Saturday, 19 April 2014

Swarovskis, Crossbills and even an Eagle!

Sorry I've not been blogging for a while, I've been away in Norfolk due to me giving a talk at the BTO Head Quarters. I shall be talking about that in a separate blog, however in this one I will be sharing with you what birding I got up to at Lynford Arboretum. Due to us living rather far away from Norfolk we decided to stay for a short while. We, as a family, were staying in a small cottage in Mundford. Throughout the journey we were joined by a student studying Zoology at university called Harry Martin who enjoyed watching the Red Kites with us on the way.

When we all finally arrived, we decided to take a visit to Lynford Arboretum which was just within a mile from where we were staying. Apparently the site was a good place to see Two Barred Crossbills, however throughout the first trip at this site we didn't manage to see them. Nevertheless we still did manage to see some other great birds...

(Now I haven't mentioned that A Focus On Nature, or AFON, has kindly offered me some Swarovski binoculars for a month.  AFON and Swarovski have clubbed together to find 12 young wildlife enthusiasts to share the bins over 12 months and record as many species as they can with them; so if you unfortunately don't see the bird with the binoculars it doesn't count, even lets say if it was a Hudsonian Godwit. The binoculars arrived from James Shooter on the very morning we were setting off for Norfolk, perfect timing.)

..Anyway back to Lynford Aboretum. As soon as we arrived into the car park, bird song filled are ears, and could easily pick one out; the Firecrest! (The first bird I saw through the bins, not bad ay), not the rarest of birds (but still not common) however one of the most stunning. As it stood perched in a rather large Beech Tree, it continued to sing; now though flaring it's head at us and the people around us. The next bird I saw through them was a singing male Chaffinch.

After a good ten minutes of watching the Firecrest we moved on further down the path, we soon came across a feeding station, of course it was full of Titmice, Chaffinches and the odd Nuthatch and Blackcap. What really caught my eye was the male Brambling, and I've got to say he really was a stunner. I managed to take a couple of snaps before he took to the trees.

We did visit this site (Lynford Arboretum) twice, so I am now moving onto part two of the Aboretum if you like, however this time the first bird I saw and actually heard was a ringed Marsh Tit, beautiful as they look, they still take a bit of work to get a good picture (which in my opinion I almost managed to do).

As we continued our walk we soon came to a large area of pine forest, we all as a family though it would be nice to stray a bit from the path to see what was about. RUSTLE, RUSTLE, RUSTLE, went the grass. As I looked up a pine cone crossed paths with my eyes I looked up further and my eyes came to a stunning male Crossbill, tearing the pine cones apart then licking the seeds out. What a perfectly designed beak for the job.

As I went to tell mum, dad and my brother, they were soon looking up in amazement, even though I've seen Crossbills before I have never had as good views as this.

As my Swarovski binoculars stuck glued to the male ( below right) Crossbill, my attention was turned to a female that had come to join it (below left). I was really amazed to see the amount of wildlife that place held, probably one of my best bird watching experiences ever.

And it just gets better...

Not in these pictures but towards the end of the trip something caught my eye in a Black Thorn tree, I then noticed a large group of birders staring at the same Black Thorn I was looking at, I looked through my (Swarovski) Binoculars and realized it was a stunning male Two Barred Crossbill.
I only got a couple of glimpses through a scope before it took off into the much larger Pine Trees. 
As we continued walking, listening to the Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, we soon came to a large pond, and as you can see this trip was not just about birds.

We were joined by what looked like a Grass Snake swimming through the water, I've got to say my mum spotted that, but nevertheless it was still such a pleasure to watch.

Of course we can't forget about the common birds, it was still lovely as ever to watch all the tit mice going to there nests and feeding, it really was amazing. 

When I said that the trip wasn't just about birds, it certainly wasn't, we again as a family were joined by some beautiful Orange Tip butterflies, the first time I had seen any this year.

I spent a bit of time enjoying and photographing these as they are my favourite butterfly (especially the male)

I saw and recorded quite a few butterflies whilst in Norfolk but the biggest was the most beautiful Brimstone.
 There were lots of these about, and gave us great views, but they wouldn't open their wings for a photo.

We also saw lots of deer whilst at the Arboretum (three species in fact) but this cheeky fellow was the Muntjac, and whether this makes you laugh, it certainly  makes me laugh sneaking behind the photographers, what a perfect way to end my time at Lynford. 

However that Muntjac didn't end the day; watching this eagle below (jet not bird!!!) did. We decided to visit the military base for my brother and I've got to say he really enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and I'll keep you updated with more news at my time in Norfolk.

So, the all the species seen so far with the Swarovkis bins are: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Tree creeper, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Brambling, Siskin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Chiff Chaff, Black Cap, Willow Warbler, Gold crest, Fire crest, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Common Crossbill, Two Barred Crossbill, Sarling, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Carrion Crow, Raven, Rook, Grey Heron, Jackdaw, Reed Bunting, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mallard, Linnet and Magpie - and I've only had them for 5 days.

Now to get them in to action on my local patch.

(More blogs on Norfolk coming very soon including a fabulous lifer and an amazing conference at the BTO Head Quarters with AFON and other young birders, photographers and various environmental students.)


  1. Well done Findlay,keep up the good work.

  2. Well done on the speech, looking forward to hearing more, good luck with the bin's, that was an inspired idea lending them out for 12 months.

  3. really awesome trip, it sounds like! and the binoculars couldn't be in better birding hands. :)

  4. A great set of Bins to be trying out Fin, I'm very jealous!! we are off looking for Crossbills soon too, just found out where there are some near us. A great little write up as always.

  5. Those binoculars sound awesome, I really like the Grass Snake photo, they are awesome creatures

  6. My word, Findlay! What splendid adventures, and some wonderful birds too! I'm not surprised that they wanted to lend you those bins - I don't know of anyone more deserving than you.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your appearance at the BTO headquarters.

    Best wishes - - Richard

  7. Public speaking now! there no end to your talents Findlay? Well done with that.
    How lucky is that, to get a free loan of some super bins? and looking at your list, they seem to be performing well already!!
    Looks like you had two good visits to Lynford Arboretum, and you saw the Crossbills...Keith and I went there last year looking for them...did we see them?...of course we didn't!!!
    As for those Eagles...a bit noisy, aren't they?
    Great stuff Findlay, I'm looking forward to reading more about your Norfolk adventure...[;o)

  8. well done Fin your speech was amazing

  9. An excellent post Findlay.
    You did better at Lynford than me and Trvor. Like he said, we were Crossbill less. A lovely place though.
    Well done with the Brimstone picture too. They never seem to settle for me.

  10. Hi Findlay. So pleased that your talk went well. I hope I never see a grass snake or an adder on our wet land. The Pied Flycatcher has investigated his nest box and Grandpa has seen the Red Starts. Hope the tadpoles are thriving. Anothet excellent blog.


  11. Exciting stuff Findlay, those binoculars had a stunning start :-)

  12. Brilliant Findlay, the Brambling, Brimstone butterfly, Orange-tip and Muntjac are amazing.

  13. You had a super day out there Findlay. You certainly christened those binoculars with some good birds.

  14. AFON and Swarovski have clubbed together to find 12 young wildlife ...