July is often a quiet month, and the early excitement of the WT Plover, and American Sandpipers didn't last. With no birds of note to go and see, and picking up my new house keys, i haven't really ventured out much. On Sunday the 18th, i enjoyed a lovely evening cruise on the Broads with people from work but a couple of Common Tern the only birds of note. While in North Walsham on 23rd i took a walk down to Spa Common, and was surprised by the number of recently emerged butterflies about, Painted Lady, Gate Keeper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Peacock, Red Admiral, Large White and Small Tortoiseshell were all along the hedgerow of Manor Road. Arriving home from work on the 27th i was gutted to see that a King Eider was being seen off of Sheringham but with the Mini at the garage i had no chance of seeing it, even more annoying was the fact that unlike at Filey it decided not to stay around and was gone the next morning. A Hooded Crow is currently in the Salthouse area so hopefully it will remain until Monday/Tuesday when I'm next off from work, and can hopeful find a few hours when I'm not moving boxes.
The heavy rain forecast over night had not come to much so Laura and I headed to Titchwell hoping to catch up with the Buff-breasted Sandpiper we mist on our last visit. From the Island hide the Buff-breasted Sandpiper showed well. The Pectoral Sandpiper hadn't been seen from the hide so i didnt stay long. From the path near the new bank, i eventually found the Pectoral Sandpiper near one of the more vegetated margins. Also of note on the Fresh marsh, 5 Snipe feed out in the open on one of the pools, a Whimbrel, 3 Curlew, 5+ Spotted Redshank, singe Greenshank,Green Sandpiper and the normal waders. A Grey Heron wrestling with a large eel amused those in the hide, we heard one old lady "..it's not going to eat it is it?" A Spoonbill flew over the path as we walked back and reports of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had me searching the carpark trees but i only found a young Great Spotted which i assume had been misidentified. We stopped at Dersingham on the way back, hoping for a Black Darter or a Golden Pheasant i had to be satisfied watching a pair of Kestrel feed their 5 young and a Green Woodpecker. Laura hadn't seen Little Owl, but a stop at Flitcham soon rectified that. A family of 4 Little Owl sat out on posts at the back of the meadow, a Red Kite passed over along with a Buzzard and Sparrowhawk in the 20 minutes we stopped. 4+ Turtle Dove and numerous Stock Dove were dotted about and a Green Woodpecker flew through. Driving back the heavens opened, many of the roads had large puddles in a few places the road was barley passable.
Having spent the morning moving boxes in preparation for moving house, i was planing to relax during the afternoon. Then Gary text, he was going to Rainham Marshes RSPB and did i want a lift, well YES i did. Fighting through rush hour traffic carry collected Laura and i from Thickthorn Services at 5.20pm, by 7.30 we were at Junction 30/31 of the M25 and 3 miles from Rainham. We then took 1hour 30minutes to get around the roundabout and down towards the reserve, with the reserve closing at dusk time was tight. We rushed around to the back of the reserve and soon were looking at the White-tailed Plover. It was on the back of Aveley Pool and showed white well, preening and lifting its wings showing its distinctive white tail and yellow legs. With the light fading we didn't really look at any other birds on the reserve but atleast 6 Grey Heron were roosting on the pool and large number of young Coot were present.
Signing into Birdguides to read of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper showing at Titchwell again frustrated me, but that was short lived as scrolling down i read 'MEGA River Warbler SE of Norwich.....details to follow'. For the rest of the day i was checking Birdguides, ringing and texting. The news broke Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe was the place to be. At 6.30 Laura, James and myself set off, a Buzzard of the way seemed of little importance. I've never been to such an organised twitch, sign posts (RIVER WARBLER ---->) guided us off the main road and down back roads, a carpark was set up, we paid our £2 and followed the arrows painted on the grass to the viewing area. We had to wait a while but then the River Warbler sang, a distinctive song like no other bird I've heard. We eventually moved as we couldn't see the bird. The bird skulked in a Alder so views were limited, and a mass of heads often blocked my view. An elderly lady birder then allowed me good views, fighting the corner of the short birder and clearing an area of 'giants'. A nice evening with lots of friendly faces to chat to, a lovely sunset, and Barn Owl and Marsh Harrier hunting over the marshes.
News of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Titchwell had me back looking at birds rather than insects. The BB Sandpiper was found late on Friday, and with a house views on Saturday morning it was mid-morning before we could set out. News was the BB Sandpiper had flown at 7.30 am so we stopped at SwantonNoversWatchpoint to look for Honey-buzzards. As soon as we got out of the car we were onto 2 birds circling together a Common Buzzard and a Honey-buzzard. Dispite no news on the BB Sandpiper we headed for Titchwell anyway. We picked up a further 2 Common Buzzards on route. At Titchwell the BB Sandpiper was long gone but the Knot flock continues to grow, we viewed a Spoonbill that was actually feeding rather than sleeping and 15+ Spotted Redshank were on the Freshmarsh with a sprinkling of Greenshank amongst them. The sea was flat with loads of tern offshore, i watched a small group of immature Eider awhile before a dark bird with 2 Tern caught my eye. A juv/dark morph Pomarine Skua drifted west continuing to harass the tern. Walking back a Painted Lady butterfly was on the main bath along with a few Small Copper and a Ruddy Darter was by the Meadow Trail. [Edit] After looking at past records, photos and advice, i've changed my thoughts on the Skua sp. and now favour the more likely Arctic Skua, considering time of year, weather etc.
As the summer heat continues, insect hunting once again has taken over from birds (whats birds!). With Laura still feeling a little under the weather, a short walk on Buxton Heath seemed a good idea, it was still a bit much in the heat . By the carpark i saw my first Gatekeeper of the year along with a couple of Small Skipper and Small Tortoiseshell. Cutting across the Heath an Emperor Dragonfly flew through and we disturbed lots of small moths. At the back of the site Laura found 2 Silver-studded Blue, while walkingdown to the grazing meadow we saw a Large White and Green-veined White. Walking back the same route we found a White Admiral in a shady glade and 10+ Silver-studded Blues all together, a probable Brown Argus also flitted about and a Small Copper was on the path. A Large Skipper and Speckled Wood by the car completed the butterfly list. Bird wise we saw 3+ singing Yellowhammer, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher and various small finches and tits.
I recently moved back to North Walsham and needing a new local patch, I soon settled on a few of my old favourite sites, but they were spread around town. All are close to the old railways track beds and my new house sits at the apex of all 5 lines that once radiated out from North Walsham, these form the arteries joining everything up. My 'Birding Alone Old Lines' patch was born, revisiting the old birding sites of youth, via the Old Railway Newtworks.