Monday, 28 May 2012

Green Hairstreaks and Marsh Fritillaries

A walk at Overstrand this morning revealed that at least a dozen Green Hairstreaks were present on the clifftop vegetation, with these being the first ones that I've ever seen there.

Other new butterflies for the year noted were at least one Wall, a Large White and a Small Tortoiseshell. A Hobby drifted over and a Large Red Damselfly was also seen.

Following a tip off, the afternoon was spent enjoying a number of freshly emerged Marsh Fritillaries which had been unofficially introduced to a site along the coast, and although initially elusive they eventually gave excellent views and were incredibly photogenic too.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Four-spotted Chaser emerging

With the warm weather, more dragonflies have started to emerge down at Felbrigg, and below is a sequence of shots of one of the Four-spotted Chasers there emerging which was excellent to watch. 

With the larva having climbed up out of the lake onto a reed stem, the emerging dragon broke out through its back in an initial crumpled up state, before it outstretched its wings and plumped out its abdomen, and then with the benefit of the warmth it slowly gained its colour and the wings hardened enough to fully open them out and was then eventually able to take its maiden flight.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Garganey - New for the Patch

Headed down to Felbrigg Lake today to look for Dragonflies, not really expecting any bird action, but how wrong I was, as when I approached the lake edge a pair of ducks were inadvertently flushed from the edge of the reedbed and getting my bins on them as they quickly landed again I was delighted to see that they were Garganey, my first ones ever for the patch.

One of these days I'll get round to working out the total number of species I've recorded on the patch over the years, but guess it'll be somewhere around the 260 mark by now. The resident Whooper Swan was as ever on the lake too, and although looking for Dragonflies understandably took a back seat to the Garganey, I did see my first Red-eyed Damselflies of the year to the south of the lake, where a Reed Warbler was singing, and Little and Barn Owls were also noted.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Osprey & Red-backed Shrike

News of a probable Black Kite over the patch this morning saw me dashing along the coast to see if I could relocate it, and as usual in such circumstances I headed for the highpoint of the layby by the council offices. Scanning round for a while revealed nothing but the local corvids, and with the ridge shrouded in low cloud and fine drizzle, I was just thinking to myself that no self respecting raptor would fly into that when I picked up two large birds of prey in the distance through the bins. I quickly established one was one of the local Common Buzzards, and that it was mobbing a longer-winged bird which banked in the tussel to reveal its white underparts - an Osprey!

Due to the weather it was barely clearing the tree tops and I watched as it slowly headed over Felbigg Park. Knowing that it was heading towards the lake I thought it was worth a shot to try and relocate it there, and indeed coming withing sight of the lake I picked it up again circling round before it carried on its way westwards being mobbed by the local corvids. Due to the weather and distance only a poor record shot was obtained, but it was still an excellent bird, and only my fourth ever for the patch.

With no sign of the kite, I embarked on a good slog round the patch although this revealed very little of note until a phone call alerted me to the presence of a Red-backed Shrike in East Runton. Typically I was a long way from the car, but thankfully it was still there when I arrived and despite being elusive at times, it gave some excellent views and was a really smart bird.

A Garden Warbler was seen mobbing it at one point and a Hobby flew over a couple of times to add to the excitement. A final check of the day around Sidestrand again drew a blank on the migrant front, but a couple of Common Sandpipers were still on the reservoir.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

More Dragonflies at Felbrigg

A walk down to the lake in Felbrigg Park today revealed that the numbers of damselflies were on the increase with double figures of tenerals in the grass around the banks and a number of freshly emerged ones watched crawling up the wall around the southern end of the lake.

Also around the sheltered southern end were a number of more mature damsels, with in addition to a few Common Blues, I found my first Large Reds and Blue-tailed Damselflies for the year.

However the main highlight was this immature male Broad-bodied Chaser, which eventually allowed me to get close enough to get a pic, and its always a delight to see the first Dragonfly of the season.

A few butterflies were also out in the meadow to the south of the lake, including my first Peacock of the year on the patch, and birdwise the Cuckoo was still calling away from the trees along the western boundary of the park.

Elsewhere, a walk round Beeston Common produced my first Garden Warbler of the year, a Sedge Warbler was noted singing from the cliff-face between the lighthouse and the pier, and a single Wheatear was noted at West Runton.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Spotted Fly and Seawatching

A walk down to Felbrigg Lake this morning produced the annually returning Spotted Flycatcher in the trees along the western side of the lake, which brought the patch year list up to the 150 mark. On the lake itself the Little Grebe was still present along with the resident Whooper and Mute Swans, although the latter have now dwindled down from the high twenties to just four. Also a Greylag Goose perched at the top of a dead tree was a rather bizarre sight.

A duck which was mostly hidden amongst the vegetation on the water meadow got me excited for a brief second or two before it revealed itself as an escaped Ringed Teal, the second one on the patch in three years following one on the reservoir in 2010.

Due to the wet and windy conditions no butterflies or damselflies were noted today, but a few more teneral Common Blue Damsels and my first Speckled Wood of the year were noted over the weekend.

With the fairly stiff northerly breeze, a couple of sessions of seawatching were undertaken this afternoon which produced a nice selection of birds including two Arctic Skuas, which were my first spring record of the species for the patch, 10 Manx Shearwaters and a fairly decent passage of Little Terns. Other birds noted included Gannets, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Sandwich Terns and Guillemots.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Some Butterflies at last

Having missed the warm spell in March due to being in Florida, I had only recorded one solitary butterfly so far this spring on the patch, which was a Small White. However with temperatures hitting 21 degrees yesterday and it still being fairly warm and sunny today, a few species had emerged with Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Orange Tips and Small Coppers all evident during a walk round Felbrigg Park.

Also the first damselfly of the year on the patch was seen with a teneral Blue sp. seen briefly before flying out of view. Birdwise in the park, a pair of Cuckoo's were calling, a large feeding flock of hirundines attracted a Hobby, a drake Mandarin flew onto the lake where the Whooper Swan remains along with a Common Sandpiper. A Moorhen was found to be nesting atop a tree stump, some six feet off the ground, but the most notable occurrence was a Little Grebe which was on the lake and which as far as I can recall was the first one I've ever recorded there.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Migrants continue to arrive

An early morning walk along the golf course on the 7th was rewarded with 2 Tree Pipits flying over, along with a few Yellow Wagtails. Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat were present in the clifftop bushes and a single Wheatear was also noted.

A visit to West Runton produced the first Whimbrel of the year, 3 Ring Ouzels and more Yellow Wagtails around the cows there.

The southerly airflow and warm temperatures yesterday produced the biggest coastal movement of hirundines and Common Swifts of the spring so far, and 2 Hobbies circling round together over the golf course were also notable. West Runton produced more Yellow Wagtails, including a 'blue-headed' type and a few Wheatears.

A walk in Felbrigg today produced the hoped for Cuckoo in the trees surrounding the lake, along with the years first Reed Warblers, along with a Sedge Warbler, in the reedbed. Two Common Sandpipers were on the lake along with the Whooper Swan, and the Barn Owl was again noted.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

A few more migrants

A walk round the patch Tuesday produced the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year at East Runton, where there was also a Ring Ouzel and another male Redstart. A pair of Gadwall were on the reservoir which were the first I've recorded there, and also present were two Common Sandpipers which brought the patch year list up to a respectable 142.

Birds noted on Wednesday included a Whinchat and a few Wheatears along the golf course, a couple of summer-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwits on the beach by the pier which are a notable occurrence this end of the coast, and the presumed released Whooper Swan was still on Felbrigg Lake.

The first Sedge Warbler of the year was found on Friday with one singing in Happy Valley. A walk round Felbrigg produced 2 drake Mandarins on the recently created water meadow, a Common Sandpiper on the lake, a few Swallows, Swifts and a House Martin feeding overhead and a Barn Owl hunting the meadow to the south of the lake. However the surprise of the day came in the shape of a White-fronted Goose which was by the lake with a few Greylags, and whilst it was maybe of feral origin, it quickly flew off and it will be interesting to see if it reappears in the future.