Skip to main content


A great summer of wildlife to reflect upon. Looking back at my diary notes, a number of items jump off the page and I will embellish upon a few here.

Early August I caught up with a tiny percentage of the Pied Flycatcher influx. I left the girls for half an hour on Caister beach on the 3rd of August (thankfully they were there when I returned) and stumbled across a single bird feeding on flying ants perhaps amongst the gorse. The following day I met up with Tim at Waxham, had a good yarn about all things education, and whilst most birds had cleared out I still picked up one bird calling loudly overhead.

The 10th was an odd day for me. I saw a new bird for the UK in Spotted Crake, but views were particuarly underwhelming and did make me question the whole twitching thing once again. On reflection, the day was more about spending quality time with my uncle and I will probably remember it more for that and getting soaked on route back to the car.

On the 18th of August, with the M40 as a backdrop, I went searching for Butterflies on a chalk hillside in Oxfordshire, Aston Rowant nature reserve. It was a windy day, but the Blues showed well especially in any dips and hollows away from the elements. Adonis, Common, Chalkhill Blue and the most Brown Argus I have ever seen, were abundant. Realising I was running out of time to leave and beat the traffic into Bristol for the night, I trudged back greeted by the dazzling flush of the odd blue. I thought, I'll just check behind that bramble one more time......and there it was! A single Silver-spotted Skipper, my official target species for the venture. It allowed close approach before belting off across the hill never seen again. My weekend continued with a 10 mile hike on Dartmoor over hill and bog, and then the worst conditions I have ever Moth-trapped in threw up an Ear Moth in the tent with me. God bless OS maps and The Warren House Inn, I doubt the group would have survived if either had not been present to assist.

Back home, a Semi-palmated Sandpiper at Minsmere was another new bird for me. The compact shape, pale colours and relaxed feeding motion allowed me to distinguish this from Little Stint, and I felt like I had a decent shot of calling one in the field myself. Can but hope. The relaxed feeding notion was continued with a day birding by pub in the company of the excellent trio of James, Gary and Adam. 44 Species for the day, and more beers than were necessary to not see a Wren. Thanks to James for driving, and for introducing me to The Gunton Arms.

I have really gotten a lot out of late night Mothing. A rainy Wheatfen and 2 trips to Knettishall Heath have all been great, that feeling of anything could be possible once dusk gives way to dark. A couple of real punch the air moments at Knettishall when my first Marbled Clover and Clouded Buff came to light. I have another visit to Wheatfen planned for later this month. Still no Convolvulous in the garden, but Tree Lichen Beauty is gunning for the Moth of the year award right now.

Best til last. The girls and I went WeBs counting at Rockland Broad this weekend gone. The back to work feeling had set in, and there was an element of routine about the visit. Quickly putting pay to that was a hunting Osprey, fantastic views for all 3 of us. Rose had to be restrained from leaving the hide via the window, such was the euphoria she could sense inside. Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel and Osprey all within 2 miles of the home in one day. Once again, the patch both grounds and inspires me as we head into Autumn.


Popular posts from this blog

A local phenomenon

In the time it took me to drive down the long uneven track to the enigma that is The Beauchamp Arms, the satellite Corvid roost had grown from zero to around 300 birds. A roughly even mix of Rooks and Jackdaws assemble on Claxton Marshes every evening during the Winter (currently around 15.30) and 50 minutes later a mass of circa 5000 birds have left for the giant roost at Buckenham Carrs north of the river. This was the first time I had made a clear note of timings, and was surprised by how quickly the meeting point goes from raucous to silent. In fact, an eerie quiet falls upon the avenue of trees around 16.00, and a lone cock Pheasant outcried the 1000s of Corvids perched on trees or loafing on the marshy ground beneath. What follows are a number of reshufflings as the restless birds take flight in small waves, taking a new branch to perch upon. Around 16.15, a false dawn as a splinter group takes a more purposeful flight only to loop round and return to the main group. Only at tw…

Estonia Trip Report, April 2011

Estonia April 12th-19th 2011, Jim Bradley.
Ice at the ferry crossing

Exploring the ancient forest

Red-breasted Goose at Audru

Pick the bones out of that!

Great-grey Shrike near Spithami.

Estonia is a place of real wilderness, yet easy to explore with the possibility of some cracking birds. Recent literature from both Gerard Gorman and Dave Gosney means that there is now plenty of useful information on birding Estonia, yet this country remains relatively unknown compared to other eastern European states such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Steller’s Eider, Owls and Woodpeckers in early Spring, Citrine Wagtail, Great Snipe, Great Spotted Eagle, Black Stork and Greenish Warbler in May and beyond are just some of the birds you may encounter.

We used Estonian Nature Tours to help plan and guide our trip. We are a young couple, so did not fancy being part of a tour bus scenario, and were keen to do most of the birding ou…

Only the brave

No matter how many times I walk the well-trodden paths that criss-cross my local patch, nature can still throw up something new. At Surlingham Church Marsh early this morning, the temperature beginning to climb above freezing, I witnessed a pair of Jays mobbing a perched Common Buzzard. I have never seen this behaviour before, although from a Corvid of any kind not exactly unexpected. My presence appeared to be the final straw, the raptor taking flight and disappearing further into the small pine wood. Elsewhere on the reserve, a hunting female Marsh Harrier was hopefully a sign of things to come prior to Spring, and Siskins aplenty called overhead and amongst the Alders. Walking the holloway from the church down to the river, the first Snowdrops were braving the frozen ground and providing a welcome splash of purity and colour.

This afternoon as the sky took on a golden tinge above the copse opposite, I took this as my signal to walk the marsh path down to the river. I was rewarded w…