Friday, 31 December 2010

Review of the Year

As the year comes to an end here's a quick look back at the last twelve months on the patch which were, due to the enormous amount of time spent out in the field, undoubtedly the best ever.

9 new birds for the patch were seen, namely Tundra Bean Goose, Bittern, a pair of Bearded Tits, 2 separate Black-necked Grebes, Little Ringed Plover, King Eider, Corn Bunting, Barnacle Geese and 3 Hooded Crows.

The Bittern & Bean Goose day back in January will live long in the memory, and the buzz of finding most of the others, plus a host of scarce visitors is all that is needed to spur you on during those seemingless birdless periods.

Other notable birding highlights on the patch this year include the lingering Alpine Swift, Glaucous Gull, Richards Pipit, Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike, Yellow-browed Warbler, Hoopoe, Waxwings, Hen Harrier, Wood Warbler, Twite, Shorelark, Jack Snipe and Storm Petrel. In total 200 species were recorded during the year (190 of which were self found) which is an excellent total for an area with no managed reserves and which heavily relies upon those species which are just passing through to make up the yearly total.

Non-avain highlights of 2010 include on the Dragonfly front finding the Red-veined Darter at Felbrigg and refinding the Southern Emerald Damselfly at Winterton, and the amazing spectacle of the Purple Emperors at Fermyn was the undoubted Butterfly moment of the year.

I guess the only disappointment of the past 12 months was the fact that news of a Red-flanked Bluetail at Trimingham in October has only recently emerged which has naturally caused some ill feeling locally, but less said about that the better, and I'm sure there'll be another one on the patch sooner rather than later anyway.

So what lies ahead in 2011? Well with less free time available next year, although hopefully I'll still get out on the patch pretty much daily anyway, getting anywhere near 200 again will be an impossibe task (170 will be a more realistic target), but just enjoying my birding and hopefully finding a few good birds will be as ever the aim. Also after failing to get a British tick this year for the first time ever, a British lifer next year would be very welcome too.

Having well and truly got the Butterfly and Dragonfly bug, I'll hopefully do a bit of travelling in '11 to see some of those species that I've yet to see, with a trip up to Scotland and the south-west planned, and hopefully get loads of decent photos too.

Finally with a day list around the patch planned for tomorrow, here's hoping this persistent fog of the last few days will disperse overnight......

Anyway thanks to all of you who have read this blog during the year and hopefully found it a bit interesting and/or enjoyed looking at my photo's, and hopefully I'll keep it going throughout next year.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Waxwings from the window

A fortuitous glance out of the window this morning resulted in seeing a flock of 6 Waxwings flying past heading west which was a good start to the day.
A check along the seafront at Overstrand produced 3 Sanderlings on the beach which is a good local record as they have become very scarce visitors here compared to recent years. A couple of Ringed Plovers, Turnstone and Oystercatcher were also feeding along the high tide line, and a number of Lapwings and a Golden Plover were noted coming in-off.
A walk up to the reservoir at Sidestrand produced the highlight of a couple of Egyptian Geese flying in and landing in the field next to it, which, away from Felbrigg Park, are also very scarce visitors to the patch.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Day Kittiwake at West Runton

A Woodcock flew over the house on Monday evening, and Christmas Eve saw a couple of Redwings feeding in the garden.

A check of the beach on Christmas Day morning on the off chance that the Glaucous Gull, which had been at Cromer earlier before flying off west, had dropped in drew a blank but a fine 1st-winter Kittiwake which briefly landing on the exposed seaweed covered rocks was a nice surprise.

The usual Med Gull was on its favourite post, and waders were well represented with a Knot, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Turnstone and Oystercatcher on the beach and Golden Plover and Lapwing in the fields. Offshore a few Red-throated Divers were noted passing by.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Freezing conditions make for a quiet couple of weeks

With the snow and freezing conditions, the last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet round the patch but still a few notable records with a Snow Bunting in-off the sea at West Runton, a White-fronted Goose out to sea off Overstrand amongst an incoming flock of c20 Pinkfeet, and a Little Egret in the meadows around Felbrigg Lake.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Mealy Redpolls bring up the 200!

A walk around the north east corner of Felbrigg Park today in the hope of locating some Redpolls proved a success and even better when it became quickly obvious that they were Mealy Redpolls which I had been doing a lot of searching for over the last few weeks so I was delighted both at my find and the fact that they brought up the 200 for the patch this year, a really brilliant achievement and good reward for a huge amount of patch working this year.
At least 3 were present, and whilst watching two feeding overhead in some birches they were joined by a Lesser Redpoll which gave a good comparison between the two species.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Jack Snipe and Hooded Crow

With the freezing conditions persisting and a heavy snowfall overnight it was no surprise that birds were on the move today seeking out any suitable areas to feed.

A walk round the village was cut short with the news that my Dad had found a Black-tailed Godwit on the beach at West Runton, but unfortunately with the treacherous road conditions making the drive there extremely slow the incoming tide got to the bird before I could and pushed it off west, however a Hooded Crow feeding on the tideline amongst a melee of gulls was some compensation.

Whilst I was there a number of Snipe were noted coming in-off the sea so I decided to check the stream which ran alongside the beach road as it remained unfrozen and was immediately rewarded as I inadvertently flushed a Jack Snipe up out of the ditch which conveniently joined a Common Snipe as they flew round giving an excellent size comparison between the two before they went down into the adjacent fields, which was a really excellent record for the patch bringing me to just one short of my 200 target, and with all the freezing conditions currently occurring hopes were high of finding that one last bird..........

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Big passage of Redshank and Shelduck

A seawatch today in a freezing onshore wind revealed that there were large amounts of waders moving past west presumably having been frozen out from the continent, and although the majority of flocks were too distant to id to species, the ones that were closer were all Redshank with flocks of 20+ birds passing at a time, and were undoubtedly the most I had ever seen moving through the patch. Also moving west were a notable passage of Shelduck along with a few Pintail too.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Whooper Swans over Trimingham

A planned walk along the clifftop between Sidestrand and Trimingham today to see if the Twite were still present had to be aborted as a major chunk of the cliffs, along with some of the clifftop sugar beet field, had recently collapsed and there was no longer a pathway along there.

I therefore decided to walk in from the Trimingham end but as I arrived at the layby I noticed a huge snow storm approaching from out to see so I decided to sit in the car for a while to wait for it to pass through, which as it transpired was a fortuitous decision as after a couple of minutes a flock of 10 Whooper Swans flew in off the sea just on the front edge of the storm and passed right over the road in front of my car.

Hoping that the snow may have grounded them I drove round the fields inland but there was no sign of them but still I was delighted with another new patch year tick bringing me to 198 as the month came to a close.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Goldeneye on Felbrigg Lake

A visit to Felbrigg Park today produced a fine drake Goldeneye on the lake, but unfortunately the Goosanders which had also been on there had been flushed by gun-shots in the adjacent wood shortly before my arrival.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Bittern at Titchwell

Another visit to Titchwell this afternoon produced a nice flight view of a Bittern over the reedbed, a redhead Goosander on the freshmarsh and a ringtail Hen Harrier over Thornham Marsh, along with a couple of Chinese Water Deer including the one photo'd yesterday with the split ear.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Raptors Galore

A visit to Titchwell today produced a plethora of raptors over Thornham Marsh with 2 Hen Harriers, 2+ Peregrines, Common Buzzard, Merlin, Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, plus a Barn Owl too.
The bird being touted as a Northern Harrier was also seen distantly around Thornham Point but having seen the Tacumshin bird I must admit I was underwhelmed by this bird and think there is still alot to learn about the variation that Hen Harriers can show.
Other highlights whilst we were there included a couple of Lapland Buntings flying over and a Chinese Water Deer.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

More Waxwings

More Waxwings were the highlight of the day today with a flock of 80+ on roadside wires near the Cawston roundabout which may well have been the birds from Aylsham, plus on the way home another 6 were seen on the roadside near Colby.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Rough-legged Buzzards at Holkham NNR

An early morning seawatch off East Runton produced a presumed Short-eared Owl in off the sea, and whilst a check of the clifftop bushes in which it appeared to go down in drew a blank, a Waxwing flew over.
A trip along the coast to Burnham Norton produced the desired result with a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards seen hunting over the saltmarsh and then on the way back a third flew over the coast road, briefly landing in a tree before heading off over the pines.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Waxwings at Aylsham

With a big flock of Waxwings still being present at Aylsham today, the short trip over was too hard to resist, and I was soon enjoying the thrilling (or should that be trilling) spectacle of them commuting between overhead wires and a berry-laden hedge, with c99 birds present.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Fairly quiet around the patch

Despite my best efforts in trying to turn up something new for the year, the last ten days have been pretty quiet round the patch, with the only noteworthy sightings being a few Pochard and Gadwall returning to Felbrigg Lake for the winter, a Little Egret flying along the tideline past Cromer Pier, and at West Runton the usual Med Gull.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

More Seawatching

Highlights of another bout of seawatching from the patch this morning were a single Little Auk, a few Pom Skuas and some Little Gulls. Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eider, Kittiwakes and Common Scoter were amongst the other species noted passing by too.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Scaup and Long-tailed Duck

With strong onshore winds a brief seawatch off West Runton late afternoon produced the desired results with a pair of Scaup and a Long-tailed Duck seen, both of which were new for the year bringing the total for the patch this year to a tantalising 197. Two Sooty Shearwaters passing by were also very noteworthy.

Monday, 8 November 2010


A walk along the golf course today was pretty quiet but a nice surprise was had when checking Happy Valley as I found a Firecrest in Warren Woods which as always was a stunning looking bird.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

MARSH HAWK at Tacumshin

Following the finding of a Marsh Hawk, the North American counterpart of our Hen Harrier, last weekend at Tacumshin, its continued presence meant a trip over to County Wexford was the order of the day.
After a couple of brief distant views, it eventually gave itself up as it hunted the fields to the north of the east end car park, and was later watched over the forgotten corner and then finally again as it came into roost in the reedbed to the west of the lake.

As ever Tacumshin held a host of other birds, with the most notable being a few flocks of Greenland White-fronted Geese passing over, good numbers of Whooper Swans on the lake (along with a single Black Swan!), a Peregrine chasing the wader flocks, 1+ Short-eared Owls hunting along the fringes of the lake and a few European Hen Harriers including a nice male at the roost site.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Twite revisited

Today I again visited Sidestrand with the hope of getting some decent pics of the Twite that I had found yesterday and although they continued to be very mobile and elusive I managed to get a few. As usual many of the birds in the flock were colour-ringed allowing them to be traced back to their breeding grounds in northern England.

A flock of c90 Golden Plovers were present in the clifftop field and four Lapland Buntings flew over heading west.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Richards Pipit and Twite

First port of call today was Sidestrand to check out the flock of small birds that I had seen late yesterday afternoon.
As I was walking along the clifftop towards where I had seen the flock I suddenly noticed a large pipit hovering over the clifftop vegetation before landing out of sight. Despite the brief views the prospect of this being a Richards Pipit was very high so I carefully tried to position myself where I might be able to see it if it moved to a shorter area of grass, but unfortunately it wasn't on the ground for long but fortuitously flew right past me calling as it bounded strongly off west and I was able to confirm its id. Apart from one that was at West Runton last autumn, this was my only other patch record of the species and the first that I have found myself so I was naturally elated with the record.
On a high, I carried on along the clifftop and quickly located the flock of birds seen yesterday as they flew along the cliffs towards me. From their flight calls, I was delighted to immediately recognise them as Twite, and after quickly changing position I was able to see them land on the cliff-face and then watch them feeding on the seed-heads of the sparse undercliff vegetation.
They were very mobile and often disappeared from view in various crevices, so it was very difficult to count them, so I took a couple of quick snaps on one of the occasions that they flew round for perusal later, with one showing that there were 21 birds present in the flock, and as I hadn't seen any other species with them, presumably they were all Twite, and a very excellent record for the patch.

A couple of Lapland Buntings flew over calling, and there was a nice passage of Lapwings also moving west.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Lapland Bunting and Waxwing

A walk around Trimingham today revealed that there was still at least one Lapland Bunting in the clifftop stubble, and a Waxwing flew over calling but out of sight from my position.

Just as I was leaving I scanned towards Sidestrand and picked up a flock of small birds flying around the clifftop and then they appeared to disappear off across the clifftop field. Knowing that this was unusual for the location and that the same area had previously attracted both Snow Buntings and Twite, they were naturally worthy of further investigation, but as the light was fading fast I decided to leave them for tomorrow.....

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Month ends on a quiet note

The last week of the month was pretty uneventful with the only birds of note seen around the patch being a female Mandarin on Felbrigg Lake, the first one I have noted there for a number of months, and the regular adult Med Gull which has returned to West Runton to winter.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Another rewarding seawatch

With onshore winds another seawatch from the patch was in order today, and whilst it initially appeared that it was going to be fairly poor, my persistence paid off when I picked up a Leach's Petrel heading east. Although it was fairly distant, the advantage of a high viewpoint meant I was able to watch it for a good while before it eventually disappeared into the troughs. Other notable birds included a single Little Auk and a few Pom Skuas making it a very worthwhile mornings seawatching.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Rough-legged Buzzard at Stifffkey

A trip along the coast today produced the long-staying Grey Phalarope at Cley and Yellow-browed Warbler at Holkham, but the undoubted highlight of the day came when calling in at Stiffkey late afternoon to check the saltmarsh for raptors.

On arrival a Peregrine was noted siting out on the beach beyond the saltmarsh, and then whilst scanning the area for harriers, I spotted a pale blob amongst the vegetation not far out off the campsite wood. I nearly didn't give it a second look but was very glad that I did as when I got my scope on it I was delighted to see that the pale blob was actually the head and breast of a juv Rough-legged Buzzard! It was sitting on the ground partially obscured but quickly took flight and headed off inland behind the wood, presumably to roost. This bird is part of a small influx along the east coast of Britain at the moment and hopefully one will go on to winter along the north coast this year.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

First of the influx of Waxwings arrive

With thousands of Waxwings currently arriving in the north of the British Isles, hopes were naturally high that they would start arriving here in the south too, and today indeed saw that arrival in the county.

Fortunately I was to share in this early vanguard as whilst out walking along the golf-course I heard their familiar trilling calls fast approaching and noted a flock of 12 come in-off the sea and head inland over the country club, and then only a few minutes later trilling again filled the air and another flock of 14 whizzed along the cliff-top past the Lighthouse heading south-east. Its always a special encounter when you find some Waxwings, and with the huge numbers entering the country at the moment it promises to be a very good winter for them especially given the large berry crop we have experienced this autumn.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wheatear and more Rock Pipits

A visit to West Runton today revealed that there were still a few Rock Pipits passing through, with two or three feeding on the beach and cliffs for a short while before they moved off west. Also a reasonably late Northern Wheatear which was feeding along the base of the cliffs was noteworthy too.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

More Grey Partridges

Highlight of today was an even larger flock of Grey Partridges that I discovered in the field adjacent to Sidestrand School with 14 present in this covey. Thet were trying their best to evade detection in the recently sown field, before they eventually flew off in the direction of the fields where I had encountered the flock of 9 a week ago.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Purple Sands

A walk aroung Trimingham this afternoon produced my first Snow Bunting of the autumn with one flying along the cliffs.

A text then alerted me to the fact that there were a couple of Purple Sandpipers feeding on the prom at Overstrand over high tide, which were fortunately still present when I arrived, and showed very well feeding unconcerned on the lowest concrete ledge occasionally needing to take quick evasive action as the highest of the waves crashed over them. After a while they then flew up on to one of the groynes where they roosted for a while before returning to the prom to feed.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Small passage of Rock Pipits

A visit to West Runton today in the hope of finding a Rock Pipit on the beach was rewarded when one of the holiday-makers who were rock-pooling there flushed one off the foreshore and it strongly headed off west calling as it went. Then over the next hour or so it became evident that there was actually a light passage of Rock Pipits taking place with a small stream of birds, both singles and small groups, moving west calling as they went, but as inviting as the beach and cliffs should have appeared none landed, maybe due to the number of people around.

I did however notice that the odd one had appeared to go down on the rocky reefs out from Sheringham prom, and a quick trip along there indeed revealed a couple out on the rock piles but again these quickly flew off west.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

An excellent mornings seawatch

With the overnight northerlies picking up in strength, I was out shortly after dawn today to do a seawatch from the patch, and was rewarded with some really excellent birds.

Main highlights were 4+ Little Auks, all singles which passed by close inshore, and a Grey Phalarope, which was the first one that I've ever recorded on a seawatch so was a very notable record. A couple of Pom Skuas, 2 Velvet Scoter and a Shoveler were all new patch birds for the year too.

Back-up birds were also very good with a Short-eared Owl in off the sea, Great Skua, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers, plus lots of Auks, Brent Geese and Kittiwakes, along with a Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal, Common Scoter, Mallards, Red-throated Divers and Gannets.

The new birds for the year saw me break the 190 barrier, a very good total indeed as my previous highest patch year list was 182 back in 2008. I'm fast running out of possible species so 200 seems an impossible task but with 2 and a half months to go only time will tell.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Yellow-browed Warbler and Barnacle Goose

A phone call today alerted me to the finding of a Yelow-browed Warbler in Trimingham churchyard, and after a small wait it eventually reappeared and gave good views on and off as it fed up in a sycamore tree.

A seawatch this afternoon produced the surprise of a Barnacle Goose flying west past East Runton, a good record to add to the two seen last month. Other birds seen passing by included Red-breasted Merganser, Eider, Common Scoter, Teal, Wigeon, Brent Geese, Red-throated Diver, and a few Gannets and Auks.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Hooded Crows

What was looking like a fairly quiet day around the patch today was suddenly brightened up when whilst I was at Trimingham I scanned a large recently ploughed field in the distance where I could see a number of corvids and gulls had gathered and quickly noticed that there were two crows which appeared to be showing light grey backs right at the back of the field.
Naturally thoughts quickly turned to the possibility of them being Hooded Crows, but I was slightly unsure as to whether it was simply a trick of the light due to the distance, so I quickly made my way over to the edge of the field where to my delight I could now see that they were indeed Hooded Crows, and a new patch tick for me into the bargain!
I quickly dashed back to grab my scope just to eliminate any possibility of them being hybrids and to get some record shots of them. Fortunately they were still present on my return and they were watched commuting between the clifftop field and the beach below, occasionally being flushed every now and again as the farmer had appeared and was now spraying the field with some strong smelling bright yellow chemical which I tried my best not to inhale too much of as he passed by!
Whereas they were a fairly regular bird in the county back in the 1980's, Hooded Crows have now become very scarce with just the occasional bird passing through, but which up till now have always eluded me so it was very pleasing to finally catch up with one (or even two) on the patch, and even better that they hung around long enough for some of the locals to catch up with them too.

On the way back a couple of Roe Deer were seen feeding in a field at Sidestrand, with one posing nicely for a photo before it noticed my presence and headed off into the bracken covered slope behind.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Red-flanked Bluetail at Waxham

Having spent the last week or so relentlessly flogging the patch in the hope of finding a Bluetail of my own, today I finally admitted defeat and decided to go and see the one at Waxham (the fourth one in the county in the last few days) as they are such stunning birds.

A Lapland Bunting flew over as I was parking the car, and on the way along the dunes, two Common Cranes were watched feeding in a field just inland.

The clump where the Bluetail was hanging out was finally located, the misleading directions on the pager not helping one bit, and after a short wait it showed very well and over the next couple of hours regularly came down to some mealworms put down for it giving the assembled crowd stunning views. Despite its once mythical status having long been shattered by the numerous recent occurences, it must still rank as one of the best birds on the British list and still very much a dream find, so I'll never give up flogging the patch in the hope of one of these beauties popping up in front of me!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Grey Partridges

A walk around the patch today revealed that there were still good numbers of common migrants in evidence with Thrushes, Robins, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Bramblings all along the coast.

A Pied Flycatcher and Redstart were an unexpected find in a garden in Overstrand village and then a walk round Sidestrand produced 5 Lapland Buntings over calling, another Redstart, Grey Wagtail and the first Fieldfare of the autumn.

The major highlight however was a flock of 9 Grey Partridges that I flushed from the field edge near the reservoir and then watched in the field adjacent to the turkey sheds at Northrepps. As they are in many parts of the country, Grey Partridges have become extremely scarce around here and these were the first that I had seen on the patch since a pair seen back in 2006, so they were a very welcome sight and hopefully they will hang around the area for a while.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Short-eared Owl

Highlights from yesterday were a couple of Common Redstarts, and 1+ Ring Ouzels still along the GC and a couple of Whinchats at East Runton.
A check around East Runton today produced good numbers of thrushes moving inland including a Ring Ouzel and a number of flocks of Redwings. The two Whinchats were still present and good numbers of Bramblings, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were still evident.
A walk around the lighthouse and golf course area produced a couple of Garden Warblers, Whinchat, Ring Ouzel, Wheatear and yet more Bramblings, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Thrushes, plus a few Siskin and a Redpoll over.
However the undoubted highlight was a Short-eared Owl which came in off the sea, circled the cliffs briefly to pick up a thermal, before heading off high inland.

Friday, 8 October 2010

'White-winged' Crow

A walk along the GC revealed a Whinchat on the cliff-face and a few flocks of Thrushes coming in off the sea.
There are currently a number of Crows in the area which have white flight feathers in varying degrees, with one, which, as it was today, can usually be found hanging around the turf slope area being particularly striking.

As the day progressed more and more Redwings and Song Thrushes were seen coming in off the sea, along with a few Bramblings with more of the latter being encountered in the woods and fields around the patch. Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were also much in evidence, along with a few Reed Buntings, Blackcaps and a Common Whitethroat.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Red-backed Shrike continues to perform well

With much better light today I went back down to the pitch & putt field in Cromer to get some better pics of the Red-backed Shrike which once the mornings rain had passed through was peforming excellently along the weedy ditch in the middle of the field. It was seen to catch a number of wasps and even pounced on a Speckled Wood butterfly in the grass which it had managed to spot from about 50 metres away, showing what excellent eyesight they must have.

The Redstart was still in the hedgerow and a Brambling was heard calling from the adjacent sycamore wood.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Red-backed Shrike

A walk along the GC this afternoon revealed that there were a few Ring Ouzels down on the undercliff although as they were typically mobile and elusive I never saw all of them at once but going on plumage there was probably 4 birds down there. Not surprisingly with the course now full of golfers, yesterdays Shorelark was nowhere to be seen.
News then filtered through of an unconfirmed report of a Red-backed Shrike by the Meadow car park in Cromer so I quickly made my way there to find that a couple of other locals had just arrived too and had quickly located it and indeed confirmed its identification. Apparently whoever had found it had popped into the local tourist information centre to tell them about it and they had put the news out!
Also around the same area was a Redstart and a Wheatear so the area was obviously acting as a migrant trap, a place that I've never even considering looking at up till now, but maybe it'll be worth keeping an eye on it in the future especially at this time of year when the pitch & putt which takes place on the field isn't in operation.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Shorelark on the Golf Course

What was a quiet day was eventually livened up when I received a phone call to say that there was a Shorelark on the golf course. Fearing that it would be quickly pushed off by golfers I quickly made my way there, but I needn't have worried as the course was virtually deserted due to the Ryder Cup taking place and no doubt everyone was watching that, or rather in the midst of celebrating as Europe had just won moments earlier.
It was quickly located feeding on the short turf of the fairway nearest the Overstrand end, and was often loosely associating with a couple of Wheatears. It was a very good record for the patch being only the second one I have recorded locally following one on the carnival field at Cromer a few years back.
As evening approached a few skeins of Pink-footed Geese were passing over hearalding the start of their immigration to the county for the winter.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A few migrants still lingering

A check around the lighthouse and golf course revealed that there was still at least one Pied Flycatcher in Warren Woods and a Spotted Flycatcher in cliff-face bushes below the GC. A few Song Thrushes and Robins remain but nothing like the numbers of recent days. A 1st-winter Mediterranean Gull which flew along the beach heading towards Overstrand was the other notable record of the day.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Pied Flys etc continue to linger

A check of the area around the lighthouse today revealed that there was still 2+ Pied Flys and a Redstart in the clifftop woods plus a few Bramblings, Song Thrushes and Robins, with many of the latter feeding high up in the tree canopy and looking rather out of context. A Treecreeper which was also in one of the woods was quite likely a migrant too.

East Runton still held a couple of Whinchats, and a few Butterflies, including Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Comma and Small Copper, were in evidence around the patch along with a few Migrant Hawker Dragonflies too.

Friday, 1 October 2010

A few more migrants coming in

Having concentrated on the east end of the patch yesterday, I decided to search the western end today although the increasing wind and showers weren't ideal.

A couple of Whinchats were at East Runton with a couple more along the clifftop at West Runton, along with a Wheatear, with a couple more of the latter also noted coming in off the sea and pitching down on the tideline showing that migrants were still arriving.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Yellow-browed Warber and Lapland Bunting

An excellent day on the patch today with another mini-arrival of migrants evident around the patch.

A check of the golf course and the clifftops woods produced a Ring Ouzel, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Bramblings, Siskins, Wheatears and still many Song Thrushes and Robins in every bit of cover. Also with the sun out and the fairly mild conditions, both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were heard singing.

Trimingham clifftop wood held 3 Pied Fly's and nearby a Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher, and then came what I thought would be the highlight of the day when walking the clifftop I flushed a Lapland Bunting out of the grass which flew round calling and headed off into the adjacent stubble field where I saw it a couple of times more before it again returned to the rough grass strip along the clifftop.

As it was now late afternoon I was in two minds to carry on checking other areas but thankfully decided to give the area around Sidestrand a final bash and was very pleased that I did as I located a Yellow-browed Warbler loosely associating with a tit flock. Although I can pretty much guarantee finding one on the patch each autumn, its always still a buzz when I do as they are such excellent little birds to see. Both Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher were also present rounding off what had been a really great day around the patch and one which makes all the many hours of relentlessly flogging the area worthwhile.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Late Common Swift

Highlight of today was a Swift that was over Cromer this evening with the local House Martins. One at this time of year is always worth a second look but indeed this was just a Common Swift but still a nice record and probably the last of the year that I'll see.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bonelli's and Yellow-browed Warblers

With the Bonelli's Warbler in Wells still not assigned to species, and rumours that on Sunday it was calling like an Eastern, a species that I have yet to see, I decided to pop over to see it for insurance purposes and hopefully clinch the id.

Whilst searching for it around the dell, I chanced upon a Yellow-browed Warbler, with a few Redstarts, a Pied Flycatcher and a few Garden Warblers also in the same area along with good numbers of Siskins. News filtered through that the Bonelli's had been located further along the main track so we quickly made our way along to the growing crowd and was soon watching it feeding in the back of the trees, and although it never gave really good views, they were enough for the general consensus to be that it was the more regularly occuring Western rather than the much rarer Eastern, which surely will occur before too much longer somewhere along the east coast.

Returning to the patch, a Pied Flycatcher was at West Runton and good numbers of the common migrants noted yesterday were still in evidence.

Monday, 27 September 2010

A good fall of common migrants

With the wind and rain of the last few days having abated, soon after getting out on the patch it was evident that there had been a big fall of common migrants on the coast.

Robins, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were the main species involved with one seemingly in every bush and many in the woods. Siskins and Bramblings were also very noticable with a number of flocks moving through and others feeding in the sycamore woods.

Other species noted around the patch during the day included a Ring Ouzel, a few Redstarts, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Redwing, Redpoll, Reed Buntings, Wheatears, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

More seawatching

A slightly later start today due to yesterdays exertions, saw me again seawatching of the patch where there were a few more birds passing then yesterday.

Highlights included a Red-necked Grebe which flew along close inshore in tandem with a Great Crested for comparison, and a Red-breasted Merganser, both of which were the first ones for the year on the patch. Also 6+ Sooty Shearwaters passed by with a couple pretty close in for a change offering very good views, and a Shag also passed along the tideline.

A few Arctic and Great Skuas also went by, along with good numbers of wildfowl with Wigeon, Teal and Common Scoter predominating, but a few Gadwall, and what was presumably a leucistic Pintail were also noteworthy.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Barnacle Geese and an American Fly on The Point!

Today started shortly after dawn with the anticipation of another good seawatch, however it quickly became apparent that there wasn't anywhere near the number of birds moving that there was yesterday which was rather disappointing.
However the early start was made worthwhile when I picked up two geese flying in from the west and as they got closer they were as I had initially suspected Barnacle Geese. I've previously recorded what were undoubtedly feral birds on a couple of occasions, so these were the first wild ones I'd recorded through the patch so obviously was very happy with the record.
The other highlights of the morning was a Shag that was lingering off the end of the pier, and a Merlin which was watched chasing an incoming passerine high out to sea.
On the seabird front there were small numbers of Arctic & Great Skuas, Manx Shearwater, Arctic Terns and Little Gulls. Waders were represented by Purple Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Curlew and Dunlin and ducks by Eider, Common Scoter, Shelduck, Wigeon and Teal.

I'd not long returned home when there was a MEGA Alert revealing that there was an Empidonax Flycatcher species in the plantation on Blakeney Point! After a quick drive to Cley coastguards I embarked on the 3 mile walk up to the point in what can only be described as atrocious conditions, walking headlong into the gale force winds and driving rain, with nothing better to walk on then loose shingle.
About an hour and a half later I arrived at the plantation soaked through, not helped by an apparent short cut resulting in having to wade through water to get back to the proper 'path'. Oh for the days when I used to cycle up there on nice hard ground in 20 minutes!
Anyway the long gruelling slog was soon forgotton when the Flycatcher appeared in the base of a poplar tree and gave good views low down sheltering from the elements and who can blame it. It continued to show occasionally and good views were eventually obtained, with special thanks to ETM who kindly allowed me to look through his scope.
At the time of writing the exact species concerned is still being debated, and whilst muted as a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher for a while, the current thinking is now that it maybe an Alder/Willow Flycatcher, hopefully a Willow as I saw the presumed Alder Flycatcher in Cornwall a couple of years ago, but even when that bird was trapped the identification hasn't yet been accepted, so maybe this one will remain in limbo too, especially if it departs overnight to prevent further grilling and photographing. Only time will tell but whatever the species, an absolute brilliant bird and an amazing record for the county.

Friday, 24 September 2010

An excellent days seawatching

For once the expectations for a good days seawatching came to fruition with an excellent 6+ hours from the patch producing 2 Leach's Petrels, 3+ Long-tailed Skuas and a few Arctic Terns and Little Gulls, all of which were new for the year bringing my tally up to 176 so far and already breaking last years total of 174.

However the most notable event of the day was the sheer numbers of Great Skuas which were passing, with a near constant stream throughout the day including numerous double-figure flocks, and were by far the most that I have ever seen passing in a single day. I've never been one for counting birds as they pass, but there was easily well over 300 during the day, and probably many more further out that were kind of ignored as we were busy concentrating on all the birds passing closer by, with numerous giving excellent views through the surf.

Other birds of note seen included a few Sooty Shearwaters, good numbers of Manxies including one flock of c30 birds, numerous Arctic Skuas and Kittiwakes, plus Purple Sandpipers, Brent Geese, Red-throated Divers, Sandwich Terns, Gannets, Fulmars, Common Scoter, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and a few distant auks.

Hopefully with the strong northerlies persisting overnight and birds continuing to pass up till dusk, tomorrow should also be good although today will take a lot of beating.....

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Southerlies bring in a few more migrants

With the winds round to the south there was a mini arrival of migrants on the patch today with 3 Whinchats at East Runton, and another two on Cromer GC along with a Wheatear. Also a Black or Common Redstart flashed across the road in front of me on the edge of Cromer but evaded further detection to confirm its species.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


A walk around East Runton today produced a real surprise when I found a Corn Bunting perched up on brambles on a scrubby area of land. This was the first one that I have ever recorded on the patch so it was an extremely good record especially as they are a fast declining species.

West Runton this afternoon produced a couple of Wheatears in the clifftop fields.

Monday, 20 September 2010


A walk at Trimingham this afternoon produced a Peregrine along the cliffs, then again drifting out over the sea and then I picked it up for a third time as it headed off east towards Mundesley being mobbed by the local gulls.

On the beach a group of 46 Cormorants was noteworthy.

Saturday, 18 September 2010


Today saw me taking a day trip over to Co.Cork for the House Crow that had been recently discovered at Cobh. Joining up with a crew from Essex, we took the early morning ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, arriving at c6.15am and were soon heading across southern Ireland. Just over a couple of hours later we arrived in Cobh and had it safely on the list from the car window before we had even parked!
A native of India, it was the second Irish record following one in the '70's, and like its predecessor, this one undoubtedly arrived via a ship, possibly from the small dutch population which had built up from other ship assisted arrivals.
Over the next couple of hours we watched it commute from the houses around the square by the lusitania monument over to the harbour where it would scavenge for food. It was very vocal at times especially when perched atop its favourite drainpipe. The gathering of birders caused great interest with locals and other tourists alike most of whom probably thought we were mad travelling all that way for a crow!

Also around the area was a nice supporting cast of birds including Hooded Crows, an Iceland Gull and Rock Pipit.

With the afternoon free to do some birding we headed back east checking out a couple of estuaries on the way which produced an assortment of waders. A fortuitous wrong turn in our quest to find Tacumshin Lake resulted in us ending up at the south-west corner of Lady's Island Lake where I spotted a Glossy Ibis feeding amongst a flock of 14 Little Egrets. It soon flew off west when I managed to grab a couple of flight shots.

We eventually found Tacumshin where the Wilsons Phalarope was located feeding on the far side of the lake and as dusk approached, I picked up two separate Glossy Ibis flying in from the east presumably heading off to their roost site. The site provides excellent habitat and its no wonder that its attracted the long list of vagrants that it has, but unfortunately time caught up with us and we had to leave for the ferry before some of the other species present could be located, but nonetheless it had been an excellent day.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Osprey, Black Terns and Curlew Sandpipers

A trip along the coast today started at Cley where my first Black Tern of the year was watched feeding along the ditches around the east bank car park, a Curlew Sandpiper, also my first of the year, was on Arnolds and 10+ Lapland Buntings were along the shingle bank there with 2 very confiding birds on the deck and a number seen in flight too.

A walk down to Stiffkey Fen revealed that all the birds in Blakeney Harbour had just been spooked so I busily scanned around for what I presumed was going to be a Peregrine, but instead to my delight picked up an Osprey tusseling with the local Marsh Harriers! It was then watched hovering high up over the harbour whereupon it dived down into the water making a successful strike and then flew off low steadily north west with what looked like a flatfish in its talons heading to the trees on East Hills to devour its catch. On the fen itself was a Spoonbill, Wood Sandpiper, 2 Curlew Sands and a Black Tern. Finally a visit to Holme again produced good views of the Arctic Warbler as it performed well to its small crowd of admirers.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Arctic Warbler

The offer of a lift along to Holme for the Arctic Warbler this morning was too good to pass up, and we were rewarded with good views immediately on arrival as it fed up in the pines along the seaward side of the reserves. This was only the second Arctic Warbler that I had seen in Norfolk, following one on The Point in Sept '93, and only my third ever (my first was in Lincs in Sept 86), so it was very nice to see one again and become reacquainted with their appearance in the field.

We then walked round to the NOA reserve and after a very short wait the Barred Warbler appeared right in front of us, had a quick feed and then disappeared off again out of sight below us making it a very successful morning.

With Titchwell open again, albeit only partially up to the first hide, we called in to see the results of the flood-defence works which looked pretty good, and was also treated to my first Little Stints of the year with 5 in with the Dunlin flock.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Weekend Round-up

Friday saw 3 Swifts moving east over the village, and maybe given the latish date these may well be the last ones I see this year?

A walk round Sidestrand on Saturday revealed little other than that the Wryneck was still present as it dashed across the reservoir in front of us, then showed briefly in the far hedge before dropping down out of sight.

A further visit there today showed it was still present, but again it was flightly and elusive. Two Redstarts were also around the reservoir, and singles were also seen in Trimingham clifftop wood and at East Runton.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Wryneck and Redstarts continue to delight

A check of the reservoir today showed that there was still up to 6 Redstarts present, but initially no sign of the Wryneck.
With the Redstarts posing so well I couldn't resist taking a few pictures as I think they are really smart looking birds, and something we'd go really mad about if they were a 'rare sibe'. There was a particulary stunning male present, which seemed to be having a lot of fun chasing around the other birds!

Whilst in the middle of photographing one of the Redstarts, I noticed a movement on the ground in the back of my field of view. Refocusing the scope to see what it was, I was delighted to see that it was the Wryneck busily feeding away on the ground about 20 foot away, but mostly concealed amongst the grass and other vegetation. It was then seen to fly up into the hedge and then every 20 minutes or so drop back onto the bank for a few minutes before going back up into cover.
After a lot of patient waiting it finally popped up in full view a couple of times, and I managed to quickly get a few pics of it as it did so, with the best two reproduced below.
Whilst waiting for the Wryneck to reappear, I heard a wooshing sound of fast wing beats above me and upon looking up saw a Hobby circling round, and on looking at it through my bins saw that it had obviously just taken one of the local hirundines as it was happily plucking it as it circled around before drifting off towards some nearby trees.
The Little Grebe was still present but as usual spent most of its time hiding, only very occasionally venturing out into the open water.
A late afternoon visit to West Runton revealed that there were still a couple of Redstarts there, along with a few Wheatears, and the regular adult Mediterranean Gull was around the car park and perching on its favourite post.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

WRYNECK at Sidestrand

The patch came up trumps today with the finding of a Wryneck up at the reservoir at Sidestrand. It was rather elusive but did give good scope views as it periodically appeared in the hedge along the far side, allowing a couple of record shots to be obtained. This was only the 3rd Wryneck that I had seen on the patch, and the first for a few years so was a very welcome bird and a delight to see.

Also around the reservoir was up to half a dozen Redstarts, and on the res itself the Ringed Teal had again put in an appearance, along with a Common Teal.

A check of a nearby site produced a couple more Redstarts and eventually a Pied Flycatcher there too, plus a male Marsh Harrier flew over heading east.
I then returned to the reservoir where I quickly located the Wryneck again, but it continued to be mobile and elusive for the remainder of the afternoon. On the res a Little Grebe was again present, a Common Sandpiper put in an appearance, and a Dunlin also dropped in.
A Hobby flew through much to the consternation of the local hirundines, a Yellow Wagtail flew over high calling away, and around the res a number of juv Swallows were continuing to be fed by their parents.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Migrants continue to arrive

Back on the patch today where I always feel more comfortable birding, especially being away from the crowds, a check of the golf course produced 3 Redstarts, up to 4 Whinchats and half a dozen Wheatears.

East Runton produced a couple of Redstarts, a single Whinchat, 2 Wheatears and a Hobby over, whilst West Runton produced yet more Redstarts (3+), a Spotted Flycatcher, Reed Warbler and a few more Wheatears.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Red-necked Phalarope

A trip along the coast today produced a couple of Lapland Buntings on the shingle ridge at Salthouse, plus a couple of Redstarts and a few Wheatears there.
Stiffkey Fen hosted a number of Spoonbills and a Wood Sandpiper, and at Holme a Red-necked Phalarope was on Redwell Marsh and a Red-backed Shrike was in the dunes, along with a few more Redstarts and a Spotted Flycatcher but the very blustery wind made searching for other migrants hard work.

Friday, 3 September 2010

More Whinchats and Wheatears

With the northeasterlies continuing another good look round the patch today was rather disappointing with very few migrants evident, although the day was saved somewhat with a couple of Whinchats and 6+ Wheatears along the clifftop at West Runton. However with easterlies set to continue well into the start of next week, hopefully there will be more birds arriving in the next few days.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Black-throated Diver

With light northeasterlies a check round the patch produced a Redstart and a Whinchat at Sidestrand, and at least 3 Swifts still up by the lighthouse.
Also whilst at Sidestrand I noticed the top of a pair of ears just sticking up above the stubble in a field and initially thought it was going to be a hare, but getting closer I could see more of the ears and a bit a reddish fur and my thoughts changed to it maybe being a fox, but when approaching it further and could see more of it, I realised it was infact a Chinese Water Deer having a bit of a snooze.

A check of the sea in the evening produced adult and immature Med Gulls past, good numbers of Sandwich Terns roosting on the groynes, plus 4 Common Sandpipers on the beach. However the undoubted highlight was a Diver Sp. that I picked up through my bins as it headed west, and quickly getting it in the scope I was very pleasantly surprised to see that it was a summer plumaged Black-throated, an excellent record for the patch, and probably the first summer plumaged bird that I have ever recorded in the county.

Monday, 30 August 2010

RUFF - New for the patch

With strong onshore winds blowing all night, hopes were high for a good seawatch today, but surprisingly it wasn't a seabird that made the day but a party of 9 Ruff which flew along close inshore from the east before towering up and seemingly heading inland. These were the first that I had ever recorded on the patch so naturally I was very delighted with this record.

Seabird wise it was actually pretty disappointing although about half a dozen Manx Shearwaters, plus good numbers of Arctic and Great Skuas kept the interest going. Other waders noted included a Purple Sandpiper, plus Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey and Golden Plovers, Knot, Dunlin and Turnstone, and duck included good numbers of Pintail and Common Scoter, plus Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Ringed Teal

The reservoir continued to be the place of interest as I received a text to say that a Ringed Teal was present there this morning. Obviously an escape anyway, but there presence of both a red plastic ring and a metal clip in the wing confirmed its origins, but nevertheless it was a smart looking duck and the first that I can recall seeing.

The reservoir was also alive with hirundines, with families of Swallows and Sand Martins perching up around the outside giving excellent views.
A few hawker dragonflies were buzzing around the area too, with one landing on the vegetation allowing the id as a Southern Hawker to be confirmed and a few pictures to be taken.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Little Grebe and a few Swifts still in evidence

It was obviously the week for Grebes on the patch, as a check of the reservoir at Sidestrand revealed that a Little Grebe had also chosen to pay it a visit. It was only the second one I'd seen on the patch this year and my first one on the reservoir this year, and was presumably a juv bird dispersing.

A walk along the golf course revealed that there was up to 10 Swifts feeding over the woods by the lighthouse, with most others seemingly having departed south already this was a notable gathering. 3+ Wheatears were still feeding on their favoured slope.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Balearic Shearwater

Seawatching from the patch today came up trumps with a Balearic Shearwater passing reasonably close in heading east. Double figures of Great and Arctic Skuas were also noted, along with the first couple of Red-throated Divers of the autumn.

A walk along Cromer GC produced a few migrants including a Whinchat, 6+ Wheatears, Lesser and Common Whitethroats and Blackcap.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Black-necked Grebe

A walk round Felbrigg yesterday produced a Whinchat in the meadow north of the lake.
A check around the patch today was pretty uneventful until my last stop when I discovered a splendid Black-necked Grebe on the reservoir at Sidestrand, only the second one I've seen on the patch and following hot on the heels of the one off Cromer in the spring.
It was loosely associating with the resident Mallards, and although it was fairly wary at times, it afforded me with the best views of this species that I've ever had and fortunately hung around for others to come and see it too.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Wheatears and Arctic Skuas

A walk along the golf course today produced a couple of Wheatears on their favoured slope, and there were good numbers of hirundines moving through including a few Swifts still.

A check of the sea in the evening revealed that there were good numbers of Sandwich Terns offshore, and these in turn attracted 2+ Arctic Skuas which were watched performing their spectacular piratical chases of the terns.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lesser Grey Shrike at Kelling

A look round East Runton early afternoon produced little migrant wise but a Painted Lady brightened up the walk.

News then broke of a Lesser Grey Shrike at Kelling, and with it being a new bird for me for the Cley 10km Square, which was my former patch and a list that I still actively keep, I made my way along the coast road and was soon watching it feeding from the top of fenceposts just inland of the shingle ridge towards Salthouse. With the last one in the square being in 1976 it was a new patch bird for most of the locals so was very welcome indeed, especially as it was in such fine plumage.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Storm Petrel and Sooty Shearwaters

With the strong onshore winds blowing all night, hopes were high for a decent seawatch, but with only a minimal amount of Gannets and a few Common Scoter moving it quickly appeared that maybe that wouldn't be the case.

The first Sooty Shearwater of the year and a couple of distant Arctic Skuas which then passed by raised hopes a little, but mainly it remained very quiet with just the odd Gannet, Common Scoter, Teal and a few waders passing by to maintain the interest.

Suddenly the shout went out that a Storm Petrel was passing and after a bit of scanning my Dad picked it up and following his directions I was straight onto it too making what appeared to be a bit of a non-event very worthwhile.

Over the next couple of hours highlights were a second Sooty and a single Manx Shearwater, plus a couple of Bonxies, a Kittiwake and a few Arctic Skuas but it never really got going in terms of numbers but I was more than happy with the Storm Petrel which is always a very good bird to record passing by the patch.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Redstart and Pied Flycatchers

With the wind today still a pretty strong north-easterly, I started the day off seawatching although this was abandoned after about an hour and a half as there was very little passing at all.
Attention switched to the land to again search for some incoming migrants and I quickly found a Pied Flycatcher near to the lighthouse and a Wheatear along the golf course, but as the day progressed the rapidly increasing wind buffeted the coast driving the birds inland to seek shelter which was evidenced in the finding of a Common Redstart and 3 Pied Flycatchers at Sidestrand with the Redstart, my first of the year, showing extremely well as evidenced by the photos below. I was also pleased with the shots I obtained of the Pied Flycatcher as it was the first time I had managed a photo of the species which are usually always on the move and pretty impossible to digiscope.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

First drift migrant of the autumn arrives

With the wind around to the north east, hopes were high of a few early drift migrants arriving on the coast, and a good look round the patch today produced the first in the shape of a Whinchat at East Runton, although it quickly moved on.
Other highlights included a group of 3 Whimbrel over calling away, and a presumed Brown Argus.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Black Guillemot off East Runton

With fairly stiff onshore winds, a mormings seawatch off East Runton was the order of the day.

Undoubted highlight was a Black Guillemot which flew past before landing on the sea, but as birds often do in choppy seas it promptly disappeared amongst the troughs. It later transpired that after I had left, it had flown west being noted off both Sheringham and Blakeney Point.

Other birds of note seen during the watch included a Great Skua, my first of the autumn, and a few Arctic Skuas. Ducks were represented by a few Wigeon, Teal and Common Scoters, and waders were also much in evidence with Bar-tailed Godwits, Golden and Grey Plovers, Dunlin and Knot the most notable species.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Marsh Harrier over Felbrigg

With a report of a probable Southern Migrant Hawker Dragonfly on Felbrigg Lake I made my way there, but despite searching with a number of others no sign of it could be found. A single Emperor, Black-tailed Simmers and a few Small Red-eyed Damselflies were however seen.

Two Spotted Flycatchers were seen flycatching from the dead trees in the NW corner of the lake, and then I picked up a large raptor approaching from the east, which I initially presumed would be a Common Buzzard which I frequently see over the park, but getting it in my bins I quickly realised it was a Marsh Harrier, the first one I'd had go through the patch this year, so I was very pleased with the record, especially as I had missed any passing through in the spring.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

First Arctic Skua of the year

A seawatch off Overstrand today produced the first Arctic Skua of the year, with one slowly flying east and occasionally circling round up above the horizon.

A walk along Cromer golf course was fairly uneventful until I noticed a white blob heading towards me high in the sky. Hopes of it being a Spoonbill filled my mind but when I got my bins on it, I was slightly disappointed to see that it was a Little Egret, but with it being only the second one through the patch this year it was still a notable record.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Common Hawker

Today I returned to Winterton to again look for the Southern Emerald, but primarily to have a better look at the probable Common Hawker seen yesterday, which was a new species for me. On the walk to the pools a number of Brown and Migrant Hawkers were seen patrolling the area.

A check on the Swallowtail caterpillar seen yesterday revealed it was still there, but upon reaching the pool where the Southern Emerald had been I was greeted with negative news as a number of others had been searching for it for some time with no success. As yesterday good numbers of Common Emeralds were evident on the pool and in the surrounding vegetation, and a couple of Emperors were patrolling the pond and occasionally landing.

One was seen to catch a Darter Sp. over the pool and then take it into the grass to devour.
Unlike yesterday when it was always quickly driven off by the Emperor, the Common Hawker spent a lot more time over the pool and thus allowed more time to study it in flight and establish its main features. Sadly it never landed in sight, but I did manage to get this flight shot of it over the pool and although pretty poor its still good enough to help confirm the id so I was pleased with yet another new species of Dragonfly.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Southern Emerald Damselfly

With the news that a Southern Emerald Damselfly had been seen at Winterton yesterday afternoon, today saw me visiting the area in the hope that it would still be present.
Following a c2 mile trek north to the small pools inland of the dunes, an initial search of the general area only revealed a number of Common Emeralds, including a number of pairs in tandem.

With the searching of the area continuing, this Swallowtail caterpillar was an excellent discovery away from their main areas of occurence.

Fortunately with the finder returning to the site, we established the exact area where the Southern Emerald was seen yesterday and a thorough search of the area ensued but again we drew a blank and it looked as though we would be disappointed. However whilst walking round the edge of the pool I was stunned when it appeared out of nowhere right in front of me and landed on the vegetation by my feet. After a quick check of its features to confirm the id, I alerted everyone else and we watched it for about 10 minutes before it disappeared off towards the pool. About 15 minutes later I again located it on a thistle on the north side of the pool where again it gave good views for 5 minutes or so before again flying out of sight and despite searching for the next couple of hours we couldn't relocate it.

Other dragonflies present included a probable Common Hawker, plus a few Brown and Migrant Hawkers, Emperor and Common Darters.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Hooded Crow, Crane, Spoonbills and more

A trip along the coast today started at Cley where a Hooded Crow was the first notable bird with one in the fields adjacent to the beach road. Formerly fairly regular in the county they are now very scarce, but this one appears to like its surroundings and has taken up residence with the local corvids.
A walk along to North Hide produced Common Crane and 10 Spoonbills.

A visit to Holt Country Park produced a Silver-washed Fritillary still visiting the buddleia by the car park, a couple of Spotted Flycatchers and a few Keeled Skimmers present in the boggy area on the south side of the park.

With news that good numbers of Chalkhill Blues were out, a visit to Warham Fort then ensued where they were quickly found roosting in the grass due to the windy and overcast weather, but nevertheless gave excellent views including one female which happily sat on my finger.
Also in the area were Holly Blue and Wall, plus a female Banded Demoiselle and three Common Buzzards sparring over a nearby wood.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Southern Hawker

A walk round the back of Overstrand today produced my first Southern Hawker of the year which obligingly settled up on a hedge to allow me to get some shots.
A family of Roe Deer and a juv Green Woodpecker were other notable sightings during the walk.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Holly Blues and Silver-washed Fritillaries

A few Holly Blues have been noted around the village in the last few days, and today I noticed a few were coming into the garden enabling me to grab a few pictures of them.

Over the last couple of weeks a number of Silver-washed Fritillaries had been reported across Norfolk, and with only one recent record of unknown provenance in the county, this influx was obviously creating great interest. So when news of up to 3 in Holt Country Park emerged today, they proved very popular, especially as they were putting on a good show on the buddleia in the car park.

In addition to the fritillaries, both a White Admiral and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth visited the buddleia too which added to the spectacle.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

More Butterflies at Felbrigg

Having not visited Felbrigg for a few days, I popped down this afternoon where I found only my second Painted Lady of the year feeding in the meadow on the west side of the lake. Other butterfly species seen included both Gatekeepers and Commas.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


An evening seawatch off Overstrand today produced the first Razorbill of the year which drifted past slowly east, also a drake Common Scoter was close inshore but little else of note was seen in the fairly calm conditions.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


News that a probable King Eider had been seen from the seawatching shelter at Sheringham and that it was drifting towards the patch was quickly followed by a phone call from my Dad to say he had relocated it off Beeston Church, so after a quick drive I was watching it as it slowly drifted towards West Runton, delighted with an unexpected but excellent new bird for the patch.
It was fairly distant but as it neared W.Runton it drifted slightly closer inshore and after lingering off the beach car park for a while it headed slowly back west. I relocated it off Sheringham prom where the record shots below were taken, and it stayed along the seafront there for the rest of the day albeit always fairly distant. This first-summer male had been in Yorkshire for the previous three weeks but had disappeared from there on the 25th.

Whilst watching off West Runton my first Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwits for the patch this year were also noted flying west, and a juvenile Med Gull was also noted along the seafront at Sheringham, performing well as it flew up and down the beach occasionally landing to allow pictures to be taken.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Southern Migrant Hawkers and Willow Emeralds

Today I embarked on my first dragonfly twitch with a visit down to Hadleigh Castle Country Park in Essex where up to 10 Southern Migrant Hawkers have been seen.
Initially it was very overcast and fairly breezy and not surprisingly no sign of them, but as the weather warmed up and the sun came out now and again, hopes were raised and eventually at least a couple appeared feeding over a pool and then patrolling a ditch in front of the delighted crowd. With only c5 previous records in the UK this small population was a very notable occurrence and afforded many keen dragonflyers with their first chance to see this species.
After patient waiting, one perched on bankside vegetation allowing for a few shots to be taken, plus a record flight shot which was quite an achievement using just a point & shoot camera.

Apart from the SMH's, there was a good supporting cast of other wildlife present including a Marbled White butterfly, Scarce Emerald Damselflies, Emperor Dragonflies and a rather spectacular looking Wasp Spider.

Heading back north I called in at Alton Water where some Willow Emerald Damselflies had begun to emerge. These Damselflies invaded Suffolk last year from the continent and hopefully look set to become a colonist which hopefully will spread further around the country like the Small Red-eyed Damselfly has done over the last decade.

I wasn't quite sure of the best place to look but after some searching found about 6 roosting on Nettles and Rosebay Willowherb before flying up into the trees above.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

More from Felbrigg

Felbrigg today produced Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Comma and a couple of Grasshopper sp's.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Greenshank at Felbrigg

With Felbrigg Park seemingly the place to be on the patch, I again went down to the lake today and after a little searching the Red-veined Darter was again located up by the rabbit holes and it perched up on a dead branch nicely for me to get a photo.

A check of the lake revealed that there was a single Mandarin present, and also one of the Crested Ducks that I had seen earlier in the year was also on the lake. A while later when trying to relocate it for another birder, I chanced upon a Purple Hairstreak feeding on a thistle head where it remained totally unconcerned with our presence allowing us to take numerous photos of it.

A walk round to the west side of the lake produced the male Broad-bodied Chaser pictured below, plus 2+ Green Sandpipers flying round the lake and the adjacent water meadows.  

Numbers of the commoner butterflies continued to be good, including Ringlet and a Gatekeeper.
 Final surprise of the day came when a Greenshank was heard calling and by the sound of it had dropped down onto the lake. I quickly made my way round so I could view the shoreline, and indeed it was there and was a very welcome addition to the patch year list. It fed for a short while but then took off and circled round gaining height before disappearing off into the distance and was a very nice ending to the day.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Little Ringed Plover at Felbrigg

Today I made another visit to Felbrigg to try to get better photos of the Red-veined Darter, and whilst searching for it, a Little Ringed Plover flew up from the shoreline along the eastern edge of the lake calling and disappeared off high to the west. This was the first that I had ever seen on the patch so naturally I was delighted with the record.

After a further search I located the Red-veined Darter sitting on a molehill and was indeed able to get some better photos of it then I managed on the day I found it.

A walk round to the western side of the lake produced brief views of more Purple Hairstreaks and a Migrant Hawker hanging up in a small oak tree.

Final notable record of the day was the extrordinary sight of a Ringlet and a Gatekeeper in copulation! Quite why they had resorted to this when numbers of both species in the area were fairly abundant who knows, but it was good to get a photographic record of this very rare occurrence.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lots more wildlife at Felbrigg

Having not had the opportunity to revisit Felbrigg yesterday to look for the Red-veined Darter, but pleased with the news that others who had gone there to see it had connected, I went there today and upon arrival joined a small group of people who had already located it and I saw it briefly again on the ground before it dissappeared off over the lake.
With news that more Purple Hairstreaks had started to emerge and were giving good views, I made my way round to the west of the lake where I quickly located one down on a patch of brambles and following the disappointment of a couple of days ago, was very pleased to get some pictures.

After a quick check for the darter without further success, I continued round the lake to the walled end to check for the presence of Small Red-eyed Damselflies and quickly located a few in the vegetation clumps.
Then making my way back round the lake to have another search for the darter, a Small Copper posed nicely and a couple of Stoats were watched going in and out of the Rabbit holes.

Again no sign of the darter, so I made my way to the boardwalk where I found a male Ruddy Darter sunning itself on the boards, and then after flying up onto the handrail, it decided it would rather be on my hand and quite happily sat there whilst I took its photo before flying up onto the adjacent vegetation. Also along the boardwalk was a female Broad-bodied Chaser.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Red-veined Darter at Felbrigg

A walk down to the lake at Felbrigg this afternoon produced good numbers of Black-tailed Skimmers, with one allowing close enough approach to get some decent pictures.

A number of groups of Crossbills were flying around and a few Common Blue Damselflies were around the vegetation clumps along the wall.

My first local Purple Hairstreak was a surprise find in the grass also along the wall but unfortunately it flew off up into the trees before I could get a picture. Feeling quite disconsolate that I had missed a good photo opportunity I headed back towards the car checking for any more Black-tailed Skimmers on the way but my attention was grabbed when instead I flushed up a male darter sp. off one of the mole hills. It fortunately settled again a few feet in front of me, and as I looked at it through my bins, I was immediately struck by the amount of red in the wings and I quickly perked up with thoughts of Red-veined Darter filling my mind!
Having never seen one before, and wondering about the variation in Ruddy Darter, I knew that it was imperitive that I got a good photo to aid my id. Fortunately it allowed relatively close approach and allowed study through bins when I was able to confirm that it really did have red veins in the wings and also lacked the waisted abdomen of Ruddy Darter, and I managed to get a photo before it flew off again.

Back at home I checked my literature and photos on the net, and was pretty confident that it was indeed my first ever Red-veined Darter, and this was quickly confirmed after posting the photo on a website, so I was really pleased with my find.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Small Red Damselflies

Today I paid a visit to Scarning Fen, the only site in Norfolk that holds the Small Red Damselfly. I failed to see them here last year, although I was probably a bit late in their season, so I ensured that I visited earlier this year.
After searching for around 20 minutes or so, I eventually discovered a small concentration of them, including a few pairs in tandem, and was naturally pleased to have seen another new species of Odonata.
Photography wise it was incredibly frustrating, as due to their small size the autofocus on the camera just refused to lock in on them even when they were posing as close as a couple of inches, but eventually I did manage a few pics that were in focus.

Friday, 9 July 2010

White-letter Hairstreaks

Upon checking out a site at East Runton on Wednesday, where I knew one had been seen last year, I was delighted to see my first ever White-letter Hairstreak, albeit high up in the top of its chosen elms.
Another visit yesterday showed that there were a few present but none really gave themselves up for a decent photo, again staying up high in the elms.
However today I had better luck when checking out another local site as they were periodically coming down onto the brambles below to feed, enabling me to get a few pictures.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Purple Emperors

Today I took a trip over to Fermyn Woods in Northamptonshire to look for the Purple Emperors that the site is renowned for.
I wasn't quite sure of the best area of the wood to see them so basically decided to keep walking round until I met someone who did as there were plenty of other cars parked when I arrived. (For anyone visiting, park in the entrance opposite the glider club along the minor road along the edge of the wood rather than in the country park car park itself and then just follow the one main ride through the wood).
With some information gleaned from other blogs, and after chatting to one observer I made my way over towards a couple of other woods which lie beyond the main wood across some fields. Here I met someone who had seen one earlier and then we walked along to Souther Wood where he knew others had headed, and which was apparently the best place to see them.
On joining the others we discovered they had been watching one on the ground for about 20 minutes, but it took an anxious wait of about an hour, during which time a couple were seen briefly high up over the trees, before another one eventually came down onto the path where it gave excellent views. Incredibly pleased with seeing my first ever ones coupled with the one showing as well as it did on the path, I walked further along the track into the wood and found another three on the path, and then returned to the original spot where again one showed very well on the ground and eventually held its wings open. By adjusting your position relative to the sun, it was possible to get the purple sheen to show, although getting it totally across both wings didn't quite happen, but the amount of purple seen was stunning none the less.
They would visit the made up tracks to get the salt up from the surface and would also visit piles of dung on the track, including horse and fox.

 Also seen in the wood were a single Purple Hairstreak, plus plenty of White Admirals.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Downy Emerald

Today I visited Norfolks only site for the Downy Emerald Dragonfly with not much expectation as access to most of the site is restricted, and I wasn't sure if they'd still be flying or even viewable if they were.

I spent half an hour or so distantly scanning the pool through bins and saw a number of Emperors and Four-spotted Chasers, plus a single Darter sp. Then just as I was about to give up thinking the task of actually seeing one from my very limited vantagepoint was going to be impossible, I noiced a smallish dark dragonfly buzz an Emperor before zipping off. This obviously aroused my interest further and after about another 10 minutes of scanning I picked it up again along the edge of the pool and as it flew towards me, its green eyes were very obvious.

I quickly dashed back to the car and grabbed my scope, and after a few more minutes I locked onto it again hovering over the pool, and to my delight confirmed that it was indeed an Emerald with its metallic dark green body shining in the sunlight, and as noted earlier, its green eyes were very conspicuous.

Over the next hour I watched it patrolling back and forth over the same stretch of water, frequently hovering and clashing with other dragonflies, including possibly another Downy Emerald. I didn't see it land but it occasionally disappeared out of site into a bay for a while and may well have been going up onto the pool side trees.

Although it was always fairly distant, good scope views were possible, and once you'd got your eye in, you could pick it out with bins amongst the other dragons on the lake, so I was very pleased to have added a new species especially as I had initially little hope of seeing one.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Silver-studded Blues

A visit to Kelling Heath today produced the hoped for Silver-studded Blues with a number found just over the railway near to the level crossing.
The blustery wind made photographing such a small butterfly fairly difficult with them being frequently buffeted around, but I did manage the couple of shots showing well the silvery-blue studs on the underside of the hindwind of the female which gives them their name.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

White Admirals and Dark Green Fritillaries

A walk along the track to the west of the bottom of Lady Annes Drive at Holkham today produced the surprise sightings of around a dozen White Admirals. Most were just seen zipping along the path and disappearing up into the trees, but a few landed on the brambles and other trackside vegetation to feed, and with careful stalking I was able to get a few pics.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was also seen feeding along the path, and then a check of the dunes on the seaward side of the pines near to Washington Hide produced a few Dark Green Fritillaries.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Camberwell Beauty

With news that the Camberwell Beauty that had been discovered at Titchwell on Monday was still present today, I headed back to Norfolk to hopefully see it, and fortunately it was still there when I arrived mid afternoon.
It mostly kept relatively high up in the trees, when I managed to get a picture, but also had a couple of fly-rounds around the picnic area at head height right in front of us.

After watching it on and off for about an hour, it did another fly-round and disappeared over the trees towards the Meadow Trail, and as events later transpired, that was the final time it was ever seen.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

House Finch and Large Blue

With the relocation of the Lands End House Finch at East Prawle in Devon, I decided a few days in the south-west were in order to see this and look for some Butterflies and Dragonflies whilst in the area.
Having spent 4 hours not seeing the finch on Tuesday afternoon and evening, I was seriously questioning my sanity for 'cracking' and going for a bird that seemingly has virtually no chance of making it onto the British List. However I was again in position at its most regular feeding point soon after dawn and after another painful wait of a couple of hours, much to my relief I spotted the House Finch perched on a roof in the distance. It quickly flew off but after a couple of minutes it came down onto the seed that the lady of the house had put out for it to try to encourage it to appear for us yesterday, and it happily fed away, but it was quite bizarre having a 'first for Britain' all to myself!
I hung around for some better light for photography, and was rewarded with it again eventually coming down onto the seed infront of me where it gave excellent views.

With having wasted the day before dipping on the finch, I was now behind schedule so quickly headed back north, well as quickly as the tortuous south Devon roads would allow, and called in for a brief walk round Stover Country Park where I was delighted to see my first ever Golden-ringed Dragonfly briefly hawking along a woodland ride.
I then moved onto Collard Hill near Glastonbury where I quickly located my first ever Large Blue Butterflies at this reintroduction site. With the very warm and sunny weather they spent most of their time flying quickly along the steep sided hill rarely landing in sight, but with much patient stalking I eventually managed a couple of half decent pics of both the underwings and one with the wings spread, plus a record shot of a pair together.
Good numbers of Marbled Whites were also present on the hill, along with a Black-tailed Skimmer.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Northamptonshire Revisited

Today saw me pay a second visit to Northamptonshire with a couple of birding friends with again some new Butterflies and Damselflies being the aim.
First stop was to revisit Glapthorn, where after a brief view of a Black Hairstreak, and acting upon information gleaned whilst on site on Friday, we made our way to the opposite corner of the wood where we located a pretty freshly emerged male Silver-washed Fritillary, my first new species of the day, and an excellently timed visit as the first one for the year had only been recorded the previous day.

Whilst we were looking for the Fritillary, I very fortunately noticed a 'roosting' Elephant Hawk Moth in the vegetation in front of us, and despite its mangled right wing it was very nice to see one away from a moth trap.

With our success at Glapthorn, we moved on to Upton Mill on the western outskirts of Northampton, where after careful checking of the riverside vegetation I located a White-legged Damselfly, my second tick of the day! With further checking of the riverbank we located a few more individuals, with one staying still long enough for some photos.

We then moved on to the River Tove at Towcester where I quickly located my third new species of the day in the form of a Beautiful Demoiselle, its all dark wings separating it from the Banded Demoiselles that we get back in Norfolk. We located a second Beautiful, with also a number of Banded also being present, along with a White-legged Damsel, but with the warmth of the day running out and one more stop on the agenda, I only had time to grab a quick record shot before we had to move on.
Final stop of the day was Bucknell Wood nr Silverstone, but despite searching we couldn't locate any Wood Whites, although as it was getting right towards the end of their flight period, we were probably a bit late in the year so will have to wait for either a potential second brood, or there is always next year. Some compensation was had though with at least half a dozen newly emerged White Admirals present, and all in all an excellent day with three new species and great company too.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Black Hairstreak and Scarce Chasers

Today I took a trip over to Glapthorn Cow Pastures near Oundle with Black Hairstreak the target species. Upon arrival at the wood I made my way to their favoured patch of brambles and was immediately rewarded with one performing very well. Over the next hour or so, three or four individuals came down to the brambles from the overhead trees all being very approachable and giving excellent views.
With the forecast of it clouding over later, I thought I'd make the most of the current sunny weather and quickly move on to look for my second hoped for new species of the day, the Scarce Chaser which is far more numerous in Northamptonshire then it is in Norfolk.
With information kindly supplied by a local at the Hairstreaks, I made my way to the River Nene at Wadenhoe Mill and quickly located a few males which were patrolling the river and landing on the bankside vegetation. After a lot of patient stalking I managed to get a nice set of photos, including a pair in tandem, which perfectly illustrates how the males get the 'pinch' marks half way down their abdomen!

Other highlights at Wadenhoe included a number of Red Kites passing overhead, numerous Banded Demoiselles, a few Four-spotted Chasers and a female Emperor Dragonfly oviposting.

With the warm and sunny weather lasting longer than predicted I decided to make an unscheduled late afternoon stop at Twywell Hills and Dales which is just off J11 of the A14 to check out the site as I intended to visit it later in the month to look for Marbled Whites.
However that visit was made superfluous as I quickly located about half a dozen presumably very recently emerged individuals just beyond the car park. Obviously I was delighted with my unexpected find, especially as it must be about 25 years since my only previous encounter with the species, so they almost felt new.

A nice range of other more common butterflies were also present, along with a few Six-spot Burnet Moths, and I'll definitely be paying a repeat visit to this excellent site, if not later in the summer, then certainly next year.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A day in the Broads

Today was spent around the Norfolk Broads with the main target of the day being Variable Damselfly.
I started out at Cockshoot Broad, and whilst walking around the boardwalk loop, I chanced upon a Swallowtail, and whilst not quite as showy as the ones at Strumpshaw, it somehow felt nicer to find one in a 'wild' setting. It was very mobile moving quickly along the flowerheads next to the boardwalk, but stayed still long enough on a couple of occasions to get a photo.

Whilst looking for damselflies, and having glimpsed two probable Variables amongst the many Azures and Red-eyed, my attention was grabbed by some crashing around in the vegetation on the far side of the dyke. Presuming it was just a Moorhen or Coot, I was shocked to see a Chinese Water Deer gently launch itself out into the dyke and proceeded to swim across with just its head sticking out of the water.
I quickly positioned myself in the hope that it would cross the boardwalk, which indeed it did momentarily pausing to look at me, and allowing me to grab the image below, before running off into the reeds barking loudly.

With most of the Damselfly action being on the far sunny side of the dyke making viewing difficult, I decided to move on to Upton Fen to see if any Variables could be found there.

At Upton I soon found a few Four-spotted Chasers and a male Hairy Dragonfly patrolling a ditch, and then carried on along the path and upon seeing a few 'blue' damsels along a reedy ditch I paused to check them out and was pleased to eventually find two or three Variables amongst them, a new species for me. After getting your eye in it was surprisingly easy to pick them out amongst the Azures, with the broken ante-humeral stripes and the marking on segment two being the best field characters. 

Whilst watching the damsels a Large Skipper was busily flying up and down the path feeding on thistle heads. Further along the path towards the viewpopint, a number of Norfolk Hawkers were watched feeding along the ditch with one briefly alighting on a stick in front of me.

Whilst watching the Norfolk Hawkers, a Swallowtail flew over the reedbed in front of us and then headed off across a meadow into the distance. A couple of Emerald Damselflies were also noted, my first ones of the year, and back at the first ditch I looked at, a female Hairy Dragonfly was briefly watched oviposting, and a Four-spotted Chaser posed for a photo.

Heading back towards the car park, at least a dozen Black-tailed Skimmers were basking on the boardwalk.

Finally a check of the area around the small pools in the meadow by the dragonfly model revealed more Black-tailed Skimmers, and a couple more Variable Damselflies rounding off a very enjoyable day nicely.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Chilean Flamingos at Cley

With mutterings about them being Cat C vagrants from a feral population in Holland and Germany, I went to Cley to see the two Chilean Flamingos which had appeared on the reserve today after spending the afternoon at Minsmere yesterday.
Whatever their origins they, an apparent pair, were really nice birds to see, and the size difference between the much larger male and the female was very noticeable.
On the way to Cley, a Spoonbill was seen feeding on the pools in the field to the north of Walsey, and was then seen flying west over Cley, and on the reserve there it was noted that the local Mute Swans had 2 'Polish' young in their brood of 7, these being pure white morphs as opposed to the usual grey-brown colour of cygnets.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Swallowtails and Norfolk Hawkers at Strumpshaw

As I was playing football in Norwich this evening, I thought I'd make the most of the day and the reasonable weather with a day at Strumpshaw RSPB reserve with the aims of getting a decent photo of a Swallowtail Butterfly and to try to see a Norfolk Hawker Dragonfly which would be a new species for me.
Upon arrival I made my way down the track just before the reserve car park to the house in whose garden the Swallowtails often frequent. To my delight there was a Swallowtail there as soon as I got there and over the next couple of hours there was always at least one on view, often two, and at one point there were three having an aerial tussel right in front of the delighted onlookers.
After taking a few hundred pictures of the Swallowtails, I eventually dragged myself away and made my way onto the reserve proper heading for the meadow trail and virtually immediately I spotted two Norfolk Hawkers chasing each other over the adjacent ditch. After spending some time watching one patrolling its teritory, but rarely landing for more than a second, I made my way further along and, as hoped for, spotted another perched on the reeds on the far side of the ditch and which continued to show well for the quickly assembled group of photographers. We watched it for about half an hour, and then as I made my way back, the first one was still patrolling its ditch and eventually landed on a stick on the bankside long enough for a few photos too.