Saturday, 19 April 2014

Enjoyable Return to Norfolk!

Day 1

We got up at around 5:30am. We had to be in Norfolk for around 9:30am as we were going to the young birders workshop in Thetford. This was my second trip to Norfolk this year and it was just as amazing as the last one.

We arrived at the BTO headquarters at around 9:15am. While we were waiting for it to start I met some great people like Findlay Wilde and Toby Carter who are also young birders like me. Firstly the BTO staff gave some information about them selves like how they started working with the BTO and what they like doing, nesting, ringing etc. Afterwards we went onto do some activities I picked ringing, nesting and better birding. We did nesting first, we learned about where different birds nest and about different bird eggs. Then we got to go outside to look at some nests! Dave Leech, a top nester at the BTO showed us an awesome Chaffinch nest, a Song Thrush nest which had 4 eggs in and a Blackbird nest which had 3 Chicks in! After we were on to Ringing, on this we learned about what you have to do with the birds while ringing. He showed us 2 Blackbirds, a Marsh Tit and a Blackcap. I got to let the Blackcap go so I was really pleased. Finally we were doing Better Birding this is were you learn how to obviously become a better birder. Like if you weren't very good at bird calls you would learn about that.

After that amazing morning it was now Lunch. After Lunch some of the young birders gave talks about why they like birds, what have they done in the past and what they can do in the future. All of them were fantastic! The day ended with a debate about Conservation. On the way out on the BTO headquarters I spotted a Stoat running across a field and 2 Muntjac Deer in the woods! As we were coming out of the car park I also spotted a very showy Egyptian Goose. I would just like to say a huge thanks to the BTO for holding this amazing event.

Egyptian Goose
At around 5:45pm me and my Dad set of to go to Weeting heath in search of Stone Curlews! Once we arrived we headed of to one of the hides. When we were in the hide all we could see were tons of Rabbits but I eventually picked out one of the stunning Stone Curlew, it kept hiding in the heath but occasionally it gave nice views. While we were waiting for it to come back out a little Rabbit sat up right in front of the hide! After we moved on to the other hide, on the way we saw Findlay Wilde who informed us of a few Stone Curlews showing well from the next hide! Once we were in the hide we couldn't see much but then a few mins later my Dad spotted one, he pointed me in the direction of where he saw it. I managed to spot it sitting on a nest! My Dad then started to say "it has just walked right out in the open", I was a bit confused as when I looked back at it, it hadn't moved a single bit and then it turns out we were watching completely different birds! Soon the one my Dad was watching moved over to the other one and then they switched over, now the one I was watching was walking around and the one my Dad was watching was now on the nest! This has definitely been one of my best highlights so far this year!   


Stone Curlews
Day 2
Today we decided to have a look in Pymoor for the drake Baikal Teal. The drive from Thetford was around 50mins. Once we had arrived at the spot we first spotted a very nice Green Woodpecker on the side of a hill just next to the spot, this is probably one of the best views I have ever had of this species. On the little pool of water of where the Baikal Teal was sighted there was only a few Teal, Wigeon, Coots, Shoveler and Grey Herons. Afterwards we moved on to have a look around RSPB Ouse Washes. Once we arrived I noticed a Cattle Egret had been spotted from the Stockdale hide, on the way to that hide we had a check in the Kingfisher hide first where we spotted a few Little Egrets, Coots, Gadwalls and Moorhens. Afterwards we moved on to the Stockdale hide, on the way we asked a man who had just came from the Stockdale hide to see if it was there, he said he has seen it but it walked out of view a few mins ago. Once we were in the hide there was no sign of the Cattle Egret but there was lots of Avocets, Black Tailed Godwits and Little Egrets. A while later a man said he had just seen the Cattle Egrets head look up from the ditch, everyone had there eyes peeled to hopefully catch a glimpse of it. Thankfully it then took of and landed just outside the ditch! It stayed quite distant for all of the time we were there but it was still a very nice bird to see. A while later it then took of again and then landed in some fields right at the back of the reserve.

Cattle Egret
After me and my Dad decided to have a look at the Two Barred Crossbills in Lynford Arboretum but firstly, since its on our way back, we decided to have a quick check in Pymoor for the Baikal Teal. Once we were we asked a few people to see if they had it but they all replied "no". About 10mins later a big flock of Wildfowl dropped in and then someone shouted "I have it" but then he said "it just went into the reeds" but thankfully it came back out! We got decent views through the scope of this stunning bird. Hopefully it will get accepted.
Baikal Teal
In case you aren't sure of which bird it is, it is the one which is pretty much in the middle of the photo and it is the bird which looks a bit bigger than all of the other ones. We eventually found Lynford Arboretum, we were hoping for the Two Barred Crossbills to come and drink from the puddle inside the walled garden but sadly they didn't but we did manage distant views of one male at the top of a tree! This was a very welcome year tick for me. They are stunning birds. There was quite a few birds drinking from the puddle such as Siskin, Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Blue Tit also up in the trees there was quite a few Nuthatch and on the grass there was a cracking White Wagtail.
White Wagtail
Day 3
Sadly this was our last day in fantastic Norfolk. Today we decided to hopefully have a look at the Two Barred Crossbills again. Once we arrived at Lynford Arboretum we went over to the walled garden but once again there wasn't any Crossbills drinking from it. A little while on a man had a male just a little further down the path so we went to have a look. It showed a lot better than the other day also Common Crossbills were showing really well to! A few mins later a man spotted a Brambling in with the Crossbill flock. This cracking little bird gave great views. After me and my Dad decided to have a walk through the wood where we spotted several more Brambling. Also we found 3 nests, we found a Marsh Tit nest, a Tree creeper nest and a Little Grebe nest! Sadly by his point it was time to go, on our way back to the car we saw Willow Warblers, Goldcrests and more Common Crossbills.
Two Barred Crossbill

Common Crossbill

After an amazing trip with tons of fantastic wildlife it was time to head home.




  1. Wow , what a fantastic trip and experience you have had , great birds , wildlife and photos Ellis , well done mate :-)

  2. It was a brilliant trip to Norfolk for all of us I think. You got some cracking birds and it was really nice to meet you and your dad. I really hope we can all meet up again. From Findlay

  3. Brilliant blog Ellis.
    Undoubtedly the best you've written, really interesting to read and as usual some fantastic photos.
    Proud of you ;))

  4. thanks Ellis seems like you had a great time and saw some great birds and I will possibly be going to the spurn festival!