Sunday, 27 March 2016

Swallow arrives to blow records out of the water

A Swallow careering over Church Marsh on the 25th was the earliest here by over 2 weeks; my previous record being April the 9th at Church Marsh. Not sure as to a whole patch date with this species, but looking over last year's notes my first Swallow was recorded on the 19th, perhaps a delay here due to the annual Scotland trip, but either way this is a significant record. The bird struggled against the increasing wind for a bit, before heading off north. 42 Teal were on the broad (down from 71 the previous weekend) along with a pair of Shoveler. A Little Egret was fishing at the back of the lagoon, and 2 Heron appeared to be involved in some kind of courtship chase. Throw in a singing Chiffchaff in the carr woodland by the ruins, and dare I say Spring had sprung.

Back in the garden, a pair of Siskin continue to visit the feeders. A Comma Butterfly was another first of the year, basking on a paving slab out the back. I am glad that my first Butterfly of the year was also one of my favourites.

Buzzard numbers seem to be peaking locally. They now appear to outnumber the Kestrel in Norfolk and are without doubt the most commonly recorded Raptor on patch and on the way to work. There are pairs in front and behind the house at Claxton, and I am waiting and watching for nest building activity. Marsh Harriers are around but not so frequent. Bird of Prey highlight goes to a Peregrine which was at Wood's End Marshes on the 19th.

On the 20th, Debs and I were out visiting her dad in North Walsham. We tied in a bit of birding on route. Brambling have been hard to find this Winter, so I was pleased to hear Justin Landsdell had a few over at St. Andrews Business Park. Sure enough, in the old orchard adjacent to brownfield land we found a few of these smart Finches amongst the trees in blossom. We then continued on to Filby Broad, where both the Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes showed distantly but their encroaching summer plumage was obvious, and brilliant.

We are off to Scotland today, back at the end of the week. Nothing in particular in mind, but I am planning a trip out to the west coast this time to give us a better chance of Sea Eagle should Findhorn not deliver. Cannot wait for that aiport pint, guidebook on table and the week at our feet.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sentinel at the staithe

Looking back to last weekend, with the Penduline Tit still not pinned down at Strumpshaw I set out on my own search at Wheatfen, just across the river and of course on my patch. Treecreeper were probably the highlight of the visit, with 3 showing very well and 2 partaking in courtship chases. A close fly-by female Marsh Harrier, 2 Siskin, Mistle and Song Thrush and a couple of Reed Bunting made up the rest of the birds seen, and I retreated home just before 9 due to the onset of sleet turning to snow.

With the nights slowly pulling out, I was able to get down the marsh on Monday and take in the evening commute. 3 Barn Owl, Kestrel, Buzzard and 2 Marsh Harrier were an excellent but almost expected Raptor haul. A Shelduck had joined the gulls on the small flash that has recently opened up since the wet weather, and more of this species were across the river. Plenty of Wigeon remain loafing on the river and looking across the river at the array of Wildfowl and Waders (Dunlin and Golden Plover new for the year) I reminded myself to get across to Buckenham soon.

Yesterday, Connor and I spent most of the day in The Brecks. It was misty and murky all day, and my poor run here continued. We enjoyed views of singing Woodlark. At least 7 territories were recorded. Plenty of common species were seen well at feeding stations and various parts of the forest, Redpoll perhaps the scarcest of the common. Siskin were singing and accompanied us most of the day. We searched in vain for the likes of Goshawk and Golden Pheasant, the latter seen in a cage. 

This morning I had the WeBs count to do at Rockland, Ben kindly offering to take the Surlingham leg which had slipped my mind after a difficult week with one thing and another. As follows:
Black-headed Gull 53
Common Gull 2
Tufted Duck 11
Gadwall 2
Mute Swan 1
Water Rail 1

Elsewhere, a pair of Bullfinch, Cetti's Warbler and 2 Grey Heron. Anyone into their photography, there is an excellent subject currently at Rockland Staithe. I'm sure you can do better than the shots below. He has been there for at least a week now.