Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A Morning at Strumpshaw and Scouting the Patch

On Tuesday I caught an early bus and soon found myself at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB with the mist still hanging over the reeds. I seemed to be the first person to walk along the Lackford Run as a continual steam of spiders webs stuck to my face. The Lackford Run path was quiet with a few Blue Tit and 2 juv. Reed Warbler on the deck and above me 2 Marsh Harrier were constantly harassed by a large group of Lapwing. From Tower Hide I could see that the winter wildfowl have started to return, 100+ Teal, c30 Wigeon and a large group of Shovler frequented the main pool. The margins were also lively with 31 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Sanderling and 18 Ruff, as well as the for mentioned Lapwing. I had just counted the Snipe and found the Jack Snipe when all hell was let lose, and i soon located the culprit, a female Hobby skimming over the reed bed. I had the hide to myself so spent some time looking through the ducks and waders before heading off along the river bank. The Fen Hide held 6 people but not a single pair of binoculars, just big lenses and cameras pointing at nothing in particular so i soon left. Two Great Spotted Woodpecker sat in the dead by the path back and allowed me to get very close. Grabbing a flapjack from Reception hide I was mid-munch when a Bittern flew past the front of the hide, a few seconds later two of the photographers walked in, hard luck guys. By the feeders i watched a pair of Marsh Tit and a Goldcrest in the Yew tree before heading back towards the main road and bus home.

On Wednesday I needed to be in North Walsham late afternoon, but decided to catch an early bus and scout out a bit of my 'new patch'. Dad dropped me off on Skyton Road after we'd been to the bank and I wandered off to re-discover Felmingham Heath, which I haven't visited in over 10 years. The wet woodland edges to the south and west were full of fungi, which made up for the lack of birds. The main area of dry heath is much patchier than i remember, with large area of gorse, but it was nice to see many areas being re-opened up by habitat management. While watching a group of young Willow Warbler I caught the silhouette of a raptor, initially i thought it was a buzzard, but as it flew closer and into better light i didn't need my binoculars to see it was in fact a Goshawk, a bird i really wasn't expecting. After more fungus hunting i took the back roads and footpaths towards another area of my new patch, the quiet lanes south of Antingham. Although again few birds were about i took my time to re-familiarize myself with lanes, hedgerows and fields, nothing the different habitat, and what i might expect to see in the future. Part of this areas forms the 1km square that i plan to monitor for all species of plant, animal and insect, so i made lots of mental notes of things to look out for next year.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A Quiet September

I haven't really had much to report over the last couple of weeks, with the only local bird of note, the Wilsons Phalorope at Cley appearing and then disappearing while i was working.

On 10th September I did manage a brief sea watch from Walcott, but having to meet the solicitor first it was 10am before dad  and I arrived. We stayed in the car as waves broke on the sea wall, sending spray high into the air. We only scanned the sea for about 30 minutes before a heavy shower reduced visabily and we gave up. But not before spotting a few marine specialists, 4x Sandwich Tern, 1x Arctic Skua, 1x Great Skua, 2x Manx Shearwater, 3x Eider, 2x Common Scoter and 1x Red Throated Diver. I then got thoroughly wet and cold waiting nearly 2 hours for my delayed train home.

I wandered along the River Yare towards the UEA on 20th, but this time on a much cooler day i failed to find any more Willow Emerald Damselfly. With autumn migration not really noticable inland i was concentrating on hunting for fungi rather than the birds, but with a dry summer i failed to find very much.

After a warm afternoon and with a cloudy evening i decided to run the moth trap on 21st, but by midnight the cloud had cleared, and i could get the trap in without the aid of a touch as the moon was full. Unsurprisingly the the trap was nearly empty with only 5 moths in total, the highlight being a Brimstone moth - just because it was yellow!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Yare Valley and a Willow Emerald

With my planned house purchase starting to gather pace, i decided to spend sometime looking around the areas local to my current Norwich home, it may be the last chance i get to spend some time in the area.

On 30th August i wandered down to Marston Marshes, it was waiting on a call from the estate agents and needed to get out of the house to relieve the tension. Lots of people were out enjoying the sun, but the birds were not. Only 17 species were seen, a rather disappointing total if it were not for a female Redstart found along Marston Lane.

Visting the estate agents in North Walsham gave me the excuse to have a quick wander along the cliff top by Mundesley Holiday Camp on the 2nd September. The wind wasn't great for any migrants coming from the South-west. Two distant Arctic Skua and a few Sandwich Tern were out to sea, as well as the commoner gulls. A Yellow Wagtail flew west along the cliff, a handful of Swallow flew Eastward and a large flock of Linnet were on the nearby stubble field.

A walk along the River Yare from Trowse to Lakeham proved rather fruitless on the 3rd September, 3 young Willow Warbler, a family of 4 Mistle Thrush the probable highlights. I did spend a while however watching a Hornets nest near the electricity substation but didn't have my camera to take any photos.

Whitlingham has been the closest thing i have had to a patch in the city for the last 5/6 years, but i have neglected it of late. Starting at Trowse water meadows i was rewarded with a Kingfisher fishing from a perch, and also a family of Willow Warbler being feed in the river side willows. From Whitlingham Lane 2 Buzzard circled overhead a a Green Woodpecker was in a dead tree. The Little Broad was quiet but a close in Treecreeper was appreciated. On the river my the Water Sports Center a family was 4 Kingfisher were feeding and playing, and 2 Bullfinch flew across the river. The conservation area was rather noisy with lots of juvenile gulls harassing the adult birds. Walking clockwise my attention was caught by a bird flicking about the top of some alders, expecting a warbler i was surprised to see a Spotted Flycatcher. Not far away i found a family of Cetti's Warbler being feed in the scrub,  they looked fully fledged but still begged for food. Scanning Thorpe Station Marsh a lone Lapwing was the only bird i could see. The south show was equally quiet 2 further Kingfisher and a pair of Kestrel over the Meadow the only birds of note as i wandered home.

On Monday 9th September i wandered from Eaton to the UEA following the river year. I continued my trend for seeing Kingfisher everywhere i go with a family group of 3 on the River and another one on the UEA Broad. Other birds of note were 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Tawny Owl, the owls called for a couple of minutes before flying alone the woodland edge south of the UEA Broad. It was very strange hearing them call at 10.30am! But the highlight of the day was a probable Willow Damselfly found by the river. (i say probable because my damselfly ID isn't the best, so if some one could confirm the ID i would be grateful.) As far as i am aware this would be a new site for the species that seems to be spreading in East Anglia.