Monday, 20 March 2017

Catch-up Day Out

Sunday March 19

We managed to be out by 7.00 a.m. despite it being a very dull, overcast start with very little birdsong. At least it was dry, after a wet night.
At last, two Grey Wagtails showing well at Sculthorpe Mill. Two walkers put paid to any photographs, we didn't even leave the car. My knees are still pretty dire.........
Two silent Chiffchaffs at Harpley Cottages, seen flitting in a bush, not even starting to compete with the noise from the Dogotel, were our second of the year. We had two singing birds on the way to Walcott earlier in the week. Our first Wheatear flew from Beach Road, Cley, on Thursday. 
A quick Tree Sparrow month tick, nothing else to linger for.
Abbey Farm field had a scattering of Fieldfare and Redwing still feeding up for their journey north. Again, no hide visit, it looked devoid of birds. 
A big effort added one Grey Partridge crouched low in the field margin near a feeder, on the lane north of Flitcham and an Egyptian Goose near the horse stables.
Maybe we'd catch high tide at Snettisham ? Yes, we did, but it was a low one. Still acres of mud in view. Plenty of waders to sift through. Best was a snow flurry of Sanderling, restlessly moving territory as the water flowed in. Lovely to see the migrant birds back from their North African wintering grounds.
A large group of Avocets sheltered, on an island in the last pit, from the very brisk and blustery westerly. More Turnstones than usual, no Golden Plover and very few Curlew. Handsome male Pintail still lingering along with the Knot and Wigeon.
The Wash was white waved turbulence, devoid of seabirds. The Fulmars are back and active, cruising just below hedge height above the cliffs.
The horrible road out to Holme has been surfaced and graded during the past week. Hard to believe.  If one hadn't experienced the previous surface, the complaints would still have come thick and fast. We have frog and toad spawn in our garden pond, none to be seen in the natterjack pools. Not from the road anyway.
After flying views of one Corn Bunting at Choseley and 300+ Golden Plover in the Doitterel field, it was Brancaster Staithe for lunch. The tide was still well in. What I believe to be a Yellow-legged Herring Gull took off as I raised my camera.

I've consulted several books and I'm still not 100% sure, despite seeing yellow legs, confirmed by Pam, when it was standing !! 
Still plenty of Brent Geese about, time to practice flight shots - very average.

A surprise male Red-breasted Mergeansr, resplendent in summer garb, appeared from nowhere, disappearing just as fast.

Turning into orange, Black-tailed Godwits probed the mud on the receding tideline.  Why can't they ever be in the right place for the sun at this place. I've taken more naff photographs here than anywhere else - there's a long list.

Bar-tailed Godwit
I had a thorough search through the large flock of Brent geese on Beach Road Cley. No Black Brant here. The last one was seen off the Serpentine. As we passed that area, there were still a few Brent there but.... nowhere to park. 
Refreshed by a hot drink from Julian at Salthouse, we drove straight home, we'd seen the Felbrigg Little Owl on Friday after my - requested by me -  mammogram at Cromer hospital. One has to be asked for after reaching 70 years old.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Raptor Day

Thursday March 16

After a very ordinary mothing session at Cley and the ensuing meet in the cafe, we decided to go for the juvenile female Pallid Harrier present since February. M told Pam that it had moved site a little, all I heard was Monty's area of North Creake.
Despite Pam's mild protest, we parked at the concrete area beside a brick wall and waited. Plenty to see. A large piece of farm machinery was harrowing the field beside us. 300+ gulls, Black-headed and Common mainly, following closely, swooping for upturned morsels, resting at one side then repeating their actions. Mesmeric.
I kept my eyes on the sky, seeing 2 Red Kites, 2 Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier over the farm woods.
A car swooped in and parked across our bows !! It was BC and his wife returning from getting their Holme caravan ready for the season. The pager had messaged that the bird was showing well in 'fields north of North Creake farm'. That's where we were !
Pal recalled what M had said, we drove to the Abbey tea-rooms car park. A field really, lining up next to cars with telescopes set up outside. Only a few minutes wait before the Pallid Harrier flew across the sloping field in front of us, out of view then back, twice   - to settle on the ground. I was about to set up my scope when a Marsh Harrier virtually landed on it, when it flew off right, behind the woods. 
We'd had really good views, phoned BC and left.  
We also added Merlin, sat on a telegraph pole, to to-day's raptor list.

Notable to-day was the large passage of Redwings.  Three flocks passed through whilst we were at Cley, two more at North Creake. The first time I've witnessed that spring migration.

Back Home - Mothing and Birding

Wednesday March15

Twenty four hour notice for Greg, via Sharon, then the moth group. The prospect was too good to miss.
Cranwich Heath at 10.00, Sharon would set out three traps overnight,  in a secret location, hoping for a couple of Brecks specialities.The catch arrived in Sharon's car, the eight of us who could make it, hovered expectantly. We were not let down. A total of 11 Barred Tooth-stripe moths was astonishing - and a tick - for all present. One had to be photographed in the pot, so that it could be returned to its site.

We also added Mottled Grey to the Norfolk list. Also trapped: Pine Beauty, Dotted Border, Small Quaker, Double-striped Pug,Yellow Horned, Clouded Drab, March Moth, Chestnut and Engrailed. We missed Small Eggar at NT yesterday.

Best of all.....
As we stood chatting in the Cranwich Heath car parking area, a male Goshawk flew low directly overhead. My best views ever. K had heard Woodlark earlier but it was not seen.
A flowering tree near the park, had Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell feeding. Brimstones hastened by throughout our stay. Lovely.