short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

East Coast to find some Migrants...

So as September drew to an end  I decided to nip off work at lunch and go to Waxham.
Ive not visited here for couple of years and wanted to be somewhere alone and find  for myself  some passing migrants. The day previously had been good as regards birds moving through along coasts( although still no East winds)
Alone I was, as I only got to see one other birder (Ben Lewis) and a Photographer, not even a dog walker!
 Parked up at money lane and walked down and was soon watching 2x Spotted Flycatchers.I enjoyed them doing what they do best...catching what little there was and producing that typical call of theres.

Spotted Flycatcher
 As I made my way South I picked up my first Redstart of the day ,a nice bird perched up .As I watched it dropping to the floor and returning to the perch I saw a Whinchat fly up along the fence line just further along...., things were looking good.


As I walked on I quickly picked a pair of Stonechats, and then a juvenile Stonechat. I always love to see these birds ,although not as "good a bird" as the whinchat and Redstart previously seen( as regards number of sightings/rarer)  they are just all round smart and full of character in my opinion .

Juvenile Stonechat


As I approached the pipe dump I saw Ben and we spoke about what we had seen. He had been out longer then me with some good birds seen and I then mentioned I hadn't had a Wheatear yet ,only for him to say there were 5 just further up!  I made my way around the pipe dump and counted at least 7 x Wheatears.


I stayed there for a while and picked up yet another Whinchat, my 3rd of the day and then found another Redstart.

Redstart -wasn't quick enough on the iPhone!

Video below.........

Redstart-That's better!

As i walked back I picked up the original Redstart I had earlier, along with a second bird now making it a total of 3 x Redstarts, the most ive ever had in one single day! As i walked back this time up along the bank I got yet more Stonechats and  another Wheatear among other bits.
  My totals for the day were-
3x Redstarts,4x Whinchats,2 x Spotted Flycatchers,6x Stonechats , 8 x Wheatears among others.
 A great afternoons birding and great place.
 Happy Birding,

White stork ....

So I couldn't resist any longer and got my self up to long Stratton to see the lingering White stork which has been feeding in the fields there.  After seeing recent sightings on social media  and speaking to Matthew Shore  in the morning I decided to pull up and scan the fields. 
 No sign of it so I drove round the other side and there it was, working its way round the fields edge close to road. 
 Great views and although I'm unsure as to its history /start in life I took it for what it was .... a White stork ,in a field , in South  Norfolk, and it looked great ! 

White Stork

Happy birding


Monday, 2 October 2017

September- Patch Gold and Seawatching .....

 So 1st September was a day I'll always remember as it was the day I had my first Whinchat on the patch.  Only handfull of sightings for this species per year recorded this far up the Yare valley so one I've had on my list but knew it was gonna be a bit of luck to be there when it was passing through on its migration .I watched this Whinchat for a good hour as it fed , sitting among the tops of the vegetation , sometimes tricky to pick up if lost briefly . Put the news out and nice to hear a good number of other local birders connecting with it throughout the afternoon/evening and over the next day. Sadly it had gone come Sunday morning but most had had there moment with it and I hope it's not the last one I'll see here , although hopefully I'll not wait another 8 years to see one here though !This was my 119th Species for the patch.

Whinchat - 119th patch species

 Other things of note during September at the patch was again the slowly increase of wildfowl numbers and Lapwings too with the Highest count of Lapwings hitting 66 .  The Cormorants are occasionally seen here on the west shingle beach area(usually 2-3) but during this month numbers went from 3 birds to 15 on the 11th September. This was a patch high count for my self.
The Kingfisher was again seen on all but 1 occasion through September and 2 were seen on one day.   Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzards were seen on every visit and House Martins were seen flying over and sometimesstopping off  going over the broad , no doubt feeding up on migration!



 Also at the patch both species of the common Woodpeckers were actively calling and seen ,with one day producing sights of a pair of Green and Gt spotted on the same day.
The Cettis Warbler numbers calling was up from 3 to 5 which is more like the regular count for here. 

  Now away from the Patch .On the 15th during the heavy down pour  and not being able to work I thought of somewhere nearby with a Hide...I decided to pop into Buckenham Marshes on the off chance of something interesting.
I watched the Avocets feeding with a couple Little Egrets passing over and then heard calling Kingfisher from outside, I quickly opened the door to catch it flew over east. Then bird of the day , as i saw bird out of the corner of my eye, drop on to the ground from over the river bank. Once it appeared again I was able to see clearly it was a Wheatear. A nice bird on any day this time of year in and around the Yare Valley. I watched it as it quickly flew off across the marsh.


    Now to my visit to Winterton on the 13th for some Seawatching - 
  I decided it was that time of year that I got my self out to the coast for some seawatching. I did a few visits autumn last year and needed to polish up on the little I had learned. The stormy weather which was blowin strongly from the west may bring some good things moving but of course may not bring them close in to the east coast where I was . 
 I wasn't alone as there was another birder already set up and was quickly finding out what had been seen early doors. Barry and other birder had Good numbers of Manx Shearwaters and some 7x Long Tailed skuas among other bits so was positive about seeing something good myself. 

  Me and Graham (fairly local birder) were soon watching a distant Artic skua before watching our first Manx Shearweater, a Lifer for myself (no.285) . In fact over the 3 hours I stood scanning the waves  along with some friendly,helpful birders(Barry and Tommy among others ) I saw at least 10-12 Manx , 1x Bonxie, 5+ Artic Skuas (1 individual close in on water) 4x Red Throated Diver ,6x Common Scoter , 2x Med Gulls and 20+ Sandwhich Terns,1x Turnstone ,2x Oystercatchers and a single Grey Heron. 
 Finally as September closed in I got to head to the patch for one final visit on the 26th .  I was listening to a calling Cettis warbler when drawn to a small tree near the Mooring area, of a  call of a bird I didn't quite recall.  As  I stood there I heard the bird and then saw it briefly as it came to the top,it was what I believed to be a  Ring necked Parakeet.  I watched as it flew out and along river and dropped into the Conservation area at WhitlinghamCountry Park.  I checked the call which I recorded on the phone of this bird when back in van  against a couple of recorded calls off the internet and sure it is and not another Parakeet species. Another patch tick (no.120). I picked up a large Tit Flock as I left which contained Goldcrest and my first Marsh Tit of the year as I walked back to the bridge.
Along with West Ham finally getting some good results,picking up a couple of wins, this was a great month!

Happy Birding,

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A lesson learnt -PGW 18th September 2017

Pallas grasshopper warbler Twitch-

So if you follow my blog you will know although I'm a dedicated patcher at Thorpe marsh/broad,Norwich But i will occasionally nip off to Twitch a good bird if local and I have the time. On Monday late afternoon I set off to Burnham ovary with where a Pallas grasshopper warbler had been found from local Norwich birder and seen at my patch occasionally , Stuart  white- fantastic find indeed !   The bird showed very well  in the evening to handful of people so when Monday came and the bird was being reportedly showing (as much as a Pallas grasshopper warbler does!) I decided head off to Burnham ovary.i quickly walked down and on arrival was greeted to  around 70 birders present and we made our way up to bank as a number of birders shouted "there it goes "!  The bird flew out from dyke and into the dyke edge ( some bramble and reed). We stood and watched as 4/5 birders walked the area near where it was , playing the calls on phones , trying to flush the bird out. 
After alot of this it did finally give up and fly out to the dyke which ran south of the bank wall.  It gave another view and quickly flew into reed edge.   For the next 20 minutes " a bird " kept coming out and flying back in and people pointing & shouting out " that's it".  In fact I saw and have read people that have since ticked the bird in flight . I hope it's not from the views I've described here as I had no idea what this bird could have been.  PGW? Dunnock ? Warbler SP,possibly ? I don't claim to be the best birder and in fact I would say average birder so I will not be ticking it on those views as I didn't pick up any of its ID features.  As the bird then began to get flushed again by "call luring  " and then flushing of people it flew across to other side of path into that dyke.  In all the madness of people trying to get views and keep up with bird people we now spread out from bank, path and now into the field that sits east of the path . From there some birders were getting good/ brief views.  I was stood next to a few friendly birders I knew and we discussed the views it had given up till then , agreeing they were poor at best and not tick able of course.  GThen the bird flew out of the " bush " ( this bush had Rose  hips on it and will be mentioned again shortly ) and back across the path over our heads and to the other dyke. We again saw it and believe some had very good flight views but my self could again not be sure of what I had.  The people from the bank and field were now all on the path and begun to get very full.   Then flushing began again by the same birders from earlier and it again flew and back over to the dyke on the east.   Now in all the excitement ( maybe madness is more fitting word) I followed around 30 people over the fence that lead into the field.  We begun to slowly walk the edge and spread out to try catch some movement .  After 10 minutes I picked the bird up working its way along the reeds and then into " that bush ".  I had 5 seconds with the bird ( I know that's all) but got the large tail shape ,body size and the streaky back but unfortunately nothing on the head.  Now there was around 30 birders watching this "bush" and then birder next to me  picked it up again briefly but that was it . 
It eventually reappeared back down where it originally showed before when we arrived and instead of chasing off after it I decided to stay put.  I chatted to local birders to the north Norfolk coast I knew  and  local Norwich birders of its views,etc.  Then it appeared again straight in front of me back on that same bush. It was for only few seconds but I saw enough to believe it was the same bird I had earlier , PGW .  
What happened next was where I felt angered.  Two birders on the other side of dyke jumped in and then  begun to start to shake the bush !  I shouted out "oi " as did others and a few others the other side told the lads to leave it and get out .  That was enough .
It was then clear to me it was trying to find somewhere to roost and this bush looked good ( I'm not expert on this species so could be wrong  ) so decided to leave at this point and left the field and decided to walk back.   
 Summary -
So after watching "that video" which has been published on social media from the drama of the following day and reading what has been written about the next days events I feel I needed to write this update to my blog.  
It's clear now that the fence I crossed had been cut and also that people on the field have damaged some of the habitat . 
Although I didn't do either I was on that field and therefore now realised I trespassed . 
I'm not proud of that in the slightest and of course am sorry for being a small part of this.   
I've rung the owners up and spoken to them to say as much .  Ive noticed no one from Tuesday has come forward and no one has admitted to going into this field , or involved with the horrible events that followed but I've felt I needed to say I was there . 
I will never enter /follow a crowd of people somewhere without stopping and thinking about what I'm doing , instead of thinking " I must see that bird ".  
I realise why I enjoy my patching so much when I look at the video recorded from Tuesday events where the Wardens of the Holkham  estate were verbally spoken to in such a rude and unpleasant way.   
I make it clear I did not cut any wire or bash/ flush or damage the area , that's not what I'm about and those who know me will know that but I do take responsibility of entering that field  and apologise.  
I was thinking to my self " this isn't right walking through dykes, flushing and tape luring " but at the same time I  did nothing - in fact after a while I found myself getting caught up in the moment as I said and followed the small crowd into the field which I clearly see now is wrong .
It would be sad indeed if from a result of this twitches kaos and madness that it could stop future twitches happening there . 
I've not made mention to any other names of who was with me , who I saw walking the dykes/reeds  / shaking the bush, because this isn't what my blog update is about.   Also the pictures I had Taken that day I've chosen to not use on the blog for same reasons . 
I'm not saying I won't still twitch a bird in Norfolk but I will from now on pay special care and consideration for the habitat and  landowners  and of course most importantly the "good of the Bird " its self .
A lesson learnt . 

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, 17 September 2017

August- Caspian Tern, Dragonflies and Butterflies

So I continued  the start of August as I ended July with lots of Butterflies and few moths ! 
I had my first Holly blues along with  Small copper and common blues, then after a days working in the sunshine watching plenty of Red admirals , Peacock and Comma one of my butterfly highlights with at least 2x Brown Angus ! While searching for these I had plenty of Small Blues and few Essex Skippers , so  the UK list is really in full flow.


Small copper


Comma and Peacock


Essex Skipper


Common Blue
Common Blue


Holly Blue

A interesting caterpillar was found at work ( pictured below). James informed me it was a Vapourer Moth caterpillar - very smart looking 

  Dragonflies were also seen with a trip to Buxton Heath on 16th august which gave me a new Species in Keeled Skimmer. Found these 2 at rest in boggy ground ( walking boots just survived!)  plenty of common darters.

Keeled Skimmer

    Back to the patch on the 12 th I had good number of Black tailed skimmers as well as plenty of Migrant Hawkers and on the River 2x Red eye damselflies! Super little things these. Although Small they are a beauty to see although I needed my scope as they were at rest on the Lilly's on the water ( thanks to James & Jim who had given me heads up of where I should find these ).
Red Eye Damselfy

Black Tailed Skimmer
Migrant Hawker
 Now onto Bird sightings for August.  I'll start with a super work tick on the 8 th august , I was surprised to watched a pair of Bearded tits calling overhead south Norwich. Heard and then saw them as I worked.  Closest I've ever had to the city and to my knowledge .
   Now to my Highlight of the month though was my trip to Rush hills scrape to see this brut of a bird.. a Caspian Tern! I arrived after knowing it had been there the day before and also at Breydon.  I decided to finish work earlier then usual and headed straight there. Surprised to find  i was only birder there on arrival but this meant I had the bird all to my self and what a bird it was.  He stuck out straight away as I watched him for around 20 minutes before he took off with all the other gulls and waders when a Marsh Harrier cruised low over. It was later reported at Breydon water so I timed it right ! This was my 284th British bird and probably one of my easiest yet .

Caspian Tern(British list, no.284
  At the Patch (Thorpe St Andrew broad/Station marshes) things we're starting to change 
Noticeably Lapwing numbers were up, top count of 53 end of the month. Also Tufted ducks were now back as too the Gadwall along with the Pair of Great Crested Grebes . Kingfisher was seen on every visit throughout the month and twice on this branch ( pictured) .

 Always makes a visit here worth it to see this species of bird. Common buzzards were as usual overhead and the regular Kestrel. Cettis started to call as the end of August approached & single chiffchaff was singing  but other then that quiet.   Of note a Chinese Water deer was seen on most visits too.
 So there's my round up of my month , hope to update blog half way through September if I find time with building work finishing and kids back to school!
 Happy birding 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

July- Butterflies,Dragonflies ,Moths and more

  So July is the month where I usually spend more time looking at other parts of wildlife instead of my first interest of Birds . Last year I was learning more about Butterflies and this year ive learnt a bit more with a couple of new species added to my list. Also this month in particular ive tried to dip my toe into the world of Moths, Dragonflies & Damselflies . Most of these were seen while on my work travels and most lunch breaks have been about getting the books out or getting onto social media to see what ive just seen ! So ill include a few pictures of what ive seen on my travels now ....

 Starting off with some Damselflies I saw while in Keswick .These are male & female Willow Emerald Damselflies.

This Dragonfly I believe is a Norfolk Hawker and seen at my local patch Thorpe Marshes.

Onto Moths now. Ive managed to ID half of the 30 plus species ive found, most were found in stair wells or near lights which were kept on during the night and attracted the Moths to settle nearby.
 So a small selection of what ive found .
Ruby Tiger Moth and Nut Tree Tussock Moths

Ruby Tiger Moth

Small Magpie-Micro Moth

Peppered Moth


Silver Y Moth

Cinnabar Moth

Early Thorn

Swallow-tail Moth

Campion Moth

Herald Moth

Common White Wave Moth
Butterflies have always intrigued me with there graceful flight and stunning arrays of colour and I was well chuffed to have finally found my first Painted Lady (pictured below) .

Painted Lady

Not particularly rare but I struggled to see one last summer on my travels so to get one this weekend just gone was great and to do it with my son George (5 yrs old) was special. I decided to stopped off at a nice Meadow in full flower on the way home from hes friends Birthday party.

A Proud Daddy with George, after finding our first Painted Lady Butterfly
We got the Bug Hunting bag out of the car (always ready in case of a stop off!) and went about searching for Butterflies, Caterpillers, Bees, Spiders, Grasshoppers and possible Day flying Moths. We were soon trying to catch a Grasshopper and in doing so George spotted a Caterpillar ...
Cinnabar Caterpiller
Grasshopper SP

 Always enjoy watching these little creatures and explained what this would soon be doing as regards the process of it becoming a Butterfly .George was fascinated !
We also connected with 2x Skipper (butterfly  species) .Small and possibly a Essex Skipper (still unsure)

Back to my work sightings ive had plenty of Comma ,Speckle wood, Red Admiral and Gatekeeper butterflies ...

Comma Butterfly
Gatekeeper Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly

Speckled Wood Butterfly
Finally I took the opportunity to join me good friend "Big Al" fishing on the River at the Patch last week. i was curious to see what fish were in the river and soon enjoyed watching him pull out some Perch and Roach. Bream also found in good numbers although we never caught any that evening.Nice to see up close and yet another part of the habitats wildlife that ive yet to explore/study.


 Happy Birding