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September 2007

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

 

Saturday 29th September

Today the weather was due to improve and with the wind still in the east, not only could new birds be arriving but those that arrived in the last few days would perhaps show themselves more easily in the calmer, dryer conditions. Well Sheringham failed to turn up anything remarkable: a few migrants but nothing worth writing about. Then I got a call advising that our neighbours at Weybourne had come up trumps once again, although this time even more spectacularly.

I hurried along to Weybourne Camp arriving only just in time to see the Red-flanked Bluetail that Moss had caught and ringed being removed from its bag in order to be released. Sadly my photos aren't sharp - I haven't quite mastered the new camera yet. But Bluetails are cracking little birds and real rarities - this was only the third Norfolk record.

I had to rush today as I was going to a wedding in the afternoon, but after the Bluetail I had just enough time to see the juvenile Sabine's Gull that was showing really well at Cley. Unfortunately whilst I may have had enough time, it didn't, and it flew off seconds before I arrived (although it did reappear much later). Seven Snow Buntings flying over were all I got instead.

Red-flanked Bluetail, Weybourne Camp, 30-Sep-07 Knot, Weybourne, 30-Sep-07

Red-flanked Bluetail, Weybourne Camp (left) and juvenile Knot, Weybourne Beach Carpark (right), 29th September 2007

 

Tansy & Chris wedding, 30-Sep-07  

Tansy and Chris, 29th September 2007

 

Friday 28th September

The forecast for today looked really good for birds but in fact it was disappointing. I overslept anyway but by the time I got up to Sheringham the sea was desperately quiet, with a single Sooty Shearwater the highlight of an hour and a quarter watching it. On land it wasn't much better and the guys ringing had failed to find much new in today. Given the attrocious conditions it was pretty unlikely that I would fair better so I headed off home instead.

Little Gull, Sheringham, 28-Sep-07 Little Gull, Sheringham, 28-Sep-07

adult Little Gull, Sheringham, 28th September 2007. Heavily cropped photos taken with the new camera on ISO-1600. The camera was in a plastic bag to protect it from the teaming rain with just the end of the lens stuck out. Would never have been able to do that with the digiscoping set-up and still pull off flight photos that look reasonably sharp when cropped to less than 1/100th of the original size.

 

Thursday 27th September

Although the wind was still strong this morning, the second day is often not so good for seabirds and today was no exception. We weren't surprised to see numbers of wildfowl and waders picking up though and the haul included 600 Wigeon, 450 Teal and 270 Common Scoter west. Seabirds weren't entirely dead - far fewer skuas but these included a Long-tailed Skua (another was seen by others) and 2 Pomarine Skuas. While we were trying to sort out the Long-tail the first of two juvenile Sabine's Gulls drew up alongside it - rather more distant than most of yesterday's birds but distinctive nevertheless. Other things included Great Northern Diver (there were two), just 2 Sooty and 2 Manx Shearwaters and much smaller numbers of Arctic Tern and Little Gull compared to yesterday.

While all this was going on we kept seeing Meadow Pipits flying by and with the wind moving round to the north east there was every chance a few more passerines would be present on our Sheringham patch. A wander round revealed a few birds in, mainly Goldcrests (30+) several of which were sheltering in the hedges. Other species included Fieldfare, Redwing, Lesser Whitethroats, Snow Bunting and a flyover Lapland Bunting. Chas was ringing and pulled out a fine adult male Brambling while I was there.

I still need to get used to the new camera (Canon EOS 400D with 70-300 IS lens), but although it's not sharp, the Gannet is a lot better than I would have managed digiscoping.

Gannet, Sheringham, 27-Sep-07 Brambling, Sheringham, 27-Sep-07

juvenile Gannet (left) and adult male Brambling (right), Sheringham, 27th September 2007

After leaving Sheringham I popped in to Cley to see the Grey Phalarope and whilst watching that news came through that Martin Preston had caught a Little Bunting in his garden at Weybourne. He was due to release it at 5.00 pm (ringers put the bird's welfare first so don't like to hold on to birds for too long when they catch them, even if they are rare birds that the rest of us want to see and that aren't likely to be seen easily after release). The news came through at 4.48 pm which left 12 minutes; given how unfit I am it would probably take me 12 minutes to get back to the car and given the number of doddery old fools on the road it would probably take another 12 minutes to get to Weybourne. But heh, nothing ventured nothing gained so off I trotted (or rather galloped) and arrived at Martin's just in time to see the Little Bunting.

Little Bunting, Weybourne, 27-Sep-07 Little Bunting, Weybourne, 27-Sep-07

Little Bunting, Weybourne, 27th September 2007

 

Wednesday 26th September

A good onshore wind is just what the doctor ordered and this morning there was no sensible option but to get down to Sheringham nice and early to see what it would bring in. At first it didn't seem quite as lively as we'd hoped but eventually it got going and between 10.00 and 11.20 no less than SIX juvenile Sabine's Gulls flew past. Until this year there had never been a day total as high as that and often there aren't as many seen all year. Five of them were dead close and gave crippling views as they slowly moved east through the breakers just in front of us. The other one was further out and I failed to get on that, but I was happy to settle for seeing five.

Other good birds seen by others and missed by me included Grey Phalarope and Leach's Petrel (and after I left 2 more Sabine's Gulls), but I didn't miss out too badly getting two juvenile Long-tailed Skuas and a host of other commoner birds. Three species of Diver including a juvenile Great Northern Diver and a superb summer-plumage adult Black-throated Diver, both flying east before landing in the sea. Numbers of seabirds were generally high and by the time I left at about 1.30 I'd noted 18 Manx and 19 Sooty Shearwaters, 46 Arctic and 88 Great Skuas, about 50 Arctic Terns (a site record even without the extra 30 in the afternoon after I'd gone), 120 Little Gulls and 1500 Gannets*. Other notable records included Velvet Scoter and Puffin.

I had to tear myself away to get some food in the end, and then news that my new camera/lens had arrived at home sent me scurrying home to play. More of that another day...

* I wish I'd counted the Gannets more carefully this morning as I'm fairly sure my figure was an underestimate. With a further 800 counted by Rob this afternoon the total reached 2300, a gnat's whisker away from the current county record of 2320. Still, a new site record anyway.

Sanderling, Sheringham, 26-Sep-07  

juvenile Sanderling, Sheringham, 26th September 2007

 

Tuesday 25th September

Three duck flying over Sparham Pools didn't stay in view long enough for me to resolve all three but two of them were Pintails, a new species for me at this site. Little Grebes are often reported there but a juvenile today was the first one I've seen down there all year, my 99th species for the site this year. Other things included Tawny Owl, Nuthatch (thanks to Bob), Marsh Tit and Kingfisher.

Grey Heron, Sparham Pools, 25-Sep-07  

Grey Heron, Sparham Pools, 25th September 2007

 

Sunday 23rd September

Not much happening at Swanton Morley this morning, but it was pleasant enough. A Shoveler was the first of the winter and with a Sparrowhawk displaying and most of 10 Chiffchaffs singing their socks off, it felt a bit like late March. In fact, there really wasn't anything at all (apart from 3 House Martins perhaps) that would have been out of place in March.

Blackbird, Swanton Morley, 23-Sep-07 Mistle Thrush, Swanton Morley, 23-Sep-07

Blackbird (left) and Mistle Thrush (right), Swanton Morley, 23rd September 2007

 

Saturday 22nd September

With the whole place blanketed in fog this morning I decided to stay in bed from where a Chiffchaff could be heard singing - almost the best bird all day. Sparham Pools this evening was uneventful, Little Owl and Kingfisher being the highlights. Whilst not out birding I managed to get a bit more of the Photo Pages section completed. With no photos from today to show you, here are a couple of happy memories from the first few wader pages that I've just done:

Cream-coloured Courser, St Mary's, 20-Oct-04 Collared Pratincole, Ponta da Erva, 19-Apr-06

first-winter Cream-coloured Courser, St Mary's, 20th October 2004 (click here for some more)

Collared Pratincole, Ponta da Erva, 19th April 2006 (click here for some more)

 

Friday 21st September

I'm now on holiday for a couple of weeks so there won't be any birds around. There might be some in Norfolk the week after next as I'll be on the Scillies then. A wander round Swanton Morley was unproductive. Disappointingly, the flooded meadow that's been good for waders this autumn is completely dry and likely to remain that way. It was created by a hole in the riverbank which has now been fixed. More bad news for this site is that they are preparing to open it up for the public and are busy "tidying" it up. Going are the bushes that were full of warblers, coming will be the dog walkers. Apparentlly it's a requirement of the council that the fishing club have to open it up.

Few summer migrants are still about, though 60 House Martins were hanging around, a couple of Swallows moved through and there's still a few Chiffchaffs there. Apparently there's only one species of Crayfish native in the UK and that's endangered due to the introduction of another species that doesn't get on well with ours. Judging by the way the Signal Crayfish I found was waving its claws and running at me, I'm not surprised they don't get on. Right old grumpy thing it was. And ugly.

Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 21-Sep-07 Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 21-Sep-07

Mallard x Egyptian Goose hybrids, Swanton Morley, 21st September 2007

 

Signal Crayfish, Swanton Morley, 21-Sep-07 Signal Crayfish, Swanton Morley, 21-Sep-07
Signal Crayfish, Swanton Morley, 21-Sep-07  

Signal Crayfish, Swanton Morley, 21st September 2007

News of a Long-billed Dowitcher at Titchwell didn't exactly have me racing, but eventually I did potter up there to see this North American vagrant. It's a good bird in Norfolk with only a handful of records, most of which involved very short-staying birds. This was the first one I've seen in Norfolk since the Pentney bird in 1994, but I've seen a couple elsewhere and hundreds in North America. Other birds at Titchwell included Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers and, in the same field of view as the dowitcher, a Water Rail. Sadly the dowitcher was way too far off to photograph properly, so here's one from last year's trip to Canada instead.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Golden, 16-Sep-06 Long-billed Dowitcher, Titchwell, 21-Sep-07

juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher, Golden (British Columbia), 16th September 2006

 

juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher (with Black-tailed Godwit), Titchwell, 21st September 2007

 

 

Saturday 15th September

Foxley Wood isn't the obvious choice for a birding destination in mid September, but migration is slow at the moment and I've not been here for ages despite it being just across the fields from my back garden. As expected, not much there apart from the common woodland species, however a Siskin was my first of the autumn. A well-spread group of 5 Buzzards flew over too - they must have flown over my house just after I lost sight of them as they were heading in that direction. Though they're common enough a little further up the valley, I've only seen one from my house and none from Foxley Wood before.

Anyone good on flowers? Is this a Hoary Ragwort?

Hoary Ragwort?, Foxley Wood, 15-Sep-07 Hoary Ragwort?, Foxley Wood, 15-Sep-07
Hoary Ragwort?, Foxley Wood, 15-Sep-07 Hoary Ragwort?, Foxley Wood, 15-Sep-07

Hoary Ragwort?, Foxley Wood, 15th September 2007. Assuming it's not something else that I've misidentified (like a Common Ragwort), then this is a new species for me. If you can confirm what it is, please contact me.

 

Friday 14th September

I'm scared of spiders, especially this one. You can't tell from the photo but this beast was a monster. I reckon if I'd laid down next to it it would have dwarfed me, not that I would dare do such a thing - each leg was about six foot long (well, nearly). He ended up in the vacuum cleaner and I'm NOT going to be the one who empties it.

spider, Bawdeswell, 14-Sep-07  

disgusting horrible monster, Bawdeswell, 14th September 2007

 

Wednesday 12th September

An enjoyable 20 minutes spent photographing common birds at Chosely at lunchtime. Beats the canteen any day.

Pied Wagtail, Choseley, 12-Sep-07 House Sparrow, Choseley, 12-Sep-07

Pied Wagtail (left) and House Sparrow (right), Choseley, 12th September 2007

 

Chaffinch, Choseley, 12-Sep-07 Swallow, Choseley, 12-Sep-07

Chaffinch (left) and Swallow (right), Choseley, 12th September 2007

 

Monday 10th September

On Saturday westerly gales brought unprecedented numbers of Great Shearwaters to the Outer Hebrides. The previous Scottish record was just 186 but over 7000 were seen passing Lewis on Saturday. The species is extremely rare in Norfolk and in 35 years of intensive sea-watching off Sheringham there have only been two records (only one accepted, way back in 1973). A glance at the weather maps on Saturday evening showed that weather hitting the Hebrides then would sweep across the top of Scotland and down the North Sea to hit Norfolk today.

So despite their enormous rarity here, it was no surprise to me that one was seen from Sheringham. It was a surprise that 14 were seen from Sheringham! This is as many Great Shearwaters as have been indentified in the whole of Norfolk since the beginning of time!

I had to be working and completely missed out on this extraordinary event. Gutted.

Brown Hare, Coxford, 10-Sep-07 Brown Hare, Coxford, 10-Sep-07

Brown Hare, Coxford, 10th September 2007. What's he eating in the first photo?

 

Sunday 9th September

A late start and a need to be back early meant I only had a chance to have a quick check of the best spots at Swanton Morley. Large numbers of Snipe still present on the flood - around 50 or so.

Green Carpet, Bawdeswell, 9-Sep-07  

Green Carpet, Bawdeswell, 9th September 2007

 

Saturday 8th September

Spent most of today at Minsmere with the group I help out with each month. Unfortunately none of them saw the Bittern that I saw but they did all get great views of a Kingfisher just in front of Bittern Hide. Waders included 3 juvenile Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Spotted Redshanks, and Green & Common Sandpipers but the clear highlight from my point of view was a party of 3 Stone-Curlews which spent a few minutes flying around over Island Mere.

A couple of Garganey were present but the only passerine migrant seen was a Whinchat amongst the Stonechats. Non-avian interest included a Grayling butterfly and a couple of Hornets.

I changed the settings on my Coolpix recently following advice picked up at the Bird Fair, but I'm not happy with the unsharp results I'm getting so I think I'll revert to how it was. I should have been able to get really good photos of all of the following but none of them were sharp and I can't understand why.

Kingfisher, Minsmere, 8-Sep-07 Kingfisher, Minsmere, 8-Sep-07

Kingfisher, Minsmere, 8th September 2007

 

Stonechat, Minsmere, 8-Sep-07 Magpie, Minsmere, 8-Sep-07

Stonechat (left) and Magpie (right), Minsmere, 8th September 2007

 

Meadow Pipit, Minsmere, 8-Sep-07 Pied Wagtail, Minsmere, 8-Sep-07

Meadow Pipit (left) and Pied Wagtail (right), Minsmere, 8th September 2007

 

 

Tuesday 4th September

A couple of moths - haven't had time to check what the first one is yet, and not 100% sure about the other. Please contact me if you know.

moth, Bawdeswell, 4-Sep-07 Lesser Yellow Underwing, Bawdeswell, 4-Sep-07

unidentified moth (left) and Lesser Yellow Underwing? (right), Bawdeswell, 4th September 2007

 

Sunday 2nd September

A quick look round Sparham Pools was generally uneventful, but raptors included another Hobby and a nice juvenile Marsh Harrier hunting, the latter being the first I've seen at this site.

Common Darter, Sparham Pools, 2-Sep-07 Engrailed, Bawdeswell, 1-Sep-07

Common Darter, Sparham Pools, 2nd September 2007

Engrailed, Bawdeswell, 1st September 2007

 

Saturday 1st September

The flood at Swanton Morley held at least 42 Snipe and a Common Sandpiper this morning.

Last week's 4 hybrid Mallard x Egyptian Geese were still present and with slightly better views than last week I was able to confirm that the two paler birds had pale primaries and secondaries, which probably indicates that the Mallard parent was of domestic stock (thanks Joern for pointing that out). Whilst photographing these an unfamiliar goose-like call prompted me to look up and see 3 Ruddy Shelducks were flying in.

Like last week's Red-crested Pochards, the origin of these is uncertain, but although wild vagrants from their native Asian range might possibly occur occasionally, it's a safe bet these hadn't come from so far. They may have been escapes from captivity but more likely I reckon, they were part of a small feral population. There are lots of feral birds breeding on the Continent now and these frequently make it to our shores. Although our own population is too small to be fully countable in its own right, I imagine that most of them originated from the countable European population, so they're good enough for me and I count them. No scruples here - notice how the Red-crested Pochards went on the list with no shame last week too. I do have principles, honest - I mean, I didn't count the Blue-winged Goose that's still about, or that plastic duck I saw in the bath the other day.

Still a few warblers around but noticeably fewer than last week. A Sedge Warbler was the first seen for a little while though - I thought they'd all cleared out already. The morning finished with a cracking view of a Hobby.

Ruddy Shelduck, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Ruddy Shelduck, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07
Ruddy Shelduck, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Ruddy Shelduck, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07

Ruddy Shelduck, Swanton Morley, 1st September 2007

 

Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07
Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07
Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07
Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07
Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Mallard x Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07

Mallard x Egyptian Geese, Swanton Morley, 1st September 2007

 

Great Crested Grebe, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Great Crested Grebe, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07

Great Crested Grebe chick, Swanton Morley, 1st September 2007

 

Migrant Hawker, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Migrant Hawker, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07

Migrant Hawker (left) and Bush-Cricket sp. (perhaps Dark?) (right), Swanton Morley, 1st September 2007. If anyone can ID the Bush-Cricket, please let me know!

 

Ruddy Shelduck, Swanton Morley, 1-Sep-07 Mouse sp., Bawdeswell, 1-Sep-07

Ruddy Shelduck (different birds from one in top photos), Swanton Morley, 1st September 2007

baby Wood Mouse?, Bawdeswell, 1st September 2007. If anyone confirm or contradict the tentative ID, please let me know!

 

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

Next month: October 2007

Current month

_______________________________

Should anyone care about my 5 km circle year-list, I've seen (or heard) 119 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
  • Ruddy Shelduck *
  • 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