Thursday, 27 September 2012

Sabines Gull

News that a Sabines Gull was heading east through the patch this lunchtime had me hot-footing it down to the seafront at Overstrand and after a short while of scanning I picked it up lingering offshore although somewhat distant. It then noticed an adult Kittiwake on the sea and flew over to join it before they both headed off west some 15 minutes later.
It was a really smart adult and still in summer plumage, and despite it being a fair way out I managed to get an ok record shot of it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Barred Warbler

My good luck with finding birds on the patch continued today as whilst checking around East Runton I was fortunate to discover a Barred Warbler, only the second one ever I've had on the patch. After some initial brief and distantish views, I quietly repositioned myself amongst the bushes where it was feeding and was treated to some excellent views as it fed overhead on elderberries before moving off deeper into cover.
A check of West Runton failed to produce the Richards Pipit or Lap Bunting, but further checking round the patch revealed a few Redstarts and Whinchats were still present, half a dozen Common Whitethroats were new in, and a dozen or so Wheatears were also noted.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Richards Pipit

Today I again spent the day working the patch to try to find a good bird or two, and after initially drawing a blank, a check along the clifftop at West Runton came up with the goods.
The first decent bird encountered was this ultra confiding Lapland Bunting which was feeding alongside the clifftop path.
Walking further along up to a dozen Wheatears were busily feeding along the clifftop along with 3+ Whinchats, and then I then flushed a large pipit from the grass alongside the path which thankfully only flew a short way and landed in one of the clifftop fields. I was pretty certain it was a Richards Pipit but naturally ideally wanted some views of it on the deck.

Frustrating I couldn't relocate it in the field where it had gone down, but to my relief after about 3 hours of walking up and down checking all the likely places, I again flushed it but this time managed to keep tabs on it so over the next hour or so I managed to get some decent views on the ground, as well as hearing it calling in flight several times too. I was also able to get a few pictures too which all served to confirm my suspicions as to its id. and made an excellent reward for all the searching over the last few days.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A good fall of birds on the patch

With the deepest low pressure recorded at this time of year for 30 years moving north up the country from late yesterday onwards, the resulting heavy rain and ESE winds produced a good fall of migrants on the patch today, and although nothing major could be found it was nice to see a good showing of migrants at last with Redstarts, Whinchats, Pied Flycatcher, Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all noted round the patch. Sadly the searching had to be abandoned with a big deterioration in the weather during the afternoon, but hopefully that bodes well for more birds tomorrow....

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Yellow-browed Warbler

With some winds finally conducive for migration, a good look around the patch today came up trumps when I found a Yellow-browed Warbler at Sidestrand. It was incredibly elusive remaining unseen for the first hour or so, despite frequently calling, as it did a circuit around the area, but finally after a lot of patience it eventually came out along the sunny edge of the trees and showed well but briefly before vanishing off into the trees again. While searching for it, a few Bramblings, the first of the autumn were noted in the trees too.
I then moved on to Trimingham where although no birds of note were seen, this Small Red-eyed Damselfly was found on the clifftop brambles and was presumably of continental origin.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Black Tern

Another check of the sea today revealed that there were still some birds feeding offshore, but by no means anywhere near the numbers of yesterday, however a Black Tern which was lingering amongst the other feeding terns was a very welcome sight being the first one for the year. Other birds seen included a flock of 3 Eider and the first Pinkfeet of the autumn were noted heading west.

Some recent news on the butterfly front, my first Painted Lady of the year was noted in the village yesterday, and having been absent from there so far this year, a small number of Common Blues have finally emerged in Felbrigg Park.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sabs Gull and Balearic Shearwater

Whilst having a look at the sea off Overstrand late afternoon, it quickly became evident that there was a huge shoal of fish offshore with a large area on the waters surface positively bubbling away as they broke the surface.

Obviously this attracted the attentions of the local birds and over the next hour a massive flock of Gulls, Terns and Gannets congregated in a mass feeding frenzy and in turn attracted more and more birds from further afield, until the flock was of a size I've never witnessed before. A few Little Gulls, Guillemots, Red-throated Divers, Med Gull and Kittiwakes joined the throng, which inevitably also attracted the attention of well over a dozen Arctic Skuas.

Knowing that there was a chance something better could be pulled in I continued to sift back and forth through the flock which by now was spread out about a mile long, and that finally paid off when I picked up a Balearic Shearwater on the sea, which subsequently did a few fly rounds to better position itself within the shoal before it finally drifted off east on the sea.

I thought that was going to be the star bird but after a few more checks of the flock I located a small brown backed gull on the sea, and after an agonizing wait whilst it drifted off into the distance it finally took flight to reveal it was as suspected a juv Sabines Gull. Like the Balearic it too slowly drifted off on the sea towards Trimingham until it was lost to view, but shortly after presumably the same bird again appeared feeding out over the sea with the other birds, and then after a bit of a feed it settled back down on the sea, presumably to roost along with the other gulls.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Willow Emerald Damselflies

With time to kill between appointments in Norwich today, I popped into Strumpshaw to have a look for the Willow Emerald Damselflies there. Despite the blustery, and at times cloudy conditions, I quickly found a pair in tandem, and further checking of the ditch in the brighter spells produced up to 15 in total.

Unfortunately from a photography point of view they always remained too distant mostly perched up on the trees overhanging the far side of the ditch, however this Migrant Hawker was far more co-operative.

Thursday, 6 September 2012


Headed back to Winterton today but sadly despite searching couldn't find any of the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies. However the Southern Emeralds were performing well again on the pools either side of the blocks.
Strangely whereas the ones on the north pool are all in pristine condition, the ones seen on the southern double-pool all have wing damage. The pics below are of a pair in tandem on the north pool, and then a couple of one of the males from the double pool. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies

Whilst waiting for the sun to come out at Winterton yesterday, I was wandering around the area by the pools looking at a few Common & Ruddy Darters, some Common Emeralds, and a Small Red-eyed Damselfly. I then noticed a 'blue-tailed damselfly' in the reeds on the pond north of the concrete blocks but was immediately struck by the fact that the blue tail band appeared to be very near the end of the abdomen, a feature of Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Having recently been down to the New Forest where I dipped on Scarce Blue-tailed, I just thought it was wishful thinking and that I was seeing things, but the more I looked at it the more I was struck by the position of the blue tail-band. I struggled to get a few record shots as it was too far away for anything decent and just getting the camera to focus on it through the reeds was a nightmare in itself.
With the sun then coming out I noticed a few more bluetails appear out of the reeds and looking at them they all appeared the same which just added to my puzzlement. With the sudden appearance of the Southern Emerald Damselflies in the sunshine, the bluetails were kind of forgotten whilst I concentrated on getting some pics of the Southern Emeralds.
I mentioned my suspicions to some others who came to have a look but the 'bluetails' were by now mostly out of sight in the reeds, save for a pair in tandem. Eventually this pair flew up into the vegetation around the pool and finally I was able to get a good look and some decent pics, and with a quick check of the book became more convinced that they were Scarce Blue-tails as unlikely as it seemed.
I mentioned it to some others on my way back to the car, and then when reviewing the pics at home and looking at photos I was even more convinced as to their identity. I placed some pics on the web and despite an initial negative view, they were indeed confirmed as Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies this morning. So a new species for me and a self-find into the bargain, and quite ironic that after dipping them in Hampshire that I should find some here in Norfolk!

Presumably given their coastal location, they were of continental origin rather than a movement from within the UK, and apart from a report of one about 4 years ago, these were the only others ever to grace the County so I put the news out to let others have the chance of seeing them, and understand that one was still present today. Hopefully with some nice sunny and warm weather forecast for the end of the week they'll carry on performing for everyone, and undoubtedly I'll head back down there too to see if better views, and photos, can be had.
Below are a couple of the initial record shots that I took, followed by a couple of shots of the pair in tandem. On the male the blue tailband can be seen to be on segment 9 of the abdomen, with a slight extension up onto S8, whereas on normal blue-tailed S8 is wholly blue and S9 is black. Also the female shows a lack of anti-humeral stripes on the thorax, and a lack of a tailband too. The close-up shot showing the blue tailband on the male shows well the shape and location of the band and the two dark spots within it.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Southern Emerald Damselflies

With news on Saturday evening that there were Southern Emerald Damselflies at Winterton, I took advantage of the warm sunny weather to head down there today to have a look for them. Unfortunately on arrival at the pool in the north dunes, north of the concrete blocks, the area was shrouded in low cloud and mist but glady it eventually burnt off and almost immediately the Southern Emeralds started to appear.
I wasn't totally sure how many were present but I saw three (a male and 2 females) at the same time and ones on their own, plus a pair in tandem on a number of occassions. On the way back at least another two males were seen at the pool to the south of the concrete blocks.
The top 3 photos below are females, with one potentially ovipositing in the third, the fourth pic shows a male, and then a couple of shots of one of the pairs in tandem. The bicoloured pterostigma in the wing being the most obvious field character to identify the species.