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For previous years (2012-2019) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

31st January 2009

No point staying at home moping, I went to Flixton with Adam and his uncle, stopping at the Gravel Pits, where we saw four pairs of Red-crested Pochard. Unfortunately the likely origin was a mass-release in 2004/05, so its a non-BOU tick. Shooting near Aldeby Rubbish Dump scared off the gulls before we got there, and the Bewick's Swans weren't at Catfield.

In the afternoon we got dropped off at Mundesley and walked along the coast to Bacton, but recent field ploughing and high winds meant a lack of small birds. On the beach, one Sanderling and 4 Turnstones, and on the fields 9 Oystercatchers were the only birds of note.

30th January 2009

Redundancy. Bother. Bright side, more time for birdwatching, negative side, money.

24th January 2009

Adam's dad took us into deepest, darkest Suffolk, on a mission to see Smew, a bird that me and Adam haven't seen in 10 years or more. The omens weren't good, a visit to Southwold Town Marsh was devoid of Yellowlegs, and a flock of fully 200 Barnacle Geese was Red-breasted Goose-less. We did see a Bar-headed Goose, the description of which is currently being shredded by a manically laughing BOU official.

Things finally started looking up when we spotted a flock of 30-odd Bewick's Swans at a pig farm near Dunwich. Arriving at Minsmere, we opted for an anti-clockwise loop, and were rewarded with a redhead Smew from West Hide. Hurrah! South Hide provided an Avocet, and the list was ticking along. The East Hide gave more views of the Smew, and then a male swam into view, a striking bird, and almost worth the wait from my only previous sighting, back in 1994! A Spotted Redshank was also new for the year. The last bird before lunch was Bearded Tit, three showing well beside the path back to the visitor's centre.

After lunch we took the woodland trail, and following a typically birdless Bittern Hide experience, we scored with a pair of Ruddy Duck and a Kingfisher from Island Mere Hide. near the car park a Bullfinch called and was duly located. On the way back we called into Dunwich Heath to look for Dartford Warblers, but came away with nothing more than Great Crested Grebes on the sea.

Year list now 110 (+3 non-BOU)

23rd January 2009

My birthday! Me & Cathy took the train to Sheringham, adding Green Woodpecker on the way (103). We visited the dragon exhibition before wandering the seafront looking for Purple Sandpiper in the wind and rain. Without success, as it turns out. Beating a retreat, we had lunch at The Lobster and returned to Norwich.

18th January 2009

A trip to Cromer to visit friends offered the chance of a quick walk along the coast. Starting off west of the pier, we looked in vain for overwintering Fulmars, seeing only a Great Black Backed Gull. Further along the only waders on the beach were Turnstone, and the Buckthorn on the way up to Cromer Lighthouse was similarly birdless. We walked back along the woods and Suffield Park, seeing nothing of interest.

Year list (still!) 102.

13th January 2009

Having decided that Bean Goose was a bird I needed to get in January, I got the train to Cantley and set my 'scope up to scan the geese. All pink-feet. Bugger. A two mile walk along the back lanes got me to Buckenham, where I would have gone had I not had the bright idea that they would be further east. Little birdlife on the way, a melanistic Pheasant was probably the only bird I stopped for, but I did see a Chinese Water Deer and a Stoat.

Buckenham didn't look promising, even the Wigeon had deserted the station end of the track. A juvenile Stonechat sat obligingly on a gate, the first year tick of the day. Watching the scrape near the Fisherman's car park a Ruff flew in to join the Teal and Lapwing. Further round a Meadow Pipit became bird no. 99. Finally, past the mill and looking towards the railway line, a flock of around 20 White-fronted Geese. Next to them were 15 Taiga Bean Geese (erroneously reported by someone as Tundra BG on Birguides when I got home). A snorting noise behind me made me look at the river, and bizarrely a bull Grey Seal was looking at me from the middle of the river! It dived and surfaced a few time, looking rather bemused. A Marsh Harrier flew over, and I wandered back. By the entrance to the reserve a white-morph Lesser Snow Goose was with a Greylag flock, a nice addition but won't be troubling the BOU list.

One weasel and 20 minutes later I arrived at Strumpshaw, where I had a nice chat with the warden. The reserve was quite quiet, a Black Swan from the Fen Hide (when do they qualify for Category C??) was the only bird of note, but on the way back towards Brundall, 2 Whooper swans flew low over, the final addition of the day.

Year List 102 Species

9th January 2009

A walk around Rosary Cemetery and Lion's Wood produced 4 Nuthatches (2 at each location), surprising because I had only seen one in that area before! A fox ran along the path between the old and new sections of the cemetery before noticing me and running off. Looking under the yew hedge I saw another pair of eyes staring at me, I think that is the corner with the den in.

Lion's Wood was fairly quiet, with the exception of a couple of noisy Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Two Coal Tits were the only birds of note, with no sign of Treecreeper or Green Woodpecker, birds which I still need for my year list.

I went further into Thorpe and onto Carey's Meadow. I was rewarded with views of three Bullfinches, which on any other year would have been a new bird at this stage. I did add Stock Dove, but that was it. A walk around the recently flooded workings at Thorpe Marsh was pointless, 6 flushed Teal and a number of gulls on the ice were the only birds on the water at all.

Year list 96 species

8th January 2009

I took advantage of being on the late night shift by catching the bus to Dussindale. There was still fog hanging around, which didn't look promising, and a first walk around produced nothing more interesting than two sparring Blackbirds. On the way back I saw four birds fly across the road and thought "Waxwing"! I then saw more flying off a TV aerial and cursed "Starling", before getting close enough to see through the fog, a flock of 22 Waxwings sitting by the road! I took a few photos from a distance before they were scared off by a bus. They continued to fly between bushes and aerials before flying off over the houses. Bird number 94 of the year so far.

4th January 2009

A trip around Norfolk with Adam and Gary.

We left North Walsham at 8, heading to Felbrigg Hall. With no sign of any Hawfinches, we went down to the lake in the hope of seeing the Mandarin. As with all my visits, they had buggered off. There was compensation in the form of a Barn Owl, Water Rail and Grey Wagtail. Back at the car park a crowd of birders had gathered, and further along Gary located a Hawfinch at the top of a tree in the paddocks. Next stop was Salthouse, where I added a few common waders, before we found the Glaucous Gull looking down the beach towards Cley. Back in the car we stopped briefly at Cockthorpe to scan the Brent flock. Somehow Gary managed to find a Pale-bellied Brent, but at a large distance finding the Black Brant proved impossible.

Next stop was Sculthorpe Moor. No luck finding the Golden Pheasants, but we did see Marsh and Coal Tits, and a white-headed Fieldfare (partially leucistic?). A Bullfinch flew across the road, before we reached Flitcham. Looking across at the farm, the Little Owl was sitting on a post. Further down the road a large flock of Brambling and Yellowhammers were sitting in the hedge. Eventually I managed to spot a Tree Sparrow, and despite my rather vague directions (its in the hedge...near the birds...and the stick...) Adam & Gary got onto it.

I added another 4 species at Thornham (unfortunately not Twite) before we headed to Titchwell and saw a rather disappointing number of species, although good number of Pintail. We finished the day off at Warham, where we saw three Hen Harriers (2 ringtails).

I saw 85 species for the day, adding a whopping 44 to my year list, which now stands at 93.

2nd January 2009

Making the most of a second day off, I walked through Trowse to Whitlingham Country Park. The alders around the little broad contained Long-tailed Tit and Siskin flocks, but no sign of any Redpoll or Goldcrest. Year ticks came thick and fast, Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck & Pochard. I started counting a flock of Greylag Geese, when part way through I came across a lone Barnacle Goose. This is the first Barnacle Goose I've seen at Whitlingham, and although it is more likely to come from the resident population at Buckenham than be a genuine migrant, it was still a pleasing find. The woods and sewage farm failed to turn up anything of interest. Back at the great broad, the long-staying female Scaup was showing well at the east end. In the conservation area a Little Grebe and 11 Teal had joined the commoner ducks. On the way back a Canada Goose was on the bank, an uncharacteristic winter record as they tend to abandon the broad for the river in late autumn.

40 species seen for the day, taking my year total up to 49 species.

1st January 2009

Another new year, another chance to get excited about seeing common species! Slightly under the influence of Adnams Bitter, the first bird of the year was a Mute Swan, as two swam downriver near the Playhouse at 01:30.

At the more respectable time of 10:00, me, Adam and Cathy walked to the UEA, around the broad, up to the hospital and then back home. The bird of the day was undoubtedly a male Goosander at the east end of the broad. Only a few of the feeders in the rabbit compound were full, but there were still a number of redwing below. On the way back, a second male Goosander flew in to join the first bird.

A modest first day total of 33 species.