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April 2008


Wednesday 30th April

At lunchtime a large dark raptor flew low over the road near work. By the time I could stop it was gone, but just as it disappeared it twisted a shallow-forked tail at me. Tantalising, but surely most of these Black (and Black-eared) Kites that are being seen round Norfolk and Suffolk at the moment are the birds that escaped from London Zoo earlier in the month?


Monday 28th April

Brown Lacewing, Bawdeswell, 28-Apr-08 Brown Lacewing, Bawdeswell, 28-Apr-08

Brown Lacewings, Bawdeswell, 28th April 2008


Sunday 27th April

Highlight of a visit to Sparham Pools was a Dunlin - my first Calidris sandpiper in the local area. Also a Common Sandpiper there. Rather belatedly, my first Cuckoos of the year (in the UK) were calling at both Sparham Pools and Bintree Woods.

Tonight's moths included 2 Least Black Arches (what's the plural of Arches?).

Dunlin, Sparham Pools, 27-Apr-08 Roe Deer, Sparham Pools, 27-Apr-08

Dunlin (left) and Roe Deer (right), Sparham Pools, 27th April 2008


Hoverfly, Bintree Woods, 27-Apr-08 Hoverfly, Bintree Woods, 27-Apr-08

Hoverfly, Bintree Woods, 27th April 2008


Least Black Arches, Bawdeswell, 27-Apr-08 Least Black Arches, Bawdeswell, 27-Apr-08

Least Black Arches (2), Bawdeswell, 27th April 2008


Saturday 26th April

Plenty of migrants in at Swanton Morley now with all the locally-breeding warblers in (assuming Gr'opper doesn't breed locally any more), including no less than 15 singing Willow Warblers and at least 4 each of Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler. Passage migrants included a Common Sandpiper and a very briefly seen Arctic Tern flying straight through, my first for the local area. Other signs of spring were at least two broods of Great Crested Grebe and a flock of 13 Swifts moving through, a good count for this early.

Frustratingly a Bittern-like bird (but in very un-Bittern-like habitat) was a glimpse too short of a bird flying out of view for its identity to be clinched. Really not sure what else it could have been though - don't think it was a juvenile Night Heron or an owl, but just too brief to be certain, especially given the unlikelihood of what it looked like. The one that got away, or maybe me just going bonkers about an over-grown Tawny Owl disturbed from its roost.

Moths included 3 Double-striped Pugs, a Twenty-plume Moth and my first Least Black Arches.

Update: I've decided the Arctic Tern ID isn't quite safe enough to count it. Pretty sure it was, but with such brief views and not getting all the ID features it's best not to claim it as a certain record.

Little Grebe, Swanton Morley, 26-Apr-08 Little Grebe, Swanton Morley, 26-Apr-08

Little Grebe, Swanton Morley, 26th April 2008


Greylag Geese, Swanton Morley, 26-Apr-08 Rabbit, Swanton Morley, 26-Apr-08

Greylag Geese and Rabbit, Swanton Morley, 26th April 2008


Garden Warbler, Swanton Morley, 26-Apr-08 Garden Warbler, Swanton Morley, 26-Apr-08

Garden Warbler, Swanton Morley, 26th April 2008


Double-striped Pug, Bawdeswell, 26-Apr-08  

Double-striped Pug, Bawdeswell, 26th April 2008


Friday 25th April

Went back to Choseley at lunch. A Tree Sparrow dropped in very briefly, a bird I see increasingly rarely. Glimpsed what looked like a male Montagu's Harrier quartering the field next to the drying barns. It was heading towards the road so rather than get out and flush all the buntings I waited for it to go over the road, but unfortunately it never did. Was fairly sure it was Monty's though and then later in the day a male Monty's was seen there by someone else, presumably the same bird.

Tree Sparrow, Choseley, 25-Apr-08 Chaffinch, Choseley, 25-Apr-08

Tree Sparrow (left) and Chaffinch (right), Choseley, 25th April 2008


Yellowhammer, Choseley, 23-Apr-08  

Yellowhammer, Choseley, 25th April 2008


Wednesday 23rd April

Spent lunch at Chosley - there were at least 25 Corn Buntings on view today among the Yellowhammers.

Corn Bunting, Choseley, 23-Apr-08 Corn Bunting, Choseley, 23-Apr-08

Corn Buntings, Choseley, 23rd April 2008


Yellowhammer, Choseley, 23-Apr-08 Yellowhammer, Choseley, 23-Apr-08

Yellowhammers, Choseley, 23rd April 2008


Tuesday 22nd April

Driving back to work at lunchtime I hit a Blackbird or something. Nothing remarkable about that but when I looked in the mirror I saw a Sparrowhawk that had obviously been in pursuit of it. The Sparrowhawk continued half way across the road before abruptly turning back and scooping up the dead bird from the road and carrying it off.

Following a report of Little Gulls at Swanton Morley this evening I decided to pop down for a very brief visit. No sign, but 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 5 Bramblings and a few other bits and pieces in. Love was definitely in the air with birds displaying and copulating all over the place, including at least one species that didn't breed in the area last year.

Great Crested Grebes, Swanton Morley, 22-Apr-08 Great Crested Grebes, Swanton Morley, 22-Apr-08

Great Crested Grebes, Swanton Morley, 22nd April 2008


Monday 21st April

A few migrants in the Chosely area at lunchtime including a Ring Ouzel and 4 Wheatears.

Wheatear, Choseley, 21-Apr-08  

Wheatear, Choseley, 21st April 2008


Sunday 20th April

Got back from Corsica just in time to connect with the spring's first big twitch in Norfolk. This Black Lark comes from the steppes of central Asia and represented Norfolk's first and Britain's third ever record. Sorry the photos are so rubbish!

Black Lark, Winterton, 20-Apr-08 Black Lark, Winterton, 20-Apr-08

Black Lark, Winterton, 20th April 2008


Saturday 19th April

I'm back! Will take me a little while to sift through all my photos from the last week, but here's one to be getting on with.

Corsican Nuthatch, Foret d'Aitone, 15-Apr-08  

Corsican Nuthatch, Forêt d'Aitone, 15th April 2008


Firday 11th April

Three days in Warwick doing a management diploma so no birding, although I was distracted by a couple of Grey Wagtails in the pond just outside the window. Also 2 Red Kites on the way home, one near the university and one at Oundle.


Saturday 5th April

At last had my first Swallow of the year on the way to Sparham Pools where there were a couple of Blackcaps and 4 Willow Warblers singing, including 3 together near the car park.

Walking round Sparham Pools, I came face to face with a group of 3-4 Otters coming the other way along the path! Sadly after one hastily snapped blurry photo my camera battery gave up and by the time I'd changed it they were half way across the lake.

Next stop was Lackford Lakes in Suffolk with the monthly group I help with. More migrants here including a very elusive pair of Garganey and an early House Martin amongst a large flock of Sand Martins (and a few Swallows). Two pairs of Goldeneye were nice, the immature male doing a bit of display now and then.

Left there early to get to Norwich in time to buy a data storage device (Vosonic VP5500), for backing up my photos when I've filled my cards on holiday. If you want one that displays the photos then this one's a little over a third of the price of other similar devices. Hope the that doesn't mean it's not reliable - don't want to lose all my photos of Corsican Nuthatch that I'll be taking shortly (maybe).

Had a quick look in at Swanton Morley to see if I could find the Little Ringed Plover that a friend texted me about, but no sign (and so far as I can see, still no suitable habitat on the lake where it was present earlier). A single Swallow and a swarm of about 80 Sand Martins over Holkham Lake despite a biting cold wind. Winter has arrived (again) this afternoon - the martins will be going back south quick if they've got any sense. Also had a quick look to see if I could see the Great White Egret nearby, but no joy.

Otters, Sparham Pools, 5-Apr-08 Great Crested Grebe, Sparham Pools, 5-Apr-08

Otters (left) and Great Crested Grebe (right), Sparham Pools, 5th April 2008


Goldeneye, Lackford Lakes, 5-Apr-08 Goldeneye, Lackford Lakes, 5-Apr-08
Goldeneye, Lackford Lakes, 5-Apr-08 Goldeneye, Lackford Lakes, 5-Apr-08

Goldeneyes (first-winter male, first-winter female, female and adult male), Lackford Lakes, 5th April 2008


Great Crested Grebe, Lackford Lakes, 5-Apr-08 Great Crested Grebe, Lackford Lakes, 5-Apr-08

Great Crested Grebe, Lackford Lakes, 5th April 2008


Marsh Harrier, Norfolk, 5-Apr-08 Marsh Harrier, Norfolk, 5-Apr-08

pair of Marsh Harriers, undisclosed site (Norfolk, UK), 5th April 2008


Friday 4th April

Lunchtime produced a group of 4 Buzzards west of Burnham Market. When I left work in the evening I'd got a text message informing me about a Red Kite not too far off the way home. Popped in to have a look but no sign (just a Barn Owl and Marsh Harrier) so, as it was a warm evening and getting dark went to a nearby site to look for owls. Surprisingly poor for owls with just a single hoot from a Tawny, but in the half-light at 8.00pm I heard a clutter of wings in the tree directly above me and saw a Red Kite fly out! Not sure if it was the same bird I'd been looking for earlier or not but it sounds like there might be a couple in the area anyway. For now I'll leave out the details of their whereabouts in the hope that they get some peace, just in case they are up to something.

Also 30 Golden Plovers and >200 Fieldfares in the area, reminding me that winter hasn't quite gone yet, and Woodcock and another Buzzard.

Back home a few moths were about. A Clouded Drab was new for me and a couple of Emmelina monodactyla (a common brown plume moth, not sure if it has an english name) were my first of the year. A couple of Early Thorns, a distinctive species that holds its wings together like a butterfly, were also new for the year. Thanks to Dave Collins for confirming the one that wasn't holding its wings up like they're supposed to.

Early Thorn, Bawdeswell, 4-Apr-08 Early Thorn, Bawdeswell, 4-Apr-08

Early Thorn, Bawdeswell, 4th April 2008


Early Grey, Bawdeswell, 4-Apr-08 Thorn, Bawdeswell, 4-Apr-08

Early Grey (left) and Clouded Drab (right), Bawdeswell, 4th April 2008


Thursday 3rd April

My first Blackcap of the year was singing in the garden this morning. Can anyone ID this moth for me? Possibly one of the Tortrix family?

moth, Bawdeswell, 3-Apr-08  

unidentified moth, Bawdeswell, 3rd April 2008


Tuesday 1st April

More lunch break snaps:

Great Tit, Sandringham, 1-Apr-08 Grey Partridge, Shernborne, 1-Apr-08

Great Tit, Sandringham (left) and Grey Partridge, Shernborne (right), 1st April 2008


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