Had a walk along here on a beautiful summers evening this evening, it was one of those real heart lifters! The beach carpark was fairly full, but true to form a hundred yard walk away from the crowd and I didn't see a soul-heaven! Didn't see that many birds but that didn't matter! Did see Hobby darting east, 60 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank and 4 Little Egret between Salthouse and Cley East Bank
A morning visit down here confirmed my initial thoughts that there was very little happening. With the weather better than I was expecting, movement was almost non existant and was restricted to 5 Arctic Skua west, a handful of Kittiwake and Common Scoter west and a couple of Redshank. A distant Hobby headed off inland.
Last evening, a nonchalant walk up the Track with the pooch before tea produced brief views of a 'ringtail' Harrier (a female or juvenile of one of three species, Hen, Pallid and Montagu's) The bird appeared fairly slim with rather dark upperparts, and, with no sign of any pale nape/bold face pattern I was pretty certain the bird was a 'Monty's' as opposed to the rarer, and more crowd inducing Pallid. Monty's it was then, a great sighting, but not a surprising one considering they try and breed in the county every year, and have done successfully in the next county along (Lincolnshire). So today I try my luck again and take the piece of equipment I didn't take yesterday, a camera! As soon as I got on the track the bird appeared to the south showing well, so there was a mad dash to get my scope up as it started to move away, and with my camera settings all over the place an opportunity was lost, but, the Monty's was still present and the warm underparts seen indicated it was a juvenile. The rump seemed quite prominent, due to fresh plumage maybe? (Note first tiny seed of doubt!) Consequently the bird showed again and I managed to get a shot. Midsummer in Norfolk, over rolling arable fields faced with a juvenile ringtail harrier I'd put my house on it being a Monty's-wrong! That rump was prominent because it was stuck onto a Hen Harrier! Probably the least likely of all three, especially a juvenile! Lesson learned (re-learnt?!) Always be prepared for the unexpected!!!!!
Juvenile Hen Harrier- note five (not four) fingered primaries
With a break in the rain I took a ride down to Salthouse this morning, where, continuing along the theme of 's**ttiest summer ever' it was grey, drab and bleedin' freezing! Anyway birding was fairly quiet, though my first Wheatear of the 'autumn' was seen to fly in off the beach. Waders were noted to be obviously coming in off the sea with several flocks including Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Curlew. On the marshes further waders noted included Greenshank, Turnstone, Dunlin a crippled Golden Plover and of course the ever present Avocets. Off shore a couple of Arctic Skua's were harrassing the terns. A single LittleEgret flew west, whilst I watched the boldest Common Shrew ever as he came bouncing along the path towards me before disappearing into the grass, ahh he must be camera shy!
With most of the day spent in the garden it wasn't until late afternoon that a less familiar call graced the garden-the distinctive 'tu tu' of a fly over Greenshank. The local Woodpigeons have built there numbers with a vengence over the summer but I can't remember seeing flocks like this at this btime of the year?
With a warm muggy and cloud laden sky, last night was ideal for moths, and so it proved this morning with an absolute box full to trawl through!:
Poplar Hmth 4 Elephant Hmth 5 Privet Hmth 1 Yellow tail 2 MYL115 Poplar 1 Lime-speck Pug 1 MYL116 Green Pug 1 Smokey Wainscot 3 Common Wainscot 3 Snout 3 Swallow-tailed Moth 1 Common White Wave 1 Brimstone Moth 2 Fanfoot 3 MYL117 Plain Golden Y 2 Silver Y 1 Green Silver Lines 1 Dot Moth 2 MYL 118 Dagger sp 1 Large Yellow Uwg 15 Lesser Yellow Uwg 1 MYL 119 Mottled Rustic 8 Uncertain 12 Rustic 5 Clay 4 MYL 120 Double-striped Pug 2 Bufftip 3 Riband Wave 8 Small Bloodvein 1 Bright-line Brown-eye 2 Brown-line Bright-eye 3 MYL121 Burnished Brass 1 Flame Shoulder 2 Mother of Pearl 4 Dark Arches 5 Lychinis 1 MYL122 CREAM-BORDERED GREEN PEA 1 MYL123 (GL 233-Macro) Large Fruit Tortrix 1 MYL124 Gold Triangle 1 MYL125 Udea prunelis 1 MYL126 Endotricha flammealis 1 MYL1 Short-cloaked Moth 1 MYL128 Small Magpie 5
Another half a dozen micro moths remain unidentified. The CBGP was a new one for me and may represent the first migrant of the year.
Cream-bordered Green Pea
Large Fruit tree Tortrix
Mid July for a birder is a fairly 'safe' time of year, the odd rare wader may turn up, along with an occational seabird goody (but in the latter case you almost always have to be there when they go past because they dont hang around...unless its a fishing lake in Lincolnshire!) but generally not alot happens at all. So, after arranging to borrow a vehicle to do some around the house maintainence, I was rather chuffed at a garden and Parish year tick in the form of and adult Mediterranean Gull that cruised overhead with some Common Gulls as I scanned them for...Med Gull! However, as I sat eating my lunch a nonchalent glance at my beeping bird pager had me almost choking on my chicken sandwich as it read 'Dark-eyed Junco in gardens in Langham Norfolk'!!! This bird is a very rare straggler from the USA and is more likely in Cornwall in October than Norfolk in July! My main problem was transport, I had to get the van back to work, pick up my car and get to Langham, see the bird and get back home by 1630! Everything went to plan...except the bit after get to Langham and before get home by 1630!! Ofcouse I had to be there at the birds longest stay of absence during the afternoon, and it wasn't until I turned into my road in Aylmerton that the pager cheerily anounced that the bird was 'showing well' and apparently did so for the rest of the afteroon and evening...grrrrrrrr! Oh well some you win, and some you envaribly, and seemingly more often than not, with not even a fifty/fifty ratio, that also appear to remain in your memory for longer...lose!!
For best effect replace 'salesman' with 'fisherman' and 'man' with 'birder'
Salesman: (shouting) Albatross....albatross....albatross.... albatross....albatross...albatross....albatross....albatross Man: Two good humors please. S: I haven't got any good humors, I've just got this bloody albatross....(shouts) Albatross M: What flavor is it? S: It's a bird mate, it's a bloody bird, it's not any bloody flavor....(shouts) Albatross M: It's got to be some flavor, I mean everything's got a flavor. S: All right, it's blood albatross flavor, it's bloody sea bloody bird bloody flavor....(shouts) Albatross M: Do you get wafers with it? S: Course you don't get bloody wafers with it, it's a bloody albatross isn't it...(shouts) Albatross M: I'll have two please. S: I've only got one you c********....(shouts) Albatross....albatross.... albatross....albatross
...if you need to know who its by, chances are you don't get it anyway!
With a real danger of nodding off on the couch after tea this evening I decided some fresh air was in order, and it can generally be no fresher than on the edge of the North Sea! A trip down to the coastal patch near Sheringham was not surprisingly uneventful (I had yet to receive the news of a Yellow-nosed Albatross on a fishing lake for two days just over the border in Lincolnshire last week!) But armed with the camera I had plenty of Sandwich Terns to practice my birds in flight tecnique (a combo of luck and co-ordination!)
Kittiwake (adult and first summer with Sandwich Tern) about 25 flew west
With my car going in for a service today I had to take a days holiday from work with no wheels! Little else for it but to have a walk over to Felbrigg Lake. My main target was for Spotted Flycatcher but I drew a blank on that one, I did however add a bird to the year list in the form of Garden Warbler which was singing around Lion's Mouth region. Little else apart from the usual summer fayre with odonta (dragonflies etc.) being represented by Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselfly, Emperor Dragonfly, Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chaser and single Common Darter and Banded Demoiselle. Bird wise very quiet with 5 Tufties, a dozen Mallard/bitza, pair of Mute Swan,Grey-lag and Oystercatcher and a duck Mandrin.
At last! A day of summer for the first time this summer! Ran the moth trap last night and had a fair haul, though not great numbers. There was however a long awaited new one tucked up in there, a big beautiful Puss Moth
Puss Moth MYL 111
Light Arches MYL 112
Coxcomb Prominent 1 MYL113
The Drinker 2 MYL 114
With the weather forcast fine for the rest of the day decided to have a ride out to one of Norfolk's many heaths. The Bell heather was lush and still in flower, no doubt assisted by all the rain we've been getting. I managed to see at least three Dartford Warblers, one being of this years brood, it looks like this species is going to be well and truely established , with not a reintroduction scheme in sight! I was over here to see the leps though (butterflies etc) and did manage a close up of this Brown Argus
There were also several of these fast moving Green Tiger Beetles zooming about
But my main quarry was the Silver-studded Blue butterfly that I eventually located and saw four in a relatively small area.
A late morning appointment in Holme-next-the sea allowed me a rare lunch break at Titchwell RSPB. Although it was blowing a houley, grey and cloudy, I was stunned as to how few people there were here with the hide being empty for the majority of my visit, usually this place would be packed, even in mid summer. That said, I was just as stunned as how few birds there were hardly surprising with the water levels extremely high (no sluices to control the water?) But with little to distract me I could play around with the camera and shoot a nice old male Marsh Harrier who was constantly quartering the reed beds.
Marsh Harrier Adult Marsh Harriers are a bit like me ...getting whiter with age! Old males, like this one can be quite striking with even the females eventually ghosting male plumages if they get old enough. When I was a kid the only place we could see Marsh harriers (I lived in Essex) was by driving up to Minsmere RSPB reserve, they were that rare! We used to go to Island Mere Hide where a senior (probably an ex major or something!) gentleman used to sit watch, hour after hour, year after year, he's probably still sitting there now! Everytime a Marsh Harrier got up out of the reeds he used to shout it across the hide so everyone could see it with such enthusiasm, it was though he was seeing one for the first time every time! Only problem was he used to shout so loud that I think he scared the birds back down in to the reeds when he saw them!
Managed to snap this Little Egret as it passed the hide(could almost pass it off as being out of the back garden!)
This Wigeon was one of the few other birds present