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May 2012

 

Thursday 31st May

A Cuckoo at Thornham was the highlight of my lunch break. Best of tonight's moths was an Agonopterix sp. - it seemed to be Black-spot Flat-body A. propinquella but not easy to positively rule out Ruddy Flat-body A. subpropinquella - either way it was new to me (update 6th June: now confirmed as propinquella - thanks Jon). The rest were Brown House-moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella, 2 White-shouldered House-moths Endrosis sarcitrella, London Dowd Blastobasis lacticolella, Rush Marble Bactra lancealana, Common Swift, Silver-ground Carpet, Garden Carpet, Green Carpet, Mottled Pug, Wormwood Pug, 2 Common Pugs, 4 Brimstone Moths and White Ermine.

I've now completed my trip report for Sicily - click on the Grey-headed Wagtail below to see it.

Sicily trip report

 

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Black-spot Flat-body Agonopterix propinquella, Bawdeswell, 31st May

 

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Rush Marble Bactra lancealana, Bawdeswell, 31st May

 

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London Dowd Blastobasis lacticolella, Bawdeswell, 31st May

 

Wednesday 30th May

We're finally getting some moths this week - about time! Tonight there were 2 White-shouldered House-moths Endrosis sarcitrella, Heather Tortrix Argyrotaenia ljungiana, Bee Moth Aphomia sociella, Silver-ground Carpet, 4 Green Carpets, 3 Mottled Pugs, 13 Common Pugs, 3 Brimstone Moths, 2 White Ermines, Flame Shoulder, Bright-line Brown-eye and Rustic Shoulder-knot.

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Mottled Pug (left) and Heather Tortrix Argrotaenia ljungiana, Bawdeswell, 30th May

 

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Silver-ground Carpet (left) and Rustic Shoulder-knot, Bawdeswell, 30th May

 

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Common Pugs, Bawdeswell, 30th May

 

Tuesday 29th May

A terribly sad day today and I hardly care to mention the Ring-necked Parakeets in a London crematium. Back at home moths included Yarrow Conch Aethes smeathmanniana, Twenty-plume Moth Alucita hexadactyla, 2 Common Swifts, Green Carpet, Foxglove Pug, 7 Common Pugs and Scalloped Hazel.

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Foxglove Pug (left) and Yarrow Conch Aethes smeathmanniana, Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

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Common Swift, Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

Sunday 27th May

Tonight's moths were 2 Diamond-back Moths Plutella xlostella, 2 White-shouldered House-moths Endrosis sarcitrella, Twenty-plume Moth Alucita hexadactyla, 3 Green Carpets, 5 Common Pugs, Cinnabar and Shuttle-shaped Dart. The Cinnabar was the first one I've had at home.

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Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella (left) and Cinnabar, Bawdeswell, 27th May

 

Saturday 26th May

Went mothing with Rob tonight to a new site for me, Moorgate Carrs near Blickling. It was good - 119 moths of 33 species, 7 of which were new to me. We got c50 Plain Golds Micropterix calthella, Brassy Tortrix Eulia ministrana, Rush Marble Bactra lancealana, 2 Common Birch Bells Epinotia immundana, Gold Swift, 2 Pebble Hook-tips, Blood-vein, Flame Carpet, Silver-ground Carpet, 5+ Common Carpets, Small Phoenix, 10+ Green Carpets, 2 May Highflyers, Rivulet sp., 3 Common Pugs, 4 Brimstone Moths, 3 Scalloped Hazels, Waved Umber, 2 Pale Oak Beauties, 3 Poplar Hawkmoths, Poplar Kitten, Iron Prominent, Marbled Brown, Great Prominent, Pale Tussock, Orange Footman, 7 White Ermines, Buff Ermine, Cinnabar, 4 Flame Shoulders, 2 Small Square-spots, 2 Clouded-bordered Brindles and Spectacle.

Back home I put the light on briefly before turning in and attracted White-shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella, Chamomile Conch Cochylidia implicitana and Yellow-faced Bell Epiblema cynosbatella. Loving all these new-fangled common names for the micros, but will continue to use the scientific names too as otherwise no-one will know what I'm talking about.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker (left) and Cockchafer (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Cinnabar, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Blood-vein (left) and Rush Marble Bactra lancealana (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Common Carpet, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Brassy Tortrix Eulia ministrana (left) and Common Birch Bell Epinotia immundana (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Gold Swift (left) and Green Carpet (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Iron Prominent, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Marbled Brown (left) and Pale Tussock (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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May Highflyers, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Poplar Hawkmoth, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Poplar Hawkmoth (left) and Small Phoenix (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Poplar Kitten, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Plain Golds Micropterix calthella, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Pebble Hook-tip (left) and Orange Footman (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Clouded-bordered Brindle (left) and Flame Shoulder (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May

 

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Mayflies, probably Brown Drake Ephemeria simulans (left) and Green Drake Ephemeria danica (right), Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May - confrmation on the ID would be appreciated...

 

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caterpillars, Moorgate Carrs, Blickling, 26th May - any ideas what these are?

 

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Yellow-faced Bell Epiblema cynosbatella (left) and Chamomile Conch Cochylidia implicitana, Bawdeswell, 26th May

 

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White-shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella, Bawdeswell, 26th May

 

Friday 25th May

A Common Swift was the only moth tonight.

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Common Swift, Bawdeswell, 25th May

 

Thursday 24th May

Took a walk through the woods at Houghton in my lunch break - reckon this would be a really good area for moth trapping with loads of different species of tree. The only moth I saw in the middle of the day though was a male Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella. Two more moths this evening, both new for the year: Angle Shades (my earliest ever) and Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis.

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Speckled Wood (left) and Treecreeper (right), Houghton, 24th May

 

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Green Longhorn Adela reaumurella, Houghton, 24th May

 

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Angle Shades (left) and Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis (right), Bawdeswell, 24th May

 

Tuesday 22nd May

Three moths tonight: Agonopterix arenella, Twenty-plume Moth and Common Pug.

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Agonopterix arenella (left) and Common Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 22nd May

 

Sunday 20th May

Conditions seemed good for something good to turn up today - northerly wind but originating from the SE, and a good cover of cloud. A few birds had turned up along the coast yesterday so I was optimistic we'd find something today. We did, but unfortunately it didn't quite give itself up.

We started early at Cley, going straight to North Hide (or whatever it's called nowadays). It wasn't long before Dave picked up the Bluethroat that had been found yesterday. A female, but one showing blue and red on the throat, it was feeding on the bare mud just left of the hide. Conveniently it came even closer to the nearest bit of mud. Very nice start to the day! A Wood Sandpiper was the next best bird from here while Dauke's Hide delivered 2 Spoonbills, 3 Temminck's Stints and 4 Little Gulls. Next we headed to Salthouse from where we walked down to Kelling Quags hoping to find some migrants. Nothing better than Yellow Wagtails and Wheatear here though.

News of a Bee-eater at Letheringsett had us speeding that way - I might have just seen over a hundred in Sicily but they're always an absolute delight to see and especially so when they're in Norfolk. It was still there and gave good views before flying off.

A nice morning so far but we'd not self-found any decent birds so it was time to sort that out - a long trudge up Blakeney Point was the plan. A Mediterranean Gull flew past and then the first patch of sueda produced the first migrant, a small warbler that was not immediately obviously identifiable. We flushed it 2-3 times but without getting a decent look - I was pretty sure it was a Phyllosc at first but it seemed quite brown-backed. Eventually I got a good, but brief, view of its front half when it landed and sat half-out for a second. It did indeed have brown upperparts - not the pallid greyish brown that you sometimes get on dull Willow Warblers though - but also lacking any visible green tones, or yellow elsewhere. It had a really strong and long pale supercilium which made me think it must be a really weird Willow Warbler, and the relatively pale cheeks with no obviously contrasting white eye-crescent supported the view that it wasn't a Chiffchaff. It looked nothing like any Willow Warbler I'd ever seen, but before I could clock any more detail on the head pattern or bill, legs, etc. it disappeared. I said to Dave, "it's a brown Phyllosc with a long obvious super", and it was only when I said that that the penny dropped and Dusky Warbler entered my considerations. Dusky Warbler just wasn't on my radar - it's May, not October! But there are spring records in the UK - one from Norfolk I think - so it's not impossible, and the more I thought about it the more it made sense. But I needed much more to make such a claim - could I really be sure it wasn't just a brown Willow Warbler, or even a really odd brown Chiffchaff? No, not at all sure, but it was definitely worth getting a better look.

It flew again, this time going in between me and Dave. No sign, but then Dave asked if I heard that? I hadn't heard anything, but the bird immediately flew out from right in front of him. He'd apparently heard a 'tack' - from just in front of him, where the bird had flown out from. We walked this stretch of sueda several times and didn't see another bird in there - surely it must have been the same bird. And if it was the same bird then with the call Dave described, it was a Dusky Warbler, no doubt. Dave also thought he saw slightly buffy undertail-coverts, further supporting our ID of Dusky Warbler, but we still needed more. I'd not heard it call and I hadn't seen enough to be positive, Dave had heard it but had seen even less. It flew one more time but to my horror this time it flew across the channel into another patch of sueda which we couldn't access. We'd not quite clinched it, but we weren't going to see it again. Gutted!

We pressed on, combing every patch of sueda, turning up a few Wheatears, the odd Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and Yellow Wagtail, but no sign of the Bluethroat or Quail that others had seen. Another frustrating moment came when I heard what I'm almost sure was a Red-throated Pipit call, but it was distant so I didn't hear it clearly, and it only called once, so no way I'm claiming it. A dark-billed and relatively dark-bellied Common Tern in the harbour was interesting, but we couldn't turn it into anything other than a Common Tern (and not even an Eastern one).

Once we reached Yankee Ridge we saw James, Andy and co. heading back down. We knew they'd been scouring the point for hours so if they hadn't found much then chances are we wouldn't either - as we were knackered we decided to turn round and head back, taking in 2 Spoonbills in the harbour (presumably the birds from Cley this morning) and a moribund Guillemot as we went.

On the way back we stopped off for another look at the Bee-eater, now at Glandford.

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Bluethroat, Cley, 20th May

 

Temminck's Stint, Cley, 20th May

 

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Sand Martin, Kelling, 20th May

 

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Swallow, Cley, 20th May

 

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Wheatears, Blakeney Point, 20th May

 

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Garden Warbler (left) and Willow Warbler (right), Blakeney Point, 20th May - if only the Dusky had shown this well!

 

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Guillemot, Blakeney Point, 20th May

 

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Bee-eater, Glandford, 20th May

 

Saturday 19th May

The monthly group's outing to Minsmere had been postponed until today which was convenient for me. I met up with the girls (and Simon) and we headed off to Bittern Hide. Wasn't long before I picked up 2 Bitterns in flight over the back. Everyone got on them and soon they were joined by another 2 Bitterns. They proceeded to fly around for ages - must have been at least an hour - occasionally dropping in to the reeds only to come straight back out again. They were quite vocal, the flying birds barking while others could be heard booming from the reeds. Meanwhile up to 3 Hobbies paraded in front of us while Marsh Harriers vied for attention. The group were ecstatic!

Eventually we tore ourselves away and headed up to Island Mere Hide (taking in the likes of Treecreeper along the way). Someone picked up another Bittern in the reeds really close to the hide. This one performed incredibly well giving everyone great views at close range. Meanwhile I picked up yet another Bittern in flight over the back - making 6 Bitterns seen plus others heard booming. Fantastic stuff! Hobbies continued to hunt around us and I saw a Little Gull briefly. Not sure how many people got on to the Bearded Tits that made the occasional flight but I don't think those who didn't see them were complaining!

So on to the scrapes where a good variety of common waders, many in summer plumage, kept the momentum going. I missed out on a Slow Worm on one of the paths, which I must have stepped over without noticing. A Kittiwake on the scrape was surprisingly popular (for a gull - I don't usually get much response when I point out gulls!). While we'd been watching the Bitterns one of the group, never satisfied ;-), had suggested I pull a Cuckoo out of the bag for my next trick. I'd not come up with the goods but as we headed back along the north wall to the visitor centre for cake (always the highlight of any trip to Minsmere) I picked up a Cuckoo flying past. It landed in a tree where it sat long enough for all except those who'd raced on ahead (desperate for cake) were able to see it. Lots of smiles all round today!

Just one moth tonight - another Scalloped Hazel.

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Bitterns, Minsmere, 19th May

 

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Marsh Harrier, Minsmere, 19th May

 

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Hobby, Minsmere, 19th May

 

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Black-headed Gulls, Minsmere, 19th May - it wasn't just us having fun today...

 

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Knot (left) and Grey Squirrel (right), Minsmere, 19th May

 

Friday 18th May

Although it's been rubbish for moths lately I was keen to get out somewhere and try out my new generator, so I joined Rob at Felbrigg for an evening's mothing. It turned out to be much better than we'd expected! Although 16 species wasn't remarkable, half of them were completely new to me so from my perspective it was excellent: Adela reaumurella, Capua vulgana (2; very few Norfolk records of this species), Maiden's Blush, Flame Carpet, Red-green Carpet, 2 Spruce Carpets, White-spotted Pug (I think), 1-2 Oak-tree Pugs, Dwarf Pug, 5 Yellow-barred Brindles, Tawny-barred Angle, 5-6 Great Prominents, Orange Footman, 2-3 Least Black Arches, Common Quaker and 3 Nut-tree Tussocks. Didn't have the light on for long after I got home but long enough to draw a Waved Umber in.

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Maiden's Blush (left) and Nut-tree Tussock (right), Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Dwarf Pug (left) and Red-green Carpet (right), Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Capua vulgana, Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Orange Footman, Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Tawny-barred Angle, Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Spruce Carept, Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Spruce Carept (left) and Slug (right), Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Great Prominent, Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Flame Carpet (left) and Great Prominent (right), Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Oak-tree Pugs, Felbrigg, 18th May - fairly confident about the left hand one, far from sure about the other

 

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White-spotted Pug (left) and Adela reaumurella (right), Felbrigg, 18th May - not 100% sure about the worn pug - am I right?

 

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Yellow-barred Brindles, Felbrigg, 18th May

 

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Waved Umber, Felbrigg, 18th May

 

Thursday 17th May

A first-year Mediterrean Gull at Thornham in my lunch break, picked up on call before it came close.

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Mediterranean Gull, Thornham, 17th May

 

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Avocet, Thornham, 17th May

 

Wednesday 16th May

A very experienced local moth-er this week told me how the spring has not only been his worst ever for moths, but twice as bad as the next worst year. Judging from the number of nights I've had the light on and failed to attract a single moth, I'm not surprised. Still, the occasional surprise makes it all worthwhile and tonight produced such a surprise. Not a rare moth - far from it - but one I'd not seen before and a smart-looking one to boot: a Chocolate-tip. Also a Light Brown Apple Moth.

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Chocolate-tip, Bawdeswell, 16th May

 

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Light Brown Apple Moth, Bawdeswell, 16th May

 

Monday 14th May

Had another nice Red Kite low over West Raynham village in my lunch break today.

 

Friday 11th May

Another Scalloped Hazel tonight.

 

Thursday 10th May

Had to go to the Midlands for work today - 2 Red Kites near Peterborough on the way there. Another Twenty-plume Moth was the only moth tonight.

 

Wednesday 9th May

Two moth tonights: Common Pug and Scalloped Hazel.

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Wheatear, Heacham, 9th May

 

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Scalloped Hazel, Bawdeswell, 9th May

 

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Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 9th May

 

Tuesday 8th May

A few moths tonight - good by this spring's standards, absolutely rubbish by any other standards... an Agonopterix sp., 3 Twenty-plume Moths and a Streamer.

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Streamer (left) and Twenty-plume Moth (right), Bawdeswell, 8th May

 

Monday 7th May

Back from a less-than-fantastic holiday in Sicily. Although it certainly won't go down as the holiday of a lifetime (or anywhere near) there were some highlights, among them being seeing Mount Etna erupt and my first (Sicilian) Rock Partridge. Anyway, more on that later - a trip report is in preparation...

This morning Swanton Morley held plenty of Swifts and a few hirundines, but apart from 2 Common Sandpipers there was litlle else in the way of transient migrants.

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Long-tailed Tit (left) and Wren (right), Swanton Morley, 7th May

 

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Barn Owl, Swanton Morley, 7th May

 

Next month: June 2012

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