February 2013

 

Tuesday 26th February

Spent most lunch breaks this week hoping to get further views (and photos) of the White-tailed Eagle. Failed every day!

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Barn Owl, near Anmer, 26th February

 

Saturday 23rd February

After a slow start in the Brecks we eventually found 3 new Reeves's Pheasants, a pair of Goshawks, 2 Willow Tits and 2 Woodlarks.

We then headed up to Anmer where there had been no sign all morning of the White-tailed Eagle. There were plenty of people watching from its usual location so we decided to have a drive round looking for it elsewhere. Eventually someone found it in a field south of Shernborne, but flying towards Anmer. Once we had established that the guys at Anmer hadn't seen it we decided to search for it between there and Shernborne. A good vantage point down a farm track was just what we needed and sure enough we soon picked up the White-tailed Eagle. It was heading towards Anmer where I think most people present did eventually see it.

While we were looking for it we saw a few other birds including 2 Red Kites - seen at 3 different locations but the same birds each time - at one point they were a good 4 miles away from where I'd seen them on Wednesday. Also at least 1 Mealy Redpoll among a dozen or so Lesser Redpolls.

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Reeves's Pheasant, south of Hilborough, 23rd February

 

White-tailed Eagle, north of Anmer, 23rd February

 

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Red Kites, 23rd February

 

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Grey Partridges, between Anmer and Shernborne (left) and Sherborne (right), 23rd February

 

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Woodpigeons, near Sedgeford, 23rd February - viewed from the road between Fring and Inmere this flock must have totalled well over 4000 - the flock extended far beyond the birds in this photo

 

Friday 22nd February

Still no Eagle yesterday or today but adult Mediterranean Gull and Woodcock at Houghton today.

 

Wednesday 20th February

More lunch break Eagle hunting turned up 2 Red Kites but no Eagle.

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Red Kites, 20th February

 

Tuesday 19th February

Another look for the Eagle in my lunch break produced just a few Buzzards (including 5 together). A March Moth appeared this evening.

 

Monday 18th February

News of a White-tailed Eagle heading NE over Anmer at 10.30 made me contemplate heading up to Beacon Hill or some other good vantage point near the coast in my lunch break. It had probably flown over my work on the way, but I'd been stuck in meetings so would have had no chance of seeing it - I might strike lucky and see it flying along the coast. Then at the last minute I changed my mind. It had been two hours and there hadn't been any more reports - surely if it had carried on someone would have seen it somewhere on the coast? I speculated that maybe it hadn't gone far at all and decided instead to head down to Anmer. This proved to be a good decision - after a couple of blank scans from different spots I pulled in at the layby near Bunker's Hill east of Anmer. A quick scan looking NE and there was an Eagle! It was a long way off but the shape left little doubt that it was a Sea Eagle sp. and all I could see on its plumage supported the ID of juvenile White-tailed Eagle. As I watched it two much smaller birds started harassing it - at first I thought they must have been something much smaller but they were Buzzards! The Eagle absolutely dwarfed them!

It was too far to get any pictures unfortunately and I soon lost it to view. I raced round to Bircham Heath - the bird was well over in that direction - but no sign from round there. A quick circuit back to Bunker's Hill and still no more sign, and then by that time I had to get back to work. Sadly for others it wasn't seen again after that.

 

Sunday 17th February

Tonight's moths were 2 Pale Brindled Beauties.

 

Saturday 16th February

Started local with a wander round Sparham Pools. Oystercatchers are back here too. There wasn't a huge amount to show - Grey Wagtail, Barn Owl, 63 Fieldfare, drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers, etc. but nothing significant. A failed attempt to find a hybrid goose that Dave had seen in the week wasted some time but it did mean I found a few sites in the upper Yare valley that I didn't even know existed.

After some dithering about what to do next I decided to pop in to Swaffham Heath which wasn't very far away by this time, another new site for me and one where I hoped to see Willow Tit. A good walk round produced Woodlarks and my first butterflies of the year (2 Brimstones) and then as I returned towards the car park I met a bloke who told me that Willow Tits were showing very well just up from the car park. They weren't when I got there, but I could just hear one in the distance deep in the forest. Before I headed up to the coast I decided to do a quick circuit of Great Cressingham/The Arms area and found a nice flock of finches and buntings. Lots of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Chaffinches mainly but also a group of 15+ Lesser Redpolls and at least 1 Brambling. No Chestnut-eared Buntings that I could find though, sadly.

I wanted to go to Burnham Overy today to have another look at the Brents I'd seen yesterday, but delayed doing so as it was forecast to be sunny most of the day, and I find it impossible to make sense of subtleties of Brent Goose tones in bright sunshine. But by late afternoon the light was ok so I had a good look through the flock. Unfortunately I couldn't find all the birds I'd seen yesterday. One Black Brant x Dark-bellied Goose hybrid may have been one of the birds - it did look quite good for Black Brant, and even had a neck collar that clearly joined at the front, but it wasn't quite good enough showing too much contrast between the body and the neck. A Pale-bellied Brent Goose was at the back of the flock and I never got a really clear view of it despite trying from several angles, but it looked pure from what I could see of it - I'm not sure if it was one of the two I saw yesterday or not. I couldn't see the Rough-legged Buzzard either, nor much else other than 3 Barn Owls, but it was a very nice walk - I do love this place!

Clear skies meant temperatures dropped as it got dark so I didn't expect much in the way of moths, so 2 March Moths was as good as expected.

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Barn Owl, Sparham Pools, 16th February

 

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Long-tailed Tits, Sparham Pools, 16th February

 

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bracket fungi, Sparham Pools, 16th February - I thought 3 books on fungi might help me to identify a few more but so far not much luck... I'll keep trying but in the meantime if you know, please shout!

 

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Woodlark, Norfolk Brecks, 16th February

 

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Roe Deer, Hilborough (left) and Lesser Redpoll, The Arms (right), 16th February

 

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Reed Bunting (left) and Yellowhammer (right), The Arms, 16th February

 

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Curlew, Burnham Overy, 16th February

 

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Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Overy, 16th February

 

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Goldfinches, Burnham Overy, 16th February

 

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Burnham Overy Staithe, 16th February

 

Friday 15th February

Had a quick look at Burnham Overy from the layby in my lunch break. No sign of the Rough-leg but some interesting geese. A quick scan through the Brent flock produced a hybrid Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose before Mark G mentioned a bird he was watching. It quickly became clear he was looking at a different bird which I eventually picked up too. From my position it was largely obscured so I couldn't add much to what it was, but as I later scanned through the opposite end of the flock I came across a bird that looked to me like a perfectly pure Black Brant. Whether or not it was the same bird that had moved I can't be sure, and given the distance and relatively brief views I probably can't completely eliminate the possibility it was another hybrid. Just before leaving I picked up another interesting brent - superficially like a Pale-bellied Brent but seemed to be a bit too dark on the lower belly. I had just realised that there was a second similar bird with it when both birds disappeared behind some reeds. By this time I needed to head back to work so I never resolved them - either Pale-bellied Brent Geese or Pale-bellied Brent Goose hybrids or one of each. There were also 5 Barnacle Geese and the Ross's x Barnacle Goose hybrid.

The Oystercatchers have returned to my place of work as they usually do around now. They'll be nesting on the roof soon - if you can call what they do 'nesting'.

Moths tonight included my first March Moth of the year (my earliest) and one that got away - possibly an Oak Beauty.

 

Thursday 14th February

More moths at last, but only Pale Brindled Beauty and Chestnut.

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Pale Brindled Beauty, Bawdeswell, 14th February

 

Wednesday 13th February

Saw the 2 Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrids at Holkham in my lunch break.

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Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrids, Holkham, 13th February - not the most obvious hybrids I've ever seen, especially the top one which could easily pass as a pure Black Brant (the top two photos are one bird and the lower two are the other bird)

 

Tuesday 12th February

Saw a ringtail Hen Harrier near Dersingham in my lunchbreak.

My attempt to attract moths this evening produced only a female Blackbird. Not something I really wanted in my bedroom. Eventually I managed to evict it but an hour or so later it tried to get back in, having been scared by a cat. I don't think that Blackbird was having a very good night.

 

Sunday 10th February

Nothing to report other than a Grey Wagtail overhead near Halfords in Norwich.

 

Saturday 9th February

Swanton Morley was rubbish as usual so I went on to Bintree Wood in the hope of finding Willow Tit which still occurred there 2-3 years ago when I used to go there more often. No sign, but as I used to see them once per 2-3 visits that doesn't meant they're not still there. The only bird of any note was a Woodcock. I then decided to spend the afternoon in the Brecks, picked Dave up en route and headed first to Thetford where the Black-bellied Dipper performed ridiculously well, so close I had to change my lens settings to focus on it. A party of geese on the river consisted of a domestic goose (a Greylag x Swan Goose hybrid), a Canada Goose and 8 hybrids, presumably the trigen young of the two accompanying birds.

Then we bumped into Billy along with at least 7 Buzzards before moving on to check a nearby reservoir. This was a site I discovered last year and it seemed pretty promising then, and so it was today. Nothing remotely scarce today but good numbers of birds (e.g. 68 Tufties, 97 Wigeon, thousands of Common Gulls, etc.). Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to see into the reservoir unless you're either very naughty or good at climbing trees. A flock of 6+ Crossbills close by was nice. Finally Great Cressingham delivered 3 stonking male Reeves's Pheasants.

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Black-bellied Dipper, Thetford, 9th February

 

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Reeves's Pheasants, Great Cressingham, 9th February

 

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Jackdaws, Thetford, 9th February

 

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Muntjac (left) and no Muntjac (right), Bintree Wood, 9th February

 

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Carrion Crow (left) and Sparrowhawk (right), Swanton Morley, 9th February

 

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Tufted Ducks, Swanton Morley, 9th February

 

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Canada Goose, Swanton Morley (left) and Red-legged Partridge, near The Arms (right), 9th February

 

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presumed domestic goose x Canada Goose hybrids, Thetford, 9th February - 8 trigen geese with what I imagine are their parents - the two presumed parents closely accompanid the hybrids: one was a domestic goose (itself a hybrid between Greylag Goose and Swan Goose) and the other a Canada Goose

 

Wednesday 6th February

Saw 2 Barn Owls on the way in to work and arrived there to find several of my colleagues commenting on the fact that they'd seen Barn Owls at various places on their way in too. Then while we were having that conversation someone noticed one outside - I've never seen one from the office before (though very close). Not sure what it was about today that made them so obvious!

 

Sunday 3rd February

It's been more than 3 weeks since I last recorded a moth so it was about time a couple turned up tonight: a Spring Usher and my first micro of the year, Variable Smudge Ypsolopha ustella. The latter was only my third following singles in Feb 2011 and Jan 2012. Although this species is recorded throughout the year in Norfolk my records show an unusual distribution - only 6% of other Norfolk records are from January and February.

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Variable Smudge Ypsolopha ustella (left) and Spring Usher (right), Bawdeswell, 3rd February

 

Saturday 2nd February

A windy day at Titchwell with a group was perhaps not quite so enjoyable as Titchwell usually is. A few Bramblings were showing at the feeders, a Treecreeper appeared in front of us briefly and then on our way out we heard people returning talking about how well the Long-tailed Duck was showing. I looked forward to seeing that and suggested we headed out to that first, but when we arrived at its spot no-one was watching it and it seemed that it hadn't been seen for some time. A Chinese Water Deer was small consolation so we battled on to the beach hoping that we would get there before the dark cloud ahead of us, but unfortunately our arrival coincided with that of the rain. With a strong cold wind in our faces and the onset of a wintery shower I think the girls wondered why I'd suggested heading out this way instead of going to the hides! Oddly enough they didn't seem to want to spend long there looking for birds on the sea or Twite on the beach, so we bid a hasty retreat to the fairly full Parrinder hides. I picked up a Bittern flying over the reeds but didn't manage to get any of the group on to it (like the Kingfisher I'd seen earlier). A Spotted Redshank was the best of the waders on show.

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Bramblings, Titchwell, 2nd February

 

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Redshank (left) and Robin (right), Titchwell, 2nd February

 

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Spotted Redshank, Titchwell, 2nd February

 

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Shelduck (left) and Little Grebe (right), Titchwell, 2nd February

 

Friday 1st February

Went for a stroll along Brancaster beach in my lunch break with some colleagues. No birds, but it's so nice to be able to get to places like this in my lunch break. So much better than working in Norwich!

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Brancaster, 1st February

 

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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 ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

2012: Jan ; Feb ; Mar ; Apr ; May ; Jun ; Jul ; Aug ; Sep ; Oct ; Nov ; Dec ;

 

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