Sunday, 26 May 2013

Whirlwind couple of weeks

Just happy to be alive and kicking after a nasty accident involving a berk in a lorry and my now scrapped Fiesta. Luckily, a lady stopped and offered to be a witness if necessary which put my faith back in humanity within a few minutes. Moral of the story? Do not take out insurance with Hastings Direct. Useless. 

Anyway, rant over and new car is on the way. Starting with the South Yare patch, a new species was added to the year list, and a very pleasing one too since Grey Partridge have declined considerably in the last 20 years. A pair were seen in a field along Surlingham Lane. At Church Marsh, 2 Feral Pigeon were an almost regrettable patch tick. Things have been quiet here, as the resident species settle down to breed and absolutely no Waders pas through. It has been rather more lively over at Claxton, where a Montagu's Harrier has been hanging around opposite Buckenham RSPB. Despite 3 evening visits after work, I still haven't connected. A calling Greenshank did provide me with a new bird for the year however. 

Yesterday, Connor and I agreed to put some time in on the Norfolk coast searching for migrants. Upon hearing that he and Ben had endured a largely fruitless day on the point the day before, I was already lowering my expectations. We walked Burnham Overy Dunes and Wareham Greens, not seeing a single migrant. The saving grace was smashing views of a pair of Montagu's Harrier and a Red Kite.

Today, Debs and I enjoyed a stroll in some sunshine around Wheatfen. Finally, we observed our first Dragons and Damsels of the year. A pair of both Large Red and Azure Damselfly and then 2 singles of Hairy Dragonfly were seen. Other bits of interest were a Sparrowhawk, Cuckoo and at least 2 Grass Snakes. 
We had our eyes to the skies here and later at Rockland, but no sign of the reported Black Kite from yesterday. 

A Bat update- last night I was on a NBMP course which dealt with survey methodology and identification. I'm good to go! Bats were not really playing ball, a few Daubs and less than 5 Pips; it was bloody freezing. We did see a roding Woodcock and a Barn Owl at Santon Downham. 
At the Norwich Bat Group AGM I ended up joining the committee, so the way this Summer is shaping up I won't be seeing too much daylight!

Monday, 13 May 2013

An early start.

With Debs away with friends for the weekend, the opportunity to disturb nobody but myself arose, so I headed to Surlingham at dawn on Saturday morning. I like to make at least 2 early visits around this time of year.
The weather was chilly and overcast, and therefore birdsong was not at quite the heights I had hoped for. However, 2 Grasshopper Warblers were reeling in front of the hide, unseen. 2 Garden Warbler were picked up on call near the Ferry Inn, a year tick and not the easiest of species here or anywhere. Brief glimpses were all I could manage, but at least I know where to look once breeding commences. A Barn Owl was out hunting at half 5, and on the lagoon of note were 3 Lapwing and 6 Tufted Duck (5 Drakes). 2 House Martin in the village were also NFY. Perhaps my favourite moment of the morning was a Cuckoo, calling in flight over my head near the pub. He was cuckoo-ing so fast that it sounds almost as if the bird narrowly avoids choking. Clearly a bird desperate to make itself heard.

Yesterday, I was overwhelmed by the 100's of Swifts I encountered around Langley, Claxton and Rockland. There were probably 1000's in the Yare valley. 6 Kestrel, 2 Marsh Harrier and a single Lesser Whitethroat (NFY) were the other highlights. Finally,  a Kingfisher was seen in a small dyke not far from the road. Not the first time, so maybe a breeding bird.

Monday, 6 May 2013

An unusually warm Bank Holiday weekend

Our small garden was a hive of activity yesterday, 2 Holly Blue butterflies the diurnal highlight along with various White sp. passing through. That evening, 2 Pipistrelle Bats were hunting at rooftop level.
The bulk of our day was spent at Cley, enjoying an excellent crab salad at Cookies after a short walk around the reserve. Avocets were noisily about their business, and 2 Little-ringed Plover were also on the scrape keeping their distance. A Lesser Whitethroat was heard along Old Woman's Lane, and the expected Marsh Harriers were soaring over the reedbed. Unexpectedly, a group of c30 Brent Geese dropped in to graze. Surely the latest into the breeding season I have seen this species in Norfolk.

Today, the temperature cranked up another couple of degrees to 19, I enjoyed a stroll round Wheatfen. For once, I didn't have the reserve to myself. A Cuckoo was heard and was subsequently new for the year. Whitethroat were everywhere, as were Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers. Speckled Wood and Orange Tip were on the wing, the first time I have caught up with either of these species this year. I stumbled upon the tail end of at least 4 snakes, probably Grass, but they were too quick for me, disappearing into the reedbed on each occasion. I spent some time scanning the skies over Strumpshaw, for 2 Common Crane had been reported earlier in the day. No luck on that front, but I did pick out a kettle of 5 Buzzards and the resident Marsh Harriers.
Rockland Broad, and another Cuckoo was heard. A Garden Warbler, new for the year, shared a piece of scrub with the more obvious Whitethroats. Best birds were undoubtedly 2 Common Tern, fishing the broad itself and engaging in a bit of chase. Perhaps they will make use of one of the platforms and breed this year.