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North Norfolk 13-15 November 2009

Fly Agaric near Dersingham 13 November 2009 MJMcGill

Fly Agaric, near Desrsingham Norfolk November 2009 MJMcGill 011

Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Wells MJMcGill

Dark-bellied Brents, Wells, November 2009 MJMcGill 004

Common Cranes at WWT Welney MJMcGill

Cranes, Welney Norfolk 15 November 2009 MJMcGill

On Friday morning most of us assembled in Gloucestershire for the journey to Norfolk with one meeting up with the group in the evening. We called in at a few sites between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton searching the woods and heath and doing a little sea-watching as it was calm. The forecast for the weekend was not too encouraging but worked out reasonably well. We toured the best sites along the N Norfolk coast on Saturday and Sunday before returning via WWT Welney for the sunset.

Friday 13 November 2009
After a stop near Coventry and a brief look around Wolferton for Golden Pheasant we made our way to the picnic site to use the facilities and have lunch. Almost immediately the fungi enthusiasts were enjoying lots of Fly Agaric toadstools that had sprouted among the birch and pines. A number of birds were around the site, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tits and other common woodland birds were found but  a Crossbill was the highlight for those that managed to get onto it. Another ‘cruise’ around Wolferton did not reveal Goldies but a Muntjac ran across the road. A walk around the edge of Dersingham Bog was very productive. The ancient sea-cliff gave a good view of the Bog where Len quickly located the wintering Northern Grey Shrike atop its usual pine.  We also saw a deer species, probably Roe.

Back on the road we were soon looking from Hunstanton cliffs before relocating to Hunstanton  sea-front.  At least two Red-throated Diver,  two Common Scoter, small groups of Fulmar, 40+ Great Crested Grebe, 10+ Red-breasted Merganser as well as commoner gulls and flypast waders. Three female/immature Velvet Scoter and 2 Harbour Porpoise were notable species. On the golfcourse we saw a few roosting waders which included Black-tailed Godwits.

The fading light and need for attention to my car exhaust saw the end of the days birding and checking in to the hotel for all but me. I went to get the car sorted and checked in at my accommodation before returning to the group, which now was complete for dinner.

Saturday 14 November 2009
A windy start to the day signalled what was in store but a search of Holme next the sea beach pre-breakfast gave us our first wader flocks which included Knot, Grey Plover, Dunlin and Sanderling. A flock of c40 Snow Bunting were busy feeding in the saltmarsh and shingle ridges. A variety of common passerines were seen as well as flocks of Greylag and Pink-footed Geese. We returned for breakfast. After the refill we began searching the roads between Hunstanton, Docking and Burnham Market, perhaps 1000 Pink-footed Goose were seen but this was rather low numbers for this part of Norfolk in the winter. A few showers hampered our viewing but better to be in the car when raining!

We moved to Holkham and parked at the end of Lady Anne’s Drive to walk through the dunes and onto the saltmarsh. Large numbers of passerines were feeding in the saltmarsh, Rock and Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Goldfinch and eventually, five splendid Shore Larks showed in the sunshine. Another look at the sea and c400 Common Scoter showed distantly and a Snow Bunting dropped in calling. At variety of woodland birds were seen in the pines with Treecreeper being most popular. At least three Common Darter dragonflies were seen, late dates indeed. We made a stop at Wells to use the facilities and pick up provisions and look at the Brent Goose flock. We then went back to a viewpoint to eat lunch and see what flew by. A party of 4 Egyptian Geese fed in the fields.

Skulking Shore Lark

Shore Lark, November 14 2009 MJMcGill

More searching for geese did not locate many more Pink-footed Geese ( I later found out they had mostly moved further into the Wash area) . A visit to Titchwell to round the day off was as ever very productive despite it being a bit quieter due to excavation work on the site.

Six Avocet fed among the assembled  wildfowl but water levels were a little too high for waders that did not want to swim. A couple of Marsh Harrier flushed the marsh during their travels. We transferred to the beach for another seawatch. Red-throated and single Great Northern Diver, more Great Crested Grebes and poor views as dusk set in off Guillemot and Red-necked Grebe. The weather also worsened with strong winds and rain so we finished for the day and headed back to the accommodation.

Sunday 15 November
Another early start before breakfast was well worth the effort at Thornham as we managed to see Barn Owl, watch Pink-footed and Brent Geese leaving their roost sites and fly overhead and watch a few more species. What may have been an Otter was seen by many members of the group but I missed it as did they with a flyover Lapland Bunting. Breakfast was taken and then we drove along the coast to Cley then Salthouse. The usual Turnstones fed on the shingle ridge but no buntings could be located. A Stonechat was along the fence. Once again the sea revealed Red-throated Diver, Gannets, Guillemots and other seabirds.

A short drive away took us to the clifftop carpark at West Runton, an adult Mediterranean Gull was very tame and sat atop a post waiting for a snack. The stubble fields hold Lapland Buntings every year and had at least six but they were nowhere to be seen among the 20 or so Skylark. A pair of Stonechat worked the fenceline. We made the desicion to head for Welney to end the day and set off.

Adult winter Mediterranean Gull, West Runton, MJMcGill

Mediterranean Gull, West Runton 15 Nov 2009  MJMcGill

When nearing the visitor centre a group Egyptian Geese were spotted from the car as was a Little Owl. Ruth returned to it after we left WWT Welney and watched it on her own, I am still not sure if she believed me when I said I could see it from the visitor centre. In the fields, Whooper Swans fed on the spuds and were accompanied by the five Lakenheath Common Cranes. It was nice to see that they had reared a chick, even nicer to see them with the swans.  An hour or so was spent birding here where Ruff was seen among the other waders and thousands of birds joined the feed.

Cranes and Whoops, WWT Welney MJM

Cranes November 15 2009 MJMcGill 017

This ended a good trip to Eastern England. Thanks to all that attended.


Filed under: Trip Reports


at 10:30 am

1-31 December 2009 Martin’s blog and sightings

27-31 December 2009 Back to work at WWT Slimbridge where the conditions were rather heavily overcast but the thaw allowed many birds to return to the fields.

26 December 2009 At last the apples worked and I have my first male Blackcap of the winter.

25 December 2009 Happy Christmas to everyone. A walk around the field next to my house revealed c35 Skylark (they have been here all winter), 1 Stock Dove, 12 Golden Plover over low S, Fieldfare, Redwings, 3 Yellowhammer and a female Blackcap in the orchard mistletoe.

21-24 December 2009 Shops and little birding but for watching the garden feeders. This however is very rewarding as I have seen my second Great Spotted Woodpecker for the garden, a female.

17-20 December 2009 A snowy trip to Slovenia, a trip report will appear soon on the relevant page.

Green-winged Teal, male far right Tack Piece, WWT Slimbridge
The vertical whitish stripe on fore flank clearly visible.

GWTeal 002 December 2009 MJMcGill

First-winter male Eurasian Teal with vertical leaf!
I have seen this a few times before with feathers/leaves, always check!

Not a  GWTeal December 2009 MJMcGill

6-16 December 2009 A period of large influxes of wildlfowl and waders to the WWT Slimbridge reserve. This time of year allows for very limited birding with such short days and often poor light. I have seen a few things whilst at work but have done absolutlely no birding on my days off.  A few Chiffchaff and Blackcap are wintering but the best birding is widlfowl, wader and Starling watching. A Green-winged Teal added a little Christmas spice to the mix and Bar-tailed Godwits overwintering is unusual for us. Locally Great Northern Divers in the Cotswold Water Park have been a draw for local birders, cold weather movements this week should see the Smew arriving here, perhaps with something else to get the scopes out for.

Barwits, Curlew and assorted wildfowl, Tack Piece.

Bar-tailed Godwits, Tack Piece, WWT, MJMcGill

Starling roost gathering WWT Slimbridge 3 December 2009

Starling roost 1- 7 December 2009 MJMcGill

Starling roost 1- 7 December 2009 MJMcGill 014

Starling roost close up 1- 7 December 2009 MJMcGill 015

1-5 December 2009 A period of favourable winds have brought wildfowl/wader numbers up at WWT, over 200 E.White-fronted Geese and 70 Bewick’s Swans. Other highlights for me have been the Barn Owl through the Rushy whilst doing a floodlit feed on 30 November, the Starling roost at WWT and at least three wintering Chiffchaff and c14 Cetti’s Warblers around the reserve.

At home in Whitminster I have added Merlin (chasing Skylarks) 28 Nov , two male Yellowhammer (Nov and 4th Dec) and a female Brambling (20 and 27th Nov) to the garden list in the last two weeks.

Filed under: Birdwatching Diary


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