Sunday, 17 July 2011

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 micro. Could someone ID please?
Cantley Sugar Beet factory was a new site for me, and there have been some decent Wader counts from there of late. Recent rarities include Baird's and Marsh Sandpiper. I had a feeling the rain would mean I had missed the best of the birds and I was proven right. Muddy edges that might have been there were not exposed. Juvenile Shelduck and Shovelor did not mind. The highlight were 2 Common Sandpipers, flying low over the large pit, calling.
Access here is straightforward. If you are without a car, then you can follow the public footpath that follows the river, leading down to the pits. I would assume if you require access to the dirt tracks that circumnavigate the pits, you would need a pass. Presumably most don't bother, since the signing in book in reception had not been used since early in the month, and Wader counts have been coming out of Cantley as recent as earlier this week. If you have a car, pull up at reception and sign in, picking up your security pass. Staff friendly and helpful. A site worth visiting- as long as the water levels are just right!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

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 the hill by the ruins. Great Tit broods were further evidence of breeding activity, and a Great Crested Grebe on the river had a single youngster.
In line with local sightings, there does appear to have been an emergance of Red Admirals, and I would suggest to a smaller extent Commas also. Speckled Wood being seen regularly on the reserve now, along with Ringlet and Meadow Brown. No sign of the Purple Hairstreaks this weekend, and no Gatekeepers as yet.
Picking up both Blackwit and Green Sand yesterday was a patch highlight for me, and although I like to think I 'watch' Surlingham regularly, I only really scratch the surface over the course of an average week. If I can come across goodies like the aforementioned by putting in 4 hours a week (approx), what else am I missing?! With the summer holidays fast approaching, I intend to maximise my time here for a short period and see just what I can turn up.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

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 case. It may be a young bird exploring territory, but the brief views and calls said adult to me.
More noise from the pinewoods, this time young Sparrowhawks, and a male carrying food confirmed my thoughts. Waiting for him to reappear, I scanned the trees at the foot of the ruins. A dash of silver in the canopy and I was onto a colony of skittish Purple Hairstreak Butterflies! The odd good view of a male at rest, what a pretty insect. Does give one neck ache, though.

Monday, 4 July 2011

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


Large Skipper


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 little known Booton Common NWT. Again, Ringlets galore here, plenty of Meadow Browns and the odd Large Skipper. A singing Chiffchaff was one of few birds seen or heard.

My Butterfly list is small, but with so many good areas of habo in Norfolk I hope it will be positively swelling by September. Buxton Heath holds a small colony of the rare Silver-Studded Blue, and Deb's pictures below will tell you all you need to know.

Bullfinch calling here also, and a Siskin flew overhead. Yellowhammer numbers seem good here, and the site looks ideal for Tree Pipit and Woodlark.

Still becoming better aquainted with the finer points of Dragonfly ID, although I am fairly confident that we had a pair of Broad-bodied Chaser investigating a large puddle.