Friday, 6 December 2013

Mid Yare Floods

As expected the tidal surge has made its way up the Yare and has impacted on the reserves alongside it.
This morning (08.00) I was pleasantly surprised to see the depth gauge from reception was reading 6.5 (should be about 3.5 in Dec) I was fearing worse! a walk down sandy wall was interesting as it was clear that water was coming in over the river at quite a rate, the river itself was in full flow back towards Yarmouth and the jetty completely underwater, this was 'low tide'.

I then walked to Buckenham where the water was around the top of the bench near the hide, water was seeping through the river bank all along the defence, which I have not seen before.

I returned at 14.00 to find that the depth gauge at reception had disappeared, the pond dipping platform flooded up to the seats, the wet woodland was very flooded, fen hide path had a torrent of water passing over it, the water was about a foot off of the top plank at Sandy Wall and the river was gushing over the fen trail and into the fen. I thought the second tide would be the biggy, now I'm worried about the third tonight!!

I have not had a chance to get to Surlingham today but I imagine church marsh is one big lake at the moment and the path by the duckboards will be a torrent, it may have even breached if there was enough of a flow, we'll see. It will be interesting to see if the new sluice does its job well.

This graph from Environment Agency shows the water level at Brundall/Surlingham, it shows the problem nicely- you can see the water going very low as it was pulled out and then raced up as the surge hit. Check out the low tide dip at 09.00 this morning, it barely registers as a dip at all. The worry now is that there is so much water in the system that tonight's high tide could be even higher....think I'll cancel the work party on Sunday!

Although these scenes are not nearly
as bad as the North Coast, I'm sure it will damage the ecology of the fen as it is saline water, we'll need to get it off quick!
this is not too bad for a 'normal' flood at the fen

Path to Fen hide currently closed

Main path round fen closed, you can't get a sense of the flow of water entering the fen from this shot, but it was roaring!

river still rising

Monday, 2 December 2013

Foot it 2014

I have just signed up to the footit competition. This is a competition whereby you see how many species you can see from your house by foot. Unlike the patch size of patchwork challenge, the allowence is just 1 mile radius from my house, it also just runs for January.
My target is 80 species, which is do-able but will be pretty tricky. A more realistic target would be 70 sp but where's the fun in that!
My 1 mile radius includes a bit of sub-urban, some overgrown fen/scrub, a river, small wooded areas (alder/willow carr), a couple of arable fields, grazing pasture (and the reedbed alongside Lackford run, although I'll only use this in emergencies!)

Here are the maps, should be fun!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

En route Norfolk tick

On Sunday Lizzie Toby and I went for Sunday lunch at a friends in Sheringham so I thought it would be a missed opportunity if we didnt at least pop into the car park at Holt Country Park...
As we pulled in there was quite a crowd looking for the Parrot Crossbills, they had not been seen for a few hours at that point so i guess the crowd had just built up through the morning. Anyway after 3 mins 3 birds flew into one of the pines giving fairly good views although partially obscured for some of the time, even then it was obvious that they were monster crossbills! (jammy timing!)
One of the less red males decided to do the decent thing and flew to a branch nice and open and fairly close, probably to check out what all the people were doing there. This gave a great opportunity to really look at the bird, it looked amazing through the scope, I also got a few shots for the record.

What was quite interesting was the variety in bill size between the flock, some had really massive bills compared to others, the bird I photographed typically was a small billed bird but even so quite a clear parrot, check out the bull neck and forehead. After a short walk we returned to the car where the flock of 12 were flying back and forth giving the call I so wanted to hear just a little one syllable blip blip rather than a commons gLip gLip 2syllable to remember for the future.

So off we went to Cleyspy to try out some more binoculars and then on to a fantastic roast beef. Great day out!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Yarmouth cemy/beach

Another visit to Yarmouth Cemetery this morning produced 3+ Firecrests and 4 Chiffchaffs mostly within a large tit flock. Apart from that there was little to report, it did feel lie something could drop in, but as far as I didnt!
At the end of my final circuit I remembered that some Shorelarks had been seen on the beach not too far from the cemy so i decided to go and have a look. I'm glad I did, I was rewarded with some great views of these 4 birds in pretty good light too. This is not a species I see too often so was nice to have half an hour studying them and their calls. Unfortunately as is often the case with Shore Lark they were  moving about all over the place feeding well and squabbling amongst themselves, this made photography quite tricky. Cracking birds all the same and glad I went to have a look.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Yarmouth cemy migrants

An early start at Gt Yarmouth cemetery in the hope of some migrants produced a few nice things.

In the early dawn light a Hawfinch flew over and I was lucky enough to see it land at the top of a bare tree, it was barely light so the pic below is not bad considering! Glad to see another of these beauties after getting a flyover at Strumpshaw on Monday, so good to see it on the deck too.

A huge long tailed tit flock carried at least 2-4 Firecrests, always a joy to see.

Just as I was about to call it a day a Yellow Browed Warbler started calling loudly, this showed well briefly, but not well enough for any pics. Always feels more autumnal with these little stripy jobs around.

Patch update;
1 Ring Ouzel last Sunday
Hawfinch flyover on Monday
2 Snow Buntings flew over the office yesterday (so glad I was walking in the yard when they went over! not easy in Mid Yare)
Total: 154, very happy with the score so far, especially seeing as my target was 150!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Migrants- moths of course no birds here!

With last nights min temp at 14 degrees with a southerly airflow, I put the traps out at Strumpshaw.
This morning I had fairly high hopes that I should have a migrant or two.... I was right I had 2 proper migrant species.

Of 30 species in the trap the undoubted highlights were a male and female Four Spotted Footman, my first in Norfolk and by all accounts a good record for inland Norfolk, coming in at second place were 3 Dark Sward Grass and rather oddly in third place Merveille du jour (4).

I also had a look around Cantley Beet factory and found nothing worth mentioning!
Patchwork challenge update- up to 151 at the moment having added Whinchat and much more surprisingly 2 Sandwich Terns that flew over the reception broad while I had 15 insurance brokers doing a work party (what timing, and I almost certainly looked like a nob while I ran for my bins!) Still what a Mid Yare bird!
I did mange to change my day off from tomorrow (SW wind and nice) to Friday (Strong NE and rain) much better! so I'm, quite looking forward to the weekend now, there's chance of a yellow browed yet (hopefully something better though!)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Full House

Today Toby and I went for a trip to Lynford Arboretum, with the hope of seeing the 2 barred crossbills and hopefully seeing Stripe Winged Grasshopper.

We failed with the crossbills but didnt really mind as I did get the tick I wanted- Stripe Winged Grasshopper- This now means that I have successfully seen all orthoptera species in Norfolk this year!

This cracking male was singing North of the car park and I think the other is a female which was near the paddocks.

Male SWG showing ladder on forewing
...and the white comma on the wing

A female SWG

Check out the eye pattern on this Field Grasshopper!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Where to start??!

Since my last post I have done a fair bit, but I'll condense it into 1 blog with some photos just so I can get back to the present....

To start with back at the begining of August I went to Scotland for a week with my parents Lizzie and Toby, we went near to Fort William for a couple of nights and then on to Skye for a week. Needless to say it was as fantastic as Scotland always is, with the expected highlights of Golden and White Tailed Eagles, fantastic mountainous scenery and great walks! Apart from 5-6 new moth species I had just 2 ticks, in the form 1000's of Scotch Argus of 2 Minkie Whales- these were pretty impressive even if just seen distantly! I was quite hoping that I would get a few new odonata but there was relatively little on show while we were there. At the first location we did find a acid bog pool with a good number of Common Hawkers flying around, however they would not stop moving and photography was pretty much impossible- (So thats why I never see them at Winterton!!)  Also I have included a picture of an unidentified dragonfly- it could possibly be a female Common Hawker blue form? could it be Azure Hawker?! any ideas please let me know..

Common Hawkers mating

Cuckoo taking advantage

Scotch Argus

Any ideas???

Back in Norfolk I had my annual quest for Icterine Warbler, on what was a very impressive fall I managed to see 2!- however it is not all smiles the first one I saw was at Cley, it was seen by a few people in front of me in the willows by the hides but I was looking at a Reed Warbler thinking  -these guys dont know what they are talking about- however the Icky was apparently just below the Reed almost on the floor. I did say I saw it though- I did- I saw it fly out of the willow it had been in for 24hrs and fly very strongly over my head and away inland!!! No I could not tell it from a melodious on that.  2 days later an Icky had been showing at Gun Hill- great! As I arrived I could see people watching the bird, I got to 50m away and suddenly everyone disbanded and walked off saying it had just flown, but it was showing really well...thanks! 5 and a half hrs later after quite literally bashing the sueda I saw the bird perch up right in the open for about 1 second and then dart off into a Elder, while in the Elder I could see the branches crashing about with its movements and between clusters of little black berries I saw its eye moving..... that was it....another hour and I called it a day, unsuccessful again. (the bird was seen the next day showing well for most of the day according to the pager!)  Moral of the story if you are twitching an Icterine Warbler and I turn up you may as well leave!

Just to make things a little worse on my way to gun hill I got a phone call letting me know that there were two Wrynecks on the Strumpshaw rivebank!! It was pretty much dark by the time I got home so had a slightly uneasy nights sleep in anticipation of wether it/they would still be there. Luckily for me at least 1 was!

Wryneck, Osprey and Little Stint have been added to the patchwork challenge list giving me a current total of 149, my highest total so far ar Mid Yare in a year- hopefully a few more will come along and boost it further. It puts me in 15th place out of the whole of the UK, so I'm pretty chuffed with that (although given this autumn I'm sure the coastal locations will be raking up the scores shortly!
Little Stint

Tower hide and the water levels in general have been pretty low this year, mainly due to the lack of rain compared to previous years. (We don't put river water into the fen from the sluices in the summer as it is more likely to do more damage than good as the quality of the water is extremely poor)This has meant that the fen has had a great chance to reinvigorate its abundance of mud dwelling inverts as well as giving the flora the all important boost it needs to grow without being underwater. The fish have all been in the deep water refuges that run throughout the fen (not visible from paths), the Osprey's certainly found where the fish were hiding and by the looks of it had quite a lot of luck fishing (quite literally like 'catching' fish in a barrel). Another great thing that has come out of it is waders! Tower hide has been really good throughout the dry spell with regular Ruff numbers exceeding 20, Black Tailed Godwits putting in regular showings, Dunlin being present quite frequently, even Curlew have visited and as far as I know it yielded the first Strumpshaw Fen records of Curlew Sandpiper (2) and Little Stint (as far as the records dictate anyway)! The recent heavy rain has now increased the water level a little, so it is looking a bit less muddy than it was, providing yet more wet edge feeding opportunities for waders and maybe even a Spotted Crake might be out there.

A trip to Titchwell on Monday to check out the new trails was a good move. We had a great day and got to explore new sections of the reserve which offer excellent alternative views to the fresh marsh- perfect for those sunny mornings! We did it all with a pushchair too which was so so good, so many places are not accessible for pushchairs which is really annoying but there we were about 10m away from feeding little stint curlew sands, dunlins etc. We also saw a pec sand and a spoonbill. Congrats Paul on the water levels spot on. Loads of waders right in front of the hides!

Tuesday saw an early (4am) start to get to Sheringham to do some seawatching. The going was relatively quiet rarity wise howevermy totals were- 78- Arctic skua, 24-Bonxie, 8 sooty shear and 22 Manx shear.

And Finally, (just yesterday!) I went out in search of the Great Green Bush Cricket, I have been meaning to have a look for this critter for the past couple of years and yesterday I got the chance while the sun was shining to go. I managed to see/hear at least 27 individuals of this fantastic species. Looking at the weather forecast it may well have been the last chance to see them this year, glad I went!
I wish I could rotate on blogger!

In full stridulation!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A great start to late summer on the patch

Another two patch ticks this week, one of which was a very expected Crossbill, 2 of which were seen flying over the fen and towards the reception area. Both sounded very normal so just a slight pulse increase and not the trumpet call I was hoping for.
A day later I was cutting various bits around Buckenham when I went to investigate how much vegetation I would need to cut to clear a view into the North pool near the hide. As I approached the pool a few waders took flight, two of which were small and showed white rumps, thats when you start saying 'turn around- let me see you!' luckily they did a bit of circuit and landed again allowing me to confirm them as two Curlew Sandpipers. The two brick red beauties constitute another full patch tick for me, they are surprisingly infrrequent on the reserve but can be expected in numbers at the beet factory, which made the record all the more satisfying.... The vegetation will be cleared with a weedwiper so hopefully the views will get better soon.
A quick look this morning saw 4 Wood Sands, 2 greenshank as well as 63 Blackwits and a few ruff. I bet the biggie turns up next week when I'm in Scotland, it's looking good down there at the mo. I have also seen that there is currently a little stint present too (still need that too but I hope to get one sooner or later there).
So it puts my patchbirding list up to 144 species, just 6 off my target of 150 and 5 off of my best Mid Yare list set last year of 149.
While on the subject of figures... I have had 8 patch ticks this year so far so an extra 6 is possible the most likely additions none of which are guaranteed include Spotted Flycatcher, Barwit, Black tern, Osprey, Little Gull, Little stint and Pec Sand.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Patch update

Been a little while since I updated the patch list on here, the main reason being that its been a bit slow!- June started with a flyover spoonbill on the 2nd, my first for the valley. That was it for June though, breeding birds were about all that were seen on the patch, nice as they are. I failed to find/see any Savis or Marsh Warblers and really as yet have not seen any real rarities apart from the Montys I suppose, which makes the total all the better as it shows the mid yare valley is a great place for all sorts of more regular birds.
July has almost gone past too, however another new valley bird for me was a Turnstone on 21st, a very attractive adult was on Buckenham hide pool. Last night a walk around Buckenham produced 70+ Ruff, small numbers of green sand, Avocet, 2 ringos and another patch yeartick- Greenshank. This puts me on 142 for the mid yare reserves so far this year...and as yet have not had to use my trump site- (the beet factory). I suspect the sugar factory will be visited a bit more in the coming month for waders, especially for curlew sand and the possibility of extra points for finging a pec sand... I just need to beet the regulars there!
Here's hoping for some decent wader migration in the next month or so.

Targets for the next few months;
Crossbill- usually present by late July
(2 barred crossbill) with the flock above ;-)
Spotted Flycatcher- got to see one this yr, hopefully a family party will show itself at some point soon!
Barwit- lots turning up at Breydon
Black tern
Little Gull- again a few at Breydon
Little stint
Curlew Sand
Pec Sand
+Something very rare!

Saturday, 13 July 2013


Last weekend was a moth weekend! My father and I had 3 nights of trapping- 2 at Strumpshaw and 1 at Snettisham RSPB reserve. The results were 90 sp at Strumpy on thurs night, 63 at Snetts and a whopping 111 at Strumpy again on the Sunday morning.
Needless to say there were many year ticks and even a few ticks for me/us, many of the year ticks were moths I have not seen since volunteering at titchwell six years ago!

A small selection of photos below

Stunning location for trapping- check out all the stonecrop in flower as well as lots of vipers bugloss

un-id'd so far- (not a moth either!)

Platytes cerussella- New for both of us

Tawny shears- again  new

Dogs tooth


Sand Dart

A nice Campion

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A red data book day

A day surveying in the wider broads saw many good plants, insects and high quality fen.
These included Fen Orchid, Crested Buckler fern, Sundew, adders toungue (new species for me), Marsh cinqufoil in flower, swallowtails, Norfolk Hawkers and many other shades of green vegetation.