Saturday 24 October 2020

Chobham Common - 19th October 2020

 Another try on the common with Lesser Redpoll, Redwing and Goldcrest as key targets and the outside chance of Dartford Warbler. The problem of finding a good spot now that the usual place has been burnt out persists. Redwings come in but insist on staying in the higher trees, in the main, and Redpolls remain elusive.


Total: 16

Meadow Pipit - 4
Redwing - 2
Goldcrest - 8
Blue Tit - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Staines Moor - 18th October 2020

Today was our first attempt at catching Water Pipit with the intention of fitting darvic rings for our project. We walked the gear across a mist shrouded moor to find the horses in the area where we were to put nets up. One of the horses was very interested in me, coming close several times causing me to discourage the behaviour. All the other horses began approaching and wouldn't be shooed away. There was a bit of interaction between horses, including some rearing and kicking - there seemed to be some frustration and we decided that they've become accustomed to being fed, and we had nothing for them. Keeping one eye on the herd, we put up two doubles and a single - being interrupted once as the group advanced towards our equipment dump, with one horse grabbing my rucksack and shaking it.

On returning to set up our base we found that the table had been thoroughly licked and somehow one of the bananas had been pilfered from the bag.  

We didn't succeed in catching any Water Pipits, although we did hear and see one as we walked across the moor. Even the Meadow Pipits were a little sparse. Our most unexpected capture was a Snipe that landed in one of the three panel nets.

This Snipe is the first to be recorded on CVRG rings

While we were busy trying to capture birds for the Water Pipit project there were quite a lot of birders on the moor due to the presence of 4 Great White Egrets. Chris got a call late in the morning and was also able to see two Dartford Warblers that had been located over on the far side. While there he was also fortunate enough to see a Short-eared Owl.

Totals: 30

Snipe - 1
Meadow Pipit - 14
Redwing - 1
Wren - 1
Goldfinch - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 6
Blue Tit - 5

Chobham Common, then a quick run to Kent - 17th October 2020

It was a fairly calm day so we tried Chobham Common, at an area close to where we used to ring that had been burnt out. We had two doubles up, but of the three target species only Goldcrest worked. The tall trees that remained close by drew the few Redwings that came in, only a few got anywhere near the nets. But, the Redpoll numbers were very low, whether this is due to the loss of a big area of silver birches in the late summer fire is not entirely clear. Subsequently the catch was not high and when the news of a Masked Shrike in Kent came through, only 90 miles, and around 90 minutes away we decided to pack up and head off to see the bird on the first day. Not something we do often, but we were clearly not going to provide much data from the few birds coming in.

Totals: 14

Goldcrest - 10
Coal Tit - 3
Lesser Redpoll - 1 

A week in Norfolk - 9th to 16th October 2020

10th October

Was rather rainy so we decided to drive to Cambridgeshire and try for the Lammergeier. When we arrived it had just flown off having given good views as it fed on a hare in a field adjacent to the road. We set off in the direction that it had flown and after some searching it was seen in flight overhead. We were fortunate enough to spend some time watching it as it drifted above the ploughed field, often harassed by Red Kites and Buzzards.

 We spent the afternoon at Titchwell.

A flock of Ruff


Wheatear on the beach

Little Egret

Black-tailed Godwit

Bearded Tit

11th October.

We headed to Burnham Overy dunes in a strong and chilly wind. We made for the pine trees and having first found a Lesser Whitethroat, connected with the Barred Warbler. The very dark eye showed this to be a first year bird. We didn't see the Short-eared Owl that's been seen in the dunes.

Lesser Whitethroat

Barred Warbler

View across the dunes

The afternoon was spent at Holme NOA where the pines sheltered the observatory area from the prevailing wind and  dragonflies and insects flew around the buddleias and pond.

Migrant Hawker

Wall Brown

White tailed Bumblebee

12th October

Dawned and it looked like rain was likely although this was not due according to the forecast.
We spent the morning at Sculthorpe where some trails were underwater and closed off.


Coal Tit



13th October

Was also a rainy start, but we were out before 8am and went to Holkham Meals. There were many thrushes arriving and the pathways that had been cut through the bracken to the left of the track allowed so good views.

Song Thrush

We were struggling to hear bird calls over the persistent rumble of plant working in the pines, doing forestry work. We heard Yellow-browed Warbler and had at least 4 along the track, possibly more!

Two of the four birds seen.

Additional walkways make viewing easier

Fungi in the dunes

Grey Partridges by the car park

Pleased with having found our own YBWs, we tried North Point hoping for Ring Ouzel. There were plenty of thrushes dropping in for a brief stop off.

Redwings, Fieldfare, Blackbird are attracted by the berries

Hawthorn berries signal thrushes of a good place to stop!

Ring Ouzel record shot


14th October.

Wednesday was a little windier than the previous day. We started off at Holme NOA. There were plenty of Redwings, Fieldfare and Blackbirds about, also finches including many Brambling and Goldcrests. A reccie along the dunes on to the NWT reserve turned up a Pallas's Warbler in the calm,  sunny leeward side of a clump of mixed vegetation.

Pallas's Warbler

A Ring Ouzel was feeding in the dunes.

There was a second Pallas's in the NWT car park in the usual Sycamore trees. Closer inspection showed that it was the bird ringed earlier at the NOA observatory.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth at NOA

15th October

Thursday had a showery start. We walked Holkham, finding some Yellow-browed Warblers again. When the news of a Red-flanked Bluetail came through we were only 5 minutes walk away.

Record shot RFBT

We carried on further along the path and tied down another Yellow-browed Warbler. On the way back a Reed Warbler was seen, but turned out not to be a Blyth's as originally reported.

Reed Warbler


A pm visit to Stiffkey to check out the campsite woodland was made only to get there and find out there was a report of two Pallas Warblers in the area, but no birders as yet, give a chance to have a quite check around the area, though most of the tres on the coastal side had already lost their leaves. At the south side of the eastern end, there was not one, but two Pallas', and what was the second one from the report was still present by the boat, making three present in total. But, if a better check had been made around the car park, what else might have already been there?

16th October

We decided to start off at Holme, working the paddocks on the way to the already located Red-flanked Bluetail. However we'd seen a RFBT on the way, in the paddocks so was it the same bird?

RFBT at the end of the golf course

Cetti's Warbler in full view

We do our best to avoid twitches, 
especially when social distancing is not in evidence

The second RFBT that we found in the paddocks.

There was a third RFBT at the NOA (no photos of that one) and lots of Goldcrests in the pines.

We drove home, having found a lot of our own birds through the week, but we could have done with another day - then we would have been there for the Rufous-tailed Bushchat. Who knows, Chris might even have found it (or not) had we been there.

Welney - 9th October 2020

We dropped off at Welney on our drive east, to Norfolk, most memorable for being impossible to use binoculars or a scope while wearing a face covering. Some Whooper's have already started to arrive but these remain some distance from the hide making it impossible to read any darvic rings. There was a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits resting on one of the islands and Chris managed to record some colour ring combinations.

Whooper Swans arrive on the reserve


A flock of Black-tailed Godwits (including a colour ringed bird - that cannot 
be traced and maybe a ring short) rests up,

Of the four colour ringed birds, two were ringed in Iceland, one probably in England, and the fourth, maybe one we have seen here before that would appear to be a ring a short, as we could not find a specific set of codes last time, and are struggling with this one as well.

The details of ringing for the two Icelandic birds are:

Orange/Black - Yellow/Orange - 15.6.2005 Iceland,N Ice,Eyjafjarðarsýsla,Eyjafjörður,Kaupangur.
There was a six year gap of sightings between 2009 & 2015, but since then it seems to spend all, or some of the winter in the Ouse Washes area.

Red(8)-Lime/Green -15.7.2010 Iceland,N Ice,Skagafjarðarsýsla,Siglufjörður. 
This bird seems to arrive intially on the Ouse Washes, then winters in Cornwall.