Sunday, 29 March 2009


Birding on a bright morning round Grafham Water revealed my first Swallow of the spring, which flew along the res whilst watching c30 Sand Martins scudding about over the water. Later, I hooked up with Mark Hawkes and we found the female Wheatear still present on the dam by the tower. We also had a pair of LRP's which flew past calling before landing on the north end of the dam. Lots of raptors about but nothing unusual. The female Scaup is still present and was asleep off Gaynes Point with a handful of rather dapper Tufties. Also, two female Goosander in the lagoons and six or so Goldeneye still. These birds seem to all be first summers, presumably the adults are in more of a hurry to get back to the breeding grounds. Sadly there was no wind-blown diver or seaduck following yesterday's squally weather.

Monday, 23 March 2009

New patch, new birds

Two visits to the new patch today revealed a single LRP, 6 Oyks and a Green Sand, amongst commoner stuff. Nice.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Whitlingham Lane North - 'Thorpe Marsh'

After a quick look at a new place to live in Norwich on Yarmouth Road, drove through a roadblock in order to get down the north side of Whitlingham Lane. At the bottom I climbed over a footbridge (should have used the steps) and I was delighted to find Thorpe Marsh to be a large expanse of water, shingle and mud islands and berms and loads of reedswamp, marsh and willow scrub. Awesome! About the first bird I noted was a Cetti's Warbler singing from the scrub nearby. A quick walk before heading back to work revealed Oyk, Lapwing, a big gang of gulls (sadly no scope with me), a few Tufties and Gadwall. This place looks like it has loads of potential and is on the other side of the river to the dog-walker-infested country park, so hopefully is a bit quieter.
New local patch material? Definitely!!

My first views of Thorpe Marsh.


A bright sunny morning and for no apparent reason I decided to take Willow the other way round the field opposite our house. Two minutes later I heard the familiar call of a Grey Partridge. Fantastic. This species is pretty rare round Grafham. I heard one in this field this time last year, but failed to find it. Anyway, shortly the calling turned into an alarm call, possibly due to Willow's presence and I picked up a pair of these smart birds legging it through the grass. They ran virtually the entire width of the field towards the road. I walked round the back when unbelievably another male started calling from the other field to the east. He was answered by a bird over near the road. I saw him running back through the grass. However, if this was the original male, he had lost his mate. Was there four birds? I guess maybe only three. Still a fantastic sight in the morning sunshine and a great way to start the day. Little else of note in a quick look in Valley Creek and off Mander.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Blast from the past

I stumbled on this photo of Flores Scops-owl the other day (See: This is the first photo I have seen of the species not in the hand since I refound it in 1997 on Flores, Indonesia. Sadly we didnt get any photos at the time. I am delighted this little cracker is still bouncing around the trees in the highlands of this fab little island. Well done Birdtour Asia for nailing it.

And if you haven't seen these movie stars, check em out

The first birding road movie?

Bank Swallows at Grafham Water

Quick stretch of Willow's legs along the dam at lunchtime revealed a dozy drake Pintail lounging in Gaynes, plus several Sand Martins (at bloody last!) cruising over the trees on the lagoons shore. Also about were a few Redwings, Several Buzzards and a smart male Grey Wag on the dam. Numbers of Pied Wags and Mippits seem to be building up as is usual for the time of year as they head north with a dozen of the former and two dozen of the latter along the dam shore. Willow entertained herself by catching and eating a mouse. Nice.

Scandinavian Rockit

Photo by Mark Hawkes

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Birding is the new rock n roll

It's official...

March WeBS

Today was WeBS which after a gig last night in St Ives, was very difficult to get up for. A delightful spring morning greeted Willow and me down at Marlow, but sadly, despite the feeling of something good, there were no birds anywhere. The start of the fishing season yesterday plus the onset of spring has seen a big clear-out of ducks. My quest for an early LRP or Wheatear along the dam ended in failure, with only a Redshank to show for my efforts. However, bird of the morning shortly appeared, a smart Rock Pipit feeding on the beach just west of Marlow. It promptly flew off and over my head and out of sight before I could get a photo. Despite searching I couldn't refind the pesky pipit. I called in to the lagoons on the way back to the caf to check out the female Scaup that had decided to leave Gaynes to the fishermen and was showing well in front of the hide. Lots of activity in the lagoons with c30 Shelduck, displaying Lapwings and Redshank and singing Chiffchaffs. No sign of Mark's Brambling though. Later, Mark went back round to Marlow and found the Rockit showing well on the rocks by the beach. He got some photos which I will look forward to seeing. It did feel like a day for a migrant or two...