16th August 2014 - Birdfair

August is my favourite time of year - it has a week that involves the Great British Beer Festival, Birdfair and Alton Towers.  Genius.

I adore Birdfair, it's great fun going round all the stalls marvelling at birds you've never even heard of before, catching up with people you haven't seen in a while and eating lots of samples of chocolate from around the world.

I had three highlights this year:

Next Generation Birders - it was great to meet lots more members of this brilliant organisation for young (between 13 and 25) birders.  If you're in that age group I'd thoroughly recommend checking them out.

Facebook group

I love spiders and had a brilliant time discovering the fantastic Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes Plantarius).  It is a large, absolutely gorgeous spider which lives in lowland wetlands.  It unfortunately is red listed by the IUCN and is endangered in the UK.  For more information, check out this website.

Finally, I had admired his wonderful artwork at the last Birdfair but got a chance to speak with the great Leigh Charman this time.  His bird artwork is wonderful and in such a unique style, it really cheers me up.

3rd August 2014 - Norfolk

The first day I went out birding back in the UK after Trinidad & Tobago was a little confusing.  Where are the tanagers?!  Why are there all these gulls around?!  I don't understaaaaaaaand.  Luckily, we'd chosen Norfolk as our destination so I quickly settled back into British birds with some fine specimens.

Titchwell was our main place for the day and upon entering the main path, we spotted four young Red-crested Pochard on the pool to the left.  There were also plenty of other ducks keeping them company, including Tufted Duck, Pochard and Mallard.  Both Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe were present and some lovely looking Ruff were soon seen.  The star of the show was however the Spotted Crake, which kindly walked about giving us great views of this lifer.  We popped down to the beach for a while where we added Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, a group of Eider and some baby Pied Wagtail to the list.  There was also a distant Arctic Skua which was quite exciting as my seabird list is abysmal.  On the way back to the centre, we saw Wood Sandpiper, both Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit and a handsome Spotted Redshank.

We had a brief stop at Choseley Drying Barns on the way back to London and I am very glad we did!  We spotted the usual Yellowhammer and Red-legged Partridge, then as we were leaving, a Quail dashed into the hedge, another lifer for the day!  A few metres down the road and we flushed around 8 Grey Partridge, which nearly gave us a minor heart attack.

A final stop was at Cornmill Meadows in Essex, a fantastic dragonfly reserve.  We saw Green Sandpiper, some very good looking Snipe and a Garganey here as well as plenty of dragonflies.

Swallow, Titchwell

Trip list: 55
Year list: 183
Lifers of year list: 11