Wildlife Trusts minibus and with the Norfolk coast currently enjoying a huge influx of migrants in easterly winds there was only one place to be. With a dozen of the Brandon Marsh Team on-board we decided that our first port of call would be Beeston Common for the showy Isabelline Shrike, Red Kite on route.

After picking up Pete Worthy, who was already in Norfolk at the A148 roundabout we continued on for Beeston. However, early news of a Great Grey Shrike sighting at Little Snoring Airfield was well timed and a simple short diversion. Sadly with little information on the precise whereabouts and a couple of tractors at work around the airfield we were not surprised to dip on this one. However, my first Redwing of this autumn was located here thanks to Keith Barnsley and a fly over Grey Wagtail before moving on were something a least.

Isabelline Shrike at Beeston Common - Although very showy I felt that I could have done a lot better with the camera! Maybe this guy was simply too good to take my eyes off!
The Isabelline Shrike was quite a different matter and immediately on arrival a very showy bird was located offering stunning views, this despite the many visitors in close proximity! We spent a good half hour here before moving on, not managing to connect with a Yellow-browed Warbler also reported here, but Siskin and Lesser Redpoll were additions to the day list.

Lots of Meadow Pipit around Granborough Hill
Next stop Granborough Hill, an area I'm always tempted to search at this time of year. Many Skylark on the surrounding marshland, along with Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Snipe and Curlew but despite picking up nothing out of the ordinary what was apparent was the number of Goldcrest in the area. The sea was particularly quiet with a Diver Sp. offshore and back at the minibus for lunch, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff and Redshank in the surrounding pools, along with a Stonechat on the fence.

When news came through of a whole host of goodies at Holkham Pines the next destination was sorted and we decided to forego a visit to Cley for the reported White-rumped Sandpiper and head on through. As we turned into Lady Anne's Drive to park up I unfortunately missed a perched Little Owl seen by some of the team and frustratingly not called until too late! After parking up the  long walk down for a Red-flanked Bluetail produced superb views of two Red Kite overhead. Goldcrests, as mentioned earlier seemed to be in every tree, Migrant Hawker dragonfly were in good numbers and four Little Grebe in the 'Salthole' before finally reaching the 'crosstracks', the site of the Bluetail.

Goldcrests, Goldcrests everywhere!
With little experience of these so called 'twitches' I much prefer to spend my time on the move just enjoying the birding, when I saw at least 50 individuals huddled several yards into the trees I knew it wasn't for me! That said I did have a brief look but for someone who even hates queuing, peering through the dark forest at fallen lichen covered branches for a nano seconds view, even of a stunning bird such as this simply doesn't appeal. I'm glad to say that a little further on down the track my timing was impeccable, when I had some excellent, albeit brief views of a Radde's Warbler. Now if all 'twitches' were like that!! No sign of a Dusky Warbler also reported during our stay and while searching the surrounding scrub area for Ring Ouzel distant skeins of Pink-footed Geese were constantly on the move. Stonechat, Red Kite, Common Buzzard and Redwing were also noted.

Spotted Redshank - First time I've witnessed them feeding on the water so close in!
With the day fading fast (where did that go) our final destination was RSPB Titchwell and despite leaving sunny conditions at Holkham by the time we arrived a bitterly cold wind had developed and the sky had clouded over, dashing any hopes of a decent sunset. The highlights here were a couple of Common Scoter offshore, along with the usual selection of waders, which included some large flocks of Golden Plover, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit , plus two Spotted Redshank. While watching the harrier roost at dusk two Water Rail appeared in the gloom below, 37 Little Egret were on the dead trees and a final tally of seven Marsh Harrier and two 'Ringtail' Hen Harriers were a great finish as spots of rain began to fall.

Although an excellent days birding with two cracking species in the bag I can't help feeling a little disappointed having not covered more ground and connected with some of our target birds for the day. That said the fish and chips on route home were superb and the company as ever most entertaining!

Species Seen:
Mute Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Common Scoter, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Snipe, Ruff, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler (H), Chiffchaff, Radde's Warbler, Goldcrest, Wren, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit (H), Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper (H), Isabelline Shrike, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Redpoll, Goldfinch, Siskin, Reed Bunting,