Thursday, 23 June 2011


Finally managed the 100 species mark at Surlingham Church Marsh this evening. 101 soon followed, but the big one first.
As you may know, I am currently stuck on 299 BOU for my British Life List. What will number 300 be? It won't be a Caspian Tern. It might be a Quail. It might even be a Little Swift. It will be a special bird whatever the feather. Now, my 100th bird recorded in the Surlingham CM tetrad was never going to be as grandiose as the above cast, but I had hoped for a little better than a pair of Red-Legged Partridge! Still, colourful as ever, and this time they really meant something!
Whilst the main reserve was a little quiet with Duck numbers right down, number 101 went to a much nicer bird- a Common Tern, purposefully heading up river. 95 for the year, thankyou!
The lagoon was quiet as aforementioned, 2 Lapwing were present and 1 chick was seen- running away from me on the circular footpath! One odd piece of behaviour to report: The Shelduck with 6 young appears to have attracted the attention of a single Egyptian Goose. On my 2 previous visits I had the Goose with the ducklings, and thought nothing of it, a fluke perhaps. But today I can confirm- this Goose thinks it is a Shelduck.
I decided to check the Little Owl tree again, and for the first time I actually watched 2 birds together. I had no doubts there was a pair around, but this is the first time I have recorded 2 individuals. Lots of head-bobbing going on, glorious views of this species so full of character.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Chasing the Caspian then back to basics

After not going for the Roller in Suffolk earlier this week, I was getting a little twitchy around the 299 BOU mark. Would Caspo Tern be the big 300? A big fat no. I left a little late Saturday morning, and missed the window when the bird was showing well at Titchwell. Whilst the majority of 'birders' I saw then sat in and around Titchwell waiting for it to be refound, I joined the braver souls at Thornham and then Holme. No fly-by, a grounded Hobby the only bird of note on the beach at Holme. Windswept, weather and bird beaten, it was a long drive home.
Back to basics this morning, and an extra pair of eyes in the shape of Ricky allowed me to connect with a couple of good patch birds I may have otherwise missed.
The circuit began well, a Cuckoo on a dead tree above our heads emitted the weird guttural sound you only hear when the bird is close, before the expected notes of song. The scrub was still busy, both Garden Warbler and Blackcap singing. I couldn't see any Oystercatcher over the river, but perhaps they were wisely hunkering down in the drizzle.
At least 3 Lapwing chick remain, as do the broods of Tufted Duck and Shelduck. Ricky spotted a fast moving Hobby and a high flying Little Egret. The lonely Marsh Harrier was hunting with its usual grace, and a House Martin was hawking (can you use that verb for a Martin?)over the lagoon. Plenty of Swifts on the wing also.
We did the full version of the walk, round the back of the pub and onto the field. My Little Owl put in a timely showing at the front of the dead tree; the Egyptian Geese that were using the hole have since moved on, perhaps allowing the Owls a late chance to fledge young.
Back on the reserve, at least 2 Grasshopper Warbler were seen (at potential nest sites) as well as Reed and Sedge Warbler. A probable Treecreeper near the ruins added another territory to the reserve list, if indeed it was a creeper.
A good haul of species, and a nice antidote to the disappointment of yesterday. The summer slow down has not set in just yet! Thank goodness for Surlingham.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Double Patch Update

An evening and morning visit to blog about.
Thursday evening, and a new bird for the reserve. 2 juvenile Grey Wagtail were on the muddy edges of the lagoon, and whilst being the first time I have clapped eyes on this species at Surlingham, there is plenty of suitable breeding habitat around the streams near the landspring.
Also present was a single Green Sandpiper. If I put in enough hours, I reckon I could record this bird for every calendar month! My short paper, 'The occurance and behaviour of Green Sandpiper at Surlingham Church Marsh', is under production! This individual seemed relaxed, little bobbing, no calling, infact not much of anything.
A Barn Owl was hunting over the river, and the usual Warblers gave us their eveningsong.
Today, I made an earlier start in order to 'do' the reserve before the shooting begins. Of note were 5/6 Oystercatcher on the other side of the river, which will hopefully fledge some young between them. The story of breeding Waders took a turn for the worse at the lagoon; no sign of any Lapwing chicks, but the pair that attempted to breed first time around are trying again. The female is sat tight, the male on constant guard. Plenty of ducks on the lagoon, including offspring of Mallard, Shelduck (where did they come from?) and Gadwall. A Grey Heron was lurking a little too close for comfort, if you are a duckling.
A Grasshopper Warbler was a late morning reeler, and Reed Bunting continue to call and feed young. I startled a female Sparrowhawk, and the usual male Marsh Harrier was hunting near the ruins. Walking back to the car, I saw my first Meadow Brown Butterlies of the year.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Moth update?!

White Ermine and Common Wainscott

Elephant Hawkmoth and Coxcomb Prominent

Unusual, I know, but a welcome return to Moths on the blog! After seeing X bird in X location, I spent an evening at home with the folks in Suffolk and had some fun emptying the Moth Trap. I do not set the Moth trap at my home in Norwich for 2 reasons: Firstly, I did it once and got bugger all. Secondly, it does look rather odd in our terraced garden, and would probably cause the odd complaint/curtain twitching.

Our list for the evening:

Buff Ermine

White Ermine

Burnished Brass

Common Swift

Common Wainscott

Coxcomb Prominent

Elephant Hawkmoth

Flame Shoulder

Ghost Moth

Heart and Dart

Marbled Minor

Setaceous Hebrew Character

Silver Y

Treble Brown Spot

Treble Lines

Triple-Spotted Clay

Shuttle-Shaped Dart

Brown-eyed Bright-Line

Dusky Brocade

Marbled White Spot

Double Square Spot

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lakenheath Fen then a patch evening

It was rather hot at Lakenheath Fen yesterday, and as usual the flagship species proved difficult on this cracking June day. We did hear Golden Oriole, and others managed the odd glimpse, be prepared to wait if you want a proper look! Another birder had seen a Common Crane on the ground, but on our arrival we were not so lucky. A Hobby was a nice bonus though; I remember seeing 30-odd here last year! 3 Cuckoos flew across our field of view, calling to one another, perhaps settling a territorial dispute. Reed and Sedge Warblers were both very active despite the heat, nest building and singing taking up their time.
I was visiting a non birding friend out west, so I really only scratched the surface here, but an early start would pay dividends I am sure. What a reserve; I always leave with that thought!
Surlingham was beautiful in the fading light, the pink sky the backdrop for reeling and warbling of the residents. 2 Barn Owls were seen, and one individual has I think gotten used to seeing me, for s/he glances in my direction every now and then but continues to hunt regardless. I watched the bird carrying a vole, flying with purpose towards Wood's End.
Grasshopper Warblers were in full song, 5 birds reeling in total. I have not heard them for a while, but then again I have not visited as late as this for a while.
3 Oystercatchers were a patch record (!) and whilst one pair of Lapwing appear to have lost their chick (sad face) the other bird that had been sitting tight is now the proud mother of 4 chicks!
Walking past the ruins, it was evident a good few bats were out and about. Going purely on size and jizz, I would say the majority were Pips but a couple of larger beasties may have been Natterers.
I then went for a drive round the nearby villages of Rockland and Claxton. An unexpected chill had perhaps caused the mist to cling to the grazing fields, and more bats were on the hunt. I stopped and listened at various spots, Owls and Quail the targets. Drew a blank, but still ample opportunity as yet.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Broad-billed Sandpiper, Breydon Water

Finally got a chance to visit Breydon Water this afternoon, a Broad-billed Sandpiper has been present for around a week and I do like a good Sandpiper. Now, before I continue suffice to say there may indeed be 2 birds present, which may account for the confusion on site.
On encountering James not far from the rugby club carpark, we followed the shore and began scanning the small flocks of Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Another birder and myself locked onto the bird, and we obtained satisfactory views- Broad-billed Sand, looked nice, Norfolk/Suffolk border, British lifer.
The bird then proved rather elusive, and another group that arrived struggled to obtain views of any sort for a while. We did happen upon another wader, interesting looking beastie it was too. Pale underneath- couldn't make out any streaking. Less rufous on top, drooping bill, stunted tail, relatively long-legged. This could of course been the 'other' Broad-billed, but other birds thrown into the mix were Dunlin and Sanderling?! A couple of bright looking Dunlin were present, Articola perhaps (not Icelandica, they don't exist, all my reading up on Dunlin was a waste of time!).
Bit-part views, I headed back to the car-park, scanning as I went. Another chap in a cool hat had beaten me to it, the Broad-billed was now much closer and I enjoyed great views of a lovely bird. Get in!