Sunday, 29 January 2012

A 2 Mid-Yare Tick weekend

A two tick week at Strumpshaw was a welcome change to the usual winter suspects. The bird patch tick was a female Red Crested Pochard, as always it spent the majority of the time asleep or behind an island in front of reception hide. I am fairly sure its a female but am not too sure what a 1st winter male would look like at this time of the year so cant be too positive. The second patch tick was a Grey Seal! It took me quite by surprise, I was looking over the river towards Surlingham when a loud snort emanated from the water in front of me! I wasn't sure what I would be looking at or for, the sound reminded me of a cetacean, but the more likely mammal was swimming right in front of me a very large adult Grey Seal. There have been reports of them in previous years but was great to actually see the thing myself.
Other highlights of this evening (Post Australian open final 15.00) included 3 Hen Harriers (ad female, juv female and juv male) 8 Marsh Harriers, Kingfisher, 2 Bitterns and a lot of very vocal Chinese Water Deer and Water Rails. A very nice still evening where you could hear every little rustle in the undergrowth and every peep from a bird.

On a final note I managed to get my micro moth yearlist off to a start with Caloptilia stigmatella, a very well marked purple and lemon yellow individual, I found it on the wall of the toilet while having a pee break, sometimes they just come to you.

EDIT: It would appear that there are now 2 (1st Feb) and at least 1 has a shiny blue ring on it, some say they are both ringed.... so -1 for the mid yare list afterall

Monday, 16 January 2012

Arctic Roll

I had a very nice day up in North Norfolk on Saturday; I decided to treat one of my residential volunteers to a day out at some of the finest birding sights in the country. It was a beautiful sunny windless day which made it all the more worthwhile. For some reason I did not take a single photo, possibly because we were on a search and trying to get as big a day list as we could.
Highlights of the day included;
-Great Grey Shrike en route at Fakenham,
-A stop of at Wells produced no rough legs or brant but we did get 2 Shag fishing from the sea wall.
-On to Holkham where I found and got very brief but pretty good views of the Ross's Goose in with thousands of pinks, would have loved to stay here longer but the parking attendant wasn't having any of it, he collard us when we went to have a brief look from the car at the geese, it seems you are not allowed to put your coat on without a ticket, you're certainly not allowed to lift your bins to the geese without already paying. I'll continue parking by the estate entrance in the future far less stress!
-Stop at the Burnham Ovary pull in produced a flock of Skylarks which we had brief flight views of Lap Bunts, also I picked out another very distant Ross's Goose as well as a plethora of other geese, again no rough leg.
-Next stop and with the aim of spending more time in one place we stopped at Titchwell. Lots of additions to the year list here- (not seen the sea yet) best bits included Arctic Redpoll, it took its time to show but I just got onto an extremely pale bird at the back of an Alder and sure enough minutes later the bird was located, very good bird, not sure what all the fuss is about, looked pretty good to me, also a Mealy in the flock. The fresh marsh was packed, additions for the year included a pair of RCpochards, the sea held a few distant ducks inc goldeneye, c scoter, rb mergs, Eider, a diver that resembled a black throat (not countable at that distance), eventually i got onto 4 LT ducks flying in from Brancaster which settled not too far out.
Yesterday was Hen harrier roost count day, I decided to check Buckenham where I was rewarded with one ringtail, Barn owl, Short Eared Owl as well as LWFG, Beans, 12,000 Starlings going to roost and about 15,000 noisy corvids going to roost, lots of people out and about late afternoon too, I counted 78 people in the last hr of light, for Buckenham thats pretty busy.
All in all a very good weekend, the type where you cant help but think Norfolk's great!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year's resolutions

A month without an update oh dear, busy times.

I was lucky enough to whisked away for Christmas with Ruth and my family to the Lake District, we had a week staying just East of Hawswater which was very good indeed. The bird highlights were thin on the ground as expected in December but I saw my first Dippers in England for 5+yearsand a Red Squirrel that Ruth spotted was my first in Cumbria. So after a weeks walking in the mountains and having a jolly family holiday Ruth and I fell ill with Laryngitis, all better for the start of the working year though(!).
Marsh Warbler

So 2011, briefly;
I managed
223 sp of bird in the UK
205 sp in Norfolk
150 sp in Mid Yare Valley
131 sp at Strumpshaw Fen
I added 10 new species to my UK list, including such stunners as male collard flycatcher and songsters such as the incredible Marsh Warbler.

Moths: 377 sp
taking my total up to 613
79 new species found in 2011

Just one new ode- Southern Damselfly

at the begining of the year i proposed;
-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

So I failed on many of the hopes but did get 131 on the Strumpshaw list 1 more than the target and got to see Marsh warbler.

In 2012 I plan to;

-concentrate on my Mid Yare and garden bird list
-chill out a bit and go even shorter distances to go out birding.
-not really bother with a UK year list
-only go for new species to my UK list (only in Norfolk or N Suffolk, of course)
 -species on top of the want/find list are Savis and Icterine Warbler, its got to be time now!
-carry on mothing and try to target new habitats to increase number of species seen
-teach myself some new taxa;
   -fen plants
   -increase knowledge of trees and shrubs
   -try to id as much of everything as possible in the garden (!)
   -start identifying bees, hoverflies, grasshoppers, crickets and bats.

That should keep me busy enough!
I suspect I am pushing it a bit with that lot but I may get started with the theory and basics of some of the identifications of the new taxa.
I'm looking forward to embracing a new set of challenges