Saturday, 23 June 2012

Upton Fen


Every time I come here, I tell myself I must come more often!
Despite the breezy conditions, plenty of Odonata were on the wing. Lots of Black-tailed Skimmers were basking on the boardwalk. A couple of Hairy patrolled their territory, but best of all were a handful of Norfolk Hawker. These Dragonfly rarely land, but hover briefly, allowing for good views and a terrible in-flight shot posted below! I watched one individual for a while, a proper 'Norfolk' wildlife experience. Damsels were less obvious in the wind, but I did manage to track down Common Blue, Azure and Variable amongst the sheltered vegetation.
Butterflies were harder to come by, although I did manage my first Meadow Brown of the year. Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral were the other species I saw; one chap showed me his picture of a Ringlet, and another walker reported a single Swallowtail.
2 Marsh Harrier were hunting over the reedbed, although surprisingly I could not find the Hobby. Both Reed and Sedge Warbler still sang, as did a Cuckoo.
I called in at the broad before heading home. Sand Martin and Common Tern hawking over the water.
The best bird of the day was picked up whilst driving, and I quickly found somewhere to park before I crashed, as a Red Kite is still a good bird in Norfolk, or anywhere for that matter!

                                          Southern Marsh Orchid
                                          Norfolk Hawker
                                          A bird! Finally!
                                          Variable Damselfly- note the 'exclamation mark' antehumeral stripes.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Just went to the patch.

Wearing shorts was probably an error, got stung a couple of times, but opportunities have been few and far between lets be honest! The remaining heat meant that a few Dragonflies were still on the wing tonight, including a female Keeled Skimmer and a few Hairy.
17!!! Lapwing was a patch record for me. The flock may well have been on the lagoon as I could hear some calling as I walked round, but only saw them in the air moving away. The mother and 2 chicks stayed on the lagoon of course; looks like one of the 3 has copped it. Kingfisher and the unattached male Marsh Harrier were the other highlights this evening. 2 broods of Gadwall, 4 Egyptian Geese and a couple of vocal Sedge Warbler completed the 'action'.
A Hobby was reported, yesterday.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The week past, and some Moths to look at.

Blyth's Reed has to be the toughest bird I have ever twitched! I expected a tough time of it, and got off lightly compared to some. This was of course Saturday 10th, and after news broke and some dithering I set off solo for this elusive acro. The bird began to sing not long after I arrived, various whistles and peeps interspersed with some top Tit mimicking. Eventually, a few glimpses as the bird moved quickly through the undergrowth. A 'decent' view of 5 seconds in the pit was as good as it got! Not a looker it has to be said, but worth it for the song alone.
Surlingham was actually decent this last week, a couple of visits provided good views of Kingfisher, Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier and the Lapwing chicks (3). The forecast for the week ahead doesn't look too bad, so hopefully some glorious evenings in the sun. 
                                                                             Cuckoo!

Stayed with the parents last night, so despite the wind the Moth trap was set up and scrutinized this morning.
One or two ID issues as usual (part of the fun) but so far the relatively light haul included:
Common Swift 3
Marbled Minor 3
Privet Hawkmoth
Dusky Brocade
Setaceous Hebrew Character
Silver Y
Heart and Dart
Treble Lines.

                                                                 Common Swift (Thanks Jonny).

                                                                  Privet Hawkmoth

                                                                 Treble Lines

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Hide

I don't know if any readers have seen the wonderfully dark film The Hide, but those that have will understand when I say that something like that could feasibly occur at Breydon Water, such is the bleakness of the place (and the fact that I have been on a Stag in Great Yarmouth, and on a separate occasion been sworn at by pupils from one of the local schools at a rugby tournament. I was expecting my students to step in for me, they were perhaps a little scared). Anyway,  it is well worth a watch. Trailer here, time well spent and an amazing twist which the trailer in no way divulges:



Watch the film, go birding at Breydon, don't go to the dog track.

Debs and I left wader-less in the large, some stuff was distant but these seemed to be Curlew and Ringos. In contrast, such high counts at Titchwell of Knot (600) and Barwit (950) have certainly got me thinking about Wader migration.
Instead of a planned visit to Strumpshaw for the showy Crossbill flock, we diverted to Winterton Dunes where we enjoyed my third, and Debs' first, Woodchat Shrike.
Yes, that is a man hiding in the bush behind. He just couldn't get close enough!

Another wander round Thorpe Marshes yesterday evening (I must have narrowly missed you, James). A Garden Warbler have brief views, a Gropper was heard briefly and I watched a Barn Owl devour prey on a  post. Usual array of warblers breaking into song after the rain, lovely stuff.

Today I tended to my patch. 2 Bullfinch flew over calling near the start of the trail and nearby was the small female Sparrowhawk I had seen the other day. The usual Warblers were all present bar Garden. The lagoon was again lacking in inspiration, the Lapwing either hiding its chicks, or have they already been predated? 1 male Marsh Harrier again hunted the marsh, joined by a female Kestrel and a Barn Owl food carrying. These Barn Owls must be knackered at the moment, it seems non-stop for them.
The breezy conditions meant Butterflies were again in hiding, a Holly Blue all I managed. I did photograph a couple of Moths though. I can see this again becoming a Bug Blog now the Summer (?) is evidently with us.
                                                                        Snout
                                                     No, not a Moth...some sort of Chafer?
                                                                      Silver Y

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Damsels, and we're going on a Quail hunt.


So, what's new? Damselflies that last year would have just gone down as 'Blue' are now being assigned to species level by this amateur naturalist! The last couple of days at Surlingham and Claxton have thrown up Common Blue, Azure, Banded and Large Red Damselfly. Photo below is I believe a smart looking Azure. The wind has forced our local Butterflies to hunker down, but my unusually good track record with Wall Brown continues, one on the wing at Claxton yesterday. Photo below.
Met Ricky yesterday evening for a quick jaunt round his patch. Proper 'good to be out' evening. Hobby in amongst the Swifts and Cuckoo over the obvious highlights. Ricky also pointed out the key spots for Waders around the reserve and river bank, I am jealous!
We then set out on a Quail hunt amongst farmland near Norwich. Another Hobby passed through, hunting Barn Owl, calling Tawny and a few farmland birds but no Quail....yet. I am sure this species goes under-reported so hopefully the missus will excuse the odd anti-sociable evening trip out to listen for the 'wet-your-lips' call. Had 6 calling standing in one spot last Summer, but that is a bit far too drive to once a week.
This morning got off to a flyer. Attempting to rescue some Snails from the lawnmower, I stopped and looked up. Some 'chip, chip' calls; 8 Crossbill! Heading east over the city. My best city tick so far! Buoyed by this, I tidied up the garden and headed to Surlingham. 2 Common Buzzards over the A146 at the Surlingham turn-off looked great, one individual missing a primary feather from both wings.
Onto the reserve, and a Barn Owl was hunting in broad daylight, flying across to Postwick, with food. A male Marsh Harrier still lingers here, a failed breeder by now surely. Good news from the lagoon- the Lapwing have fledged 2/3 young. Here's hoping they last this time.

Think the Moth is a Common Carpet?