Sunday, May 27, 2007

Shoot me Now!

Having been afflicted by the dreaded 'Man Flu' over the past couple of days I have neither had the energy, or the inclination, to do a great deal this bank holiday weekend. A bout of flem- induced insomnia saturday morning saw me walking a very cold West Runton clifftop at five o'clock hoping to jam a Red-throated Pipit or the like but a Yellow Wag (not a footballers wife!) going west was very little recompence.
A couple of brief moth trapping sessions during the week brought several year ticks and a 'lifer'.

MYL 48 Brimestone Moth
MYL 50 Middle-barred Minor
MYL 51 Marbled Minor
MYL 52 Scalloped Hazel
MYL 53 Muslin Moth

Middle-barred minor

Marbled Minor (apparently these two moths, plus another, can only be properly identified by killing them and cutting them up to check out their'rude' bits! I gave these two the benefit of the doubt, and any future ones to be honest, cause even if they are not what I think they are I can honestly say 'well no one died!'

May Highflyer

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Beautiful Day

Beautiful day here in North Norfolk and great to find time to enjoy some of it! Managed 3/4 of an hour by the river at Burgh-next-to -Aylsham, pretty quiet on the bird front but plenty of insects about including Blue-tailed Damselfly and several Banded Demoiselle including some showey males.

Banded Demoiselle male

female with white pterostigma (the cell on the curve of the wing)

At lunch time I went over to Buxton Heath, again very quiet here bird wise, I started looking for day flying moths but with no success, although this Common Lizard allowed surprisingly close approach before it scuttled of into the leaf litter
Common Lizard

On the way home I popped into Felbrigg Lake hoping for 2 Parish year ticks (Spotted Flycatcher and Sedge Warbler) but drew a blank, however I did see 2 others in the form of Common Sandpiper and a singing Reed Warbler. Also here were a Hobby, 6 Tufted Duck and my first Wall Brown of the year.
PYL 101 Common Sandpiper
PYL 102 Reed Warbler

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Put the moth trap on for a few hours last night and managed a few year ticks and a couple of lifers:
Flame Shoulder 4
Shuttle-shaped Dart 1
Buff Ermine 1 MYL 38
Common Marbled Carpet 1 MYL 39
Green Carpet 3 MYL 40
Silver-ground Carpet 2 MYL 41
Bloodvein 1 MYL 42
Treble Lines 1 MYL 45
Heart and Dart 1 MYL 46
Small Square Spot 3 MYL 47

Silver Ground Carpet

Treble lines

Pale Tussock

Marbled Brown
Up on 'station' at the top of the track this morning at around 0730 and at last finally managed to pin down Turtle Dove with three distant singletons seen flying in various directions. Also of note were 2 Cuckoo flying west, a pair of Hobby displaying over the ridge, a brief appearance by a Little Owl and 2 female Northern Wheatear. One of the singing Whitethroats eventually gave itself up for the camera.
Garden was good for butterflies late morning with Large White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Holly Blue, Orange-tip and a Small Copper. A wander along the pond produced 6 Mallard (including the white one!) and my first Large Red Damselfly here. Just after a late lunch in the garden a glance up to the east revealled another two Persil- white birds , but these ones had their necks out-stretched!! (Egrets fly with their necks tucked in, like a heron) These were a pair of fantastic SPOONBILLS ! I watched as they thermalled between the village and Felbrigg Park but the lost the over the trees moving eastwards- top tick and my first garden tick of the year!
The Spoonbills fired me up to return to the top of the track during the late afternoon and produced a frther 2 Hobby, 3 Common Buzzard, another Turtle Dove and a very distant Red Kite cruising westward south of Gresham.
PYL 99 Turtle Dove

Saturday, May 19, 2007


From the track this morning a protracted watch still drew a blank on the Turtle Dove front, with a male Northern Wheatear being the only noticable migrant. Walking back, as I reached the concrete pad I noticed two Persil-white birds flying low over the village, meaning only one thing-Egrets! It was obvious they were Little Egrets with their yellow footed black legs clearly visable. I watched as they flew over our house (grrrr!) and battled against the wind, stalling over the wet meadow opposite the church (would have been great if they landed!) but carried on west across the ridge. Our third record (but still needed from the garden) The previous, both of singles, May 1st 2004 and April 22nd 2006.
Northern Wheatear

PYL 98 Little Egret

Monday, May 14, 2007

more Med!

Just a Wheatear noted from the track this morning, still no Turtle Doves.
As I was driving home from work my Dad called from Sheringham to say he'd just found a Woodchat Shrike on Beeston Bump (a classic Mediterranean species) and that it was still showing. I soon was watching the bird as it was performing really well, probably because I didn't have my camera with me! Anyway well done Dad! that goes nicely with the Sardinian Warbler you found at the same sight a couple of years back.

Woodchat Spain!

After tea I decided to pop down the road to sit and watch just south of Gresham as I had a theory that the Black Kite maybe roosting in this area. No sign of the kite but such a random stop surprisingly produced no less than 10 Northern Wheatear on a sugar beet field which were then briefly joined by 4 Ringed Plover of the northern European race tundrae. It just goes to show that birds can be, and are, anywhere and everywhere!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A touch of the Med

Despite a forecast of constant rain today the morning started off bright and sunny. I was on the track by 0700 and my sole intention was to see or hear Turtle Dove. The pale Common Buzzard had roosted in its usual place and was showing well. Three Whitethroats are now singing along with two Willow Warblers. No luck with any Turtle Doves ( the Cypriates and Maltese have probably shot all ours by now!...(don't get me started!) but a parish year tick in the form of a skulking Grey Partridge was most welcome. After being visited by a couple of curious Grey lag Geese and a Northern Wheatear dropping onto one of the hedgerows a raptor rising to the south (obviously just off roost) materialised into (presumably) our local Black Kite (a mediterranean species) It was reported yesterday morning around 1030 and is almost certainly the bird seen last weekend having not wandered to far I would wager. Counted a healthy 12 Hares throughout the fields west of the village, good to see them in numbers once again.
Common Buzzard
Grey-lag Goose
Brown Hare
Shortly after nine I was on my way down to Sheringham Bird Observatory where a mystery mimicking warbler was reported to be singing (later turned out to be a Sedge Warbler!) when I got a call from Ian Prentice " I've got a Red-rumped Swallow at West Runton, now!" A quick detour around the back of Sheringham and I was in Runton - the bird had drifted off east! After a few minutes I picked up the distinctive shape of a 'wire'-tailed swallow with an off white rump, sure enough it was a fabulous RED -RUMPED SWALLOW ( from the Med!) We watched it unfortunately against the sun before once again it drifted off. It was at this point I made a wrong decision, with an Alpine Swift (from...the Med) had just been reported in Cromer. We saw a few Alpine Swifts in Spain a couple of weekends ago but a potential Marsh Warbler (which is what we thought was at SBO) appealed a little more...DOH! After lunch I decided to shoot through to Cromer but missed the swift by half an hour, with two Wheatears around some terrace chimneys and a couple of Hobbies being the only birds of note. Back home and a pair of Stock Dove have plucked up enough courage to come and feed on my neighbours lawn affording some good veiws of these fine looking birds. It eventually started raining at 1430!
Stock Dove
GYL 97 Grey Partridge

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Finally caught up with Cuckoo here this spring, with a male flying over fields calling, then heard from the garden. Also a pair of Hobby together . !

PYL 94 GYL 55 Cuckoo

Looking back over the past couple of weeks I've realised a couple of Parish ticks have sneaked through unticked!

PYL 95 GYL 56 Blackcap!
PYL 96 Yellow Wagtail (heard passing overhead beginning of the week)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Month Tick!

Overcast warm WSW 2-3 visibility good 0845-1100

Didn't get up the track til gone nine this morning but with a break from the northerlies of recent days it 'felt good'! As I scanned the skies it was soon obvious that broad wing birds could be on the move with a quick succession of Marsh Harrier (1E 1W), a couple of soaring Common Buzzard and a slimline Hobby (FotS) dashing west. I really was hoping to jam a stork, of either colour (Black or White!) but that holy grail had to wait another day. As I scanned to the east I picked up a distant raptor head on with wings pressed flat I knew it was yet another kite! As it banked round it became just as obvious that it was another BLACK KITE !!!! After seeing literally over one hundred last weekend it didn't take long for this one to file itself nicely within the old grey matter! For the next 1/2 hour, like its predecessor, it loafed over the fields and woods to the south of the village even allowing several local birders to catch up with it and the opportunity to take some ropey (but identifiable!) record shots!
Later on another Hobby was seen soaring over fields to the west.


PYL 91 GYL 54 Hobby
Had another look from the track this evening and briefly saw the Kite moving west beyond Gresham, also picked up a distant ringtail Hen Harrier being mobbed by a Buzzard! Forgot that yesterday had a Whimbrel fly north over village
PYL 92 Hen Harrier
PYL 93 Whimbrel

MV moth trap

Ran the trap for a few hours last night before the wind got up:
Flame Shoulder 6
Angle Shades 1
Ruby Tiger 3
Clouded Drab 1
Lime Hawkmoth MYL 33
Iron Prominent MYL 35
Shuttle-shaped Dart 1
White Ermine 1 MYL 37

White Ermine

Lime Hawkmoth

White Pinion Spotted

Dark-barred Twinspot Carpet

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Two Whitethroat now singing from the track and a FotS in the shape of Common Swift seen from the garden. Had a walk behind the pond this afternoon to see if the few gorse bushes there had enough scent to pull in Green Hairstreak but no sign. However did manage a couple of day flying micro moths (very small!) which were nice to (be able)see!
Caloptilia syringella
Grapholita jungiella
PYL 90 GYL54 Common Swift


A rare bird by garden standards, a Nuthatch could be heard calling from oaks opposite the house, although somewhat forewarned of its presence as I watched it fly over the fields from the track heading east! Only my second garden record.
GYL 53 Nuthatch

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Whitethroat singing from the track this morning (FotS). A flock of 35 Waders whipping east in the cold northerly wind were unsurprisingly Bar-tailed Godwit, I say unsurprisingly because almost to the day a few years ago a flock done exactly the same thing in the same conditions though today I think it was repeated through out the county

Whitethroat PYL 88
Bar-tailed Godwit PYL 89

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Extremadura, Spain 27th-30th April - Birder's Paradise!

A few magic moments from a truely wonderful place...

Vultures at Monfrague National Park

Enormous Black Vulture on the deck

Loafing Griffon Vultures

Lesser Kestrel at a colony in the local bull ring roof!

Great Bustard- the heaviest flying bird

Little Bustard with a distinctive 'fart' call (it really does sound like one!)

Huge adult Eagle Owl taking some R&R from a cliff face nest with two well grown chicks

Bill Clapping White Stork

Beautiful Bee-eaters, common as muck