Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A first (or fourth) for Norfolk!

The little critter in the photo below was found on the 22nd as I came home from work, it was attracted to the light in my porch and thankfully made it into the pot in my pocket. the moth is one of the family of Gracillariidae, these small moths stand bolt upright in a way that no others do, whuch helps find the moth idenity slightly quicker than others.
The moth is called Caloptilia falconipennella, this represents the first example of the moth in Norfolk, by which I mean only the leaf mine of this moth has ever been found before and that has only been found at 3 sites. The moth pictures have been sent to various people and has been confirmed as the above species. What a find!!!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Short Toed Treecreeper

I spent the weekend in Essex, the primary reason being to see my new nephew but also to say hi to the rest of the family and friends. I left early on Sunday morning with Landguard set in my sights. I arrived at about 8.30 and was greeted by glum cold faces, the same could be said for the next 2 hours. Just as I was thinking of giving up I heard a shout that someone had just seen it, great stuff, at least I knew it was still there.
About 10 mins past and it was relocated a little way along the ridge I got onto it for a nano second while it was perched in full view, unfortunately someone was a bit over excited and shouted ITS AT 3 O'CLOCK IN THE SMALL BUSH (I mean shouted) at which the bird disappeared, I'm not going to say what I was thinking at the time, although I believe someone was a little less contained and gave them a talking to. I managed at least 5 brief views which were ok but not what you want from a bird so similar to 'our' species, the fact that the 30 or so people ran to see the bird each time it was seen did not help. So in the end I (quite selfishly!) watched the bird without letting anyone know for about 1 minute in full view, then let others know it was on show, sure enough a few seconds later it was off again. I don't usually do that sort of thing but it was necessary and worthwhile in this case.
I managed to see the wing markings quite well in the final view as well as noticing the white tips, long bill and buffy flanks, it had a different look about it. The bird was calling quite frequently which was helpful although the crowd of 30 or so seemed to not register the fact that it was calling at all!! It is afterall probably the best form of id based on brief views, oh well they' learn that if they use their ears they will see more.

My favorite quotes of the morning were;
'is it a pale bird'
'is it a small bird'
'where is it I cant find it in my scope and have not yet seen it' [use binoculars!]
'what does our usual treecreeper look like, is this not the same?'
I was amazed by the comments and lack of knowledge of how to birdwatch/use optics. I was embarrassed to be there at times! Still a cracking little UK tick which could probably be best described as a birders bird, those who didnt know what they were looking/listening for really missed out.. oh well, I was happy at least.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Quick update

Been busy lately so no updates. a quick photo update...
I had Monday and Tuesday off and managed to get to Minsmere and took in links road car park on the return journey. No amazing sightings at Mins however the Bittern in front of Island Mere hide was a highlight. Gulls became a slight headache after being told that a particular bird was an adult caspian, turns out it probably was a yellow legged, however I did manage to pick out a contender Caspian eventually.

Above pics show the Yellow legged gull (reported as Caspian)

Possible Caspian gull subadult?

Got a cracking Iceland Gull at Lowestoft, been present all winter but finally decided to go back via said car park, lovely little gull, much paler than I expected too.

Got my first sand martins of the year yesterday afternoon at Strumpy and Chiffchaffs seem to be filtering through in numbers now.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Mandarin and a hybrid gull ?

A pair of mandarins from Tuesday at Santon Downham showing very nicely. They were however very alert and wary of me to the extent that the male was doing some kind of threat gesture towards me, something I have not seen before.

The gull is probably either a hybrid Med x Blackhead or a leucistic Black headed gull, I'm not too sure but I think the hybrid theory may be more likely, any thoughts?

Moths in double figures...finally

Trap out at the Fen last night saw 35 moths of 8 species. All pretty standard for the time of the year but good to get multiple species.

5 March Moth
3 Common quaker
9 small quaker
8 Hebrew charactor
5 Oak beauty
1 Clouded drab
1 Dotted border
3 Engrailed

Also had a small orangy moth flying around in the workshop yard yesterday in the sunshine, which I think must have been an orange underwing, a slight surprise seeing as it may be a first for the reserve.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

There's definitely something in the water!

Yesterday morning I arose fairly early and noticed the weather was fairly nice, bright and calm, not the predicted drizzle. I headed out for a morning stroll around Strumpy.
Bird-wise it was fairly quiet but I had an amazing count of Otters, more than I have ever seen in a morning.

After walking through the woodland trail I arrived at the puphouse, the first view of the river gave me very good views of a dog otter swimming alongside me, seemingly not taking a lot of notice of me which was surprising as I was quite exposed. After a few minutes of watching I realised there was a smaller looking (female?) swimming on the other side of the bank, she then went onto the bank and the male swam quickly over to her. They then had a fight or mated (difficult to tell with some animals!?) there was a lot of noise and splashing for about 5 mins in the shallows, then all went quiet and they headed in-land.

Dog otter

I moved on to the sluice where I happened upon the (different) adult female with her two cubs, they showed very well for just over 5 mins at a range of 10-15 metres, fantastic!

Mother with 2 cubs, plus a video of them playing. (pity about the words in the middle!!)

Then on the way back down sandy wall I came face to face with another Otter, an even better view this time as it was out of the water, I was waching this for about 30 seconds only but managed a shot or two, I was mainly eyeballing it through the bins, quite an experience.

I assume that at this time of the year there are a lot of territorial arguments and a general movement of Otters throughout the countryside? I saw at least 5 individuals but would not be at all surprised if the total was 6, a higher number than I thought were present on the reserve.
Great morning where I just couldn't stop seeing Otters, back for breakfast by 9.00 too!

Friday, 4 March 2011

If at first you dont succeed...

Back in the Brecks again today, not wanting to be beaten I had to go back and try again.
The day started very well with a Norfolk tick in the form of 2 Willow tits calling away, I only got annoyingly brief but good views of one of the birds but they were calling non stop which was perhaps a better id feature anyway! Very pleased with this one, as some of you know I have been trying for willow tits for quite a while, these were the first I have seen for at least five years, shocking I know.
I then went to a Lesser Pecker site and had a walk alongside the river, after waiting patiently for about an hour I heard drumming and calling from around the corner. I thought great, gocha, until I walked toward the sound and found a group of 4 people walking away, when I enquired about whether they had seen the bird that was calling a guy sheepishly said it was a tape (mp3 nowdays of course). So I was a little annoyed a) because I hadn't heard a lesser pecker and b) because I think its wrong to tape lure a rare breeding bird on its main territory.
I then decided to check out a Goshawk site, a very pleasant walk resulted in 2 Displaying common buzzards and a very distant accipiter which was probably a Gos, brief and not particularly satisfactory.
Black necked grebe was picked up on the flashes at Lakenheath, a nice looking bird which is still in winter plumage, the bright sunshine picked out the eye really well, it looked like it was on fire glowing bright orange-red. A slight attack of the conscience has struck me now, what list to put it on? I keep a Norfolk list and BNG is a good Norfolk bird but I was standing on Suffolk soil, the bird however was in Norfolk ie North of the river, what to do? I know if it were the other way round it'd be on the list.
From here I thought seeing as the weather was so good (and Lakenheath Steve put my mind at ease (thanks!)) I'd try for Goshawk again at a different location, amazingly I connected with a displaying male showing reasonable well for 3 display flights, the last sighting was about 14.30, not bad for a 'morning bird'. Feeling pleased with myself I headed home.

A great day out, its always good to get to the brecks and especially seeing Goshawk, a real buzz bird for me. Willow tits obviously the most satisfying bird of the day due to the fact that iv'e wanted to see them for ages, I think I've double checked every Strumpshaw Marsh at least three times now!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Tits, Haws and Peckers

Despite the weather today I thought I would continue with my plan to go to the Brecks and look for Willow tit, Lesser spotted woodpecker and Hawfinch- (Gos was out of the question it was cold, cloudy and there was a Northerly wind).
To cut a long story short I saw none of the above but I had a nice walk along the River Little Ouse, from Santon Downham to Thetford, Norfolk on the way there, Suffolk on the way back.

The main highlight of the day was seeing/hearing 3 woodlarks, a nice reminder that spring was on the way despite being freezing. I also have earmarked it as a site to go netting for moths in the summer, lots of exit holes on the poplars so I'm guessing Hornet clearwings are present in large numbers in the area as well as a good range of habitats for the Brecks moth specialities.

Got tomorrow off too and the weather looks much the same....what to do?