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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 18:53   #3226
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Normally Thornham Harbour has been a good place to see them but I don't think any have been reported there this year, unless anyone knows differently.

John
Although the Twite haven't been regularly seen at Thornham this year, I do know a couple of people who've seen them there, so they're not far away.
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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 20:57   #3227
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Had a successful day today. A bit of twitching involved as I could only get out at 14:00ish (heavy night last night) and wanted to maximise my time.

The plan was to head to Burnham Overy Dunes for the Great Grey Shrike, poping in on the way to see the Whooper Swans west of North Creak. Located the swans fairly easily in a ploughed field with Pink-feet. 8 in all, with 3 being adults.

On route to Burnham Overy I stopped in a lay-by a little way along Beacon Hill Road. Shut off the engine and wind the windows down, and theres the chirpy call of a flipping Tree Sparrow! After all that palarva I put myself through searching for them, I find them when I least expect it! I think there were about 2, but only got breif glimpses. Figured it may be worthwhile wandering up and down this road, and it turned out it was. Massive mixed finch flock feeding in a grassy field by the road produced 2 Corn Buntings! Never seen these away from Choseley, so was well pleased. The rest of the flock consisted of around 50 Linnets with a few Yellowhammers, Goldfinches and a Reed Bunting. Super!

Now onto B. O. Staithe dunes at around 16:45. 6 Snow Buntings were present just off the footpath, feeding on the strandline, completely oblivious to any passers-by. Only about 3 meters from the path. Great Grey Shrike showed nicely just off the north of the board walk. I just got comfortable in the dunes with my scope trained on the shrike and sat there for about an hour just watching it. Beauty of a bird. Would undertake fairly frequent feeding forays, spotting an insect high above, climbing to catch it (amazing vision) and then returning to its pirch to devour it prey. It was catching fairly large insects which could have been bees (seen a fair few already). Coughed up a pellet after 2 such expeditions. It was also regularly mobbed by Meadow Pipits. Also had another Snow Bunt over whilst I was lying there staring at the sky. Incredibly mild evening, with next to no wind. I just laid there in a t-shirt. Haven't been that chilled out in ages! Beautiful sunset over the marsh, with Burnham Overy mill in the foreground.

Aahhh...

Jason
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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 21:01   #3228
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Although the Twite haven't been regularly seen at Thornham this year, I do know a couple of people who've seen them there, so they're not far away.
Three friends and i came to Norfolk for two days between Christmas and New Year. We had a flock of 9 Twite in the harbour at first light on the morning of 28 December.
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Old Saturday 9th February 2008, 22:29   #3229
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Did not go out until late afternoon, due to family stuff. Took me hour and a half (be warned if you are coming this way) to get from King's Lynn to Holme, because of the traffic lights being installed at Heacham by the Lavendar fields, was queing for ages and also while sitting in queue there were 3 horrible men with guns shooting down hares in the stubble field immediately next the main road, I was absolutely livid watching these hares run for their lives, obviously some didn't make it.

Went to Titchwell late pm with my sister and was just scanning with scope along the beach and realised I was looking at a Peregrine sitting on the beach!!!!!!!! (4.45pm) it got up and so did all the waders! 1 slavonian grebe on the sea, along with loads of common scooter. On the way back I counted my biggest ever count of Marsh Harriers coming into roost - 13!!!!!!!!! couldn't believe it, Barn Owl too and several little egrets in the beautiful sunset, coming into roost. 2 Black Brants, several spotted redshanks, goldeneye, pintail and several reed buntings. Woodcock flew over the carpark in the dusk.

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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 08:50   #3230
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That's terrible about those poor hares!

Yesterday a walk around the woods off Larkman lane, Norwich produced one female marsh harrier heading towards the river Yare.
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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 19:18   #3231
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Went to Titchwell late pm with my sister and was just scanning with scope along the beach and realised I was looking at a Peregrine sitting on the beach!!!!!!!! (4.45pm) it got up and so did all the waders! 1 slavonian grebe on the sea, along with loads of common scooter. On the way back I counted my biggest ever count of Marsh Harriers coming into roost - 13!!!!!!!!! couldn't believe it, Barn Owl too and several little egrets in the beautiful sunset, coming into roost. 2 Black Brants, several spotted redshanks, goldeneye, pintail and several reed buntings. Woodcock flew over the carpark in the dusk.

Best Wishes Penny
Cracking number of harriers Penny. As far as I am aware that is the highest count in the 6 winters I have been here and could be a reserve record. I will have a look and see if there are any more this week.

Quiet on the reserve today although avocet numbers are now on the rise with at least 40 on the lagoons, 2 slavs, 60 GC grebes and 35 eider offshore.

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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 19:24   #3232
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There haven't been any reported on the pager since Jan 23rd when 65 were reported at Titchwell. Prior to that a flock of 30 had been seen around Brancaster Staithe for a few days.

Normally Thornham Harbour has been a good place to see them but I don't think any have been reported there this year, unless anyone knows differently.

John
The record of 65 at Titchwell in January was unconfirmed and there has been a large flock of linnets regularly on the saltmarsh near the beach boardwalk although there were records of 7 and 9 during the month. I had a look in Brancaster harbour last weekend and counldn't find any.

2 lapland buntings feeding on the short vegetation by the beach boardwalk on Friday.

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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 22:07   #3233
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Some rather fine pics of the Stratton Dark Breasted Barn Owl courtesy of Robin Chittenden..

http://www.harlequinpictures.co.uk/c...d%20barn%20owl

The bird was very showy tonight, along with the Alba male and Short Eared Owl seemingly vying for the attention from those present! Nice crowd and gorgeous weather made for a nice end to the weekend..

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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 22:33   #3234
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Some rather fine pics of the Stratton Dark Breasted Barn Owl courtesy of Robin Chittenden..

http://www.harlequinpictures.co.uk/c...d%20barn%20owl

The bird was very showy tonight, along with the Alba male and Short Eared Owl seemingly vying for the attention from those present! Nice crowd and gorgeous weather made for a nice end to the weekend..

Matt
damn it... I was planning on coming over for it this afternoon but couldn't make it. I just hope it shows well again when I get there, hopefully tomorrow.

I ended up popping out to try for my local barn owls, but failed to see a single one. I did get a nice consolation prize though, I had great views of a stoat, ended up watching it for ~30 minutes.
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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 22:38   #3235
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They certainly put on quite a show! Also finally managed to find a (drake) goosander at UEA this morning. And a pair of egyptian geese guarding a hole in a dead tree. They saw off another pair that was eyeing it up, so I assume they are planning to raise a family there. Unfortunately not much was around the rabbit compound- perhaps because there wasn't much in the way of bird food in the feeders. I shall be uploading some pics tomorrow but I'm afraid my shots of the owls leave a lot to be desired!
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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 23:09   #3236
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Cracking number of harriers Penny. As far as I am aware that is the highest count in the 6 winters I have been here and could be a reserve record. I will have a look and see if there are any more this week.

Paul
Hi Paul

Yes it was the most I have EVER counted there, I have never seen more than maybe 3 together!! When it first occured I counted 3 or 4, then I got excited because more and more kept appearing!, I recounted again and counted 5, then again and counted 7, then 9, then 11 and then for the last and final count, I had a clear 13, it could have been more, but I like to under count rather than over count. A few other people were watching as well, another lady got to 9, I couldn't quite believe I had just counted 13 Marsh Harriers!!!! On the way back to centre I just caught Paul Roney as he was leaving and reported it to him.

Best Wishes Penny
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Old Sunday 10th February 2008, 23:22   #3237
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Tried and missed the D-b on Saturday morning (the only time we could get over) but managed the S-e and met two very pleasant local birders - nice to meet you lads.
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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 10:02   #3238
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Also managed wacton on sunday - smashing views and nice to see the short-eared and barn owls at the same time - very instructive as to different flight patterns. Impressive display of primroses and lesser Celendine on the banks by the common as well.

Driving along the Acle Straight on Saturday morning I had a marsh harrier glide across the road at eye level about 10 yards ahead - smashing view. Also a Chinese Water deer stood by the dyke in full view, completely unconcerned by the cars not 10yds away.


In other news, there's been reports of both Grass Snakes and Adders this week, while some folk have hedgehogs in their gardens already. The weekend saw a flurry of Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell sightings, so I would expect Comma to be out soon. If anyone has any butterfly records I'd welcome them at [email protected]
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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 10:24   #3239
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Back from holiday in Wales (trip report on my blog). Few bits and pieces rptd in Norfolk over the last couple of days, G G Shrikes at Kelling Heath, Grimes Graves and Burnham Ovary Dunes, Woodlark at Holkham (and another at Flamborough, East Yorks. Sure signs of Spring?) and R L Buzzard at Burnham Norton.

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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 12:44   #3240
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Would anyone mind giving me some advice on seawatching at Holme? I've never tried, but would like to have a look in at the 20 or so LT Ducks that are being seen there, as well as any chance of winter grebes that may be present.

The question is; where is it best to view from? I've read things about the golf course being a good vantage point. Can anyone elaborate?

It would be much appreciated.

Thanks

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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 15:20   #3241
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Hi Jason. For sewatching at Holme at this time of year there are really three key spots.

The first is the golf-course. From the carpark near the Public toliets follow the footpath to the dune edge and watch from here.

The second is Gore Point. From the carparking area near the wooden five-bar gate along the track walk right until you reach a good vantage point along the coastal footpath (wooden boardwalk).

The third is in anywhere in front of the pines. My favoured area is in front of the NOA in a small dip but anywhere should suffice.

The first two tend to be better for Long-tailed Ducks and other sea-ducks such as Scaups, while in front of the pines seems better for Divers and Grebes, as well as stuff such as Fulmars and Kittiwakes, although there is ,as you would expect, some variation. Tide is crucial at this site, while early mornings seem much better for the L T Ducks.

By putting in half and hour or more at each spot should see you right, with other stuff such as Snow Buntings a possible bonus.
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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 18:34   #3242
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thought i'd add some field obs of the Dark-Breasted Barn Owl not already mentioned as got excellent views last night

One thing not mentioned in recent discussions and Tim's article is size. I was struck how big the Wacton bird was. the overall gz was more like the short-eared owl it was flying with, rather than the small, compact, squat alba that came out as well. The bulk of the bird meant that it almost appeared to be ungainly dragging the lower half of its body around and the legs were hanging down rather that neatly tucked in as with the alba. As a consequence of the size the head seemed to merge into the body rather than appear bulbous - as on the alba.
However I think size different was accentuated by the fact the alba present was particularly small but be interested to know if guttata are normally any bigger than alba.

Have had a look at photos of recent guttatas in norfolk and would say this bird is darker than the '03 Welney bird (from Norfolk Bird report '03) and the Ludham bird but fractionally lighter than the in hand Weybourne bird (photo in NBR '04) which appears to have slightly more smudging around the eyes and greater contrast between white facial disc and darker body colour.
An interesting feature noted was on the underwing the the outer edges to all primaries and secondaries were pure white with the rest of the underwing being dirty off white, i didn't see any darker tramlines on the underwing but the bird had a buffy crescent on the carpal joint.
Buffy coloration appeared to extend right down the body and the tarsus appeared buff.

At last Long Stratton has something else to being famous for other than still not having a bypass - its now the Owl capital of the UK!

Great weekend lads - Owls, soggy feet and scrabble - unbeatable !
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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 19:20   #3243
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Here are my efforts. The owls are taken with a Panasonic FZ18 with Olympus TCON-17 hand held.

The Goosander was digiscoped with my Kowa and Fuji F31 FD.

More shots from the weekend here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8773601...7603681736458/

Regards

Jo
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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 19:56   #3244
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Thanks Connor. I'll try and get down there on Wed.

Had the best performance yet from the LEO's this evening. Stood in my usual spot overlooking the marsh, and I luckily caught a split second glimpse of one owl in the opposite corner, over a hedgerow. Wandered down to that general area to find 2 birds gliding around over a ploughed field. I ended up being inadvertantly spotted by one of the birds and it proceded to circle over my head for a while, before losing interest and proceding on with its business. Marvelous!

1 Tawny calling, 4 very active Woodcocks and 4 Roe Deer also spotted.

Love the Goosander pics Jo. Is your scope anything special? It's just that I'm contemplating getting a compact camera for digiscoping with my old Kowa TSN1 and am wondering whether the results would be any good. Anything like yours, and I'll be very happy!

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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 20:50   #3245
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Having spent a nice couple of hours gull-watching at Blackborough End last Saturday afternoon (2nd Feb), I thought I'd return with digiscoping assemblage at the same time this Saturday. On arrival, however, there weren't any gulls to be seen on the lakes, and only distant birds flying over the dump, and nothing to be seen in the fields in the area. I realise that this is probably related to work (or absence thereof) being carried out on the landfill, but is anyone aware of the working hours (?alternate Saturdays perhaps?)? Would be grateful if anyone has any tips for the best times to visit at weekend, or if it's primarily regarded as a week time spot.

And if I can't get a regular weekend gull fix at Blackborough, is Saddlebow more suitable for someone who only gets to see daylight in the county at weekends?

Both sites are quite handy to pop in to on the way back from doing Atlas work in TF52; speaking of which had a huge flock of ca. 140 Brambling in a game cover belt on a TTV on Saturday morning.
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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 21:07   #3246
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Hi Jason, just to add to my post earlier 32 Long-tailed Ducks rptd today at my second location , Gore Point and this is normally the best area for them so probably a good starting point.

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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 21:59   #3247
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Love the Goosander pics Jo. Is your scope anything special? It's just that I'm contemplating getting a compact camera for digiscoping with my old Kowa TSN1 and am wondering whether the results would be any good. Anything like yours, and I'll be very happy!

Jason
Hi Jason. Thanks for the kind words. My scope is a kowa TS-614 (its the straight-bodied ED variant). Very lightweight, has a 60 mm objective I believe. The light was really good and the goosander was pretty accommodating, coming quite close on occasion. The photo was taken at ISO 100 and -1/3rd EV, with a Baader microstage adapter. All of which contributed to getting a nice shot.

ETA: As good as the fuji is there is one little thing that would make digiscoping a whole lot easier and that is having an AF lock button! The number of times I have had to refocus the scope once the camera has locked on... sigh!

Hope this helps!

Jo

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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 22:09   #3248
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Thanks Jo, thats more than helpfull. Roll on pay day!

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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 22:11   #3249
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Thanks Connor. I'm looking forward to getting there.

By the way, is there any reason for there to be such high numbers in the area? Good feeding?

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Old Monday 11th February 2008, 22:23   #3250
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By the way, is there any reason for there to be such high numbers in the area? Good feeding?
Jason
Numbers of Long-tailed Ducks have been at this level for several winters really, although numbers of other seabirds, in particular Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, seem well down on previous years, although last year was exceptional...

It seems that this year we had the influx of auks, gannets and divers much earlier (c. November instead of January), while east Norfolk and Suffolk is where the big numbers of seabirds have recently been.

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