Posts Tagged ‘Firecrest



Some excellent bird tours in February. Around 6 trips into the Brecks and almost as many into the Broads. The tour on the day of storm Doris was a challenge to say the least, but we still managed a few things of interest. Here’s a compendium of photos of just a few birds we came across during the month.

bewicks-swan crane glaucous-gull goshawk great-grey-shrike hawfinch iceland-gull lesser-spotted-woodpecker mediterranean-gullrough-legged-buzzardsiskinsnow-buntingwaxwingwoodlark



On fire

I must have seen many, many Firecrests in my time but last week in France I actually watched one. In fact I watched two. A pair … displaying to one another. Underneath the canopy of pines and oaks the sun shone through in shafts to light the forest floor in dappled squares. Flitting in and out of the light the male chased the female; his crown stripe gaping with excitement and luminous in intensity.

2015 03 02 Firecrest Lac du Der France_Z5A0673





Always mesmerising. Forever beautiful. We came across this Firecrest feeding in a conifer on a Norfolk Birding Tour the other week. We watched it, as always, completely spellbound.




Nice Garden Tick

It looked like a bright sunny when I set off on my walk this morning. I try to cover the area around Falcon Cottage north to the sea as frequently as tours and other work allows. I like to see what’s happening on ‘my patch’. Bird migration should be hot right now in mid October but in fact it’s as slow as I’ve known it for many years. Good birds tend to be turning up in Essex and around the Borders of Scotland but seem to be missing Norfolk … for the moment – there’s still time for that to change but it suffices to say it’s a bit quiet.

With an unpromising steady south westerly wind blowing I set off with no air of expectation just a mild healthy curiosity.  I was right; finding birds was hard work. As a good friend of mine said over the weekend Woodpigeon Retina burn-out! It came as some surprise then that from one small copse the familiar sound of a calling Yellow browed Warbler punctuated the silence and a rather out of place Great spotted Woodpecker coming in off the sea led me to take a second take as it landed on one of the wooden groynes!

As I climbed back up the ridge towards home the wind got up and the sky turned that gun metal grey that signals rain. It wasn’t long before it started; not heavy forceful rain you understand, just gentle drizzle. Then it all started to happen.

Skylarks in abundance, Song Thrushes, Redwings, Chaffinch by the score and a party of House Martins dashed through – the first I’ve seen for a couple of weeks. Despite the south westerly, migration was happening and the rain was pushing things down low.

As I got back to Falcon Cottage and closed the gate behind me I heard a ‘crest’ in the garden. Not the thin call of a Goldcrest but the round fruity call of a Firecrest and with a little patience there it was, feeding among the ivy on the leeside of trees. I watched it as it danced through the branches and leaped over the bushes to a Holm Oak in the far hedgerow. I never tire of seeing these tiny flying jewels. From here it left the garden and it was away. I turned to enter the house only to be faced with another feeding in the ivy by the door. Two Firecrests!

As Sharon said … nice garden tick!


A sign of the times

A couple of weeks ago I took out Simon Barnes; a columnist for the Times. He is a charming gentleman full of anecdotes that I could have listened to all day long. We sat staring at the North Sea for a few hours as he would have liked to have seen a Harbour Porpoise. In writing an article about them for the Whale and Dolphin Week organised by the Seawatch Foundation; a sighting certainly would have given the article a certain ‘street cred’. The Porpoise had other ideas. An unseasonal June meant several layers of fleeces and gloves later we gave up, retiring gracefully to the coastal ridge and later Hickling Broad. Just for a look around you understand. The original article was published last week but some of what we saw he has celebrated in a couple of articles in today’s Saturday Times Newspaper. Thank you Simon for the mention; but more so, thank you for some wonderful conversation.


Olympic Sprite

Firecrests have played a strong part in the tours we’ve taken this last week.

You can’t fail to be impressed by them. Such a strong sweet song deserves to come from something so richly coloured. Wearing a saddle fashioned from bronze, eyebrows of silver and a crown of gold you would be forgiven if you thought this creature had been fashioned by Faberge. This incredibly tiny member of the Kinglet family is nothing short of a small miracle of design.

The weather was set to improve last Friday afternoon so I took an hour out to go and take a few photographs of Firecrest at my leisure. They can be difficult to photograph when they are high in the canopy so I was looking for a bird feeding at around head height. When I eventually found a foraging bird in low vegetation the break in the clouds had passed over; however it behaved itself, came close, and despite the low light I was able to get a few shots.

It has to be said though no photograph can do a Firecrest justice.



They don’t call the Lesser spotted Woodpecker ‘Ladderback’ for nothing. This uncommon tiny sparrow sized woodpecker inhabits the very outer branches in the tops of tall trees. Its black and white patterned back – the ladder back – is surprisingly well camouflaged. February and March are good months to find them before the trees ‘leaf up’ and they are still calling as they mark out their territories. As well as Lesser spots … Goshawk, Hawfinch, Firecrest and Woodlark are all possible on a Birdwatching Tour to the south of Norfolk at this time of the year. If you are interested in a day out give me a call or send me a mail.

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March 2017
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