Monday, 26 May 2014

Chasing the prize

A gap between posts as large as this in May can only mean one thing: the men in suits came for us at school. Despite the short half term, an unnerving finish and little opportunity to rest. I awoke early today to empty the Moth trap and for the first time in many weeks felt refreshed and ready to go again. Hopefully Spring has not left me behind.
Sunday the 18th was a warm day, so I went for a short walk along Langley Staithe. I enjoyed watching young Rooks being fed by adults on the marsh, almost as big as their parents now. There was not much other avian interest but the path was great for Butterflies. 2 Wall Brown, 2 Common Blue, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Small Heath- a new species on the patch for me. There were also Common and Azure Damsels on the wing.
An evening walk on Wednesday the 21st yielded a single Wheatear, again at Claxton, again atop the muck piles dredged from the surrounding dykes. My 3rd record this year.
Looking back more recently to Saturday, all of the usual suspects were to be found at Church Marsh and it looked as if migration had ground to a halt. A notable absentee the Garden Warbler has still not been picked up, although an early start will probably pay dividends. New for the year on the Odanata front were a Four-spotted Chaser and Banded Demoiselle. Red Admiral was a new Butterfly for the year.
Had an even better Dragonfly day at Wheatfen yesterday, with Scarce Chaser also on the wing. Some didn't last the day though, for a superb male Hobby appeared completely in control over the reedbed treating me to some excellent flight views and then perched eating his catch.
Checking through my photos, I have captured a lovely immature Scarce Chaser at Church Marsh, too! Any comments or thoughts on species, age, sexing welcome as always. Need to get back into the groove with Dragons.
 Immature Scarce Chaser, Surlingham Church Marsh
 Male Hairy Dragonfly, Surlingham Church Marsh
 Female Banded Demoiselle, Wheatfen
Male Scarce Chaser, Wheatfen

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Dark skies and Swifts

Epic scenes in the South Yare Valley this weekend. I never quite managed to beat the showers this weekend, the weather made a special effort to catch up with me. I did grab a few hours in the field here and there, and by far the highlight were 100's of Swifts careering against dark skies at Claxton Marshes this afternoon. I watched them for as long as the weather would allow, ever impressed with their aerial ability. It felt rare, too, and had I not been rained off I would definitely (maybe) nailed an Alpine.

Early this morning I set off for Langley Marshes, to count some Lapwing and hopefully catch up with some migrants. Undeterred by the drizzle outside (fuzzy head actually helping in that respect) I lucked in with a roadside Turtle Dove in Langley on route. A new patch bird! The marshes themselves weren't great, 6 Lapwing and a thorough soaking.

Debs and I enjoyed a stroll round Church Marsh this evening, finding Warblers hard to come by but 2 male and 1 female Shoveler had returned to the lagoon. Greylag Geese have goslings, and Mallard have ducklings. Sometimes it's the simple things.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Tern deluge

Rockland Broad was finally on excellent form this afternoon, and I must remind myself of that on the days when I see only Coot. Reports of Arctic Tern from yesterday had me on the edge of the seat, for this was a year tick. Looking at the news from today, Black Tern had now arrived in force and there was always a chance of this species too. My luck was in, for amongst at least 5 Common Tern were 1+ Arctic Tern and 1 Black Tern. A great opportunity to observe the distinct jizz of these 3 species, and the marsh Tern will of course be a highlight of the year when I look back. Also still present was the 1s Little Gull, a real acrobat this little chap, although I had come across him a few days back.
Walking back, I heard a Gropper from behind the hide and at the staithe, my first Swift of the year was seen above.

Church Marsh was pristine and alive with our summer visitors this morning. Teal seem to have done one now, leaving Gadwall, Mallard, Shelduck, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan and probably Tufted Duck to make best use of the lagoon. A little late this year, but 3 Lapwing have shown up at the back of the lagoon, 2 were calling and displaying early this morning. A Little Egret added a touch of class. 

On Star Wars day, I caught up with the Little Gull for the first time, who now appears to be lingering. Two Whimbrel passed through, with good numbers at Breydon I was hoping a couple might detach themselves from the group and head up river. 

On the 31st of April, further patch ticks in the shape of the glorious Hobby, hawking high over Claxton Marshes. Down on the ground, Two Wheatear were resting up on top of some of the piles of slidge presumably dredged from the surrounding dykes. Not just a patch tick these, but patch lifer! Although one of the benefits of living out here is being able to hit up prime spots when the time allows and the weather looks good. I am sure Wheatear are regular in the valley, but a first for me at any rate.

Finally, a mention of our garden. Debs heard a Cuckoo close by earlier in the week, taking the garden list to 61. We also saw our first Odonate of the year, a Hairy Dragonfly, beside the track leading to the house. What a pleasure it is to live out here.