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Thursday 27th 2008

I was going to go for the 1st winter Steppe grey Shrike but decided that i would go and look for the Great Grey Shrike at Lakenheath instead. I wasn't sure where to go as the information was quite poor. I spoke to Chris Batty a rare bird alert and finally got the right information.

The bird was in the carpark area of Lakenheath RSPB just south of the new centre in the area of new popalars and along the river bank. I meet a birder who pointed me in the right direction. However i spent nearly 3 hours searching. I finally found and followed the bird as it flew from bush to bush in search of food. The bird was covering a large area and i soon lost the bird again. I did manage to get a few shots and was quite pleased with the results. The windy conditions may have been keeping the bird in deeper cover than the usual manner of perching in the open.

The flood had at an assortment of gulls and several speice of duck including Shoveler, Wigeon,Mallard and Gadwell

The feeders outside the centre had several green finchs coming and going, and several bearded tits were heard calling in the reeds.

A kestrel was hunting over the carpark and a fellowe birder had seen a Peregrine further along.

The search for the shrike meant that i had no time for anywhere else so left just before 2.00 to head back to Norwich. Later that evening the pager annouced that there was no sign of the Steppe Grey in Lincs so I had saved a wasted journey.

Sunday 14th of December

The Great Northern Diver at Weybread pits had been reported as showing well. The weather conditions were very poor and the light conditions not very good. I checked the directions and the pits are located just south of Harleston on the B1116. On arrival the diver was found almost immediatly but was soon lost to view. I spent around an hour trying to get close views but the light conditions got worse. There were Kingfishers buzzing around every where and there was a large number of Great crested Grebes constantly diving for small fish. The diver was covering a large area and only gave one brief but close view. I would have to come back another day when the conditions would be better for photography

Wednesday 17th of December

 The weather conditions were much improved so i was planning another visit for the Great Northern Diver at Weybread Pits in Suffolk. I set off from Norwich around 11.00 and headed down the A140 to Diss and then the A143 to Harleston following the signs to Weybread. On arrival the Diver was loacted in the middle of Ocean Pit which was along way off for any chance of photography. I would just have to wait and see if the Diver came closer. I was very fortunate as the bird was constantly diving for fish and eventually surfaced very close to where i was standing. It was covering huge area of the lake and seemed to defending this area of the pit. At one point a Cormorant was ushered away from the feeding area. I was very pleased with the results so i was heading to the Waxwings at Rendelsham.

The waxwings were found feeding on bushs around the Day nursey at the entrance to Acer Road. The birds were totally unconcerned by my prescene and allowed some excellent photography. I noticed that one of the birds had been rung on its left leg and wondered where it had been trapped. I meet one other birder who had travelled down from Beccles to see his first Waxwings. A small flock of Siskins were also feeding in the trees opposite the surgery.

The light conditions were fading so i setoff to try and see and photograph the Bewick Swans just north of Westleton. They were located on the right side of B1125 as you travel North towards Blythburgh. The flock was located easily but the light conditions had faded so photography was out of the question. They were also quite distant so would wait in the winter for a better oppurtunity.

All in all a very succesful day

Friday 26th December 2008

We had spent the Christmas with the wifes sister and parents near Coventry. The weather was bright and sunny so Jill and myself decided to visit Whitacre Heath nature reserve just a few minutes away from where we had been staying. The reserve is managed by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and is located just north of Whitacre Heath on the road to Lee Marston.

In the carpark area there were several feeders with many Blue Tits, Great Tits and several Reed Buntings. We followed the very muddy footpath to the feeding station located within the wood. This was one of the best feeding stations we had come accross with hundreds of birds feeding a very close quarters. We had Willow tit, Coal tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Chaffinch,Nuthatch,Reed Buntings,Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay and a male Sparrowhawk

Thursday 01st January 2009

A new year and a new yearlist.

We had planned the route in advance but the weather conditions were very poor with very dull light conditions which would be difficult for photography. The fields around Surlingham was a good area to start as we had seen Golden Plover and Lapwing the day before. We checked the Little Owl site but no sign. We found a large flock of Fieldfare and Redwing as we left Surlingham.

Our next stop was Whitlingham Country Park located just south of Norwich were hoped to add the Greater Scaup which was fortunately still there. We ticked off the usual wildfowl which included Tufted Duck, Mallard, Teal,Pochard and Mute Swan. We also had two large flocks of Siskin feeding on trees beside the Broad. I would estimate around 300 birds the biggest flock i have ever seen. We checked out the smaller part of the broad and found several pairs of shoveler. We left Whitlingham and headed towards Great Cressingham just South of Swaffham to add Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow. This site is usually a good spot as i have seen large flocks of both speices for a number of years.

We found the hedge rows completly devoid of any birds and was frankly shocked. I have always found this as a reliable site for both birds. We did a brief search of the suroounding fields but no sign of anyting worth recording.

We left and headed towards our favourite site near Fakenham Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve. The weather had not improved so the light conditions were still poor. We had a quick look from Jarvis hide but the poor light meant photography was virtually impossible. We had missed Golden Pheasant at the feeder near the Portacabin so we headed for Whitley hide. The feeder was quite active with Marsh, Coal, Great and Blue tit feeding alongside Dunnock, Brambling, Chaffinch and several Blackbirds. Sculthorpe is an excellent spot to see Water rails feeding in the open


We left for Tottenhill Gravel Pits located just south of Kings Lynn but could not find the drake Smew but did see a single female Goosander a small number of Wigeon. The pit was mainly frozen and the few birds were roosting on the farside.

Our next stop was to visit Snettisham Gravel pits located between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton. This was a brief visit adding a few waders and Shelduck and Golden Eye. The light conditions were now very poor so headed for Cley and Salthouse via Choseley Drying barns where we had no luck in seeing any Corn Buntings or Yellowhammers.

We finally saw Pinkfeet in roadside fields just east of Burnham Overy Staithe but in fading light pushed on to Cley.

The light was quite bad so we headed for Salthouse where we added Canada Goose, Meadow Pipit and Great Black backed Gull.

We headed home not seeing one Owl of any kind and hoped we might see a Barn owl on route. We arrived back in Surlingham and headed for the usual site for Little owl and picked up a excellent view of a Tawny Owl caught in the headlights sitting just above the road. No sign of the Little owl but we know we will see it sooner or later.

Friday 2nd January 2009

Several Greenfinchs on the feeders first thing and a Barn Owl hunting beside the A47 along the Acle Straight.

Saturday 3rd January 2009

Goldfinch in the trees outside shop on arrival at 9.30. Tawny Owl sitting in same place as the 1st on back road between Surlingham and Bramerton.

Sunday 4th January 2009

Early start with a Barn Owl over mill road as we left heading towards Rockland St Marys just to check the fields east of the village.

There was again no sign of the Little Owl but the Fieldfares and Redwings still present in high numbers in the surrounding fields.

Arrived at Whitlingham broad and quickly located the female Greater Scaup at the east end. The weather was very cold so we decided to quickly checkoff our day list

We headed for the Waxwings on the east side of Norwich at Dussindale Drive which had been present several weeks. The birders were all waiting by bushes near the roundabout with Commonwealth Road. We turned down commonwealth road and found 25 roosting in a tree beside the road. They proved quite difficult to photograph as they were into the light

We added House Sparrow and Mistle Thrush before we left for Sculthorpe Moor just west of Fakenham. The feeders were very active with a larger number of Bramblings coming down to feed. Marsh,Coal,Blue,Great,longtailed and Willow all visited the feeders. The new hide was now open but the wader scrape was frozen solid and no sign of the Kingfisher seen earlier.

We then headed for the Norfolk coast and a brief visit to Brancaster Harbour added a variety of waders including both Godwits Curlew,Dunlin,Redshank,Oystercatcher and Grey Plover.

Our last visit was Salthouse to see the Glaucous Gull on the beach which had been there  since 2008. The bird is a first year but appears to have a slight injury to its left wing. While i was watching the bird a large flock of Snow Buntings flew along the beach.

On arrival back in Surlingham the Tawny Owl was again in the same spot

We had seen 77 birds for the day and added a few new birds to the yearlist

Monday 05th January 2009

Checked the fields before work with large flocks of both Redwing and Fieldfares. In the evening Tawny owl roosting in open in same tree. Four out of 5 days

Tuesday 06th January 2009

The weather was looking much better for photography so planned to spend some time at Whitlingham adding to the Photographic yearlist. The water was mainly frozen and many of the ducks were pushed close to the edge. The female Greater Scaup was showing very well and large numbers of Tufted, Pochard,Gadwell and a pair of Goldeneye. A Common Snipe flew out of  the ditch. There was an asortment of gulls which included Black headed, Common and Lesser Black Backed. No new birds for the year but plenty for the photographic yearlist.

Saturday 10th January 2009

Very cold start to the day so decided to check Whitlingham before work to see the extent of the ice. There were large numbers of wildfowl and Jill pointed out a single Barnacle Goose amongst the Greylags not really countable on the yearlist.There were large numbers of Pochard, Tufted,Gadwell, several Shoveler and large numbers of Coot.Jill pointed to a large flock of waders flying through and i was surprised to see over 40 Black-tailed Godwits. A nice start to the day and hoped to pop back later for some photographic oppurtunties. The cold conditions could pull anything in to this small area of open water.

Arrived back around lunch time and found most of the birds still close to the near shoreline. There was no sign of the female Greater Scaup which had been present since before the new year. I spent a couple of hours watching the various wildfowl but didn't find anything not previously seen in the morning.

Sunday 11th January 2009

We had decided to a tour around Essex dropping our DVD of at the various wildlfie centres. We setoff early and headed down the A140 towards Ipswich and then Colchester finally arriving at Bedfords park around 9.15 in the morning. The feeder outside the centre was attracting the usual garden birds which included Blue and Great Tit and the surrounding area both Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

We left and headed toward Chafford Gorge which is located on a housing estate in Grays. The site was incredible located on the edge of an old limestone Quarry which is now dedicated to wildlife conservation. There were a few birds coming to the feeder which included House Sparrow and Greenfinch. A lone Fieldfare perched briefly in the trees outside the centre. I look forward to returning here a spending some talk investigating the wildlife. A truly beautiful site to visit and such nice volunteers manning the Vistor centre. We had considered going to Rainham for the Penduline Tits but decided that time was against us.

We left and headed towards the Laindon Centre located just west of Laindon. As soon as i pulled into the carpark i rememberd visiting the site in the early 1990's for Purple and Green Hairstreak. It was now very bright and sunny and spent a few minutes watching the Blue and Coal Tits visiting the feeder. The people at the centre were again very friendly and i hope to return there in the spring. We left and headed for Thorndon Park which is located just south of Brentwood.

The Thorndon centre is located inside a country park where the wildlife centre share the facilities with Essex county Council. The site was extremely popalar with the general public and the centre was attracting a variety of people. We spoke to the warden who advised that the redpoll flock was still in the area of the second carpark and may contain at least one Arctic Redpoll but there was some debate on the identifaction. He suggested that early morning was best before the dog walkers were out in force.

We left for the next reserve at Hanningfield Reservoir which  is located just south of Chelmsford. We went straight to the causeway and found most of the reservoir was free of ice and the majority of the wildfowl were very distant. We did add Tufted, Pochard and a variety of Gulls to the day list but no yearticks. We got information from the centre about the Slavonian Grebe which was showing from Point Hide. The hide was about a 20 minute walk through a mixture of woodland habitat which was very quiet with the odd Robin calling for attention and flock of long-tailed Tits passing by in the tree tops. The Grebe was very distant and there was no oppurtunity to add to the photographic yearlist. We dropped off our DVDs and heading to our next reserve at Abberton Reservoir.

We arrived at the Layer Bretton Causeway to find most of the area between the causeways to be frozen. This had always been a good spot for Smew and Gossander but not on this ocassion. There was a small group of Turnstone feeding along the causeway which was quite a surprise. We slowly drove to next causeway the Layer da la Haye where we found an asoortment of wildfowl amongst the Coot which included a fine Drake Red Crested Pochard. We close views of a drake Goldeneye preening just a few feet from the causeway. We arrived at the centre and had a variety of birds on the feeders including a passing Redwing.

There was a large number of Ruddy Ducks viewable from the centre and also included a female Gossander which were both nice to see.

We left for our final reserve at Fingringhoe which is located just North of Abberton about 15 minutes drive.It was now late in the day so we decided to head for home after a brief view ou over the estuay picking up a couple of Little Egrets.

On arrival back in Surlingham we checked to see if the Tawny was there and was found again sitting in full view beside the roadside near to the house.

Saturday 24th Jan 2009

Quick visit to Lowestoft to photograph the Waxwings and then on to Gt Yarmouth for Med Gull. The flock of waxwings were found at the end of Harris Road at the Junction with the A12. A group of 24 birds feeding on a small tree by the roadside. The light conditions were not good despite the weather forecast. I might go back on Monday for another look. A quick trip to Gt Yarmouth paid divides with around 25 Med Gulls on the Beach and all showing well for photography. Two more additions to the photographic yearlist.

Saturday 31st Jan 2009 

Went for the Lesser Yellowlegs at Southwold on Saturday but got there too late as the bird had flown off which was a bit of a dissapointment as this was the 3rd visit for this elusive bird. The weather was awful with a cold easterly wind blowing so i didn't plan to stay long.

I attempted to photograph Redshank but they were not approachable and flew before i was anywhere near in range.

There was a small flock of twite on the saltings which could be seen in flight as they moved along the shoreline. A single Dunlin was roosting along the shoreline of the river as the tide pushed in but was again too far away for photography. A lone Reed Bunting briefly perched up in bushs along the river edge but still no sign of the Lesser Yellowlegs.

I left to try and catch up wih the Ring necked Paraket which was in the vicinity of Pier and North Road but after a brief search went to check the boating lake and found a nice Sanderling which gave excellent views for photography. The Mallards were also showing in nice light and the green sheen of the drakes gave excellent photographic opurtunities.

Sunday 1st of Feb 2009

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