Friday, 27 February 2015

It couldn't be, could it?

Slightly confused by a large accipitor today seen from Tower Hide. I first saw it way off over the marina and instantly thought  Hen Harrier, always nice to see. Then all of a sudden I realised it didnt look quite right, it started powering to the right, morphing into a large heavy looking acciptor as it went.
Many will know I'm usually the first person to dismiss such claims of Gos, especially away from their strongholds, I usually say if you see a Gos you know it... but at this distance I was struggling.
It was a very large bird, clearly the size of a hen harrier at least, the undertail coverts were fully wrapped around the uppertail (giving the look of hen harrier on first look) the wings were fairly broad and it looked broad in the hips. The bird then headed back left and flushed just about every woodpigeon in the woods and then dissapeared.
As I have said I am usually the one who rubbishes these sorts of records, but I am very used to seeing displaying Sparrowhawks from this vantage point and this was instantly different due to size and bulk. I have seen large female sparrowhawks from here too, so do have prior knowledge as to what to expect in terms of behavior and size/shape. It actually did not look much smaller than the marsh harriers as they fly past that area, sparrowhawks certainly usually appear far smaller then them!
I took some very poor photos which are featured below. I admit they are not much use but I would really appreciate any comments as to why it could or couldnt be a Gos. Unfortunately apart from structure and flared undertail coverts I did not really get any plumage detail, partially due to attempted photography, now kicking myself! Photos taken with optical zoom only, no digital zoom and have only been cropped.

goshawk male ws 90-105cm
sparrowhawk fem ws 67-80
hen harrier ws 97-118
Woodpigeon ws 68-77

this is an uncropped version of the photo below showing distance

bulky body and width of wing visible (just about through pixilation!)
Again same photo cropped to show comparison size of woodpigeon on left at what looked like a similar distance

There is what looks like a gull in this image but not sure of comparative distance?

this shot shows the wing shape/length slightly better

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


A short post as it involves the hallowed ground that is the Brecks.
I went to four different locations and saw;
4 different male Bighawk
3 Bigfinch (1 male and 2 female)
1 Woodlark
4 Red Kite
20+ Buzzard (10 in one scan at a site)
as well as other usuals such as Bramblings, Redpolls, Siskins
(but no Crossbills, Little woodpeckers or Willow Tits)

Not bad for a chilly, windy, cloudy day and very enjoyable after a years absence from the area.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

White -(in)- Front of the reception hide

A Sunday in the office was brightened up by a slightly odd occurance; I went to make sure the volunteers were ok in reception when I noticed a small goose flying high heading towards us. I could see belly bars so instantly knew it was a White-front, what surprised me was that it landed on the broad.... headed towards reception and hauled out with the greylags. An amazingly close view for the reserve, usually they are only seen at Buckenham and are always weary. Its a bit of a shame that is was getting dusky and was so gloomy or else the shots would be a bit better. I'm not sure exactly of the age of this bird, the belly bars would suggest it is an adult but the lack of good blaze possibly suggests otherwise??? Its right cheek has a small dark patch, I wonder if this is the reason for it being a little lost/unaware, it could well have been ill and that was the only physical detail showing it. it was shaking its head from time to time which furthers the possibility of the dark spot being a tick or similar. I'm not sure but it was a belter of a bird for the reception hide!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Dodgy Duck and Glaucey Leucism

A relatively quiet week birdwise, but a new species of moth for the reserve made up for it and an interesting hybrid duck and leucistic gull was the best I could muster this morning.

Today's look around the patch took me to the beet factory, where numbers of wildfowl were very low, the only counts worthy of mention were 230 Teal and 34 Ruff. The interest came from 2 sightings of dodgy birds! The first was a large white winged gull which I only saw flying away from me. The gull had pure white upperwings and was very large, I think it could have been called Glaucous with a worse view, however I'm pretty sure it was a leucistic Herring Gull, I have since been informed that one from Lowestoft has been seen in the area....So if you think you see a white winger double check!
The second interesting bird was a Pochard type duck, this was with a male and female Common Pochard and was displaying to the female. The bird was pretty obviously not of pure blood as it had a yellow eye, peaked crown, darker brown hue to the head, dark upperparts and a lighter breast patch, the bill was also blue with a black tip. The bird was almost resembling Redhead, but I sort of knew from the start that I was looking at a Pochard x Ferruginous Duck drake, a nice bird to see all the same. Oddly there was a similar bird around last year which showed a red-brown colouration of the breast, I wonder if this could this be the same bird a year on?

The other avian highlight of the week came on Sunday, this was a fine drake Goosander on the river near Strumpshaw sluice. The bird remained until at least Wednesday, but was quite elusive at times.

So on to the major news... after recieving an email inviting me to a session to learn how to look for coleophora hydrolapathella I decided to have a look for myself to see if it was present. On Tuesday a few of us were at the area most likely to hold it, so we had a look and within 5 mins Luke had found a case, a later look found in excess of 20 cases in 20mins. So we have a very rare moth on site that we never knew about! This species is only found in a few places in Norfolk and 1 location in Suffolk. Attatched is an image of the silken case from which it feeds, not overly exciting but the records a gooden!