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August 2007

Previous months: January 2007 ; February 2007 ; March 2007 ; April 2007 ; May 2007 ; June 2007 ; July 2007

 

Tuesday 28th August

Not many moths recently, so here's a Setaceous Hebrew Character from last night.

Setaceous Hebrew Character, Bawdeswell, 27-Aug-07  

Setaceous Hebrew Character, Bawdeswell, 27th August 2007

 

Monday 27th August

A good morning's birding at Swanton Morley - and I should hope so too as it took 5.25 hours to get round. First surprise was a wisp of Snipe flying around the flood, followed by another and then another. I've seen a few Snipe down here but usually singles and never more than three. Difficult to be sure how many birds were involved here as some of the flocks may have involved the same birds, but one flock contained 28 birds. I shall have to assume these accounted for all the other flocks, but I suspect the true number was probably closer to 50. A Greenshank also flew around the flood, but without finding anywhere suitable to land it flew off again like the Snipe. A Common Sandpiper did land briefly on the edge of Holkham Lake.

Most impressive were the number of warblers present, especially along the perimeter of Holkham Lake. Most were Chiffchaffs, but there were also plenty of Blackcaps, a few Lesser Whitethroats and Reed Warblers, 2-3 Whitethroats and at least one Garden Warbler. The Whitethroats and some of the Lesser Whitethroats were in areas where I've not seen them before and in my experience most local-bred Garden Warblers depart inland areas around mid-August, so I reckon some of these were migrants moving through the valley from much further (probably Scandinavia). Two or three Meadow Pipits moving through were the first I've seen in the valley since the spring, presumably more migrants.

Two new species were added to the local year-list this morning, and surprisingly both were ducks. The first were a party of 3 Red-crested Pochards. Although wild Red-crested Pochards from the Continent do occur in Norfolk occasionally, most are either escapes from captivity or they originate from ferally-breeding populations, the ancestors of which escaped from captivity. One of these three was leucistic (abnormally pale) and although leucistic ducks do occur relatively frequently in the wild, they occur much more frequently in captivity and in small feral populations where there's too much inbreeding going on. I think this species sometimes breeds further up the valley and a small population lives, or at least has lived, at Sennowe Park - my guess is that these came from there.

More likely to be truly wild, a Pintail spent a few minutes flying around with Mallards, and later flying around on its own. The most bizarre wildfowl encountered were surely hybrids, and I can only presume they were Mallard x Egyptian Goose, although I've never heard of such a pairing before. There were four of them and a Google search has thrown up a single precedence for this hybrid pairing mentioned on the South African Birdnet (click here for the reference).

After going missing for 6 weeks, the escaped Blue-winged Goose is back today. Other interesting but not unexpected records included Hobby, Kingfishers, Marsh Tits, Treecreepers, Green Woodpecker and a few Bullfinches.

Non-avian interest included a Red-eared Slider Terrapin (the first one I've seen here) and a Hornet. Dragonflies included several Brown Hawkers, still plenty of Banded Demoiselles, a couple of Emperors and at least 1 Ruddy Darter among the Common Darters (my first definite Ruddy in the valley).

Red-crested Pochard, Blakeney, 18-Jan-04

juvenile male? (left), eclipse male (centre) and leucistic female (right) Red-crested Pochards, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 27th August 2007

 

Blue-winged Goose, Swanton Morley, 27-Aug-07 Bullfinch, Swanton Morley, 27-Aug-07

escaped Blue-winged Goose (left) and male Bullfinch (right), Swanton Morley, 27th August 2007

 

Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 27-Aug-07 Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 27-Aug-07

4 presumed hybrids Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 27th August 2007

 

Lesser Whitethroat, Swanton Morley, 27-Aug-07 Chiffchaff, Swanton Morley, 27-Aug-07

Lesser Whitethroat (left) and Chiffchaff (right), Swanton Morley, 27th August 2007

 

Sunday 26th August

I returned to Walsey Hills this afternoon where I faired better than yesterday, securing great views of the Greenish Warbler. Last time I had such good views of this species was 19 years ago (good grief I must be old) on Fair Isle; since then I've seen one at Wells in 1994 and one in Lowestoft 4 years ago but I didn't get particularly good views of either of those. So it was good today to really increase my familiarity with this little beauty.

After that I decided there was just enough time to wander round Sparham Pools before (while) it got dark. A pair of Golden Plovers flew over and a Hobby dashed through at dusk.

Southern Hawker, Sparham Pools, 26-Aug-07 Southern Hawker, Sparham Pools, 26-Aug-07
Southern Hawker, Sparham Pools, 26-Aug-07

Southern Hawker, Sparham Pools, 26th August 2007 - the lower photo illustrates why I don't like using flash when photographing wildlife: the reflected light on the wings makes it look like a freshly-emerged youngster with shiny wings, but it's not!

 

Southern Hawker, Sparham Pools, 26-Aug-07

Square-spot Rustic, Bawdeswell, 26th August 2007

 

Saturday 25th August

OK, so everything didn't disappear overnight after all. There were still a few Greenish Warblers around the county today, but I didn't see any. Started off at Sheringham where highlights were Tree Sparrow, 4 Whinchats and Little Gull. Tree Sparrow's quite a good bird there nowadays, but the best bird for me was a calling Nuthatch. Although these are common enough in Norfolk, they're pretty scarce here: I've been birding at Sheringham Bird Observatory for 14 years and this was the first time I've had one here!

The Shrike wasn't showing at Cley so I went on towards Warham Greens where 2 Greenish Warblers had been reported. But while stopping on the way to look for migrants at Morston, news came through of a singing Greenish at Walsey Hills (Cley) and as the Warham Green birds had gone quiet I decided to head back there. I just missed it there and after a while others reported that it had moved off to a nearby wood. However I did hear what sounded suspiciously like the Greenish in its original spot, but too brief and competing with yapping twitchers and a motorbike, so although I obtained a very poor sound recording, I'm not quite convinced it was it.

Another attempt at the Shrike was more successful: this juvenile Red-backed Shrike was now performing incredibly well, and I had to stand back to fit it in my field of view when photographing it!

Red-backed Shrike, Cley, 25-Aug-07 Red-backed Shrike, Cley, 25-Aug-07
Red-backed Shrike, Cley, 25-Aug-07 Red-backed Shrike, Cley, 25-Aug-07

juvenile Red-backed Shrike, Cley, 25th August 2007

 

Wheatear, Sheringham, 25-Aug-07 Kestrel, Sheringham, 25-Aug-07

Wheatear (left) and Kestrel (right), Sheringham, 25th August 2007

 

Hoverfly, Sheringham, 25-Aug-07 Hoverfly, Sheringham, 25-Aug-07

Hoverfly, Sheringham, 25th August 2007

 

Friday 24th August

My lunchtime efforts to find a Greenish Warbler at Thornham this week have failed, despite there being one a stone's throw away at Holme and two even closer, just across the channel at Thornham Point (Titchwell). Unforutately neither location is accessible during my lunch break so attempting to find my own was the only option. The only migrant I could muster up was a Wheatear on Wednesday and one or two Greenshanks. Also a Barn Owl today (more sociable than the Tawny Owl that was calling behind the house at 1.40 am).

I guess some people will be grateful for the change of weather just in time for the bank holiday week-end, especially after all the wind and rain we've been enduring this week. But the wind and rain have bought a stack of good birds to the Norfolk coast while I've been stuck indoors at work. Now the week-end's here the skies have cleared and it's ideal weather for all the grounded-until-now migrants to leave overnight, just before I start the week-end. Grrrr.

 

Wednesday 22nd August

Another Greenshank at Swanton Morley briefly this evening.

 

Sunday 19th August

Highlight of a damp morning's birding at Swanton Morley was a Greenshank heard flying through, my first in the area. Other waders flying through were 1 Snipe and 2 Green Sandpipers but no waders on the deck today.

Here's my first results from the RememBird - I hope I get better at this!

Green Sandpiper Marsh Tit Wren

Green Sandpiper, Swanton Morley, 19th August 2007

Marsh Tit, Swanton Morley, 19th August 2007

Wren, Bawdeswell, 19th August 2007

 

Saturday 18th August

The day started with a Little Owl calling in response to a cat wandering up and down the fence top at 2.39 am. I didn't have long to bird this morning so just popped into Swanton Morley where the highlight was another Little Owl - the first time I've seen this species at Swanton Morley.

The reason I couldn't stay long was because I wanted to get to Leicestershire by 9.30. Every August Rutland Water plays host to the annual Bird Fair, which attracts over 19,000 visitors and 300 exhibitors. I've not been before, but this year I decided to give it a go. As well as the exhibitors' stands there are various lectures and events going on all day, such as talks on birding in various parts of the world, Bill Oddie chairing "Bird Brain of Britain" and Simon King chairing "Just a Linnet" (a version of Radio 4's "Just a Minute"). It's a three-day event and I can understand why some people say it's worth going for all three days, but one was enough for me this time.

There's opportunities to learn more about digiscoping techniques, see the latest technology such as the all-in-one camera/eyepiece from Zeiss and of course spend lots of money. Until recently bird sound recording has been the realm of dedicated expert sound-recordists carrying bulky and expensive equipment like big fluffy directional microphones and parabolic reflectors. I've been waiting for years for a product to come on the market that allows amateurs to record bird sound effectively with minimal expense and fuss. So I was very keen to see the RememBird product that's hit the market recently, a small recorder that can be attached to your binoculars and used both for recording spoken notes and bird sound. OK, the quality of the bird sound isn't the same as you'd get from a directional microphone - after all the product was designed primarily to record spoken notes - but it does pick up bird sound surprisingly well. And the feature I really like is the fact that because of its continuously recording loop system, when you press record it starts eight seconds before you press it - so if a bird flies over calling once, you press record after it calls and you've got it! The library of bird sounds that comes as an optional extra is the one of the most comprehensive collection of bird recordings I've come across, and these can be played through the RememBird either on the earphones supplied or an external speaker.

RememBird  

My new toy - the RememBird

Anyone know what the right hand moth is? Rubbish photo of a worn and ugly moth, I know - I'll remove it once someone's told me what it is...

Willow Beauty, Bawdeswell, 17-Aug-07 unidentified moth, Bawdeswell, 18-Aug-07

Willow Beauty, Bawdeswell, 17th August 2007

unidentified moth, Bawdeswell, 18th August 2007

 

Friday 17th August

The Little Owl behind my house kept me awake again last night, but apart from a momentary bleary-eyed glimpse of a silhouetted shape flying past the window at around midnight, I've still not managed to see the thing.

Large Yellow Underwing, Bawdeswell, 16-Aug-07  

Large Yellow Underwing, Bawdeswell, 16th August 2007

 

Wednesday 15th August

There's been 1-2 Green Sandpipers on the flood at Swanton Morley each evening so far this week, plus a Snipe tonight. The feral Barnacle Goose was still around Monday and Tuesday.

A raptor appeared over the field behind the house while I was washing up this evening. Unfortunately our windows are far too dirty to see through them and by the time I'd grabbed the bins and opened the patio doors it was almost out of sight, but with a second raptor in hot pursuit. The first bird was a Hobby, a new species for the house, but when it became clear that the second bird wasn't a Hobby, I started to doubt this. Unfortunately by this time the Hobby was disappearing over the roof so couldn't be confirmed, but in the attempt to do so the second bird's ID wasn't solved either - a Sparrowhawk I think, but has anyone heard of them chasing Hobbies before?

 

Sunday 12th August

My visit to Swanton Morley this evening coincided with a deterioration of the weather and it spent as much time raining as not. However this wouldn't necessarily be a problem - it might even bring down some migrants, I thought. When I got to the flood I was disappointed to find very little there, although I did get 4 Green Sandpipers by the end of the evening. However, as I stood there in the rain, I heard the distant but distinctive sound of a Whimbrel moving through. Just to make sure I wasn't imagining it, it called twice more, although I didn't see it. Not unexpected that I would get one of these going through sooner or later, but a new bird for the local yearlist nevertheless. Moments later another wader call that I'd not heard here for a few months - a Golden Plover. Again it flew straight through, although this time I did get a brief view of it.

That was pretty much it though. A leucistic Moorhen juvenile will hopefully perform better for the camera next time...

The rain stopped just in time for a fine sunset, though I suspect there's still a bit too much cloud to be able to get much view of tonight's promised meteor shower.

Tufted Ducks, Swanton Morley, 12-Aug-07 Kingfisher, Swanton Morley, 10-Aug-07

Tufted Duck family (left) and sunset (right), Swanton Morley, 12th August 2007

 

Saturday 11th August

A Hobby was probably the most interesting bird seen at Sparham Pools this morning - it was chomping on its breakfast, probably one of the Sand Martins I'd just seen in the area from which it came carrying something. Other birds included 1-2 Green Sandpipers, 2 Grey Wagtails and a juvenile Kingfisher. On the insect front, three species of Hawker included my first Migrant Hawker of the year. There was a dead Mole on the path - it's been a long while since I saw a live one.

I didn't have time to have a proper look round Swanton Morley, but 3 Green Sandpipers were on the flood again today.

Gatekeeper, Sparham Pools, 11-Aug-07 Turtle Dove, Sparham Pools, 11-Aug-07

Gatekeeper (left) and Turtle Dove (right), Sparham Pools, 11th August 2007

 

Common Darter, Sparham Pools, 11-Aug-07 Common Darter, Sparham Pools, 11-Aug-07

Common Darters, Sparham Pools, 11th August 2007

 

Friday 10th August

Five minutes at Swanton Morley again to check the flood for waders. As yesterday, just 1 Green Sandpiper - and a Kingfisher that was performing brilliantly as I arrived but quickly became very camera-shy.

Kingfisher, Swanton Morley, 10-Aug-07 Kingfisher, Swanton Morley, 10-Aug-07

Kingfisher, Swanton Morley, 10th August 2007

 

Thursday 9th August

Just a very brief stop at Swanton Morley again - only 1 Green Sandpiper on show today.

 

Wednesday 8th August

Still 9 Green Sandpipers at Swanton Morley this evening, feeding with a Grey Wagtail until the goose flock (including a Barnacle Goose) muscled in. The Little Owl was calling behind my house again this evening briefly.

Willow Beauty, Bawdeswell, 8-Aug-07 Large Yellow Underwing, Bawdeswell, 8-Aug-07

Willow Beauty (left) and Large Yellow Underwing (right), Bawdeswell, 8th August 2007

 

Tuesday 7th August

I was woken up at 3.55 am by an extremely loud Little Owl. I've not heard them from the house for months so it was good to hear, but it wasn't exactly sociable at that time in the morning. It sounded so close I should have been able to reach out of the window and touch it but I couldn't see it for looking (mind you, it was practically dark).

Small Red-eyed Damselfly was the most interesting observation at Syderstone Common during lunch. Popped in to Swanton Morley for 10 minutes on the way home, purely to check the flood for waders - it's drying up already so I need to check it regularly while it lasts! Proved worthwhile as there were 9 Green Sandpipers there today, plus Snipe and Lapwing. Marsh Sandpiper by the end of the week...

Found what looked like a tiny bird's dropping on the curtain when I was drawing them - turned out to be a Chinese Character. Doesn't look like a Chinese character to me, but then again until it flies it doesn't look much like a moth either.

Chinese Character, Bawdeswell, 7-Aug-07 Chinese Character, Bawdeswell, 7-Aug-07

Chinese Character, Bawdeswell, 7th August 2007

 

Pyrausta aurata, Bawdeswell, 6-Aug-07 Emmelina monodactyla, Bawdeswell, 6-Aug-07

Pyrausta aurata (left) and Emmelina monodactyla (right), Bawdeswell, 6th August 2007

 

Ruddy Darter, Syderstone Common, 7-Aug-07 Green Sandpiper, Swanton Morley 7-Aug-07

male Ruddy Darter, Syderstone Common, 7th August 2007

Green Sandpiper, Swanton Morley, 7th August 2007

 

Monday 6th August

Two new moths last night, a Flame Shoulder and a Small China-mark (thanks to Anita for sorting out the latter for me).

Flame Shoulder, Bawdeswell, 5-Aug-07 Small China-mark, Bawdeswell, 5-Aug-07

Flame Shoulder (left) and Small China-mark (right), Bawdeswell, 5th August 2007

 

Roe Deer, Houghton, 6-Aug-07 Pied Wagtail, Houghton, 6-Aug-07

Roe Deer (left) and Pied Wagtail (right), near Houghton, 6th August 2007

 

Sunday 5th August

I didn't expect to see many birds at Swanton Morley in the heat of the early afternoon sun, but there were still at least 5 Green Sandpipers there. Dragonflies included some Emperors, Brown Hawkers, many hundreds of Common Blue Damselflies and, among the Red-eyed Damselflies on The Pond, 2 male Small Red-eyed Damselflies. Other non-avian interest included a Weasel.

Banded Demoiselle, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07 Banded Demoiselle, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07

female and male Banded Demoiselles, Swanton Morley, 5th August 2007

 

Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07 Red-eyed Damselfly, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07

Small Red-eyed Damselfly (left) and Red-eyed Damselfly (right), Swanton Morley, 5th August 2007

 

Black-tailed Skimmer, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07 Red-eyed Damselflies, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07

male Black-tailed Skimmer (left) and pair of Red-eyed Damselflies (right), Swanton Morley, 5th August 2007

 

Common Blue Damselflies, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07 Common Blue Damselflies, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07

Common Blue Damselflies, Swanton Morley, 5th August 2007

 

Common Blue, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07 Green Sandpiper, Swanton Morley, 5-Aug-07

Common Blue butterfly (left) and Green Sandpiper (right), Swanton Morley, 5th August 2007

 

Saturday 4th August

Up to now I've not witnessed any particularly strong movements of migrant birds moving through the valley here. In the spring there were days when there was an obvious arrival of locally-breeding migrants but never more than a handful of migrants going straight through. Today was therefore the best day so far in terms of numbers of migrants flying over, even if the species concerned wasn't very exciting! There was a constant passage of migrating gulls this morning, including well over 300 Black-headed Gulls.

There's a meadow at Swanton Morley which flooded in the recent rain and as the water levels have subsided it's left a fair bit of mud - the best wader habitat in the area. It's far from perfect as there's a lot of tall vegetation growing amongst the mud, and this also makes viewing quite difficult with any birds present likely to be out of view for most of the time. Today this habitat came up trumps, with a veritable fest of waders. OK, nothing rare, but this is Swanton Morley we're talking about. As well as a couple of Oystercatchers that are usually around, there were at least 6 Green Sandpipers and 3 Snipes, plus a Common Sandpiper flying around nearby - a wader tally that's quite unprecedented (for me) in the central Wensum Valley! Defintely potential for something better here too - maybe a Wood Sand, or even a Pec, but nothing like that today.

Greylag x Canada Goose, Swanton Morley, 4-Aug-07 Grey Heron, Swanton Morley, 4-Aug-07

hybrid Greylag x Canada Goose (left) and Grey Heron (right), Swanton Morley, 4th August 2007

 

Wednesday 1st August

Went for a stroll round Syderstone Common at lunchtime for the first time this year I think (it needs to be fairly dry underfoot for me to have a stomp around here when I'm all togged up for work, and we haven't had much dryness lately). There were plenty of dragonflies and butterflies, plus a Fox, but none were giving themselves up for the camera very easily. Good to see the pools that were completely dry last year were full of water once again. Species seen included Emerald Damselfly, Ruddy & Common Darters and some ovipositting Emperors.

No photos of any of these, so here are some moths that came in tonight instead:

Yellow Shell, Bawdeswell, 1-Aug-07 Yellow Shell, Bawdeswell, 1-Aug-07

Yellow Shell, Bawdeswell, 2nd August 2007

 

Red Twin-spot Carpet, Bawdeswell, 1-Aug-07 Red Twin-spot Carpet, Bawdeswell, 1-Aug-07

Red Twin-spot Carpet (I think?), Bawdeswell, 2nd August 2007. Seems rather dark though - let me know if I've messed up this one's ID...

 

Common Carpet, Bawdeswell, 1-Aug-07 Common Carpet, Bawdeswell, 1-Aug-07

Common Carpet, Bawdeswell, 2nd August 2007

 

Previous months: January 2007 ; February 2007 ; March 2007 ; April 2007 ; May 2007 ; June 2007 ; July 2007

Next month: September 2007

Current month

_______________________________

Should anyone care about my 5 km circle year-list, I've seen (or heard) 118 species within 5 km of my home at Bawdeswell (species new this month are marked with an asterisk *):

  • Mute Swan
  • Greylag Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Barnacle Goose
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Shelduck
  • Gadwall
  • Teal
  • Mallard
  • Pintail *
  • Shoveler
  • Red-crested Pochard *
  • Pochard
  • Tufted Duck
  • Goldeneye
  • Goosander
  • Red-legged Partridge
  • Grey Partridge
  • Pheasant
  • Little Grebe
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Cormorant
  • Shag
  • Little Egret
  • Grey Heron
  • Honey-Buzzard
  • Red Kite
  • Marsh Harrier
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Buzzard
  • Kestrel
  • Hobby
  • Peregrine
  • Water Rail
  • Moorhen
  • Coot
  • Oystercatcher
  • Little Ringed Plover
  • Golden Plover
  • Lapwing
  • Snipe
  • Woodcock
  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Whimbrel *
  • Greenshank *
  • Green Sandpiper
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Common Gull
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Great Black-backed Gull
  • Common Tern
  • Stock Dove
  • Woodpigeon
  • Collared Dove
  • Turtle Dove
  • Cuckoo
  • Barn Owl
  • Little Owl
  • Tawny Owl
  • Swift
  • Kingfisher
  • Green Woodpecker
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • Skylark
  • Sand Martin
  • Swallow
  • House Martin
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Wren
  • Dunnock
  • Robin
  • Wheatear
  • Ring Ouzel
  • Blackbird
  • Fieldfare
  • Song Thrush
  • Redwing
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Cetti's Warbler
  • Sedge Warbler
  • Reed Warbler
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Whitethroat
  • Garden Warbler
  • Blackcap
  • Chiffchaff
  • Willow Warbler
  • Goldcrest
  • Spotted Flycatcher
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Marsh Tit
  • Willow Tit
  • Coal Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Nuthatch
  • Treecreeper
  • Jay
  • Magpie
  • Jackdaw
  • Rook
  • Carrion Crow
  • Starling
  • House Sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Brambling
  • Greenfinch
  • Goldfinch
  • Siskin
  • Linnet
  • Lesser Redpoll
  • Bullfinch
  • Yellowhammer
  • Reed Bunting

 

Escapes

  • Blue-winged Goose
  • Chiloe Wigeon
  • Night Heron