About Two Owls

Monday 24 February 2020

Norfolk neck-collared Pink-footed Goose

Those of you that follow our blog might remember I mentioned a neck collared Pink-footed Goose that we saw in Norfolk.  I contacted  Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust WWT with the details and Kane Brides replied with the following history of the bird.

As you can see it is a well travelled bird and particularly likes Norfolk to winter as do so many of this species.

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Lytchett Bay Report

Hi all,

This is going to be a short blog just to make you all aware that the 2019 Lytchett Bay Report has been completed and is now on line on the Birds of Poole Harbour website survey page or you can follow this link for a PDF version.

Wryneck © Terry Elborne

The report gives you a summary of the birds, mammals,  invertebrates and botany recorded in 2019 in the Lytchett Bay survey area.

Shaun and myself would like to thank particularly Ian Ballam for his continuous recording in the area and all those that have contributed by sending in their records and photographs either by entering them on BirdTrack, e-Bird, Twitter or directly by e-mail it all adds to our knowledge of the patch.

So a Big Thank You All

Nick, Jackie and Shaun

Sunday 2 February 2020

Highlights of Norfolk 2020

Usually over the last fifteen years or so when Jackie and I have visited North Norfolk it's been leading groups, but this last week we went alone to grab a break together and see if we could continue adding species to our year list.  So last Sunday we headed off to the Briarfields Hotel in Titchwell for a short stay. We arrived a little later than we hoped and it was raining hard so we decided to rest and start birding next morning at Sedgeford for the Alaskan/Eastern Yellow Wagtail.

So next morning straight after breakfast we headed to Shaw Farm Sedgeford though it was fine it was overcast and breezy we parked off the road and walked the lane to where other birders were looking for the bird.  After three hours of searching it became obvious that the bird had found somewhere else to spend the day.  So we decided we would try again later in the week and headed to Sculthorpe Moor to try for the Waxwing.

Arriving at Sculthorpe we were told that it was still around but was not in view but they were sure it hadn't gone far.  We went through to the rear of the centre and waited not long as it happens as it flew in and perched in an oak tree very near us and gave stunning views.
Waxwing - Sculthorpe Moor Norfolk © Nick Hull
Whilst waiting for the Waxwing to show we managed to check off a couple of Red Kite and a Sparrowhawk but oncce the Waxwing was in the bag we headed towards Wells-next-the Sea to chance our luck to see the Rough-legged Buzzard wintering in the area.

En-route to Wells we checked out North Point /Warham Fresh Marsh as it was somewhere we hadn't been to before and found it a very nice little marsh well worth knowing about.  As we turned under the old railway bridge to go into Wells we saw a couple of car parked in a gateway and the birders scoping something. So we safely parked on the verge and joined them and found they were watching our target.  Though at some distance from where we were watching from we had good scope view of a cracking looking Rough-legged Buzzard.
Rough-legged Buzzard - Wells-next-the-Sea © Nick Hull
From Wells we drove to Thornham Quay here we hoped for Twite we were told they like to sit on the old coal house on the right of the road at the quay. As we arrived we could see some small birds on the roof and I pulled up opposite and we had a look and my bins were full of Twite, I couldn't believe we were so lucky.  We didn't stay long but headed to Titchwell to see the harrier roost and hoped for a Woodcock.  As Jackie was getting tired we went to the Fen Hide where we could sit and watch and we probably didn't see as many as others did at the viewing screen but we saw 24 Marsh Harrier come into roost and 17 Little Egret, but no Woodcock none-the-less a nice end to the day.

Next morning (28th) we tried for three Tundra Bean Geese that was associating with a Pink-footed Goose flock near Holkham.  We found the Pink-feet without a problem but dipped on the Bean Geese. We did find a Pink-footed Goose with a neck collar which I've reported and now waiting for the history of the bird. 

Salthouse had changed since our last visit as there was no car park anymore.  I took a walk to see if I could find any Snow Bunting and I also checked out if there was anything out to sea.  Other than get cold and wanting to warm up I found very little, so we headed to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre at Cley for a lunch break.  We noticed that there was little on the reserve we hadn't seen already so we decided to wind our way back to our hotel popping into Holkham to see if the Grey Partridge were behind the parking attendance hut at the bottom of Lady Anne's Drive and sure enough they were.  We then spent about an hour checking through the wildfowl on each side of the drive, of interest was a good number of Ruff.

We decide to finish a bit earlier so Jackie could recharge before going out to dinner with friends, though we stop at the parking area that looked over Holkham/Burnham Very Marshes.  I checked out the Pink-foot flock again for the Bean Geese still no luck.  I was just about to get back into the car with Jackie when she shouted Barn Owl, I turned just in time to see it fly by to my right very close indeed.  I grabbed my camera but it was too late it had passed by and was heading away.  Anyway we watched it and waited for a while to see if it would come back and probably ten minutes past when we noticed it flying towards us along the hedgerow opposite.  I got out the car with the camera and waited then managed to shoot a few frames as it hovered and pounced into the grass not to far away.
Barn Owl near Holkham © Nick Hull
At dinner that evening news came that the Alaskan/Eastern Yellow Wagtail had been seen again so we arranged to pick our friends up and head back to Sedgeford next morning. 

So the 29th started well for us as we had Barn Owl, Buzzard, and Marsh Harriers and a single Sparrowhawk whilst having breakfast. An hour later saw us pulling up adjacent to a manure heap at Shaw Farm and almost immediately Jackie said "Oh it's there halfway up the heap" We stayed sometime watching this super looking wagtail that breeds from Siberia to Alaska I managed a few shots none are particularly good but they are good enough for a memory of a stunning rare bird.
Alaskan Yellow Wagtail - Sedgeford © Nick Hull
The rest of the day was spent at Titchwell RSPB, picking up a few trip ticks with birds such as Knot, Avocet, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwits, but fairly quiet really.  We did catch up with Woodcock and had great views of Muntjac by the visitor centre, then went on to help our friends connect with Rough-legged Buzzard and Barn Owl.
Woodcock - Titchwell RSPB © Nick Hull
Muntjac Deer - Titchwell RSPB © Nick Hull
On the 30th again our day started well at breakfast with two Red Kite, Kestrel and three Marsh Harrier after which we headed out to Holkham parking in Lady Anne's Driver and walking out to the beach.  I was a little concerned how Jackie would cope with walking as far and on sand but it's amazing what the promise of seeing Shore Lark, Snow Buntings, Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck can do to a persons determination.  Anyway we took our time and almost as we reach some other birders watching them we saw 40-50 Snow Bunting take off and land out on the dunes so when we reached the other birders we expected that the Shore Lark had gone as well. We needn't worried as the Shore Lark were still there and after a few minutes to get on to them you could see the occasional head popping up and down as they moved through the undergrowth of the salt marsh.
one of five Shore Lark - Holkham Mills © Nick Hull 
One down, so we moved out to the dunes to find the sea duck.  We joined a few other birders and found there was a large number of Common Scoter off shore in more or less three large rafts.  I thought it's going to take a while to search through this lot for a handful of Velvets.  We had been sorting through one of the rafts when the flock of Snow Buntings flew past in front of us and landed to our left searched and fed for a while before moving on up the beach.  I eventually found a male Long-tailed Duck and a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers and a while later I picked out the white in the wing of a Velvet Scoter what was really amazing was I managed to get Jackie on them all without too much trouble.  A clean sweep, so it was back to the new lookout cafe for a celebration coffee and piece of very nice flapjack where I added a Peregrine to our list sat out in the marsh.
Snow Bunting - Holkham Dunes © Nick Hull
Before leaving we checked out the wildfowl each side of the drive and we managed to find the Black Brant or Brants lots of controversy about one of them being a hybrid or as some have claimed Grey-bellied Brant.  Well to me there was little difference in the two individuals though one did appear darker than the other and with slightly whiter flanks.  But saying this both birds stood out to be different from the associating Dark-bellied Brent.
Black Brant (Back) & Brant x Dark-bellied Brent?middle - Lady Anne's Drive © Nick Hull
Looking at photographs on the web taken in North America both seem to fit within the colour range of Black Brant, what I cannot find written is if the colour differences it to do the sex or age of the individuals but it's certainly interesting birds to see.

On the 31st we started our journey home but stopped off at Welney WWT to add Whooper Swan and Tree Sparrow to our list.  We saw a family party of Whooper Swan on our approach to the WWT Centre and had lots of Reed Bunting and several Tree Sparrows on the centres feeders.  The overriding experience was to see what was possible 2000+ Golden Plover all in the air just dotting the sky and wanting to land but wouldn't, they were very nervous and we eventually found out why there was a Peregrine sat out on the fen.
Whooper Swan family - Welney WWT © Nick Hull