February 2014

 

Friday 28th February

A few odd birds during my lunch break today, the most interesting being an adult White-fronted Goose at Raynham Lake. The same smallholding in Sculthorpe that had a Ruddy Shelduck last week had 2 Barnacle Geese as I passed this evening - belonging there or just visiting??

There have been a few moths this week. I intend to break from my approach of the last 2-3 years of listing each and every one here, and will just summarise or mention the more interesting ones. I started listing them all for good reasons but none of those apply any more. This week has seen a couple of Dotted Borders, a couple of Common Quakers and a Clouded Drab. Micros remain thin on the ground with just a few Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana.

 

Wednesday 26th February

An Avocet appeared back at the patch this week - I saw it after work this evening along with 4 Green Sandpipers.

 

Sunday 23rd February

Headed to the Brecks late afternoon in the hope of seeing some interesting pheasants seen by Chris G yesterday. Found 3 male Reeves's Pheasants in one of the usual spots but none at the site where Chris had been. If you're in the area keep an eye out for a putative Buzzard x Red-tailed Hawk hybrid which Chris saw too - please let me know if and where you see it!

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Pheasant, Hilborough, 23rd February - I've still not found out what these distinctive pale-backed variants are called - surely they must have a name? I'm seeing them all over the place but they're especially numerous in this part of the Brecks

 

Saturday 22nd February

Headed up to Cley first today in the hope of finding the hybrid family of Pale-bellied x Dark-bellied Brent Geese which are still knocking around the area apparently. One flock contained an adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose and a group of first-winters some of which seemed a bit pale on the belly - I wondered if these were the target birds but I wasn't convinced. They weren't associating with the Pale-bellied and James assures me the hybrids are still keeping with both parents, so presumably not. Also a leucistic Dark-bellied Brent Goose there but no sign of the Black Brant that had been seen a few minutes earlier.

A Red Kite near the mill and 2 Stonechats down West Bank were the only other birds of note seen at Cley, while Salthouse produced 9 Avocets and a migrating flock of 9 Stock Doves west, plus a nice chat with Kieran and Dave. I thought about heading off to Blakeney Harbour to see the divers but decided against it - they're so far off from land it didn't seem worth it. I did bump into James though, just off the boat having watched the divers at a much more respectable range. I'm tempted now to book up if they run more boat trips out there. Enjoyed chatting with James for a while before grabbing some lunch and heading off to Burnham Overy.

Burnham Overy produced my first butterfly of the year, seen from the car as I drove into the village. Pretty sure it was a Small Tortoiseshell. Avian highlights were at least 2 Red Kites and a Stonechat in the dunes (presumably a fresh arrival). The main reason I'd come here in the afternoon was that a Rough-legged Buzzard has been seen here regularly but mainly only in the late afternoon. It was pretty late and there had been no sign so I started to head back along the seawall towards the car. Fortunately I bumped into a Wells birder Dave and stopped for a chat - nice to meet a local birder I didn't know before. He informed me that it was around this time it had showed on Thursday so we kept an eye out and in no time Dave picked up a raptor moving west over the dunes. It was the Rough-legged Buzzard, and it stopped a while for a bit of hovering before disappearing behind Gun Hill. Nice, though I half-wished I'd stayed in the dunes a bit longer, from which I would presumably have got even better views (but equally may have missed it altogether). Overall it had been a better day for seeing people than birds, but this was a nice end to the day!

Three moths tonight: Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Pale Brindled Beauty and my earliest ever Clouded Drab.

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Stonechat, Cley, 22nd February

 

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migrating Stock Doves, Salthouse, 22nd February

 

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Moorhen, Salthouse, 22nd February

 

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Mute Swan, Salthouse (left) and Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Cley (right), 22nd February

 

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Sanderling, Burnham Overy, 22nd February

 

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Common Scoters, Burnham Overy, 22nd February

 

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Holkham Bay and Pines from Burnham Overy, 22nd February

 

Friday 21st February

One day this week (can't remember which day - forgot to note it down) I saw a Ruddy Shelduck on the way in to work at Sculthorpe. It was in a farmyard where they keep various domestic fowl - anyone know if it belongs to the farm? Haven't noticed it before and normally only see domestic birds rather than ornamental wildfowl, though there was a Barnacle Goose there for a while once.

 

Monday 17th February

Best night for moths so far this year... 2 probable Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana and 2 Pale Brindled Beauties.

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Pale Brindled Beauty, Bawdeswell, 17th February

 

Sunday 16th February

A good look round the patch today was largely uneventful. A Green Sandpiper was at Rawhall and the 2 Smew were still present. Not much else though. Stilll, I enjoyed studying the Smew, trying to work out if one of them was a first-year drake (I think so).

An Oak Beauty was unexpected this evening - my earliest ever and not a species I see every year. Normally a good looking species too, though this individual had lost most of its scales on one wing so wasn't up to their usual standards.

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Smew, Creaking Gate Lake, 16th February

 

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Teal, Creaking Gate Lake, 16th February

 

Saturday 15th February

Spent what seemed like most of today in the Apple Store upgrading my phone, so only had a short while to visit the patch. Highlights were a Barnacle Goose at Hell Pit and Barn Owl at Beetley - incredibly my first of the year.

 

Thursday 13th February

Was working from home today which meant I had time to get to the patch in my lunch break. This gave me an opportunity to see the 2 redhead Smew that Dave found there on Tuesday - nice one Dave! A new bird for the patch.

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Smew, Creaking Gate Lake, 13th February

 

Tuesday 11th February

A flock of Redwings seemed to be enjoying the rain at Fring in my lunch break. At home I discovered a probable Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana - suspect it came in a previous night rather than this evening, but can't be sure.

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Redwings, Fring, 11th February

 

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Chaffinch, Fring, 11th February

 

Saturday 8th February

Joined the usual group at Titchwell this morning where Patsy's Pool delivered the first interesting birds. A female Scaup was, I presumed, the bird that's been reported on the reserve for a while, but was it a pure Scaup? I had a few doubts about its purity at the time, though I suspected it probably was ok; on reviewing my photos the feature that concerned me in the field looked perfectly fine on the computer screen, so I now feel much happier about it. Another duck in the flock was not so pure though, although at some angles it looked remarkably close to Pochard in plumage. At other angles the flanks and especially the back were clearly much darker, and the head was darker too. Structurally it was all wrong for Pochard too, small and with a peak at the back of the head - this was (presumably) a Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrid. Unfortunately they spent most of the time asleep and it was quite cold and exposed here - I'm not sure the group thought a sleeping female Scaup that I was a bit hesitant about and a sleeping hybrid duck were worth that getting cold for!

A few people were watching a Water Rail in the ditch beside the path though it was largely obscured, partly by vegetation and mainly by photographers getting in the way. On the way down to the sea we stopped to look at a couple of Marsh Harriers over Thornham Point and were pleased to see a Peregrine flying around there too. On to the sea where I picked up a Velvet Scoter among the many Common Scoters - don't think any of the group got on that but they did at least see the Common Scoters, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers. The sand blowing around was a bit of a problem here so we didn't give it long before heading back to the hides. Among the waders on show here were a Greenshank and a couple of Spotted Redshanks. On the way back to the car park there were people watching the Woodcock. Tony's laser made it much easier for the group to find it!

On the way home I checked a couple of Pink-feet flocks, west of Burnham Market and between Fring and Shernborne. The first held Eurasian White-fronted Goose and Barnacle Goose and the second held a first-winter Pale-bellied Brent Goose, but I've still not seen any Tundra Beans this winter, nor the Greenland White-front that others have seen here. A very quick stop at the patch produced a fly-over Grey Wagtail at the west end - not seen them there before.

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Scaup, Titchwell, 8th February

 

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Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrid (with Pochard), Titchwell, 8th February

 

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Scaup (left) and Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrid (right), Titchwell, 8th February - the fact that they both spent so much time asleep didn't help the ID process

 

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Tufted Duck (left) and Woodcock (right), Titchwell, 8th February

 

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Barnacle Goose (left) and neck-ringed Pink-footed Goose (right), west of Burnham Market, 8th February

 

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Pale-bellied Brent Goose, between Fring and Shernborne, 8th February

 

Friday 7th February

My usual lunchtime search for geese produced a couple of flocks but I couldn't find anything better than a Barnacle Goose among them (between Fring and Shernborne).

 

Wednesday 5th February

Had to go to Peterborough for a meeting today - on the way saw 2 Red Kites over Peterborough bypass and a Greylag x Canada Goose hybrid at Osler Lake. The journey home was less eventful with just 2 Little Egrets at Thorney Toll.

 

Monday 3rd February

Surprised to see a Little Egret in someone's tiny front-garden pond in the middle of Stanhoe today. First Pale Brindled Beauty of the year this evening, along with an Early Moth.

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Pale Brindled Beauty, Bawdeswell, 3rd February

 

Sunday 2nd February

Second and last day of a weekend trip to Holland to see the long-staying showy Hawk Owl and Pygmy Owl. We heard Black Woodpeckers, saw Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Goshawk, more Short-toed Treecreepers, about 50 Smew and 3 White-tailed Eagles. Note the lack of owls in that list. Dead cert owls. Owls that show well all day every day. Owls that you just can't fail to see. Owls that showed well all day Friday and showed well again all day Monday (well, one of them at least).

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Short-toed Treecreeper, Zwolle, 2nd February

 

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White-tailed Eagles, near Kampen, 2nd February

 

Saturday 1st February

First day of a trip to Holland to see Hawk Owl and Pygmy Owl. On a normal day I'd think seeing Brown Shrike, Rough-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Treecreeper, Crested Tits and 24 Great White Egrets was a good day. Today wasn't a good day.

If you want to know why there's only a photo of a poxy Brown Shrike in the rain, and not photos of any owls, then you'd better check my short trip report.

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Brown Shrike, near Ulft, 1st February

 

 

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