Saturday, 25 August 2012

Yare Day and some Bats

On the night of the 22nd, I headed to the patch after some Bats. As the light faded, the lagoon filled up with wildfowl. Egyptian and Greylag Geese noisily announcing their arrival amongst the quieter Teal and Gadwall. Nothing quite like watching Geese Whiffling by moonlight.
I picked up my first Bat around 8.50pm, a Pipistrelle sp. A further 9 individuals followed including Common and Soprano Pip, Brown Long-eared and best of all a Noctule. I was interested to observe both Soprano Pip and Long-eared hunting together around the same Oak tree, very different jizz to the pair, the long-eared being slower and more 'fluttery'. Walking back to the car I picked up one frequency I was unsure of, maybe a Natterers, and on referring to the sounds I had stored on my mobile this had to go down as one that got away. All great fun, if a little unnerving in the dark- but that is part of the buzz!

A day in the Yare Valley on the 24th was superb, accompanied by my Uncle and cousin Ben. We began at Surlingham which was on good form. 3 Common Buzzard were picked up high in the sky, the weather primed for Raptors. A Marsh Harrier drifted through. One of my Green Sandpipers showed up on the lagoon, followed by an uncommon bird at Surlingham: a Marsh Tit.

We then proceeded to Buckenham Marshes and the good birds kept coming: Yellow Wagtail (3+), Hobby, Green and Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit.

A quick trip to Strumpshaw produced a lifer for all of us- 2 Superb Willow Emerald Damselfly. Check out the sheen on the wings and those golden pterostigma!

Our final stop, via a quick meet and great and Raptor scan with Ricky, was Cantley Beet Factory. The water level was frustratingly high, and the main pit itself held plenty of Lapwing but not a lot else. The mud flats to the north were decent though, and here we found Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Green and Common Sandpiper and a distant Water Rail.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Brits abroad killing our Turtle Doves?

Had to read this twice, still can't quite believe it.

A British company offering trips to Morocco to shoot Turtle Doves.

I am not a part of the anti-shooting brigade in England; in-fact, conservation and management for 'game' can be one and the same thing. But the above is totally inexcusable, and grim.

Birdlife International have urged people to contact the company via email and lodge their opposition.
But then, you don't need me to tell you that the Turtle Dove has been subject to massive declines, and is now globally threatened. These are our Doves, and we want them back next year.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Stirring up a Hornet's Nest

Notice on the hide at Rush Hills- 'Hornet's nest. Do not enter and leave alone'. I of course entered; I had never seen a nest like this until today. Incredible honey-comb design and yet seemingly paper-thin. I didn't hang around, the drone of the insects enough to put me off and I moved in front of the hide.

Wood Sandpiper 4+
Common Sandpiper 2
Ruff 16
Avocet 18
Redshank 1
Dunlin 2
Black-tailed Godwit 1

That may be the most Wood Sand I have recorded in one place. Happy days.

Earlier in the morning, I visited Buckenham. The Wood Sand remains here, and new in was a Greenshank. Snipe numbers are up on yesterday, at least 30 were counted. A Lesser-black Backed Gull had a red ring on its left leg, and a silver on its right. No sign of the Hobby I encountered yesterday. Although early in the day, Hawkers were already on the wing as were a few Butterflies. Good to see a late emergance of Peacocks and now a few Small Tort. Thank Goodness.

Walking back to the station, there were many juvenile Linnets, Goldfinch, Swallow and Pied Wagtail. Moment of the day then followed. A Stoat emerged from the vegetation, and proceeded to chase the 4 Pied Wags, no intention of catching or killing, this was purely play.

 Migrant Hawker- Surlingham.
 Stoat going loopy.
Hornet's Nest.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Out of county birding

Busy month, and on composing this ere blog post I almost forgot a significant bird that got August off to a flyer- an adult Purple Heron at Sutton Gault in Cambridgeshire. A cracking adult it was, donning full war paint and regalia. Also a British lifer, don't see too many of those these days.
This unlikely out of county twitch came about thanks to a kind invite from a friend to visit his thesis site in Berkshire, which is focussed around river restoration. He listed various inverts I cannot recall and explained the significance of the now resident Ranunculus on the river bed, whilst I watched Buzzards and Red Kites catch the thermals. Lovely stuff.
I should preface this next section by saying I do not work for the Northumberland Tourist Board but what a fantastic county! I won't bore/grip folk with a day by day account here, but instead a few highlights:

1) The coast. Unspoilt, sandy beaches, amazing dune systems and muddy harbours. Eiders floated in the bays, and we were lucky to pick up Arctic, Great and a possible Pomarine Skua at sea. (the latter appeared barrel-chested, but not enough to confirm an ID. I believe juveniles are unlikely at this time of year anyway, and a full set of spoons was not in evidence, sadly).
2) The islands. Coquet still had a few Roseate Terns present, nesting alongside Arctic, Common and Sandwich. Some interesting ID conondrums were posed, mostly involving juvenile birds. Some seabirds like Kittiwake were still on the cliffs of Inner Farne, but Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbill were all seen from boats. Inner Farne was amazing, the buzz and electricity of a fall of migrants cannot be beaten. Icterine Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Whinchat all in an hour!
3) The moorland and hills. A rugged contrast to the coast. Red Grouse, Goshawk and Stonechat all enjoyed up here.
4) A 'Viking invasion' on Holy Island and a walk to the castle (great county for castles, if you're into that, which we both are).
5) The best bookshop I have ever been in. Stocked up on Barnes, Greene and King.

Druridge Bay was the destination for our final day. Some decent birds including Little Stint, Wheatear, Arctic Skua, Whimbrel, Marsh Harrier and Spoonbill. The locals were particularly interested in the Spoonbill and Harriers (one pair breeding near here) which reminded me never to take these for granted back here in Norfolk.
The Northumberland Wildlife Trust appear to have adopted a Laissez Faire approach to reserve management, much to the annoyance of the locals I spoke to.

Got back last night, itching to be out in Norfolk again. Popped to the patch, and along with a lot of Ducks there were 2 Common and 1 Green Sandpiper on the lagoon. Surlingham is back, I'm back, and I have 2 weeks left to find something decent before school beckons.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

SWT Redgrave and Lopham Fen and RSPB Buckenham Marshes

Redgrave and Lopham Fen is moreorless halfway between my place in Norwich and my parent's home down in Suffolk. On route for a catch up and mothing session (more of that later) I stopped off for a walk around the home of the rare Fen Raft Spider.

In the wind and the drizzle I saw very little, but the sightings board spoke of good birds including Hobbies, Breeding Barn Owls, Cuckoos and Bearded Tits. I completed the short red walk shown above, but the full walk is close to 7km. Throw in some winter Finches, Thrushes and Owls and I reckon this is definitely an under-watched site with potential. Great variety of habo ranging rom broad leaved woodland, carr woodland, Fen, marsh and meadow.

Good trapping session in Suffolk resulted in the following:
Orange Moth
Poplar Hawk 2
Mother of Pearl c10
Riband Wave c10
Common Carpet
Yellow Tail
Brown Tail
Dingy Footman
Common Footman
Dot Moth
Common Wainscott
Grey Dagger?
Common Rustic
Dark Arches
Scalloped Oak
Clouded Border 2

 Poplar Hawk and Grey Dagger
Scalloped Oak, what a beauty!

Back in Norfolk, and Buckenham Marshes this morning was decent. Surely more rare to turn up here before Autumn is over and out. Great Wader haul:

Wood Sandpiper 1
Green Sandpiper 3
Common Sandpiper 1
Greenshank 2
Redshank 1
Dunlin 2 (ad and juv)
Ringed Plover
Common Snipe 2
Also Hobby and Little Egret of note.

Finally, 2 Common Sandpiper on the patch at the end of last month were a year tick. Ta.