Sunday, 24 May 2015

A big bogey picked!

As many readers of this blog may be aware, Icternine Warblers and I do not get on, or should I say I have an amazing track record of being a few minutes too late, watch it fly over my head etc. So today was probably my 6/7th attempt to see this once scarce now rare warbler.

I had my first lay in in ages this morning after a semi late night at a wedding last night, so at breakfast I checked my pager (9.30ish) to see an Icky had been seen at West Runton, I guess I had to go and check it out so off I went... I arrived to find c25 people staring into a corner but no sign for a while, I stayed for 10mins and thought it looked a bit windy where people were looking and that it would surely be better on the other side of the scrub line. I was slightly torn (given my track record with this species) do I stay where the bird has been seen and lots of eyes looking or do I do what I think is right. I chose the latter and found a nice sheltered spot, I heard a small burst of song which was instantly recognisable and then a bird flew into an area of buckthorn, I stayed on the area where I could see something moving about when all of a sudden it hopped onto a branch in full view. I was finally watching an Icterine Warbler and what a bird it was, lemon coloured with a large orangey bill, short super, square tail and an amazingly prominent wing panel. I was just staring at it with binoculars despite having the camera on my shoulder, I really didn't want to ruin the moment with a blurred image!
It was only on show for 10 seconds or so then flicked down, by now a few other birders had arrived and I located again in a poplar, this time I chose to photograph it as it fed in the tops of the tree, it then flew back to the buckthorn and disappeared.
I hung around for another hour and a half where it showed again a couple of times and gave a really good burst of song when the sun came out briefly.

 It was as bulky as I thought it would be, but the wing panel was far more obvious than I was expecting and the subtle head pattern with the black staring eye was quite distinctive. It certainly lived up to its skulky reputation, I can see how they disappear in more habitat (like the gun hill bird)
What a bird and such an overdue addition to my British list. It was well worth the wait and I'm glad to have seen it well and hear it sing, now to find one!

Almost looked a bit awkward in flight due to bulk and dangling legs

Square tail

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Insects are go!

A few trips out recently have seen a few new Norfolk species for me.

The Brecks gave me Grizzled and Dingy Skipper along with a nice Burnet Companion.

Dad and I have booked several moth trapping sessions at Winterton this year, the first trap was fairly dissapointing due to the poor weather, however we did get a Camomile Shark, which was a new macro for both of us.

The fen is alive with insects when the sun shines including a whole host of odonata including Common, Azure, Blue-tailed, Variable, Red-Eyed and Large-red Damselfy, Hairy Dragonfly, 4-spotted and scarce chaser as well as Banded Demoiselles emerging today in number.

I saw 2 Wall Butterflies at Cantley this morning while doing my (not quite) monthly train to Cantley and walk back to Brundall. A total of 70 species of bird was seen on the walk, considering it did not seem as though there was a lot about I think 70sp is a pretty good total. Best bird was a brief Spotted Flycatcher in the wood. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Local birding and a cheeky finch twitch

I have been checking Buckenham and Cantley on a near daily basis lately in hope of finding a rare wader or similar, I still have not found said rarity. However I have seen a few local goodies in the past week. There has been a fairly steady flow of Wheatears lately, with 3 at Cantley and 4 separate birds at Buckenham. Yellow wags have been all over the marshes but only posing for the camera once or twice in the week. I also found a rather odd pied wagtail which had a completely white throat, as far as I can tell it was just a Yarrellii in full winter plumage, which seems odd for May! Finally locally today there was an arrival of whitethroats at Buckenham which were making themselves obvious with their scratchy songs.
I did try my best to string a Honey Buzzard mid week, I was pretty convinced, however the expert opinion has ruled it out due to wing shape, some did agree with my original id though. (some pics below) I first picked it up as it was looking from left to right and its head and long neck were twisting around all over the place, I thought the body shape looked good too.

bottom right bird. strange how the head was constantly pertruding much more than the others

I then got home and saw that a Ciril finch had been seen at Holkham, the description of mobile and illusive left me waiting for another message or two. After cleaning all the windows in the house I decided to go. As I parked at Lady Annes Drive there had been no sign for over an hour and another message saying still no sign so I didn't hold a lot of hope, but since I was there I'd give it a few hours. Luckily I had thought about the walk and put my bike in the car, a great idea as it meant that the 3 mile walk was a pleasant 10min cycle. I arrived at the dunes, ditched the bike and got onto the bird immediately, it was showing well in a large dune slack, I took some photos and had good binocular views for 5 mins and it then flew off. So was that the easiest twitch for a second for Britain? Probably. Having seen it very well and had some shots I decided that would do and I'd head back to Lizzie and Toby to spend the rest of the day with them (some brownie points retrieved). My bet was on a Bee-eater or two today, but I'll certainly settle for this mega! What a beauty and the bike was such a good idea; I left at the same time as some other birders from the car park and managed to get to the dunes, see the bird, I passed the same birders still on their way up just passing Meals House!

What will the next week bring? I'm mothing with dad on Thursday and Friday so some good moths would be nice, some good mothing weather would be just as welcome!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Brief update

Just a few bit and bobs I have seen over the bank holiday weekend, I was working on Saturday and Monday, however I was out and about so it wasnt all bad!

The highlight (apart from the Pec which is still present) was the appearance of three White Wagtails at Buckenham. These are my first White Wags for the Mid Yare! I have seen some birds before which have most probably been this ssp, but have not been confident enough to (sub)tick them, but these three were close enough to scope and id as two males and a female.

The escaped White Stork is still finding the reserve to its liking, its happily feeding in the footdrains around Buckenham and Cantley. The small ring is obvious in this pic, but at distance it would be hard to see!

Other than these a Kingfisher was showing nicely in the gloom this morning in front of Fen Hide, a Cuckoo was singing along the riverbank, Bittern booming, 100's of swifts, swallows and martins and there were plenty of harriers milling about trying to dry off after a wet night. I found another Bearded Tit nest in front of Fen Hide, however this afternoons gusty winds may well have put an early end to it. It does make me wonder how they could possibly survive with the reeds being blown horizontally!

Finally my annual attempts to get semi decent shots of Hobby has once again started, this is my starting effort, better to come...

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Buckenham strikes again

Buckenham has once again produced the goods, its looking really good down there at the moment with a nice mix of shallow grassy pools, open water, muddy pools and bare mud, so its not surprising that a decent wader turned up eventually. The breeding waders appear to be doing really well, with quite a few Lapwing broods now being seen as well as up to 11 drummong snipe!

Todays highlight was a superb Pectoral Sandpiper, this is my second spring bird in 5 years!

Other bits today included 5 Yellow Wags, 2 Hobby and the first decent arrival of swifts at Buckenham. Strumpshaw early am held 1 grasshopper w, bittern booming, cuckoo showing well breifly, 2 garden warblers giving a bit of a show as well as all other usual common migrants.

These two drake Mandarins are almost certainly the same as the birds seen earlier in the year, they were  on the river at Surlingham