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April 2010


Friday 30th April

A Scorched Carpet in the study this morning must have come in un-noticed last night.

I don't normally attempt to get onto Titchwell reserve during my lunch break as by the time I get there I have to come back. However, having failed to get up early enough to go before work, and having an appointment in Reepham for straight after work, I had to find a way of squeezing it in today, in order to see a certain Chiffchaff - it was only along the Meadow Trail after all, so not exactly requiring a long walk from the car park. Actually I had a good 10-15 minutes in the area which was just long enough. At first it looked like I would have to settle for brief views of a promising-looking candidate together with 2-3 notes of its song but just in time it warmed itself up and delivered several good bouts of perfect Iberian Chiffchaff song. An excellent lunch-time rarity, though if I can find the time tomorrow I might go back to get a better look and listen. Also 5 Wheatear there.

This evening Waved Umber and Chinese Character were left over from last night but an as yet unidentified Tortrix (I think) was new.

Chinese Character, Bawdeswell, 30-Apr-10 Tortrix sp., Bawdeswell, 30-Apr-10

Chinese Character (left) and unidentified Tortrix sp. (right), Bawdeswell, 30th April - please get in touch if you know what the Totrix is (assuming I'm right in thinking it is a Tortrix)


Scorched Carpet, Bawdeswell, 30-Apr-10 Waved Umber, Bawdeswell, 30-Apr-10
Scorched Carpet (left) and Waved Umber (right), Bawdeswell, 30th April


Thursday 29th April

Tonight's moths included Waved Umber, another Streamer and my second ever Chinese Character.

Streamer, Bawdeswell, 29-Apr-10 Streamer, Bawdeswell, 29-Apr-10
Streamer (left) and Chinese Character (right), Bawdeswell, 29th April


Wednesday 28th April

A few large birds were on the move today, i.e. raptors and Cranes, so I spent lunch looking east from the hill just above Thornham, hoping to connect with something. Foolishly my pager was on silent so there was a delay before I saw the messages that told me 3 Cranes were getting close. In fact, getting at least as far west as Burnham Overy it's hard to imagine that they weren't on view from my position. However, it was only 10-15 minutes later when I noticed a crowd gathering on the path at Titchwell, seemingly looking expectantly to the east, that I thought to look at the pager. By this time surely the Cranes would have already passed, yet if so the folk at Titchwell must have missed them too. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I couldn't see them and a few hours later they were in Yorkshire. Did they turn north when they got to Burnham? Or did I just spend too much time with my head down in a failed attempt to photograph a Red-legged Partridge? Dunno, but all I saw was 3 Marsh Harriers (and a Red-legged Partridge).

Moths were also coming in 3s tonight with 3 Streamers (now 7 since my first ever 8 days ago), 3 Twenty-plume Moths, at least 3 species of Pug including 3 that seemed to be Common Pugs - but isn't it a bit early for them?

Wormwood Pug, Bawdeswell, 28-Apr-10 Streamer, Bawdeswell, 28-Apr-10

Currant Pug (left) and Streamer (right), Bawdeswell, 28th April (updated July 2011 to correct the ID of the Pug)


Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 28-Apr-10 Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 28-Apr-10
Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 28-Apr-10  

Common Pugs, Bawdeswell, 28th April - at least that's my best attempt at identifying them - please correct me if I'm wrong (they're supposed to start flying in May; I suppose that's not far off)


Tuesday 27th April

Lunchtime provided Cuckoo at Coxford and Turtle Dove at Syderstone Common. The only moth tonight was a Garden Carpet.


Mionday 26th April

This evening's moths were Waved Umber, Double-striped Pug, another Streamer and 2-3 Twenty-plume Moths.

Double-striped Pug, Bawdeswell, 26-Apr-10 Waved Umber, Bawdeswell, 26-Apr-10
Double-striped Pug (left) and Waved Umber (right), Bawdeswell, 26th April


Sunday 25th April

The day started with 2 Roe Deer behind the house. I've heard Deer barking from the house during the night before but this morning was the first time I've actually seen them. While I was watching these a Lesser Whitethroat was singing. A singing Blackcap normally summers in the adjacent garden to mine but other than that warblers are scarce. I seem to get one record each of Chiffchaff and Lesser Whitethroat every spring but never a Willow Warbler or Common Whitethroat.

I wasn't free today until mid afternoon when I met up with Dave at Swanton Morley and we then headed up to Kelling. The track held a few warblers but nothing to shout about and the pool was equally unremarkable with Common Sandpiper and a few hirundines but not a great deal else. The coastal path was better though with at least 17 Wheatears either side of the quags. Also a Grasshopper Warbler was singing and a pair of Mediterranean Gulls flew over, announcing their approach with their distinctive call. Not quite the massive post-rain fall that we'd been hoping for but enjoyable all the same.

On the way back Dave found a Turtle Dove at Bintree and a Cuckoo was calling at Swanton Morley. More moths in tonight than all the moths of the last fortnight put together, but only one common species - there were at least 9 Twenty-plume Moths.

Wheatear, Kelling, 25-Apr-10 Wheatear, Kelling, 25-Apr-10

Wheatears, Kelling, 25th April


Common Sandpiper, Kelling, 25-Apr-10 Common Sandpiper, Kelling, 25-Apr-10

Common Sandpiper, Kelling, 25th April


Meadow Pipit, Kelling, 25-Apr-10 Rook, Kelling, 25-Apr-10

Meadow Pipit (left) and Rook (right), Kelling, 25th April


Roe Deer, Bawdeswell, 25-Apr-10 Twenty-plume Moth, Bawdeswell, 25-Apr-10

Roe Deer (left) and Twenty-plume Moth (right), Bawdeswell, 25th April


Saturday 24th April

I'd planned to get up early today and either go straight to Welney in the hope that the Bluethroat stayed the night or go out birding locally and then on to Welney when news came out. But as it turned out I was still in bed when news of the Bluethroat's continued presence came out and I arrived just in time to hear Connor and his crew describing how well it had just been showing. Red-spotted Bluethroats used to be regular in Norfolk and in the 90s I saw quite a few but in recent years White-spotted have been easier to catch up with, yet somehow I'd never managed to do so before today.

After a wait the White-spotted Bluethroat eventually piped up and began to sing but only brief and unsatisfactory views were obtained. Then followed a wait of what seemed like hours with no further sign, although a mysterious pager message informed the crowd that it was still present, despite no-one on scene knowing anything about it. Eventually it was relocated and I obtained a brief but excellent view but it went before my camera was in place. Another wait and it reappeared in the same place, this time allowing just a single photo before disappearing again.

Whilst waiting for it to appear a fine summery Spotted Redshank put in an appearance, as did both White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail and a couple of Reed Warblers among the hordes of Sedge Warblers. Later from the observatory there were both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, and Common Sandpiper.

Back home I received news of a possible Lesser Kestrel at Holme. It sounded like it was worth checking out so up I went. I didn't see it and as far as I know, nor did anyone else bar its finder - unless it was just a Kestrel in which case I still didn't see it but some others may have done.

It was worth the trip though. A Cuckoo was on the wires beside the entrance track and then provided fantastic views as it fed on a coccoon of some sort, or presumably its contents. The paddocks were alive with migrants - many Lesser Whitethroats, Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and Blackcaps and, following reports of a female, a fantastic male Redstart.

On the way home I stopped at Houghton where I continue to be unable to find any Caspian Gulls among the pigs and at Bintree Mill where a bizarre sight of a Mole on top of the wall of the bridge - presumably a dead individual that someone had put there. Back home another Streamer (or one of the same?).

Spotted Redshank, Welney, 24-Apr-10 White-spotted Bluethroat, Welney, 24-Apr-10

Spotted Redshank (left) and Bluethroat (right), Welney, 24th April


Sedge Warbler, Welney, 24-Apr-10 Sedge Warbler, Welney, 24-Apr-10

Sedge Warblers, Welney, 24th April


Reed Bunting, Welney, 24-Apr-10 Reed Bunting, Welney, 24-Apr-10

Reed Bunting, Welney, 24th April


Cuckoo, Holme, 24-Apr-10 Cuckoo, Holme, 24-Apr-10

Cuckoo, Holme, 24th April


Sedge Warbler, Welney, 24-Apr-10 Mole, Bintree Mill, 24-Apr-10

White Wagtail, Welney (left) and Mole, Bintree Mill (right), 24th April - the Mole was presumably a dead individual that someone had placed there, as it was on the top of a bridge wall (and I subsequently learned that Dave had seen it there several days ago).


Deer sp., Houghton, 24-Apr-10 Deer sp., Houghton, 24-Apr-10

Deer, Houghton Park, 24th April - anyone know what species of deer these are? They're part of the captive herd so not necessarily a native species. Update: thanks to James for suggesting they may be Père David Deer - according to Houghton Hall's website they do keep this species there so that seems a fair bet.


Herring Gull, Houghton, 24-Apr-10 Herring Gull?, Houghton, 24-Apr-10

Gulls, Houghton, 24th April - I assume these are both Herring Gulls but I'm not hugely confident, especially the one on the right


Lesser Black-backed Gull, Houghton, 24-Apr-10  

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Houghton, 24th April - I can identify this one!


Friday 23rd April

My first Holly Blue of the year at Bircham and another Streamer was the only moth in tonight.

Streamer, Bawdeswell, 23-Apr-10  
Streamer, Bawdeswell, 23rd April


Wednesday 21st April

I didn't have time for my full lunch hour today, but enough time to catch a couple of flight-only views of Ring Ouzel(s) at Beacon Hill.


Tuesday 20th April

An interesting-looking moth vanished almost as soon as I'd seen it, but fortunately it allowed a single photo before hiding, and from that I was able to identify it as my first ever Streamer.

Streamer, Bawdeswell, 20-Apr-10 Early Grey, Bawdeswell, 20-Apr-10
Streamer (left) and Early Grey (right), Bawdeswell, 20th April


Sunday 18th April

We joined Vitty's sister and her boyfriend for a meal at the hotel they were staying at in Wroxham, and as we arrived a bit early we spent a few minutes looking for something interesting among the Swallows and Common Terns on the Broad. No luck there, but a Kingfisher and a nice meal at the adjacent hotel.

Greylag Goose, Wroxham Broad, 18-Apr-10

Greylag Geese, Wroxham Broad, 18th April


Wednesday 14th April

Hebrew Character, Bawdeswell, 14-Apr-10  
Hebrew Character, Bawdeswell, 14th April


Saturday 10th April

I've not had time to go along to the last few monthly group outings that I try to assist with when I can, but today I joined them at Sculthorpe Moor. They'd already been enjoying Bullfinches by the centre when I arrived and later we got more good views as a pair fed on one of the tables. Summer migrants were in evidence with Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps singing a-plenty, though getting views of them was another matter. There were also Willow Warblers by the river where I also caught a quick snatch of a Sedge Warbler calling.

One of the escaped, or more likely released, Golden Pheasants called frequently - two of the group got a good view but most of us didn't see it. The highlights for me were mammals - two of the hides provided regular views of 4-5 Bank Voles and then a bit later on we got good, if brief, views of a Water Vole - a species I've very rarely encountered.

From the farthest hide there was a good show of raptors, including at least 6 Marsh Harriers, 3 Buzzards and a Kestrel or two. A soaring Accipiter looked interesting, in many ways reminiscent of a Goshawk, both in structure and plumage. I left the hide to get better views, ran off a few photos and went back inside to alert the others to the possibility of it being worthy of a closer look. By this time however it had disappeared so I was left to check the images on my camera. Sadly they looked much less impressive, with square tail corners for starters. I was unsure, but having raised expectations I was now left thinking it was probably a Sparrowhawk after all. Still, that didn't stop certain people from taking much delight in informing their friends who hadn't come that they'd missed a Goshawk! A much more obvious Sparrowhawk appeared later and back at home being able to see the images of the first bird on my computer screen enabled me to satisfy myself that it was indeed just a Sparrowhawk. Finally for the raptors, another 3 Buzzards were seen as we returned to the car park.

Being out in the evening there was little opportunity to attract moths tonight, the only one seen benig a Clouded Drab that may well have been left over from yesterday.

Bullfinch, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10 Bullfinch, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10

Bullfinches, Sculthorpe Moor, 10th April


Reed Bunting, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10 Oystercatcher, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10

Reed Bunting (left) and Oystercatcher (right), Sculthorpe Moor, 10th April


Marsh Harrier, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10 Marsh Harrier, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10

Marsh Harriers, Sculthorpe Moor, 10th April


Bank Vole, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10 Water Vole, Sculthorpe Moor, 10-Apr-10

Bank Vole (left) and Water Vole (right), Sculthorpe Moor, 10th April


Clouded Drab, Bawdeswell, 9-Apr-10  
Clouded Drab, Bawdeswell, 10th April


Friday 9th April

As I left work for lunch I scrolled through numerous pager messages about Red Kites in Norfolk, but all in NE Norfolk and none anywhere near work. Even so, I figured that the vantage point on the Choseley Road just south of Thornham would be a good spot to look for raptors moving through.

In fact I saw the best raptor before I'd got there. Just north of Choseley an interesting-looking raptor was flying away west. I had a pretty good idea what it was but it was flying directly away from me and refusing to give itself up with a twist of the tail or something that revealed some plumage or structure detail. Then at last it gave a good twist of a long deeply forked red tail: it was as I thought, a Red Kite. A bit further on a Buzzard appeared and then from my vantage point at least 4, but probably several more Marsh Harriers and another or the same Buzzard. Not convinced that any of the harriers or Buzzards were moving though - all seemed to be local birds as far as I could tell.

This evening's moths included a Twenty-plume Moth, an Agonopterix (presumably heracliana?), another Early Thorn, Common Quaker and, I think, a Clouded Drab.

Twenty-plume Moth, Bawdeswell, 9-Apr-10 Twenty-plume Moth, Bawdeswell, 9-Apr-10

Twenty-plume Moth (left) and presumed Agonopterix heracliana (right), Bawdeswell, 9th April


Clouded Drab, Bawdeswell, 9-Apr-10  
Clouded Drab, Bawdeswell, 9th April - at least I think that's what it is - let me know if you think otherwise!


Thursday 8th April

This evening's moths consisted of Early Grey, my first Early Thorn of the year and a worn Common Quaker.


Wednesday 7th April

Another lunchtime Wheatear today, this time at Choseley.


Tuesday 6th April

My first Swallows of the year today. Also a Diurnea fagella, identified thanks to Rob.

Diurnea fagella, Bawdeswell, 6-Apr-10  
Diurnea fagella, Bawdeswell, 6th April - thanks again to Rob for the ID - one day I'll learn!


Monday 5th April

Not the best weather for spring birding this long-weekend, so took the opportunity to catch up with some chores. Also booked some flights and planned a trip to Turkey, taking in Göksu Delta, Birecik, Nemrut Dagı (the one with the heads) and Demirkazık, among others.

View Larger Map

Now just hoping my new passport arrives in time!


Saturday 3rd April

Another Shoulder Stripe arrived this evening.

Shoulder Stripe, Bawdeswell, 3-Apr-10  
Shoulder Stripe, Bawdeswell, 3rd April


Thursday 1st April

With limited activity I've not managed to see many of the early spring migrants so far this year, and now the weathers turned horrid it might be a while before I do. Nevertheless, I did manage to scrape a Wheatear at Heacham during my lunch break today:

Wheatear, Heacham, 1-Apr-10 Wheatear, Heacham, 1-Apr-10
Wheatear, Heacham, 1-Apr-10  

Wheatear, Heacham, 1st April - in the last photo I think it was looking for Alpine Swifts...


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