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

23rd February 2009

Another unemployment-fuelled trip to Strumpshaw, but still no Penduline Tit! No sign from the Fen Hide all day, although I did speak to a birder who saw it briefly alongside the path towards the river. He has also seen it at Wheatfen, maybe that should be my next trip. The day wasn't a complete washout however, with four good flight views of Bittern, including one close flypast. Once the drizzle settled in I decided that there was little point waiting, so I went for a walk in the woods. I finally caught up with the local Reeve's Pheasant, a non-BOU tick and a smart bird to see, with its 32-foot tail. I was scanning the alder carr when I came across a sphinx-like Chinese Water Deer, and further along the path a bird appeared to fall out of a tree, before recovering and swooping upwards. A slightly-lame drumming noise confirmed my initial suspicions, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker! I was a little disappointed with the display flight, but a good bird to get nonetheless. Four Treecreepers, five Snipe and a Sparrowhawk were also of note.

Blurry photos from the woods.

Year list 135 species

21st February 2009

The day started well, having got back to North Walsham on the train, dad pointed out an area where he had seen Black Redstart for the past few days. Sure enough, good views were obtained. This sighting wasn't put out as the site is private. Later Adam's brother took us out for some dirty twitching. This paid off with distant views of my second Cattle Egret, but we were out of luck with the ever elusive Dipper. At Letheringsett Water Mill a sign read "No twitchers!" Fine, we didn't want to see your crappy water mill anyway. To be fair, it must be annoying thinking you've finally got a vistitor, only to see them scan the river then leave. At Bayfield estate we saw a smart Grey Wagtail, before I saw a long-overdue Common Buzzard soaring overhead.

Elsewhere in Norfolk, Hooded Crow, Penduline Tit, Red Kite and a White Stork (great sighting or terrible misidentification?) were seen, but hey, where's the fun in just twitching everything?

Year list 133 species

20th February 2009

A day out on the train, looking for two birds I missed at their regular locations in January. Firstly I went to Sheringham, where after a quick walk along the length of the promenade I saw a Purple Sandpiper in a gap between boulders. Then back on the train and a rather muddy walk from Roughton Road to Felbrigg Hall. I was rewarded with good views of 5 male & 2 female Mandarin, one of my bogey birds from previous years. Little else of note, although having not seen a Skylark until the previous week, they were singing everywhere, all day!

Year list 130 species

19th February 2009

A trip to West Newton on the edge of the Sandringham estate with Cathy gave us time to walk around some of the local fields and woods. Signs of spring were topped off by the sight of a new born lamb that could barely stand up. A Barn Owl flew over the fields, and Cathy found a Treecreeper on an alder. We found a Willow Tit, initially by call and then confirmed with good views, and followed this up with my first Grey Partridge of the year, jointly ID'd by flushing it straight at Cath!

Year list 128 species

18th February 2009

An overcast day, and lots of people about for half-term, but I wanted to get out of the house so I went for a morning walk around Whitlingham. Resurfacing work around the northern edge had scattered the ducks across the wwhole Broad, although someone later picked up the Smew near the island. Bird of the day undoubtedly a Sparrowhawk that flew across my line of sight and onto the island. I heard my first Cetti's Warbler of the year, but no chance of finding it.

I also noticed a number of Greylag Geese that looked "different"- just on jizz really, possibly slightly larger, with more contrast between the brown and white on the wings. I took a photo of one out of water with orange legs (pink being normal). The other race only differs in beak colour, and there is no difference between "wild" and feral birds. Having had a look on the internet it appears that this is just an uncommon but well documented occurrence.

15th February 2009

Dad acted as chauffeur in a multi-site tour of the north west of the county. We set off at 8 for Dersingham Bog in the hope of Great Grey Shrike. As it happened we wandered around in birdless drizzel, but this was more than compensated for by a juvenile male Golden Pheasant, that wandered out of the road and into the rhododendrons at Wolferton Triangle.

At Hunstanton rain meant we couldnt see any scoter, let alone Velvet. I added Fulmar to the yearlist, and after a cup of tea at the lighthouse cafe, a mass of 1000+ Common Scoter were visible offshore, although no chance of picking out velvets. We carried on to Gypsy Lane, were the Black-necked Grebe was showing well, my first in Britain. In the area between here and Brancaster I also added Skylark, Water Pipit, Knot, Snow Bunting and Red-breasted Merganser.

We had lunch (and a pint of Wherry!) at the Ark Royal in Wells, and scoured the harbour. Six Little Grebes were no substitute for Slavonian, and a possible hybrid Dark-bellied Brent x Black Brant wasn't that exciting either. We finished the day at Holkham, where Adam added White-fronted Goose from the far hide. Having been told by a passing birder that the Short-eared Owl was visible at the end of the drive, we must have missed it by minutes, seeing only a distant Barn Owl.

Nine species added today, 126 Species now.

13th February 2009

Adam & I went for a walk through Rosary Cemetery, Lion Wood and Carey's Meadow. Mostly common stuff about, a Coal Tit and Green Woodpecker in the cemetery, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper in Lion Wood. The meadows were flooded, but no sign of any snipe or sandpiper.

8th January 2009

Deciding against going for the Penduline Tit again (a good call, it only showed up until 9.06, way before we could have got there with the Sunday trains), Adam & I walked down to Marston Marshes. Part of the path was flooded, but we had wellies and got right round. There was little to be gained by doing it though, a few redwing and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker were the dubious highlight. Continuing along the river, we reached Eaton Common, where finally there seemed more signs of life. In the far corner a large number of birds were calling from the alders. Amongst the Siskins and Long-tailed Tits we picked out a Treecreeper, before getting good views of a lone Mealy Redpoll! We continued on to Cringleford and home via UEA, seeing the second Green Woodpecker of a poor GW year.

Year list 117 species

7th February 2009

Following reports of the Penduline Tit back at Strumpshaw I took the train to Brundall and hurried along to the Fen Hide. Typically, there was no sign of it. Good views of a Bearded Tit (first for Norfolk this year) were the only consolation, along with amusing banter about a disputed Coot count - 39 or 38 with one doubling back?! Only 38 were seen at the recount, sounds like stringing to me!

5th February 2009 - Smew Day!

Crossing the bridge between determined and insane, I went to Whitlingham for the third day in a row. This time Adam came as well, and his pseudo-Irish luck (he's been to Dublin you know) meant that every duck in the country park had congregated into one gap in the ice. Without too much trouble Adam picked out the Smew, a redhead, presumed to be a 1st winter male, although I don't know what distinguishes 1st winters from female plumage. Maybe someone saw it out of the water and it had Crazy Frog-style dangly genetalia. I also saw a female Goldeneye in the same pool. On the way back, we flushed a Common Sandpiper on Trowse Meadows.

The Smew is the left-hand bird, poorly digiscoped.

Year list 116 species

4th February 2009

Well I've got to do something to make sure I leave the house, haven't I? I went down to Whitlingham again, to find the entire Little Broad frozen, and only three large gaps in the ice on the Great Broad. A long time spent scanning, no Smew. Watching from the bird screen in the conservation area I managed to pick up a Jack Snipe (1st one at Whitlingham), and a Little Grebe was on the river. Careful scrutiny of the old trees near the Little Broad gave me my first Treecreeper of the year, so not a complete loss.

Year list 115 species

3rd February 2009

A quick walk down to Whitlingham (If you can call a trip that takes 3 hours per visit quick) failed to yield any wildfowl brought in by the easterlies, however the Smew was seen opposite the cafe at 1, so I might try again tomorrow.

1st February 2009

Back on the bandwagon, and a return to Buckenham for Adam to get Bean Goose. They'd gone. It wasn't a totally snowy washout though, after a brief glimpse of a Peregrine, Adam found a male perched on the ground from the mill whilst scanning, giving good views. Further down the track, a long overdue Reed Bunting flew across the path and into the reeds. On the way back, a couple stopped us and asked if we'd seen the Green-winged Teal. The answer of course was no, so we were grateful to have a look down their 'scope, a good bird to get.

In between snow showers we went round Strumpshaw, which was devoid of most birdlife. A flock of Siskin, three Marsh Harriers, 100+ Teal and huge amounts of Robins was just about it. We got back to Brundall and got the train home.

Year list ticking over at 113 species.