Thursday, April 26, 2007

Covered in Jam!

Work delt me an extremely good hand today, for a change, providing a new bird and a second ever of something probably a bit more special! Having to go to Thetford first thing then return to Norwich I literally had to drive past where an Iberian Chiffchaff has made itself at home, on some scrub ground near Norwich Hospital instead of some high sided valley in the depths of.. er ..Iberia! The bird's song distinctly different from the monotonous Chiff-chaffing of our birds however its plumage, and just about everything else is exactly the same, so much so that you could probably never identify one in Britain unless it was singing. All the same a new bird has to be noted and recorded, and this was a first for Norfolk! Later on I had an appointment in Frettenham and as I was searching the houses for the name plate I was looking for a butterfly passed the car window and looked decidedly odd- and big! I jumped out with my old binoculars that stay in the car and watched as it landed on the road a few meters away as I slowly moved round the distinctly dark wings with broad yellowish border confirmed what I suspected - an immaculate CAMBERWELL BEAUTY!!! It soon moved on, ironically into the garden whose house I was looking for - my enthusiasm for the butterfly was totally lost on my customer-and it wasn,t seen again (Philistine!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Black Kite revisited

My first appointment of the day today happened to take me past where the Black Kite, seen at the weekend, has decided to temporaraly settle near Burnham Deepdale. As I got out of the car it started to spit with rain, so the kite was sitting fairly tight in an old crows nest! I had some time to study the bird from closer quarters than on Sunday before having to get to work so as I packed up and got to the car the bird flew from its roosting area and flew no more than 30 ft away from me overhead, stunning veiws! The only slightly worrying point being that some of the tips of the remiges and retrices (wings and tail!) looked to be a bit tatty and damaged... (due to being cooped up in an aviary maybe ??!!!) Although the iris colour would suggest that the bird is not a full adult so maybe its retaining older feathers?

Black Kite Burnham Deepdale

Monday, April 23, 2007


Ruby Tiger 2 MYL 26
Hebrew Character 3
Waved Umber
Common Carpet 2 MYL 28
Spruce Pug 3 MYL 29
Small Quaker 2
Twenty Plumed Moth 3
Flame Shoulder 3
Chinese Character 1 MYL 32

Sunday, April 22, 2007


My recent reservations about the quality of birds here in Aylmerton this spring evaporated instantly with an absolute stonker of a morning this morning!
Didn't get up particularly early but was on the track by 0745. Things seemed pretty quiet until a casual glance to my left resulted in the sight of a cracking Red Kite low over the field. For the next 40 mins I was treated to some great veiws of one of my most favorite birds as it hunted the fields, eventually picking up some rubbish and carrying it to a distant hederow where it settled to inspect its 'catch'! It soon became apparent that this was a 2nd calander year juvenile which may explain the refuse collecting!

Red Kite

moulting inner primaries

showing a couple of adult type black breast feathers, amount of black on bill also indicates a young bird (much reduced in adult.

not particularly welcomed by the locals!

After thoroughly watching the bird move off south I scanned to the west where immediately another kite came into veiw! It was soon apparent that it was another Red Kite but this one was full winged and immaculate. It drifted east quite quickly along the ridge, being harrassed by the local Crows as it went. In this BoP (Bird of Prey) excitement my brain barely registered the singing Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warblers ! Chuffed with my kites I wandered home where shortly I got a call from the SBO observers to say they had a Black Kite that was hanging about! With what went before immediately forgotten I cursed myself for not taking a trip down the 'patch ' as I often do at the weekend. With a further message that the bird had been lost from veiw and with no idea of its direction I scanned in hope rather than expectation, transfixed to the western horizon like it was some sort of raptor Mecca and I 'd been called to prayer! five mins turned to ten which turned to fifteen, and with the birds' last known location literally just over the horizon I had seriously lost hope. Then in the very distant distance a shape soared some where over Sheringham and as it drew closer it became obvious that this was the boy... a BLACK KITE!!! For nearly an hour we were treated to an excellent display by Black Kite standards, as it drifted and soared too and fro to the west of the village, and always visable from the bottom of our garden! With the added bonus of seeing the Reds this morning shortly beforehand it was good to get a feel for the difference between the two species, and to remember how different they really are! By 1130 the bird was gaining height and was eventually lost from veiw, apparently being seen moving west through Cley at 1230. The rest of the day was spent in a rarity endused daze as I could chill out and enjoy the rest of the day adding Common Buzzard (3 local) a Peregrine during the afternoon and a good 'ole Marsh Harrier moving west late afternoon. Final word though must go to Mick Saunt the stalwort watcher of Incleborough Hill who unfortunately could not be about today but spoke to me on the phone first thing this morning and proclaimed ''...there'll be a Black Kite today, it looks right!'' Top, Top call Mick!

PYL 85 Willow Warbler
PYL 86 Lesser Whitethroat
PYL 87 GYL 52 BLACK KITE (yes it does have to be in capitals!)

oh, and some moths!

Almost forgot that I had the trap on last night!
Common Quaker 2
Small Quaker 1
Clouded Drab 4
Red Chestnut 1
Waved Umber 1 MYL 20
Angle Shades 1 MYL 21
Nut-tree Tussock 1
Shuttle Shaped Dart 2 MYL 22
Frosted Green 1 MYL 23
Swallow Prominent 1 MYL 24
Flame Shoulder 1 MYL 25

Swallow Prominent

Frosted Green

Flame Shoulder

Shuttle-Shaped Dart

Shuttle-shaped Dart (female and male respectively)

Angle Shades

Monday, April 16, 2007

Day Off

NW 2 murkey with sunshine remaining cool 0700-0945
Had an enforced day off today so popped down to SBO first (ish) thing. Bit of bird movement and a couple of FotS but nothing unexpected- Linnet 281w, Goldfnch 25w, Mipit 10w, Swallow 8w, Pied Wag 3w, Yellow wagtail 1w, Carrion Crow 6w, Common Scoter 50w, Eider 17e, Shelduck 2e, Sandwich Tern 10w and Common Tern 1w. Present on the patch were Wheatear 2, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Barn Owl and a brief Merlin.
Back home the Little Owl is still ranging along the hedgerow but with an incresed northerly it neither felt or looked like it was going to be a big bird day.
Fared alittle better on the moth front last night with some distinctive, enigmatic species starting to occur now.
Clouded drab 8
Common Quaker 2
Small Quaker 2
Purple thorn MYL 15
Great Prominent 2
Engrailed 1 MYL 16
Sallow Kitten 1 MYL 17
Pebble Prominent 1 MYL 18
Nut-tree Tussock 1 MYL 19
Hebrew Character 4
March Moth 1
Early Grey 1
Purple Thorn
Nut-tree Tussock
Sallow Kitten
Pebble Prominent

Sunday, April 15, 2007


More thick mist early on, however today the sun eventually burnt through by mid by the morning resulting in a cloudless, sunny day marred only by yhe retention of that cool northerly breeze still. From the garden we finally managed some Marsh Harriers with 4 (1+2+1) moving east, all of the non adult/female variety, but the supporting cast was virtually non existant- House Martin 1, Swallow 2, Common Buzzard 2 (local), Sprawk c 10, Kestrel 4, Lesser Black-backed Gull 7N, Mistle Thrush 2 S,

Yellowhammer along the track

Had the moth trap running last night, again for the duration, with numbers remaining low-
Bright-line Brown-eye 1 MYL 13
Common Quaker 2
Hebrew Character 2
Clouded Drab 2

Bright-line Brown-eye

It wasn't til later in the day that I discovered the sighting of the day however with this , my first Great Prominant that was snuggled down on the fence near the trap- what a fine wee beasty!

Great Prominent

MYL 14

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Still fairly quiet from the track this morning with the only birds of note being single Wheatear, c55 Golden Plover, 2 pairs Lapwing and c7 pairs of Skylark.
In the garden it was more of the same with 3 Sand Martin north, 2 Fieldfare north and (FotS) House Martin.
With the sea mist continuing to hug the coastline I opted for a walk down to Felbrigg Lake late this afternoon. Duck numbers greatly reduced now but along with 6 Tufted Duck, 6 Mallard a pair of Shelduck and 20 odd Grey-lag Geese were a pair of Gadwall. The Green woodpecker was still present and had the good grace to cross the boundary into Aylmerton, however the two Yellow Wagtail (FotS) present stayed true to Felbrigg parish so will have to wait for another day!

giving their(love) heart and soul


Grey-lag Geese

After returning home I had to nip up to the petrol station at Roman Camp where I fortuitously bumped in to a Red Kite that flew across the road before circling and moving off south, more than making up for the lack of migrant raptors so far this spring.
PYL 81 GYL 51 House Martin
GYL 52 Sand Martin
GYL 53 Oystercatcher
PYL 82 Gadwall
PYL 83 Green Woodpecker
PYL 84 Red Kite

Thursday, April 12, 2007


A dewey, murkey start this morning with clear skies (above the rising mist as the sun tried to burn through) and a light N.E breeze. Spent a little time at the top of the track this morning, specifically looking for Ring Ouzel, no sign as yet, with 2 Wheatear being the only summer migrants seen. As I scanned more distant bare fields for the 'Mountain Blackbirds' I noticed a distinctive hunched blob through the murk, which I knew was going to be either a Sparrowhawk or a Merlin (my money was on the latter) Not daring to take my eye off it, it distinctly bobbed its head as the gulls started flying over it, then took to the wing on short pointed wings with a proportionately longer tail - a Merlin! I watched as it flew north then off west, no doubt to find and eat a Ring Ouzel!
Wheatear ( below shows where the name Wheatear originates from - White-arse!...that is true by the way!
PYL 80 Merlin

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


A couple more FoTS (First of The Spring) starting to trickle through now, yesterday morning we had a Sand Martin motoring northward (with three more this afternoon) and this morning the welcome sight of a Wheatear on the south fields. Today in Norfolk the day seems to have been dominated by a mass arrival of Ring Ouzels, with several coastal sites having up to half a dozen and Titchwell reporting 40 moving through! Here's hoping...

PYL 78 Sand Martin
PYL 79 Wheatear

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bank Holiday Monday

Actually managed a male Marsh Harrier moving west at 0900, representing the first movement of note for this species this spring. The only other birds of note were the continuing presence of the Little Owl and a pair of Oystercatcher squabbling all the way to presumably Felbrigg Lake.

PYL 77: Oystercatcher

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

Bright, Sunny W-SW 3-4 0700-1500
Another day of disappointment with seemingly good conditions for migration but nothing occurring, I'm pretty sure that this high pressure system that is plonked over us is the cause, looking back on previous good days at this time of the year the weather has often been dominated by a low system centred over northern France which we haven't experienced for a while now. Anyhow a few birds were noted with maximum count of 5 Common Buzzard, a single Curlew west, 14 Golden Plover, 1 phylosc warbler first thing which was undoubtedly a Willow Warbler but was seen mega briefly other than in flight, and the Little Owl once again. Butterflies seen included Peacock (in the shed then released), Small TortoiseShell and a Brimstone.
Little Owl

Brown Hare

Peacock in the garden

One of the local Common Buzzard
PYL 76: Curlew

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Ran the moth trap all night last night, out of hope more than expectancy with a light but cool breeze and temps not much above 6 degrees... however there were a few in the box this morning including some new for the year.
MYL 11: Early Thorn 2,
Small Quaker 5,
Common Quaker 5,
Clouded Drab 4,
Hebrew Character 4,
March Moth 2,
Early Grey 1,
MYL 12: Shoulder Stripe 1,
MYL 13 :Twin-spotted Quaker 1,
Early Thorn

Shoulder Stripe

Clouded Drab
Twin-spotted Quaker

Walk up the track first thing produced the first Swallow of the year (hooray!) and in the same hedgerow as last spring a Little Owl was still feeding, dropping down on to the field edge and hopping about. Today was the first attempt of the spring to do some dedicated Garden Watching and a frustrating day ensued as the wind refused to move out of north, obviously putting pay to any marked migration. The few highlights were up to 5 'local' Common Buzzard with a possible migrant moving along the ridge (though with the lack of anything else moving, notably Marsh Harrier, this too was more likely to be local), 4 Kestrel, 10 Sparrowhawk and a Cormorant! Also had a play with the camera in the garden
Collared Dove (the most digi-scoped species in the country?!)
PYL 74 Swallow
PYL 75 Little Owl

Bad Good Friday

Very disappointing day here in North Norfolk with the cold northerly winds pushing in low cloud and mist for the majority of the day ( I blame the wife, for doing washing on a good Friday!) The only birds of note were two Brambling.

GYL 50. Brambling

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hare today...

A beautiful start to the day though a bit nippy with a light frost first thing, no bird movement early morning but a prolonged view of several Brown Hares frolicking in the after dawn sunshine.

the grey blotches in the shot below is actually Hare hair so there!

High Five Grumpy!

During the day a friend and regular migration watcher spent some hours up on Incleborough Hill (in the next Parish of West Runton, just over the wooded ridge) and had Red Kite , Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard and 17 Sparrowhawks! I'm sure some of these birds would have been visable from 'our' side, Damn you Work! This evening I was torn between some parish birding and going down to Sheringham Obs, I chose the later but was armed with fairly low expectations which were completely fulfilled! Highlights on the bird front being 3 Brambling in the wood and a Merlin flying west. I also disturbed a Muntjac here but could not set up swiftly enough to get any shots. The lack of birdlife was made up for by the feeling of warm sunshine on my face and a general feeling of being glad to be alive!
Yellowhammer at Sunset