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September 2010

 

Wednesday 29th September

I booked today off work and with conditions still looking good for grounded migrants I headed up to the coast with Dave. Arriving at my Sheringham patch at dawn we soon realised that we were in for a lively morning. There were multiple sightings of Siskins including, unusually, small numbers in several places in the hedgerows and feeding in the fields (typically Siskins at Sheringham are either in the wood or flying straight over). Bramblings were also noted and there were good numbers of Lapland Buntings present. The bird of the day came early on as I scanned the hedgerows and picked up a Great Grey Shrike: not hugely rare but personally satisfying as it was one of the most regular species that I'd not previously self-found, plus it was my first on the patch. A Merlin was having fun with the Linnet flocks.

Along the cliff top fields were at least 4 Wheatears and 2 Whinchats and with a bit more hunting around the area we eventually notched up 8 Redstarts, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 20 Blackcaps, 5 Garden Warblers, 4 Stonechats and much higher numbers of Robins and Song Thrushes. One of the Garden Warblers was perhaps leucistic as it appeared a strange pale milky-tea colour. Also very briefly seen was an apparently all-grey Chiffchaff. Vis mig was minimal with the wind in the SE (SW is better for observing birds moving along the north coast) but included about 30 Swallows and a Grey Wagtail. The sea seemed quiet, though we didn't pay it close attention - clearly a fair few distant Brent Geese arriving but we didn't see much else.

Bizarrely, several butterflies were seen in the rain (!) flying or resting with their wings spread - Red Admirals, Speckled Wood and White sp. (Large I think).

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Great Grey Shrike, Sheringham, 29th September

 

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Siskin (left) and Pied Flycatcher (right), Sheringham, 29th September

 

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Redstarts, Sheringham, 29th September

 

Monday 27th September

Not much time for migrant hunting today but a few minutes at Thornham during my lunch break produced my third species of flycatcher in three days - Spotted Flycatcher.

 

Sunday 26th September

After yesterday's pounding my body was in no fit state to get up early and go birding, as much as it wanted to - in fact it could barely manage to move around the house. So I waited for someone else to do the hard work and this time Stu came up trumps with a Bonelli's Warbler in Wells. I dashed up and eventually got good, if brief, views of a lovely bright, presumably Western, Bonelli's Warbler. The area was full of Chiffchaffs along with the odd Willow Warbler and single Pied Flycatcher, Redstart and Lesser Whitethroat. Several Redwings were in and a Siskin or two flew over.

No moths tonight, except for a Eudonia angustea just outside the front door.

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Pied Flycatcher, Wells, 26th September

 

Saturday 25th September

With an impressive passage of seabirds yesterday afternoon for those who don't have to work and a continuing good forecast for sea passage today I had to get up early to get to Sheringham in time to get a seat. A Redwing called overhead when I arrived long before the crack of dawn. An hour later it was still too dark to see any birds, and yet my arrival wasn't early enough - I still had to make do with an inferior seat in one of the side sections. It seems that nowadays to get a decent seat you have to camp there overnight - and then you'll be so chilled through by the time the morning comes you won't be able to concentrate on the birds. Once it eventually became light enough to see anything almost the first bird I saw was a Sooty Shearwater - a good start, and the number of Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Gannets and Great Skuas over the next few minutes, plus a distant Puffin, promised an excellent sea watch was in store.

Sadly this was a false promise, and much of the morning was surprisingly, and disappointingly, quiet. Ahead of the regular squalls things tended to pick up a bit though, and we did eventually see a nice close juvenile Long-tailed Skua, and a monster Pomarine Skua accompanied by Arctics. A handful of Shearwaters were mostly Sooty with just a few Manx. A single Great Northern Diver was identified from among a good passage of Red-throated Divers and a Red-necked Grebe flew east. There wans't a huge number of Arctic Skuas though Great Skuas were more numerous (but not nearly as many as were seen yesterday). Many of these were among the 2100 Gannets I'd counted by 12.30 - that total is the most I've ever counted at Sheringham although I've estimated higher numbers once or twice based on a few timed counts. A few wildfowl and waders were on the move too, with 2 Barnacle Geese and a Velvet Scoter the best (excluding what might have been a Grey Phalarope seen all too briefly).

By 12.30 things were quietening down and I checked the pager. Reception there isn't great so a lot of the messages were garbled, but as I was looking at it a new message came through. I became quite confused as I registered the words "Norfolk" and "Empidonax" - these are two words I don't think I've ever seen together, and nor did I ever expect two. It didn't make sense. (Empidonax flycatchers, in case you're not in the know, are a group of North American species that are extremely hard to identify and hardly ever turn up this side of the Atlantic - one got to Cornwall once, there have been 2-3 in Iceland and I think there might be an old record from France or somewhere). I read the message again, then again, and it still didn't make sense. Finally I got the words in the right order and yes, it did really say there was an Empidonax Flycatcher in Norfolk. Inevitably the species wasn't certain, but either Willow, Alder or Least, apparently. But the message wasn't complete and frustratingly did not include the location! Anyway, I alerted others who checked their pagers and amidst the ensuing pandemonium it became apparent that the bird was in the plantation on Blakeney Point - aargh!

Before long a Leas-full of birders were convoying to Cley where the car park was already full. Walking up Blakeney Point is always hard work with its 3-4 miles of loose shingle but when there's gale force winds and teeming rain driving into your face for practically the whole, long way, it is a feat no sane human would dream of putting themselves through. Still a hundred or so completely insane people did attempt it, and for most of us the reward was sweet! Still not sure what it was, but Alder Flycatcher seems favourite at the moment. In any case, new for Norfolk and no worse than second for Britain.

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Empidonax sp., probably Alder Flycatcher, Blakeney Point, 25th September - click here for more photos

 

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Little Gull (left) and Arctic Tern (right), Sheringham, 25th September

 

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Great Skuas (left) and Long-tailed Skua (right), Sheringham, 25th September

 

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Common Seal, Blakeney Point, 25th September - showing its better side (the other side wasn't so good, hence why others apparently decided to bury it instead of photographing it)

 

Thursday 23rd September

Two moths in tonight, one a new species for me, Sallow.

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Twenty-plume Moth (left) and Sallow (right), Bawdeswell, 23rd September

 

Wednesday 22nd September

A day off work today but with weather that was better for sunbathing than finding migrants I didn't rush out. I eventually turned up at Swanton Morley in the afternoon where at first there was no sign of the Osprey, despite the many accounts from the anglers of how it had been showing an hour ago. Two Hobbies were pointed out by a birder from near Dereham who'd come hoping to see the Osprey.

Another birder from Norwich accompanied me round the complex - he'd never seen Osprey before so was particularly keen to see it, but as we nearly finished the circuit it was looking like we'd come away with nothing. As a relatively new birder he'd not seen many Kingfishers before and he said that he'd be happy with just seeing a Kingfisher. I explained that it's worth learning their call as I nearly always hear them before I see them. Very shortly after I'd finished saying this one started calling and then appeared. It flew off but soon returned and provided him with his first views of a perched-up Kingfisher. However, he didn't have to go away happy with just seeing a Kingfisher because as soon as we'd had our fill of this he looked up and saw the Osprey right over our heads. It flew off towards Curly's but two minutes later reappeared over there with a fish. It was heading straight towards us and ended up passing straight over our heads again. I think Ricky left happy, and so did I.

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Osprey, Swanton Morley, 22nd September

 

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Speckled Wood (left) and Common Darter (right), Worthing, 22nd September

 

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Kingfisher, Swanton Morley, 22nd September

 

Tuesday 21st September

Just a single moth tonight but an interesting one - a Lilac Beauty. Interesting because they're peculiar-looking creatures and it was only my third ever, but most interesting because of the date. The first generation flies in June/July but the second generation is only partial and there are relatively few August/September records from Norfolk.

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Lilac Beauty, Bawdeswell, 21st September

 

Monday 20th September

Another look through the gulls at Houghton in my lunchbreak produced at least 4 Yellow-legged Gulls. More moths in tonight than there have been on some recent nights but all 7 were Small Dusty Waves so not much variety.

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Rooks (left) and unidentified gull (right), Houghton, 20th September - stuck on this one - answers on a postcard (or email) please!

 

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Yellow-legged Gull, Houghton, 20th September - in the photos it appears barely any paler than the Lessers behind it but in life it was much more obvious!

 

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Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Houghton, 20th September (I wasn't completely sure about the right hand one, so please holla if you think differently)

 

Sunday 19th September

Having pretty much neglected my local patch this year I decided to pop in to Swanton Morley this afternoon. A large hovering raptor disappeared behind trees - at first I didn't twig what it was but when it reappeared a few minutes later it was immediately obvious - a fine juvenile Osprey. Although they're regularly seen by fishermen, this was my first Osprey here. I enjoyed some great views before it eventually headed off towards Bylaugh, though the dull conditions weren't ideal for photography! Later I headed down the road past Bylaugh and relocated the Osprey flying directly towards me. The light was better now but I was too slow to get any more photos as it headed over the car and back towards Swanton Morley. Nearby a Little Owl was at Sparham Hole.

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Osprey, Swanton Morley, 19th September

 

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Little Owl, Sparham Hole (left) and Tufted Duck, Swanton Morley (left), 19th September

 

Saturday 18th September

The last few days have been poor for moths and tonight there was just one, but it was a quality one. Well, ok, it wasn't rare, but it was a new one for me and a cool green one - Brindled Green.

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Brindled Green, Bawdeswell, 18th September

 

Wednesday 15th September

At least 2 Yellow-legged Gulls were at Houghton at lunch time along with at least a couple of intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls standing out among the graellsii.

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Yellow-legged Gull, Houghton (left) and Small Dusty Wave, Bawdeswell (right), 15th September

 

Tuesday 14th September

Only a few moths came in tonight and one of them flew straight into the jaws of a spider!

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spider with Green Carpet, Bawdeswell, 14th September

 

Sunday 12th September

Plume moths Emmelina monodactyla reached 4 tonight but not much other variety.

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Garden Carpet, Bawdeswell, 12th September

 

Saturday 11th September

I started off at Thornham early this morning and walked along the sea wall to Holme where I hoped to see the Arctic Warbler. A few Yellow Wagtails were seen and loads of Swallows streaming west, along with a few other hirundines. At the pines at Holme a Great Skua flew along the dunes but there was no sign initially of the main target and I had to make do with the likes of Spotted Flycatchers and Treecreeper. Eventually Sophie located the Arctic Warbler and I spent most of the next few hours getting a few brief and generally unsatisfactory glimpses of it. No photos worth keeping.

An excursion to Redwell Marsh produced good views of the Red-necked Phalarope, along with Swift, Ruff and 3 Green Sandpipers.

A handful of moths tonight included what I think was my first Eudonia angustea of the year.

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Red-necked Phalarope, Holme, 11th September

 

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Spotted Flycatcher, Holme, 11th September

 

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Chiffchaffs, Holme, 11th September - one twitcher at Holme today was overheard claiming that the ring on the Arctic Warbler's leg was "diagnostic" - good job he didn't see this Chiffchaff! Or maybe he did?

 

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Swift, Holme, 11th September

 

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Swallows, Holme, 11th September

 

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House Martin (left) and Sand Martin (right), Holme, 11th September

 

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Teal, Holme, 11th September

 

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Pied Wagtail, Thornham, 11th September

 

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Eudonia angustea, Bawdeswell, 11th September

 

Friday 10th September

A handful of moths tonight, but none very exciting.

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Engrailed, Bawdeswell, 10th September

 

Thursday 9th September

Working from home today I saw Swift and Sparrowhawk over the garden - the Swift is getting a bit late for here though I guess there'll still be coastal records for a while yet. Moths included an Agonopterix, either heracliana or cnicella.

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House Martin (left) and Blackbird (right), Bawdeswell, 9th September

 

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Agonopterix sp. (left) and Garden Rose Tortrix (right), Bawdeswell, 9th September

 

Wednesdsay 8th September

At Sheringham we often find freshly arrived migrants work there way inland up the hedges that run perpendicular to the coastline and during my lunchbreaks I occasionally see migrants doing the same thing along the minor roads that run south from the coast road in the Thornham/Titchwell area. Often the circumstances don't permit satisfactory views, as has been the case with an unidentified Phylloscs and a Sylvias this week, but a Redstart along Chalkpit Lane (Titchwell) was a bit easier today.

Of all the moths that come in to my house in the evenings very few remain overnight but when I got in tonight, before opening the windows, I discovered three that I'd not seen last night when they must have arrived - Orange Swift, Agonopterix arenella and a plume moth that did its best to convince me it was something unusual but in the end was the commonest species: Emmelina monodactyla. Not a great deal else came in to join them.

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Agonopterix arenella (left) and Orange Swift (right), Bawdeswell, 8th September

 

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Emmelina monodactyla, Bawdeswell, 8th September

 

Monday 6th September

Nothing terribly exciting among this evening's moths so here something else instead. Far too cute to swat.

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Fly, Bawdeswell, 6th September - Housefly?

 

Sunday 5th September

I don't know whether it had anything to do with us cutting back our garden rose this afternoon, but a Garden Rose Tortrix was my first this year - the only one I recorded last year was also on 5th September. My first two Booted Warblers were also on 5th September but none of them today!

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Engrailed (left) and Garden Rose Tortrix (right), Bawdeswell, 5th September

 

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White-shouldered House-moth (left) and Ichneumon Fly (right), Bawdeswell, 5th September - not sure which species the Ichneumon is but I guess a Netelia of some sort

 

Saturday 4th September

A migraine put paid to any hopes of getting out birding today. Tonight's moths included a fabulous Red underwing - my first in nearly 4 years at Bawdeswell, though I had a couple in Norwich previously. I'd forgotten how big they were - looked like a Bat when it was flying around! Also 5 Square-spot Rustics and an Engrailed.

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Lesser Yellow Underwing (top left) and Red Underwing (the rest), Bawdeswell, 4th September

 

Friday 3rd September

A quick visit to Abbey Farm, Flitcham, during my lunch break produced little of interest except for a Pink-footed Goose among the Greylags. Whether this was an over-summering bird or an early migrant I don't know, but I suspect the former. Not much on the moth front tonight - Lesser Yellow Underwing was best.

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Teal, Flitcham, 3rd September

 

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Greylag Geese, Flitcham, 3rd September

 

Thursday 2nd September

A slightly better selection of moths tonight including my first Lime-speck Pug of the year. A micro, Agonopterix arenella was only my second ever. A Snout was the first for a few weeks - I assume the start of a second generation as my records of this species show two very clear peaks, one in July and the other in September. I thought it was interesting how the Lime-speck Pug always aligned its wings vertically wherever it landed on the walls. Most pugs tend to align their wings more or less parallel to the ground, maybe at an angle but not usually perpendicular to the ground. Whether this was coincidence or whether different species tend to align themselves differently I'm not sure... something to look out for.

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Agonopterix arenella (left) and Lime-speck Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 2nd September

 

Wednesday 1st September

Not many moths tonight - 2 Small Dusty Waves were the only macros.

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Agriphila geniculea (left) and Hawthorn Shield Bug (right), Bawdeswell, 1st September

 

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