Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Sunshine

Well it was supposed to be a wet and dreary bank holiday Sunday, but thankfully the weather people got it wrong again and we've had a day of almost unbroken blue skies! Ok, so we did have the cool northerly still taking the edge off expectation (we want a nice warm south to southeast drift!) but it was fine and then ended up very good! Birds were about today, happily! :
Cormorant -3E
Shelduck - 10 on Spring barley field
Yellow Wagtail - 2 in the Winter Barley
Common Buzzard - at least 4 in the area but no definate migrants
Marsh Harrier - a female type drifted east over the garden
Hobby* - 2 together, typically distant, FoTS. GYL 68
Grey Heron - the local bird took refuge on the power lines briefly!

Grey Heron getting wired!

Marsh Harrier missing an inner secondary

At the front of the drive we have an exposed earth bank and today it was covered with small bee's, this time they were Tawny Mining Bee, apparently they also like nice lawns, so we're pretty safe! They also seem rather attracted to our Leyandi Hedge.

Tawny Mining Bee

For the second time this month we were graced with Common Crane from the garden, this time there were 12! They initially came in off the sea at Cley, shortly after we picked them up way out to the west and then spent the best part of half an hour watching them as they thermalled then glided east, eventually coming right over the village and onwards. Although we get the Cranes passing through Aylmerton every spring (these birds are wanderers from the Broads population) the most I have seen is a party of four so tripling it is good going!

Common Crane record shots of twelve over today.

This evening I couldn't resist a trip up the road to Salthouse to see a Dotterel that had just turned up this afternoon. Having not seen a spring bird for a few years, I'm glad that I did go, as it performed wonderfully being a classic bold confiding individual. What a great way to end April... bring on May!!!


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cool Saturday

No, not as in funky but as in bloody cold! Although its been bright a cold northerly has been blowing all day, not very condusive to standing at the top of your garden and seeing nothing for too long! Not too much to report, a single Common Buzzard seen soaring over the south fields was almost certainly a resident, but a garden tick in the shape of Yellow wagtail (3) were more unusual for being spotted in the top of one of the tall hedgerow oaks before moving off west. GYL - 67
In the garden, I got around to moving the winter wood pile, and gingerly moving the very bottom ones it was no surprise to see a couple of amphibians hiding out next to each other and no doubt to each identity either.

Common Frog

Common Toad

Had this bee visiting the Lungwort in recent weeks but until today he had managed to evade the camera, Anthophora plumipes to give it its correct name, but I much prefer Hairy-footed Flower-bee!

Anthophora plumipes

The Grey Heron was at the village pond again this evening, trying his luck with the now second generation of goldfish, which have been wise enough to grow up brown!

Grey Heron

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Its been fairly quiet again on the bird front no new migrants to report, though a pair of displaying Lapwings over the potato field looks promising. Had the moth trap running again last night and once again it turned up a new one for me and the garden list:

Common Quaker - 5
Small Quaker - 6
Hebrew Character - 12
Mullein - 4
Herald* - 1
Frosted Green - 1
Early Thorn - 3
Satellite - 1
Twin-spotted Quaker - 1


more Mullein


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mid week Woes!

The thing that I notice every spring is just how quickly mother nature turns things around, from cold damp and dead, to warm bright and bursting with life! The other thing I also know is that it will not wait for no one, it will just happen, never mind that you have to work all week, guessing what could be about whilst you're not there, it will just happen. So during the week my 'birding window' is an hour first thing and maybe a couple of hours after tea weather permitting. I do own a 'pager' which tells me about birds in the county and further afield, but to be honest during the week I'ld rather nothing flew past Aylmerton during normal working hours and would like it to wait quietly, until the weekend! Damn you civilization!
With the advent of the moth trap though, with this group of animals I've got the upperhand...unless I start working night shifts!
On the bird front its been quiet again and I am still short of some summer migrants that I would have normally seen by now including Willow Warbler, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Turtle Dove and Swift.
The moth trap had been rested for a couple of nights but was back with a vengence last night with three new ones for me and two new favorites:

Hebrew Character - 7
Common Quaker - 4
Small Quaker - 9
Waved Umber* - 1
Mullein* - 1
Chocolate-Tip* - 1
Grey-Shoulder knot
Clouded Drab - 6
Early Thorn - 1
Chestnut - 1
Larch Pug - 1
Shoulder Stripe - 1
Frosted Green - 1
Satellite - 1

36/303/30 (per night/so far this year/different species of macro moth)

Waved Umber

Mullein. About 35mm long, my new favorite...

... no its not, this one is!


Saturday, April 22, 2006

This is more like it!

Aylmerton was back to its spring time best this morning, reminding me why I love April here!
Took a walk up the Track first thing with the conditions being bright with broken cloud and a light north to north-easterly breeze, just enough to make sure you didn't mistake it for summer!
First birds noted were no less than 4 Ring Ouzels together, apparently a pair of pairs, they were not to jumpy to start with but the first blast of the gas powered bird scarerer put pay to that as they scarpered to the far side of the field! Managed a couple of distant record shots.

Ring Ouzel

As I scanned the hedgerows an even more welcome sight was presumably the same Little Owl in roughly the same area, surely this must be a breeding site?
Turning round to scan the Ridge my eye was immediately drawn to a white bird moving west and was delighted to see only my second site record of Little Egret! Somewhat of a double-edged sword, if I was in the garden I would have seen it closer and it would have been a garden tick!

Little Egret

Around nine thirty I started making my way back, looking forward to a late breakfast, but then got a phone call from a friend watching on the otherside (north) of The Ridge advising me to scan the horizon to the east, which I did so, and saw the wonderful sight of 9 Common Cranes flying towards us! They were a fair distance away so I decided to see if I could make it home and get them on the garden list - bad move. Once I'ld taken my eye off them I couldn't relocate them! though I was pretty sure they had moved off north east. Finally back in the garden news came through that the Cranes were now working their way west along the coast (they eventually crossed the Wash at 1230) so I presumed my chance of getting them on the Garden year list was lost. As I was setting up in the garden I couldn't beleive my luck as a single Common Crane* then flew east directly over the garden and started thermalling over Felbrigg Park! It later became apparent that this bird was one of the 9 and that 8 birds continued west.

Common Crane over Aylmerton

Other birds of note:

Common Buzzard - 2 or 3 all presumed local
Whimbrel - FotS, flew north over village
Common Gull - a flock of 50 2nd calender-year birds dropped onto potato field breifly before moving north.
Bullfinch - pair

Also saw the first butterflies in the garden, a Small Tortoiseshell anda Comma.


Friday, April 21, 2006

oh! more rain.

The big yellow ball of fire was noted for its absence once again and a truely grey day ensued.....

...watching for migrants flying along the ridge can be often challenging!

Despite (or possibly because) of the weather I managed three Ring Ouzels this morning and a single this evening. A pair were along the track first thing, though too distant to photograph and as Iarrived back to the house a female was atop of the oaks that line the pond, this one also proved 'ungettable'. This evenings bird was seen distantly along the track. These 'mountain' blackbirds have been annual in Aylmerton for at least the past four years, stopping off enroute to their summer upland breeding grounds after spending the winter south of the Mediterranean. Highly distinctive in spring, their thrush shape , Blackbird colouring set off by a broad white cresent on the breast is a welcome sight on any morning.

Ring Ouzel (a non artist's impression!)

Last nights mild and damp conditions looked promising for moths and so it proved with an excellent total of 65!:

Small Quaker - 20
Common Quaker - 8
Early Thorn - 6
Early Grey - 4
Powdered Quaker - 1
Twin spotted Quaker - 1
Hebrew Character - 11
Clouded Drab - 9
Water Carpet* - 1
Shoulder Stripe - 1
Double-striped Pug* - 1
Pug sp - 1 (to be identified!)
emmelina monodactlya - 2

Twin spotted Quaker

Water Carpet

Double striped Pug (I think!)

Pugs are a group of small moths which can be decidedly tricky to ID because of their subtle differences.
Totals for the macro moth year 267 of 26 species

A pair of Canada Geese that have been around the parish were raucous enough to be heard from the garden this evening and by doing so slipped on to the garden list! GYL 65

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mystery Solved!

Well, not so much a mystery as my online expert knew immediately what it was, a Frosted Green . This is quite a good moth as it is not widespread throughout the country but is classified as 'local'. Moths are categorised in Britain not only biologically but also by distribution. Many forms of wildlife act as indicators as to both the current state of an enviroment and the on going effects of global warming, and moths are seen as key indicators.
The main categories are:

Red Data Book species - All species known from 15 or fewer 10km squares in Great Britain.
Nationally Scarce A - Species recorded from16-30 10km squares in Great Britain.
Nationally Scarce B - " " " 31-100 10km squares in Great Britain.
Local - recorded from 101-300 10km in Great Britain
Common - over 300 10km squares.

So far all the moths I've taken in Aylmerton have been 'Common', with the Frosted Green being my first 'local' to date.

Last nights catch was fairly small compared to recent nights but still managed a new one!

Common Quaker - 2
Early Grey - 2
Clouded Drab - 1
Shoulder Stripe - 1
Engrailed - 1
Hebrew Character - 2
Pug sp.


Back in the 'field', it has been pretty darn wet over the past couple of days and fairly cool in the evenings. Just a single Wheatear of note on the potato field with a pair of Shelduck. Both Swallows and Sand Martins are much in evident but House Martins have been notable by the virtual absence. As I walked back from the track this evening our friend at the opposite end of the street told me of a fairly unusual visitor to his feeders, and with that it flew in to within 6 feet of me and started eating the niger seed, a fine female Lesser Redpoll! Be rest assured my camera was safely tucked away in doors...doh!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Back to work (groan), maybe that was a good thing seeing as a White Stork passed within 2 miles of us today but we still wouldn't have seen it because it was on the north side of the ridge that we sit to the south of. Either Black or White Stork are my Number one 'want' for the garden list, ah maybe one day!
Despite being cold and windy last night still managed19 moths

Oak Beauty - 1
Hebrew Character - 6
Early Grey - 6
Cloude Drab - 4
Red Chestnut - 1 19 was... not quite sure! Spent a good hour trying to ID this moth with no luck, so have enlisted my friend Dean Stables of mostlymacro to see if he knows what it is, cause I'm stumped!

moth sp. (for now!)

From the track this evening the only bird of note was a Yellow Wagtail flying east.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Another Beauty!

The moth trap came up trumps again last evening, even though numbers were down to 24, three of these were new for me.

Early Grey - 6
Hebrew Character - 6
Pine Beauty - 1
Powdered Quaker - 1
Small Quaker - 3
Red Chestnut - 1
Clouded Drab - 3
Common Quaker - 2
Shoulder Stripe - 1

Shoulder Stripe

Powdered Quaker Quite similar to Common Quaker though a little larger with a more pointed wing, the upperwing is also covered in tiny black scales (see below).

Pine Beauty I got quite excited when I saw this in the catching box! The book illustrations do it no justice at all - A little corker!

Pine Beauty These moths are classified as 'Common' and numbers can build to pest proportions in pine plantations.

Although its been bright and sunny today, the westerly wind (which we have no shelter from) has been battering the garden all day making it less than ideal for watching migrants.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Very quiet on the bird front today with no notable sightings or movement. The moth trap was run again last night, 35 individuals of 9 species :

Early Thorn - 2
March Moth - 1
Dotted Border - 1
Grey Shoulder-knot - 1
Early Grey - 3
Hebrew Character - 10
The Satellite - 1
Clouded Drab - 3
Small Quaker - 13

The Satellite...

...and another(archive), same species different colours!

Saw this little red mite when I was messing about with the moths, I remember these guys getting a hard time when we were kids because they were deemed to have blood sucking powers!

Mite sp. (or not)

Managed a snap of this buff/white tailed Bumblebee whilst out walking late this afternoon, but only because there were no birds to look at!

Bumblebee sp.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Moth -fest!

Ran the moth trap last night and had a fine haul this morning with 46 individuals! This is the most I've caught in one go so far, though I'm led to believe that there could be even bigger catches during the summer months! :

Hebrew Character - 19
Oak Beauty - 2
Early Grey - 8
Clouded Drab - 9
Small Quaker - 4
Common Quaker - 3
Early Thorn - 1

Early Thorn This species of Thorn holds its wings together like a butterfly. This one was particularly lively, hence the retaining jar lid as a background!

" I've come for my wax and cuticle treatment...I'm sorry I left it so long since the last one"

Small Quaker

Clouded Drab A good illustration of variation between individuals of the same species.

This brings the garden total to 115 macro moths of 19 species.

Back to this morning and the day started very grey and misty with visability down to 1/2 mile. Just 2 Wheatear could be seen on the potato field from the track. From the garden things faired a little better :
Marsh Harrier - one flew high heading south
Ring Ouzel* - A pair were initially picked up distantly in flight when they briefly alighted on treetops in a copse before moving off west. (YL-63)
Curlew - one flew east
Common buzzard - One present
Blackcap* - A male sang briefly before moving south. (YL-64)
Bullfinch - a pair feeding on blackthorn buds

Managed a shot of this orange tailed Bumblebee which was infested by presumably parasitic mites, didn't stop it feeding at the Grape Mahonia though.

Friday, April 14, 2006

...feels like Saturday

A bright day, though a strong westerly wind persisted right through to evening. Observations from 0700-1500:

Marsh Harrier* - 3 singles west, all before 0930
Fieldfare - 10 west
House Martin* - 1 west
Chiffchaff* - 1 chiff-chaffing all day from the meadow hedge
Grey Heron 1 at the pond
Cormorant - 4 west
Sparrowhawk - 6 present
Shelduck - 4 still present
Golden Plover - a flock of some 600 were seen distantly flying west

From the track the potato field held 8 Wheatear, 2 White Wagtail, 12 Meadow Pipit and a summer plumaged Golden Plover.

Wheatear (male)

This mornings hopes were somewhat raised and then dashed as a report came through of a White Stork being seen at Hanworth (a village approx 5 miles away) that had been seen flying in our direction just before 0900. Despite our best efforts we never connected with the bird or heard any further reports. Our friend who had the waxwing yesterday had a Ring Ouzel this morning in the same tree, funny how quickly you can go off people!

The garden list hiked up three more to 62 species.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


The potato field has paid immediate dividens with a walk up the track this evening producing 40+ alba wagtails (all that I saw well enough were Pied), 6 Northern Wheatear and a single Yellow Wagtail (FoTS). This morning at around 0640 a friend living at the end of our road was visited briefly by a Waxwing in his garden before it flew off to the south, there was no sign of it twenty minutes later.
Ran the moth trap all last night and was very disappointed by just two individuals, one a Hebrew Character, and the other my first Red Chestnut. This is the third chestnut species of the year so far!
Red Chestnut
Chestnut (October)
Dark Chestnut (March)