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Weekend drizzle and a hunt for some Ducks

Not the hoped for Raptor fest at Surlingham on Sunday, not a lot of anything infact. Wood's End is/was where it's at: 12 Mute Swans, the Lapwing flock, Common and Black-headed Gulls and the mixed feral Goose flock. 
The lagoon held a single Mute Swan, but Teal could be heard in the dykes. Awaiting Raptors on the hill, it began to rain, then snow. I headed back to the car, as the church bells tolled and families rushed to the service inside, snow falling harder now. A proper Christmas scene!
Today, temperatures still around 1 degrees celsius, I spent the morning searching for scarce Ducks in the Broads. Began at an icy Barton, where I enjoyed Goldeneye, Teal, Gadwall, Tufted and Mallard. Best of all, a Bittern flew low across the water. 
Driving back through Neatishead, I saw the white flash of Bullfinch backside. Slowing down, I watched a male feeding. What a cracking bird. 
I then tried Hoveton Little Broad. Less Ducks here, same species as Barton. A Marsh Tit was with its Blue a…

Soggy Surlingham

Not a great deal to report, although a fine Winter's walk was had on the patch on Saturday. Still seems to be more Blackbirds about than usual, and I also heard a Song Thrush singing; beautiful, pangs of nostalgia. A Kingfisher perched was a highlight, looking brighter than ever in the bright sunshine. A male Marsh Harrier drifted through, no doubt unimpressed by the lack of prey on the lagoon. A Kestrel perched itself on one of those white pole things, preening and looking smart. I could hear Siskins in the scrub, but could only manage a brief flight view.
I have never seen the reserve quite so wet, paths on all sides flooded making Wellington boots essential.


St Benet's, Ludham.

One of very few places I have visited that has a genuine ethereal aura to it, St.Benet's Abbey near Ludham has in the past been privy to a raptor roost of sorts.
Bit of history here, and I like the fact that the Abbey moreorless survived the dissolution under Henry VIII due to its near inaccessible location!
On arrival, Debs and I were greeted with a flock of Cormorants overhead (see above), and in our short time here many more would head west; must be a sizeable roost somewhere. Two Marsh Harriers drifted through, and distantly around 17 wild Swans were seen, probably Bewicks, which favour the marshy areas around Ludham during the winter.
The real star of the show was a Short-eared Owl, remarkably acrobatic in the wind, considering the bulk of the bird. A Barn Owl was seen briefly, and a Kestrel made up the remainder of our bird of prey species. Two more Marsh Harriers arrived as darkness fell over the ruins, and I would say that these birds did indeed roost in the small wood ove…

100!

Really very pleased to locate a flock of 12 White-fronted Geese on the marshes at Wood's End this afternoon, to make it 100 for the year on the patch. The resident Greylag flock were close, just over the river infact, so I had set about scanning through the noisy group when I came across a single White-front in with the Greylags. Perhaps this bird is feral, but the 11+ birds feeding away from the Greylags were much more likely to be migrants. A good bird away from Buckenham! Also of note was a White-front sized goose, dark almost black head, brown back with diffuse white feathers on primaries. Perhaps a Brent x Greylag?! Do they exist? It is certainly a Goose winter.
Not a great deal else to report around the reserve, a worrying lack of Barn Owls of late. Gull roost building on Wood's End, 30+ Common Gull and a few Herring. 5 Pied Wagtail over (off to Morrisons?) and 2 Meadow Pipit flushed from the flooded marsh. Single Teal on the lagoon, bit rubbish.

A final note on the West…

Striking Sandpiper

The Unions could not have timed that any better. Perhaps I should be shot, but a day on strike on the Wednesday of the week now almost past saw me take a trip to Cley NWT, in search of a new bird to add to my British (and Norfolk) list. Not only that, but but I am a huge Sandpiper/Shorebird fan, so a possible Semi-palmated/Western Sandpiper would be an education whatever the case.


At the time, I made the following notes:
Black Legs
Very short primary projection
Relatively long, pointed bill
Contrasting white underparts
Grey tones to feathers, but scapulars showing some rufous in better light
'Dumpy' appearance. 


Now, a key feature (concave or convex shape to marks on  feathers?) could not be seen in the field, and photos are proving ambiguous! I'll be honest, I was siding with Semi-P by the time I had left, yet today the bird is being pagered as Western, so I and others await instruction!
I did make a couple of notes regarding another small Wader. It was small, dumpy, similar pluma…

Surlingham again and life in perspective

Although Saturday morning was relatively quiet on the reserve, Surlingham has hit the headlines of late with the occurance of at least 3 Short-eared Owls. I was happy with 1, but this blog has some cracking shots of the birds, which according to the much abused sightings board in the hide, may still be present. What is interesting is that the birds are being reported roosting in scrub, which I thought was unusual for Shorties. 
Ben Lewis informed me of both flyover Pink-footed Geese and Lesser Redpoll in the scrub, neither of which I could locate on my visit, but sure signs that that elusive 100th species for the year is not far away. Good numbers of the beautiful Redwing and Fieldfare were present, and Wigeon have returned to graze on the banks of the Yare. What smart looking ducks these are, if a little cumbersome compared to the ever-present Teal. 
The Highland Cattle have been taken off grazing duty for the Winter, Matt and the team from Strumpshaw moving the animals to drier quarte…

A break in the fog and a silent flap

A weekend of monotony and illness on the couch has crept into this very week dear reader, however I did sneak out to the patch on Monday night. A walk could lead to sickness and definitely sweat, but a short hike and a stand at the vis-mig hotspot of the ruins was manageable. 
As the light dimmed, a Kestrel flew through purposefully, hoping for a last minute snack. Watching a Little Egret fish, my attention turned to a silent flap of wings: a Short-eared Owl, briefly, spooked by a dog walker,  flapped over the hedge and was lost to view. But, what a few seconds! No doubt the bird heard me exclaim "yes!" and thought better of hanging around. 
As the mist began to settle over the marsh, Snipe began to grunt in the air, unseen. Wigeon and Teal arrived to roost on the lagoon, the Wigeon particularly audible as they arrived. In the distance, but growing ever closer, the Greylag flock. Numbering around 300, it seems the group are continuing the current trend of roosting on the lagoo…

Weekend Post Two- Titchwell and Gypsy Lane

Got to say, wasn't massively keen on  joining the crowds at Titchwell today, but with relatives visiting it seemed only fair to visit a premier bird reserve, surely guaranteeing some decent birds for them.  The search began not far from the car-park, and I picked up the calling Yellow-browed Warbler that has been present for over a month now. Avoiding the ridiculous scrum in the wood, we waited by the path and eventually were rewarded with neck-aching views of this always super migrant.  A helpful member of staff alerted us to the presence of feeding Water Rail in the ditch near the centre, and we didn't have to wait long to hear the squealing call, and then this usually elusive bird fed no more than 2 metres away from us, probably my best ever views of this species.  Walking to the beach, 2 Lesser Redpoll were in bushes feeding on catkins with Goldfinch. Barely out of the car-park, and some great birds already! 100s of Golden Plover were on the scrape, and opposite were many…

Weekend Post One- Hemsby and Caister

Began my search of 'new' habitat round Hemsby and Caister. I must have been searching in the wrong area, for I did not see the Waxwings that have since been reported. However, it was Thrush city in a small copse; c50 Blackbird and a smattering of Redwing. A Bullfinch was amongst Chaffinch feeding on berries. This apparently the wood that once held Dusky, Pallas's and YBW. I can see why, I need to be hitting this every day in half term! The dunes also look decent, large-ish areas of bramble and plenty of leafy gardens for birds to hide up in.

At Caister beach, and I quickly got onto a group of 19 Snow Bunting, several showing much of their striking summer plumage, fantastic! Despite the misty conditions at sea, Red-throated Divers came past and 2 Gannets fished more distantly. A probable Red-necked Grebe was seen briefly, but I made the mistake of moving my scope. That was that! A nice suprise were a flock of 21 Barnacle Geese heading south. I had a wander round the small pa…

Patch, California, some Ducks.

Can't seem to magic a Short-eared Owl out of Surlingham at the moment, or much else for that matter. Teal are the sole representative from the Duck family on the lagoon at the moment, looking nice in their Winter plumage. 
A Kingfisher is often heard along the river, but rarely seen. A Tit flock near the church comprised Marsh, Coal, Great, Blue and many Long-tailed. 
A better evening was had last weekend, which included Barn Owl, Snipe and Greylag Geese at dusk arriving on the lagoon to roost. Close to 300 in number.


Went exploring today, first Scratby for some seawatching. Coming from Norwich, this is the nearest coastal spot for me along with Caister. I set myself up inbetween some chalets and watched the waves between 13.15 and 14.30. Here are my totals, in order of appearance:


Diver Sp. 3 North
Common Scoter 2 N
Dunlin 17N
Teal 36 N
Ringed Plover 3 N
Brent Geese 26 N
Shelduck 2 N
Med Gull 1 South
Curlew 2 N
Wigeon 20 N
Great-crested Grebe 1 N
Lapwing 1 N
Kittiwake 3 S
Red-Breasted Merganser 1…

Patch list creeps up, and a trip to the G Y.

Thursday morning, I snuck in a couple of hours on the patch before marking books loomed large. Good bit of vis-mig taking place, including Greenfinch, Skylark and Pied Wagtail. On rounding the first bend, I heard the familiar mournful call of a Bullfinch- 2 birds flew from view. Siskin were here too, but then a less familiar call. Convinced this was not an odd Great Tit, I waited around and backed off a little. Sure enough, a Marsh Tit flew into view. Surprisingly, this is a new bird for my patch list, despite seemingly good habitat. Certainly never heard singing during the breeding season, so I wonder where this little chap has come from. My favourite tit on the patch!
Moving on, the ground muddy beneath my boots now, Geese and Corvids were busy overhead communicating in scattered groups. On the lagoon, another first: the only Duck species present were Teal, and 122 was a record count for the patch. Quite a day, then!
Yesterday (28th) I set off for Great Yarmouth cemetery for some sp…

Phalarope Day!

Debs and I met up with family today, both of whom were keen to see the confiding Daurian Shrike at Horsey. Excellent views were again obtained of this confident individual, which today was building up a small larder of bees and wasps. Shrikes can only 'show well', so why the photographers present needed to shove their massive lenses in the face of the bird I don't know, ridiculous.

A quick seawatch from here proved productive, a Common Scoter flock of c100 birds were loafing offshore, and closer in a few Red-throated Divers were fishing. Gannets fished distantly and one or two Auk species could be seen but not assigned to a species. A probable Grey Phalarope flew North, the first of a few today.

We had planned on giving the bushes a look around Shangri-La at Waxham, and on finding nothing of note we headed down to the beach. As luck would have it a couple of birders were watching two Grey Phalarope close in, gripping photos below!! The birds (possibly one adult and one juv…

Patch update, and the only way to start half-term.

With a (nearly) blank week stretching ahead of me I began by taking in Surlingham Church Marsh this morning. A Wigeon was new in on the lagoon, and both Little Grebe and Cormorant on the river heralded the arrival ofWinter. 2 Great Crested Grebe were probably a breeding pair, and a Sparrowhawk overhead was probably local too. Large numbers of Starlings moving overhead, a flock of 5 Pied Wagtail, 6 Stock Doves and finally 40 Lapwing at Wood's End. Fieldfare and Redwing heard, but not yet pinned down this winter period. Bullfinch and Siskin also vocal from the scrub.
Returning home after the weekly shop, news had broken of an Isabelline Shrike at Horsey. Shrikes are a real favourite of mine, and I couldn't miss this! I read up on the Izzy Shrike complex whilst having lunch, and felt prepared to ID whatever was there.
Once I had enjoyed good views, I set about pinning the bird down to subspecies level. One or two on site thought it to be a Turkestan (Red-tailed) Shrike, but I cou…

Dipping and Patching

With a change in the winds and a quite unprecedented influx of Short-eared Owls into Norfolk, I had a feeling the weekend might hold something special. A Rufous-tailed Robin, though, was not even on my radar! Mixed messages were coming through regarding the whereabouts of this Siberian mega, and I decided on the Friday night there was no way I could get to Wells, let alone East Hills, before darkness. Photos appeared, and there was only one place I wanted to be the following morning.
Myself and Ricky arrived at Wareham Greens for first light and joined the masses, shuffling to keep warm in the dark. If the bird was still around, only chaos could ensue. Perhaps anticipating a ruck, the Robin had either copped it or left on the clear skies of the night before. Yes, we were disappointed, but October in Norfolk is great on a bad day. Waiting for the Robin, we had seen Brambling, Marsh Harriers, Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Brent Geese and Curlew, all on their own morning commute.
Both of us had…

Timely Mega arrives in Suffolk

Having struggled to get out birding of late (weddings, stags, birthdays) I was chomping at the bit to be back in the field. On Sunday I literally found myself in a field late afternoon, watching a North American Sandhill Crane, probably the rarest bird on my personal list in terms of previous records. This, the first mainland record, is certainly a bird that commands the wow factor. Watching from a distance of about 100m, the bird occasionally raised its head in our direction, threatened to fly, but then just carried on grazing. The grey plumage with rusty overtones looked beautiful in the fading sun. Back on the lane in Boyton village, people were parking up and sprinting towards the target- scenes I have not witnessed since the Winterton Black Lark.I only just made it to see the Crane, since I had been away in London for a friend's wedding. Whilst Slough is not somewhere I would like to be stuck, a passing Red Kite certainly lifted my mood as I ate lunch in a graveyard! A Ring-n…

Good Vibrations on the patch

With a series of busy weekends coming up at precisely the wrong time of year, it was essential to squeeze in a visit to Surlingham on Friday night before leaving for London on the Saturday. 
I left it late, purposefully, to get a taste of what might be around for next weekend's RSPB Moth and Bat night on the reserve. Before the Bats came out, I enjoyed excellent views of a Kingfisher, first perched and preparing to fish before being spooked by a boat and flying off downriver. Continuing round the river bend, my first Bats of the evening. A purposeful flight, swooping down to grab insects from the surface of the Yare. One would associate Daubentens with water, but these mammals were flying high over the river rather than feeding close to the water. In short, I couldn't identify them! Natterers perhaps, sizewise. 
The lagoon was busy with wildfowl, Teal arriving in the gloom. As I left, the first of the Egyptian Geese began flighting in. A Tawny Owl called from the pine plantation…

....and then onto the patch

Seeing rare birds does have an inspirational effect on me, and riding high on the buzz of seeing a Little Bittern earlier in the morning I headed to Surlingham Church Marsh that evening, eager to find some birds.
The male Marsh Harrier was back, drifting over the reed bed as the light began to wane. The muddy margins really should hold some Waders, but I had to be content with watching the Ducks for a bit. 
The main points of note came whilst watching the dark descend from on high, next to the ruins. On approaching, a few Mistle Thrush exited a large Oak. By the time they had all left, I had counted 29! Maybe I had disturbed their planned roost site, but hopefully this was usual behaviour for this time of the day. I reckon there were more, too. Pleased with a record count for the site, I was preparing to head back to the car when a Hobby appeared, like only Hobbies can do. High, over my head, then onto the reserve. A final foray before bed no doubt. Now very satisfied, I did head back t…

Titchwell: The Reaction

With the Little Bittern showing well (albeit occasionally) yesterday, I was in no doubt as to where I would be birding today. Arriving fashionably late, Debs and I joined the throngs that were cluttering the main track and raised bank, scouring the small pool for the juvenile Bittern. Ricky informed us there had been little action so far this morning, but a brief flight and the bird had everyone on their toes. It even had some on their backs, and bums, sliding down the bank for a glimpse. Not cool guys, the tracks are there for a reason. We did not have to wait too long before the bird moved again, and I was looking the other way, Debs with the first view as it flew low across the pool. I uttered a few expletives, fearing this could again be another dip balanced precariously on 299 BOU. Scanning the reed edge, a snake-like movement, and the Little Bittern was fishing. I had the views I was desperate for! Beautiful streaking on the breast, and a bright yellow bill. A landmark bird for …

Surlingham update and Cantley Waders

Waders galore
Common Darter
Sunrise over Surlingham Village
A flurry of recent visits to Surlingham have come about I believe due to the realisation that a return to work looms. An Autumnal twist has been noted on the reserve: Mixed tit flocks roving far and wide through the scrub, and 4 Snipe were feeding at the rear of the lagoon on the 31st oAugust. On the 1st of September, a flock of c.50 Lapwing were at Wood's End, and a Chinese Water Deer was feeding at the edge of the lagoon. These mammals do seem to be more visible at this time of year. 3 Cormorants were on the river, returning for the winter. Other bits and bobs included a coming together involving a Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk (no harm done) and a Heron carrying away a Grass Snake.On the 2nd of September, I was a busy birder. I began at the patch, arriving on site at 5.30am. I was keen to see what wildfowl used the lagoon overnight. As I walked towards my target, at least 2 Bullfinch called persistantly, but I was unable…

Dare to dip

You will need to make this BIGGER.

I seem to keep dipping a lot of birds lately. The Happisburgh Greenish, The Cromer Greenish and Bonelli's......don't get me started regarding the Caspian Tern at Titchwell. Its not like I twitch regularly, you would have thought the birds could behave on the odd occasion I do travel. Credit though to those hardened souls at Cromer; standing in one place for a lengthy period is not my strong point. Cantley Beet Factory has been brimming with quality the last couple of days, and after my telescope temporarily lost a leg yesterday (putting a stop to some proper scanning of the exposed mudflats) I returned today for a proper count up, scope rehabilitated.
Little Stint 1 Juv (see photo; you do well to spot him observer!) Curlew Sandpiper 3 Juvs Common Snipe c15 Green Sandpiper 9 Common Sandpiper 4 Dunlin 12 Greenshank 13 Ruff c14 Knot 1 Redshank 2 Ringed Plover 10+ Lapwing 250+ Yellow Wagtail 2
Yesterday, I had my first Wheatear of the Autumn, plus a female Mar…

Someone left the gate open......

....and cows left their mess, all over the joint. Added to that the RSPB lads doing some sterling work clearing scrub, I was not expecting too much in the way of birds. A much needed patch tick arrived on the lagoon, a Common Sandpiper calling had presumably been feeding out of sight. After a few bobs and a typically low flight path across the lagoon, it was gone. Also of interest was a group of Warblers flicking in and out of a bush, mainly Chiffchaff, but in amongst them was a Lesser Whitethroat. I do not have any evidence of breeding for this species on the site, so presumably this bird was feeding up and moving through. Other bits and bobs included a Jay, pair of Great--crested Grebe and a chick, and teal numbers building up (note- must count the ducks!). I photographed this pair of Odonata 'in the moment'. Are they Common Darter? If not, why not?


Popped to Happisburgh this afternoon after a late report of a Greenish Warbler in pines behind the cricket pavilion. I clearly ne…

Dune walking

washed out Small Copper
'Resting' Small Heath

Debs and I spent a couple of hours searching for Butterflies in the Dunes at Horsey today. Our main target was Dark Green Fritillary, and we were lucky enough to have 2 individuals give us a fly past; these guys just would not settle! As I understand they are past their 'best' now, and I will return next year with hopefully some photos to share. My good record with Wall Browns continued, 1/2 seen. Singles of Small Copper and Small Heath were well watched. The Small Heath was at first identified in flight; I later read that these butterflies never rest or feed with wings open. Lazy. 2 Holly Blues, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and plenty of both Large and Small Whites made up the rest of the Lepidoptera. Ruddy Darter, Migrant Hawker and I believe a male Common Hawker gave us a right show, delaying the drink in the Nelson's Head. Debs, it was her lucky day, saw 2 Common Lizards. One she claimed was significantly bigger than the oth…

There goes the fear

Osprey at Eyebrook
WW Black at Grafham
Essex Skipper at Happisburgh
Before heading off to the British Birdfair at Rutland Water, I headed to the east coast for a bit of bush shaking. Conditions looked good for some early migrants, Wryneck and RB Shrike my own personal targets for the morning. Perhaps I should have set my sights a little lower, since a good few Lesser Whitethroats were as good as it got on the avian front. I did enjoy some success with some Butterflies: 2 Wall Brown in dunes at Waxham, an Essex Skipper on the clifftops at Happisburgh and best of all, a new moth for me: The Drinker! This thing looks like an X-file, what a beast. Stupidly the camera was in the car at this point. On route to 'The birdwatcher's Glastonbury' (Yeah, right. If that was the Glastonbury crowd, you can count me out in the future) Debs and I stopped off at Grafham Water. Here we enjoyed excellent views of Both Black and White-Winged Black Tern. A useful exercise in Tern ID with Common al…

Mink!

Mink are a bit of a guilty pleasure, like say Duran Duran. They are an invasive species (Mink, that is) and have been responsible for depleting native fish stocks, and have had a negative impact on Water Vole numbers. They should not be here. But, one could argue that is a very xenophobic attitude. Little Owls should not strictly be here, but I can't say I mind them. I had never seen a Mink in the wild until yesterday, and a part of me was pleased to see them. It goes without saying, that I will not articulate this pleasure when contacting the RSPB. After a fruitless morning at Surlingham, Ricky and I went to Rockland Broad in the hope of an Osprey sighting. Walking the track that circumnavigates the broad, a crash in the reeds revealed the aforementioned Mink, one chasing another. Unaware of our presence, but unseen in the undergrowth by now, the pair engaged in some rather odd noises (courtship, play?) and then disappeared further into the thick vegetation. The Broad itself held …

Knee-deep in Waders

Dropped Debbie off at work this morning and went straight onto Breydon Water. I had my reservations about the tide, and was proven correct when on arrival it was apparent most of the Waders were hunkered up against the bank, awaiting the retreat of the high tide. Despite that, I settled in for an hour's watch in the worst hide in Britain (honestly, check it out, it looks and smells like a toilet in a dirty rock club). Wader counts right here:
c220 Avocet- all feeding- what a sight! Over 1000 were seen in 2009, in September. Black-tailed Godwit 20+ Bar-tailed Godwit 50+ (many of both Godwit species roosting out of sight). Curlew 20 Greenshank 1 Oystercatcher 4 Redshank- difficult to even estimate, mainly out of sight. Also of note was one Little Egret and a Common Tern.
The tide showed about as much movement as the Waders, so with time on my hands I decided to take in Cantley too. I checked the northern-most pits first, only 3 Green Sandpiper here. Main action was in the scrub- Reed Warb…

Surlingham and Buckenham stuff

I have to admit, visits to Surlingham have been a little uninspiring of late. Poor weather, very few birds, and a while since a new species. The westerlies are not really conducive to decent migration on this side of the country, and the strong breeze means Warblers are laying low. On the 9th, kingfisher hunting the main lagoon was brief but pleasing, and the recent glut of sightings lead me to believe there must be a late brood somewhere close. Duck numbers are low, but Teal, Tufted, Shovelor, Mallard and Gadwall are presumably here to stay until the Spring. Both Coot and Moorhen have bred. Today, a male Kestrel was observed in classic pose, on electricity wires. 3+ Bullfinch were heard, one seen, near the start of the trail. Maybe a family group. Teal numbers were up again, 5+ now. A pair of Blackcap were feeding on berries in scrub. A Pied Wagtail flew upriver. After lunch and a chance to collect myself, I headed to Buckenham Marshes for further disappointment. No Raptors, no Wade…

Frampton Marsh RSPB and a little bit of Derbyshire

Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire is one of my favourite 'big' reserves, so with time on my hands before a university reunion weekend in Derbyshire I stopped off here on the 5th of August and spent a good few hours on a bench, surveying some excellent birds.Top of the pile was a Pectoral Sandpiper, presumably an adult (I couldn't make out any white tram lines on the back) and a bird I have not seen for some years; 2 well-watched birds at Minsmere around 7 years ago (before I made notes!). What struck me was the overall 'dumpy' impression; even upright, the bird appeared somewhat portly. This was in contrast to the elegant Wood Sandpiper, 2 of which fed much closer to the path and my bench. 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Ruff, 2 LRP, 2 Ringo and plenty of Lapwing made up the rest of the wader fest. Juvenile and adult Yellow Wagtail were flying over, sometimes landing, all of the time. At least 7 Little Egret stalked the marsh, completing a memorable scene. My…

Extended update part 3- Other bits and bobs

Debs being arty at Strumpy
Holly Blue
Only by listening to Black Mountain have I made it this far- the third and final update, for now.
On the 29th of July, James and I made an early start in The Broads. Fairly unproductive, although a few juvenile Bearded Tits were welcome (only the second sighting for me this year, the first being pinging birds at Breydon). Feeling like not a lot was doing, we signed in at Cantley Beet Factory for a Wader watch. 2 Wood Sandpipers were undoubtedly birds of the day, and allowing for comparison were 5+ each of Common and Green Sandpiper. Still no sign of the rumoured flock of 45 Green Sand, so I will be back again before long. Other Waders included 1/2 Ruff, Dunlin and 3+ Lapwing. It was difficult to not flush the birds feeding around the edge of the pit, so will hidden were they. My counts above are conservative; infact, it seemed like Green Sands in particular were dropping in regularly, perhaps having fed in the nearby dykes of grazing meadows and mars…

Extended update part 2- Mothing.

Unknown?
Chinese Character
Swallow Prominent and Peppered
Elephant and Poplar Hawks
Two nights of trapping in a rural garden in Suffolk provided me with new species, ID conondrums and a reason to get up early in the first week of the holidays. I appear to have mislaid my complete lists, so below is a highlights reel, in no order whatsoever:
Dusky Sallow Poplar Hawk Moth Elephant Hawkmoth Swallow Prominent Brimstone Moth Swallowtail Dark Arches Broad-Bordered Yellow Underwing Orange Moth Chinese Character Ruby Tiger Pale Prominent Peppered Moth
Not bad! One in particular threw me, and typically this was the one image that was unfocussed. Can anyone ID the blurry moth with the purple sheen above, top photo?

Extended update part 1- Patch notes

Due to the absence of a computer and the usual self-indulgences I enjoy during the first week of the holidays, an update of my movements has been hard to come by. I am now back online and de-toxing before a weekend in Derbyshire. Here are my recent notes for Surlingham Church Marsh.
On the 25th, 2 broods of Reed Warbler were located. A single Tufted Duck was on the lagoon, no sign of those youngsters. Geese numbers had increased over the river; c50 Egyptian and the Greylag flock now well over 100. Mingling with 5 Canada Geese was an odd looking job, a small mainly black goose, pale cheeks with red fringes. I had it down as a Red-breasted x with either Canada or Barnacle. Later that day, I realised I had seen this bird before, but not in the flesh. Barnacle x Red-breasted it is then. The 29th was very quiet, duck numbers even lower and Warblers hard to come by. A Kingfisher heading upriver was a welcome sight. Today, presumably the same Kingfisher whizzed past as I meandered alongside the…

Surlingham and Cantley

Earlier in the week, Thursday, I visited Surlingham Church Marsh and was lucky enough to equal my site record count for Green Sandpipers- 3 individuals. I noted that one of the three did not have a clear cut border between breast streaking and white underparts; infact, a white streak went straight up to the throat. My excellent 'Shorebirds of the Northern Hemisphere' by R.Chandler informs me that this is usual on juvenile birds. More ammo for the future article in The Norfolk Bird Report!
Today, no Waders and not too much else. Standard fair for the time of year I suppose. 2 broods of Reed Warblers were briefly watched, as was a female Blackcap. A Sedge Warbler was showing well in a Buddleia bush, picking away at the unsuspecting insects. One juvenile Shelduck remains on the lagoon.
The first Gatekeepers of the year were out, along with plenty of Small Whites, Comma and Red Admiral. I also saw the moth pictured below; I do not recognise it, so I assume it might be a day-flying m…

Godwit and a lesson in Wader ID

Two visits to Surlingham this weekend, a rather smart Black-tailed Godwit present both today and yesterday is new for the patch list. Also of note yesterday was a single Green Sandpiper, which I initially mistook for a Wood Sand! It was a rather smart looking bird, and at first looked quite delicate and dainty, just as a Wood should. Despite seeing plenty of Greens on the patch this last year, I am seeing them in all of their guises, and having poured over my Shorebirds book I can see how I made the mistake, and a lesson learnt! If I wasn't regularly watching a patch, I would not have had the opportunity to make such a balls up, and then correct myself!
The 2 Little Owls were showing well today, and nearby Ricky picked up a pair of Treecreeper- the third territory on the patch. 2 Green Woodpecker on the tree belonging to the Owls were probably youngsters, and 2 Marsh Harrier passed through. A total of 9 Lapwing were seen: 5 at Wood's End, 2 on the lagoon and one with a chick on…

In the firing line?

What was looking like a quiet evening on the patch picked up considerably as I made my way round the circular trail by now so familiar.
A Chiffchaff was the lone songster by the river, and Swallows were a welcome site over at Wood's End. The lagoon was quiet, the resident wildfowl loafing on the low level of water. The Shelduck family are still hosting their Egyptian Goose shadow, and the female Tufted Duck has managed to hold onto 6 young. 3 other pairs of Tuftie were present, new arrivals. 3 Lapwing were on or around the lagoon and a single chick is hanging on!
A noisy Kingfisher on the reserve was always going to get the pulse rate going, not only because its a Kingfisher (!) but because they have been a difficult bird to come by on the patch. The noise was coming from the firing range, and although only brief flight views were obtained the bird may have a nest on the steep muddy bank usually used for target practise. Not the safest place to raise a family, if indeed that is the …

A (mainly) Insect based update

Set the Moth trap at the folks' on Friday night in ideal conditions. We were not disappointed, a great haul including both Privet and Poplar Hawk, Peppered, Scalloped Oak, Dot and Common Footman amongst others. Some of the duller, more worn individuals have proven tricky to ID, so the pictures have been emailed to my Moth expert. A full list to follow!
Surlingham Saturday evening was glorious as usual, although bird life was restricted to a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and soaring Sparrowhawk. I will hold back from saying the Lapwing chicks have all been predated until I can visit again. Debs and I managed a good Butterfly list:
Large White
Small White
Green-veined White
Red Admiral
Ringlet
Large Skipper
Comma
Common Blue
Meadow Brown.
Also, can anyone ID this snail?? I believe Surlingham is known for its invertebrates, and one snail in particular. Maybe this is the critter?



Sunday afternoon looked promising for more Butterflies, so we again grabbed the camera and headed out, first visiting l…