Friday, 28 February 2014

Icelandic delight!

I must admit I was pretty gutted last night to have missed the best showing of the Aurora Borealis in Norfolk for some 20 years, so I feel a bit better now that I saw something from the Icelandic region!

Today, I had a day off so I decided to head out along the Yare and see where I get to. The marshes were particularly quiet this morning with little of note seen bar a small flock of pinkies, 7 Ruff, 3 Dunlin and a migrating? flock of Curlews heading inland, I also heard a distant green sand (think I'll wait for another before yearticking it though) as well as the other usual species.

On my return I noticed a few gulls loafing on a small pool, I casually glanced at them with my binoculars...Herring, Lesser black-back (could it be, black headed, common and....ICELAND!
I was in a slight state of shock to be honest, this was not on my Mid Yare radar! I needed to get a bit closer as the distance and light were not good for the all important record shots. At that point a marsh harrier flew over making it fly a little way east with a few other gulls, closer to the path, so stealth mode engaged and the all important shots were secured (still grainy and at full zoom on my camera, but I reckon they'll pass the county recorders. I tried ringing Alasdair, the warden of the marshes, who I could see working but my phone for some reason wouldn't connect, I tried RBA and the office with the same outcome, great!
The bird then flew further east towards the sugar factory but remained on the marshes. I headed home to use the landline to report the sighting in the hope that others could connect too (not sure it was seen again though)
I wonder if its roosting at the factory or if it was just passing and I was lucky enough to connect?? 
A good end to Feb all the same!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A week off and a day of Greys

Looks like I chose a bit of a wet week to take off....

In between fixing the fence in the garden and decorating our bedroom I managed to get out and about in the rain yesterday and in quite pleasant conditions this morning.
Yesterday I decided since it was raining all day that I would look at other peoples birds- first stop was the 2 barred crossbill at Hoveton. I arrived at 8 to an empty car park and realised that in the rush to beat the rain I had forgotten my tripod! Its quite a nice place so enjoyed having it all to myself, although it was not until 9.30 that I heard my first crossbills (both common). At 10.30 I decided that I'd had enough so left the larch belt, at 10.32 the 2bxbill flew into the larch belt!!! Luckily a couple that were present very kindly shouted after me letting me know that a flock of crossbills had flown into the trees, it did not take long to pick the bird in question out. So in the driving rain (I'm sure it stepped up a notch when the bird appeared) there I was balencing my ED50 on my knee pointing it up at 60 degrees to find the bird- a bit tricky but I got good views if a little wobbly. A nice bird and only the second I have ever seen, so also a Norfolk tick. (No photos obviously, but may possibly go back on Friday if weather is looking any better)
After the crossbill I headed to the trinity broads where I picked up the smart female Scaup, then home for lunch.
Edit: typically both the scaup and the crossbill are looking a little dodgy now. The scaup shows inconsistencies with the bill tip and pale band, flank colour and peaked appearance of the hind crown. The crossbill has issues too, why couldn't it be a nice adult like they had in the midlands!
Neither of the above birds have made it onto my year list/ Norfolk list unfortunately....

Today I opted for an early start to again beat the forecast rain, I stayed local and did Strumpshaw, seeing a Little Owl on the way in and getting lovely views of Bittern, 2 Otters a couple of Water pipit and a number of Marsh Harriers I also picked up my first Grey Wag of the year at Strumpshaw. After completing the circuit there was still no rain so I headed to Buckenham. Highlight of the day here with a Grey Plover with Ruff and Dunlin, not an easy bird in the Mid Yare so nice to 'get that under the belt' so early in the year. Apart from that the 2 Peregrines were taunting the Teal from their lookout point 150+ Whitefronts and 400+ Pinks and another Water Pipit near Buckenham Station.

I then came back home and added 2 more fence panels to the garden fence (not a good day due to the wind) but I managed ok, just 1 more to put up and I'm done...finally!

Tomorrow I have a family day, where we plan to go to the Horsey area for a walk followed by a valentines lunch at the Bridge in Acle. Hopefully there will be something to blog about before the weeks end, looking at the weather outside there should be a few displaced birds about! 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

January done...

Well that was a month to forget! There were some high points but generally I felt ill and like sh*t for the whole of January, 4 weeks of colds culminating in an outbreak of flu (that's Lizzie and Toby and me just to make it worse).

But feeling ill aside, I did make my best efforts in this years footit competition, which was thoroughly enjoyable, despite it raining every weekend!! I did a 1 mile radius from my house, a quarter of that circle was on the other side of the river so I had a relatively small area to play with. However the Brundall area is pretty rural and varied so there were quite a few habitats to choose from- Fen, overgrown fen/carr, arable, small woodland, river, grassland, reedbed and open water to name some.
I set myself the high target of 80 species, which at the time I thought was way above what I would achieve but would give me something to aim at...I was pretty chuffed when I realised that the target was achievable and even more so when I met my target! My last outing (full of flu, but dragging myself around Brundall) saw me (ab)use my wardening position to flush out a Jack Snipe from Bradeston Marsh for 79 and then I headed to Braydeston Hills stopped at a field I had looked in so many times and thought there must be a green woodpecker somewhere here... and then one flew past- magic!
Biggest misses were- Skylark (tried hard for this!!) Bearded tit, Bittern, coot, linnet, little egret and woodcock, all of which I have seen within the 1 mile limit before (85 next year??).

My Patchwork challenge list feels like it has got off to a very slow start, I have not really been properly birding on the patch (apart from footit lackford run area). I had to do a count at Buckenham and Cantley and have done a couple of surveys at Strumpshaw. Through this workbirding I have managed to come up with 93 species so far, with the undoubted highlight being the female Smew from reception on Thursday afternoon. My first proper Strumpshaw Smew on the deck so pretty pleased, although I did not find it unfortunately.

Finally can anyone help me out with this bug? It looks to me like it should be a leafhopper from the subfamily Idiocerinae, possibly even Idiocerus herrichi, but the scutellum markings dont quite fit. Any help here would be much appreciated, especially considering it was on my conservatory window in mid January!

So I'm pretty sure that will go down as one of the worst January's for me, but at least I'm beginning to get back to normal and footit certainly gave me a bit moreof a reason to get out and see what was on my doorstep, will certainly be taking part again next year!
..bring on February!