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Sean's Trip to Norfolk by Robert Wilson HEADING_TITLE

I left Norwich to pick up Sean from his home in Stevenage and arrived just after 8.30 in the morning as planned.

We packed the car and setoff for our first birding destination  at RSPB Purls Bridge where we hoped to see Tree Sparrow. The weather was fine and bright and we had at least 3 Common Buzzards flying across the A1 on route to Purls Bridge.

On arrival at Purls Bridge  we sat quietly near the feeding Station and observed Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch Collared Dove and a noisy Great Spotted Woodpecker but no sign of Tree Sparrow.

We checked the board inside the visitor Center and then headed towards the hides which overlook the Ouse washes. In front of the first hide we had a number of Wigeon ,Teal and only 2 Mallards which were all flushed as a Marsh Harrier passed close to the hide.

A number of House Martins were feeding over the river adjacent to Welchs Dam and a nice Male Kestrel was perched on wires giving close views. We had a single Great Crested Grebe and couple of coot on the small lake as we left the reserve

Our next stop was to visit Welney WWT which Sean  was keen to see Whooper Swan which had now returned for the winter Months. As we approached Welney we had our first swans which we confirmed as Whooper  feeding in the fields close to the visitor center.

The swans were leaving the fields and were landing in front of the main Obervatory where we had very good views. There were alot more ducks which included Wigeon , Teal, Shoveler and Mallard but no sign of any thing else except a number of Black- tailed Godwit associating with the Ruff but could not find the Curlew Sandpiper.

As we left the reserve a couple approached with a box and i asked what they had and the young man said a robin had flown into their window in Littleport and as i looked inside the box they had an immature Northern Wheatear which we suggested they release it. The bird had been in the box all night and looked a little stressed and soon hoped into cover. We left the bird which we hope was able to feed and recover .

We left Welney and headed for the Norfolk coast briefly stopping at West Lynn hoping to see a reported Yellow browed Warbler which had been present in scrub opposite St Peters Church but after a brief search the bird could not be located. There was mixed tit flock and a few Redwings and migrant Blackbirds in and around the grounds of the church.

We checked the position at Snettisham and found that the tide was coming in but the waders were still very distant so headed for Titchwell RSPB. Sean asked whether we could see a Hen Harrier and i suggested that would nearly impossible as the fine drizzle of rain would put most rapters off flying. As we headed towards the first hide the first bird that came into view was a very smart looking Barn Owl quartering the fields to the west of the footpath. Amazingly the nest bird we saw was a male Hen harrier which was also showing well.

Sean located a single Pink footed Goose which was associating with a large flock of Greylags. The scrape was a little disappointing  but we still managed to add Male Pintail, Marsh Harrier Water rail, Dunlin and Ruff.

We left Titchwell and headed for Norwich where Sean was staying at the local Travelodge in the centre  which was close to the shop so meant an early start was possible.

Wednesday we meet at the shop and the weather was awlful so i checked the weather rain radar and decided to head towards the Brecks with the first stop at Cavenham Heath a well known site for Stone Curlews. On arrival we had a flock of about 50 birds which flew to the back of the heath and we setup the scope to take a better view. We had excellent views and Sean commented on how clear the scope views were. On scanning the heath we located at least two Wheatears and had a number of Meadow pipits with Linnets. We also had excellent views of 2 common Buzzards which were soaring high over the heath soon followed by an immature Marsh Harrier

On leaving Cavenham heath we watched a Kestrel on Roadside wires which was waiting patiently for a potential meal.

Our next visit was to Lackford lakes where we hoped to add Kingfisher to our trip list. We didnít have to wait long as a bird landed on the nearest post some 20 meters from the hide. We had incredible views over the next 45 minutes with the kingfisher returning ever 10 minutes.

We were hoping the weather would remain fine so we left and headed towards the Norfolk coast and stopped off at Lynford to try and see Firecrest and Hawfinch. Amazingly we found 2 firecrests almost immediately associating with a number of Goldcrest but could not locate any Hawfinch. There was a very large flock of Siskin in the trees around the car park but high in the trees.

The weather had changed for the worse but as we arrived at Titchwell the rain had eased off so we headed directly to the beach and soon had a number of waders showing very well which included Knot, Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Bar tailed Godwit and Curlew.

On the way back to the car we had at least 7 Marsh Harriers coming into roost but no sign of yesterday Hen Harrier. We arrived back in Norwich and had arranged for a spot of owl watching after our evening meal and we were lucky to see one Tawny Owl and 2 little Owls and very brief views of a Barn Owl.

The final day I picked sean up from the travel lodge and after having a brew with set-off for the Suffolk coast. I had suggested the weather conditions were perfect for a Red -flanked Bluetail but could turn up anywhere on the East coast from Shetland to Kent.

We arrived at Ness point in Lowestoft and quickly found Purple Sandpiper on the rocks showing well with a couple of Turnstones. A female Black Redstart was feeding amongst the scaffolding poles inside the fenced  area adjacent to ness point.

News came through of a Great Grey Shrike at the disused sewage works at Corton just north of Lowestoft so we immediately left and found the bird almost immediately  we arrived at the site perched on wires and feeding very actively.The bird was very flighty and we only viewed from around a 100 yards. I took some very distant record shots and watched the bird move off inland. We had a quick look for the yellow browed warbler along the disused corton railway and Sean watched a robin being ringed by the local ringing group.

We left for Great Yarmouth with the hope of finding some migrants in the cemetry adjoining Kitchner Road. A quick stop along the sea front to see Med Gull before fish and chips from the local chip shop.

The cemetry was quite disappointing with mainly migrant Blackbirds and a scattering of Redwings and Song Thrushs. I had a possible redstart which disappeared as quickly as it arrived. I also had a bird which remained unidentified which to be honest could have been a Red flanked Bluetail.

We got news of two bluetails in the northeast and news of a bird trapped on Orford Ness. We left Gt Yarmouth and headed back to Lowestoft to see the the ist winter Woodchat Shrike near the car park at the links Road. The bird was found almost immediately we arrived still showing down to a few feet. It was now quite late in the day and news came through of a bluetail at minsmere in the sluice bushes which we could not get to before we needed to head back to Stevenage. This was disappointing news as i had predicted bluetails on the day but were not able to connect with any of the five that turned up throughout the day.


Our full trip list for the three days as follows

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Great Crested Grebe
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Whooper Swan
  5. Pink-Footed Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Brent Goose
  9. Egyptian Goose
  10. Shelduck
  11. Wigeon
  12. Gadwall
  13. Mallard
  14. Pintail
  15. Shoveler
  16. Teal
  17. Tufted Duck
  18. Red-legged Partridge
  19. Grey Partridge
  20. Pheasant
  21. Cormorant
  22. Gannet
  23. Little Egret
  24. Grey Heron
  25. Buzzard
  26. Hen Harrier
  27. Marsh Harrier
  28. Sparrowhawk
  29. Kestrel
  30. Peregrine
  31. Water Rail
  32. Moorhen
  33. Coot
  34. Oystercatcher
  35. Stone Curlew
  36. Ringed Plover
  37. Golden Plover
  38. Grey Plover
  39. Lapwing
  40. Ruff
  41. Dunlin
  42. Knot
  43. Sanderling
  44. Purple Sandpiper
  45. Snipe
  46. Turnstone
  47. Black-tailed Godwit
  48. Bar-tailed Godwit
  49. Curlew
  50. Redshank
  51. Great Skua
  52. Med Gull
  53. Black-headed Gull
  54. Herring Gull
  55. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  56. Great Black-backed Gull
  57. Common Gull
  58. Stock Dove
  59. Wood Pigeon
  60. Collared Dove
  61. Barn Owl
  62. little Owl
  63. Tawny Owl
  64. Kingfisher
  65. Great-spotted Woodpecker
  66. Green Woodpecker
  67. Skylark
  68. Woodlark
  69. Swallow
  70. House Martin
  71. Pied Wagtail
  72. Meadow Pipit
  73. Wren
  74. Dunnock
  75. Robin
  76. Redstart
  77. Black Redstart
  78. Wheatear
  79. Blackbird
  80. Fieldfare
  81. Song Thrush
  82. Redwing
  83. Cetti's Warbler
  84. Chiff Chaff
  85. Pied Flycatcher
  86. Goldcrest
  87. Firecrest
  88. Bearded Tit
  89. Long-tailed Tit
  90. Marsh Tit
  91. Coal Tit
  92. Blue Tit
  93. Great Tit
  94. Nuthatch
  95. Treecreeper
  96. Great Grey Shrike
  97. Jay
  98. Magpie
  99. Jackdaw
  100. Rook
  101. Carrion Crow
  102. Starling
  103. House Sparrow
  104. Tree Sparrow
  105. Chaffinch
  106. Goldfinch
  107. Greenfinch
  108. Siskin
  109. Linnet
  110. Yellowhammer
  111. Reed Bunting
  112. Woodchat Shrike 

This article was published on Friday 21 October, 2011.
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