Tuesday 31 March 2020

Lockdown update

Whilst filling the feeders this morning I managed an addition to the Lockdown list when two drake Mallards flew low over the garden. Otherwise it's business as usual in the garden with lots of activity from the breeding birds such as the six pairs of House Sparrows and a pair each of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Collared Dove, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Wren.

I miss birding, the adult Purple Heron at Cley would under normal circumstances be something I'd most likely go to see, Sea Eagles are wondering around Kent, Bluethroats have started to turn up and that's a bird I always like to see if possible. Cuckoos have started to arrive back along with Willow Warblers and the Hirundines. I haven't yet seen a Wheatear!

This little garden challenge is giving me a little lift and I appreciate I'm lucky to have a garden so at least I can sit out and enjoy the coming and going of the local birdlife.

I look forward to that first day birding when we're free to go out again and hope that it's not too far away and we can once again appreciate more diversity.

Lockdown list now 29 

Similar view to this morning

Sunday 29 March 2020

A quick addition to the lock down list

A Saprrowhawk circling high over the garden today with a Red Kite for company gave me another Lockdown garden tick bringing the total to 28.

And an excuse to post an old image of a Sparrowhawk in the garden.

year list now 189
Lockdown list 28

Saturday 28 March 2020

Lockdown listing

So I had a self imposed isolation following my father in law being hospitalised for five days and  testing positive for Covid-19 but thankfully he seems to have weathered it well which at 84 years of age is a relief. Anyway I took a day out at the end of the isolation but remained in my car so really remained in self isolation and I managed to add Stone Curlew to my year list from the car but it didn't feel like birding and I quickly returned home a little low in spirit at the restrictions I was imposing on myself.

Move forward a couple of days and the country was put into LOCKDOWN. so after two weeks isolation I had the very brief and not too rewarding drive to the Brecks and now find myself back in lockdown so I have decided to produce a garden lockdown list and as of today that list consists of ....

House Sparrow 
(ever present although the large colony of around 70 birds has dispersed and is now much smaller so my feeders are having a little breather)
Feral Pigeons
(ever present and a real pest....a group of around ten birds are never far away)
Wood Pigeon
(a couple of birds visit the garden daily)
Collared Dove
(again at least two birds feeding in the garden daily)
(Daily visitors although numbers have dropped since winter)
(One seen yesterday which was the first for a long time tried to get to the feeders but didn't settle)
(resident breeding pair)
Great Tit
(resident breeding pair)
Blue Tit
(resident and never far from the feeders or apples)
(resident pair enjoying the apples I provide them)
(breeding resident pair)
(Spend most of the day around my neighbours fat balls but drop into the garden daily)
Song Thrush
(heard only this week but has been in the garden earlier this year)
(daily and nesting two doors down in a fir tree which they've used for a few years now)
Carrion Crow
(Daily and nesting in an oak viewable from the garden)
(Fly over)
(fly over we have a farmers field not too far from the house)
Lesser Black backed Gull
(Daily circling around overhead they rest on a local playing field)
Herring Gull
(as above)
Black headed Gull
(as above but more numerous and many hundreds travel over the garden at dusk to roost)
Common Gull
(Most days apart from the summer months if I spend enough time in the garden and regular in the winter day time roost on the local fields (seen two late birds this week))
(seen most days over head had one Thursday circling with a Red kite)
Red Kite
(Seen two this week but they are a very new bird to the garden list)
Grey Heron
(two flew to roost last night)
Green Woodpecker
(heard only on 26th whilst gardening)
Ring necked Parakeet
(seen most mornings leaving a local roost but rarely visit the garden thankfully)
(one briefly in the virginia creeper on 26th)

So I have 27 on my lock down list this week
I have a total of 64 on my all time garden in 30 years of listing so 27 is a good start this week but who knows this lock down may just get me finding a new bird for the total?

Anyway I'll keep you posted on any additions as we move through lock down.

Stay safe guys and enjoy your garden or window listing if you can.
I might even get the camera out at some point to see if I can catch any of the garden birds with it.

Year list now 189
Lock down list now 27

Monday 23 March 2020

update on isolation

So today is day fourteen of my self isolation and I have as yet no symptoms so maybe I escaped the exposure from my father in laws infection this time. The isolation isn't difficult after all people of my grand parents generation went through two world wars so how can we think a couple or even a few weeks staying in our homes is a sacrifice. It has its challenges like how to get food when you can't go to the shops and all the on line slots are taken but compared to years of war....come on!

I do miss the birding and I have to admit to considering some fairly local isolated days out to help fill the large gap and for my own mental health but I guess a further lock down is due any time soon and so I may have to make do with more garden birding and who knows I may add another tick to the garden list over the spring.

Stay safe guys and try not to be the person that gave it to somebody else.

Something to look forward to later in the year

Thursday 19 March 2020

Testing times ahead

Well the birding has come to a sudden and dramatic halt. My father in law has tested positive for Covid-19. At 84 it's a concern, he was hospitalised last week with a suspected heart attack waiting to happen after calling an ambulance out. I sat with him first in the Resus unit then in the majors unit for about four hours before we were asked to put masks on and he was tested. Two days later his results returned as positive for the virus although he had no dry persistent cough, no high temperature but did have a chest infection for which the doctors gave strong antibiotics. He was well the following day and returned home to continue his isolation after five days in hospital. I have been in isolation since his hospital visit even before I knew he was positive and I admit I didn't think he had the right symptoms for it so expected it to be negative. He'll need a pace maker fitted when things calm down with the hospitals.

Both my sons are in self isolation with their families too at their properties and being very sensible about the need for this action despite having no contact directly with their grandad over this period. One of my brothers has symptoms and has been tested but awaits the results. I have to say these episodes have been very sobering and have really brought home the impact this virus is having and is going to have for many of us. I see the numbers of deaths each day and can't help looking behind the numbers to think of the devastation each of those families are suffering as loved ones are taken from them prematurely.

What this does do is make you realise how much we take our liberty for granted. I can't go to the shops and with home delivery slots being a month away that's not helping. My birding for over a week now has been limited to the garden where the current highlight is a very low Red-Kite on Monday. I expect to finish my fourteenth day isolation this weekend and if healthy I'll be considering my options with the utmost care for others. Social distancing is our obligation to each other so there will be no twitching for me until this things over but I would still like to experience a few solitary walks in the countryside for my own well being if that remains a possibility as further measures are put into place in the coming days and providing I don't find the virus living within me and bringing me down which it still could with incubation being anything up to fourteen days.

I usually collect my wifes medication from the pharmacy but that's not an option now and we're relying on them delivering it with the first delivery due yesterday which didn't materialise and is now due tomorrow (two days late but they are swamped as you can imagine).  I miss my grandson after just ten days so I know that's going to be hard as time goes by. I miss my parents too and the hardest thing was not being able to visit my Father in law in hospital. That is something you perhaps don't consider in all this, those lives lost have probably been lost alone in ICU's around the country with no visits allowed from loved ones which is so very sad for all concerned.

This is global and our thoughts are with family in Australia and America too at this time and I have to say we have a great WhatsApp group so we can share and keep in touch easily with them all. I also have Facetime so I can see and talk with our grandson which is a delight to both me and my good lady. I need to find some way of putting some food in the fridge which is my current project but is proving very challenging. I'm hoping for some assistance from my youngest on this front who does have a home delivery booked for next week.

As for birding well I'll just play it safe and maybe I'll get out alone and see some birds but you have to consider the guys at the petrol station and everybody else you might bump into so I'll see how this goes as I'm fully committed to the social distancing required if we are to have an impact on the spread of this cruel virus.

This time last year I was watching Stone Curlews and Wheatears as they arrived back here I'd like to think there's still time to get out and get some action.

Stay positive, be sensible, look out for others and stay safe guys.

Last year at King George reservoir
Year list still 188

quick update....my brother's just had his results and  tested negative!

Monday 9 March 2020

Jack Snipe at Rye Meads

We took the short local drive out to Rye Meads RSPB today and managed to find a Jack Snipe as we looked out from Gadwall hide helped in no small way by the local who gave us very good instructions as to the birds location. The Jims managed another year tick with two Green Sandpipers but otherwise things were very quiet on the reserve. As we got back to the visitor centre the staff had managed to find the bobbing bird on the camera and had it showing on the big screen.

Gadwall hide

The Jack Snipe (arrow to indicate position.....it looked better in the scope and even better on the TV)
Year list now 188

Sunday 8 March 2020

Lynford log

A simple mossy log placed on the pillar at the bridge in Lynford Arboretum produced the opportunity to grab the following images.






Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit


Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Marsh Tit

Saturday 7 March 2020

Good day in East Anglia

Today we set off at the crack of dawn and made Fincham by 6.30am. We found the field by the farm full of Hares and Roe Deer. Grey Partridge and Yellowhammers entertained us while we searched for the Great Grey Shrike that Jim wanted for a year tick and that we'd dipped last weekend. By 7am we hadn't found the target and then as I scanned the wires around the farm I noticed the Shrike sitting with a Blackbird and a Yellowhammer and Jim now had his year tick.

The Shrike at Fincham
We then continued north arriving at Thornham to find Twite, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank of note.

Twite, Redshank, Rock Pipit and Greenshank at Thornham
From Thornham we moved on to Titchwell and finally connected with the Woodcock that although regular is very elusive but what a great bird!

The very elusive Woodcock
We connected with Water Rail on the walk down to the hides and then enjoyed good views of Water Pipit from Parinder Hide. Jim got a year tick with the Med Gulls that have started to gather on the island and a particularly PINK blushed Black-headed Gull took our eye. Two Cranes then flew over  to add to the feast of bird life on offer.

Cranes over Titchwell
Still flush from this success we headed down to Lynford and here had great views of Brambling and distant views of Hawfinch. The feeding station at the bridge provided some good opportunity to grab some images of Nuthatch, Blue Tit and Marsh Tit which will follow in a seperate post.

We left Lynford and drove back up to Cockley but only had a single very distant Goshawk in the air with several Buzzard for company. Our last point of call was again a little closer to home at Lackford Lakes where our reward was another year tick with a single Lesser Redpoll on the feeders here.

Curlew at Thornham
A terrific day in East Anglia where our total for the day was a decent count of 102 species.

Year list now 187

Friday 6 March 2020


Following yesterdays encounter with the male I've dug out a few of the images of different Sparrowhawk encounters I've had in the garden......................

The female

The youngster

The apprentice

The big female

The male
I reckon my constant feeding of the garden birds makes my garden a prime target for these raptors but in ten years I've only witnessed a couple of kills and I have a healthy population of Sparrows so the circle of life continues. I did lose a Collared Dove to the 2015 youngster that killed the bird by drowning in the pond.

Thursday 5 March 2020

Finally the male Sparrowhawk comes to the garden

I've had juvenile and female Sparrowhawks visit the garden recently and whilst I've seen the male overhead a few times he's never come to the garden but today as I looked out from the kitchen window there he was sat on the fence by my feeders in the pouring rain. I grabbed the camera and grabbed a few images in the gloom ramping up the ISO to 6400 to generate a shutter speed that never really got going. These birds always seem to arrive in the gloom or when it's bright they sit in the only bit of shade the garden has....one day I'll get one in nice light.


Tiny male Sparrowhawk




A joy to watch him sitting in the rain coming up with a plan of attack for lunch which thankfully didn't involve the birds at my feeders today.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Difficult day at Dunge

Today we drove down to Dunge and at first light started to scope the gulls on the shoreline. We'd hoped to connect with yesterdays Glaucous Gull but it evaded us despite four hours on site. The sea was flat and calm with little to report save a few Great crested Grebes a single Guillemot and a Red-throated Diver.

View as we walked down to the patch
At Hanson hide we found the Red-necked Grebe to the relief of several birders that were looking for it. A pair of Peregrines on the Pylons the only other birds of note during our mornings birding.
Two tough days this week so far but at least we didn't decide to go for the Dipper in Northampton which has gone missing today.

ARC pit

ARC pit

Onwards and upwards!

Sunday 1 March 2020

Golden Pheasant in the Brecks

We headed up the A11 this morning hoping to connect with Lesser Spot Woodpecker at Santon Downham but we took a slight detour on route and jammed on a roadside Golden Pheasant for our trouble. At Santon Downham we had a couple of Woodlark singing and displaying as we walked down from the car park to the river. At the river we found Dave B. who had located "the tree" that the woodpeckers had started to use this year. We next found Graham and Geoff but after a couple of hours of catching up all we had for our trouble was a couple of fly over Cranes. We left and decided to give the Shrike at Fincham a try but this too proved fruitless at the bird had departed during a morning shoot and was either someplace else or deep in cover. I did however get the camera out for a trio of Grey Partridge here.

Grey Partridge

Grey Partridge
Our final destination for today was Cockley Cley where we enjoyed good scope views of at least three Goshawk attempting to display in the strong winds.

Tick wise not such a good start to March but we enjoyed a good chat with the other guys, got Golden Pheasant out of the way for 2020 and who can moan about watching Goshawks however distant.

Year list 184

Onwards and upwards!