Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Lake District, half-term week

With recent weekends booked up with stag do's and visiting family, I was looking forward to a short break in The Lakes with Debs and my family to blow out the cobwebs and hopefully do some casual birding in different surrounds.

I was both pleased and surprised at how common Wood Warblers were on the Beech and Oak covered slopes of the hills. Still using my temporary camera until Thailand when we will purchase a new model, so no photos of the birds themselves despite crippling views! What stonking birds these are. Instead, a photo of typical Wood Warbler habo will have to do:

I also picked up a lovely male Redstart on an 8 mile walk from High Dam to Bowness, always a delight to see and again not a bird that breeds widely in Norfolk (Wood Warbler not at all of course). Tree Pipit were encountered twice in cleared areas at the edge of forest, and a cacophony of alarm calls led me to a Tawny Owl in dense scrub nearby.

Around Windermere, we had Red Kite over, 2 Mandarin, 2 Common Sandpiper and Grey Wagtails. Of the usual Warblers, Garden were seemingly much more common up here than back home, their scratchy song emanating from many a Bramble. A special moment and a proper wild encounter was had when I spotted a young Roe Deer on the ground, left temporarily by its mother but not quite well hidden enough.

I had expected to pick up the breeding Flycatchers on our walk, but it took until the final day to connect with Pied and Spotted, both of which were at nest sites close to a river. The male Pied was singing constantly but was not easy to spot high up in the dense foilage of the Oak he had chosen. The Spotted was far more obliging. Now to find one on the patch again this year.

Speaking of the patch, a Cuckoo is still heard regularly from the house, and pleasingly a brood of Coal tits have fledged in the garden. Hoping for Goldcrest next. Last night, a Pipistrelle sp hunted around our outside light and a Noctule flew over the house. I have been lazy/busy and not yet had the Moth trap out in our new place, but aim to rectify this over the coming weeks. Before we left for Cumbria, I had what I think was an Elephant Hawk Moth out the back on the hedge in darkness one evening.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Time for an update

Having not felt myself for a while, birding time has been limited but having said that I have still added species to both my patch and British life lists! Such is the luck of living and birding in this fine county.

Back at the start of the month, Debs and I were treated to views of at least 4 Hobby over Claxton and Rockland marshes hawking for insects. I was pleased to see at least one was still in situ last night when I dropped in for a late evening visit. I finally scored with a Garden Warbler at Rockland, and at least 2 Common Tern were still present and thankfully this species is usually present throughout the summer despite not breeding.

A real highlight of the month so far has been connecting with the Pectoral Sandpiper at Buckenham, from Claxton! I could see some birders across the river and figured Ricky may be one of them, so I phoned him and after waving manically at each other he managed to get me onto the Pec. Top man! As you can imagine views were distant but compared with the Redshank it was easy to spot, dumpy-looking and with a much lower centre of gravity than the elegant shanks. Back on the Claxton side, a male Wheatear was new for the year. 

On the 10th, having planned to sleep and recover, news of a Citril Finch at Burnham Overy gave me no choice, I was in the car again and heading to the coast. Like 100s of others I made the long walk from the carpark in fine warm Spring weather and connected with the bird upon arrival, and needless to say it was a cracker and a quite outlandish addition to my British list.Sunday morning before the Norfolk Birdfair, Debs and I made an early start at Church Marsh, a Cuckoo in flight the avian highlight of the morning. The hedge opposite the Church on the north side was alive with insects, including our first Damsels of the year: Common, Azure, Blue-tailed and Large Red. I am reliably informed by James that our Hoverfly was Helophilus pendulus, and the Spider was a Nursery Web Spider. The Birdfair itself was decent, and I am surprised more Norfolk birders did not support this event.

On the way home from work today, a Red Kite was low over the A146, just past Thurton before the Rockland turn off, not far from home.