Saturday 18th - Nothing in Norfolk
We were staying in Brancaster with friends for a social weekend, but I had Saturday free, so after recovering from the previous nights over indulgence I headed the few miles to Titchwell RSPB. I had a good wander round but it was very quiet and I could not locate the water pipits that had been seen regularly. I helped some old dears identify some waders as I searched for something of interest without sucess. I popped over to Cley for the Black brant which was distant, but the first migrant of the year in the form of a Little ringed plover was worth the effort. It was late afternoon and the rain started to fall heavily so I headed back to base for some more liver abuse.
Jolly Sailor, Brancaster Staithe - Ham egg and Chips 8.5/10.
Saturday 11th - A Day in Dunnington.
I fancied a crack at photographing the pine bunting so an early start had me in Yorkshire just before 7am. The Pine bunting was showing as I arrived but obscured in the hedge, it hopped into the open for a second then flew and I missed the shot. I wandered round between the few regular spots all day before giving up just before 4pm a sparrowhawk, couple of brambling, and some bullfinches were scant reward for the 9 hour stint.
I wandered back along Kever Lane to the car, just two birders were left at the bottom of the field but did not signal so I headed home (they may have recently seen the bird as there was a report on birdguides that it was seen there at that time, but this has subsequently disappeared from birdguides so they may not have seen it after all.)
I made a quick stop for food and as I reached the M11 a mere 20 mins from home the car overheated broken water pump and the AA came and towed me home. - So not the best of days really.
Subsequent analysis the car is dead, so I need to go car shopping.
Scott's, Bilbrough Top - Sausage, mushy peas, pickled egg and Chips 8/10.
Friday 10th - Toad Crossing.
Tuesday 7th - Crackers on the Coast.
With such nice weather I took the afternoon off and headed to Norfolk. I arrived at a field near New Holkham where the pallid harrier was showing although not that close. It showed at distance for 30 mins or so before it was lost to view. I waited for a little while watching the hares, a red kite and a marsh harrier before heading to Holkham. The sky was alive with skylark song as I wandered along the beach looking for the shore larks. They had just been flushed by dog walkers but I picked a spot in front of their path and sat down, and they duly walked right past me, as they moved away I got up and headed back to the car without disturbing them at all. I popped into Wells for the brent geese and some chips before heading back to the pallid harrier, but no further sign so I headed home.
French's, Wells - Fish and Chips 7/10.
Sunday 26th - Big Mac and Pieds.
I rolled over when the alarm went off but eventually dragged myself out of bed was out the door at 8am, the weather was good so I headed to the Brecks for Goshawks. I stopped outside the Lakenheath airbase for a stoat running along the fence line, I stopped ahead of it camera ready but it cut across the road behind me and disappeared into a hedge, a good start to the day and it was worth getting up for, but better was yet to come. A goshawk was displaying as I arrived and at least 5 were present off and on the 2.5 hours I spent there. Their displays were superb, one perched in a tree for a while, but the real highlight was a pair chased low into the field in front of us several times showing very well. I popped to Santon Downham to have a look for Lesser spotted woodpeckers but only heard it calling from the other side of the river, some honeybees were nesting in a tree hole and was a sign of spring. I braved Lyndford which was packed with families, a couple of hawfinches were in the trees above the feeders but they never came down to join the bramblings and siskinís, a few spots of rain made me head back to the car and headed to Cotessey Mc Donalds where the pied wagtails were starting to congregate. At first a few dozen but it quickly became 150 or so when behind me another 150 arrived and before long it built to 700 or so and eventually they settled in the bushes by the drive through and I headed for home after popping inside.
Mc Donalds, Costessey - Nuggets and Chips 6.5/10.
Friday 24th - Burwell Bits and Bobs.
Having to work on Saturday, I finished early afternoon and took a walk round Burwell Fen, with most of the owls gone there was almost no one there. The sun was shining and it was idyllic until three motorbikes who rode through the site mid-afternoon.
There was a good raptor showing, two short eared owls, and 2 barn owls, several kestrels, 4 buzzards, a marsh harrier and a merlin. Plenty of roe deer and a few hares, 2 whooper swans and about a dozen white fronted geese of note before I headed home.
Rumbles, Exning - Sausage and Chips 8/10.
Thursday 23rd - The Week that was.
A few bits locally this week, not been anywhere but incidental sightings to and from work, a barn owl, Muntjac, brown hare, roe deer I ran the moth trap one night and had three species, brown house moth, silver y and ??.
Sunday 19th - Breckland Bits
The brecks seemed to miss the good weather today as I started the day at a rather dull Lackford lakes. Plenty of common species around including some redpoll and siskin, common snipe, shelduck, grey wagtail and nuthatch but the highlight was a bank vole showing well at the feeding station. After a couple of hours I headed into the Brecks and drove round looking for hares of which several were located but I bumped into a mixed finch / bunting flock. It contained lots of brambling along with chaffinch, linnet, reed bunting and yellowhammer and I spent quite a bit of time waiting for some good photo opportunities. Time had got away from me and by the time I reached the Goshawk site I had missed the main event, but I had a brief view of one as I arrived, but nothing else. I headed upto The Nar Fisheries and after a little walk I located the great Northern Diver but no sign of the smew but a couple fo redhead goosander were present. I headed back into the Brecks for another drive round a few hares, roe deer and muntjac before calling it a day.
Mother Hubbards, Swaffham - Fishcake, Onion rings, pickled egg and Chips 7/10
Thursday 16th - Ely Exotics
It was a beautiful day so I finished early and headed to Ely, however the weather was now overcast and a few spots of rain appeared. But despite this I found the glossy ibis along the river but it looked a bit dull in the poor light, but it was my 100th animal photographed in my 365 project.
I popped to the sewage works and eventually got a brief view of the siberian chiff chaff. No visit to Ely is complete without some muscovy ducks and I easily located 30 or so along the river in the centre of town.
Alan's Fish Bar, Ely - Saveloy and Chips 7.5/10
Tuesday 15th - Starling Seconds
I could not resist another look at the starlings, the weather was a little better so I managed to find the pre murmuration site. A nice flock of 40 or so linnets while I waited for the main event. The starlings put on a great show well worth a second look.
Monday 13th - Blustery Burwell
I had the afternoon off and after lunch I took a wander round. I had all afternoon so took the long route round Burwell Fen. Its was very cold and incredibly windy which did not suit the birds, apart from Kestrels. The white fronted geese were still around with a lone whooper swan. Mammalwise a few roe deer a brown hare. As dusk arrive a brief short eared owl but a real quiet day.
Rumbles, Exning - Sausage and Chips 8/10.
Saturday 11th - Lincs Lovelies
Having to work on Sunday I dragged myself out of bed and headed into a cold morning as dawn broke I arrived at Woodwalton Fen which was cold, misty and sleeting / snowing ideal wildlife watching conditions. I headed into the reserve and quickly came across a water vole diving into its hole, I waited for 20 mins but it did not come out, however a fox shot past me chasing a squirrel. A few Chinese water deer and a couple of muntjac, a flock of redpoll, sparrowhawk, buzzard and a couple of marsh harriers on my wander round. On the north part of the reserve I encountered a large section (almost 20% of the reserve) which was closed off for breeding birds. No I am no expert but as the snow came down in early February I struggled to work out what birds were breeding at the moment! With a large part of my route cut off I headed back to the car spotting another fox on the way.
I headed up to Deeping High Bank for the Great Grey Shrike, which showed quite nicely I was stopped by a passing car who asked if the shrike was still present which I confirmed, and they said "we will pop back after seeing the bluethroat" I asked for more info and a quick google and I was less that 10 miles away from the site and before long I was watching a bluethroat, perhaps it is breeding season after all. It showed well off and on for a while and I had to go and warm up in the car. I headed back to Deeping High Bank where the Great White Egret and Long tailed Duck and a couple of Scaup were together showing nicely. I popped to Crowland for a late lunch before popping to the Ouse Washes for an hour. Mostly common stuff but plenty of tree sparrows are always nice to see. Some swans and two barn owls and a herd of roe deer on the way home made a nice finish to the day.
Frydays, Crowland - Just Chips 6/10.
Thursday 9th - Mummerings
I finished work a little early and headed to a local murmeration of starlings in Isleham. It was freezing cold and dull and overcast but the starlings started to build up and put on a good show. As I was leaving a car covered in guano stopped and asked if it was better viewing where I was? I chuckled, they had parked right under the displaying birds.
Deep Blue, Newmarket - Saveloy, Pea fritter and Chips 7.5/10.
Monday 6th - Garage Mice
With activity in the garage noticed once again the longworths were deployed and a wood mouse was caught overnight. And later in the week two more all rehomed at the edge of the village. Several local Fallow deer and a fox at the edge of the village.
Sunday 5th - Broad Beans
Keen to get out and about I headed to the Broads through thick fog, but as I arrived it lifted and turned into a nice day. I quickly located the tundra bean geese in a pink footed flock I managed to count about 70 birds but soem of the flock was out of view and later counts were over 100. Very nice to see. Filby Broad was up next where the red necked grebe was even more distant than the Grafham water bird. I took a wander finding a kingfisher and some goldeneye but not much else. I headed to Mautby for the hooded crow, but it was out of view and the adult iceland gull flew just as I got my scope on it, but a couple of med gulls were worth the stop. I headed to the Waxham area but not much about aso it was on to Hickling Broad. This was a bit quiet but a hooded crow was a bonus and a couple of bearded tits and a bumblebee made the walk worth the effort. I headed to Strumpshaw which was full of noisy famalies but the hide eventually emptied and I had nice views of marsh harriers and a kingfisher. My last stop was Buckenham Marshes for the corvid roost, but not before a wander round to see the large number of ducks, mostly wigeon and a nice barn owl. The corvid roost was spectacular and with the nice sunset it made a cracking end to the day.
Star Fish Bar, Norwich - Burger, pea fritter and Chips 8/10.
Tuesday 31st - Torched
Don't tell the wife but recently I recently purchased a new toy, I was after a powerful but small handheld torch and after some research I purchased a Olight x7 Marauder - not cheap when you chuck in two sets of rechargable batteries. Max output is 3000-9000 lumens with a 300m throw and the performance is excellent and it only weighs 500g with batteries. I have tested it a couple of times, but not spotted much wildlife with it yet, apart from a muntjac in the garden on Monday night.
Saturday 28th - Blandford Beauties
I headed to Blandford, arriving a little later then planned and two large cub otters were present at the black bridge. They headed downstream eventually meeting up with their mother and all three performed nicely in the early morning sunlight for almost an hour. I bumped into Farnborough John as I was leaving. I headed to Arne which was a big mistake clearly Winterwatch had inspired the noisy masses to decend and it was a living hell and I quickly found sika and spoonbill before giving up and headed off. I popped into Holton Heath which was much quieter and I had a pleasant walk in the warm sunshine. I tried for the Lesser Yellowlegs at Lychett Bay but all I could find of note were a couple of Green Sandpipers . I moved onto Tidpit where I found the raven preroost and watched as they headed off to roost out of sight and I called it a day.
Ringwood Fish Bar, Ringwood - Burger, pea fritter and Chips 7/10.
Saturday 21st - The Frozen North
I headed to the North of Cambridgeshire and South Lincolnshire today, starting off at Woodwalton Fen, where a large part of the reserve was in thick mist, I almost bumped into a Chinese Water Deer in the mist it was so thick. It was quiet a few redpoll, a couple of water rails and a kingfisher 3 water deer and a couple of muntjac. I headed back to the car along the river and spotted an otter slip into the river, the only water not frozen solid. But it vanished under the vegitation in front of me. I crossed the bridge and staked out the area and although it did show again it was only incredibly briefly and I headed off to Market Deeping. The small flock of scaup were easily spotted as was the great white egret but the long eared owls were a bit trickier and pretty much obscured. A quick stop to pick up lunch which I ate at Eldernell where a nice kingfisher and the cattle egret was still present. I headed to the Ouse Washes a few flocks of swans were encountered on the way but were all distant. The Ouse washes had some nice tree sparrows but nothing else of note apart form a barn owl as I was leaving at dusk.
Chippy Sue's, Whittlesey - Battered burger, pea fritter and Chips 9/10.
Tuesday 17th - Thetford Tips up some Gulls
I had a few hours this afternoon to pop to Thetford to see the selection of gulls on offer. A caspian was showing as I arrived but all the gulls were very mobile and it took a little while for the Glauc to settle but it showed quite well off and on. The Iceland was more elusive but eventually dropped in. During the wait we had a yellow legged as well as the common species a total of 8 species on show. With a little light left I headed to Bury St Edmunds, at ASDA the waxwings were just leaving as I arrived. I followed their general direction towards the leisure centre and Council offices but no sign, only redwings and woodpigeons but they made my 50th species photographed.
Saturday 14th - Garden Stuff
I had a day at home as I have to work on Sunday, but the garden was busy mostly with blackbirds, but plenty of garden birds and grey squirrel and a brown Rat also put in appearance. I caught another house mouse in my garage. I let the mouse go and had a nice red kite go over.
Thursday 12th - Garage Goody
A couple of Brown Hares this week and some activity in my garage was a house mouse, which was easliy caught in one of my longworths. A fox in my garden this evening was a pleasing sight. A local buzzard several rabbits at work worth a mention this week.
Fish and Chick n, Sawston - Battered Sausage and Chips 7/10.
Sunday 8th - Foggy Fowlmere
I was at Fowlmere RSPB for first light, if you could call it that conditions were similar to yesterday and the two fallow deer herds encountered were barely visible in the mist. The muntjac were really skittish probably due to the deer shooting happening on the reserve, and I could not manage a decent photo both due to this and the conditions. It eventually cleared a little and a nice mixed tit flock with goldcrest and treecreeper allowed a few photos. The light had now improved and I headed to Letchworth for a quick look at the black grey squirrels a couple showed nicely. A quick look at Clifton pond for the rather striking drake pintail before returning to Cambridge where the waxwings were still present and they showed briefly a couple of times before I headed for a late lunch.
Fish and Chick n, Sawston - Battered Sausage and Chips 7/10.
Saturday 7th - Woeful Woodwalton
I decided on Woodwalton Fen for todays foray, but almost wish I had not bothered, as the visibility was terrible but I did get a barn owl on the way. Chinese water deer were scarce and skittish, a muntjac and two grey squirrels. Birdwise the highlite was a large flock of redpoll with at least one mealy redpoll and two bitterns in the mist. After lunch I headed to grafham water where I found the red necked grebe, a couple of bewick's swan and some bulfinches, a distant great northern diver but little else and I called it a day.
Churchill's, Bar Hill - Saveloy and Chips 8/10.
Wednesday 4th - Blowy Burwell
With work being quiet after the Christmas break and the light being good, I popped out for a few hours this afternoon and headed to Burwell Fen, via the chip shop. It was bitterly cold and quite windy, it was quiet, stonechat and a few whooper swans and white fronted geese, but eventually 3 short eared owls did appear for a bit of feeding before dusk.
Rumbles, Exning - Battered Sausage and Chips 8/10.
Monday 2nd - Lakenheath
I was in a quandary as where to go for my first outing of the year and in the end I decided to stay local and kick off my photography project. I was at a bitterly cold Lakenheath RSPB for before dawn and spent 10 mins in my car to allow the light to improve before braving the -4 C temperatures. It was quiet but I did manage a couple of photos of a muntjac. I headed to the hide and on the path ahead was a stoat I got a few photos but it kept its distance and the light was not great, but it did pass through a patch of sun briefly for a reasonable photo. It dived into the reeds and I saw it briefly once more before losing it. The hide's pool was frozen so I headed to Joist Fen where I could hear cranes bugling. The cranes were out of sight but bearded tits were everywhere and allowed for some nice photos. I could not locate the cranes but some redshank and little egrets on the river were nice, but the redshank eluded the camera. I was about to visit the wash for ducks and the great white egrets but the wildfowlers opened up and messed up that plan. I took a general wander saw some nice stonechats and some common birds and a nice water rail by the visitor centre but nothing else of note and as dusk fell I headed for the car. I stopped here as thousands of starlings came over in several waves and headed to the far end of the reserve and I headed for home.
No Chips - Shops Closed Today.
Friday 1st - Home
Another good mammal year with some amazing encounters again some fantastic Wild Boars and brilliant encounter with a Pine Marten in Scotland were highlights. But local common seals, weasels and Nathusius' Pipistrelle were worth mentioning . A total of 53 species in total (all photographed) which makes the 9th year in a row exceeding 50 species and 2017 I will try again for 50 species to make 10 years in a row.
Another average bird year with 227 species seen including a great trip to the Bass rock to see the Gannet colony and the masked wagtail and isabelline wheatear both showed very well although in very different weather conditions. New species include Blue rock thrush, Siberian Accentor American white winged scoter, Forsterís tern, Western Purple Swamphen
Other Wildlife and Trips
Following up on my other areas of interest I had a great year with some nice Ladybirds, Moths, Whitebeams and Speedwells. Highights were a couple of clearwings raspberry the highlight. Some very rare whitebeams including a trip to Arran for the three endemic ones there, only 4 whitebeams to go now. Rock and American speedwell were great to see and I saw the Sawfly orchid although well past its best.
Trip wise Israel, South Africa and Tenerife produced an excellent range of species both mammals and birds, highlights blue crane, black rhino, cheetah, leopard, wolf, jungle cat, striped hyena, black footed cat, aardvark to name a few. An excellent day trip to Holland for the Siberian Rubythroat and friends was also worth mentioning.
Catch up with the 2016 blog
Green when seen
2017 Mammal List (Target 50)
Green when photographed
365 Animal Species Photo Project
The Chip CountChips 14 Chip Butty Fish Cake 1 Fish 1 Battered / Sausage 4 Battered /Burger 3 Nuggets 1 Saveloy 2 Spring Roll
Pickled Egg 2 Cheese and Onion Fritter Baked Bean Fritter Mushy Peas / Fritter 5 Spam Fritter Haggis Macaroni Pie
Onion Rings 1