Thursday, 26 June 2014

Aussies who are (were) English !

Wednesday June 25

Many years ago, in the early years of its inception, I joined BirdingPal, mainly in order to use its services abroad, whilst also offering mine as a birding guide in Norfolk. Over the years I have had several requests for help, most of them not convenient - health or holiday - others cancelled by the visitor for various reasons. Usually Americans who don't realise that a day trip to Norfolk from Bedford for example, by public transport, is not feasible. That was the latest, earlier this year, until I was contacted by Penny, who wanted to see Bearded Tit at Titchwell.I knew that she and her husband Martin were from Australia but had no idea of their expertise, age etc.
We arranged to meet outside the cafe at 9.00, they had stayed the night at the Briarfield just down the road. Penny and Martin turned out to be a very pleasant couple who's company we thoroughly enjoyed. They emigrated to Sydney eighteen years ago and were encouraged to take up birding by the profusion of colourful birds there. They are now keen and dedicated members of an active conservation group. Martin takes excellent photographs and has produced a membership, bird ID leaflet, much copied by other groups. We were presented with one each.
We should have picked them up at the Briarfields so that they didn't have to pay RSPB charges. Afterthought is no use at all.
Finding Bearded Tits for a good look is not easy, they fly close above the reeds for short distances and land out of sight - mostly. We have had very good perched views but, only by juveniles yesterday. A female Red-crested Pochard and her 5 ducklings were a delight. They were very vocal and agitated when she flew away to a distant pool. So were we. Odd behaviour. She soon returned and all was calm again. M and P loved that experience. They'd also seen a Barn Owl from the breakfast table.
Late June is not a good birding time. We managed a lone Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Spotted and Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Tern, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, Pochard, Wigeon and Marsh Harrier. The main target was the Beardies so that was achieved.
We left them after a leisurely lunch at Titchwell as I had several dizzy spells due to my inner ear problem. Maybe it's time for me to take my name off the BP list.........

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Garden and Other Animals

Sunday June 22

Prompted by my daughter Sara, who lives in Brisbane, requesting a photo of 'the orchard' (7 fruit trees) and some activity around the small pond, Pam and I did some photography. Her photos of the Dragonflies and Damselflies are much better than mine, they're all hers.

The orchard and part of the veggie beds (covered against Pheasants and Wood Pigeons)

Small pond, rockery and Pam's elephant ornament

Goldfish sp

Broad-bodied Chaser male

Broad-bodied Chaser male

Common Blue Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Friday, 20 June 2014

A few June Moths - Ongoing

Silverlines Green

Poplar Hawkmoth

Buff Tip

Buff Tip Face

Pebble Prominent

Wainscot sp


Clouded Border

Elephant Hawkmoth
Treble Brownspot

Dark Arches

Privet Hawkmoth

Marbled Minor

Willow Beauty
Buff Ermine

Burnished Brass

Coxcomb Prominent

Peppered Moth

Mottled Pug

White Ermine

Common White Wave

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Buzz

Sunday June 8

I've had a Beepol Lodge since Christmas plus a voucher for a nest of Bumblebees. I sent the voucher off to : on return from Scotland. The plastic carton full of bees arrived on Thursday afternoon, buzzing like mad. The van driver was intrigued and a bit concerned. He'd been instructed to keep them on the seat beside him until delivered. I think it was the constant noise which disturbed him.
Doing our bit for wildlife.
After leaving them to settle for a couple of hours, I opened the Lodge lid, placing the container inside, Pam opened the escape hole, I latched the lid and, we retreated.
Checking before bed, the bees had found their way in and out. great. They are situated near our wild flower bank, orchard and veggie bed so should have plenty of food - and do us good at the same time.

A short trip to Cley this morning, mostly to enjoy the AC in the car on a very hot morning, a Growbag for Pam's cut and come again lettuce plants which I shall grow on the patio, and, a respite after two days gardening off and on.
Parking at the Beach Road car park we saw two Spoonbills on Billy's Wash. When I got home, I received a Twitter message saying that they are breeding there. Good news.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Fledging Time

Thursday May 5

A phone call from Barbara sent Pam hurrying across the road - in her nightie, shirt and jeans on top - carrying her camera. The blue Tit family had started emerging from the nest box. The first two had gone soon after 7.00 a.m., the last was still there at dusk, gone by the morning.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Agony and Ecstacy

Tuesday June 3

Maybe we should have left at 4 - when we woke - it was a couple of hours later. Departure is delayed by servicing the propagator, watering tomato plants and feeding a demanding cat. A Barn Owl near Sculthorpe and a Red Kite over Wells added interest to the drive.
Oh no, as feared, nowhere to park near the track down to Gun Hill. Fortunately we were able to pull off completely onto a grass verge along the single track road south.
We last walked the track to Gun Hill in 1994 to see a Siberian Thrush. Much older, fatter bruised and battered since then. The style was a challenge as the bottom step was much too high for my knees, the ground beneath worn away. I allowed a  hurrying Penny, late for work, she'd been out there since 4.15, to climb over first,  whilst  I had a little think. I sat on the top step and got up and over from there. 
At last the climb up the hill to the coast path from Burnham Ovary Staithe. And........birders in sight, looking like stick people in the distance, clumped on the dunes. 

Find the birders.....line up the green clumps

Same photograph, enlarged
We'd been warned by a puffing man that it was a fair old distance. It didn't look too bad.....until we got near the end of the straight and found the path taking a massive dogleg to the east. At the end of the eastern straight, oncoming birders alerted us to two Spoonbills flying overhead from the west and the news that the Warbler had flown into the sueda in front of us - somewhere. It was being hassled by several Meadow Pipits - and was singing well. We stopped here with several others, seeing and hearing only Reed Bunting, Linnets and a very noisy, distracting Sedge Warbler. It was here that I discovered that my binoculars were not around my neck! The first time ever. What a mistaka to maka. And I'd not carried my scope, knowing that the walk would be taxing for my bruised knees (I caught my foot in a nettle last Friday).
Bob C had a chat on his way back and then Jax and Dave joined us. Jax received a call to say that the bird had returned to its original sueda swathe along the dunes. Off we staggered, along with Alan, still walking in the 'wrong' direction until we got to the end of a short stretch of boardwalk. Would we ever get there? Yes we did.
With the aid of Jax' binoculars (thank you so much), and patience, we saw the second Spectacled Warbler for Norfolk perched, flying and heard it sing. The first was in 2011 on Scolt Head and suppressed - despite many trippers being present. It was my third UK record, Pam's second, the first was at Landguard in 1992, where Pam objected to queuing to look through a scope.She caught up by seeing my second on Tresco.
The walk back was painful, over 4 miles round trip is a lot for us. We met John and Jane ambling out, knowing that they were late because we were on the way back ! 
I was feeling light-headed by the time we reached the style. I stayed there whilst thoughtful Pam fetched the car. I was concerned that I might keel over - heat, lack of food and a Eustacian tube problem. Very minor.
My favourite quote of the day from many passing birders was ' it's much better when the pager says, showing well in the pub car park'.
Alan, enquiring after Brenda said that she occasionally phoned to give him her latest bird droppings.
A successful twitch is always a good twitch. It was difficult to respond to the frequent question of ''Was it worth it?'' from passing birders though. Pam's favourite response was ''Probably''.
In future, if necessary, I shall walk from Burnham Ovary Staithe. The car parking is better and the path along the sea wall is flat and even all the way.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Not Such a Big Day

Sunday June 1

Going birding at 5.15 a.m. after two hours sleep does not augur well for a big list. Various parts of both of us are very painful at the moment too. Couple of old crocks - the spirit remains strong.
Such a beautiful early summer morning, it was a pleasure to drive through the countryside on near empty roads. We had seen 40 species by the time we reached Flitcham. Grey Wagtail at Ebridge, Tree Sparrows at Valley Farm Lane. Our gamekeeper friend came to talk to us, he will now recognise our different car. Too early for the Red Kites he told us about, not for the  Buzzard hopping about in the ploughed field at the top of the lane, looking for breakfast worms. What an undignified meal and hunting method for a raptor.
Still no sighting of a Spotted Flycatcher at Sculthorpe Mill, we must spend more time here and make a concerted search. 
One Little Owl from Abbey hide, not much else. Much of the view was hampered by mist rising from the ground, lending an ethereal quality to the blue sky scene.
One Gannet off Hunstanton Cliffs -  it needed two passes to get Fulmars rising along the edge.
Bob C was standing at the newly filled bird feeders near his caravan,  on the Holme NNT road. He left the owner and came to have a chat. There had been Turtle Doves at the feeders before they were filled !! Bother. He'd seen a male Garganey at Redwell the evening before too but 'nothing much around, the place is empty'. We walked the Paddocks area without any luck but heard Turtle Dove purring as we approached Redwell Marsh hide. And as we left........couldn't see it though.
Pam noticed a large patch of Orchids on the landward side of the track to the Centre. These are purple rather than the pink of Marsh Orchid, have a smaller flower head and a shorter stem. What are they? Must look them up. They were a much darker colour than this in reality and really did look purple !! My editing suite has compensated too much for the dark green background.
I've decided that they are probably Marsh Orchids after all.............

As we neared the end of the track on the way out, a Turtle Dove made a display flight, landing in the top of a well leafed tree. Great. 
It was a 6 foot tide this morning, it was at its height when we got to Thornham, hence full creeks and no waders. We even gave Titchwell a miss to-day, driving to Choseley Barns for a birdless Brunch.
What chance Brancaster Staithe on a sunny Sunday at high tide with its myriad boating enthusiasts? It was empty of parked cars at the end where we view. Amazing. Adding the delightful sprite-like Little Terns and the - by comparison - sturdier Common Tern, we decided to make our way home. At mid-day? Unheard of. No wonder we ended up with a list of only 77.
Maybe a dry Black-headed Bunting would give us better views. Greeted by Dot,  Steve  and their friend JP, we stood chatting until I'd had enough standing and left. The bird appeared 'showing well' half an hour after we'd left......
Perhaps the Golden Orioles would play ball, Bob had seen them yesterday. We managed 45 minutes here before giving up. Will try again early morning later in the week.
Home to water plants, dig potatoes and mull over missed birds.