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November 2011

 

Tuesday 29th November

My continued attempt to find where the geese are feeding during my lunch breaks finally achieved a modicum of success today. They've been well dispersed and very mobile recently with the only sizeable flocks I've found largely out of sight from the road, or else I've found them at the end of my lunch break and they've not been in the same place the next day. Today between Flitcham and Bircham there was a large flock but only a small part of it was viewable without either parking on a busy dangerous road on or close to a blind bend or walking to somewhere where I would undoubtedly flush them. In the part that was visible from a safe parking spot there were no unusual species but two of the Pink-feet showed different sorts of pigmentation issues. One was generally pale all over and the other had white patches on the belly and wings. Both conditions are found from time to time - few winters go by without me seeing at least a couple of Pink-feet showing such features. Most birders describe both conditions as leucistic nowadays, though I understand that technically that term has a slightly narrower meaning than is widely assumed.

Another December Moth tonight - my 8th this November. What's the betting I don't see any in December?

 

Saturday 26th November

No time for birding today unfortunately but 2 more December Moths turned up this evening.

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December Moths, Bawdeswell, 26th November

 

Friday 25th November

Getting a bit late for migrant moths now, but a Diamond-back Moth tonight.

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Goldfinches, Shernborne, 25th November

 

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Diamond-back Moth, Bawdeswell, 25th November

 

Thursday 24th November

Another December Moth tonight.

 

Monday 21st November

A quick stop at Thornham in my lunch break proved interesting. Firstly a Peregrine appeared over the saltmarsh tussling with a Marsh Harrier and then I counted at least 70 Red-breasted Mergansers. Not bad for ten minutes. Although a common species that I often see in small numbers this is easily the highest count I've ever recorded of Red-breasted Mergansers in Norfolk.

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Redshank, Thornham, 21st November

 

Saturday 19th November

I didn't have as good a day as my brother did today! He came home from birding his local patch and heard something flying over his house that sounded a bit like a Grey Wagtail only not quite right. Fortunately it landed in a tree where it proved to be a warbler - and then a warbler with a double wing-bar. Not bad for a Tunbridge Wells garden so far but it became a whole lot better when he got a good enough view to realise it was a Blackpoll Warbler! A North American passerine, the first for Kent, in his neighbour's garden!

Although not as good as that I did enjoy a pleasant morning spent at Sheringham. There weren't vast numbers of birds but a few interesting geese made it all worthwhile. First three seperate Marsh Harriers flew east, 2 over the sea, and a Shag flew west with 2 Cormorants. A Lapland Bunting was heard calling.

The first interesting goose was a White-fronted Goose flying east with a small group of Pink-feet. Then another small flock of Pinks included 2 Greylag Geese - very likely of wild origin I imagine. Next up was a flock of 37 geese that landed in one of the fields - careful scrutiny revealed that they were 17 Tundra Bean Geese and 10 each of Pink-footed and White-fronted Geese. These were later joined by a much larger flock of Pink-footed Geese and at least 3 more White-fronted Geese.

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Tundra Bean Geese (with Pink-footed and White-fronted Geese), Sheirngham, 19th November

 

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White-fronted Geese (with Pink-footed and Tundra Bean Geese), Sheirngham, 19th November

 

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Shag and Cormorant, Sheirngham, 19th November

 

Thursday 17th November

No less than 3 December Moths appeared tonight, doubling the total number I've ever recorded.

 

Wednesday 16th November

A Twenty-plume Moth appeared tonight.

 

Monday 14th November

Just one moth again tonight: a Silver Y.

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Silver Y, Bawdeswell, 14th November

 

Sunday 13th November

Thanks to Rob Y for calling me about a nice local find at Foulsham - a few minutes later I was watching his Great Grey Shrike - the second to have been seen in this area in 3 years. Although this isn't an area I watch regularly I define my local patch as anywhere within 5 km of my house and this bird was just inside that boundary (4.5 km), so it became a 'patch tick'.

A Light Brown Apple Moth was tonight's only moth.

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Great Grey Shrike, Foulsham, 13th November

 

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Light Brown Apple Moth, Bawdeswell, 13th November

 

Saturday 12th November

The Melodious Warbler hadn't been seen yesterday but the day before when it was still present it wasn't seen for most of the day so I figured there was a chance that it was still lurking, and so I headed off to Happisburgh first thing. In the corner where it had been first seen on Wednesday and Thursday there was nothing - until I changed my position slightly and a bird flew out of the privet (?) just in front of me and off over the garden towards the cricket pitch. I didn't get much on it, but what I saw was compatible with Melodious Warbler. Moreover if I really saw what I thought I saw then it pretty much must have been the Melodious Warbler. But it was so brief and so poor there wasn't an opportunity to confirm my impressions and if I'm really honest with myself it really could have been pretty much anything. Spurred on by this though I concentrated the rest of my efforts on the area where it had been seen during the day on Wednesday, but to no avail. Two Lapland Buntings flew over my head calling, and a Redpoll did likewise, but it was pretty dead otherwise. Considerably fewer thrushes and crests than I'd seen there on Thursday morning too. The presumed Golden Pheasant hybrid called but remained hidden today.

Eventually I gave up and, with my fuel down to fumes I headed to a petrol station before continuing my birding. This took me away from the coast so instead of continuing my search for coastal migrants I concentrated on the Broads. Wroxham Broad held good numbers of Aythya ducks but nothing interesting on first attempt, so I continued round to Cockshoot Broad where the long-staying Ferruginous Duck has reappeared with a hybrid offspring. These were in the channel on the right as I approached the hide - at close range but very obscured through vegetation. My attempts to get a clear view failed as I unfortunately booted them off to the other side of the broad. At first I thought I detected grey scapulars on the hybrid but at a distance and against the sun I couldn't confirm this impression - in fact the upperparts seemed decidedly dark. For this reason I felt that the proposed ID of Ferruginous Duck x Pochard was unlikely and considered that Ferruginous Duck x Tufted Duck was more likely. Every now and then I saw grey on the scapulars but it seemed to disappear leading me to think it was a trick of the light. The bird wasn't quite as large as I'd expect a x Pochard hybrid to be. However when I returned home and reviewed my photos every one of them showed the grey on the scapulars and furthermore the head/bill profile was distinctly Pochard-like - surely I'd messed up and this was indeed a Ferruginous Duck x Pochard hybrid.

Salhouse Broad also contained a fair few Aythya but nothing interesting (lots of Siskins here) and another local broad was almost devoid of Aythya. I returned to Wroxham Broad to find another fine hybrid - this time it really was a Ferruginous Duck x Tufted Duck hybrid, a spanking male and my first example of this hybrid (which seems to be distinctly scarcer than Ferruginous Duck x Pochard hybrids). A bit far for decent photos unfortunately - my best attempts don't show the nice reddish crown. While I was watching this a party of 4 White-fronted Geese dropped in for a while, but it wasn't long before they were off again - presumably a reasonably good record for such an inland location.

An Amblyptilia acanthadactyla was the only moth tonight.

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Ferruginous Duck and Ferruginous Duck x Pochard hybrid, Cockshoot Broad, 12th November

 

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Ferruginous Duck x Tufted Duck hybrid, Wroxham Broad, 12th November

 

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White-fronted Geese, Wroxham Broad, 12th November

 

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Pochards, Wroxham Broad, 12th November

 

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Tufted Ducks, Wroxham Broad, 12th November

 

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Salthouse Broad, 12th November

 

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Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, 12th November

 

Friday 11th November

At lunchtime I checked the track between Hunstanton and Heacham for eastern Black Redstarts as there seems to be a bit of an influx of them at the moment (at least 6 in Sweden and 1 in Kent today). No such luck though - the only thing with orange underparts was this.

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Robin, Heacham, 11th November

A single Blastobasis lacticolella was the only moth tonight.

 

Thursday 10th November

My office is too far away from Happisburgh to have time to see a Melodious Warbler there before work at this time of year, but today I was working from home and that's just that little bit closer, so that I thought I might be in with a chance. I arrived at around 7ish but to my great surprise there wasn't anyone else there at all until about 7.45 or so. I knew roughly where it had been seen, but not exactly, and as it turned out the area I concentrated on was not where it had been showing yesterday. No surprise then that I didn't see it! Shortly before I had to leave someone turned up who pointed out an elder where it had apparently been showing yesterday, out of view from where I'd been most of the time. I spent the last 5 minutes looking here, but it wasn't long enough! Then at 8.00 Bob arrived - he knew much more and said that yesterday it had first been seen round the other side of the garden, viewable from a completely different place. He headed there and promised to call Gary if he found it. But it was too late - I had to go - although I was working from home I still needed to start at the usual time and I was already pushing it. The inevitable happened - it was indeed showing well in the area Bob described - had I been able to stay 10 minutes longer, or had someone in the know arrived 10 minutes earlier, I'd have seen it.

A faint trill in the distance might have been a Waxwing, but muffled in the misty distance I wasn't going to claim it. More of a surprise was a Golden Pheasant - or more likely a hybrid Golden x Lady Amherst's Pheasant (there were a few anomalies for pure Golden Pheasant, most of which are likely to have arisen from Lady A influence). Obviously escaped (or released) from somewhere, but Happisburgh's resident birder James (who shares my surname but is unrelated AFAIK) tells us it's been around for 2-3 years.

Tonight's moths were White-shouldered House-moth and Blastobasis lacticolella.

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Presumed hybrid Golden Pheasant x Lady Amherst's Pheasant (probably backcrossed with Golden Pheasant), Happisburgh, 10th November

 

Wednesday 9th November

My first December Moth of the year was tonight's highlight. I think they're poorly named though as I've now seen 3 and they've all been in November. Otherwise just Blastobasis lacticolella and 2 Epirrita sp.

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December Moth, Bawdeswell, 9th November

 

Tuesday 8th November

Apparently a significant arrival of migrants arrived in Norfolk today, including my bogey bird, a Melodious Warbler. Unfortunately at this time of year Happisburgh is too far away for me to get to while I'm working, so it remains my bogey bird. In my lunch break I came across a party of about 20 Blackbirds feeding together in the open at Brancaster - how many more were hidden is anyone's guess. I then popped in to Brancaster Staithe where the only notable sighting was a Water Rail.

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Water Rail, Brancaster Staithe, 8th November

 

Monday 7th November

A flock of Pink-feet near Inmere at lunch didn't seem to contain any unusual species, the only interest being provided by a piebald (schizochromatic) bird (white upper belly patch and white primaries) and another leucistic bird that was pale all-over.

Only one moth again tonight but a good one - a first for me - a Sprawler.

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schizochromatic Pink-footed Goose, Inmere, 7th November

 

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Sprawler, Bawdeswell, 7th November

 

Sunday 6th November

A worn Brick was the only moth tonight.

 

Saturday 5th November

Titchwell was heaving with birds today, though by and large they weren't very unusual birds. A Yellow-browed Warbler was too elusive for the group I was helping, though I did hear it call briefly a couple of times. We didn't find anything especially notable among the hordes of wildfowl but enjoyed the great views of various species. Spotted Redshanks were the scarcest of the waders seen as the 2 Jack Snipes that were pointed out to us were unfortunately only Common Snipes. The sea produced a flock of 11 Eider west and 2-3 distant Little Gulls, but the group were happy with the Gannets fishing offshore and the Red-throated Divers on the sea. As we returned back to the car park a number of parties of Redwings flew inland overhead.

Hardly any moths tonight - just a Blastobasis lacticolella - though I did see a few smallish moths at Titchwell, none of which settled to allow an ID.

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Pintails, Titchwell, 5th November

 

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Shovelers, Titchwell, 5th November

 

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Wigeon (left) and Mallard (right), Titchwell, 5th November

 

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Teals, Titchwell, 5th November

 

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Snipe, Titchwell, 5th November

 

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Grey Plovers, Titchwell, 5th November

 

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Golden Plovers, Titchwell, 5th November - a very small part of the flock

 

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Black-tailed Godwit (left) and Spotted Redshank (right), Titchwell, 5th November

 

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Redwing, Titchwell, 5th November

 

Friday 4th November

A cooler clearer night meant fewer moths, in fact just one - a Green-brindled Crescent of the melanic form. Not sure how common such individuals are but it was the first time I've seen one like this.

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melanic Green-brindled Crescent, Bawdeswell, 4th November

 

Thursday 3rd November

A reasonably good night for moths by recent standards with 14 individuals and 6 species, the best being another Red-green Carpet. The others were 2 Blastobasis lacticolella, 2 Light Brown Apple Moths, Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, 6 Epirrita sp. and 2 Feathered Thorns.

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Light Brown Apple Moths, Bawdeswell, 3rd November

 

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Red-green Carpet, Bawdeswell, 3rd November

 

Tuesday 1st November

Another juvenile Hen Harrier was the highlight of my lunchtime drive, between Fring and Inmere.

 

 

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2007: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2008: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2009: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2010: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2011: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct