Sunday, 1 August 2010

Syderstone & Sculthorpe, July 2010 - Norfolk (UK)

Chaffinch (female) at Sculthorpe Moors
A few days in Norfolk is always rewarding as far as birding goes, whether one visits one of the many excellent reserves or not. My visit was no different and actually got some more "common" European & British birds onto my list that have been conspicuous in their absence. During the visit I stayed in the village of Syderstone which has some great 'walks' around the village and is also has about 10-15 reserves in a 10 mile radius.

The garden in Syderstone produced my 1st lifer with a Song Thrush stuffing itself with cherries, in competition with 2-3 Blackbirds though. A juvenile European Robin was great to see which I'd not seen before, only adults up till then. Swifts were plentiful and at least 5 of them I suspect were nesting nearby as they came through low in the mornings and evenings with their distinctive screams. Other birds seen in the garden; Chaffinch, Gold and Greenfinches, Magpie, Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove. Individuals of House Martin and Barn Swallow showed up once as well.

Song Thrush in cherry tree

The fields behind the church in the village turned out to be great for Skylarks, as pointed out before they appeared, by a friendly resident. I managed to get a recording of the display call and even a reasonable record shot of it in flight. Whilst watching this, a Grey Partridge appeared in the path ahead of me - another lifer! A road out the other side of the village produced brief views of a Wren.

The visit to Sculthorpe Moors Nature Reserve was even more rewarding and even though a small reserve, I think it has great potential when visited a few times. My walk here started on a high note with the amazing Golden Pheasant, a brief but good view. Great Tits were at the feeding station and Chiffchaffs were calling all over. A quick and partial photo I got was later confirmed as Dunnock. Walking further along the boardwalks, another friendly birder pointed that they had seen a Tawny Owl and gave directions - I found it, pretty well hidden but unmistakable; a lifer and making up for missing it in London.

Dunnock at Sculthorpe Moors

In one area a Blackcap was singing constantly and eventually it showed itself but not long enough at a time to get a photo. A Water Vole had been seen in the channel nearby but I never got a view of it. A lovely bit of "air-play" commenced with a Sparrowhawk dive bombing an Eurasian Marsh Harrier giving all great views of both. The Marsh Harriers had chicks in a nest nearby which could be viewed on the site webcam. Huge numbers of Starlings seemed to congregating on the adjacent field where a lone Common Pheasant was foraging.

We went for lunch the last day at Sculthorpe Mill, lovely view and good fare as usual. Here I managed ok-ish shots of Grey Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher (photo left; something else I missed at Sculthorpe Moors). A Wood Pigeon was busy with nesting material nearby and a tiny chick of a Common Moorhen was spotted at one stage. The other notable was a Water Vole leisurely swimming along making up for yet another dip from Sculthorpe Moors.



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