short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

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

Sunday, 2 July 2017

3UK lifers in May-June...

  3 uk lifers.... May-June 
So I've not been updated the blog as regular as I like but hoping to catch up ,starting with tonight. 
 So starting with the 18th may I joined up with Matt for a day in the Brecks .  
 We went to many places ( most of the known sites) and picked plenty of the "Brecks specialties " . Spotted flycatcher ,Firecrest and cuckoo were picked up quickly along with this rather smart Male Redstart .

Male Redstart
A pair of Stonechats was nice along with  Tree pipits and Woodlark which were all in fine song in the May sunshine . Stone curlew was picked up in new place for me and bird of the day was a Raven flying and calling !  This was a Uk lifer (no.280)for myself and we both watched as it was harassed by a couple of Carrion Crows , the size comparison was a great  to see in the field too.

Record shot of Raven and crow.(280)
  The day Ended with a special bird of which Ive been lucky enough to have watched on and off with Matt, on a undisclosed site...a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Ive helped Matt when I could moniter these birds . Big Respect to him for putting in a lot of hard graft and many hours to firstly locate these birds and then watch them exacvate a number of different holes before finally laying & sit the eggs. Ive learnt a lot about this species of bird through my visits here and the many conversations ive shared with Matt- A Top bloke and Top bird!

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at hole

observing the birds at nest hole

on look out

 On the 23rd may I made my first visit to Potter Heighem marshes , a stunning place for birds . I immediately picked up 3x Spoonbills as I stepped I made my way along the bank . Cracking birds to see on any day but they would be overshadowed as I made my way round scanning the pools of water . A Wood sandpiper was picked up among some redshank and black headed Gulls.  I've actually not seen one for a couple of years so I enjoyed watching it for about 15 minutes before it took off.  Then the bird of the day .... Black Winged Stilt , . A pair  was seen together along with a 3rd bird.   I watched these neat and rather gracefull black /white Waders feed along the waters surface picking up the insects.   This was my 281 species in the UK.


Black Winged Stilt- uk list 281
  Now bringing it more up to date on the 10th June I went back to potter Heighem marshes with me old China , Yorkie and we set off from the lathams car park in hope of seeing the Black winged Stilt chicks and the newly reported Night Heron.  We walked along the river path picking up what probably one of my closet ever Marsh Harrier encounters along with 2x Barn owls hunting , one in each side of the river.   We carried in with the walk and it was at this point we both were drawn to the river and there it was ... A Night heron flying up river and then to turn and cross over our heads with a Little Egret! We were both lucky as we were treated to great views of the birds plumage . We watched it fly towards the wooded/small collection of trees.Night heron was my 282 uk bird  and was made even more memorable by  seeing the Black winged stilts with there chicks ... This species hasn't successfully bred in the county of Norfolk for many years and in fact the Uk it self.  A bird that usually found in the Spain so possibly climate change with more Dry weather  in there usual breeding grounds forcing in search of more wetlands habitat?  Potter Heighem is a great place for these birds along with the many other birds here
 So that's me up to date as regards away from the patch sightings which I'll up date soon
Happy birding

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dawn till Dusk Birding.....

   Dawn to Dusk.....
So there I was ,at 3am parked up outside Yorkies house after setting off from my house at " silly hours oclock", waiting for him to come out, I could just work out he was there as it was pitch black . He jumped in the van and we were off to meet the others and make our way down to the Brecks!

leaving off.....

  This was of course our annual "big birding day out ", where me,Yorkie ,Steve,phil & Tony head out for first light into the Brecks and finish up at dusk in the North Norfolk coast .This was our 7 th year and previously we had managed to get 135 species so we hoped for as many again but the total is important as its just a bit of fun .
  We arrived at Santon Downham ,( as we do every year )  at 4.15am standing and waiting for what is a birding highlight for me every year.... the Dawn Chorus! 
getting into place..4am

  A Song thrush started to sing with a Robin, Blackbird and Tawny owl calling , it wasn't long before we had Cuckoo, Reed & Sedge warbler , Reed bunting , all 3 corvids on the list . Gt spotted W/Pecker called before a drum and along the river Mandarins & mallards took off in flight . Then Gt Tit,Blue Tit and Long tailed Tit were added with a Wren. A  Pheasent started calling as a Common Buzzard went over against the Inl blue sky which was changing in colour by the minutes.
   What makes this even more special is you are watching the sun rise, darkness given way to light and theres  not a machine or automobile to be heard.  It's just us and nature ....its simply  Magic !

The birds started singing as the sun started to rise....

  By 6 .30 am we were over 50 species and made our way to regular spot nearby . We soon added ,Tree pipit, Meadow Pipit ,Sky lark and Wood lark ,along with Mistle Thrush, Hobby, and a very showy a lesser Whitethroat along with Lesser Black backed Gull& Herring Gull .
  Next stop was Lynford (7.40am)  where we had a quick Coffee and straight on with it . We added Siskin,Goldcrest, Kestrel, Little grebe and a nice family of Common Crossbills . Then as we hoped a Firscrest ( 1 of 2) and a Spotted Flycatcher.


  Next we headed to Weeting Heath (9.55am) where we quickly got on a couple of Stone Curlews. Great views as usual from this place of a Breckland specialty!
   Lakenham Heath was our next stop and immediately we added into the note book :-
 Little Egret, Coot ,Bar Tailed Godwit, Black Headed Gull, Cettis, Redshank and a rather smart Gloosy ibis ....

Glossy Ibis

  As we made our way round a Common tern flew overhead and dropped in and a Marsh harrier hunted over the other side. A Magpie flew across our path & i spotted a pair of Stonechats and a Gt crested Grebe on the water.  Hobby was soon seen along with a few others hawking over the reeds & water . As we walked back I picked out a fling Whimbrel and Grey heron , lapwing and grey lag goose were all seen. Then a bird flew over and dropped onto the waters edge in the distance, which we were unsure off until we could could get closer. Yorkie soon called it... Grey Plover.  A nice bird and not one we were expecting to get here .

We left off at mid day and then made our way up to Flitcham , picking up a Red partridge , House sparrow and Egyptian Goose on route .
 By 1pm we were at Flitcham and eating our lunch while watching a couple of Male Tree Sparrows go back & forth to there nest holes ! We added Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Bullfinch, Canada Goose and Greenfinch and then the bird you can't leave without seeing a Little a Owl !

can you see it ?.... Little Owl in centre of picture

  We left on 96 species and after a quick stop at Hunstaton for Fulmar, little Tern, Feral pigeon & Med Gull we were on 100 species ! 
 Cholsley Barns was disappointing ( weather at this point not great) as we didn't hear/see a Corn bunting , Turtle dove or a Dotteral . We did pick up Grey partridge so we headed to Titchwell at 3.45pm .
 We soon picked up Avocet, Shoveler, Teal, Brent goose and Little Ringed Plover as we made our way up to the beach to seawatch . Yorkie soon picked up a Eider Duck fairly close in. In the shoreline we had Bar Tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Turnstone ,Ringed Plovers and Knot. Across the sea we had a few flocks of Common Scoter with a few Velvet Scoters too . Plenty of Little Terns ( already had) and Sandwich Terns.

Eider Duck

  We started to walk back towards the Hides and I spotted a Marsh harrier  and a Red Kite having a bit of a Scuffle in the air.
   Next we added Ruff, Dunlin and 2x smart Spoonbills. Then everything took up to the sky,this can only mean one thing ... We all looked up and watched as a nice Peregrine Falcon dived down and then across without success . Stunning bird to watch as it had another attempt and then flew off.  As the birds all settled again we picked out a couple of Sand martins of the water & another Hobby.
  We walked to the large screen around the other side and picked up Pochard and Tufted duck ( no red crested pochard ) it was then that we got our Turtle doves ! Just wouldn't be a great day out without these superb looking birds.  Always look immaculate and when singing such a treat to the ears.  As we left a pair of Whinchats were added to the list and off we went to Cley.

Turtle Doves


   On route we stopped off and picked up Curlew and arrived at Cley
     Well nothing to report as it was quiet and nothing we hadn't already seen.  It was getting a bit late so we decided to head to the regular spot for Nightingale.  Will we didn't hear or see one but did enjoy  watching a Barn Owl hunt and cuckoo call from the tree tops. 
  Our day had come to an end & we made our way back to Norwich and chatted about the superb birds we had seen and the moments from the day.
 Thanks to Phil for driving and to all the lads for some great banter along with some great birds found
 Happy Birding

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Patch visits ....April into May

The end of April will always be remembered for the day I finally got Common cranes on the Patch list-no.119 species!  But not just 1 but 9 went over east , I quickly put news out on Twitter and was nice to see Steve picked them up near brundell /Buckenham area not long after. A super tick and something I waited 7 years to see so I enjoyed this one !
  Wildfowl numbers steadily dropped and although 24x Tufted ducks were seen on the 9th May it was down to a single pair the following week.Just 3 pairs of Gadwall were seen regularly on the Broad or at rest on the waters edge and Teal had gone altogether .
  On 26th April a highlight was finding 2x Wheatears at Postwick Park &Ride.Stunning birds for sure and nice to find this far up into the Yare Valley .
Back to the patch and on 28th ,2x Little Egrets (one on the deck!) double my best counts for this bird.I regularly seem to being getting one drop into the pools or fly off south but to have 2 was great. Noticeably the Grey Herons were now  more active and every visit throughout May I've had at least 2 and sometimes 3fishing in among the dykes or Broad edges
Little Egret and Grey Heron

watching its prey
Grasshopper Warblers were now up 3 , with 2 on the East Marshes and 1 on the Griffen Fen. A joy to watch as it reels away ! A little video clip below from later in May below to watch as it turns its head left to right sending its song around the marsh!

Grasshopper Warbler

 The month of May started off as April ended with a single Common Crane over east on the 2nd . On the same day My first Audible evidence of Water Rail young was recorded , I watched the tops of the Sedges move and listened as the Parent contact called to at least 2x Juveniles  
 On the Water I had a  Single Green Sandpiper was seen among the regular 2-3 Common Sandpipers which enjoy feeding along the West  beach edge . But highlight that day and possibly for the summer is the Hatching of young on the Great Crested Grebe nest! First time I've actually seen young on the
broad in my 7-8 years of recording here on the patch , great to see as at least 2x young were seen climbing over parent and in the nest edges.  I made regular visits throughout May and saw the 2x Juveniles make it into the water ( on mothers back) and then quickly go down to just a single bird a few days later.

GT Crested Grebe Young being fed while on parents back

Gt Crested Grebe and young on back

Staying with the subject of Fledglings on the 5th I was treated to something special ! I walked down bungalow lane and after watching Chaffinch and Collar dove young being fed I heard a Treecreeper . I quickly then heard some high calls of young.  

Treecreeper newly fledged
I located a young Treecreeper that had clearly just fledge this day and soon watched 5x young Treecreepers all spread about the dyke edge gather together on the same tree .Love how they go about climbing up the trees and how they use there tail as a support. I watched as both parents spent time going back & forth feeding the young and often whizzing close ,right by me as they did.  I filmed a bit of it to share here -

  The Patch had that Spring feeling with sedge , Blackcaps and willow warblers singing , fledglings being fed &  the sunshine on my face ,it was  magic!   I made my way to the Broad to see the single young Great crested grebe was doing well , still enjoying the piggy back from mum and the common Sandpipers were still present . Oystercatchers were busy getting angry as a second pair dropped in and the Stock Doves were bathing on the West beach. 
On the 9th a Pair of Common Terns were fishing on the Broad and a couple of young linnets had fledged from the nest on the West of the reserve . Long Tailed Tit family's would be ever present over next week or two as they constantly contact called to one another as they went about feeding .
On the 12th I witnessed a Pair of Jays ( not often seen regularly here on the broads edge)  work there way around the South of the Broad.   They were sitting up on Reeds and watching in checking for any Sedge /Reed warblers Eggs ! I've not seen this before but obviously they we're taking advantage of this hidden food source !  I watched them even go into the brambles /thorns to take a egg from my second pair of Linnets nest! Mixed feelings here as on one hand I admire them for there skills but on the other hand I love my Linnets !

A Crafty Jay waiting, searching for possible Reed or Sedge warblers eggs no doubt
  Water Voles were seen on 4 occasions that week and one sighting I watched 2x water voles sitting on the edge and just ignore me as I stood quiet and still.  Very nice and a good sign I hope that these are doing well here. Staying away from birds of note I had a Munjac Deer was seen as well in May as too the more expected the Chinese Water Deer.
  Also of note was 10 X Stock Doves bathing and drinking on the West Beach. These birds are close to the domestic feral/street pigeon and always remind me of my childhood years of me helping my dad looking after hes Racing Pigeons. I would regularly watch them fly around the house and walk across the Garden floor , with the Cock bird doing he's best to impress the Hen bird.  
Stock Doves
  Lapwings were seen regularly in May but usually only single bird or sometimes 3/4 , Often dropping in and soon leaving 
 Cuckoos had been heard/seen  by local birders , including Justin and Mary who came to visit the Patch with friends on a club outting , she in fact had 2 and one in the trees  along railway so it was nice to finally got to hear my first for the year on the 15th May. That same day I had a pair of GT Spotted Woodpeckers feeding which was nice and a noticeable gathering on the Broad of 27x Herring Gulls
  Cettis Warbler  were as usual very vocal and at least 4 were always heard but 5 on 2 occasions too. 
On the 19th I watched Wren nest and enjoyed seeing the parents constantly returning with food and feeding at the nest . That same day I watched a Fox walk up the patch only to spot me and disappear.  But it wasn't the last I would see of him as in the coming week I saw him in 2 more visits , always a pleasure !
 The same day (19th) I watched as the second Linnet nest had young fledge . Thet were getting used to there wings with some brief , joyful flights over the Reed and Broad edge .Also my first  Common Whitethroat young to were noticable as they fed out along the Broad edge on the vegetation.  As you can see itd all happening here at the Patch with Breeding and new arrivals. Hope the rest of the month and into  june will carry on providing me these enjoyable moment!
 Happy birding