Friday, 22 September 2017

Better than PG Tips .....

....Kingfishers at breakfast time. Walking to work alongside the river Wensum this morning a Kingfisher whizzed passed in a flash of electic blue and further along a second (?) was perched up. A delightful start to the morning, and in contrast too the chaos that i've read about and very nearly joined at the Pallas Grasshopper warbler twitch earlier in the week. (I only stayed at home because my wife had the car and dropping her at work would have been to convaluted). The simple things are often under valued, I also noticed more birds calling as the mornings have gotten darker the birds are no longer singing while I sleep.

For the record I don't like PG Tips, Yorkshire Tea for me!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Blickling Bimble

During a family orientated long weekend away in Essex we did little nature spotting, despite the fact we got lucky and avoided most of the rain so on Tuesday Laura, Agnes and myself with the sun shining decided to go for a walk around Blickling.

Leaving the car park we decided to walk the Monument Loop, rather than usual Lake route,we soon saw a few Hornets among the ivy on a hedge and quite a few butterflies where making the most of the sun, Red Admiral, Large White, Comma and Speckled Wood all close by.

Bird and wildlife was very limited but Agnes spotted a decorated stone, part of the summer craze 'Norfolk Rocks' (where children and adults decorated, hid and hunted and re-hid stones, a great idea getting children out doors and creative) anyway we spent the rest of our walk eyes peeled and found 20/30 moving a few and keeping one as a souvenir. Agnes was so excited by finding a colourful stone!

It wasnt just decorative stones we spotted, surprisingly by the Monument, away from the Lake lots of recently emerged darter dragonflies flew around, and Agnes found a Small Emerald Moth in the grass, i new species for my list. Also a sure sign that summer has given way to Autumn was the emergence of quite a bit of fungus. The most striking being this Parasol sp.

The Essex trip wasn't devoid of wildlife, we saw Elephants, Giraffes and Rhinos but that was at Colchester Zoo! Native species wise, we did see a large shoal of Mullet from Southend Pier, they followed the in coming tide over the mudflats hoovering up anything that decided to craw out of the mud, in water hardly deep enough for them to swim. A few dragonflies at Wat Tyler Country Park and bats flying around at dusk in South Benfleet the other highlights.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Bank Holiday Bees

Last Monday I finally managed to catch up with James for our regular school holiday catch up. Being a bit early for migration James had identified a couple of specialist bees for us to find in North Norfolk.

Before heading out we looked through the few moths I'd trapped over night and I asked James to look at a few insects I was curious about and might interest him. The highlight of the moths a new species for both me and James was a Scarce Bordered Straw, a migrant to Norfolk. James also identified a few leaf miners for me a new interest for him and something completely different for me.

First stop was Weybourne where we soon located the large colony of Heather Bees (Colletes succinctus) nesting in the cliff. Apparently they commute the couple of miles inland too feed on Kelling Heath. A few Wolf bees and Darter dragonflies also held our attention before James also found the cuckoo bee Red-thighed Epeolus (Epeolus cruciger). Walking West to the radar station we failed too find much else of interest but a lone female Wheatear shows that Autumn migration isn't far away.

Onward to Morston where we hoped to see Sea Aster Bees (Colletes halophilus) a specialist bee of salt marshes. We couldn't see the fields of purple on the Saltmarsh has most sea aster had died off but luckily James noted a yellow abarent form which held our target species. Walking as far as Stiffkey Fen was rewarded by a group of 37 Spoonbill and lots of waders however without scopes and looking into the sun we could identify anything unusual.
Before we joined the sausage roll queue I popped into the public loos. Luckily they were quiet as on leaving I spotted a Frosted Orange moth near the door and looking around spotted numerous moths, that then needed photographing on the ceiling. These included 3 new moths for me, Chinese Character, Pale Eggar and Rosy Rustic.

Dropping me off at home i spotted a rather spectacular Sycamore Moth caterpillar in the hedge and Angle Shades moth. James also identified the parasitic wasp Cotesia glomerata. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Bird Race and May Update

This was going to be a brief post about a couple of birds seen since my last post about our 24 hour bird race mid month, but it appears that post never updated and was lost. So i will start with a brief (ish) summary of that first.

On the 13th May 'Team Loon' (Gary, James, Lis and myself) woke early leaving Norwich by 1am. As this was a formal competition with other team, we dispenced with our normal 'within Norfolk' rule and headed for the Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire. As it was dark it was alabout what we could hear. It was amazing the number of birds calling at such and early hour, but amongst the commoner species we heard both target species for the site Corncrake and Spotted Crake. 19 species mainly heard as we headed back to Norfolk and Santon Downham.

Lots of woodland bird were soon added and a few heard birds upgraded to seen. The Mandarin didnt fail us showing well with duckling in tow. Lesser Redpoll and Cuckoo were goid bird too see but no sign of the resident Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Nearby Tree Pipit and Woodlark saved us some time so we headed off to Lynford. Checking Lynford Water then the arboretum. 2 Spotted Flycatcher were nice to see a bird often missed and just as we were leaving a singing Firecrest took the tally to 71 and it was only just past 8am.

We headed south into Suffolk adding extra birds on route before we wasted a bit to long looking fir and failing to see Golden Pheasent. Great Livermere was our next stop. We initally struggled to find the lake but added Tree Sparrow and Grey Partridge while 'lost', finding the lake we added a few gull species and Gary found us a Lesser Whitethoat but not the hoped for Black-necked Grebe. Not to far away was Elvedon and a White Stork which took a while to locate but eventually went on the list. Still in Suffolk but looking across the boarder at Lakenheath Fen we added Glossy Ibis, 2 Black-winged Stilt, Common Tern and Hobby before again moving on.

We were already maybe a hour befind our ideal schedule, but a Yellow Wagtail on route was bird 100. Arriving at Welney my collegues were fleeced for enterence fees and then we proceeded to see very little missing most of the hoped for birds as the site was so dry. We did add summering Bewick and Whooper Swan and Red-crested Pochard. We headed north towards the coast, Flitcham another 'banker site' failed to deliver with only Med Gull and Red Kite added. Hunstanton cliffs gave us a bonus 5 wader species as well as the targeted Fulmar. A detour to Holme for a spurious Pied Flycatcher only wasted time. The now annual Dotterel were in the heat haze at Choseley and we finslly arrived at Titchwell at 4pm.

Behind on time and species, Titchwell started well with a Norfolk lifer for me in the carpark a singing Wood Warbler. Brent Goose was species 120 seen on route to the beach. Sandwich Tern and Velvet Scoter the pick of a brief sea watch. We had too pick up the pace. A flyby stop at Holkham added Great White Egret and great views of a Bittern in flight, but no Spoonbill or lingering geese. The day was petering out we made the bold decicion too head for Minsmere as locally sites would only hold the odd extra species.

It was 7.20pm we arrived at Dunwich Heath we soon added Sand Martin 130 before adding Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. From the cliffs we added Barnacle Goose and Kittewake, before hearing a Water Rail. Arriving at Minsmere the light was starting to fade. Short-eared Owl was a bonus before we heard Bearded Tit and added a few species from the east hide. Caspian Gull was 140. I managed to pick out a distant Stone Curlew in very poor light. In the dark at island mere we added calling Little and Tawny Owl but no Savi's Warbler. Back at Dunwich we heard a Nightjar and then a Nightingale at Westleton Heath. A brief listen for Quail on the way too the finish line in Halesworth failed to add a final bird so we finished on 145 species. A cup of tea at the HQ of The World Land Trust was wecolme, here we meet the 2 offical teams. Being a affiliated 'virtual team' it was an honour to be invited back for the presentation and to share a glass of bubby with the winning team. We also go to see the very special trophy a Ne-ne egg signed by Sir Peter Scott.

A brief update for rest of May, while boat fishing off Bacton on 16th I got great very close views of Gannet a more distant view of probable Sooty Shearwater. Sunday 21st a Honey Buzzard was seen while driving back from Great Yarmouth. 28th I visited the patch near Mundesley in the hope of a fly though Bee Eater, Osprey or Honey Buzzard with all seen along the coast. But the best bird was only a Stock Dove. What will June hold.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Daddy & Daughter Birding

With Laura away in Barcelona, the car was free so I decided to take Agnes out on her first twitch, our second birding trip after a walk on the patch a few months ago. A pair of Black-wing Stilt were near Potter Heigham, so after have breakfast we headed out.

Parking at Latham's we walked north along the bank of the River Thurne, with Agnes on my back I couldn't take me scope so was relying on the generosity of others if the the birds were at a distance. Walking down to the flood, i saw my first Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Common Tern of the year. We heard a distant Cuckoo and Swift seem to be back in numbers all of a sudden. Reaching the first pool, i could pick out Dunlin, Grey Plover, Avocet, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and a Wood Sandpiper with ease, and with a little help soon saw Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Gargany. The middle pool held a few ducks more common waders and a Spoonbill. It was on the end pool we saw our target birds the pair of Black-winged Stilt a little distant but borrowing a scope I got good views, a summer plumage Spotted Redshank was nearby and I saw a second drake Gargany. An Arctic Tern briefly alighted on the marsh, 2 more Spoonbill were around and we had totaled 11 Wood Sandpiper, before the cool breeze and being stationary had started to test Agnes's patience. A brief look for the Wryneck seen Friday by the mill only enabled use to see the Cuckoo from earlier.

I let Agnes walk back from the bridge to the car and she got very excited by a brood of freshly hatched Egyptian Geese although the parents seemed less than amused, especially as she was calling them ducks. After a quick bottle in the car (milk for Agnes, not beer for me), Agnes started to doze, so any thought of a further walk from Potter church to Rush Hill's and looking for the Savi's Warbler was put on hold. And in all honestly was a bit optimistic on my part. Writing this we are sitting at Nanna's anticipating a roast, not a bad Sunday Morning.

 Our first Birding trip in Feb