Cooling Marshes, Kent, 7th December 2014

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Photoblog: Norfolk Notes 18-21/10/13

A little bit late but here are some highlights from last weekend's excellent trip to north Norfolk...

Sunrise over Titchwell marsh RSPB, 19/10/13.
Snow Buntings at Holme Dunes, 20/10/13.
After some time scoping Eiders and divers from a vantage on the dunes, we hit the beach and soon found these little beauties scurrying among the dunes. They didn't seem concerned by the occasional crowd and instead busied themselves with stripping small seeds from loose grass stems.
Chaffinch and Brambling (right), Sculthorpe Moor, 18/10/13.
Fresh from dipping Two-barred Crossbill at Lynford Arboretum on the way up, DG and I stopped at this excellent Hawk & Owl Trust Reserve. The first bird I saw as I walked out of the centre was a Marsh Tit attacking a feeder, I don't see many of them. Even late on a wintry, overcast afternoon, the reserve peeped and whistled with activity as a cool breeze stirred up the reedbed where a Muntjac Deer sheltered.
With no outstanding rares to chase we spent hours looking for our own, becoming intimately acquainted with a great many pine trees along the coast at Wells and Holme. My head scanning the branches, I almost missed this Earthstar fungus peeking through the soft carpet of needles on the floor.
The view east from Holme NOA, 20/10/13.
A wild, vulnerable landscape of marshes, ditches, dunes and inlets, bossed by birds but ruled by the elements. It was thrilling to watch migration unfolding before our eyes as starlings and pipits could be seen crossing the waves and flocks of noisy thrushes, particularly Redwing and Blackbird poured over the dunes. 
LWT Birders on Tour, Oct '13: Tony, Dan, Me, Rich, Laura and Vicki..

Trip List - c110 species


Pink-footed Goose – hundreds, roosting at Chosely Barns
Bearded Tit – birds at Brancaster (2+) and Titchwell (8 flew over 20/10)
Grey Partridge – covey of 12+ birds at Chosely Barns, I rarely see these birds in Kent so enjoyed this
Spotted Redshank – 1 at Titchwell
Red-necked Grebe - 1 offshore at Titchwell showing really well (19/10)
Little Stint – 1 on Titchwell Freshmarsh
Whinchat – 1 at Titchwell
Yellow-browed Warbler – 1 at Wells Wood (19/10)
Shag -1 on pool at Wells Wood
Slavonian Grebe – 1 on sea at Titchwell (20/10)
Velvet Scoter – 2 flew west past Titchwell (20/10)
Sandwich Tern – 3 at Titchwell, also 1 at Brancaster and Holme, latest I've seen
Peregrine – birds at Titchwell (1 flew in off, 2 on beach) and Holme (1 in fields)
Lapland Bunting – 1 flew over Titchwell Freshmarsh calling (20/10)
Eider – 12 on sea at Holme (inc 3 males) 20/10
Guillemot – 1 on sea at Holme 
Snow Bunting – 3 on beach at Holme (20/10)
Black-throated Diver – 1 on sea at Holme (20/10)
Great Northern Diver – 2 on sea at Titchwell giving great views (21/10)

Monday, 28 October 2013

Takin' a walk...

This isn't a post that particularly fits the sub-title of this blog, but it's one I couldn't really avoid writing. As a fan of the Velvet Underground, I was sad to hear of Lou Reed's death yesterday. I don't suppose I can add anything new to the great many comments doing the rounds, so I'll let some songs say it all - but where to start, there are just SO many...

Just listening to these again now, every time feels like the first time - I'm still hooked. If you feel at all the same then to celebrate I fully encourage you to stop what you're doing right now, wherever you are, turn up the volume and...Do The Ostrich:

Cheers Lou.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Crane spectacular

Prior to a more in depth account of my trip to Cyprus, here is some footage of a spectacular event that I witnessed yesterday evening.

Taking a final stroll on my adopted patch for the week before leaving for the airport, I heard an odd grating sound somewhere in the distance. At first I thought it was a radio or the local restaurant gearing up for another night of karaoke, but then it got louder and sounded more familiar. I scanned each way until I picked out a thin, dark, wispy line on the horizon to the north and watched it drift closer until the line became a large flock of common cranes, circling and calling in the cloudless sky. It took my breath away. After a few minutes the flock drifted south and out to sea in loose formations.

I ran back to get my camera and tell one of the other guys. By the time we returned, the first flock of around 90 birds had disappeared but after a few minutes another flock again appeared from the north, this time around 70-75 birds. As before, they passed overhead, calling and circling somewhat erratically. It seemed miraculous how such large birds could sustain such flight over so many inhospitable miles. I wonder if these birds were en route from breeding grounds in north/eastern Europe to wintering areas in Israel/Middle East? Wherever they were headed, I hope they get there safe.

Migration in full, epic flow...what a privilege to see.

Common Cranes over south eastern Cyprus 13/10/11: