15 March 2009

Thetford Forest...

The trip to Thetford Forest yesterday produced the goods once again - some great birds and also some reasonably good weather too. The day also started off a lot more relaxed than last month’s RSPB trip; we remembered to set the alarm on Saturday night and didn’t have to rush to catch the coach! The rain that had been forecast for much of the morning started to fall just as we left the house, but had stopped by the time we reached Derby. From then on it was a dry and bright day. Once again, whilst waiting for the coach, we had good views of the Derby Cathedral Peregrines.

Derby Cathedral.

Santon Downham was our first stop of the day and provided us with a total of 33 species, which, spookily enough, is exactly the same as last year’s trip! Woodlark is always the main target bird for us at this location and, after a bit of searching, we struck it lucky once again. At least two larks were seen and in the end they gave great views to everyone on the trip. Whilst watching the Woodlark, and making sure everyone else got to see them, I also picked up Buzzard, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Yellowhammer, numerous Siskin and a Jay. March 14 and this is the first Jay I’ve seen all year! Where are they all?

A little further along the path from the Woodlark Lynda and I caught up with a small group of our party that said they had found something of interest - it turned out to be an Adder! They said it was a way of thanking me for finding the Woodlark. Little did they know, if there’s one thing I HATE its snakes! I did manage to build up enough nerve to get a quick photo but came out in a cold sweat in the process! I was not a happy bunny at this point and moved swiftly on!

Want a better photo? Take your own!

The walk back to the coach, along the river path, was a little quieter than usual but we did manage to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a pair of Grey Wagtail, a small flock of Redwing and a Goldcrest. A Water Rail provided many of us with outstanding views as it fed on the riverbank. The bird spent long periods of time out in the open and was not in the least worried about people passing by on the path, most unusual for this species.

Our second site of the day was Lynford Arboretum, just a short drive away. The arboretum, and nearby lakes, were rather quiet compared with previous visits with just 32 species being seen by Lynda and I. We have no complaints about the quality of birding here though as we got to see Hawfinch, a site speciality, and also a group of 12 Crossbill. The Crossbill gave themselves away by calling loudly as they approached us through the woods and then settled in the top of a tree right in front of us. We got great views of the birds but unfortunately only one other member of our group was close by at the time, the other 45 or so missed out! Maybe in future they’ll not be so keen to show me snakes in return for Woodlarks!

Other birds here included Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted and also Green Woodpecker, Song and Mistle Thrush, Treecreeper and Siskin. Two albino Pheasants were also seen. As we walked back to the coach at the end of the afternoon we came across a rather nice carving that had been created on a broken tree trunk - I don’t think I’d fancy meeting this guy in the dark!


  1. Some great birds, and I'm a bit jealous about that adder - would love to see one of them.

  2. I’d have gladly let you take my place in front of the adder... I really am NOT a fan!