Friday, 31 December 2010

New year

Well what a year it has been for many reasons.
The best parts of 2010 have been moving back to Norfolk, getting engaged and generally feeling ready and able to settle down where I am.

The wildlife highlights are as follows;

-Adding a few uk ticks- White Tailed Plover, Isabelline Wheatear, Arctic Warbler (Northern Bullfinch), Northern Harrier
-Self found ticks include a possible wild Lesser White-fronted Goose, Common Rosefinch, Glaucous Gull, Fan tailed warbler (re-find).
-Lots of new moths including some good migrants while in Kent putting my moth list up to 502.
-Finding a colony of Southern Emerald Damselflies in Kent
-Finding the first breeding population of Willow Emeralds in Norfolk
-Increasing my dragonfly list to 32

In 2011 I have a few goals,
-The old favourites are to find Savi's, Marsh and Icterine Warblers in Norfolk/Suffolk, all of which are overdue UK ticks.
-See 130 bird species at Strumpshaw Fen(I think this is a fair target but will reassess if needed).
-Get my bird year list back up to the 250 mark, should be very do-able in Norfolk.
-Aim to get 500 species of moth in the year and really get to grips with micros.
-Add 3 species of dragonfly to my UK list.
-Start identifying Hoverflies and Grasshoppers/Crickets
As well as all this Ruth and I intend on getting married so it could be a very busy year indeed.

I have enjoyed writing this blog and will continue throughout 2011, more photos and hopefully more interesting stuff too

Happy new year to all readers, have a good year

Thursday, 30 December 2010

A foggy day at Titchwell

Ruth and I had planned a visit to Titchwell on Wednesday and as we woke we realised that the weather was not going to be nice to us with visibility of about 80m, after delaying for a while we thought sod it and were on the road, it might be quieter people-wise if there is fog. Ruth and I both worked at Titchwell in the past so it was nice to have a catch up with the staff that we knew and to see how things have changed in the offices etc, so after a chat and some food we headed out. The new Fen hide was our first destination, an improvement on the previous hide especially with those windy windows, didn't see much here apart from a few flocks of pinks over. The fresh marsh was still frozen and it was so foggy that anything that was there was impossible to see, the hope of seeing the Northern Harrier seemed a distant hope! Having said that we did see a ringtail Hen Harrier cross the path in front of us and disappear toward Thornham, a definite Hen though. Also a Water pipit came shreiking over us as we got to the (ex) hump.
We carried on to Thornham point where we found a flock of 9 Snow Buntings a small number of Bar tailed godwits and lots of fog between the point and Thornham harbour- the harriers favoured hunting ground. On walking back to the platform we noticed that we could start to see the sea and a few smart drake Goldeneyes, Common Scoter and the other normal birds.

We then went to check out the main event- the new Parrinder Hide, wow, its an amazing bit of architecture and with windows you can position where you want the gap, ideal for those rainy windy days, another feature I really like is the fact that there are stools and not benches and better than that they can be moved up or down so your elbows fit on the shelf nicely. A lot of thought and time has gone into the making of the hide, so congrats to Rob for a great result.
The thick fog was still present apart from a miraculous hole around the fresh and brackish marsh, with the sun lighting up everything beautifully, result! There were fairly good numbers of Teal and Wigeon evident as well as a small flock of Skylarks feeding on the vegetation and 11 Ruff, the gull roost was building steadily too but I couldn't see anything interesting amongst the usuals. Whilst talking to Dave the ducks started scattering and the waders alarming only for a Hen Harrier to come over the Brackish Marsh with the sunlight lighting it up fantastically, you could see all the feather detail brilliantly (through Daves scope...Thanks!) it was of course the Northern Harrier/Marsh Hawk complete with dark mantle, apricot unstreaked underparts, the rump appeared to be broader and more of a wrap around than hen, it did just look slightly different although seeing the leg hanging down was the personal peace of mind just to make absolutely sure it was the bird in question (I know how bad that sounds). So after that bit of luck we headed back for a look in the shop and a cup of tea.
The drive home to Brundall was tricky to say the least, the fog mixed in with the Norfolk B roads, particularly on the Lenwade cut through were awful. I couldn't see more than 5m in front of the car at times so it was a slow drive home.

All in all a very pleasant day, good to catch up with some old friends and amazingly jammy luck to see the fog part and the sun come out just as the Northern Harrier gave a fly by, some say you make your own luck and staying on in the hide was definitely the right decision!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Lesser White front- how genuine though!

A good mornings survey of Buckenham and Cantley saw a fairly good variety of birds using the marshes due to the thaw. 4 Water pipits together on a semi frozen flooded area were a good start. The Taiga Bean geese were on Buckenham first thing this morning, a total of 99 were counted, they also carried a Lesser White Fronted goose with them. There has been a hybrid LWFG in the area for a while but this was as pure as they come, although distant all features could be clearly seen, white blaze going back above the eye, few bars/smudge on belly, yellow/orange eye ring and small size. It was closely hanging around with the Taiga's and eventually flew off with the group when railway staff walked past them. They were fairly distant so the photos are pretty poor.
Other highlights were 85 Pinkies, and 76 White fronts, 2 Ruff and 1600+ Wigeon. Good to see some water unfrozen for a change, made quite a difference.

Click on images to enlarge

Monday, 6 December 2010

Not a massive amount to report in the past week, hence lack of postings. The snow seems to have missed the Norwich area which was a bonus, didn't fancy getting snowed in all week, it has been below freezing all week though.
I have been out and about in the Strumpshaw area adding Mealy Redpoll to the patch list, Bitterns are still being seen flying about over the reedbed, Otters are similarly evident and the Penduline Tit is possibly still about, I have heard it but not yet seen the little blighter.
Friday's survey of Buckenham and Cantley saw very little apart from 78 White fronted geese and a ringtail Hen Harrier, which luckily were both showing very well.
I went to Wells on Saturday to dip another Humes Yellow Browed Warbler, another bird that I seem to have difficulty connecting with. I did however see 11 Mealy Redpolls, 4 Woodcock and a single Northern Bullfinch, the highlight of the walk was a Sunstar on the strand line, the first I have seen in Norfolk.

Day off today and I seem to have picked another dull damp misty day, I'll get blue sky one day off! Just walked around Strumpshaw and watched an Otter breaking the ice in front of Fen hide for 20 mins, amazing how strong they are, too misty for decent shots unfortunately. Also on show were 3 Weasels and a Stoat along sandy Wall and continuing the non bird theme a few rats were munching on some apples by the river bank, apart from that it was business as usual.