Friday, 20 September 2019

Great Day in Norfolk

Last Wednesday (18th) I picked up Rick in Bishop's Stortford at 5am for a day birding along the North Norfolk coast. Whilst the weather forecast was superb for being out and about (a predicted high of 22C and clear sky) this weather is not conducive for bringing in rarer migrants off the North Sea. Not to worry, a super day was instore.
After a coffee in Wells Next the Sea, where we had both pink footed and brent geese over, we headed East to Kelling Water Meadows and wandered down the green lane to check the flooded area, reeds and hedgerows. Plenty of birds were  apparent immediately with huge numbers of goldfinches feeding upon teasels and thistle heads. A good number were juvenile, indicating a successful 3rd brood had recently fledged. We listed over 30 species at this peaceful and rarely visited site, including stonechat, greenshank, shoveler, snipe and a whimbrel. All good birds to get on a day list early on. A pair of Egyptian geese posed for a photo. However, apart from black headed gulls and goldfinches, the most common bird was several coveys of red legged partridge in adjacent fields. In amongst these, a few Grey partridge, too. We fired off photos of several species before returning to the car.
Juvenile goldfinch

adult goldie on the left removing teasel seeds for the juvenile on the right

Juvenile with stunning wing plumage

Yet another juvenile goldfinch

Full adult sporting the familiar head pattern

Egyptian goose

Overhead shoveler

Shoveler, displaying bill shape that gives this bird its name

Dunnock
We headed west with the next stop being Salthouse beach Road for a quick wander to Gramborough Hill for migrants. Here we encountered a typical serious Norfolk birder moaning about the lack of birds. He told us there were just wrens, which we didn't see! However, we managed to get: Little egret, dunlin, skylark, curlew and  meadow pipit on to the list along with gulls. Well worth dropping off for a half hour session. The suspected wheatears that are regulars here in autumn failed to show. We headed off to Cley East Bank a few miles further west.
Adult Meadow pipit. Note long hind claw that is a diagnostic feature .
Once parked, we wandered along the world famous bird track that is Cley East Bank. A party of 4 Bearded reedlings pinged overhead and were gone before our cameras could capture them. We arrived at the Richie Richardson Hide, named after a great chap who could always be found here. Sadly, he passed away far too early in 1977. An excellent self taught ornithological artist, I had the pleasure of chatting with him on several occasions in the '70's. From this hide we scored with several species: shelduck, grey plover (in excellent breeding plumage,) knot, redshank and Cetti's warbler. A kingfisher darted along a channel as we headed back where more bearded reedlings were seen, albeit briefly.
We popped into the Visitors' Centre for a much needed coffee before stopping off at Cley beach, having driven slowly along Beach Road, checking fields for wheatear. Still not apparent. A chat with a sea watcher and time spent searching the North Sea for passing birds proved fruitful. A summer plumaged Red throated diver, a party of Common scoter, 2 Great skua, juvenile kittiwake, Mediterranean gull and sandwich tern all made the day list. We went off to check the fence posts for wheatear. Third time lucky, one popped up not too far away, but now the sun was bright and the temperature rising so heat haze for photos was becoming an issue. A marsh harrier rose over the reeds in the distance. A wonderful place to be on a calm, sunny and warm Wednesday morning.
The ever present Meet and Greet Black Headed gull, Cley Beach car park

Wheatear on migration route south

Same bird. The white eye stripe stopping before the bill indicates a first year bird.
We continued West with the next stop being for Stiffkey Fen. Another good spot not often visited by the majority of birders. Always worth a check. Little egrets and redshanks in the salt creeks and in the distance at Blakeney Point, a binocular check revealed big numbers of grey and common seal hauled up. We turned our attention to the fen. A remarkable count of 36 spoonbill, a few wigeon, two more flyby kingfishers were of note along with many waders, mute swans, greylag geese. A chiffchaff called from willow before we yet again, made our way back to the car.
Very distant and heavily cropped shot of some of the spoonbill. Lapwings in the foreground

Little egret
A brief look on Holkham Freshmarsh from Lady Anne's Drive gave little so our next stop was Burnham Overy Staithe where we parked close to the creek as the tide was out. Here, great black backed gull, black tailed godwit, turnstone is different stages of moult as well as regulars such as common, herring and black headed gulls.
Black tailed godwit

Typical feeding posture for Bl T G

Diagnostic white wing bar on black tailed godwit, not apparent on similar bar tailed godwit

Redshank

adult turnstone moulting from breeding plumage

Turnstones: centre bird still with remnants of the ruddy breeding plumage.
On we went with the next stop just off the coast at Choseley Drying barns where I had promised Rick he would get decent close up shots of red legged partridge from the car. Fortunately, the birds performed in the grass verge for some wonderful portraits. We checked the roof of the barn but just 7-8 pied wagtails. Chaffinches on the wires and 8 Common buzzards circling upon thermals overhead. A rook made the day list. Linnets and more goldfinches made the detour worthwhile.
Overhead, soaring Common buzzard

Same bird, suspect 2nd year as no black terminal edging on the tail feathers but the beginning of black edging to the trailing edge of the wings.

We drove back down to the coast road to our final destination; Titchwell RSPB Reserve. Plenty had been recorded early in the morning from the beach, but unlikely these birds would still be present. I invariably leave Titchwell to last as the light over the Freshmarsh is best for the last few hours of the day, the sun behind you as you scan the marsh. We entered the island hide from where many 100's of birds were noted. I checked the black headed gulls  (400+) for anything else: there wasn't whilst Rick photographed a Bearded reedling in nearby Australis phragmites reeds. Ruff, dunlin, Little ringed plover, teal, pied wags, avocet, little grebe, coot, tufted duck, ringed plover, golden plover (200+) a little stint and a garden warbler singing in the willows all were noted before a walk to sea watch and check the beach waders. Out to sea, 2 great crested grebe, oystercatchers at the low tide rock pools, sanderling running along the surf and a whole load of other waders: grey plover, black tailed godwits, curlew, knot etc. We returned along the beach path, a reed bunting overhead before a final stop in the Parrinder Hide for a few photos of dunlin, pied wag etc.
We eventually tore ourselves away, checked the picnic area for a yellow browed warbler with no success. It was probably too late in the day, just a chiffchaff called before getting back to the car and packing away the optics.
Skulking juvenile male Bearded reedling

Juvenile ruff on migration

Pied wagtail

Little ringed plover


Little stint, just showing the "tramlines." These are the parallel white stripes down the back, indicating a first year bird.

Shelduck

One of many redshank

Grey heron

Moulting  adult dunlin

Avocet

Linnet

Pied wagtail in late afternoon soft light

From the footpath looking over the Freshmarsh

A really superb day with Rick. He had donated a very generous amount to my MindGarden fundraising effort, a Learning Centre in Sri Lanka I have helped establish. It was a pleasure to show him some new habitats a little off the usual beaten tracks for birders to North Norfolk.
Little ringed plover

Bearded reedling

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

August moths

August was a month of contrasts with some of the hottest days on record whilst a few nights were far too cold for successful mothing. At the end of July I was on 203 macro species and 163 micros, a total of 366 species for the year, predominantly from the 125MV Skinner in the garden but supplemented by evenings out around the rural East Herts parish where I live. For away trips I run a 15W actinic heath trap.
A Flounced rustic on the 1st was new for the year (NFY) before no trapping for a couple of evenings due to having a new shed/office/Mothicce built at the end of the garden. This is now complete and houses all my moth equipment including fridge and bookcase for field guides. Really pleased with it!
A Copper underwing, Bordered beauty, Cloaked minor and an Oak hooktip were NFY's for the macro count whilst a Cydia splendana, and Cameraria ohridella were on to the micro list for 2019 on the 4th.
Blastobasis adustella were having a good year during this month, with counts well into double figures most nights. A Straw underwing was NFY on the 5th along with a Gypsy moth, Square spot rustic and 2 Mompha propinquella. On the 6th a Nephopterix angustella (also having a good year here in VC20) was my 5000th moth of the year.
Week one concluded with  an NFY Orange swift and an Argyresthia bonnetella.
Flounced rustic

Oak hooktip

Bordered beauty

Cydia splendana
The 8th offered a NFY 2nd generation Flame carpet and the 1st Jersey tiger of the year and several Shaded broad bar.  The following night was very windy with numbers much reduced and it wasn't until the following night, the 10th that more NFY's appeared in the shape of Svennson's copper underwing and a new record for the parish: the much awaited though unwanted Oak processionary. A Cabbage moth on the 11th got on to the year list before I had a couple of nights camping in North Norfolk and trapping on the saltmarsh at Stiffkey.
Gypsy moth
Jersey tiger

Orange swift
A migrant Udea ferrugalis was the only surprise after another cold night on the 15th whilst an Argyresthia semifusca got on to the micro list on the 17th. No other NFY's were taken in week 3, a week dominated by Jersey tigers,  and increasing numbers of Square spot rustics, Setaceous hebrew characters and wainscots.
Argyresthia semifusca

Udea ferrugalis
The final days of August saw an increase in overall numbers presenting themselves at the trap along with a Cochylimorpha straminea on the 22nd, a Pyrausta aurata, Small wainscot and Rosy rustic on the 24th.
An exceptionally warm and calm night on the 25th brought in good numbers in excess of 160 moths of 49 sp including the first Jersey tiger f lutescens and Grapholita funebrana.  Another busy night on the 16th gave up a good selection of NFY's: Frosted orange, Currant pug and Crambus pascuella.
A trip out to a local wood on the 27th offered: Treble bar, Pandemis corylana, Epinotia nisella, Acleris emargana, Acleris rhombana and Agriphila selasella in a haul of over 100 moths. The garden trap, whilst full, didn't give up anything new.
The following night, 28th another new for parish record in the form of a Dark spectacle as well as an NFY Six striped rustic. Another chilly night on the 29th passed without any revelations as did the 30th. The last day of the month, in improved conditions, gave up a very late Beautiful golden Y whilst a Hummingbird hawkmoth fed during the day on the garden buddliea.
Pyrausta aurata

Hummingbird hawkmoth

Beautiful golden Y

Acleris emargana

Agriphila selasella
August ended with a total of 227 macro moths and 178 micros, a total of 405 species for the year. The 400th sp was taken on the 27th as was the 6000th moth for 2019.
The month ended on 6323 moths.
Frosted orange

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander