Friday, March 31, 2006

Little Owl

After six long years finally got this one on the parish list this evening! Having spent all day in a classroom on a Healthy and Safety course (big yawn!) I was desperate for some fresh air so took a walk up the track before tea. I was scanning across the next fields hedgerow when I saw the unmistakable undulating flight and rise in to a row of oak trees of a Little Owl. The habitat is just right for breeding so I'm hoping this isn't just a transient individual but maybe one of a pair.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

More New Moths

Had the MV light trap running all night last night, and though the haul was a little disappointing in terms of numbers a couple of new ones more than made up for it.

March Moth 2
Chestnut 2
Common Quaker 3
Twin-spot Quaker 1

Another Wheatear along the trck this morning, a nice bright male, but was soon disturbed by the local game-keeper doing his rounds. We now have four Siskin at the feeders, a pair of pairs, they seem to enjoy the niger seed the most, then sunflower.

Common Quaker

Twin-spot Quaker

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

First's, First's,First's!!!

The Track came up trumps this morning with my first Stonechat record in the parish, with the added bonus that he was feeding along the set -a-side strip, proving its worth already! Managed a record shot of this male, for some better pics flick back to January's entries.


During work today saw my first butterfly of the spring, a Brimstone along the roadside verge. On cue, just after tea, the Barn Owl was working the newly mowed meadow, seemingly oblivious to the kids playing footie on the park next to the field, it made several dives at least two that appeared successful. He/She did land several times ,but always just to the left or right of a clearing in the hedge, never in the middle!

Barn Owl

I had to visit a friend in Cromer tonight and was feeling quite chuffed as I saw a Merlin bullet across the road on the way down, so on the way home I thought I'ld try a bit of moth dazzling with the head-lights at Felbrigg. Drew a blank on the moths, but a movement caught my eye in the undergrowth and, where I was expecting to see a fox, there was a tiny Muntjac Deer nibbling on fresh shoots! This is my fourth deer species in the parish with Red, Roe and Chinese Water Deer all seen from the garden.
As I drew up back home a distinct blob in the road was duly placed in the garden and spared from ending up as Toad pancake!

Common Toad

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

F.o.T.S. !

At last! A 'First of the Spring' today in the form of a female Wheatear along the track, she must have been aided by the blustery tail wind thats been with us for a couple of days now (hence no moth trapping).

Sunday, March 26, 2006


A bright, warm but blustery day saw me out in the garden for the most of the day. Birds seen:
Golden plover 180
Shelduck 5
Mallard 2
Lesser black backed Gull 5 west
Siskin 2

Hot on the heals of yesterdays Marsh Harrier came Common Buzzard with 3 birds, two drifted high east and another flew low going west stopping briefly in one of the hedgerows, taking the garden year list to 57.

Common Buzzard (video grab)

These small yellow flowers are all along the roadside embankment outside our house, they are Lesser Celandine (thanks Dean!)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

They're Coming!

Due to work commitments I couldn't be at home today, the first half-descent looking day for migration! However I did manage to jam in on our first 'broad-wing'of the spring, a female type Marsh Harrier flew east along the south fields of the parish as I was driving to work, at last!
The moth trap was on all night last night and was well worth the effort with a few more different species in the mix:

March Moth 5
Pale brindled Beauty 3
Dotted Border 1
Emmelina monodactlya 1
Hebrew Character 3
The Satellite 1
Chestnut 2
Dark Chestnut 1 (?)
Grey-Shoulder knot 1

This brings the years total so far to 11 (macro) species taken in the garden. Those in bold were 'lifers' for me and with this being my first year of ever looking at moths I think I've plenty more to come!
? - Dark Chestnut is usually an autumnal moth so this individual is well out of season. The very similar Clouded Drab is currently on the wing but I am sure this one is a Dark Chestnut. I've circulated a pic on a couple of sites to get some feed back from more learned mothers (as in moth-ers!)

Hebrew Character

Emmelina monodactlya a 'micro' moth of the Plume moth family, and very strange looking too!

Dark Chestnut

Grey-Shoulder knot

The biggest surprise of all to be attracted to the light was this rather handsome, and big, Great Diving Beetle! She couldn't wait to get in some water! Oh, its a 'she' because the wing cases have distinct ridges on them, in the male the wing cases are smooth

Friday, March 24, 2006

New Moth

As I left for work this morning I noticed a moth on the inside of the village telephone box when I drove past. Coming home late this afternoon I could see it was still there(thank god for mobile phones, the kids these days have no longer got the incentive to be in a smelly phone box!). At the risk of looking a right tw*t, trying to catch an insect in a jar in a phonebox, I made a covert move to secure the thankfully dopey creature without drawing too much attention to myself! It soon became apparent that it was infact my first Dotted Border, a species whose name actually describes its most distinctive marking. Though I will not include it in the garden totals it was still very nice to see.
The weather appears to finally be moving in to a mild spell so that means as much time in the field as possible and the moth trap having a chance of trapping some moths!
(You may substitute the '*' with whch ever vowel you seem fit).

Dotted Border

Monday, March 20, 2006

A moth!

Seeing as it was the first evening for a while that managed to stay above zero last night I thought I'ld put the MV moth trap on for a few of hours. Despite appearing to have drawn a blank I discovered this Grey-Shoulder knot in the bottom of the trap. The upside down two-pronged fork markings at the base of the wings are quite distinct.

Grey-Shoulder knot

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Went down to my local birding site near Sheringham this morning, though the low cloud and cool temperatures did little to encourage any visable migration. However before the cloud turned into drizzle, we did see a Great Northern Diver fly east, along with 30+ Red throated Diver,11 Brent Geese, 2 Shelduck, 25 Common Scoter west and 29 Eider on the sea, although I arrived a little late to see the pair of Goosander that also flew east.
I then took a quick trip over to Felbrigg park where the Hawfinch was still showing sporadically, initially found feeding on the ground in a small plantation with some Greenfinch, it eventually returned to its favoured Yew Tree, when another briefly joined it.

Hawfinch at Felbrigg

Back home, and there are now 2 pair of Shelduck moving back and forth over the fields also 2 Grey Heron flew north.

Shelduck (video grab)

Part of the Pied Wagtail flock were just outside the garden today. I have previously grilled this flock for White wagtails but all the ones that look good for this sub species on closer inspection have the odd black feather coming through on the mantle (back) presumably being first or second year(not full adult) Pied. This bird below is the palest of the lot today, a poor record shot I know but I think this is a White (any comments appreciated).

alba wagtail.

Stonewall Pied Wagtail

Just to end the day the Barn Owl was out hunting again, I'm not sure if this was a female because she caught a vole, did the usual 'down in one' and was off hunting again within three minutes (keeping energy levels up for producing eggs?)

Barn Owl...again! (for which I make no apology!)

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Trying not to dwell to much on the weather, let's just say it's still cold! Not much from the track this morning, a distant circling Sparrowhawk the only bird of note. Much bird activity from and around the garden largely due to the fact that the field of rough ground around the garden has been ploughed for the first time in a couple of years. Apparently it is being sown with grass seed:
Redwing 20
Song Thrush 6
Goldfinch 8
Pied Wagtail 29
Greenfinch 6
Siskin 2
Blackbird 10
Jay 2
Long tailed Tit 2
Shelduck 2

One of the Blackbirds had a most distinctive mottled white head and back (got the old ticker pumping for a second!).
With the feeders fully loaded finally managed to entice a couple of species in other than House Sparrows!

All above Siskin (male)

Goldfinch (probably male)

Chaffinch (male)

Long tailed Tits

All common birds, but all wonderful birds!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Year Tick

Another cold couple of days, and with rumors that this cold spell is set to last 'til the end of the month, April can't get here quick enough for me! Had a surprise garden year tick yesterday morning in the form of a Curlew feeding in the field behind the garden all on its lonesome, we usually get Curlew through every year but normally in late June /July. See , even the common birds can surprise you, slightly!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Year Tick

The pair of Shelduck kindly flew past the kitchen window this morning taking the garden year list to 55. The weather continues to be seasonally cold, with no sign of let up for the next few days at least.

Monday, March 13, 2006


The Siskin was back first thing this morning, I managed a quick record shot before he flitted off into the Hazel to start singing his scratchy jingling song. Another bitterly cold morning with little to cheer the heart along the Track. Have forgotten what moths look like!


Sunday, March 12, 2006


Lugged my digiscoping gear with me up the track this morning but nothing would give itself up for a decent shot, not even the Skylarks would play ball. The alba wagtail numbers have now reached an impressive 28, though despite carefull grilling, they all appeared to be Pied's in varying stages of plumage. Also along the track 8 Meadow Pipit and a single Reed Bunting
In the garden we were again visited briefly by single Siskin and had our first ever Goldfinch feeding on a Niger feeder, both record shots were laughingly poor and are not reproduced here! ( Although for some good pics of these try ) Also had a pair of Long tailed Tit for only the second time this year.


Late afternoon tried to get some shots of the local Golden Plover flock (c100) but they were a bit jumpy as I drew up alongside the field, acouple of record shots were the best I could manage.

Golden Plover with Lapwing

Another Goldie

Saturday, March 11, 2006

March 7th-11th

Despite an interesting start to the week, the rest of it did not continue in the same manner, with murkey mornings followed by rain drenched days. I set the moth trap up on the mildest evening during the period but drew a blank. Did manage to 'luck in' whilst at work Friday morning, visiting a customer briefly in Weybourne, I saw a Waxwing as I was leaving in their neighbours garden, though it didn't stick around long.
Back to today and the cool air is back with us and so were a flurry of snow showers. Had a single male Siskin briefly on the feeders this morning but he soon flew off. Apart form the usual garden birds the only sightings of note were 2 Sparrowhawks, 140 Pink footed Geese in two groups heading west mid afternoon and 120 Fieldfare going to roost this evening.


...more snow drops

Blue Tit


Monday, March 06, 2006

Year tick

Sometimes observing wildlife can be more luck than judgement. Take this morning for instance, I literally took one step out the back door when I heard a distinctive 'chup chup' call overhead, and there was a Crossbill flying forcefully over the garden and continuing off west in to the distance- 10 seconds either side and I wouldn't have seen it!
Also this morning a pair of Shelduck flew north over the house (but I was on the track-Damn!)
The crossbill takes the garden yearlist to 54 (it was also only the second record from the garden)

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Walked out of the door this morning, binoculars around my neck and camera over my shoulder, its a bit blowey and still freezing cold... so what do I do ? I go back indoors and put my camera on the sideboard! Dunce!
Walked up the track seeing Pied Wags on fields still (12) and a few gulls on the puddles on the track. As I walk back the gulls have moved just into the field and are sheltering fairly tight to the hedgerow. On my approach they take to the wing and reveal a dazzling white adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL! They all lazily drift slowly towards the middle of the field except the Med, who takes his handsome self westwards and out of view! And where was my camera?!
Typical, Bloody Typical!
This afternoon had another walk up the track on the off-chance that the Med returned with no luck, the Pied wagtail flock had risen to 14, but this time with at least 4 White wagtails in their midst. They look quite distinct with their paler grey backs and clean flanks compared to the very black and white plumage of the Pieds.
Other birds noted:
Woodpigeon 3000
Fieldfare 42
Meadow Pipit 12
Redwing 4
Golden Plover20
One of the local Herons was looking a bit hungry as he diced with death on the road trying to get to some ice free water on the pond.

Grey Heron

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Unwelcome Wildlife

Nothing of note on the walk up the track this morning, the Common Gull numbers are picking up (40) and a couple of Meadow Pipits in the Winter Barley. Either side of the track are arable fields which are planted in rotation,with the crops sown obviously having an impact on the local wildlife year after year, affecting species and numbers. This year it looks as though it maybe a little more beneficial than in recent times, due to the fact that two fields appear to be 'summer' crops (the fields have been ploughed but are bare with no shoots visable) and also there has been a 6 meter 'enviroment' strip left by the farmer which will not be ploughed or sprayed. Although this doesn't seem much I'm sure there will be rewards for all concerned.

Set aside Strip

Despite the freezing temperatures over the past week nothing out of the ordinary has visited the feeders except the usual suspects- Blue tit, Great tit, Chaffinch, the occational Greenfinch and House Sparrows. Now I know I should be grateful that we get plenty of House Sparrows, and with them being reportedly in decline, some people may think we're lucky. I just wish they wouldn't visit all at once, then strip us of all our sun flower seeds in one go!

The Boys (and girls) are Back In Town

Though we'd rather have lots of Spoogies than too many of these that visited my neighbours ground feed!

Barn Owl bait!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


So, as another month departs, one anew rolls in. This is the month when we should start seeing some visable signs of bird migration and stirrings in the garden! Finches, pipits and wagtails maybe a little more regular passing overhead and thrushes such as Redwing and Fieldfare may be about in numbers first thing in the morning after deciding to start the journey back north and moving overnight. We'll also be looking for our first 'broadwing' of the year, probably Common Buzzard or maybe a Marsh Harrier (the earliest of these so far has been the 9th). In previous years we've had Mediterranean Gull, Woodlark, Firecrest and Kittiwake. Will also be watching the weather forecast abit closer , hoping for an unseasonally warm front to push up from Southern Spain/ North Africa to give our early returning summer migrants and maybe some mediterranean overshoots a boost to get here before mid April!! Anyway back to reality and woke up this morning to a bitter north westerly with 5cm of snow!
Who mentioned spring?!!

Spring NOT Springing

Typical Norfolk 'Big' sky at dusk