Wednesday, March 27, 2019

📖 #11/2019 ~ White Stork

Today I attended John Walton's funeral, one of Brandon Marsh's founding fathers. It was an excellent turnout as I'd imagined it would be with a nice service to commemorate Johns life and the time and effort he'd dedicated throughout the years in making the reserve what it is today!

Tagged tweet from Steve Cheshire
After returning from Brandon late afternoon I'd just settled back aboard when I was tagged in a tweet from @britbutterflies (Steve Cheshire), who I'd actually spoken to at the funeral that afternoon. To my amazement, it was showing three photographs of a large bird circling over Ryton Wood. Steve, who would be the first to admit he's not a birder, butterflies his expertise, was asking for ID and quite clearly this was a White Stork! He'd apparently noticed it flying over while trying to photograph a Red-underwing Moth.

I immediately put the sighting out on the Warwickshire Birders Whatsapp group as it appeared, according to Steve, that the bird was heading towards Brandon Marsh.

White Stork at Grandborough ~ Slight red hue from the setting sun
Astonishing it was sighted just a short time later over the Grandborough area by Tim Marlow. Leading on Tim, Theo de Clermont and John Judge (@draycotebirding) had the bird located in a field not far from Grandborough Church, just a ten-minute drive from my mooring. Of course, I was there within ten and managed some excellent scoped views and even a small piece of hand-held video.


Short hand-held video as the bird departed towards Draycote Water

It was a brilliant effort by all from the time the sighting came out to actually locating the bird. From the many photographs taken over the past 18hrs (the bird was still being seen today) it appears that it has no rings, could this be a wild one? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

📖 #10/2019 ~ Spring Migration

It’s an exciting time of year as the days gradually begin to get longer and our summer visitors start to arrive home. I find myself spending endless hours visually searching every bush and tree at Brandon Marsh and in particular listening for the first signs of new arrivals. Thus far this year I’ve managed a very early singing Blackcap in February, my first ever February Sand Martin on the last day of the month, followed by my first Swallow of the year on the morning of March 19th.

Redshank ~ Up to four on East Marsh over the past few weeks
Chiffchaffs now well established
Chiffchaffs began singing a few weeks ago and are now well established with counts into double figures currently at Brandon. Both Oystercatcher and Redshank are now resident and on the morning of March 20th, I inadvertently flushed a Green Sandpiper from the River Pool Hide.

Blackcaps beginning to trickle through
A very early Greenshank was on site for just one day on Saturday, March 23rd, unfortunately, it was the only morning over the past fortnight I didn't visit! After a lone Little-ringed Plover arrived on March 9th numbers have built up and there was four on-site yesterday. Over the weekend a small arrival of Blackcaps with at least two singing during my visit.

Redwings soon heading north
On reverse migration, yesterdays visit produced an amazing three Jack Snipe on Teal Pool and the long staying Whooper Swans were still here Sunday morning but departed very early. Flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing in various denominations have been moving through and there are still a few Lesser Redpolls and Siskins to be found.

Green Sandpiper finally decided to show on Teal Pool
After a frosty start this morning and clear skies overnight things looked pretty good for more arrivals and I was very hopeful that I'd record my first Willow Warbler of the year but sadly not! In fact, it was the quietest the woods had been in recent weeks. Having walked New Hare Covert with Jim Rushforth, best here three Redwings and two Blackcap we arrived in Wright Hide to find just a single Whooper Swan on East Marsh Pool. I had the distinct impression the bird was somewhat agitated, constantly calling and then heading off pretty smartish. Was this a single visitor or one of the pair that has resided with us for the best part of the winter? The mystery was solved a little later in the East Marsh Hide when Martin Durkin informed us that both birds had been in and out very early on and seemed to have got separated.

The best of the rest for today included: Willow Tit, (4) Sand Martin, Swallow, (4) Little-ringed Plover, (2) Redshank, (2) Oystercatcher, (3) Shelduck, (14) Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper but no sign of any of yesterdays Jack Snipe.

Monday, March 11, 2019

📖 #9/2019 ~ Norfolk Weekend

🌦💨10C Saturday 9th March 2019 ~ Despite the strong winds, heavy showers and more prolonged periods of rain on Sunday, we can reflect on what turned out to be an excellent weekend on the North Norfolk Coast.

Staying at the Premier Inn Kings Lynn Friday/Saturday night we began Saturday morning with a visit to RSPB Titchwell. We decided to make straight for the beach for a quick sea-watch, despite a yellow warning of high wind speed. As expected the conditions were pretty challenging but having found a small area which afforded some protection we managed a half hour scan. Things were pretty quiet offshore with just a few Gannet passing through at distance, a single Common Scoter and Long-tailed Duck in flight. Onshore a good selection of waders along the tideline with Grey Plover, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatcher.

Close views of Knot on the Volunteer Marsh at RSPB Titchwell
Heading back for some shelter in the Parinder Hide a group of circa 100 Knot provided some close-up views on the Volunteer Marsh, before being flushed by a marauding Peregrine. Our timing was perfect as we reached the hide just as a heavy hail shower blew in.

A small group of the 24 Meditteranean Gulls seen at Titchwell
From the hide, our count of Mediterranean Gulls was briefly interrupted by a Little Gull, which flew through during the heavy showers. Resuming our count, we eventually managed an amazing (24) Med Gulls, mostly hunkered down in the strong wind. There was no sign of the Water Pipit from the Parinder Hide but a quick tally of other sightings, while drying off and having lunch in the centre, included of note: (6) Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Little Egret and many Brent Geese.


Red-legged Partridge & Hare taking shelter from the gales
Our next stop was Cholsey Barns for a Black Redstart, which unsurprisingly we didn't connect with, by this time the wind was at its peak but there were far more Yellowhammers than I've seen here during previous visits, plus several Hares, which delighted Dazza and a half dozen Red-legged Partridge taking shelter. 

From here on to Kelling Heath in search of Dartford Warbler and although we were sceptical of seeing any in the conditions we did, in fact, manage some brief views of a male just beyond the railway crossing, having first heard the bird calling close by in the gorse. A Stonechat also added to the day list, plus a brief stop in the fading light at Cley for Snow Bunting, where we also managed three Barnacle Geese.

💨☔3C Sunday 10th March 2019 ~ Although more strong winds were forecast the day started off wet but reasonably calm. Our first stop was Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, having been thwarted yesterday by it's closure due to the high winds. It's our first visit here and I must say it's one the most well kept and organised reserves we've ever visited, a real shop window for the Hawk and Owl Trust who run it. There is a boardwalk throughout the reserve and feeders were everywhere (and full) including at most of the six hides and each one had plenty of activity around them, well worth the £5 entry fee, which helps maintain the costs.

Arctic Redpoll
One of the reasons for the visit was to catch up with an Arctic Redpoll which has been frequenting one of the feeders and it wasn't long before we connected. This along with some smart looking Siskin, Brambling and more Redpolls, both Mealy and Lesser. There are plenty of Marsh Tits and despite the conditions, a Barn Owl was seen quartering on the fen and a Marsh Harrier was also active during our three-hour stay.

Several Marsh Tits during our visit to Sculthorpe ~ This one a ringed bird

Gorgeous male Brambling at the Volunteer Hide, Sculthorpe
After a cuppa in the Nature Centre, we headed off back to the coast for a final look around Cley Marshes. The rain had now cleared through but the wind had returned. We managed a walk to the beach along the East Bank but the conditions for sea-watching were horrendous. However, we did manage to connect with three Pink-footed Geese and six Eurasian White-fronted, plus four Ringed Plover before we decided to call it a day and head home.

Three of six Eurasian White-fronted Geese at Cley Marshes