Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Norfolk and Suffolk 2011 Part 1

This post is about the trip I went on down to Norfolk and Sufflok with Liver Birder, SH, DMcK, LMcD, GB and LR last week.
Liver Birder has already included photos in his post so there is no need for me to include my crappy scenic shots.

Day One

After a quiet journey down to Norfolk we stopped at Weeting Heath first before the heat haze started. Spotted Flycatchers were tacking away from the treetops as we entered the hide. After a couple of minutes scanning the Heath we spotted a Stone Curlew – Lifer, sitting down. It wasn’t long until we spotted another 3 well-camouflaged stone curlews on the horizon. When they were next to each other we noticed that one of the birds much smaller than the others and that the white stripe on its wing was much less visible indicating that this was one of this years young.

After leaving Weeting our next stop was Lakenheath RSPB, a couple of miles down the road. We quickly went to the end of the first plantation on the reserve as a Golden Oriole had been singing earlier in the morning. Despite spending two hours waiting to see the Oriole we could only hear one bird singing from inside the plantation.
During the two hours we were treated to excellent views of Marsh Harriers gliding overhead, Hobbies hawking insects, a Bittern flew between the reed beds and a Kingfisher flew past, not a bad way to spend two hours.

We then moved on to the area overlooking the reed beds, from here a Cetti’s Warbler blasted out its call nearby but remained illusive. Whilst walking along side the Little Ouse, three Hobbies landed on fence posts next to each other before hunting and pair of Garganey were on the wash pool.

Before arriving at our accommodation we made another stop, this time at an undisclosed location where Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had been seen just over the border in Suffolk.
Gordon and Steve arrived at the area a minute or so before the rest of us and they had a LSW fly overhead but despite us waiting for half an hour in the poring rain it didn’t return, though a singing Firecrest did make up for missing what would have been another lifer.

After arriving at our accommodation we explored the nearby Westleton Heath an area we would visit over the next few days in more detail.

Day Two

With Minsmere RSPB only 1 ½ miles away from where we were staying we spent most of the second day on the reserve. I had been once before back in 2005 so knew what a good reserve it was.
Alsmost as soon as we walked along the track to the first hide, an obliging Cetti’s Warbler began singing from the edge of a tree before flying to the bushes surrounding the… hide where it sang out in the open for long periods, it even flew onto the railings outside the hide door.

On the mere there were over 20 nesting Med Gulls, 20+ Barnacle Geese, Little Tern, 4 Little Egret, 51 Black Tailed Godwit, 7 Spoonbill flew over and an escaped Greater Flamingo.

We went around most of the reserve, visiting most the hides. The other highlights on the reserve were good flight views of Bitterns, Marsh Harriers and Hobby, a squealing Water Rail, a family party of Marsh Tit and my best ever views of Bearded Tit.

That evening just after dark we visited Westleton Heath again. After listening to a Nightingale – Lifer, singing for over 5 minutes it finally decided to show itself in the middle of a bare bush.
2 Nightjars were churring out on the heath and after hearing one bird wing clap it flew up and landed on a branch 10 meters in front of us.

Only two days in and better was still to come…

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