Archive for September, 2017

Day 8 of our trip to Norfolk dawned to a brighter morning, so we decided to visit the Hawk and Owl Trust’s reserve at Sculthorpe Moor near Fakenham. The walk from the visitor centre took us first to the Woodland hide but the feeders here were quiet and we made our way onto Fen Hide.

 

In the distance, we could see a Kestrel hunting over the fen and a Sparrowhawk flew over the hide. A Kingfisher was seen hunting over the channels in the reed-bed before briefly alighting on a post in front of the hide.

Little Grebe

Collared Dove

Pheasant

In the tree hide the feeders were very busy with Nuthatch and Coal Tit the highlights.

 

Coal Tit

The wader scrape was quiet but we did see a number of Dragonflies including Common Darter, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Common Blue Damselfly.

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Sheringham’ s first lifeboat was purchased in 1838 by a donation from local fisherman and residents. In 1866 the RNLI obtained permission to build a lifeboat station. This was replaced by a new station with better sea access in 1904.

 

JC Madge

JC Madge

JC Madge

JC Madge

This lifeboat arrived in 1904. During its service, it was launched 34 times and saved 58 lives. When it was retired in 1936 it was purchased and used as a private pleasure boat. In 1989 it was purchased by Sheringham Museum trust and restored to its original state. In 2010 it went on display at Sheringham Museum.

 

Forester’s Centenary

Forester’s Centenary

The lifeboat arrived in 1936 and was active during World War II when it became known as the ‘Airman’s Lifeboat’ because of the number of launches it made to rescue airman who had ditched planes off the Norfolk coast.  In 1961 it was retired and was used along the Essex coast. In 1995 it was placed into storage in Aylsham until it was transferred to Sheringham Museum in 2010.

 

 

Manchester Unity of Oddfellows

The lifeboat arrived in 1961 and served at Sheringham until 1990. It is now displayed at Sheringham Museum.

Manchester Unity of Oddfellows

Manchester Unity of Oddfellows

Manchester Unity of Oddfellows

In 1986 an inshore boat was stationed at Sheringham in addition to a lifeboat. When the lifeboat Lloyds II (1990-92) was retired the station continued to be the home of an inshore boat.

Inshore boat

Inshore boat

92203 was built in Swindon in 1959 and spent its entire time in service hauling Iron Ore trains from Bidston Duck Birkenhead to Shotton Steelworks. It was withdrawn from service it was purchased by the artist David Shepherd. He named it Black Prince. It has been in service at the Longmoor Military Railway, East Somerset Railway, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway before coming to the North Norfolk Railway in 2011, re-entering service in 2014. In 2015 it was purchased by the North Norfolk Railway.

 

 

A wet day forecast and so Sue and I headed out for the North Norfolk Railway which runs from Holt to Sheringham.

Black Prince arriving at Holt Station

 

Our train was hauled by Black Prince which looked wonderful as it pulled into Holt Station.

 

Holt Station

Locos at Weybourne Station

In Sheringham, we made our way to the front and Sheringham Museum, which has an interesting display of retired Sheringham Lifeboats and a temporary exhibition of Dutch Gansey Jumpers, much beloved of Fisherman over the ages. Few originals have survived but examples of the different patterns have been recreated from early photographs of the men in their working clothes.

Gansey Jumpers

Sheringham

Sheringham

We took lunch in a shelter on the front and were joined by a Ruddy Turnstone.

The Front at Sheringham

Ruddy Turnstone

After lunch, we made our way back to Holt on the Railway and then with the weather still unpleasant visited a craft complex. The weather finally brightened to allow an hour at Weybourne beach where Red-legged Partridge and Sandwich Tern were new birds for the holiday before a return of the rain curtailed the day.

The coast at Weybourne

Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

As well as the breeding programme for the Common Crane, the conservation centre at Pensthorpe also has a breeding programme for a number of other species of Crane and related species.

 

White-naped Crane (NE China /SE Russia)

 

White Stork – currently being discussed as a possible re-introduction programme in southern England

Sandhill Crane (USA)

Manchurian Crane (Japan)

Northern Bald Ibis (North Africa)

Common Crane – currently part of a re-introduction programme in East Anglia and Somerset

Today we visited Pensthorpe, a nature reserve near Fakenham. It’s a mixture of a wildfowl collection and a wild area. Our first stop is the wader scrape. Unfortunately, the only waders present are a single Green Sandpiper and a pair of Ruff. Egyptian Geese, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese were all present but the highlight was 5 species of birds of Prey that we saw whilst we were in the hide. A Hobby flew over the hide, followed shortly afterward by a Common Kestrel. In the distance, we could see Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. Sue spotted a raptor sitting on a fence post which turned out to be a Sparrowhawk.

Kestrel hunting

Greylag Goose, Egyptian Goose and Coot

 

From here we made our way to the woodland hide where there was a flurry of activity on the feeder station. A Nuthatch and a pair of Marsh Tits were the highlight species amongst common woodland birds.

Small White butterfly

Marsh Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final stop was the lake where there was a large party of Tufted Duck.

Pensthorpe has a number of large lakes

 

Pensthorpe as well as having a wildfowl collection and a nature reserve has a large conservation centre involved in the preservation and re-introduction of endangered species. These include Turtle Doves, Corncrakes and Common Crane.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Castle Rising is one of the most complete 12th-century castles in the UK. It was built by William D’Albini around 1140 following his marriage to the widow of King Henry I.

 

Remains of Gateway tower

The Keep

Keep stairway to waiting room

Fireplace in waiting room

Chapel

Inside of Keep

It has served as a hunting lodge and a royal residence. Queen Isabella, the mother of Edward III lived here following the death of her husband Edward II and records show that her son visited her on a number of occasions. Following her death, it was used as a hunting lodge by her grandson Edward the Black Prince. The castle passed to the Howard family in 1544 and has remained in that families possession until today. It is managed by English Heritage.

A wet morning and so we set off for Flitcham Abbey farm. This working farm has a wildlife haven with a hide overlooking a meadow which includes an oak tree which is home to a pair of Little Owl, but despite scanning the tree we are unable to see one roosting on the tree.

Wildlife Meadow at Flitcham Abbey Farm

Common Pheasant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a break for lunch, we make our way to Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve. Our first stop is at Island hide where we are fortunate to get some excellent views of Bearded Reedlings.

Titchwell Marsh

Bearded Reedlings

Bearded Reedling

 

From the Parrinder hide, the freshwater marsh contains a wide variety of wading birds including Golden Plover, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwings. A single Yellow Wagtail was briefly located on a grassy island along with the Pied Wagtails.

Ruff

Northern Lapwing

Yellow Wagtail. Photo by Don Sutherland (https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapperg/)

 

 

The adjacent salt marsh always seems to be abandoned by comparison with the freshwater marsh on the other side of the bank, but today it holds a few Redshank along with a single Grey Plover still showing much of its summer plumage.

Grey Plover

Common Redshank

 

Our final stop is the reserve at Holme Dunes in search of a Short-eared Owl which has been present. We didn’t see it but did add a couple of new species to our trip – Skylark and Greenshank.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

A wet start to our third day in Norfolk. Pheasant, Robin, Dunnock and Wren all visited the garden, whilst a Barn Owl was seen flying from the shed in the meadow around 6am. We think it is probably a pair as one definitely roosts in the nest box. During the day we can sometimes see him or her in the box and another seems to come from or go to the shed.

Common Pheasants

The light drizzle eases as we make our way towards the coast and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Clay Marshes. After a coffee and a bacon roll at the visitor’s centre, we walk out the hides at the centre of the reserve. From the hides, we can see 3 Eurasian Spoonbills. This once rare bird in the UK is now increasing in numbers and around 50 can be currently found on the north Norfolk Coast.

Cley Marshes

Eurasian Spoonbills

There are good numbers of waders present including large groups of Ruff, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin together with a couple of Redshanks and a single Curlew Sandpiper. Suddenly confusion reigns as everything takes to the air! The reason is soon obvious as a Peregrine Falcon circles the pools and then lands on an island before, after a short stay, resuming its hunt.

Little Egret

Ruff

Peregrine Falcon

Black-tailed Godwits

 

We next drove down to the coast at Cley Beach in the hope of a Gannet on the sea. Unfortunately, all that is to be seen out to sea are Great Cormorants although a Mediterranean Gull flew in to land on the beach where it could be compared with the Black-headed Gulls.

Looking out to sea from the beach at Cley

Back at East Barsham, the Kestrel is hunting over the fields and we can hear a Buzzard calling – they do make such a strange noise. The Swallows and House Martins were feeding on the wing over the fields and BlueTits and Blackcaps roosted in the hedgerow.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Sue and I spent two weeks exploring the north of Norfolk and would like to share some of the highlights of our trip.

 

Our first stop on arriving in Norfolk was at the WWT reserve at Welney in Fenland. This reserve is best known for its wintering migratory swans but it is good all year round. The really good thing is that you can birdwatch why you eat your lunch in the restaurant (if you can get a table by the windows!). We were lucky and so were able to look out over Lady Fen and the feeding stations. The former was quiet with just a couple of Little Egrets, but the feeders didn’t disappoint with House Sparrows, Dunnock, Goldfinch and a single Tree Sparrow present.

The view from the cafe in the Welney visitor centre -wildlife watching whilst you eat

Little Egret

Tree Sparrow

 

After finishing our lunch, we made our way over to the main hide where there was a large group of Ruff along with Lapwing and Black-Tailed Godwits.  Sue found a group of Common Snipe feeding in the margins and we counted a maximum of 14 birds at different times. A female Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance,

Common Snipe

We made our way back to the balcony overlooking Lady Fen and were treated to a fly-past by a Eurasian Hobby

Leaving Welney we made our way to East Barsham, north of Fakenham, which would be our base for the next two weeks. Relaxing over a cup of tea in the garden we saw a family of pheasants who with white backs, probably one of the variants originally bred for shooting which now is now breeding in the wild. A Common Whitethroat, amongst other small birds, was seen in a hedge.

Common Pheasants in the garden (normal plumage)

 

As the sun began to set we were excited to see a Barn Owl fly through the meadow beyond the garden and land in a tree where there is a breeding box. After a brief stop, he went away over the fields. Later he settled on a post at end of the garden.

 

Barn Owl in field behind our cottage

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)