October 2013


Thursday 31st October

A marginally better night for moths, the best of which was a migrant Dark Sword-grass, only my second at home. Others were Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Juniper Carpet, 4 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp., Feathered Thorn and Beaded Chestnut.

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Ashy Button Acleris sparsana (left) and Dark Sword-grass (right), Bawdeswell, 31st October


Wednesday 30th October

My first December Moth of the year tonight; also Juniper Carpet, 2 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp. and Feathered Thorn.


Tuesday 29th October

Just 1 November Moth agg. Epirrita sp. tonight.


Monday 28th October

Just November Moth agg. Epirrita sp. and Green-brindled Crescent tonight.

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Turnstones, Brancaster Staithe, 28th October


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Redshank, Brancaster Staithe, 28th October


Sunday 27th October

Started the day on the patch where I checked nearly all sites without turning up much of interest. The escaped Ruddy Shelduck remains present but the only noteworthy record was a flock of 3 Green Sandpipers.

Headed up to the coast in the afternoon with the hope of connecting with a reported possible Pacific Swift. I figured that any swift with a white rump at this time of year and in these conditions and during an influx of Pallid Swifts was far more likely to be a White-rumped Swift than Pacific. News of an Albatross heading up the east coast added to the anticipation, though I doubted my chances of connecting with that. Worst case scenario if I didn't see either there were still 1-2 Pallid Swifts knocking around which I was bound to see - they'd be worth the trip on their own. Well, I managed to see a few Chaffinches flying in off the sea - and that was it. I gave up, and while on the way home news came through that the Albatross had been seen again. Bloomin' typical!

A single November Moth agg. Epirrita sp. was the only moth tonight.

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unidentified objects*, Creaking Gate Lake, 27th October - these oddly shaped things were hanging from the underside of a leaf of a tree, alder I think, but what are they? Are they some kind of pupal case, fungus, or what?

*Update: thanks to James for suggesting these may be spider egg sacs


Saturday 26th October

I didn't think there would be much about today but it was worth a go. Good birds can turn up in any conditions and you don't see them unless you're out looking, so I headed back up to Burnham Overy. Several small flocks of Chaffinches were coming in early on but after that migration seemed to dry up. A Swallow flew east and at least one large flock of Pink-feet came in off the sea. Apart from that the only bird of note in six hours of hunting was a Short-eared Owl.

Fewer moths again tonight: Juniper Carpet, 3 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp., Feathered Thorn and Silver Y.

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Goldfinch, Burnham Overy (left) and Redshank, Wells (right), 26th October


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Holkham Pines and Burnham Overy Dunes, 26th October


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Burnham Overy Staithe, 26th October


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mushroom, Holkham Pines, 26th October - despite another fungus ID book added to my collection I still can't figure out what this apparently common species is...

Update: once again James has come to the rescue by identifying it as one of the Funnels Clitocybe - apparently unusual for it to be growing out of a branch but this was one of many similar fungi, the rest of which were growing out of the ground


Friday 25th October

This week has been a bird-free zone so I'm glad it's the weekend now. Weather isn't going to be great for biridng but at least I'll be able to get out! No birds today though, but a Hedgehog in the driveway. Despite the breeze the mild conditions delivered more moths than I've had for about 3 weeks including my first Merveille du Jour of the year. Also Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, 2 London Dowds Blastobasis lacticolella, 5 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Juniper Carpet, 4 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp., 2 Feathered Thorns, Black Rustic, 2 Green-brindled Crescents and Beaded Chestnut.

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Merveille du Jour, Bawdeswell, 25th October


Thursday 24th October

Tonight's moths were Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Juniper Carpet and 2 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp.


Wednesday 23rd October

Best night for moths for a while, though still far short of what a lot of people are getting at the mo. First Juniper Carpet of the year was the highlight, the rest being Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphy s postvittana, Red-green Carpet, 3 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp., 2 Feathered Thorns and Brick.

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Feathered Thorns, Bawdeswell, 23rd October


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Juniper Carpet, Bawdeswell, 23rd October


Tuesday 22nd October

Back to same old... 3 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp. and Green-brindled Crescent.


Monday 21st October

A slightly more interesting night for moths, though it stopped well short of being exciting: Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Grey Pine Carpet and 2 Spruce Carpets.

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Spruce Carpet, Bawdeswell, 21st October


Sunday 20th October

Tonight's moths were 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Common Marbled Carpet and November Moth agg. Epirrita sp..


Saturday 19th October

The day started with a Little Owl calling just outside my bedroom window. Despite clearly being quite close I couldn't see it - and I still never have seen one from the house depsite hearing them fairly regularly. Off to the patch where 1 Curlew remained at Bittering and a probable Mealy Redpoll was heard calling (I'm not sure how reliable my attempts to separate Mealy from Lesser on call are, but most of the Redpolls I've heard during the current influx of Mealies have sounded deeper than the Lesser Redpolls I hear in other years). Kingfishers were at 2 sites and at Creaking Gate Lake wildfowl included an impressive (for such a small lake) 177 Wigeon, 42 Gadwall, 14 Shoveler and 5 Teal. Lots of Redwings on the patch today along with smaller numbers of the other 4 common thrushes.

I then headed up to Wells with Dave in the hope of finding some migrants and perhaps the Parrot Crossbills that keep getting reported. The only Crossbills heard turned out to be someone playing a tape! Although Parrot Crossbills keep getting reported from Wells it sounds like at least some birders who have seen them well believe that they are in fact eastern "Phantom" Crossbills (probably a separate species, though not currently recognised as such). Apparently these thick-billed birds can call just like Parrot Crossbills, and it seems we're experiencing an influx of them at the moment. A Reed Warbler was in the ditch on the way in, equalling my latest ever in Norfolk, and a Woodcock nearly flew into us. We spent a fair bit of time scouring the north side of the wood where I hoped an Olive-backed Pipit might be lurking, but with no luck (we did hear either a Tree Pipit or Olive-backed Pipit call once, but as there has been a Tree Pipit here recently I expect it was that - we couldn't find it anyway). The Yellow-browed Warbler showed, as did the Shag on the boating lake, and then we headed off to find our own birds at Stiffkey.

The path beside Stiffkey Flood didn't deliver anything exciting so we went on to Stiffkey Fen. A Whooper Swan in a field east of the fen was perhaps the bird of the day (which doesn't say much for the day), but I enjoyed watching 124 Little Egrets coming in to roost - my highest UK count of this species. Barn and Tawny Owls, Kingfisher, Water Rails and 4 Greenshanks were also seen or heard. A dead Cormorant on the path provided a good opportunity to check the racial identification - it proved to be the Continental form sinensis.

Tonight's moths were Beautiful Plume Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, Red-green Carpet and 3 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp.

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Curlew, Wells, 19th October


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Kestrels, Wells, 19th October


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twig hanging in web (left), Shag (right), Wells, 19th October - not quite sure why I photographed a twig - seemed like a good idea at the time (must have been slow)


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the Moon viewed from Stiffkey (left) and Beautiful Plume Amblyptilia acanthadactyla, Bawdeswell (right), 19th October


Friday 18th October

Tonight's moths were Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, November Moth agg. Epirrita sp. and Large Yellow Underwing.


Thursday 17th October

Headed off to the patch after work after checking Guist and Bintree Mill for Glossy Ibis (one had been seen heading this way from Pensthorpe earlier today). Nothing to report from the patch except for a Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella. At home moths were 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Brick or Yellow-line Quaker (it was very worn!) and Beaded Chestnut.

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Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Rawhall GPs, 17th October


Wednesday 16th October

Hundreds of migrants seen during my lunch break today. Sadly though, apart from 1 Blackcap in the bushes, they were all Starlings heading west. Just 2 moths again tonight: probable Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana and Garden Carpet.


Tuesday 15th October

Spent the whole day at Burnham Overy and the west end of Holkham Pines. The Great Grey Shrike was at the back of the reedy pool and a grey Chiffchaff along the seawall was presumably a northern one, but not Siberian. My Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat was in the sueda near the boardwalk though it didn't show as well today. I didn't use the "possibly of an eastern form" line that was broadcast on the pagers when I phoned it out later - I'm quite sure it's of an eastern form if not 100% sure it's halimodendri. Interesting to see that Mike Buckland who apparently found it independently after I did on Saturday got some much better images than I did and also concluded that it's halimodendri. See his photos and account here. Having now done a bit more research on the subject I'm also feeling more confident that it is indeed this form, though I still have some more reading to do before I submit it as such.

A tame Brambling was nice - enough so for some passing non-birders to ask what it was. Not enough though for one chap who was bemoaning the lack of birds, which I thought was a bit odd as there seemed to be quite a few common migrants here still, some of them new in. Dead apparently. Rubbish. A Grey Wagtail flew over and there were thrushes everywhere, mainly grounded Redwings which was a change from the weekend when the majority of Redwings were going straight over. I'd not got far when I bumped into the same bloke again, now standing knee-deep in Redwings with Goldcrests calling all around. I thought surely now he must be feeling a bit more positive. No, apparently it was still rubbish, still dead. I pointed out a Redpoll flying over, a Mealy Redpoll though I didn't bother telling him that - he wasn't interested. He went on his way and a few yards further, where he'd just come from, a Yellow-browed Warbler was in the sueda. There were a couple reported here a day or two ago but I've a suspicion this one was new in today from the way it was behaving.

The pines were fulll of Chiffchaffs but I couldn't find any wing-barred relations. There was a Black Redstart on Meals House and a good-sized flock of Redpolls flew over - Mealy I think. Potentially more interesting were at least 2 Crossbills that I heard calling briefly. I couldn't see them, or even work out exactly where they were, but the calls sounded a bit on the deep side, maybe.

On the way back an Arctic Skua flew north from the freshmarsh over the dunes and out to sea. A quick seawatch produced a Great Skua and 2 Velvet Scoter. More migrants included 3 Wheatear. Finally a Peregrine wrapped up the day.

Two moths tonight: November Moth agg. Epirrita sp. and Chestnut.

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Brambling, Burnham Overy (left) and Chaffinch, Holkham Pines (right), 15th October


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Black Redstart (left) and Chiffchaff (right), Holkham Pines, 15th October


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Chiffchaff, Holkham Pines, 15th October


Monday 14th October

A quick look for migrants at Thornham in my lunch break produced just Blackcaps and Chiffchaff. A Barn Owl was the first I've seen in the middle of the day for a few months - must be hungry. Not a single moth tonight, despite calmer conditions and a good cloud covering.

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Barn Owl, Thornham, 14th October


Sunday 13th October

Had the weather forecast predicted a dry morning and a wet afternoon I would have made different arrangements for today, but as the opposite was promised I plumped for doing the birding in the afternoon. At Burnham Overy there were still migrants around but in a much stronger gale they were keeping well down. As I headed down a chap coming the other way informed me that he'd just found a Pallas's Warbler in the bushes by the boardwalk but upon my arrival there I found that it had not been seen well for some time. Quite a while later I got a very brief look at it, but frankly it wasn't worth it - so brief as to be pretty pointless. Cracking little birds when seen well but in this weather this one wasn't going to oblige. So I continued on to where yesterday's Gropper was - no sign of that and as I waited the showers turned into heavy rain. I pressed on in the hope of finding a Bluetail, fired up by news of one at Happisburgh, but I'd not got far before that weather turned from diabolical to absolutely mental. There really wasn't any point in carrying on in this so reluctantly I headed back to the car. It brightened up a bit as I returned but it was getting late now so I didn't think there was much point in heading back out. A couple of Mealy Redpolls dropped in on the path just behind me for a couple of minutes, but that was about all I could muster up today - a disappointing end to the weekend, especially given the number of scarce migrants turning up all round the coast.

Not so many moths either: Black Rustic, Beaded Chestnut and 2 Barred Sallows.

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Mealy Redpolls, Burnham Overy, 13th October


Saturday 12th October

The weather forecast looked good for today so I headed up to Burnham Overy. It was immediately obvious that the bushes were alive with Robins and Song Thrushes while more thrushes and Bramblings called overhead. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were all over the place so I headed down to the dunes with a high sense of anticipation. The bushes by the boardwalk contained 5 Redpolls, Mealy I think, which headed off inland. As I headed off towards Gun Hill through the sueda a pale warbler caught my eye - a Lesser Whitethroat, but this was no ordinary Lesser Whitethroat. Obviously an eastern type but not like the eastern birds I've seen in previous autumns (which I'm told are blythi). I'm no expert on Lesser Whitethroat ID but I suspect this one was a Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat (form halimodendri). However I'm not certain that Siberian blythi can be ruled out, and that's probably the more frequent of the two. Surrounded by Goldcrests I moved on to the bushes which were full of more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.

Looking west I noticed a Great Grey Shrike. It soon flew out of view and when Dave R turned up we headed over to look for it. No luck there but the pager soon informed us that it had been found by the seawall. We did find Garden Warbler though, a nice flock of about 20 Brambling and a Lapland Bunting calling overhead. A quick look at the sea produced 2 Goldeneye and 2 Great Skuas and as we continued Dave put up a couple of Woodcock. I decided to check the sea buckthorn patch which produced another 2, then 4 more Mealy Redpolls. As we headed back to the seawall I picked up 3 Short-eared Owls - we enjoyed watching them for a bit before they landed in the rough field. Later on we saw 2 of them again - Dave watched one of these flying north out to sea.

The eastern Lesser Whitethroat was now in the bushes at the end of the boardwalk so we spent a bit more time watching this before heading off to work the dunes between here and Holkham Pines. We didn't get far before Dave noticed a Locustella warbler on the ground. Though I was next to him I couldn't see it from my position but as soon as I moved it flew. Any Locustella at this time of year is worth checking carefully and from what Dave had seen it looked very interesting, so we stuck it out in the hope of resolving its identity. After a while a party of noisy schoolchildren approached conducting transect surveys of the dunes. They wanted to go right through the middle of the patch where the bird was! We persuaded them to go around but they made so much noise and spent so long that any chance of seeing the bird again was rapidly diminishing. Only at this point did I notice that Stu had texted me a couple of hours earlier to say he'd seen a small brown bird with a rounded tail in the same area - obviously the same thing! Indeed it later transpired that he'd found it in exactly the same place but the group he was leading weren't keen to give it long. Now it had been a couple of hours since Dave had seen it, there'd been no further sign and as soon as the field trip had gone the rain started. Dave crawled into the bushes on all fours and amazingly found himself face to face with the bird. He couldn't get anything else on it though, so the identity remained a mystery. Others joined us in the rain, including Stu and Andy and eventually Andy picked it up back where Dave had first seen it, out in the open. It didn't stay there long though - not long enough for me to see it. Andy thought it looked like the commoner species but we still needed to make sure. Eventually I picked it up, but only from its movement - I didn't get a clear view of it. Andy did though, and this time he was pretty sure he'd seen a Grasshopper Warbler. We'd worked really hard for this so it was a shame it didn't turn out to be something better.

While all this was going on the Great Grey Shrike appeared again, 3 more Redpolls flew over and a Wheatear strutted around beside me. I also potted a moth that turned out to be Skin Moth Monopis laevigella - possibly Norfolk's latest ever record.

A few moths at home too: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Spruce Carpet, 3 November Moth aggs. Epirrita sp., 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Dark Chestnut, Yellow-line Quaker, 2 Beaded Chestnuts and 2 Barred Sallows.

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Eastern Lesser Whitethroat, Burnham Overy, 12th October - perhaps Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat halimodendri, or is it just Siberian Lesser Whitethroat blythii?


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Short-eared Owl, Burnham Overy, 12th October


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Woodcock, Burnham Overy, 12th October


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Mealy Redpoll (left) and Great Grey Shrike (right), Burnham Overy, 12th October - I think the Redpoll is Mealy but let me know if you disagree (some of the others were more obvious)


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Reed Bunting (left) and Wren (right), Burnham Overy, 12th October


Friday 11th October

A quick look at Thornham during my lunch break produced 2 juvenile Kittiwakes over the saltmarsh and distant views of 2 Little Gulls over the beach. In the evening 3 Canada Geese on the patch seemed distinctly smaller and short-necked compared to the others. I'm not completely convinced they belonged to a smaller form but will look out for them again. Also a Common Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana.

A Beaded Chestnut was the only moth coming in despite the wind.


Thursday 10th October

Another day off today coincided with excellent seawatching conditions - a ferocious onshore wind. The problem with seawatching at Sheringham is that there are limited spaces in the shelter and to get the best you have to get there ridiculously early. I arrived at 5.20 am, and wasn't the first, an hour and a quarter before it was light enough to see the first bird! I could hear them though - a constant stream of Redwings coming in, their calls clearly visible above the roar of the waves.

Once light the seabirds started streaming by - a very enjoyable seawatch. Fairly predictable stuff - nothing really extraordinary - but still good and well worth the early start. Best was a fab juvenile Sabine's Gull but the 3 Leach's Petrels were nice too. Skuas were on good form: I didn't get any convincing views of any of the Long-tailed Skuas (at least one looked promising) but I did see 10 of the Pomarine Skuas, most of which were adults with spoons. I counted 57 Arctic Skuas (there were many I didn't see) and over 200 Great Skuas - one of the best counts I've had of that species. I also notched up 8 Sooty Shearwaters, 25 Manx Shearwaters and over 200 Little Gulls. Other highlights were Black-throated Diver, 2 Puffins, 2 Arctic Terns and a party of 3 Purple Sandpipers. There weren't big numbers of wildfowl but a Long-tailed Duck was good and a drake Velvet Scoter was smart. One Owl was too off to identify but the next was easier - a Short-eared Owl as expected.

Come mid afternoon I'd not shifted from the seat I'd been sat in since I arrived; the sea was quietening down so I took the chance to pop into town and grab some food. On return things weren't livening up much so eventually I headed off to Salthouse to see the White-rumped Sandpiper. Good to see that, along with 5 Little Gulls on the flood.

On the way home I popped in to the patch where 6 Curlew remain. At home White-shouldered House-moth Endrosis sarcitrella and Setaceous Hebrew Character ignored the weather to make an appearance.

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Arctic Skuas, Sheringham, 10th October


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Little Gull (left) and White-rumped Sandpiper (right, with Dunlin), 10th October


Wednesday 9th October

Didn't expect any moths tonight given the lashing wind and rain but Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella and my first Epirrita sp. (probably November Moth) of the year had other ideas.


Tuesday 8th October

Another day off but with few birds arriving in the county over the last few days and no improvement in the weather I decided to take it easy apart from a look round the patch during the afternoon. Most surprising was finding that the flock of Curlew had increased to 12. Good numbers of Wigeon on the patch - over 30 at one site and 85 at another - surely we stand half a chance of finding an americana this winter...? Also a Kingfisher at Creaking Gate Lake, and both Tawny and Little Owls calling well before dark. Warmer weather too, meaning some micro moths on the wing, including 2 Garden Midgets Phyllonorycter messaniella, 18 Common Nettle-taps Anthophila fabriciana, 2 White-shouldered House-moths Endrosis sarcitrella and Common Marble Celypha lacunana.

A few moths at home: 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Red-green Carpet, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Common Wainscot, Dark Chestnut, Yellow-line Quaker, 2 Beaded Chestnuts and Barred Sallow.

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Curlew (left) and Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella (right), Bittering, 8th October


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Dark Chestnut (left) and Barred Sallow (right), Bawdeswell, 8th October


Monday 7th October

A cold night ensured few moths - in fact I didn't think there were any until I attempted to close the window before leaving for work the next morning. It didn't quite close properly, thanks to a Yellow-line Quaker (now sadly squashed) in the way.


Sunday 6th October

This evening's moths were Brown House-moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella, a late probable Four-spotted Obscure Oegoconia quadripuncta (update Jan: confirmed by gen. det. - thanks Jon!), Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Red-green Carpet, Feathered Thorn, Light Emerald, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker, Beaded Chestnut, Pale Mottled Willow and Snout.

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Yellow-line Quaker, Bawdeswell, 6th October


Saturday 5th October

A quick look at the patch en route to Cley this morning revealed that at least some of the Curlew were again present at Bittering. Cley didn't deliver any especially unusual species but there was plenty to look at which kept the group entertained. Top of the bill were Bearded Tits which put on a particularly good show - I reckon we saw a minimum of 25 altogether from Dauke's Hide, including a flock of 18, with more heard from East Bank later on. Among the waders 2 Little Stints were the best. Non-avian interest was supplied by lots of Common Nettle-taps Anthophila fabriciana (40+) feeding on composite heads along the boardwalk.

I had another look round the patch on the way home, arriving just too late to see a Pink-footed Goose that Dave had been watching for a while. All 5 Curlew were still there and nearby at Creaking Gate Lake a Kingfisher was heard calling. We couldn't find a Yellow-browed Warbler in the tit flock, though a couple of Marsh Tits are always nice. A Peregrine was better and prompted us to wonder where it came from: this is our 3rd observation of Peregrine on the patch since August and we had 6 sightings when we started watching the area in March and April - I can't help wondering if they're perhaps breeding birds from not all that far away. Could they be the Norwich birds perhaps? Does anyone know where they get to outside of the breeding season?

An evening at the theatre meant the light didn't go on until late which, combined with a much cooler night, meant there were just a very few moths: Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla, Small Dusty Wave and 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters.

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Bearded Tits, Cley, 5th October


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Peregrine, Creaking Gate Lake, 5th October


Friday 4th October

A Kingfisher at Tattersett in my lunch break was the only bird worth mentioning today but it was an interesting evening for moths. Green-brindled Crescent, Brindled Green and Brick were all new for the year, Diamond-back Moth was probably a migrant and 2 Rhomboid Tortrices Acleris rhombana and 2 Spruce Carpets were both my first records of more than singles here. More intriguing though was a commoner species that usually flies earlier in the year: Cork Moth Nemapogon cloacella, which appears to be the first ever October record in Norfolk.

More typical fair included 4 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, 2 Garden Carpets, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Square-spot Rustic, White-point, Blair's Shoulder-knot, 3 Beaded Chestnuts, 2 Barred Sallows and Snout.

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Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana (left) and Brindled Green (right), Bawdeswell, 4th October


Thursday 3rd October

Another day off which I spent at Burnham Overy again. I arrived a little later than on Tuesday and didn't see anywhere near as much - far fewer migrants around today. While I was at Gun Hill a very loud aircraft flew over causing mayhem and the skies filled with calling Linnets and Meadow Pipits. Then among them I heard a different call. It called twice, like Tree Pipit, but not quite right - very buzzy and sibilant. I imagined it probably was a Tree Pipit, perhaps the bird I'd seen on Tuesday, but I couldn't pick it out. I played the calls of both Tree and Olive-backed Pipits on my iPhone - the Olive-backed seemed a perfect match! I spent quite a lot of time scouring the area for it just in case but sadly didn't get any more on it, except possibly one further call though this time it, if it was the same bird, sounded more like a typical Tree Pipit. Meanwhile a Peregrine went by and I briefly heard a Firecrest calling from the sea buckthorn on the north side, and Chris Mills found a Richard's Pipit nearby.

I was about to have a quick look for Chris's Dick's Pipit when news came through of a Common Rosefinch in the dunes towards Holkham Pines. I decided to wander off in that direction, seeing my second Wheatear of the day along the way. No-one had seen the Rosefinch since it had been found but I noticed a bird obsucred in the back of a bramble which looked interesting. I could only see the top of the head and that through lots of twigs, but it looked good for a Rosefinch with its beady dark eye. Before I could get the scope on it it flew, still looking good for a Rosefinch. I sat overlooking the area for 1.5 hours during which time I glimpsed a Redstart and saw a few Song Thrushes. So far as I know no-one else saw the Rosefinch again.

On the way home this evening I popped in to the patch but got a nil return. Absolutely nothing to record at all. Best moth tonight was a Dark Chestnut; the rest were White-shouldered House-moth Endrosis sarcitrella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Small Dusty Waves, 3 Common Marbled Carpets, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Brown-spot Pinion, 4 Beaded Chestnuts (my largest count), Barred Sallow and Burnished Brass.

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Blackcap, Burnham Overy, 3rd October


Wednesday 2nd October

A stop off at the patch on the way home from work produced a flock of 5 Curlews at Bittering. A good local record!

Tonight's moths included a couple that were note-worthy: White-shouldered Smudge Ypsolopha parenthesella was my first here though I've seen them at a few other places and Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana which I don't see many of anywhere. A Square-spot Rustic was only my second October record - and an immaculate fresh example too. Also Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Marbled Carpet, Grey Pine Carpet, 4 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot and Silver Y.

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White-shouldered Smudge Ypsolopha parenthesella (left) and Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana (right), Bawdeswell, 2nd October


Tuesday 1st October

Another day off and a very fine day it was too. I headed up to Burnham Overy early - I don't know why I don't bird here more often! Awesome place. I should live there. The walk down to the dunes was uneventful and at first the dunes seemed quiet too, but then birds started to appear. A Green Sandpiper flew over and 1-2 Lapland Buntings flew around but save for a few Song Thrushes and a couple of Blackcaps the bushes seemed devoid of migrants. A Brambling appeared among the Linnets and then I heard a Firecrest nearby and just glimpsed a bright crest dive into the sueda. A wait, and then another quick call, and then it was off again. I figured I could pass it and then with the sun behind prepare for some awesome photos as it carried on towards me but it had other ideas - another quick call as I passed and that was the last I saw or heard of it. Anyway, this was more encouraging stuff! As I looked round Gun Hill it became clear that there were good numbers of Song Thrush in. Then I discovered a Tree Pipit - an interesting bird which never called when it was flushed and eventually gave itself up for some stunning close range views (shame my camera-work didn't do it justice). Not often I see these on the deck, so an instructive and enjoyable bird, even if it really should have been Olive-backed.

I didn't find Penny's Ring Ouzel but from east of the boardwalk I managed a distant view of the Cattle Egret (a pretty boring bird at the best of times, and especially so from miles away looking into the sun). A couple of Redstarts were at the east end just before Holkham Pines, and the west end of the pines supplied me with Yellow-browed Warbler, another Firecrest, a Spotted Flycatcher and Brambling. As I returned a Red Kite others had told me about appeared over the marshes and I attempted to estimate how many Song Thrushes I'd seen - into triple figures I'm sure.

By now I'd been birding nearly 8 hours and was flagging. Fish and chips at Wells resolved that and I was ready to go - I'd seen some nice birds but I'd not found a rare yet - that needed to change. As I drove past the flood at Stiffkey I spied the footpath running south from the road, just east of the flood - I always fancy this as a good place to find something - good habitat and probably fairly underwatched. Surely it would hold a Red-breasted Flycatcher or at least a Yellow-browed Warbler - and might there be just enough habitat in the valley at the end to hold a Brown Shrike? I checked the flood as I walked past - lots of Teal and Black-headed Gulls but nothing better. It was a pleasant walk but there were no RB Flies, no Yellow-browed and no shrikes, so I headed back. As I returned past the flood a big white thing dropped in - a fantastic Great White Egret! Now Great White Egrets are only marginally more exciting than Cattle Egrets (and nowadays a great deal less rare), so fantastic isn't a word I usually associate with them, but this one was my own, a self-found bird and my first self-found Great White Egret ever. Ok Sacha had found what was presumably the same bird at Cley earlier in the afternoon but so far as I knew that was still at Cley so this was totally unexpected and so far as I'm concerned it was as good a find as if I'd been the first person to see it anywhere. I phoned news out straight away but as I did it got up and flew towards me. A nice close view as it flew over my head but I couldn't see where it had gone to.

I hadn't planned on going to Stiffkey Fen but decided it might be worth a quick look - if only to see if the egret had dropped in there. As I walked down the path a single familiar call emanated from the willows - another Yellow-browed Warbler! I couldn't see it, and it never called again, but just as I was about to give up it suddenly appeared. A nice view for a few seconds and then it was gone again. On the fen there were 2 Spoonbills and plenty of Little Egrets, but no Great White.

I felt like I was on a roll now so it seemed churlish to call it a day when there was still enough light to find a Bluetail, so off to Friary Hills I went with a view to doing just that. A few Song Thrushes and a couple of Blackcaps later I had to admit defeat - any self-respecting bluetail would be roosting by now, and I felt pretty much like roosting myself too. Not before recording a few moths though: Small Red Slender Caloptilia rufipennella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Small Dusty Wave, Red-green Carpet, 6 Common Marbled Carpets, 2 Grey Pine Carpets, Light Emerald, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, Black Rustic, Lunar Underwing, Barred Sallow, Pink-barred Sallow and Angle Shades.

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Lapland Bunting, Burnham Overy (left) and Yellow-browed Warbler, Holkham Pines (right), 1st October


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Tree Pipit, Burnham Overy, 1st October


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Meadow Pipit, Burnham Overy, 1st October


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Black-tailed Godwit, Burnham Overy, 1st October


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Grey Plovers, Burnham Overy, 1st October - a very distant shot (right) of one bird that was still in full breeding plumage!


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Great White Egret, Stiffkey Flood, 1st October


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Red Admiral (left) and Marsh Harrier (right), Stiffkey, 1st October


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Small Red Slender Caloptilia rufipennella, Bawdeswell, 1st October


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