Felbrigg freeze-up






Birding at Felbrigg, during this weekend’s freeze-up, has been pretty good. Surprisingly perhaps the Bittern, first found at New Year, has hung around – I saw it again this morning fly into the reed bed from the surrounding marshy woodland. There has been a superb male Goosander on the near frozen lake, both Barn and Little Owl, Marsh Tit, up to five Water Rail, Whooper Swan, Green Sandpiper, Snipe and several Woodcock, as well as the commoner stuff.

Felbrigg House, in the snow



The ‘resident’ Whooper Swan



and now in ‘close-up’



One of up to five Water Rail feeding around the unfrozen margins of the lake



On our way home we stopped off at Deeping High Bank to look for swans but the fog was too thick. This Short-eared Owl was a bonus though


Waxwing Lyrical

Yesterday, before departing for Norfolk, we stopped by in Werrington to see if the large flock of Waxwing, reported on Wednesday, were still about. You may think that having found a flock of these ‘winter jewels’ earlier in the week that we would be content, but oh no – such is the lure of these beautiful and engaging birds! Anyway, we did find about a dozen birds, feeding briefly on apples in someones front garden and I managed to get a couple of record shots.

We then set off for lunch and a walk at Titchwell. The drive over was fabulous, the roads were quiet, crystal clear air and scenery stunning – with every bush and tree encrusted with thick hoar frost. In roadside bushes, just outside Kings Lynn, I spotted two more Waxwing and, managing to avoid the passing lorries, take some photos.

Lunch at Titchwell was it’s usual high standard (for birders that is!) – soup & rolls and pasty & beans, then an hour or so of excellent mid-winter birding. The lagoons were frozen, so we headed straight for the beach, picking up Water Rail, Brambling and Lapland Bunting on the way. The sea was rather quiet with Red-breasted Merganser and Red-throated Diver being the main interest. Further along the coast at Stiffkey, on the salt marsh, we added Merlin. All in all, a pretty good day.

Waxwings at Werrington, feeding on apples


and another, in road-side bushes near King’s Lynn


Brambling, at the Titchwell feeding station


Arty Mute Swan picture


A very obliging Water Rail


Two birds and a church

This afternoon, in an effort to boost the ‘year list’, we decided  to attempt to track down the Waxwing flock that has been seen around  Ferry Meadows, the country park in the heart of Peterborough. There’d also been reports of Hawfinch in a village, just over the border in Northamptonshire, so we set off in eager anticipation. Close to the village of Blatherwycke, on the busy A43, I saw some familiar shaped birds in road-side bushes as we flashed by. A quick three point turn and we were parked up on the verge watching and hearing a delightful flock of 22 Waxwing – no need to go to FM now! After enjoying the spectacle for a while we carried on into the village and made our way to the church yard. Not much doing, until three Hawfinch flew into the top of a nearby tree. Unfortunately they departed as quickly as they had arrived! On the journey home, I couldn’t resist a quick shot of Fotheringhay church in the late afternoon sun.

Two, of the flock of 22 Waxwing on the A43


A poor record shot of Hawfinch, in flight


…but a nicer view of Fotheringhay church in the late afternoon sun.


Nice Norfolk (Life) Tick..

On the way back home from Norfolk today, we called in at Thetford to ‘collect’ the Black-bellied Dipper, which has been hanging around on the river there since New Year. A muddy 100 yd walk from the Nunn’s Bridges Road car park and ‘bingo’ there it was. And very obliging it was too. Dipper is a Norfolk ‘tick’ for me and if they should split cinclus (Black-bellied) from gularis, the British race, it’ll be a ‘life’ tick!

Photo taken on my Sony compact!


Two more towards the target…

This lunch time we had a short ride out to stretch our legs and managed to take in two new churches on the way: St Andrew, Metton and St Peter & St Paul, Sustead.

St Andrew, Metton – now free from scaffolding which covered most of the exterior on my previous visit


The unusual feature of a passage under the tower, possibly to facilitate processions around the church, within consecrated ground


St Peter & St Paul, Sustead


Detail of the 17th century pulpit


Lovely 14th/15th century stained glass


Only another eight hundred and forty or so to go!

50 birds before breakfast…

New Year and the start of another birding ‘year list’! A couple of hours walk around the Felbrigg estate this morning produced fifty species to get the list off to a good start. Highlights included Woodcock, Whooper Swan, Mandarin, Siskin and Nuthatch. Then this afternoon a quick drive along the coast to Cley delivered a ‘life tick’ in the shape of a Richardson’s Canada Goose! The Sacred Ibis was also present in the next field. Not a bad start to the birding year.

Happy 2013 to you all.