Friday, 29 July 2011

Arctic Tern

One of the features on the patch in summer is the small numbers of terns feeding offshore, with frequent gatherings either on the groynes at high tide or on the beach itself at low tide.

Today whilst seawatching I noticed a small flock of Common Terns had gathered on the beach, and even from a distance I was pretty sure an Arctic Tern was with them so quickly dashed from my vantage point down onto the beach below where my suspicions were quickly confirmed.

A nice comparison shot below showing just how distinctive they are from the Common Terns in the background.

Also in the flock was this superb juv.

And finally a shot of some of the Common Terns before the whole flock was flushed by a combination on the incoming tide, holiday-makers and a very large low flying aircraft!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Chalkhill Blues

With finally a nice sunny day, I decided to visit Warham today for the Chalkhills Blues, and certainly wasn't disappointed with good numbers in evidence.

 A few Holly Blues were also seen in the hedgerow along the entrance track including the one below.

And whilst on the theme of butterflies, the Gatekeeper below was taken on the patch earlier this week, with the cold and wet conditions making it reluctant to fly and thus very photogenic.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


The first Whimbrel of the year on the patch was seen during the week with one high west over Northrepps.

With brisk onshore winds attention today turned to the sea and although it was far from spectacular, there was enough of a good passage of commoner birds to keep up the interest during a six hour watch.

Most notable was a nice westerly passage of Arctic Terns (mainly juv's) and Little Gulls (both adults and imm's) many of which stopped to linger for a while feeding on the leeward side of the pier.

2 drake Velvet Scoters were also a very notable sighting for the patch, and single Manx Shearwater and a couple of Arctic Skuas were also recorded, along with Gannets, Fulmar, Kittiwakes and Guillemots. Wader passage was also very good with Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher plus the odd Shelduck and Common Scoter also moving.

Back home a Southern Hawker feeding in the road outside my house was a bonus especially when it hung up on the garden hedge allowing close approach.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Southern Hawker

With a bit of sunshine today I had a look for White-letter Hairstreaks at Sidestrand, which like the ones at Holkham were seen coming down to feed on privet, although as they have obviously been out for a while now, all the ones I saw were pretty battered along the wing tips like the one below.

I moved on to Gimingham to check out another WLH site and saw one briefly up in the elms, but the undoubted highlight here was the first Southern Hawker of the year hanging up in the vegetation.

A Brown Hawker was also seen patrolling the area, and 2+ Yellow Wagtails were flying around calling and were presumably local breeders.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Always worth a check

Took a phone call this morning from my Mum to say that whilst she had been walking along Cromer prom an hour or so earlier she had noticed a large dark bird with slightly paler underparts on the sea close inshore which just didn't look right for the Cormorants she was used to seeing along there and made a wild guess that maybe it was a diver sp. and although she is a non-birder she has naturally taken in a bit of knowledge over the years so it was certainly worth following up.

A check of the sea where she had seen it drew a blank, so I decided to look the other side of the pier where I quickly found a Guillemot, and then locked on to her bird which I was delighted to see was a Shag and watched as it slowly drifted back west round the pier back to where she had originally found it, an excellent find and my first July record of one on the patch, and maybe anywhere in the county, with my previous earliest being a few which were around in late August '08.

A further scan of the sea revealed that there were 3 Arctic Skuas, all pale-phase adults, wheeling around high above the horizon slowly heading east, my first of the year, and the tail-end of what was undoubtedly a Little Gull was seen disappearing round the pier.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Red Kite

Thanks to a phone call this afternoon alerting me to the fact that a Red Kite was over the village and probably heading my way, after a short while I picked it up as it slowly drifted eastwards virtually overhead. As it reached the far end of the village it started to circle and quickly back-tracked to where I was and then landed in a nearby tree. With the almost immediate onset of showers it was obviously sheltering from the elements and so would hopefully allow me enough time to dash home to grab my scope in order to try to get a photo. On my return I was delighted that it was still there and I alerted a few locals to its presence and soon a small but very appreciative group assembled to enjoy rare perched views as it continued to shelter until the showers temporarily subsided and it eventually flew off low west.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Brown Hawker

For a slight change of scenery when visiting Felbrigg Park this week, I've spent a bit of time over a couple of days around the small pond towards the western entrance, with the area proving very productive.

On the bird front 25+ Crossbills were noted flying over heading towards the Lions Mouth, Butterflies included both White Admiral and Purple Hairstreak and Dragonflies were well represented by Ruddy Darter, Banded Demoiselle, 2+ Emperors including an ovipositing female and a pair of Broad-bodied Chasers with the female also noted ovipositing, however the main highlight was a couple of Brown Hawkers with after a lot of waiting one finally perching on the bankside vegetation to allow me to get my best photos to date of the species.

Down by the main lake the Purple Hairstreaks continued to be as non-obliging photography-wise as ever although good numbers continue to be present in the 'master' tree, the White Admiral was still present and good numbers of Gatekeepers were now evident in the meadows. On the lake itself a Green Sandpiper was happily feeding along the eastern shoreline, Black-tailed Skimmers, Emperors and Common Darters were all noted and more exuviae were found along the wall to add to my growing collection.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Willow Emeralds

With news that Willow Emerald Damselflies had begun to emerge, I took a trip down to Alton Water, where I had briefly seen them last year. Shortly after arrival I quickly located one not far from the car park and then over the next couple of hours found another 10 or so in the lakeside vegetation. Most were fairly fresh tenerals but I did manage to find a couple of slightly more mature ones, and managed to get a few decent photos with some reproduced below.

My first Brown Hawker and Ruddy Darters of the year were also seen, with a photo of one of the latter plus a Red Admiral below.

Monday, 4 July 2011


The highlight of a walk round Felbrigg yesterday was my first White Admiral there, with one seen briefly by the bridge on the west side of the lake.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was also seen along with a few Purple Hairstreaks but none came close enough to allow a photo.

Another visit today again failed to get any decent photos of them as again they refused to come low enough down, but I did manage the photos below of a Small Copper and Black-tailed Skimmer.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Heath Fritillary

Had a day out today with Heath Fritillary, which would be a new species for me, the target species. I arrived at Belfairs Wood at c8.30 in lovely warm and sunny weather and quickly found White Admiral and a Silver-washed Fritillary, the latter, looking at the county website, potentially a first site record, so things were looking good. However very quickly it clouded over and the stubborn dark clouds which seemed to be only present over the wood, it was lovely blue sky in all directions, refused to move off and three hours later without success I decided to cut my losses and move on to nearby Hockley Woods to see if my luck would improve.

After about some 45 minutes of searching there, the clouds eventually started to break up and the sun started to warm things up and consequently the butterflies in the wood started to become active. However apart from a very brief flight view of a possible Heath Frit I still drew a blank and started to wonder if I'd just left it too late in their flight season and they were over for this year.

After about a further hour of searching in glorious sunshine, I decided to go back to Belfairs for one last try, with fortunately the warm and sunny weather continuing. Another hour was spent searching, with further sightings of the Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admirals, but still no Heath Fritillaries.

Just before giving up, it was now 16.30, I made one final sweep across the other side of the reserve in Dodds Grove and suddenly flushed an unfamiliar butterfly up from vegetation and I froze as it flew across the clearing, willing it to settle as it went. Knowing that it wasn't any of the common species I was happy that it was one but I wanted to see it perched and thankfully it duely obliged by landing on the far side of the clearing. A quick check through the bins confirmed it was indeed a Heath Fritillary and I managed to take a distant record shot of it before it took flight again but disappointly refused to settle again and disappeared off up into the trees and despite more searching was never relocated.

However after 8 hours of searching during which time I had given up all hope of connecting, I was more than delighted with just the brief view and another new species of butterfly.