Thursday, April 24, 2008

Unleashed In The East

I'm back from a family holiday where we spent four nights in Suffolk and three in Norfolk. Whilst this wasn't really a birding holiday as such, there were trips to Minsmere, Titchwell and Holkham, plus a few early morning excursions with my Dad to a few local sites of interest. I won't be doing an exhaustive blog entry, just a summary of all the sightings.

17 April - Lackford Lakes, Suffolk

Egyptian Goose [year tick 149!], Common Tern [year tick 150!], plus Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Common Snipe, Barnacle Goose and all of the usual suspects. A Grass Snake was spotted here too.

Egyptian Geese at Lackford Lakes

18 April - Minsmere

Marsh Harrier [year tick 151!], Mediterranean Gull [lifer 208!] [year tick 152!], Sedge Warbler, Sandwich Tern, Ringed Plover [year ticks 153, 154 & 155!], Bearded Tit [lifer 209!] [year tick 156!], Nightingale [lifer 210!] [year tick 157!].

The views of Bearded Tit and Nightingale were brief and a little unsatisfactory. The song of the Nightingale was unforgettable.


Black-Tailed Godwit at Minsmere

Sandwich Tern at Minsmere

19 April - Barnham Cross Common, Norfolk

A short hop across the county border. We visited this site with the hope of picking up Hawfinch and Woodlark. We got neither, but our early start paid dividends when we flushed a Woodcock [year tick 158!] from the side of the road. The only other birds of note were a Willow Warbler and a Linnet.

20 April - Mayday Farm, Thetford

We had several Woodlark [year tick 159!] starting with one at Mayday farm, a displaying bird fifteen minutes later and a pair when we walked through the forest from the Brandon visitor centre. This is the first time I have heard them sing. So different to Skylark and I feel a bit more clued up on them now.

Woodlark at Mayday Farm

Another Woodlark near Brandon

We had a few Tree Pipits [year tick 160!] near Mayday farm and one on the forest walk too. A Red Kite [year tick 161!] was a welcome surprise, but again we had only fleeting views. Credit to my Dad for spotting it.

At the feeding station next to the visitor centre we had Brambling and Siskin. That afternoon we called back via Livermere, which proved to be a wise decision when we had several Stock Dove, Red-Legged Partridge, a Sanderling [year tick 162!], Greenshank [year tick 163!], Ruddy Duck [year tick 164!], many Shelduck, a Common Tern, more Egyptian Geese and two Dunlin. We resolved to visit this site again the next morning.

21 April - Livermere, Suffolk

Common Whitethroat [year tick 165!], about 20 Corn Bunting, a reasonable flock of Fieldfare and more Linnets. A great little place.

21 April - Weeting Heath

Stone Curlew [lifer 211!] [year tick 166!].

Stone Curlew at Weeting Heath

21 April - Hunstanton

Common Gull, Curlew, Sanderling, presumed Black-Tailed Godwits, Knot, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Fulmar, Turnstone and Avocet. Tricky light conditions made identification a little difficult.

Waders and gulls at Hunstanton

22 April - Holkham

Twite [year tick 167!], Ringed Plover, Egyptian Goose, Sanderling and the obligatory Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were noted. A short walk through Holkham Pines turned up Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Blackcap, more Twite, and a Grasshopper Warbler was heard, as was Cetti's Warbler and Sedge Warbler.

22 April - Titchwell

Sedge Warbler, Spotted Redshank in breeding plumage, Ruff, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Marsh Harrier, better views of Bearded Tit, Snipe, a few Brambling including a male in full breeding plumage, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Common Gull.

A Black-Headed Gull gives a Ruff a dirty look

23 April - Wolferton

My birthday. Notable for its absence of any decent birding. We tried for Golden Pheasant at the Wolferton triangle early morning and dipped, though we did hear one or two birds calling.

24 April - Snettisham

A very brief visit to the first hide. House Martin [year tick 168!], Wheatear and many waders were seen. A Purple Sandpiper had been reported, but we didn't see it. A Bar-Tailed Godwit was the first definite sighting of the trip. Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers were noted on the way to the hide.

Common Whitethroat at Snettisham

In summary, a really good break with some excellent and unexpected sightings. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks to Sharon and the mums for putting up with all the birding!

The Mistle Epistle

On returning home, I incurred the wrath of the Mistle Thrushes by having a nose in their nest. There are four eggs in there, exactly the same number as when I left last Thursday, so I haven't missed too much.

Whilst away, I was fortunate enough to see newly-hatched Coots, Mallard, Greylag Geese and Robins, so hopefully my thrushes won't be too far behind.

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