Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 27 February 2015

Hilborough and Little Cressingham, Norfolk

The day dawned with a moderate frost and bright sunny conditions.  The day remained dry with a temperature high in the afternoon of 8 degrees celsius.

Hilborough 0730-0930
I started the day by taking Toby for a walk through woodland adjacent to Coldharbour Road.
Woodlark at Hilborough 27/02/15
The plan was to visit the newly planted clearings to watch Woodlarks.  I eventually found 5 birds (2 pairs at one site and a single singing male at another site), however, compared to recent visits, the birds were more flighty and there seemed to be a lot of chasing going on between all 4 birds, although any differences were put a side when both pairs seemed to feed within close proximity of each other along the periphery of the clearing.  The beautiful song-flight was also seen overhead.  Also of note was 3 singing Song Thrushes and Yellowhammers.

Little Cressingham (early afternoon)
A bright, early spring afternoon made for a pleasant walk and thoughts were with returning summer migrants to the area perhaps within the next 2 weeks or so.
The cut maize strip close to 'The Arms' once again held a good count of Finches and Buntings, this included many Bramblings.
Buzzards were making good use of the conditions with soaring and calling individuals seen. A single Sparrowhawk was seen soaring and then diving at speed until lost to sight.
At 1355hrs, my attention was drawn to 5 birds very high overhead, checking through binoculars I saw a Goshawk being mobbed by 4 Crows. Without binoculars these birds were virtually specks in the sky. Having assessed the picture and the size comparison with the mobbing Crows, I think it is fair to say that the Goshawk is a male bird, a female Goshawk would appear somewhat larger than the Crows.

Goshawk mobbed by Crows high overhead at Little Cressingham 27/02/15
Goshawk (right) and Crows high over Little Cressingham 27/02/15
The shots above of the very high Goshawk would be a useful indicator for anyone who has doubts about what they are watching.  Both the Crows and Goshawk shown here clearly rules out Sparrowhawk, a much smaller species.  Also the Goshawk has more bulk to its structure and the wing-beats are slower, more powerful than its smaller cousin.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Woodlarks and a brief introduction to forestry work

What a day of contrasts with the weather. The day dawned bright and sunny with a moderate frost, strong sunshine then remained for the morning.  By early afternoon cloud began to increase from the west and soon leaden skies remained with us.  By 1430, the first spots of rain were felt and shortly afterwards, persistant, heavy rain was the main weather feature.

Hilborough 0730-0945
This morning I headed off to Hilborough to once again watch Woodlarks.  The outgoing journey west along the B1108 road saw 3 Buzzards over Smugglers Road, Bodney, this was followed a short while later by a hunting Barn Owl at Hollow Heath, Hilborough.
I parked alongside the Coldharbour road and once ready walked through the tall compartments of commercial pine crops before reaching the first suitable Woodlark territory.  A short wait was then broken by the song of a male Woodlark over a clearing, a female bird then flew in over the trees to join him.
Singing Woodlark on dead wood within windrow near Hilborough 22/02/15.
I then made my way to another clearing where several Woodlarks occur and straight away I could hear a singing bird.
I wanted to position myself so that I could try and photograph Woodlarks, therefore, I walked along one of the rows of 4 year old Scots Pine, sat, and watched a long line of dead wood (windrow) where I know these birds like to rest and sing from.
Not too long I was watching at least 3 Woodlarks (2 singing males and a female) in front of and above me.  A prominent dead branch within the windrow was chosen as a song-post, although most of the singing was done on the wing above me.  This extremely beautiful song is certainly one of the most evocative sounds in Breckland and is one which I always look forward to hearing when males arrive back on territory around about mid February.
Woodlark (on windrow) at Hilborough 22/02/15
As well as choosing the same frequently used song post to deliver song from, the male Woodlarks more often sang on the wing high above me.  As previously seen here, at least 2 singing Woodlarks were seen and heard and on one occasion a brief chase ensued between both males.
It was while I was watching the Woodlarks that I met a very pleasant man called Kevin, this was prove for me to be a very rewarding and educational meeting.
Kevin is involved in forestry work and today he was 'brashing/beating up'.  This work sees Kevin walking the lines of 4 year old Scots Pines, he finds dead young trees and replaces them with Saplings.  The blocks of pines seen within the forest are known as compartments, Kevin tells me that each compartment is numbered for identification purposes.  Once a mature compartment of trees has been felled, the area is then cleared of unused stumps and branches to be laid out in long lines known as 'windrows', as the name suggests these long, sometimes tallish rows break down a strong wind and protects the young trees from damage.   I eventually left this site not only happy with my Woodlarks, but also for having gained much knowledge from Kevin regarding the various forestry terminology.

Little Cressingham
A big contrast in weather this afternoon with bright sunny skies replaced by total cloud cover followed by heavy, persistent rain from about 1430.
I parked in the village and then walked north along the Peddars Way for about 1.5 miles  before returning to walk back south to my starting point.
The highlight this afternoon was seeing 7 Buzzards along the route (3 were together).  As expected the area around North Bridge held most birds with about 20 Goldfinches and 2 Siskins in the Watton Brook valley where they visited the Alders there.  At least 4 Bullfinches were seen and heard, a regular species at this locality.
A small party of about 20 Fieldfare headed east, perhaps these were outgoing passage birds.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Optimum conditions for Goshawk

Rain in the early hours cleared to give a bright morning with a slight frost initially.  Visibility was very good and some cloud moved in at around 0930.
Woodlarks are now well established back on the patch with at least 5 singing males located so far, and a further 2 singing males were added to that total this morning.  A nice flock of 50+ Redwings were seen.
Goshawk (female) on the patch 21/02/15
Having checked suitable habitat for Woodlark, I then made my way to a long and well-established site for Goshawk on the patch.
The weather conditions today was perfect for this awesome raptor, then after a fairly long wait I saw a female Goshawk appear over a traditional woodland site before flying powerfully off and out of sight.   The very presence of this awesome raptor evokes thoughts of power and majesty, it also deserves much respect from Crow species and Wood Pigeons.  At this locality I have seen Goshawk giving chase to both Magpie and Rook.

Little Cressingham
Brambling (female) Little Cressingham 21/02/15
 At about mid-afternoon I decided to visit an area near 'The Arms' within the Little Cressingham Parish in order to check the Finch and Bunting activity.
The roadside here has for many years been planted with a long, deep area of maize, this in turn has been a reliable site for watching Finches and Buntings.
There appears to have been an increase in the number of birds seen here, I estimated 300-400 birds.  Species comprised Chaffinches, Bramblings, Greenfinches, Reed Buntings, and YellowhammersBramblings were uncounted , however, their numbers appear to have increased since my last visit to this site.  Although I had good views of individual birds, a particularly memorable sight was seeing these birds in a large loose flock flying above me with a dark grey cloud for background, and although quite high, the several Silvery white underparts of Bramblings were conspicuous against the cloud.
The Brambling pictured here is a female bird, she has the pale grey head and pale Orange breast and scapulars.  Some male Bramblings were also seen here, their heads are blackish, however, in a month or so, their heads will turn a solid black in readiness for breeding and the Orange breasts will be much brighter and intense than seen on females.  Finally, Bramblings were heard to call on this visit, the soft "tyup" and nasally "eeeezup" notes were heard. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Hockham Fen and Cranberry Rough, Norfolk (with Jim Bradley)

At 0800 I arrived at the Hockham picnic site to meet with Jim Bradley, a fellow birder, with whom I was to have a very enjoyable mornings birding at Hockham Fen and Cranberry Rough.
The morning was dry and quite still with high cloud and some brighter spells, and no hint of any rain as forcasted just some 48 hours previously.
Having readied ourselves, Jim and I headed off along the various woodland trails and rides to eventually arrive at Hockham Fen.  On route we encountered common woodland species, this included Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Song Thrushes, Marsh Tits, Treecreepers and Goldcrest.  Much of this activity was seen at an area where Firecrest has been encountered previously, on this occasion however, it was pleasing to see Marsh Tits on the ground tossing leaves aside for food.  a nearby singing Mistle Thrush was heard.
We arrived at Hockham Fen to be greeted by 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers flying to and fro in front of us in what appeared to be some kind of relay...quite amusing.  An intended target species this morning was Goshawk, however, there appeared to be no sign of display this morning.  Despite this our views over the very wet fen revealed a variety of species.  At least 4 Grey Herons were seen including 3 together perched in Alders whilst on the fen other large and conspicuous species included Greylag Geese and Canada Geese, whilst smaller wildfowl species included Mallard, a number of Shoveler, ever present Teal, and stunning Wigeon showing of that beautiful golden blaze on its chestnut head.  Jim picked up a Sparrowhawk flying against a woodland background, this bird alighted in a distant tree top and the light was such that the slaty-grey back and conspicuous head pattern could be seen well.  A single Snipe was seen overflying.  Passerine species included at least 2 male Reed Buntings and overhead calling Siskins.
Having spent some time overviewing the fen, we then headed along the boundary fence to eventually arrive at cross-tracks, here we turned to walk the path that would take us through Cranberry Rough. On route we saw Redwings, a single Fieldfare, Blackbirds, and Robin within old Hawthorn scrub.  Jim saw a beautiful Kestrel perched in a small tree from where it observed its surroundings, we also saw Green Woodpecker here.  Our third raptor of the day, a Common Buzzard was also heard.
Our walk through the very damp woodland habitat at Cranberry Rough did not reveal another target species, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, however, very good numbers of Siskins with a few Redpoll provided very good birding.  It was clear that good numbers of Siskins were present in the Alders here given the continuous chatter and 'wheezing" notes heard.  Jim picked up the call of Redpoll in the area, a hard "chit-chit" call, even better still, he also picked out this delightful species low down in woodland, as well as a bird feeding in Alders.  It was also evident that a number of Finches, including Chaffinch and Siskins, were feeding on the track ahead of us, presumably picking up seeds etc dropped from the Alders above.  As we left the enclosed woodland for more open country, Jim heard the distinctive song of Woodlark, a good find considering a continuous over-flight of lots of fighter aircraft from Lakenheath base.  I eventually heard the Woodlark singing when it became a bit quieter.
Having spent some time at Cranberry Rough, we then headed back on ourselves and walked through woodland of varying ages before arriving back at the road which would lead back to our starting point.  It was alongside the road where further activity was seen with a mobile Long-tailed Tit flock, also seen in this area was Treecreeper and a ground foraging Goldcrest amongst leaf litter.

43 species seen and heard
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Snipe, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker. Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Woodlark, Skylark, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Wren, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Redpoll, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting. 

I will end this post by thanking Jim Bradley for joining me on this walk, this was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and we plan to meet up again for more birding.  Thank you Jim.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Hilborough and Little Cressingham, Norfolk

Hilborough 0730-0900
Now that we are well into February, my attention today turned to checking suitable habitat for Woodlarks, a real Breckland specialist.  It is this time of year when male birds return to their breeding grounds within forest clearings.  They need areas of clearfell with young trees not exceeding a few feet in height with plenty of short grass/bare ground upon which they nest and feed.  Wood piles and young trees serve as song-posts, howeverm the song flight is a real sound of the Breckland landscape.
Woodlark at Hilborough.  5 birds seen including 4 singing males.
I started off on my walk through tall pine blocks, however, I soon reached the first clearing, I did a circuit of the area and by the time I left it join a track for another clearing I heard 2 singing Woodlarks somewhere high above.  At the same time a small party of about 20 Siskins fed high in Larch trees.
Continuing my walk along the various trails, I eventually reached the largest area of suitable habitat and found 3 Woodlarks (2 males singing and a female).  This had brought my total to 5 Woodlarks, of these 4 were singing males and one was female (pictured).
Song was delivered both on the wing and from wood piles.  Some territorial behaviour was seen when  2 singing Woodlarks met high above the clearing with one giving the other a short chase.
Woodlarks are quite different in appearance from their larger cousin the Skylark.  In flight, Woodlarks appear broad winged, the shorter tail accentuates this feature.  On the ground, Woodlarks have a bold pale supercillium, this meets on the nape to give the look of a shallow V shape.  Another highly distinctive feature on the Woodlark are the black and white markings along the wing edge.
Also of interest close to the clearing was the presence of several thousand Starlings on Pig fields.

Little Cressingham (The Arms north towards The Fairstead) 1330-1500
Brambling (female) Little Cressingham 13/02/15
As has been the case in recent visits good numbers of both Finches and Buntings frequented the hedgerows and harvested maize.  Chaffinches, Yellowhammers, and Reed Buntings comprised the greatest numbers with smaller numbers of Bramblings seen.
The Brambling pictured here is a female, she is told from the male by her pale grey head and pale orange breast. the male has a black head with a strongly contrasting bright orange breast.
Further along the road a single Kestrel was seen, also, 2 pairs of Buzzards were seen.
Large numbers of Crows and Wood Pigeons were seen, whilst back close to the Chalk pit, at least 20 Stock Doves joined Wood Pigeons on the ground where they would have been attracted to maize etc.
Once again, good numbers of Finches and Buntings seen here with the odd bright male Brambling present.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Cranberry Rough, Norfolk

About Cranberry Rough
Cranberry Rough is a small Breckland reserve which is owned and managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.  The reserve lies within the parish of Hockham.  Access is not advised due to the very swampy nature of the reserve, however, the former rail-line which ran through the reserve is now a footpath and offers superb views of this habitat.  When in use, the rail line had to be significantly raised due to frequent flooding.
This area was once the site of a large lake, left by the retreating glaciers of the last Ice Age 10 -12,000 years ago.
For the neolithic hunters, 10,000 years ago, to the people of the medieval Manor of Hockham, the lake would have been a vital source of fish and fowl. There are records of a ‘fish house’ here in 1380.
In Tudor times there was still a large lake, of around 280 acres, called Hockham Mere, but it gradually silted up and by 1737 it was simply a swamp.
Notable Bird Species
Cranberry Rough is an important reserve for many common species including breeding Tits and Warblers, it is also a reliable location for watching Siskins and Redpolls which are attracted to the Alders for feeding.
Notable species which I have seen at Cranberry Rough includes the now very scarce Willow Tit, also, it is a reliable site for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
Cranberry Rough 09/02/15
Cranberry Rough 09/02/15
For this mornings visit I walked the former rail line through Cranberry Rough.  The swampy woodland was dull in the early morning light with a little mist to add to the atmosphere.
Birds heard were 2 Song Thrushes (singing males), singing Nuthatch, several Treecreepers, Marsh, Blue, and Great Tits.
A number of Siskins passed overhead and I eventually located these lovely little Finches feeding high in the canopy of tall Alders.
At least 2 Redpolls passed over the wood calling.  Redpolls often associate themselves with Siskins high in Alders, so check tree canopies for something different where Siskins are feeding.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Little Cressingham and Bodney, Norfolk

A beautiful day today with bright sunshine throughout and the temperature at the dizzy height of 8 degrees celsius.
My plan this afternoon was to visit the flood meadows at Bodney to check for Lapwings and possible raptor species, but first, I stopped to have a chat with my friend Dave Capps who was near Watton Brook.  Amongst other things we discussed a Peregrine which is wintering in the area.
I then headed to 'The Arms' and parked up by the STANTA access road, once ready, I walked north to the B1108.  I noticed that a maize strip had recently been cut, despite this, it still provided a great attraction to a mixed flock of 200+ Finches and BuntingsYellowhammers and Reed Buntings formed the majority species with smaller numbers of Bramblings and Chaffinches present.
Brambling (male) Little Cressingham 08/02/15
A little further along the road, 2 Buzzards were seen, one of which soared to a good height, clearly this bird was making use of the good flying conditions.  A single male Kestrel also circled.
I continued along the road to the B1108 and then walked west to the flood meadow at Bodney.  This area always floods in winter, and ususally there is enough water here by early spring to attract migrant Yellow Wagtails.
100+ Black-headed Gulls, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull, one Cormorant, two Pied Wagtails, and 25+ Lapwings were seen.  Large numbers of Wood Pigeons were seen, and a pair of Stock Doves overflew with a further singing male heard in nearby woodland.
I then retraced my steps back to 'The Arms' area where I once again spent some time watching the Finches and Buntings where I had encountered them earlier.
Whilst watching a few Bramblings, I met a lovely couple, Ted and Janet Hoggett, and had a nice chat with them about this area which Ted knew during the war years.  Whilst talking to Ted and Janet I heard a loud "whoosh", I immediately looked behind me and saw a Peregrine pulling out of a steep dive, the bird went out of sight behind the roadside hedge but soon re-emerged further down the road flying leisurely nortth carrying prey in its talons.  Clearly, given the noise, the Peregrine had stooped from height to take its prey.  A fantastic end to this productive walk.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Thompson, Norfolk

At dawn today I visited the damp woodland carr around Thompson Water.  Following yesterdays very bright conditions, today was the opposite with full cloud cover and very poor light, especially during my time at Thompson.
Siskin (male) at Thompson 07/02/15
Despite the very dull conditions, a noticeable feature of this visit was hearing a number of species in song in order to affirm their territories for the forthcoming breeding season.
A least 3 Marsh Tits were singing their repetitive "chip-chip-chip-chip-chip" song.  This is a very common Breckland species.  A number of Great Tits were also heard as was Coal Tit.
A couple of Song Thrushes were singing, also, its larger cousin, the Mistle Thrush also delivered song.  Mistles Thrushes in folklore are known as 'Stormcocks', this being due to them singing prior to the onset of, and during bad weather.  A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen with 'drumming' being occasionally heard. 
This male Siskin was also heard in song.  This species breeds in small numbers on my Breckland patch, the vast majority however, will be winter visitors from Northern Europe.
Finally, a check over the Thompson Water produced lots of Teal, however, most were in surface weed and a count could not be done.  

Friday, 6 February 2015

Santon Downham (with Richard Farrow) and Lynford Water, Norfolk

Santon Downham, Norfolk 0800-1200
At 0800 I met my very good friend Richard Farrow at Santon Downham for a lovely walk along the Little Ouse river valley which borders the county with Suffolk.  A wide range of habitats were explored including typical Breckland habitat comprising Pine forest, damp riverside reedbeds, the Little Ouse valley, and open grassland with fine belts of Beech trees.
I have not been to Santon Downham for some time so Richard led the way and what an excellent morning it was too.
One of 3 Water Rails seen along the river valley
The highlight of this trip was undoubtedly seeing 3 Water Rails along the bank of the Little Ouse river.  These birds typically moved through rank vegetation, although they often appeared to give us good views.  They also demonstrated their ability for swimming along the rivers edge.
Our walk through the variety of habitats at Santon Downham would eventually yield 28 species, most of these were common birds, yet beautiful nevertheless. 
Another highlight for me was watching a male and female Brambling feeding in a garden with Chaffinches, one of these was certainly a male with his darker head and brighter Orange breast.
Nuthatch at Santon Downham.  One of many seen and heard.
Birds seen and heard at Santon Downham as follows.
Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen, Water Rail (3), Little Grebe (2+) on river, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch (many, including the bird photographed here), Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare (1), Robin (very common), Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit (numerous including birds feeding on woodland floor amongst Beech trees), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Brambling (male and female) feeding with Chaffinches, Siskin (many heard), Reed Bunting, Rook and Jay.
The walk around this special site also took us around a very poignant area of beautiful Hawthorn and Blackthorn scrub for it was here where Norfolk's last pair of Red-backed Shrikes bred in 1988.
I wish to thank my good friend Richard Farrow for showing me around this lovely area. Thank you Richard.

Lynford Water (1545 to sunset)
There was a significant change to the landscape to my recent previous visit to this locality.  The rolling southern flank of Lynford Water was covered for the most part by Gorse amd Broom, a habitat I was expecting to see Stonechat at, however, for some reason, the whole area was cleared, why, I don't know.
Goosander (male and female) Lynford Water 06/02/15
A lovely gathering of 25+ Tufted Duck kept me entertained for some time with their frequent diving for food, often, their beautiful laughing-like chuckle call was heard.  Also seen was a few Gadwall, Mallard, and Teal.
On the far side of the water, a bright white object close to the shore was a male Goosander with a female 'redhead' close by. The presemce of this beautiful 'sawbill' clearly indicates a hard weather movement from presumably Europe or Northern Britain where much snow has fallen in recent weeks.
Also seen on the water was Mute Swan (pair), Moorhen, and a single Little Egret slowly and stealthily moving along the reed edged water.  Passerine species included Robin and a number of pre-roost Blackbirds in darkening woodland.  I left Lynford with the sun setting and clear skies heralding another frosty night to come.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Deopham Green and Hingham, Norfolk

Deopham Green 1345-1500
For my break from work this afternoon I visited the the vast, open arable farmland on the former WW11 USAF bomber airfield.  I thought I would have a somewhat 'lazy' time birding from my car overlooking farmland to my north and east.  Some long bright spells were broken by some heavy, slow moving rain showers.
A pair of Carrion Crows were sat on top of a muck heap, from where, they later launched a pursuit for a passing female Sparrowhawk
This bleak looking landscape is one which I hope to see Hen Harrier moving through, or where I might once again see Merlin, a species which I saw on two occasions in the closing months of last year.
At about 1445hrs, very dark cloud appeared which soon brought a heavy and prolonged rain shower.  During this period of heavy rain, and with water running down the windscreen, I saw a large bird moving west to east, at just after 1500hrs, however, its initial identification was problematic due to the rain, therefore, I risked opening my window allowing in the rain to try and identify the bird properly, I managed to see it reasonably clearly through my binoculars when the bird was seen to glide on wings held in a shallow 'V', the birds size and flight confirmed this as a Marsh Harrier, probably a female bird.
With time marching on and my return to work imminent, I decided to pay a short visit to an area of damp, rushy grassland at Sea Mere just outside Hingham.

Hingham (Sea Mere) 1515-1530
Potentially, this very damp, marshy locality adjoining Sea Mere, could hold a wintering or visiting Harrier species.  On this visit a pale looking Buzzard upset a number of Wood Pigeons.  The only other raptor species seen was a Kestrel which was mobbed by Corvids.
A single Grey Heron stood motionless on the marsh whilst later, a single Little Egret flew over the marsh to settle in a ditch.
On the far side of the marshy area, a beautiful Red Fox was seen, a nice ending to this visit and my return to work.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Thompson Water, Norfolk

A beautiful starlit night was followed by a bright and cold day.  Dawn temperatures reached -3 degrees and climbed to a high of 3 degrees celsius.
Nuthatch at Thompson Water 02/02/15
I parked in woodland close to Thompson Water at about 0700, the skies were clear and there was a lovely Orange glow on the eastern horizon.
A walk through damp woodland carr habitat was fairly quiet at this time, however, it was beautiful nevertheless.
Following my early walk through the semi-lit woodland, I made my way along the western edge of the water to watch the reeds and dense, damp Willow scrub.  The rising sun brought much activity with Marsh, Coal, Blue, and Great Tits, all seen.  A Coal Tit was heard in song as was a male Siskin.
At least 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present, this included a male and female together.
As is typical with this type of habitat, several Nuthatches (5+) were seen or heard, including the lovely bird photographed here.
The water itself was almost completely covered in a thin film of ice, however, a clear area of open water along the north end held 100+ Teal.  These beautiful small ducks were often heard when I was walking through woodland earlier, they give a distinctive "kleep" call.
Walking back to the car, a few Redwings were heard in treetops giving their thin "seeeep" call.  A nice end to this visit.