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.