29th March 2013 - Mum's Garden

A quick post at how surprised I always am at what mum gets in her garden in Birmingham.  It's birds I suspect most people get in their garden, but a) they're super cool for a Londoner with just a balcony b) I lived there for 11 years and never noticed!  She has 2 resident Goldcrest, many fat Woodpigeon, a small army of Coal Tit, a few Great Tit and Blue Tit, a lovely Thrush, couple of Dunnock, couple of Bullfinch and the best of all - a Nuthatch!  That was just on the day I happened to be visiting and have a few minutes to watch the garden, there could be plenty more.  I think more are visiting since she got a new bird feeder - review to follow soon.

I'm also sticking in a photo of a Grey Wagtail I saw from my inner London, bird barren balcony - 3rd in 3 years!

Ahhh, Nuthatch on the feeder!  Too exciting

Blue Tit

Om nom nom nom, Mr Crow?

YES!  Grey Wagtail, welcome to Bermondsey.

28th March 2013 - Chorlton Water Park

As I was up in Manchester visiting my sister, I decided to drag her, her 4 kids and my mother on a walk at the local park to try and impart a bit of bird ID knowledge.  I wasn't expecting much, but best to start off easy!  That we did, with House Sparrow, Magpie and Great Tit in abundance.  However, it all became a bit more exciting with a pair of Goosander and Goldeneye floating next to each other!  Next came a Kestrel hovering metres away which had the kids (and me) jumping up and down in excitement, it then landed to pose nicely for us.  A few Long-tailed Tit for good for my mother who only likes 'birds that are exciting to look at' and a pair of Bullfinch were welcome as always.  Two Redwing were still hanging about and an unusual bird was spotted - my mystery bird.  I'm still thinking about this bird every day, as I still haven't been able to ID it!

If you didn't catch the thread over at Birdforum, it was around Robin size, maybe slightly larger, with a deep red (possibly reddy brown chest), grey back and head and a white flash under the tail.  The closest I've come to it colouring wise is a Subalpine/Dartford Warbler and a bird a kind gentleman messaged me with, a Red-throated Thrush, which is *incredibly* similar to the bird I saw.  Any further thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated!

Trip list: 29
Year list: 123
Lifers of year list: 9 (+ mystery bird?!)

My first notion that this trip might be a little more exciting than expected!

Aww, snoozy snoozy Goosander

Hello sleepy Goldeneye

I love the tail of a Kestrel

The kids liked this Great Crested Grebe


Grey Heron freaking out at my nephews and nieve walking past

Good to see I encouraged some birdwatching!

Long-tailed Tit


Where I saw the mystery bird.  Incredibly helpful.

10th March 2013 - Dungeness

I think I might love Dungeness a little too much, I need to try some other reserves.  It's like my local restaurant, I consider other options and even plan to go to them, but somehow always end up there.  There were plenty of Great Crested Grebe out to sea, around 20.  There weren't as many House Sparrow as normally hang around on the bushes by the power station, but a few Gannet and Guillemot added to the list.  Around 150 Brent Goose fly past and a Stonechat and Kestrel were reason to stop the car as we headed from the beach to the reserve.

Thankfully this time on the reserve one of the Great White Egret was obviously hanging around instead of us just missing him each time he moved.  A Red-crested Pochard on the small pool to the right as you enter the reserve through the visitor centre was a great delight and surprise.  The list was looking rather pedestrian as we drove over to the ARC pit until we stopped to check what the white bird a small group were looking at the by entrance to the driveway.  Lo and behold - a Spoonbill!  We watched it for a while until it wandered into a ditch and could no longer be seen, then proceeded to see an excellent flying Bittern close to the hide on the ARC pit.  On the route back to the car, we again saw the Spoonbill, flying overhead.  All in all, an excellent day.

Photos are a bit lacking in quantity and quality from this trip, sorry!

Trip list: 49
Year list: 123
Lifers of year list: 9

Anyone know what this is?

Great White Egret


Red-crested Pochard

I promise that white blob is a Spoonbill.  Honest.

3rd March 2013 - Salthouse, Cley Beach, Wolferton Triangle, Thetford

Sunday was a day for driving all over Norfolk trying to pick up various things.  This was a welcome change to the walking of Saturday as I was beyond exhausted!  We had 5 targets for the day.  First stop, Salthouse Beach Road car park for rumoured Snow Bunting.  Plenty of lovely loud Turnstone around but no sign of the buntings.  Just as we were getting ready to move on, a flock (much bigger than I expected) swooped in and mingled with the Turnstone.  One down!  Our birding friend Jono (on a 'non-birding' holiday - pretty sure there isn't such a thing!) arrived to see them also and tipped us off that the Purple Sandpiper we had missed the day before was back and showing well.  So off we drove down the sea road to Cley Beach and there indeed was the little Purple Sandpiper, happily wandering around the pool.  Two down!  

There was then a short interlude as we popped to Cley Spy for a browse around the shop and a purchase of an iPhone/scope adaptor for Stuart, some cake at the lovely Art Cafe and a browse of the delightful Wildlife Sculpture exhibition at the Birdscapes Gallery.  

The next target was the White-tailed Eagle that had been flying around Houghton for a few days.  It had been seen in the morning and was seen shortly after we left - unfortunately this one was not to be.  Now we were over in West Norfolk, I was allowed to go to the Wolferton Triangle to see if the Golden Pheasant were about.  Luckily there were a small group of people already waiting for them and we joined them for a short while - we probably wouldn't have hung around otherwise.  The birds did wander out onto the grass verge eventually which was extremely exciting.  

One left to go and this was the Black-bellied Dipper in Thetford on the way home.  The Black-bellied Dipper is one of a number of subspecies of Dipper and was therefore very cute.  An added bonus was a brief glimpse of two Otter, so thank you for the lovely gentleman who pointed us in the right direction for that!  A busy day but with great results (oh and a Treecreeper at the side of the main road into Fakenham!).

Trip list: 34
Year list: 119
Lifers of year list: 9


Cheeky Gull

Snow Bunting drink time

Skipping Snow Bunting!


Golden Pheasant

Egyptian Goose



Mute Swan

Black-bellied Dipper

Cute hybrid geese


2nd March 2013 - Cley Marshes and Warham Greens

The afternoon was dedicated to a trip around Cley Marshes with our great guide Andy Stoddart.  There were similar ducks and waders to Titchwell that morning, including lovely snoozing Avocet, a great bird.  There were also two Marsh Harrier swooping around and this lead to us declaring having never seen a Hen Harrier before - something Andy was 100% sure he could rectify that evening.  As we headed back to the car, I pointed out a Harrier in the distance - what was that?  Ah, that would be a Hen Harrier!  So a lifer not even in the place we were meant to see it.  A bit of sea watching added a flock of Eider and a few Red-throated Diver to the list and it was topped off with a Sparrowhawk carrying dinner.

Despite the earlier sighting of the Hen Harrier, we headed over to Warham Greens along the coast for better views at dusk.  There were certainly great views with up to four Hen Harrier at once swooping through the air and a Marsh Harrier joining in.  A Barn Owl, my second ever, swooped in and came extremely close which was an amazing sight.  The evening finished with three loud Grey Partridge by the car.

Trip list: 47
Year list: 115
Lifers of year list: 7




Common Gull

Water Rail

Brent Goose

Brent Goose swimming


Barn Owl