Thursday, May 28, 2009


Couple of good birds seen durig the course of work today, infact a couple of my all time favorites. First was a moulting Red Kite, seen from my office drifting over the east side of Aylsham at 0830, the second sighting in as many weeks. Later on I stopped at a high point looking over the Norfolk countryside for my lunch break just as a second summer Mediterranean Gull flew through. Back home, a walk up the track late afternoon produced good numbers of wheeling Swifts and hirundines (Swallows and House Martins) and continuing numbers of Painted Lady Butterflies.

House Martins

Painted Lady

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bank Holiday Weekend

Despite several hours of observation from Friday through to Sunday, I was unable to muster too much of interest here in Aylmerton. The notable sightings included up to 4 Common Buzzard throughout, 2 Hobby west on 22nd, a Yellow Wagtail holding territory to the west, and a pair of Turtle Dove south of village on two occasions. Even more notable was the sighting of a Fulmar on the 22nd heading inland and again today flying east over the ridge, not unprecedented but still a good record. Also notable today was the constant stream of Painted Lady butterflies heading west over the fields.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ring Ouzel

A look down at West Ruton before work this morning resulted in single a Wheatear, a Hobby flying east along the cliff top, ad a fresh in Ring Ouzel that lingered briefly before moving west.
Ring Ouzel

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

North Norfolk

E Strong 4-5 bright becoming overcast, cold
Started the day down at West Runton, with the wind whipping the sand up and over the cliffs it was a bit blowy to say the least. Gannets were constantly trickling east off-shore, but little was happening on shore, with just 2 Wheatears noted. A chance glance at a Swallow around the disused buildings resulted in picking up 6 Arctic Terns coming over the village from inland heading for the coast and away.
Arctic Terns
I then headed for Sheringham Bird Observatory where, when reaching the cliff top, a flock of 5 Black Tern battled their way east off shore, apart from that things were pretty quiet-
Whimbrel 2w + 4 present
Hobby 1E
Wheatear 2
Whinchat 1
By lunchtime Cley was calling, and from Daukes Hide prolonged views of a dot, turned out to be the female CITRINE WAGTAIL- note to self "showing well" doesn't neccessarily mean that a bird is close enough to be seen, let alone identified!!!
More obliging however was a Temminck's Stint, up to 17 Black Terns (with numbers increasing by the minute) and a host of commoner waders.

Black Tern

Temminck' Stint

Temminck's Stint with Common Sandpiper

Black-tailed Godwit

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Nipped home for lunch to put the washing out and timed it too perfection as a flock of 16 Crossbills flew over the house heading north. I dread to think of the birds that I miss when I'm not here!!!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Red-rumped Swallows

Spent the day at home today, in the garden, but only managed Common Buzzard (3) and a Whitethroat singing in the garden. I'd resisted the temptation to trawl over to Cley for the two Red-rumped Swallows all day, but when the news came through that they had moved to Weybourne I finally caved!! So in the evening sunshine I was watching two fabulous Red-rumped Swallows wheeling above the houses in the south of the village. I think these are only my second sighting in the UK of this species, the first at Cley in autumn during the nineties.

Red-rumped Swallow

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sheringham Bird Observatory, Friday afternoon

The Wheatear count continued here, along with something a bit special thrown in for good measure!
Wheatear- 21
Whinchat - 5
Willow Warbler - 1
Dotterel - 3. Found on coastguards field, including a near full plumaged female, a moulting female and a dull, presumed male. Also seen in flight when a Merlin flew over and flushed them off over the cliff, although they apparently returned soon afterwards.

Dotterel- two females with blurrey male on left

female and male respectively

male far left, with female


Dotterel in flight

Another smart Whinchat

Little Terns on the beach


West Runton 0630-0915 Cold windy SW4-5 cloudy sunny intervals
Another day off, and another morning visit to the clifftop at Runton, with vis-mig evident and a good number of commoner migrants-
Wheatear - 18
Whinchat - 2
Willow Warbler - 3 in off sea
flava wagtail - 6w
Turtle Dove - 5w
Swift - 150w
Swallow - 40w
House Martin - 10w
Dunlin - 1 on field
Shelduck - 3E 2W



Whinchat, a male


Back home from the track a further 6 Wheatear noted on fields, a definate arrival then!! May have to head back down too the coast shortly!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009


A cold, grey start to the day with a strong south-westerly. A walk up the track produced nothing other than a bounding Roe Deer over the fields, however later 38 Pink-footed geese tracked west along the southside of the ridge. Prior to work I nipped down to West Runton beach carpark where Common Swifts were pouring west low over the fields and clifftop. On the carpark field there were 2 Wheatear, and single Whinchat and Whimbrel and 2 flava wags flew west in quarter of an hour.

Friday, May 01, 2009


SSE 3 Bright, hazy sunshine, broken cloud later

With a day off today, I was up bright and early(ish!) walking the dog up the track at just after six. Not much doing here, so after breakfast I ventured down to Sheringham B.O hoping to see a few migrants. Birds were thin on the ground here, with nothing more exciting than a handful of Whimbrel, 3 Wheatear and a single flava wagtail flying east. By 0845 I was heading back to the car with raptors on my mind at Aylmerton! I headed up the track and spent the next hour and a half seeing nothing, in an increasingly hazy landscape and, noticing a front of stormy looking clouds, decided to head home, get some chores out of the way and head over Felbrigg on the off chance of a Black Tern dropping in. So I'm at home emptying a waste bin in the bedroom, when I notice a soaring raptor over the fields behind the garden-it looked like the local buzzard, but always worth a look at. I go down stairs grab my bins and scope, and go to the top of the garden and spy my Common Buzzard which is now hovering....after this its all a bit blurry!!! I think I went back indoors, came back out and noticed a raptor, obviously a harrier, quartering the fields behind the garden. Initially the bird was going away, a ringtail, great I thought, something other than Marsh ! Then it dawned on me that it wasn't particularly big, getting better! Then the bird turned showing its pale washed out body leading into the under wing coverts, dark almost blackish secondaries, distinct white based primaries and a crisp distinct head pattern!!! Out loud, once again to know one I not-very calmly scream -
" Its a f***in' PALLID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
At this point absolute pandemonium! I am really bad at not getting stupidly excited at finding rare birds, and this was my rarest for a long time!!! I'm composed enough though to realise that I need some pics of this bird if I'm not going to get the excruciating after thoughts later (did I really see that field mark? was it really that obvious?) So I hare down the garden grab my camera and start shooting aimlessly hoping I get one 'clincher' (lucky I got that image stabilisation!!) The birds gaining height now and is drifting north, becoming harder to pick up with the naked eye. I phone the pager "probable Pallid harrier 1145...." (I was determined not to foul up this one like I did the July Hen Harrier a couple of years ago!) Indoors I download the pics to the big screen, and there it is, my first self found PALLID HARRIER, and its in the UK! Not a nice easy male neither, probably a first summer female. The euphoria was unbeleivable and the memory of this bird will last long. At the top of my garden I've got a shed with a window, and in that window is a lamenated array of magazine cut outs of....Pallid Harriers! I really enjoyed this one!!

Pallid Harrier. Note dark head pattern with complete pale collar ('boa')

Pallid Harrier. Immediate thoughts were how pale under parts were and very dark, blackish secondaries. The white 'boomarang' at the base of the primaries were visable and distinctive even distantly. Again note underparts and head pattern.

Pallid Harrier. Showing general warm unmarked underparts
Garden List - 130 PALLID HARRIER

April 30th

Driving to the office mid morning in Aylsham, a cracking brace of Red Kite flew low over Sir Williams Way before drifting off over the town. See the excellet photos below....If I had had my bloody camera with me arrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!