WBC Programme of Events for 2017
Dawn Chorus at Ditchingham Estate
Good Friday 14th April (Book place with Kathy)
At the kind invitation of The Earl and Countess Ferris, WBC’s will again complete a dawn chorus walk around the Ditchingham Estate. This year, there will be a change of route and we hope to take in Hedenham Woods and other parts of The Estate not visited in previous years. The walk will culminate at The Beater’s Retreat where we will be treated to a bacon sandwich or traditional hot-cross buns, teas and coffees. Further details will be given at time of booking.
Leaders: Nick Clitheroe, Steve Piotrowski and Paddy Shaw
Meet: The Beaters Retreat, Ditchingham
Time: 07.00 hrs
Cost: £5/person – all proceeds going to Hedenham Church
Evening River Walk – Beccles to Wherry Inn, Geldeston
Thursday 27th April (Book place with Kathy)
This is the first of our very popular evening walks. Birds should be very active with summer visitors holding territories and Kingfishers zipping up and down the river. The leaders will arrange for cars to be stationed at both ends of the walk, so we’ll walk from the Old Bridge at Beccles westwards along the Norfolk side of river and finish for a coffee or a pint at The Wherry Inn.
Leaders: Paddy Shaw and David Hovell
Meet: Old River Bridge at Beccles
Time: 6 p.m. onwards
Black Sea Birding Resorts, Bulgaria
Wednesday 10th to Tuesday 16th May
WBC had an extremely successful tour of Bulgaria in May 2013 and on that occasion we flew from London to Sofia and then travelled to and from the Black Sea taking in birding hotspots en route. This year we plan to fly to Varna and confine most birding activities along the Black Sea coast. Those interested should contact Kathy who will forward a draft itinerary.
Leaders: Steve Piotrowski
Cost: approx. £800 including flights
Evening Bird Walk – Carlton Marshes
Friday 19th May (Book place with Kathy)
There are some amazing wildlife hotspots dotted along the length of the Waveney Valley, but SWT’s Nature Reserve at Carlton Marshes is one of the jewels in the crown. These botanically rich marsh, dyke and lagoon systems attract an abundance of insects and are a magnet for birds. Carlton Marshes is well known to most WBC members and many have been an integral part of its development. SWT now have an opportunity to expand the reserve and currently are in the midst of a million pound appeal. Suffolk Broads manager, Matt Gooch, will accompany our group as we pass by the new lands and he will be able to talk about future plans for this unique part of Suffolk. The group will take a circular route around the reserve, walking anticlockwise to the river wall and to the ferry crossing. We will then take the ferry to the Waveney Inn for a beer, tea, coffee, or soft drink and return via Spratt’s Water back to the car park.
Leaders: Matt Gooch and Roger Walsh
Meet: Carlton Marshes car park
Time: 6 p.m. onwards
Kazakhstan Birding Trip
Thursday 25th May to Thursday 1st June
(trip based upon 14 places available) One place left
This is undoubtedly WBC’s most adventurous foreign tour yet. The tour will be organised by Birdfinders and we will basically follow the itinerary as detailed on their website.
Leader: Steve Piotrowski
Cost: £1,995 including flights
Cairngorms by train
Sunday 11th to Saturday 17th June
(Based upon 14 places available on minibus)
This is a tour of the Scottish highland with a difference as those that don’t fancy the arduous drive will be encouraged to travel by train. Trains leave Norwich early on Sunday morning and arrive at Pitlochry in the evening where we will be collected by minibus and transported to the FSC Centre at Kindrogan where we will stay for six nights. Those travelling by car will be encouraged to car share and we’ll all meet up at the Field Centre. There will be daily excursions from Kindrogan to such sites as the Cairngorm Plateau, Findhorn Valley, Speyside hotspots such as Nethy Bridge, Grantown-on-Spey, Abernethy Forest, Inch Marshes and sites on the edge of Cairngorm National Park such as Glenshee. Birding around the centre is good with a Black Grouse lek nearby and regular visits by Pine Martins in the evenings.
Leaders: Steve Piotrowski and David Hovell
Meet: Kindrogan FSC
Time: 7 to 9 pm
Evening Bird Walk – Minsmere and Dunwich Heath for Nightjars
Wednesday 28th June (Book place with Kathy)
A rare and precious habitat that is also quiet and serene, wild and dramatic. Dunwich Heath is home to special species such as the Dartford Warbler, Nightjar, Woodlark, ant-lion, glowworms, adders and much more. This will be an inspiring mid-summer visit, made even more exciting by the specialist species that we may encounter. The target for this evening walk will be the mysterious and frequently unseen Nightjar that breeds on Dunwich Heath. The Nightjar normally arrives in Suffolk in late April, but most typically in May, the first sign of their return is the eerie ‘churring’ song given by the male from a perch within its territory. Nightjars will be in the peak of their breeding season by late-June and an early-evening start will give us the chance to walk down to East Hide at RSPB Minsmere to search for other species as we wait for the appearance of Nightjars as dusk approaches.
Leaders: Richard Gilbert and Jon Evans
Venue: Meet at National Trust car park at 6.30 p.m.
Heveningham “Wilderness Reserve” BioBlitz
Sunday 16th July (Book place with Kathy)
For the past three years, WBC has completed a BioBlitz at Heveningham Hall, which has helped us understand the biological diversity of The Estate. This year we will focus our attention on Sibton Hall Park which is at the southern end of The Estate. The day will start of by collating moths from traps fixed the previous evening, which will be followed by breakfast. We will then split up into two or three biologically-focused recording groups looking at plants, insects, mammals and birds. We’ll break for lunch and a catch up on what’s been found so far and then continue with an afternoon session. Experts will be on hand to help with identification.
Leaders: Matthew Dean and Steve Piotrowski
Venue: Heveningham Hall
Time: 8.00 a.m.
Evening bird walk at RSPB Minsmere for waders and gulls
Thursday 27th July (Book place with Kathy)
The birding potential of Minsmere Scrape is known to us all but in late summer it often really comes to life as the evening gulls and waders arrive to roost. Gull watching can be unpredictable as roosts often depend on weather conditions, water levels and the amount of disturbance during the preceding week. However, scanning the gull roost can be very rewarding with scarce birds such as Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls being seen. Join local gull expert John Grant who will take you through the identification features of each species. If the gulls fail to appear, then we are in the peak passage period for autumn waders, so we can’t lose! The evening will be concluded at the Eelsfoot PH, in Eastbridge, when the highlights of the evening can be discussed. Thursdays is “folk evening” at The Foot and the band often includes WBC member and talented musician John Garbutt who is open to requests. However, he has categorically stated that he won’t sing the “Birdy Song” no matter how much we offer to pay him!
Leaders: John Grant and Steve Piotrowski
Venue: RSPB Minsmere car park at 5.30 p.m.
Evening Bird Walk – Hazelwood Marshes and the Sailor’s Path, Aldeburgh
Tuesday 1st August (Book place with Kathy)
The evening walk will start at the carpark of the Sailors’ Path. Hazelwood Marshes was decimated by the December 2013 tidal surge, resulting in a change from a freshwater to estuarine habitat. The path is approximately six miles long leading through open heaths, extensive woodlands and marshy meadows to Snape and is one of Suffolk’s most delightful and popular walks and a great venue for birdwatchers. We only intend to walk one way, from Aldeburgh towards Snape, so the leaders will organize car parking so we have vehicles both ends.
Leaders: Steve Piotrowski and Chris McIntyre
Time: 6.30 pm
Rutland Bird Fair – “The world’s largest international birdwatching event”
Sat 19th and Sun 20th August
(trip based upon 12 places available)
Described as the birdwatcher’s Glastonbury, Bird Fair encompasses the whole spectrum of the birdwatching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation. This is the event of the year if you’re into birds and wildlife. There are hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts. You’ll find everything, from scopes to sculptures, binoculars to bird food, eGuides to eco-holidays!
Every day a packed programme of events is offered. Three separate timetables boast a fantastic variety of lectures. The Events Marquee hosts quiz shows, question and answer sessions, exclusive book launches and family-based entertainment. The Birdfair Auction offers you the chance to bid for a whole host of lots, donated by our exhibitors, ranging from holidays, to artwork, to unique one-off experiences, with all the monies raised going directly to the Birdfair project.
WBC will provide a coach to ferry people to and from Rutland Water leaving from various pick up points in NE Suffolk from 7.30 a.m. onwards. I estimate the hire of a minibus for two days plus mileage will be approximately £250 – Approximately £21 each
Previous comments from other attendees are the expanse of what there is to see and do at the Bird Fair, we have therefore this year reserved six double/twin rooms at the nearby (3.5 miles) Travelodge “Redwings Rutland Lodge”. The cost for this is £50 per person for the night including breakfast.
At the moment tickets prices are not available for Bird Fair covering both the Sat and the Sunday (so I will have to advise all nearer the time of the overall cost) but a rough guess would be £105 per person for the weekend – please email me in the first instance to express your interest in attending. Deposits will be requested in January 2017.
Leader: Jon Evans
Venue: Time and pick up points to be agreed with Kathy
Spurn “MigFest” and Sea-watch
Friday 8th to Sunday 10th September
(trip based upon 12 places available)
In 2017, Spurn Bird Observatory will celebrate its fifth migration festival and the event is fast becoming a not-to-be-missed occasion.
WBC will provide a minibus to ferry people to and from Spurn leaving from various pick up points in NE Suffolk from 7.30 a.m. onwards on the Friday morning. Accommodation at a nearby Travel Lodge will be booked.
Leaders: Jon Evans
Portland Bird Observatory
Thursday to Sunday Sept 21st – 24th
(trip based upon 14 places available)
Travel by minibus and an overnight stay for three nights in the old lighthouse at Portland Bird Observatory (£15/night for dormitory-type accommodation. We’ll leave Suffolk at 5.00 a.m. on Thursday morning in time to reach PBO by late-morning. We’ll explore the cliffs, coves and quarries in and around Portland Bill and there will be early-morning ringing opportunities at the Bird Observatory. Staying here will have distinct advantages as we should witness the start of autumn migration and likely to encounter returning passage warblers such as Grasshopper, Willow and Sedge. We will leave Dorset sometime late Sunday afternoon to arrive back in Suffolk late on Sunday evening.
Leaders: Steve Piotrowski and Jon Evans
Venue: Portland Bird Observatory (minibus pickup points at time of booking)
Tuesday October 10th
John is a wildlife filmmaker who works for the independent production company Otter Films Ltd. Otter Films has worked with the BBC, National Geographic, PBS and Discovery Channel on series including Planet Earth II, The Hunt, Frozen Planet, Life Stories, Life, Big Cat Diary, Springwatch and Yellowstone. His most recent projects include working on the new BBC1 series Planet Earth II which was first shown in autumn 2016. John helped film the Wilson’s bird of paradise for the Jungles episode, as well as hyenas in Ethiopia and catfish in France for the Cities episode. John also filmed the Peregrines that live in New York for the Cities episode. There’s a chapter about this in The Shark and the Albatross. Recently he has also been working on Dynasties: Lions (for BBC1 in 2018), a Disney Nature documentary and “Our Planet”, a series for Netflix.
Venue: Fisher Theatre.
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Migration Watch – Northwest Norfolk
Saturday/Sunday 14th/15th October
(Book place with Kathy)
WBC has organised a number of trips to North Norfolk in recent years but we have largely neglected NW Norfolk and the wonders of The Wash and RSPB Snettisham. There are often spectacular wader displays as they perform their aerial formation dance as they join the roost as the tide reaches its peak.
Leaders: Steve Howell and Andrew Green
Venue: Meet at Cley NNT Visitors Centre at 8.00 a.m.
Migration Watch—Dingle Marshes, Shore Pools and Westwood Marsh
Sunday 5th November (Book place with Kathy)
Bird migration wise, November is a most unpredictable month. For example, who would have thought that in November 2016 Suffolk would play host to two trans-Atlantic migrants in the form of American Cliff Swallow and Forster’s Tern? Dingle Marshes is one of the few places in Suffolk where you can have a near wilderness experience and a walk along the shore pools can be very rewarding. Wintering flocks of Twite should have returned from their upland Pennine nesting grounds and Snow Buntings and Shore Larks could be on show. In recent years, the marshes have attracted three species of egrets: Great, Little and Cattle. The area is always good for raptors with Marsh and Hen Harriers being regular visitors and perhaps a Merlin or even a Short-eared Owl?
Leaders: Steve Howell and Roger Walsh
Meet: Dunwich Beach Car Park
Wildlife tour of Antarctica – Clive Ireland
Tuesday 21 November
Antarctica is a continent which, by its nature, has unique form of wildlife that most of us will only see on wildlife programmes. Clive will guide us through his 2016 adventure showing us some of his amazing images of seabirds and breath-taking landscapes.
Venue: The Maltings Sports Centre, Pirnhow St, Ditchingham NR35 2RU
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Wild South Africa above and below the waves – Chris McIntyre and Mark Crame
Tuesday 5 December
The gigantic Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet off South Africa’s Cape Coast and the cold, nutrient rich waters that upwell from around 200–300m depth in turn fuel high rates of phytoplankton growth and sustain the productive Benguela ecosystem. The mountainous seas, over a food-rich Continental shelf, attract an amazing diversity of seabirds such as majestic albatrosses, shearwaters and petrels that gather in their thousands. However, few of us would have much knowledge about what goes on below the waves, so we have two speakers that will give us an insight into both. Vice Chairman Chris McIntyre has been on several specialised pelagic trips and collected many wonderful images so the first half of the talk will be devoted to seabirds. Mark Crame along with WBC Member Alison Joseph, has recently returned from an expedition when they explored South Africa’s underwater world. Together they swam with sharks without armouring and outside any sort of cage and, most obviously, have lived to tell the tale! Mark will be able to demonstrate the wonders of underwater life off South Africa that few of us will ever see with our own eyes.
Venue: The Maltings Sports Centre, Pirnhow St, Ditchingham NR35 2RU
Time: 7.30 p.m.
WBC Event Notes:
- Members are asked to consider car sharing. When emails are sent out by Kathy regarding events, please confirm your place but also advise her if you are happy to car share and you are happy to offer other members a lift.
- When car sharing members are respectful to car owners and offer to perhaps share travel expenses.
- Fees/deposits received by Kathy within the advised timescale will ensure your place on WBC trips is secured. Please make cheques made out to Waveney Bird Club unless otherwise advised. Please note that all deposits are non-refundable.
- The club reserves the right to alter or cancel any event. Only those that have registered an interest for that particular event will be informed of any changes. The leader may choose to alter the itinerary on the day.
- As several trips include the usage of other organisations facilities we would therefore recommend you bring appropriate membership cards on you to prove your entitlement to free or reduced admission costs.
- Please always ensure meeting places on car parks that you bring sufficient change to cover any parking costs.
- Most outdoor events are all-day, so it is advisable to bring sufficient food and drink.
- Young people (15 or under) are very welcome providing they attend with a responsible adult.
- Members are asked to please not bring dogs.
- Appropriate footwear and warm clothing is advisable on all field events – no “loud” colours such as reds and yellows please. We would also recommend that where the forecast is poor you bring perhaps additional clothing that you can use if required.
- Please inform the leader on the day if you leave the event earlier than the prescribed finishing time.
- Please inform the leader if short-notice circumstances mean you will not be attending or running late.