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May 2011

 

Tuesday 31st May

At least a couple of nice new moths tonight: a Lime Hawkmoth (laying eggs) and a Small Angle Shades. Also recorded were Cork Moth, Brown House-moth, 2 Blastobasis lacticolella, Epiblema trimaculana, 2 Small Dusty Waves, Silver-ground Carpet, 2 Freyer's Pugs, 2 Common Pugs, Brimstone Moth, Common Wave, White Ermine, 2 Buff Ermines, Spectacle, Straw Dot and something else which I've not managed to put a name to yet - please let me know if you can help.

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Lime Hawkmoth, Bawdeswell, 31st May

 

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Small Angle Shades (left) and Flame (right), Bawdeswell, 31st May

 

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Common Wave (left) and presumed Blastobasis lacticolella (right), Bawdeswell, 31st May - I'm assuming the right hand one is an unmarked example of Blastobasis lacticolella, although it seemed a bit on the large size - I can't think of anything else similar but please let me know if I've missed something

 

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unidentified moth, Bawdeswell, 31st May - any ideas on this one? My best guess is Mottled Rustic but I'm not convinced

 

Monday 30th May

The Marsh Warbler was still giving a superb vocal performance from dawn this morning, though it remained somewhat camera-shy. It has an amazing repetoire, mimicing over 25 species of birds (and possibly also a rodent at one point). Particularly accurate were Blackbird, Blue Tit, Common Tern, Swallow, Skylark, Bee-eater and Chaffinch but several other species were clearly recognisable on occasion. An excellent bird for the area - nice find Dave! Due to sensitivities at this private site and the possibility that it may breed we have decided not to broadcast details of its location very widely.

Other birds seen this morning included 2 Kingfishers, Cuckoo and Barn Owl. Tonight's moths were Argyresthia semifusca, Blastobasis lacticolella, Celypha lacunana, Scoparia ambigualis, 3 Common Swifts, Garden Carpet, Green Carpet, 2 Common Pugs, 2 Brimstone Moths, Willow Beauty, Pale Oak Beauty (my second), Elephant Hawkmoth (my first here), 3 Buff Ermines, 2 Heart and Darts, 2 Flame Shoulders, 4 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 3 Rustic Shoulder-knots, 4 Brown Rustics, Marbled Minor plus 3 Marbled Minor agg. and another Treble Lines.

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Marsh Warbler, undisclosed location, 30th May

 

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Barn Owl, undisclosed location, 30th May

 

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Elephant Hawkmoth, Bawdeswell, 30th May

 

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Pale Oak Beauty (left) and Treble Lines (right), Bawdeswell, 30th May

 

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Argyresthia semifusca (left) and Celypha lacunana (right), Bawdeswell, 30th May - thanks Jon for the semifusca confirmation

 

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Scoparia ambigualis (left) and Heart and Dart (right), Bawdeswell, 30th May

 

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Marbled Minor agg., Bawdeswell, 30th May - I think the one on the left is identifiable as Marbled Minor but the right hand one may be either Marbled Minor or Tawny Marbled Minor

 

Sunday 29th May

I returned from Malawi this afternoon just in time to receive a call from Dave informing me about a possible Marsh Warbler he'd found. I couldn't react immediately as I had other commitments but I reached the site at dusk after a further call advising me that I really should make the effort! After Dave and Ian had convinced me that there wasn't a Blackbird, Blue tit, Skylark and Bee-eater in the bush I realised that the calls of each of these were probably emanating from a Marsh Warbler. But in three hours Dave hadn't managed to get a good look at it, and now I couldn't either, and it was a bit unsettling that it had chosen a reedy area that was also frequented by Reed Warblers. I had heard of Reed Warblers mimicing other species but didn't think they could never do quite such an impressive job as this - and the call was bang on for Marsh Warbler too. The habitat wasn't really all that bad as there was plenty of willowherb and willow there too, and it seemed to be preferring the willow not the reeds. We were all pretty sure about this being a Marsh Warbler, but decided to reconvene early next morning in the hope of getting views to clinch it.

I only had the MV light on very briefly but still managed 38 moths of 26 species including 3 new ones: Brown House-moth, Cochylimorpha straminea (my first, and thanks to Jon for the confirmation), Epiblema cynosbatella, Epiblema trimaculana, Ringed China-mark, Bee Moth, Pebble Hook-tip (my first), 3 Small Dusty Waves, Treble Brown Spot, Garden Carpet, 2 Green Carpets, Freyer's Pug, Currant Pug, 5 Common Pugs, Willow Beauty, Coxcomb Prominent, White Ermine, Heart and Dart, 2 Flames, Flame Shoulder, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Dot Moth, 3 Mottled Minor agg., Middle-barred Minor, Treble Lines (my first), 2 Straw Dots and 2 Snouts.

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Freyer's Pug (left) and Pebble Hook-tip (right), Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

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Dot Moth (left) and Coxcomb Prominent (right), Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

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Ringed China-mark (left) and Middle-barred Minor (right), Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

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3x Marbled Minor agg., Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

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Epiblema trimaculana (left) and Epiblema cynosbatella (right), Bawdeswell, 29th May - my first opportunity to put Jon and Jim's new bird-dropping tortrix moth guide to the test!

 

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Cochylimorpha straminea, Bawdeswell, 29th May - thanks Jon for confirming the ID

 

Friday 13th May

Nothing to report for today as I was travelling to Malawi, but I uploaded yesterday's entry before processing the evening's moths which included my first Small Fan-foot of the year and a Setaceous Hebrew Character.

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Small Fan-foot, Bawdeswell, 12th May

 

Thursday 12th May

I'd seen Great Snipe in Norfolk before - in fact if I go along with the sentiments that have been expressed on the internet recently I've co-found one (though I don't think I did really - someone I was with saw it and called it before I 'd even seen it - just because I was with him doesn't mean I can take the credit as a finder IMO), so I didn't rush up to see the one at Cley late last night. But I did go up early this morning, optimistic that it would have stayed the night as it was settled enough to have been displaying the night before. It had indeed stayed, and it provided excellent views on and off as it performed. It's the first time a Great Snipe has ever been recorded displaying in the UK - that's normally something you have to go to Poland for - a fantastic visual and aural experience and a great start to my holiday.

While I was waiting for it to reappear on one occasion I noticed a distant wader fly across, which looked interesting. It was a shank, had long yellowish-looking legs and plain wings but the white rump was squared off, not extending up the rump as on Greenshank. Or at least that's what I thought I saw, but views were brief and it was distant, so I guessed I was probably imagining it. Then I saw it again - same things noted. I was thinking Yellowlegs, but aware that I was in a crowded hide full of Norfolk's elite who had presumably either not seen it or thought it was something else, and I wasn't 100% sure of what I'd seen. So I didn't call Yellowlegs, but instead described what I thought I'd seen (with, I thought, the obvious inference that it might be a Yellowlegs). A response came back which I interpreted to mean they had seen it and it was a Wood Sandpiper (or there might have been a Greenshank there too). Well, maybe, but I'd got the impression it was a less compact bird than a Wood Sandpiper - a proper shank of some description. Others could see the bird's head from their vantage point, but not well enough to secure the ID, and I left it. No point in flogging a dead horse - I must have been trying to turn a Wood Sandpiper, or perhaps a Greenshank, into something better.

Now, there's a reason I never find rare birds. It's not because I can't find them, nor even because I can't identify them. It's because when I do find and identify them I allow myself, or in this case other people, to talk me out of believing it! Guess what... this evening there REALLY IS a Lesser Yellowlegs there!! I'm not sure if I'm more relieved that I wasn't stringing it after all or frustrated that I gave up on what would have been my best self-found rarity for a number of years.

Also seen this morning from Avocet Hide were Little Gull and Wheatear.

This will be my last post for a couple of weeks or so - back at the end of May.

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Great Snipe, Cley, 12th May - I've not finished sorting out my photos yet, and won't have time before my attention turns to African Snipes and Painted-Snipes; there might be some more to come, but shamefully (in view of how well it showed), none of them are much better than these

 

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Little Gull, Cley, 12th May

 

Wednesday 11th May

For the second day in a row I spent my lunch time failing to see the world's largest owl which was apparently sitting out in the open on top of the roofs and among the chimney pots of the houses I was driving up and down past. Is it any wonder that I can't find rare skulking warblers about 2 inches long when I can't find an escaped owl about 2 feet high that's sitting in the open right under my nose? Maybe it was off catching pigeons when I was there! Ah well, in a few days I'll be watching Spotted Eagle Owls and Pel's Fishing-Owls (possibly) - and they won't have escaped from anyone's collection.

I knew I wasn't going to have time to process lots of moths tonight so didn't put the MV light on - just the normal bedroom light. That didn't stop them though - there were almost the same number as the past couple of nights, albeit less variety. They were Coleophora albicosta, 3 Garden Pebbles, 2 Silver-ground Carpets (first of the year here, though I forgot to mention a couple at Swanton Morley at the weekend), Common Marbled Carpet (first this year), 4 Mottled Pugs, 32 Common Pugs, Scalloped Hazel and Rustic Shoulder-knot.

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Mottled Pug (left) and Common Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 11th May

 

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Common Marbled Carpet (left) and Silver-ground Carpet (right), Bawdeswell, 11th May

 

Tuesday 10th May

The same number of moths tonight, but less variety: Cork Moth, Triaxomera parasitella (my second ever), Tinea trinotella, Parornix anglicella (I've been tentative about these but so far they've all looked like anglicella and as that's much commoner than the next most similar species I guess it's safe to assume at least most of them are indeed anglicella), Diamond-back Moth, Twenty-plume Moth, Cream Wave (first this year), Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Mottled Pug, 27 Common Pugs, Double-striped Pug, 2 Brimstone Moths, Heart and Dart, 4 Flame Shoulders and 2 Spectacles.

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Triaxomera parasitella (left) and Cream Wave (right), Bawdeswell, 10th May

 

Monday 9th May

Another good night for moths with 46 of 21 species. There were fewer micros than yesterday and tonight it was the macros that provided excitement. None of them were especially unusual, but 3 were completely new to me: Scorched Wing, Pale Oak Beauty and Dark Sword-grass. In addition Pale Tussock was only my second ever. Most of the micros I did see were new for the year: Celypha lacunana, Ringed China-mark, Garden Pebble and Small Magpie. The other moths were Twenty-plume Moth, Bee Moth, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Green Carpet, Mottled Pug, 23 Common Pugs, Double-striped Pug, Yellow-barred Brindle, 2 Brimstone Moths, 2 Scalloped Hazels, White Ermine, Heart and Dart and 2 Flame Shoulders.

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Lapwings, Fring, 9th May

 

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Pale Oak Beauty (left) and Pale Tussock (right), Bawdeswell, 9th May

 

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Dark Sword-grass (left) and Garden Pebble (right), Bawdeswell, 9th May

 

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Scorched Wing (left) and Small Magpie (right), Bawdeswell, 9th May

 

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Green Carpet (left) and Ringed China-mark (right), Bawdeswell, 9th May

 

Sunday 8th May

I had hoped to find time to pop out this afternoon after the morning's rain had finished in anticipation that it would ground some decent migrants. However the rain didn't occur and few birds were being reported, so I decided to stay in and get some stuff done instead. That all changed when the pager mega-alerted with news of a bird at Holme which I've not seen in Norfolk before. Up I trotted and there indeed was a stonking male Collared Flycatcher! In the same group of trees and now becoming almost as rare, was an equally superb Wood Warbler. Greenshank and Cuckoos were heard while we were enjoying these and then Dave and I popped in to Thornham before heading home. There a fine pair of Whinchats were the highlight.

This evening's moths were good with 54 individuals of 22 species including a couple of interesting micros. One of these I have managed to identify, I think, as Dichrorampha acuminatana - my first, and a relatively scarce species apparently. The other has defeated me so far, but looks much like a Bucculatrix species, but the ones that look similar (I think it looks most like B. nigricomella) have never been recorded anywhere near here. Probably it's something completely different, but confirmation would be appreciated! (update - many thanks to Jim for confirming it - Jim thinks it is indeed B. nigricomella, only the 8th Norfolk record).

The rest were Cork Moth (first this year), Parornix sp., 2 Coleophora albicosta (first this year), White-shouldered House-moth, 4 Bee Moths, Chinese Character, 3 Red Twin-spot Carpets, Green Carpet (first this year), Sandy Carpet (first this year), 4 Mottled Pugs, Currant Pug, 17 Common Pugs, 5 Brimstone Moths, 3 Scalloped Hazels, Waved Umber, Pale Prominent, Heart and Dart, Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Rustic Shoulder-knots (first this year) and Spectacle.

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Collared Flycatcher, 8th May

 

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Whinchats, Thornham, 8th May

 

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Pheasant (left) and Whimbrel (right), Thornham, 8th May

 

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Great Spotted Woodpecker, Guist Bridge, 8th May

 

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Dichrorampha acuminatana, Bawdeswell, 8th May

 

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Bucculatrix nigricomella, Bawdeswell, 8th May - thanks Jim for the confirmation

 

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Currant Pug (left) and Common Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 8th May

 

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Cork Moth (left) and Coleophora albicosta (right), Bawdeswell, 8th May

 

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Scalloped Hazel (left) and Rustic Shoulder-knot (right), Bawdeswell, 8th May

 

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Sandy Carpet (left) and Vine Weevil (right), Bawdeswell, 8th May

 

Saturday 7th May

With much still needing doing before I go away next week I couldn't afford to spend much time birding again this weekend, but I did manage a look round Swanton Morley in the morning. It wasn't worth it - there was no sign of any migration despite apparently good conditions - Turtle Doves and Barn Owls were the best I could muster up.

The mothing wasn't so enjoyable as hoped either. There were quite a few bits and pieces but it was uncomfortably hot and the light was attracting far more in the way of unwelcome insects and their 8-legged predators than moths. A host of flies, ichneumons and 4 Cockchafers were not the sort of thing I want to attract into my bedroom! The moths weren't really all that bad and did provide one new species, albeit a common one apparently: a small and insignificant-looking micro, Elachista maculicerusella. Others that were new for the year were Common Swift, Chinese Character, Small Dusty Wave, Common White Wave, Pale Prominent and 2 Flame Shoulders. The rest were Parornix sp., White-shouldered House-moth, Argyrotaenia ljungiana, 4 Mottled Pugs, 10+ Common Pugs, 10 Brimstone Moths, 3 Scalloped Hazels, Least Black Arches and Shuttle-shaped Dart,

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Grey Heron, Swanton Morley, 7th May

 

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Great Crested Grebe (left) and Common Tern (right), Swanton Morley, 7th May

 

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Great Crested Grebe (left) and Common Tern (right), Swanton Morley, 7th May

 

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Long-tailed Tits, Swanton Morley, 7th May

 

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Brimstone Moth (left) and Bee Moth (right), Bawdeswell, 7th May

 

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Pale Prominent (left) and Chinese Character (right), Bawdeswell, 7th May

 

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Scalloped Hazel (left) and Common Swift (right), Bawdeswell, 7th May

 

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Common White Wave (left) and Least Black Arches (right), Bawdeswell, 7th May

 

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Flame Shoulder (left) and Pug sp. (right), Bawdeswell, 7th May - not sure what the Pug is - I thought the pale central portion of the forewings which contrasted a bit with the darker outer parts of the wings was relevant, but this pattern doesn't seem to fit anything (it reminded me of Bordered Pug, although it's clearly not that species); I'm guessing it's merely a product of wear and not an ID feature, in which case I guess the likeliest candidates are Common Pug (but discal spot too prominent I think) or Currant Pug. Any views would be welcome!

 

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Mottled Pugs, Bawdeswell, 7th May

 

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White-shouldered House-moth (left) and Elachista maculicerusella (right), Bawdeswell, 7th May

 

Friday 6th May

Another good night for moths with 46 moths of 19 species. Best were two new species of macro: the Pebble Prominent was pretty impressive whilst I can't say the same about the Ochreous Pug. The rest were: Diamond-back Moth, 4 White-shouldered House-moths, Blastobasis lacticolella (first for year), Argyrotaenia ljungiana (first for year), 3 Twenty-plume Moths, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (first for year), Garden Carpet, 6 Mottled Pugs, 12 Common Pugs, another Oak-tree Pug, Yellow-barred Brindle, 5 Brimstone Moths, 2 Scalloped Hazels, 2 Waved Umbers, White Ermine, Least Black Arches, Shuttle-shaped Dart and Spectacle.

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Grey Partridges, Shernborne, 6th May

 

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Pebble Prominent, Bawdeswell, 6th May

 

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Argyrotaenia ljungiana, Bawdeswell, 6th May

 

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Diamond-backed Moth, Bawdeswell, 6th May

 

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Parornix sp., Bawdeswell, 6th May - both probably anglicella

 

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Oak-tree Pug (left) and Ochreous Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 6th May

 

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Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (left) and Garden Carpet (right), Bawdeswell, 6th May

 

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Scalloped Hazel (left) and Mottled Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 6th May

 

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Blastobasis lacticolella (left) and White-shouldered House-moth (right), Bawdeswell, 6th May

 

Thursday 5th May

I was working from home again today, so unable to get to the coast during my lunch break. So it was time for the White-tailed Eagle, which had returned to Norfolk in the last day or two, to be tracked as it moved west along the north coast passing Brancaster and Titchwell during my lunch break... again! I only work from home one day a week, if that, so why does it always have to chose that day to be in NW Norfolk?!

With warmer, calmer and cloudier conditions tonight I hoped for a few more moths, and indeed there were. The star prize went to a fantastic Privet Hawkmoth. I've never done well for Hawkmoths here - just one Poplar previously - and I had no idea how enormous these were! I managed to step right over it without seeing it when looking for pugs and things but my attention was drawn to it in no uncertain terms when my wife spotted it and shrieked IT'S HUGE! WHAT IS IT? GET IT OUT OF HERE! or something like that! In all there were 33 moths of 18 species: Parornix sp. (probably anglicella), Diamond-back Moth, 2 White-shouldered House-moths, Agonopterix arenella, 2 Twenty-plume Moths, Mottled Pug (my first this year), Currant Pug, 9 Common Pugs, Brindled Pug, Oak-tree Pug (my second, and I'm slightly more confident about this one than the first, though as always happy to be corrected), 3 Brimstone Moths, Scalloped Hazel, Waved Umber, White Ermine (always a favourite of mine and my first of the year), 3 Shuttle-shaped Darts, Clouded Drab and 2 Hebrew Characters.

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Privet Hawkmoth, Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

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White Ermine, Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

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Scalloped Hazel, Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

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Currant Pug (left) and Common Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

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Shuttle-shaped Dart (left) and Waved Umber (right), Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

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Oak-tree Pug (left) and Agonopterix arenella (right), Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

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Parornix sp., probably anglicella (left) and White-shouldered House-moth (right), Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

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Brimstone Moth, Bawdeswell, 5th May

 

Wednesday 4th May

A lunch time stop at Burnham Norton produced 5+ Yellow Wagtails, Wheatear and 2 Whimbrels from the car park. On the way home I stopped beside a Brown Hare which remained sitting there in lovely evening sunshine while I took several frame-filling photos. I then checked my camera and discovered I'd somehow slipped it into black-and-white mode and by the the time I'd worked out how to change it back to colour the Hare had scarpered... typical! The escaped Harris's Hawk remains in the Guist Bridge/Bintree Mill area.

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Brown Hare, Tatterford (left) and Pied Wagtail, Bintree Mill (right), 4th May

 

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escaped Harris's Hawk, Bintree Mill, 4th May

 

Tuesday 3rd May

If I kept a tick-list of the species I see from work then I would have got an excellent work tick this evening. Completely unexpected at a water-less inland site in May, a female Pintail flew over as I left the office. A moth tonight - just one - a Heart and Dart.

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Heart and Dart, Bawdeswell, 3rd May

 

Sunday 1st May

A productive day in some respects but not, unfortunately, for birding. Mothing wasn't much better with one Shuttle-shaped Dart - momentarily I thought it might be something new as the few I recall seeing before have been much paler (probably all males), but there was too much about it that smacked of another Shuttle-shaped Dart to raise my hopes very far, and rightly so as it turned out.

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Shuttle-shaped Dart, Bawdeswell, 1st May

 

 

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