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May 2007

Previous months: January 2007 ; February 2007 ; March 2007 ; April 2007

 

Tuesday 29th May

Typical. We're all off for a long weekend and it's rubbish. Then we go back to work and there's stacks of good birds everywhere (except at work). And there aren't even any moths tonight as it's so cold.

 

Monday 28th May

What a lovely bank holiday week-end it's been. Unusual numbers of Manx Shearwaters passing along the north Norfolk coast yesterday whetted my appetite for a seawatch this morning - there wasn't much else worth doing anyway. A couple of hours at Sheringham produced over 40 Manx Shearwaters, lots of Fulmars and Gannets and single Arctic and Great Skuas.

 

Sunday 27th May

The slightly concave leading edge to the forewing had me thinking this might be a Galium Carpet for a while, but in the end I reverted to my initial identification which was Silver-ground Carpet.

Silver-ground Carpet, Bawdeswell, 27-May-07 Silver-ground Carpet, Bawdeswell, 27-May-07

Silver-ground Carpet, Bawdeswell, 27th May 2007

 

Saturday 26th May

Sheringham Bird Observatory was quiet this morning, just a Marsh Harrier west and a few Gannets and Swallows on the move. Wish I'd stayed local but was feeling guilty about having abandoned Sheringham so much this spring.

Today Andy helped me out with some finer details of how to separate the Red Twin-spot Carpet I photographed recently from the similar Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, so it was nice this evening to have my first Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet turn up and give me a chance to check the details.

Skylark, Sheringham, 26-May-07 Whitethroat, Sheringham, 26-May-07

Skylark (left) and Whitethroat (right), Sheringham, 26th May 2007

 

Small Magpie, Bawdeswell, 25-May-07 Rustic Shoulder-knot, Bawdeswell, 26-May-07

Small Magpie, Bawdeswell, 25th May 2007

 

Rustic Shoulder-knot, Bawdeswell, 26th May 2007

 

Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Bawdeswell, 26-May-07  

Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Bawdeswell, 26th May 2007

 

Friday 25th May

Popped in to Swanton Morley with a view to finding a Temminck's Stint. It felt good and I half expected to bump into something good at every turn, but I didn't. No Temminck's Stints, nothing. S'pose it was a bit of a long shot.

Last night's moths included my first Small Magpie and Common Swift of the year and something which I think must be a Marbled Minor, a new one on me.

Marbled Minor, Bawdeswell, 24-May-07  

Marbled Minor (I think), Bawdeswell, 24th May 2007

 

Thursday 24th May

Quick wander round Sparham Pools this evening didn't turn up much but the Tawny Owl was back at its roost.

Tawny Owl, Sparham Pools, 24-May-07 Tawny Owl, Sparham Pools, 24-May-07

Tawny Owl, Sparham Pools, 24th May 2007

 

Common Blue Damselfly, Sparham Pools, 24-May-07 Green Carpet, Bawdeswell, 23-May-07

Common Blue Damselfly, Sparham Pools, 24th May 2007. Is that a faeces hanging off it?

 

Green Carpet, Bawdeswell, 23rd May 2007

 

moth, Bawdeswell, 23-May-07 moth, Bawdeswell, 23-May-07

Red Twin-spot Carpet, Bawdeswell, 23rd May 2007. Thanks Andy for the ID!

 

Wednesday 23rd May

Last night the bedroom was Pug City, and most of them weren't keen to leave either, much to Vitty's delight (not). I think most of them were species I'm seeing regularly (mainly Common Pug) but after about half an hour's pawing over the book I think one was a new one for me, Mottled Pug. Andy will probably put me right in due course and tell me it's just a worn Double-striped, but heh, it's good while it lasts. Not much came in apart from pugs, but a Green Carpet was nice (and easier to identify than last week's one which wasn't green). Didn't see it come in, but this morning another new species was sat at the top of the stairs: a Rustic Shoulder-knot (at least, I think that's what it is).

Promise to find some more birds soon (but not in the house I hope).

Mottled Pug, Bawdeswell, 22-May-07 Mottled Pug, Bawdeswell, 22-May-07

Mottled Pug, Bawdeswell, 22nd May 2007

 

Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 22-May-07 Rustic Shoulder-knot, Bawdeswell, 22-May-07

Common Pug (left) and Rustic Shoulder-knot (right), Bawdeswell, 22nd May 2007

 

Tuesday 22nd May

Lunchtime in the Ringstead area produced Brown Argus butterfly and a singing Quail.

 

Monday 21st May

The placcy Mandarin remains on the duckpond at South Creake, but no sign of any of the interesting bops in the area at lunchtime.

 

Sunday 20th May

This one was left over from yesterday evening's bumper crop. The nicest, if not the rarest.

Brimstone Moth, Bawdeswell, 20-May-07  

Brimstone Moth, Bawdeswell, 20th May 2007

 

Saturday 19th May

(Updated 21st following ID help from Andy - see his blog here).

Not much at Sparham Pools this evening, though a Barn Owl was the first one I've seen at this location.

New moths at home this evening included Flame Carpet, Light Emerald, Common Wave and Green Carpet.

Cantharis rustica, Sparham Pools, 19-May-07 Light Emerald, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07

Soldier Beetles Cantharis rustica, Sparham Pools, 19th May 2007

 

Light Emerald, Bawdeswell, 19th May 2007

 

Flame Carpet, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07 Common Wainscot, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07

Flame Carpet (left) and Common Wainscot (right), Bawdeswell, 19th May 2007

 

Cream Wave, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07 Common Wave, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07

Cream Wave (left) and Common Wave (right), Bawdeswell, 19th May 2007

 

Double-striped Pug, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07 Wormwood Pug, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07

Double-striped Pug (left) and Wormwood Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 19th May 2007

 

Garden Pebble, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07 Ingrailed Clay, Bawdeswell, 19-May-07

Garden Pebble (left) and possible Ingrailed Clay (right), Bawdeswell, 19th May 2007

 

Saturday 12th May

Sparham Pools first thing produced a Little Egret west along the valley. For a reasonably quick visit quite a nice selection of other bits and pieces including Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Cuckoo, Turtle Dove, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, etc.

We then went to Minsmere to help with a group visit - of course everyone wanted to see Bitterns and after a considerable wait and just some of us seeing one flying away, a second bird eventually gave a close fly-past before landing in front of the hide where it could just be seen in the reeds for a short period. Other favourites included plenty of Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tit, Stonechats and Cetti's Warblers. A couple of drake Garganey were nice and the gull colony contained at least 6 Mediterranean Gulls. More run of the mill stuff included a pair of Ruddy Duck, Little Egret and a gorgeous fully-red Knot.

Little Egret, Minsmere, 12-May-07 Bittern, Minsmere, 12-May-07

Little Egret (left) and Bittern (right), Minsmere, 12th May 2007 - you may never get another chance to see such a poor photo of a Bittern... (it's flying right by the way, in case you can't work out which end's which).

 

Marsh Harrier, Minsmere, 12-May-07 Marsh Harrier, Minsmere, 12-May-07

Marsh Harrier, Minsmere, 12th May 2007

 

Garganey, Minsmere, 12-May-07 Garganey, Minsmere, 12-May-07

male Garganeys, Minsmere, 12th May 2007

 

Avocet, Minsmere, 12-May-07 Avocet, Minsmere, 12-May-07

Avocets, Minsmere, 12th May 2007

 

Common Tern, Minsmere, 12-May-07 Common Tern, Minsmere, 12-May-07

Common Terns, Minsmere, 12th May 2007

 

Black-tailed Godwit, Minsmere, 12-May-07 Swallow, Minsmere, 12-May-07

Black-tailed Godwit (left) and Swallow (right), Minsmere, 12th May 2007

A few scrambled messages on the pager as we left Minsmere seemed to be saying something about a Bee-eater at Kelling (Norfolk). As this is one of my favourite birds (surely it's got to be one of everyone's favourites) and one I'd never seen one in Norfolk, the next update saying it had flown off was a disappointment, if not unexpected. Most Bee-eaters seen in Norfolk are seen flying straight through and on the very rare occasions that they do decide to drop in for a few minutes, they will typically drop in again a few miles further west, so we were keeping a close eye on the pager waiting for any more news. Sure enough, when we were half way between Norwich and home the news broke that it had been relocated at Morston. A surprisingly few minutes later (apologies to my car and the other road-users who got in the way), we were watching a Bee-eater, possibly the most beautiful bird in the world. A very nice end to the day.

Bee-eater, Morston, 12-May-07 Bee-eater, Morston, 12-May-07

Bee-eater, Morston, 12th May 2007

 

Friday 11th May

I think this is a Common Pug, but please let me know if I'm wrong!

Pug, Bawdeswell, 11-May-07  

Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 11th May 2007

 

Wednesday 9th May

An attempt to see how many species I could find within my 5 km circle in 24 hours was less than spectacular and in the end I notched up just 81 species. Had it not rained steadily throughout the evening I reckon I could have added another 4+ species. In hindsight I think a few changes to the itinery would have probably yielded 4-5 more - spending over two hours at Foxley Wood trying to find Marsh Tit and Nuthatch was a mistake, especially as I never did find Nuthatch and later found Marsh Tit at Sparham Pools.

Highlights were few, the only really unexpected bird (and a new one for the local yearlist) was a Wheatear at Swanton Morley. Others I wasn't confident about seeing included Common Sandpiper at Swanton Morley, Little Ringed Plover at Sparham Pools and Marsh Harrier and Buzzard from Bintree Wood. Misses included Grey Partridge, Little Owl and Kingfisher. Starting at 2.40 am was a waste of time - I didn't come across any nocturnal species in the first hour and if I'd started at 4.30 am I would have seen the same number - at least I didn't start at midnight!

Cream Wave, Foxley Wood, 9-May-07 Wood Speedwell, Foxley Wood, 9-May-07

Cream Wave (left) and Wood Speedwell (right), Foxley Wood, 9th May 2007

 

Speckled Wood, Foxley Wood, 9-May-07 Common Blue Damselfly, Sparham Pools, 9-May-07

Speckled Wood, Foxley Wood, 9th May 2007

 

Common Blue Damselfly, Sparham Pools, 9th May 2007

 

Blackcap, Bintree Wood, 9-May-07  

male Blackcap, Bintree Wood, 9th May 2007

 

Tuesday 8th May

Tomorrow I plan to attempt to see how many species I can find within a 5 km radius of my home so this morning I had a last-ditch but unsuccessful attempt to find Grasshopper Warblers and Nightingales in the area. If you know where there are some, or any other potentially difficult species, or if you know anywhere in the area where Spotted Flycatchers have arrived, then please let me know! I did find a Little Owl, a pair of Grey Wagtails and a Kingfisher, all of which could be useful tomorrow if I can find them again. I reckon if all goes well and the rain holds off for long enough, I could find 85+ species. If I actually do it (there's a few factors that might stop it happening at all), I'll be disappointed with less than 80 and happy with more than 90 (I think the century is out of reach).

 

Monday 7th May

Started off at my coastal patch, Sheringham Bird Observatory for a change. Yesterday had been a better day here, but today there was still some visible migration including about 200 Swallows west, a Little Egret west and a handful of other bits and bobs. A fine Whinchat was my first of the year.

Whinchat, Sheringham, 7-May-07 Whitethroat, Sheringham, 7-May-07

Whinchat (left) and Whitethroat (right), Sheringham Bird Observatory, 7th May 2007

A wander round Foxley Wood failed to result in any interesting birds; the flora was a bit better but the rain made photography difficult - plenty of Early Purple Orchids. This evening Sparham Pools produced my first Turtle Dove of the year and a roosting Tawny Owl (thanks Bob!).

Tawny Owl, Sparham Pools, 7-May-07 Gadwall, Sparham Pools, 7-May-07

Tawny Owl (left) and Gadwall (right), Sparham Pools, 7th May 2007 (the Gadwall didn't really have such a prominent white collar - for some reason I couldn't stop the camera from exaggerating this barely noticeable feature)

 

Sunday 6th May

Not much to report, sadly. Encouragingly good numbers of Garden Warblers around - I reckon I saw/heard at least 15 today at Swanton Morley. Other than that not much, 50+ Swifts, few Lesser Black-backs moving through, Blue-winged Goose still there, nowt else really. Had I gone to Sparham Pools this evening I would have seen my first Osprey for the valley. Ah well, can't see them all.

Blue-winged Goose, Swanton Morley, 6-May-07 Blue-winged Goose, Swanton Morley, 6-May-07

escaped Blue-winged Goose, Swanton Morley, 6th May 2007

 

Greylag Geese, Swanton Morley, 6-May-07 Greylag Goose, Swanton Morley, 6-May-07

Greylag Geese, Swanton Morley, 6th May 2007

 

Sedge Warbler, Swanton Morley, 6-May-07 Egyptian Geese, Swanton Morley, 6-May-07

Sedge Warbler (left) and Egyptian Geese (right), Swanton Morley, 6th May 2007

 

Red Fox, near Bawdeswell, 6-May-07 Red Foxes, near Bawdeswell, 6-May-07

Red Fox family, near Bawdeswell, 6th May 2007

 

Friday 4th May

Whitwell Common was uneventful first thing, a Marsh Tit being the poor highlight. The flowers were better with a nice display of Yellow Archangel and Ramsons.

Sparham Pools didn't seem much better at first but then 2 Night Herons flew in from the direction of the Wildlife Park (from whence they came, so I can't count them), leading the way for a couple of excellent local records. After seeing the herons I picked up a large raptor in the distance out to the east. It was obviously a broad-wing, but was it a Buzzard or a Marsh Harrier? Either would be interesting - I haven't been seeing either particularly often in my local area. Buzzard was ruled out on structure and then I saw the underwing which ruled out Marsh Harrier. But by this time the penny was dropping and I was already getting a better grasp of its structure and jizz - this bird was a Honey-Buzzard! It proceeded to come (slightly) closer and headed north over the valley towards Lenwade. Superb!

Five minutes after that excitement I discovered another excellent local bird, a female Ring Ouzel in the field north of the footpath running from Sparham Pools towards Lenwade. Just like the one at Swanton Morley a couple of weeks ago this was feeding alongside Rabbits and Mistle Thrush. This must be one of the best springs ever for Ring Ouzel, with good numbers still being seen at the coast. A Little Ringed Plover was my first for the year, rather belatedly.

Grey Heron, Walsis Hill, 4-May-07 Willow Warbler, Sparham Pools, 4-May-07

Grey Heron (left) and Willow Warbler (right), Sparham Pools, 4th May 2007

 

Ring Ouzel, Walsis Hill, 4-May-07 Ring Ouzel, Walsis Hill, 4-May-07

Ring Ouzel, east of Sparham Pools, 4th May 2007

I didn't look round Swanton Morley properly today but I popped in to see if yesterday's Bar-wit was still there. It wasn't, but the spot was again occupied by a wader, this time just a Common Sandpiper. Bintree Wood was quiet but a Marsh Harrier (this time I couldn't turn it into anything better!) flew north as I left.

 

Thursday 3rd May

During the last few days while I've been in Scotland there's been a massive spring passage of Bar-tailed Godwits with daily four-figure counts of birds moving up the English Channel and much higher numbers than usual in Norfolk too. They're not a rare bird along the coast by any means, but inland records are rather scarce. During the last few days there's been a healthy scattering of records inland and I've been thinking this is potentially the time to get one in my 5 km circle. Having said that, there's not much good wader habitat here, so the odds are fairly low. This is never going to be an easy species to see round here.

This morning I got out of my car at Swanton Morley and, mindful of this, I immediately checked a tiny patch of mud on Curly's Lake, more in hope than expectation. It's certainly not a good spot for waders, but nor is anywhere round the fishing lakes complex, so if there was a Bar-tailed Godwit around, this is where it might be. I'd seen a Little Ringed Plover here in 2004 but I don't think I've seen a single wader there since, except perhaps the occasional Lapwing and Oystercatcher, so the odds of something as interesting as a Bar-tailed Godwit were low. First bird I clapped my eyes on was a cracking red Bar-tailed Godwit! Nice start to the day!

Apart from this there were plenty of new warblers in, Reed Warblers, Garden Warblers and a few Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats. A superb Hobby rapidly dispersed a flock of Sand Martins and later the hirundine/Swift flock increased to 55+ with all the common species represented.

Sparham Pools was relatively quiet, but Common Sandpiper was my first in the local area this year.

 

Tuesday 1st May

Had another go for the King Eider this morning but no luck unfortunately. The best I could manage this morning was 4 Black-throated Divers and a couple of Ospreys.

Another attempt for the Scottish Crossbills at Badaguish resulted in two Crossbills flying over calling. Odds are they were Scottish Crossbills, but as three virtually identical species of Crossbill occur in the region claiming a positive ID on a poor flight view would be pretty dodgy. Mind you it's pretty dodgy claiming a positive ID with good views of Crossbills in Scotland without getting their DNA analysed first. Much easier to identify was a superb Green Hairstreak butterfly and a Green Tiger Beetle.

Red Grouse, Lochindorb, 1-May-07 Green Tiger Beetle, Badaguish, 1-May-07

Red Grouse, Lochindorb, 1st May 2007

Green Tiger Beetle, Badaguish, 1st May 2007

Craigellachie (in Aviemore) was quite a pleasant spot, the clear highlight being 2 singing Wood Warblers. You don't realise how stunningly beautiful these are when you look at pictures in books, but in life they're just awesome. Sadly they've recently become extinct as a breeding species in Norfolk, though the odd bird passes through on passage, but in Scotland they're still reasonably common.

Wood Warbler, Craigellachie, 1-May-07 Wood Warbler, Craigellachie, 1-May-07

Wood Warbler, Craigellachie, 1st May 2007

 

Wood Warbler, Craigellachie, 1-May-07 Marsh Violet, Craigellachie, 1-May-07

Wood Warbler (left) and Marsh Violet (right), Craigellachie, 1st May 2007

The drive down the east side of the Cairngorms from Grantown-on-Spey to Glen Shee was one of the highlights of this mini-trip - the scenery was spectacular and Mountain Hares plentiful (a mammal I'd wanted to photograph but had already failed to find any at sites where I'd seen them in the early 90s). The most famous site for seeing Ptarmigans is the top of Cairngorm, but access there now requires a significant climb and I didn't fancy that. An alternative site is the ski area at Glenshee, the other side of the mountain range, where I was told they could be viewed from the car park. On arrival I could hear Red Grouse all around, but it took a fair bit of scoping the surrounding tops before I found the target - a pair of Ptarmigan. Also here a nice male Ring Ouzel (and another a bit further down the road), a species I'm more used to seeing on spring and autumn passage in Norfolk - I think this is the first time I've seen them on their breeding grounds.

Wheatear, Glenshee, 1-May-07 Mountain Hare, Lecht, 1-May-07

Wheatear, Glenshee, 1st May 2007

 

Mountain Hare, Lecht, 1st May 2007

 

Red Deer, S of Braemar, 1-May-07 Red Deer, S of Braemar, 1-May-07

Red Deer, south of Braemar, 1st May 2007

 

Glen Clunie, 1-May-07 Glen Clunie, 1-May-07

Glen Clunie, 1st May 2007

 

Previous months: January 2007 ; February 2007 ; March 2007 ; April 2007

Next month: June 2007

Current month

_______________________________

Should anyone care about my 5 km circle year-list, I've now seen (or heard) 112 species within 5 km of my home at Bawdeswell (birds marked with an asterisk * are new this month):

  • Mute Swan
  • Greylag Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Barnacle Goose
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Shelduck
  • Gadwall
  • Teal
  • Mallard
  • Shoveler
  • Pochard
  • Tufted Duck
  • Goldeneye
  • Goosander
  • Red-legged Partridge
  • Grey Partridge
  • Pheasant
  • Little Grebe
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Cormorant
  • Shag
  • Little Egret
  • Grey Heron
  • Honey-Buzzard *
  • Marsh Harrier
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Buzzard
  • Kestrel
  • Hobby *
  • Peregrine
  • Water Rail
  • Moorhen
  • Coot
  • Oystercatcher
  • Little Ringed Plover *
  • Golden Plover
  • Lapwing
  • Snipe
  • Woodcock
  • Bar-tailed Godwit *
  • 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
  • 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 *