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Norfolk birding (1 Viewer)

richardm

Well-known member
Amongst today's reports on the pager was an adult Night Heron, flying over Lyng GP this afternoon. This is only a mile upriver from where free-flying Night Herons 'used to be' at Great Witchingham; maybe they are still in the area...?
 

StewB

Well-known member
Amongst today's reports on the pager was an adult Night Heron, flying over Lyng GP this afternoon. This is only a mile upriver from where free-flying Night Herons 'used to be' at Great Witchingham; maybe they are still in the area...?

The night herons originally "escaped" from the wildlife park at Great Witchingham when their enclosure was damaged in the 1987 storm. I don't think any effort was made to recapture them, so for a few years they were regularly seen around Lyng & Lyng Easthaugh, usually returning to the wildlife park to roost.

So far as I am aware, there was no confirmed breeding away from the wildlife park itself, although an apparent pair were disturbed from suitable nesting habitat in June 1998. An adult was flushed from the same area in April 2007.

The wildlife park is now closed, and there haven't been regular reports of night heron in the valley for some years, so it seems unlikely that this individual is part of some remnant breeding population. Without the history of a local feral population this record would probably cause some excitement, but who knows what to make of it?

Stew
 

Dave Appleton

Well-known member
The night herons originally "escaped" from the wildlife park at Great Witchingham when their enclosure was damaged in the 1987 storm. I don't think any effort was made to recapture them, so for a few years they were regularly seen around Lyng & Lyng Easthaugh, usually returning to the wildlife park to roost.

So far as I am aware, there was no confirmed breeding away from the wildlife park itself, although an apparent pair were disturbed from suitable nesting habitat in June 1998. An adult was flushed from the same area in April 2007.

The wildlife park is now closed, and there haven't been regular reports of night heron in the valley for some years, so it seems unlikely that this individual is part of some remnant breeding population. Without the history of a local feral population this record would probably cause some excitement, but who knows what to make of it?

Stew

I had two adults (or near-adults) fly over Sparham Pools, flying in from the direction of the old wildlife park, in May 2007. According to the bird reports there were further reports at Lyng in 2009 and December 2010 and then two adults at Pensthorpe in May 2011.

In around 70 visits to Sparham Pools while Night Herons were definitely still in the area I only ever saw them there twice. The paucity of records between 2009 and 2011 is testament to their ability to remain undetected for significant periods, so I think it's quite feasible that there are one or two birds that originated from the wildlife park still kicking around the valley somewhere. Had the latest records involved an immature bird I'd have been slightly more convinced about its natural origins. But as you say, who knows... maybe it came over with the Great White Egret.
 

Paul Eele

Well-known member
Titchwell January 7th

Today's highlights

Water pipit - 1 on fresh marsh
Greenshank - 2 on tidal pool
Spotted redshank - 3 on tidal pool
Twite - 4 on beach
Pochard - 180 on fresh marsh including 2 pochard x tufty hybrids
Teal - 1200 on fresh marsh

Paul
 

richardm

Well-known member
I had two adults (or near-adults) fly over Sparham Pools, flying in from the direction of the old wildlife park, in May 2007. According to the bird reports there were further reports at Lyng in 2009 and December 2010 and then two adults at Pensthorpe in May 2011.

In around 70 visits to Sparham Pools while Night Herons were definitely still in the area I only ever saw them there twice. The paucity of records between 2009 and 2011 is testament to their ability to remain undetected for significant periods, so I think it's quite feasible that there are one or two birds that originated from the wildlife park still kicking around the valley somewhere. Had the latest records involved an immature bird I'd have been slightly more convinced about its natural origins. But as you say, who knows... maybe it came over with the Great White Egret.

I found a couple of references to Night Herons surviving to beyond 20 years of age. It'd be a stretch to say the current bird was part of the original 1987 breakout, but as they were said to be breeding in the area for some years after that, then the possibility looms it is related to that event. On the other hand, we seem to be OK with all the feral Red Kites around Norfolk, let alone Golden Pheasants and the likes. I'd be having it if it wandered my way...
 

willowgrouse

Well-known member
Night herons

The night herons originally "escaped" from the wildlife park at Great Witchingham when their enclosure was damaged in the 1987 storm. I don't think any effort was made to recapture them, so for a few years they were regularly seen around Lyng & Lyng Easthaugh, usually returning to the wildlife park to roost.
...

I vaguely recollect something being written in an old Norfolk Bird Club bulletin about the escaped population of night herons in the Wensum valley. There are several more records than have been published as the birds were always treated as escapes by local birders, and I believe that immatures have been seen, albeit some considerable years ago.

As Stew correctly states, the free-flying birds did indeed return to roost in the park most evenings, in fact on top of the very enclosure that they escaped from. Presumably they felt safe near their buddies that failed to make the break. I also have it in my mind that they nested on top of the enclosure, but I can't be absolutely sure of this now. However, if they did nest successfully, depending on the year(s) involved, any fledged young could be within the expected lifespan of these birds. But I still don't know whether that makes them wild or feral, or how it helps with the current individual.
 
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James Emerson

Norwich Birder
It's been interesting reading the information about the Great Witchingham Nigt Herons. Because I knew that the free flying ones returned to the park to roost I had assumed that the damaged enclosure wasn't repaired and the whole lot had free reign to fly around the valley rather than some as a one-off escape.

It would be interesting to get a Norfolk rarities committee view - I would suspect that sightings close to Sparham might be added to category E for the time being, but the 2012 bird at Ranworth being accepted suggests that sightings elsewhere will no longer necessarily be assumed to be from Great Witchingham.

On another note, were any of the Norfolk Bird Club articles digitised? I've seen some referenced in local avifaunas and articles and would be interested in reading/getting copies, but I've never seen them anywhere.

I vaguely recollect something being written in an old Norfolk Bird Club bulletin about the escaped population of night herons in the Wensum valley. There are several more records than have been published as the birds were always treated as escapes by local birders, and I believe that immatures have been seen, albeit some considerable years ago.

As Stew correctly states, the free-flying birds did indeed return to roost in the park most evenings, in fact on top of the very enclosure that they escaped from. Presumably they felt safe near their buddies that failed to make the break. I also have it in my mind that they nested on top of the enclosure, but I can't be absolutely sure of this now. However, if they did nest successfully, depending on the year(s) involved, any fledged young could be within the expected lifespan of these birds. But I still don't know whether that makes them wild or feral, or how it helps with the current individual.
 

Dave Appleton

Well-known member
I vaguely recollect something being written in an old Norfolk Bird Club bulletin about the escaped population of night herons in the Wensum valley. There are several more records than have been published as the birds were always treated as escapes by local birders, and I believe that immatures have been seen, albeit some considerable years ago.

As Stew correctly states, the free-flying birds did indeed return to roost in the park most evenings, in fact on top of the very enclosure that they escaped from. Presumably they felt safe near their buddies that failed to make the break. I also have it in my mind that they nested on top of the enclosure, but I can't be absolutely sure of this now. However, if they did nest successfully, depending on the year(s) involved, any fledged young could be within the expected lifespan of these birds. But I still don't know whether that makes them wild or feral, or how it helps with the current individual.

I'd forgotten that piece but you're right - it's in bulletin no 27, by John Williamson (published in 1998 but apparently written in 1997). It refers to unsubstantiated rumours that visitors had allowed Night Herons to escape from the aviary in addition to the 1987 incident. The article informed us that there were up to 30 Night Herons in captivity breeding freely within the aviary plus and additional 30 unmarked birds that were free, with small numbers nesting in the Grey Heron colony within the park boundary.

I don't recall when the aviary was closed, and have no idea if the colony persisted beyond that date anyway. I used to see Grey Herons flying to or from that direction when birding at Sparham Pools (mainly 2007-8) which perhaps suggests their colony continued to thrive then. Having seen a pair of adult Night Herons doing the same in spring 2007 it seems at least feasible that they were also still breeding there then.

It's been interesting reading the information about the Great Witchingham Nigt Herons. Because I knew that the free flying ones returned to the park to roost I had assumed that the damaged enclosure wasn't repaired and the whole lot had free reign to fly around the valley rather than some as a one-off escape.

It would be interesting to get a Norfolk rarities committee view - I would suspect that sightings close to Sparham might be added to category E for the time being, but the 2012 bird at Ranworth being accepted suggests that sightings elsewhere will no longer necessarily be assumed to be from Great Witchingham.

On another note, were any of the Norfolk Bird Club articles digitised? I've seen some referenced in local avifaunas and articles and would be interested in reading/getting copies, but I've never seen them anywhere.

Don't know what the committee's current position is but the most recent published records from this area are relegated to the bird report's appendix.

I've not heard that articles have been digitised (I'm guessing not) but Vernon E. Andrew B or John W might know if so. I've volumes 13-60 (60 was the last) if you ever want to borrow them!
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
Red-necked grebe close in at Wells harbour yesterday morning, quite colourful given the time of year. Female Marsh Harrier caught, drowned and then flew off with an Avocet from Pat's Pool today....only 15 Avocets now.
 
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norwichbirder87

Well-known member
Got the train to Sheringham this morning with the plan of getting the Coasthopper to Salthouse. Only thing is, the bus didn't show up.... apparently it broke down in Cromer. Made do with a stroll along the seafront and a short seawatch.

1 Purple Sandpiper (roosting on boulders in front of the eastern shelter at HT)
1 Common Scoter (female west)
4+ Red-throated Diver
Plenty of Turnstones and commoner Gulls

Will
 

Paul Eele

Well-known member
Titchwell January 9th

Today's highlights

Spotted redshank - 2 on tidal pool
Greenshank - 1 on tidal pool
Hen harrier - ringtail seen several times hunting over Thornham Marsh
Red crested pochard - 1 on fresh marsh
Woodcock - 1 west over the reedbed this morning
Avocet - 20 on fresh marsh

Paul
 

Lightthiscandle

David Bryant
Swans! Real wild ones!

In case any Norfolk birders aren't aware, there's a lovely, large mixed herd of Whoopers & Bewick's north of Ludham at the moment. (Saw a Peregrine there, too!)
 

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93Birder

Well-known member
Lovely views this evening of 3 (1f 2m) Goosanders at Sparham. No sing of the GWE though the light was fading, and it was pretty quiet.

Lynford was fairly quiet, large roaming flock of Siskins near the small bridge, with the odd Redpoll thrown in for good measure. No sign of any Hawfinch or Crossbill, both seem to be very tricky to catch up with this winter.

Finally my best views of Red Kite (x2) around Cockley Cley + 4 Bullfinches there too.
 

Orion42

Member
Breeding started

Just seen a pair of Collared Doves mating, I know they breed most of the year but is this exceptionally early or normal?
 

MJB

Well-known member
Just seen a pair of Collared Doves mating, I know they breed most of the year but is this exceptionally early or normal?

Normal. During the time they colonised Europe, at the edge of the advancing range, up to 10 broods in a season were recorded. Once an area is remote from the advance, they settle down to about 5 broods or breeding attempts per year, often less, but they may be on eggs at any time. One reason that they aren't even more numerous is that they often are incompetent at nest-building and fledgling care. It's not uncommon for their nest to be so badly made that each egg as it is laid drops straight through!
MJB
 

davethebird

Well-known member
Kestrel goings on

This was the first Kestrel I have seen land in my garden. It does not appear to be in great condition having lost lots of feathers from round its face. It was being harassed by a healthier looking female seen in flight only.

These shots were through my bedroom window.
 

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Michael Stowers

Well-known member
No posts on Norfolk thread for 3 days now ...
Was interested to know how Barn Owls seem to be fairing in other parts of the county? The winter of 2013/14 was disastrous for them in my neck of woods (east norfolk/suffolk border). Despite a good breeding season this summer - they still seem to be extremely thin on the ground. Has anyone noticed a recovery on their patches? I suppose it may take several years for numbers to get back to anything like they were.

P.S. Paul - where are you!? Has Titchwell been washed away and I missed it?
 
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Dave Appleton

Well-known member
No posts on Norfolk thread for 3 days now ...
Was interested to know how Barn Owls seem to be fairing in other parts of the county? The winter of 2013/14 was disastrous for them in my neck of woods (east norfolk/suffolk border). Despite a good breeding season this summer - they still seem to be extremely thin on the ground. Has anyone noticed a recovery on their patches? I suppose it may take several years for numbers to get back to anything like they were.

P.S. Paul - where are you!? Has Titchwell been washed away and I missed it?

I agree with last winter being disastrous - 2014 was my worst year for Barn Owls since I started working in NW Norfolk in early 2002. This winter it is a little early to call - my records of Barn Owl normally peak in February/March, but I have seen a few, suggesting something of a recovery. Not enough data to draw any firm conclusions but if I filter my records on the first two weeks of January I find that this year is my third best year since 2002.
 

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