Friday, 15 September 2017

Three Short Outings

Wednesday September 13

It started off sunny and ended in rain. We haven't been to Winterton Beach for months - avoiding the summer crowds. As we entered the village a Common Swift zoomed past overhead, heading south. Small groups of Swallows and House Martins, mainly the latter, fed along the dunes, gathering fat resources for the journey ahead.

Thursday September 14

A raging north westerly tempted us to Sheringham east car park after moth-ing at Cley. No Greg to-day, he was sea-watching at West Runton.
We parked at the front of the clifftop car park and in half an hour from a wind-shaken car saw, 4 Gannets, 1 Red-throated Diver, two dozen Wigeon and 4 Arctic Skuas.
As Sue B had said at Cley cafe, no real quantity but good quality. She'd seen Grey Phalarope, Bonxie, Long-tailed Skua and Black Tern as well, having spent most of the morning in the western Sheringham car park. I had expected the first Brent Geese to-day in the favourable wind.

Friday September 15

It's even longer since we birded Buckenham Marsh, another winter birding spot. Scanning the Cantley end of the marsh on the drive down was fruitless apart  from 2 Mute Swans. The large pool was full of Greylag and Canada Geese with about a dozen Avocets, a scattering of Teal and probable Garganey. The latter was distant and disappeared into the reeds. It just looked right.
Stopping in the Fishermen's car park, along with one other birder in the sole car there. I continued to scan the gates for Peregrine. The birder in the other car came across to point out a bird perched on a distant gate which he couldn't ID for certain. His scope was of the extending tube variety......It was a lovely adult Hobby which later flew over the car park. We also had two Wheatears squabbling over a gate post perch, three Kestrels, a Chinese Water Deer and Pam saw a Roe Deer. 
All very enjoyable in pretty awful weather. Some sun with lots of heavy rain showers.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Even Longer.....

Sunday September 10

School holidays and August are not a good combo for enticing Pam out birding. She's still as keen but the motivation plummets. We did manage a day out on the 1st for a change, curtailed by my leaving my Leki stick in the hide at Abbey Farm. This meant a detour which missed out the coast on the return journey - it was the first time I've left my belongings anywhere....Very annoying.
Lowest of low tides at Snettisham with the usual waders on display, scattered widely across the mud flats. Good to see a flock of returning Golden Plovers and two Greenshanks. Grey Plovers are one of my favourites, especially in their summer plumage, jet black pinafores.
A group of this year's Grey Partridges dashed across a field entrance near Abbey Farm.

We continue to moth trap almost daily, always catching interesting moths in ever diminishing numbers. We put out two traps one promising night at the beginning of the month. The actinic near the Buddleias at the bottom of the garden was full of Large Yellow Underwings, the egg boxes festooned with these large nuisances. A very valuable, sturdy  bird and bat food, but, they move around the boxes disturbing everything. We call them Blunders.

Frosted Orange

Maidens Blush

Dusky Thorn

I've also given a presentation at Blakeney Village Hall, entitled ''A Taste of Thailand'', to the North Norfolk group of the Butterfly and Moth Conservation group. Disastrous start. I only had 5 minutes to try and acquaint myself with their aged laptop before Judy started. I depend on the names of the photos showing at the top and forward arrows at the bottom. All other laptops I've used did so. Especially at the beginning, before nerves settle, not having to remember names is a comfort. I ploughed on, with advice from non - tech novice Judy and better from Greg - in stereo, of no use whatsoever. I'd sorted it by the interval. No-one seemed to mind much, bless them. It was good to see so many friends supporting us. 
I'd taken my own laptop as a back-up but it doesn't have the appropriate socket for attaching their projector. Ah well. I have since received an email - via Judy - from the couple who spoke to me at the interval, saying how much they'd enjoyed it. Much appreciated, praise is seldom received and always welcome.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Long Time No Post

Tuesday August 15

Mothing seems to have taken over our lives in the last month or so. Very enjoyable but I'm getting bird starved.  Pam's hands and shoulders are bad, particularly the right one, which means that I'm not going to push for lengthy driving when I can't share it.
After moths this morning and a visit to CleySpy for new eyecaps for my Swarovski binos - lengthy because they exclaimed at their dirty state and cleaned them beautifully - we stopped at Salthouse duckpond in the hopes of seeing the Ibis. Bob C and David N were already there having seen it earlier. During a lengthy chat with Bob, David called that the Glossy Ibis was distant but in view. Not for long. It soon disappeared back into a line of reeds.

Home to empty our own moth trap. We've had some good moths in the last few days. Here are a few:


Webb's Wainscot

Currant Pug

Bordered Beauty

Orange Swift


Tawny-barred Angle

Frosted Orange

Heath Rustic


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Norfolk in July

Sunday July 9

Not a productive day on the bird scene. Still no Spotted Flycatcher at our usual haunts, a very low tide with very  waders as yet returning from their summer sojourns. A few handsome deep red Bar-tailed Godwits, an almost white Ringed Plover and a few small flocks of Dunlin.
Snettisham was a holidayers hotspot to-day. Several cars and groups of cycling children swept onto the reserve, abandoning their transport to cut samphire along the tide's edge. What next?
Poppyland showed well, swathes of deep orange/red flowers backed by saltmarsh, dunes and wind turbine strewn sea. A picture of coastal Norfolk.


Notable Moths - July

Sunday July 9

Our mothing group has  been responsible for some notable records this month. A very productive and pleasant session for Abbey Farm Open Day on July 2, run for the Butterfly Conservation Group by Greg B, produced a new moth for most moth-ers present. A Breckland speciality, Royal Mantle. It was kept potted so that it could be made available to others. I didn't photograph it. 
It looked like this :

 There were also many Micro moths of interest - and new.

Our regular Natural Surroundings session on Tuesday July 4 had the excitement of a fourth record for Norfolk, the immigrant  Splendid Brocade. Again, it was potted and taken away to Norwich to be shared with others. As it's an inmmigrant, it can be released away from the trapping area.

Greg trapped a very rare Plume (micro moth) in his Overstrand garden. It had to be confirmed by Jon Clifton (its genitalia detail inspected )as a Crombrugghia laeta, itself a sub species of the very rare Breckland Plume. A first for Norfolk, well done Greg.

Our own garden produced some nice July moths too.

Clouded Magpie

V Pug

Varied Coronet

Rodophaea formosa Beautiful Knothorn (Micro)


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Timing Problems

Friday July 7

We'd planned a day's birding along the North Coast - until we both overslept. Neither will wake the other as 'they must need the sleep'. And we'd not put the moth trap out the night before.
Pam did have a couple of urgent chores, a blood test at Cromer Hospital after yesterday's doctor appointment and a, getting old, cheque to pay in. HSBC have closed their North Walsham branch, Cromer is the nearest of the three remaining branches.
Cromer is a drop in clinic for blood tests, Pam had 17 waiting before her turn came. They do up to 150 every week day. The bank was a walk from the parking place where the nearest half to town was occupied by market stalls. During my long car waits I finished reading, Birdwatch and British Birds magazines and, three copies of a Wildlife magazine Greg passes on to me. Not wasted time. 
I then suggested that we visit Holt Country Park for butterflies. The sun was out and the car park almost empty, we were able  to park anywhere and at whatever angle we liked. 
Watching the Buddleias in the centre was fruitless, the bramble clump and Buddleias at the top end eventually proved fruitful. A White Admiral was active in the bramble although never perched for long nor in a convenient place. Why should they?

 This little fellow and two male Blackbirds did not help them to settle.

Distant orange brown flits  became an obliging Comma 

 and eventually, two sparring Silver-streaked Fritillaries. 

They were much more interested in fighting each other than in settling on the deep purple flowers which set off their colour beautifully. This is the best I managed, using my 300 mm lens on my Canon D70 from the car. Must go back with more time and patience.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Long Anticipated

Friday June 30

Our annual Brecks birding visit usually happens in May or early June. Although we have already mothed there a few times, Weeting and Lakenheath birding hasn't happened. I wasn't over hopeful as it's a bit late in the season for optimum sightings. Birds will have fledged, no more regular parental parental visits with food etc.
Weeting first, where we opened the flaps of West Hide to view an expanse of tall meadow - over the tall waving strands of the hedge immediately in front of the hide. Ah well, here goes. It didn't take me long to find a lone adult Stone Curlew, which appeared in a sparser vegetated area in front of the fenceline on the right-hand side. Much to the delight of the two ladies who were in the hide when we arrived. We had good scope views before Pam found a second bird in a similar area. The sitting bird - pin-pointed by the CCTV camera direction - was occasionally visible.
Back to the Centre for a hot drink, no sun and rather cool. Reading the moth species book was interesting, particularly the two Royal Mantle trapped last Saturday. A tick for us and one we are hoping to see at Abbey Farm to-morrow. (Sunday July 2). A trap is opened at Weeting every Saturday morning from May to October, £3 for members, £3.50 for others. The price for members is exorbitant, in my opinion.
The car park - a piece of rough grassy land - had small bees disappearing into holes in the ground. The female warden told us that they were Five-barred Digger Wasps, which I photographed.

On to Lakenheath Fen, one of our favourite reserves  as there is so much more than birds to see.
We drive as far as New Fen, park and walk to the hide overlooking a pool and reedbed with a bank of trees on three sides.
We sat for over an hour and a half, watching not a lot - but loved it. A Great Crested Grebe with two well grown stripe-headed young played games with a stroppy adult Coot. The latter was chugging about finding food for its young, taking exception to the Grebes if they got in its way - which was frequent. At one time, the Coot appeared to be standing on something with its wings half open balancing. I think that its legs were being held by a young grebe.
A family of Reed Warblers spent the whole time flying between reed beds and the reed island. A Little Grebe spent its time scooting rapidly from the left to the right, beak holding food, and back again, disappearing into the reeds each time. The scooting was flying low across the water, its feet paddling the surface.
Always superb to see, a Kingfisher made three appearances, once perching for ten minutes. That was a male, its beak all black.
Hardly believable.......our first Bearded Reedling of 2017 first called from the far end and then flew in front of us.We haven't walked at Cley nor Titchwell where we usually see them. 
At last, a very tatty Hobby put in a short appearance, high above us.

On a good day earlier in the year, several birds can usually be seen, performing aerial hunting manoeuvres  over the pool and trees.
Large White, Comma,

Red Admiral, Ringlet and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies, various Bugs and a Broad-bodied Chaser enhanced the experience. 
A super few hours out. It always seems like a long way in anticipation - only the same travel time as Snettisham though. Pam always says that we should visit more often - when driving home.