Monday, 29 August 2011


Final action of the month was a bit of seawatching both yesterday evening and this morning with highlights being a handful of Manx Shearwaters and Arctic Skuas plus a single Bonxie.

A bit more time was spent in Warren Wood but no further sightings of either the Greenish or Bonelli's were had over the two days, with the lookalike Chiffchaff continuing to cause confusion with the latter on at least one occasion whilst I was there.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Bonelli's Warbler and Burrowing Owl!

Once the rain had stopped, during which time I was having a rather uneventful seawatch, yesterday afternoon was again spent in Warren Wood where the Greenish Warbler occasionally performed, and was again heard both calling and singing. Unfortunately only UTV's were had of what may have been the reported Bonellis Warbler, but 10+ Swifts were a notable distraction during the searching as they have left very early this year and these were the first I had seen, barring a single bird, in the last 3 weeks.

So today was once again spent in Warren Wood, but with no reports of either warbler, and news that a Burrowing Owl was at East Runton I left to see that as although it was an escapee from the local zoo, being on the patch it was a worthwhile distraction from starring at leaves all day again.

Of course soon after arriving at the Owl which was performing well, news came through that the Bonelli's was being watched. So after a tortuous drive back through Cromer town centre and the many holidaymakers, I arrived back at the wood where only a bonelli's lookalike Chiffchaff was seemingly being ticked by the assembled crowd, the real one presumably having already disappeared.

A further hour and a half later the real Bonelli's was relocated by the old coastguards lookout and after a few tantalising half views of it from the clifftop, a quick change of position to inside the wood produced excellent close views of it as it fed in a holm oak and naturally I was elated to have finally connected with it.

The Greenish Warbler was also still present today, but only poor views of it were had this time as it was keeping high in the tops of the trees in the centre of the wood, with in reality only its call giving away its id. Other birds seen included a Hobby in off the sea, an Arctic Skua past close inshore and the Swifts and other hirundines still feeding over the woods.

I then returned to East Runton where the Burrowing Owl was still performing well having apparently earlier evaded capture from zoo staff. Both it and its mate had burrowed (what else!) out of their cage but whilst the other one had stayed around the zoo grounds, this one had decided to seek pastures new and what better than a caravan park on the coast!

Thursday, 25 August 2011


After a check round East Runton drew a blank on the migrant front, I then moved on to the lighthouse area and whilst taking my usual route through Warren Wood my attention was grabbed by a series of loud disyllabic calls, very akin to that given by a Pied Wagtail, coming from an area of trees just in front, and although I was initially puzzled by the call, an educated guess was that it may well be a Greenish Warbler given that there had been 3 others reported along the coast over the last couple of days.

Although the calls quickly stopped I guessed they had been eminating from a holm oak on a high point above so I carefully made my way up the slope and under the tree hoping that it was still in there. After a few seconds I glimpsed a movement above me and quickly ascertained that it was indeed a warbler and then with brief tantilising views through the foliage started to note its appearance - nice clean white underparts, pink lower mandible and a fairly strong supercilium. Frustratingly I was only getting it from underneath so I was actively willing it to give me a decent view of the wings, and after what seemed like an age it finally obliged to reveal to my delight a wing-bar and fully confirmed my suspicions as to its id.

I quickly phoned my Dad and another local who were both on site within minutes, and although I'd temporarily lost sight of it whilst making the calls, I soon noticed a movement within another holm oak, but before I could get a look at what it was it began to call loudly to reveal it was indeed the Greenish as it took flight and disappeared off over the tree tops out of sight but continuing to call loudly upon landing.

It was then a further hour and three-quarters before it again called but remained undetected in the canopy, and then a little while later during a short burst of sunshine my attention was drawn to an unfamiliar song coming from the area of the original holm oak, which was a very quiet jittering Wren like song, and although I vaguely considered it at the time, I didn't realise until checking later that it was indeed the Greenish probably doing a sub-song.

With no further sign and the evening starting to close in, I decided to call it a day hoping it would be around tomorrow, and obviously I was elated at the find and that others had connected too, with it being only my second patch record following one at Sidestrand which was part of the August 2007 influx to the county.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Autumn begins

A walk round the patch today revealed the first migrants of the autumn had arrived with a Whinchat at East Runton, and then a check round the lighthouse area produced the hoped for Pied Flycatcher with one in Links Wood.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Butterfly Bonanza

With a forecast window of dry and sunny weather, the opportunity was taken to embark on what will probably be my last bit of serious butterflying for the year, with 3 new species the target.

Contrary to the forecast of 24 degrees and sunshine, on arrival Aston Rowant was shrouded in low cloud with occasional drizzle, and was cool with a fair breeze, nevertheless within only a matter of seconds of walking out onto the hillside I found my first target a Silver-spotted Skipper.

In reality the poor weather was probably an advantage in some ways with the Skippers being pretty inactive until disturbed and thus allowed close approach making photography much easier than if they were buzzing around the hillside had the weather actually been hot and sunny.

As usual I took loads of photos, some of which are included below.

As is commonplace in this part of the country, Red Kites were an ever present feature in the sky, but sadly the weather and light made any really decent photos out of the question especially with my point & shoot camera, although I was still happy with what I managed anyway.

Next stop was Yoesden Bank with Adonis Blue the target. As this is the only butterfly to date that I've failed to find on two previous tries, I was determined to succeed this time, and after a couple of false alarms over Common Blues, I disturbed a strikingly coloured Blue from the grass which I instantly knew was going to be one, and sure enough once it settled the upperwing colouration, with more importantly the black lines through the white outer fringe, were quickly confirmed and I was delighted to have seen one at last.

About 3 or 4 Adonis Blues were found, plus a number of other species including several Chalkhill Blues although the males were mostly faded and tatty, but were nice to see nonetheless.

With the predicted sunny and warm weather now materialising, and thanks to some excellent directions given to me by another butterflyer at Yoesden, I quickly made my way to Whitecross Green Wood in search of Brown Hairstreaks.

Brown Hairstreaks have a reputation of being probably the hardest butterfly to connect with, being so unpredictable in their appearances and rarely descending from the canopy of their chosen ash tree. Looking like I was destined to fail, just as I was about to leave I noticed a movement in top of an ash and decided to persevere here just in case. After a few tantalising glimpses during the next hour I finally saw it land in view and a quick check through the bins revealed a gorgeous orange underwing with white lines - it was a Brown Hairstreak! It once again moved and I was then treated to it doing a bit of basking, opening up its wings to reveal the orange patches on its brown wings.

Naturally I was hoping to find one lower down but in reality I was just pleased to see one for now, and to grab a quick digiscoped image of one as it moved slightly lower down into the top of an adjacent tree.

During my earlier searching I also chanced upon a very faded and worn Silver-washed Fritilary which was an added bonus.

All in all an excellent trip with three new species recorded, and excluding vagrants, leaving just 6 more species to see, although given their distance away from Norfolk I'll target them over the next 2 or 3 years and combine them with a bit more dragonflying too.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


A look at the sea off Overstrand this afternoon produced a Shag on the sea which was watched slowly drifting east on the tide. After a while it was surprisingly joined by a second and then after a while they both flew off west towards Cromer.

A few Gannets, a couple of Kittiwakes and the odd Guillemot were also noted offshore, along with a couple of Knot, Sanderling and a few Oystercatchers all moving west.

A check up at the reservoir showed that the Common Sandpiper was still present, and a Little Grebe had also taken up residence, the first one I've seen on there this year, and as they frequently do, in the absence of any vegetation to use as cover, it spent most of its time hiding inside the tyres around the edge.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Migrant Hawkers

A walk round Felbrigg Lake today produced the first local Migrant Hawkers of the year with a couple found hanging up in the fairly overcast conditions.

A solitary Black-tailed Skimmer, a Darter sp. and a few Common Blue Damsels were seen, but no sign of any Small Red-eyes on the lake yet. Lots of exuviae were on the walled end of the lake, most of which were Darters, but a few larger ones were collected which presumably were Hawkers.

A Purple Hairstreak was seen feeding on brambles, and a pair of Mute Swans were new in on the lake.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Black Darters and Greenshank

With a warm sunny day in the offing I took a trip over to Dersingham Bog in the hope of finding some Black Darters. Things weren't looking good as after a couple of hours or so I'd just found a number of Common Darters, plus a couple of Emperors and a Black-tailed Skimmer.

Fourtunately a group of birders that I knew then arrived, and with more pairs of eyes looking we saw at least three in the vegetation around the pond.

Also around the pool were good numbers of Emerald Damselflies, my first of the year, which were also nice to see.

I'm not really into Moths, although I did go and see a Deaths Head Hawkmoth at Mundesley a few years back, but the one below did catch my eye as it flew low amongst the heather, and which was identified for me as a Beautiful Yellow Underwing.

On the way back to the car my first Migrant Haker of the year was seen feeding over the heather and briefly hanging up to allow a positive id. to be made.

Returning to the patch early evening I headed straight up to the reservoir as a Greenshank had been seen there in the morning. I wasn't really expecting it to still to be there so I was delighted when a glance round the banks quickly revealed it was, along with a Common Sandpiper.

A quick check of the seafront was rewarded with a Hobby flying east, the shrill alarm calls of the local House Martins alerting me to its presence long before I saw it.