September 2014

 

Tuesday 30th September

A Grey Wagtail calling overhead as I emptied the moth trap became my 50th species of bird here since moving in on 9th August - it took me 5 months to get that far at Bawdeswell, so an encouraging start.

Tonight's moths included Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis (new for the house), Mallow, Spruce Carpet, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Barred Sallow, Pink-barred Sallow, 2 Sallows, Rosy Rustic, Frosted Orange, Large Wainscot and Silver Y.

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Black Rustic (left) and Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis (right), North Elmham, 30th September

 

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Sallows, North Elmham, 30th September

 

Monday 29th September

Best of tonight's moths were Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, 2 Large Fruit-tree Tortrices Archips podana, 3 Mallows, Grey Pine Carpet, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Barred Sallow (new for the year), 2 Rosy Rustics, 3 Large Wainscots, Pale Mottled Willow and Silver Y - surprisingly the latter was my first since moving to North Elmham in early August, becoming my 200th species of moth here.

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Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana (left) and Barred Sallow (right), North Elmham, 29th September

 

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Blair's Shoulder-knot, North Elmham, 29th September

 

Sunday 28th September

The highlight in tonight's trap was a White-barred Tortrix Olindia schumacherana. Not only a very attractive tortrix but not a very common one coming to light (I've seen four before, all netted by day). It's also very unseasonal - they fly between May and July. We're getting a lot of moths that don't normally have a second (or third) generation but are this year, so this fits in the same category - so far as I can see this is the second post-July record in Norfolk. Other moths tonight included Dusky Thorn, Ruby Tiger, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent (new for the year), 3 Pink-barred Sallows, 2 Sallows and 2 Rosy Rustics.

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White-barred Tortrix Olindia schumacherana, North Elmham, 28th September

 

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Green-brindled Crescent, North Elmham, 28th September

 

Saturday 27th September

More leaf-mining in the garden, this time on Hazel: a vacated mine of Nut-tree Pigmy Stigmella microtheriella. Also a woodlouse which is probably one of the commoner species but looks to me a bit like Cylisticus convexus. I really don't know much about woodlice though, so if you do please let me know what you think.

Not a vast amount in the trap this evening - Ruby Tiger, 2 Pink-barred Sallows, 2 Sallows and Rosy Rustic were among the better ones.

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woodlouse, North Elmham, 27th September - is this Cylisticus convexus? Let me know what you think.

 

Friday 26th September

Had a look in the beech hedge at the back of the garden to see if I could find any leafmines. Found 3 mines of Small Beech Pigmy Stigmella tityrella, one vacated but two still occupied. In the trap tonight were Firethorn Leaf-Miner Phyllonorycter leucographella, 3 Mallows, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Sallow and 2 Rosy Rustics.

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Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella (left) and Mallow (right), North Elmham, 26th September

 

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Small Beech Pigmies Stigmella tityrella, North Elmham, 26th September - the lower two photos are the same larva taken 2.5 hours apart

 

Thursday 25th September

A fresh Beautiful Hook-tip was unseasonal. Others included Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana, 4 Blood-veins, 2 Mallows, Dusky Thorn, White-point, 3 Brown-spot Pinions, 3 Beaded Chestnuts, 21 Lunar Underwings, 2 Pink-barred Sallows, Rosy Rustic and Large Wainscot.

 

Wednesday 24th September

With the exception of 26 Lunar Underwings there weren't many moths tonight, unsurprisingly given the cold clear night. Apart from the lunies there were just 8 moths of 7 species including Sallow, Large Wainscot and a nice Brindled Green.

 

Tuesday 23rd September

Started another day off on the patch with Dave. We'd not seen anything better than a couple of Marsh Tits (and some leafmines, some of which turned out to belong to Poplar Bent-wing Phyllocnistis unipunctella) when news of the continued presence of the Masked Shrike at Kilnsea came through. We headed up to see that, suffering one of the most tedious 4-hour drives I've ever done (I'm referring to the boring roads rather than Dave's company of course). Arrived to find some Whinchats lining the fence by the car park and a very distant dot that was a Masked Shrike. A fantastic bird I'm sure, but at a zillion miles range in heat haze it was underwhelming to say the least, and really not worth that drive! We headed round to the seawall to see if we could see it from there, pausing briefly to look for a reported Red-breasted Flycatcher (not sure if it was a Robin or not, but people got very excited every time a Robin appeared, or a Great Tit, and even a Woodpigeon drew shouts of "there it is").

From the seawall the light was better and although it wasn't much nearer I started to enjoy the shrike as Masked Shrikes are meant to be enjoyed. Not sure if I'd have bothered making the journey if I'd realised how far away it would be but it was a great bird to watch anyway. Also enjoyed a much closer encounter with a Hobby flying south.

A Mallow was my best moth tonight - one I don't see every year. No less surprising was a Treble Brown Spot - my first second-generation example. Also Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, 2 Dusky Thorns, 36 Lunar Underwings, 3 Sallows and Rosy Rustic.

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Hobby, Kilnsea, 23rd September

 

Masked Shrike, Kilnsea, 23rd September

 

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Wheatear, Kilnsea (left) and Mallow, North Elmham (right), 23rd September

 

Monday 22nd September

A poorer night for moths with 60 moths of 14 species, nearly three quarters of which were Lunar Underwings (43). The best of the rest were Dusky Thorn, Pink-barred Sallow and 2 Sallows.

 

Sunday 21st September

An afternoon stroll up to the cathedral with mother and mother-in-law produced fly-over Grey Wagtail, 5 Meadow Pipits over the green (opposite the my house), a Brindled Flat-body Agonopterix arenella and some blackberries for a very nice lemon and blackberry pudding.

An excellent night for moths, the clear highlight being my first ever Pale-lemon Sallow. Also Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana, Spruce Carpet, Lilac Beauty, Ruby Tiger, 2 White-points, 2 Black Rustics (new for the year), 36 Lunar Underwings, 4 Sallows, 3 Large Wainscots and 1-2 Pale Mottled Willows.

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Pale-lemon Sallow, North Elmham, 21st September

 

Saturday 20th September

Lots of moths last night meant for a later than normal start but I headed up to Burnham Overy shortly after dawn. It being a Saturday and there being lots of good birds there (and even more good birds being reported there) it was busy with birders. I heard a Wood Sandpiper fly over as I walked down, and among several Chaffinches coming in, a Brambling called. A Grey Wagtail flew west over the boardwalk where the Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler continued to show. I watched the Lesser Whitethroat that has been there a few days - I'd considered blythi before but didn't think it was, but today it looked more interesting than I'd thought before. I couldn't remember all of the relevant features and few other people on site seemed to know what to look for - or even care what to look for. Apparently if it's not on the pager (or Birdguides) then it doesn't exist, which is presumably why some people thought a Redstart was another Red-breasted Flycatcher. Anyway, having got nowhere with the Lesser Whitethroat I continued on, resolving to do some research when I got home (the results of which you can see here - in short, I think it was probably just a western curruca, but I learned a lot in the process). A flock of 20 Siskins flew over and, more unusually here, a flock of 100 Knot. I didn't spend long watching the sea but there was clearly a bit of a wildfowl movement going on, especially Brent Geese and Wigeon. There were 3 Spoonbills in the channel and later on 6 on the saltmarsh. Continuing into the east dunes I got to 5 Redstarts and 10 Wheatears before I got fed up with crowds and left.

In the meantime I saw the Common Tern again - or more specifically 3 Common Terns. Clearly they weren't all Eastern, but I showed Ian and his mate and Stu, and they all seemed reasonably interested in the darker one (the only adult, seemingly with a black bill). But it wasn't a good view and it was miles away, so there was only one thing for it - I had to get closer. Eventually I got quite good views down on the beach before the incoming tide forced me to retreat. The bill was indeed dark, but not quite black - at close range you could see it was blackish red. The underparts were clearly grey - seemingly dark for western Common Tern, but the grey seemed to stop short of the breast, which I hadn't remembered on photos of the Eastern Common Tern. Contrary to my impressions from a distance it clearly did have a white forehead, albeit perhaps not as extensively so as I might have expected on a normal Common Tern this late. It had a peculiar short-legged appearance, quite different from the other two Common Terns there, and that's a feature apparently shown by the Eastern Common Tern. So was it? There was enough to make me doubt it, but again, I needed to do more research before I could make a call. (The results of that research are here, but I still can't make a call - not sure either way).

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Spoonbills, Burnham Overy, 20th September

 

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Common Tern, Burnham Overy, 20th September - just a normal western bird or the Eastern longipennis that's been commuting along this coast recently? See here for more photos and write-up

 

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Grey Heron, Burnham Overy (left) and Dark Spectacle, North Elmham (right), 20th September

 

Friday 19th September

Lots of moths in the trap tonight including no less than 81 Lunar Underwings! Also Small China-mark Cataclysta lemnata, Grey Pine Carpet, Spruce Carpet, Lilac Beauty, Canary-shouldered Thorn, 3 Dusky Thorns, Ruby Tiger, Brindled Green, Centre-barred Sallow, Pink-barred Sallow, Sallow, Angle Shades, 2 Large Wainscots and 2 Pale Mottled Willows.

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Lilac Beauty (left) and Large Wainscot (right), 19th September

 

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Spruce Carpet, 19th September

 

Thursday 18th September

Enjoyed the walk down to the dunes at Burnham Overy this morning. The first of 19 Redstarts was up by the staithe car park and a flock of 9 Bearded Tits (and a Reed Warbler) showed in one small tree in the reedy pool. As I neared the dunes the first of 4 Whinchats and 26 Wheatears appeared and a showy Pied Flycatcher was pushed down the fence-line by the people who'd overtaken me. I could hear the Yellow-browed Warbler calling as I watched the Red-breasted Flycatcher (still looking like one bird to me as it continued to move between the fence and the bushes, but the pager said there were two here so it must have been two) (I'm not saying there weren't two here - some people I respect say there were two - just that I never saw any evidence of it after the second headed east early on its first day and some people who thought they saw two saw one, or even one plus a Garden Warbler). A Hobby flew over as I walked away - given it was only in view for a couple of seconds before going behind a dune I was pleased with the shots I got of it. There were clearly more migrants around today and among the new ones at Gun Hill was a Spotted Flycatcher and 2-3 of 5+ Tree Pipits seen or heard today.

Jim had told me he'd had a calling Pectoral Sandpiper flying over earlier and, though I never expected to see it, I thought I'd best check the waders carefully. Well, I probably would have done anyway, but 3 Curlew Sandpipers were my first here. I continued round, glimpsing what I thought was a largish calidrid in flight which seemed to have a very weak upper wing bar. It was with a Ringed Plover - could it have been Jim's Pec? Possibly, but I wasn't sure of what I'd seen in such a brief glimpse. A bit later I heard a call that didn't sound right for Dunlin. Curlew Sand perhaps - I'm not very familiar with their call? Or Pec? I'm even less familiar with their call. Listed to the recordings - could have been Curlew Sand but don't think so. Pec Sand sounds good. Worth going back to have a closer look anyway. Now 4 Curlew Sandpipers with the Dunlin, so perhaps that was what I heard after all. Checked the Ringed Plovers futher away and there's a Pec Sand! Well, it's got a really strong pectoral band that looks just like it should on a Pec Sand, but is it really a Pec? Pec normally has a distinctive jizz and I wasn't seeing it, plus it didn't seem big enough. No tramlines but I guess that's ok for an adult. Couldn't determine leg colour at distance against the light but I was getting more doubtful the longer I watched it. Then it flew - the wing-bar was like that of a Dunlin - this was no Pec. Then again, if the coverts were in moult could the wing-bar look stronger? The underparts really did look good for Pec, and there was that call I heard. Spent a long time attempting to get closer views or views in better light but in the end never managed to turn it into anything better than a Dunlin, albeit an odd one.

A single Common Tern was on the spit among a flock of Sandwich Terns. Now knowing that the Eastern Common Tern has been seen down this end I was keen to get a good look - especially as I think I may have seen it and messed it up a while ago. It's not been reported recently, but apparently those seeing it at Cley have stopped reporting it in protest to the pager operators downplaying it to "probable" when they reported it as certain. This bird looked interesting - it was asleep and a long way off, so not easy but it looked a bit dark and while I couldn't be sure I could see the front of the crown what I could see suggested a fully black cap - most normal Common Terns have developed an extensive white forehead by now I think, and I gather the eastern has retained summer plumage later. I continued watching it as a dog-walker approached. Got the impression she was far enough not to flush it and allowed myself to be distracted by a Redstart popping up next to me. As I looked at that I heard Sandwich Terns calling - I knew why - she had flushed them, and the Common Tern with them, and it was nowhere to be seen. Spent ages looking for it but to no avail.

A tame Siskin fed in the open - presumably a tired migrant - and now several hours after I arrived, I finally started working the east dunes. I concentrated on the northern side that other birders might have ignored so my migrant counts were probably low. Mostly more of the same stuff, especially Garden Warblers which were probably much more numerous than my count of 9 suggests. Insects included Small Copper and Brown Argus and 2 Painted Ladies. A ludicrously tame Golden Plover fed on the grass just behind the apple tree near the boardwalk - strange place for one so presumably another tired (or sick) migrant. Saw Ruff and Green Sandpiper in flight as I walked back, the second Spoonbill of the morning and the Black-necked Grebe.

Some nice moths in the trap tonight. A Red Underwing was surely the most ostentatious but a Meadow-sweet Button Acleris shepherdana was much more unusual. Carnation Tortrix Cacoecimorpha pronubana is a species I'd only seen at the coast before, though it's not supposed to be a coastal species. Blair's Shoulder-knot was new for the year, as was Beaded Chestnut. Also Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, Barred Marble Celypha striana, 3 Canary-shouldered Thorns, 7 Light Emeralds, 2 Rosy Rustics, 3 Vine's Rustics, Pale Mottled Willow and 6 Burnished Brasses. Numbers were swelled by 27 Lunar Underwings.

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Red-breasted Flycatcher, Burnham Overy, 18th September

 

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Hobby, Burnham Overy, 18th September

 

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Red-breasted Flycatcher, Burnham Overy, 18th September

 

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Pied Flycatcher (left) and Kestrel (right), Burnham Overy, 18th September

 

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Siskin, Burnham Overy, 18th September

 

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Siskin, Burnham Overy, 18th September

 

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Lesser Whitethroat, Burnham Overy, 18th September - looking very different in the two photos! I wasn't very energised by this bird on the day but got a bit more interested a couple of days later, wondering if it could be blythi; in the end I think not but more photos and comments on my blog

 

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Red Underwing (left) and Meadow-sweet Button Acleris shepherdana (right), 18th September

 

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probable Oniscus asellus, North Elmham, 18th September - not very well-practised with woodlouse ID but I think this is what it is?

 

Wednesday 17th September

Chose a good week to have 3 days off with north-easterlies continuing throughout. Yesterday's moth catch was good which meant it took a long time to go through, so I started later than intended, but Dave joined me as we headed up to Burnham Overy, still fairly early. We'd already got news of birds arriving before we reached the boardwalk. Here 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers were performing well - perching out on the fence-line in full view. One of them moved off east along the fence and so we presumed this was the bird we later saw in the spindle clump a bit further east. Having said that 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers continued being reported at the boardwalk for several days so maybe that was a third, as the reports suggested later in the week. Personally I didn't definitely see two different birds at the boardwalk after the one moved eastwards this morning, though I did see one bird commuting between the fence and the bushes regularly getting reported as two different birds, and I did see a Garden Warbler being identified as a second Red-breasted Flycatcher (!) on more than one occasion. Still, could be worse - at least one of the Red-breasted Flycatchers reported on the pagers this week was a Redstart.

Visibility was pretty poor today but we managed to find a few migrants, including 2 Pied Flycatchers, 6 Redstarts and 6 Whinchats. Also Chaffinches and Song Thrushes starting to appear now and a Grey Wagtail over. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen hunting over the marsh and a Ruff dropped into the pool where the Black-necked Grebe continued. Also a Spoonbill seen and a moth netted in the dunes was probably Saltern Groundling Scrobipalpa instabilella. Probably the rarest thing we saw today I had walked past before without noticing, but this time we saw people photographing it and went over to see what they were looking at. They informed us it was Tiny Earthstar Gaestrum minimum, a very rare fungus - I gather the Holkham dunes are the only place in the UK where it can be found.

Not as many moths tonight, though the Lunar Underwing count increased to 35. Mottled Umber was new for the year and Flame was unseasonal. Otherwise 2 Dusky Thorns, 2 White-points, 2 Centre-barred Sallows, 2 Sallows and Rosy Rustic were the best.

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Red-breasted Flycatcher, Burnham Overy, 17th September - or 4 Red-breasted Flycatchers if you count like some people do

 

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Tiny Earthstar, Burnham Overy, 17th September - mega!

 

Tuesday 16th September

Another day off so I headed up to Burnham Overy. I saw very few migrants as I did Gun Hill and started off in the east dunes - surprising given the seemingly good conditions. Then a Redstart appeared, another came in from the direction of the sea and a third popped up. A Tree Pipit called and it started feeling a whole lot better. In the end I got to 6 Redstarts, 6 Garden Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, Whinchats and 18 Wheatears - not bad considering how poor the first few hours were. Single Arctic Skua and Great Skua passed by and one or two Hobbies were seen. As I returned to the boardwalk the Yellow-browed Warbler someone had had drop in while I was doing the east dunes was showing in the apple tree but I'd not even seen it well enough to identify before some chump started talking loudly about how it definitely was the bird etc. etc. Not much chance of it showing while he was rabbiting on but fortunately he soon headed off. Once he'd gone it started calling and showing nicely, but only momentarily as the other guys who were round the other side appeared and carried on their own noisy conversations as they stood next to the tree.

Non-avian highlights were Common Lizard and another Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella. As I headed back to the car the Black-necked Grebe at last showed itself - the sixth time I had checked this pool since it arrived.

Yellow-backed Clothes Moth Monopis obviella is a micro that should be on the wing at this time of year and, having never seen one, I've been keeping an eye out. I thought I'd finally got one today but on closer inspection it turned out to be the significantly scarcer Pale-backed Clothes Moth Monopis crocicapitella. Nice! There's a Hazel tree overhanging my garden and apart from attracting squirrels and dropping nuts on my patio I hoped it would produce some interesting moths. Two of three tiny things I nearly missed in the bottom of my trap today turned out to be Nut Leaf Blister Moths Phyllonorycter coryli - a common species but one I've not identified as an adult before. The third was perhaps less expected, a Common Oak Midget Phyllonorycter quercifoliella. Other micros included 3 presumed Small Clover Case-bearers Coleophora alcyonipennella, a very late (but fresh) Yellow-spot Tortrix Pseudargyrotoza conwagana and my first Ashy Button Acleris sparsana of the year.

Macros were numerous too, including Scalloped Hook-tip, Grey Pine Carpet, Spruce Carpet, Treble-bar, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Turnip Moth, Nutmeg, Bright-line Brown-eye, 2 Brown-spot Pinions, 2 Centre-barred Sallows, 2 Sallows, Mouse Moth, Angle Shades and Rosy Rustic. I was impressed by a count of 9 Dusky Thorns - a species I've thought I've done well to see one or two of previously. It's either a good year for them or this is a good garden for them! Other numbers included 16 Brimstone Moths, 8 Light Emeralds, 6 Shuttle-shaped Darts, 8 Lesser Yellow Underwings and 19 Snouts but the largest count was 26 Lunar Underwings.

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Garden Warbler (left) and Yellow-browed Warbler (right), Burnham Overy, 16th September

 

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Redstart, Burnham Overy (left) and Flame Shoulder, North Elmham (right), 16th September

 

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Pale-backed Clothes Moth Monopis crocicapitella (left) and Nut Leaf Blister Moth Phyllonorycter coryli (right), North Elmham, 16th September

 

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Sallows, North Elmham, 16th September

 

Monday 15th September

At least 2 Greenshanks heard at Thornham in my lunch break, along with a singing Chiffchaff and a Wheatear. Tonight's moths included a latish Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis, Dusky Thorn, Turnip Moth and Rosy Rustic.

 

Sunday 14th September

Went on a moth dissection course today so hope to be able to identify a few more of the tricky moths in future, at least the macros. Moths in the trap this evening included a Flame Shoulder so fresh it made me wonder if it might be a third generation and more unseasonal, a fresh Bright-line Brown-eye - supposedly a single-generation moth that stops flying in July! Brown-spot Pinion was new for the year and a tiny one I nearly missed at the bottom of the trap proved to be Common Alder Midget Phyllonorycter rajella. Also probable Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, Small Birch Bell Epinotia ramella, Oak Hook-tip, Ruby Tiger and 2 Centre-barred Sallows.

 

Saturday 13th September

I arrived early at Burnham Overy and made my way down from the staithe car park slowly. A couple of Spoonbills were seen, and a Greenshank, but nothing remarkable before I reached the reedy pool. Here two more birders were already looking at the Black-necked Grebe. We exchanged a few words and I looked for the grebe, which I had missed seeing on the day it had arrived last time I was here. It was nowhere to be seen, having presumbaly gone behind the reeds, so they left me to it as they continued to the dunes. I didn't give the grebe long before following them down, and I could see them just east of the boardwalk intently looking at something. I could only see a Whinchat so I left them to it and headed off towards Gun Hill. It wasn't long before I got the message that they (presumably) had found a Barred Warbler, but I continued birding Gun Hill before looking for that.

A few migrants were around - in the end I got to 4 Whinchats, 3 Stonechats and 5 Wheatears - and I enjoyed close views of a Red-throated Diver, although I suspect it only allowed close views because it wasn't well. There were only a couple of others looking for the Barred Warbler when I got back to the boardwalk and they seemed to be focusing on the bushes around the boardwalk itself rather than east of there which is where I thought it had been seen. I moved round to look where I thought it was and immediately got views of the Barred Warbler in one of the hawthorns. It was showing quite well, albeit rather distantly, so I called the other couple round, at which point it disappeared. We gave it a while without further views before I pressed on.

There is lots of Spindle growing at Burnham Overy and I have long suspected it must hold Spindle Ermines, a relatively common moth I'd never seen before today. This morning I found 2 Spindle Ermines Yponomeuta cagnagella in the Spindle, so that cleared that one up nicely. Other non-avian wildlife included Brown Argus, Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, my first identified Myathropa florea (a Hoverfly) and a Stoat chomping on a rabbit. Saw a chap spending hours photographing some flowers last time I was here - didn't like to disturb him to ask him what they were but had a look there today. Turns out it was Jersey Cudweed - a very rare plant in the UK apparently.

Although I knew the staithe can flood during very high tides, its never done worse than lap round the base of my tyres before, and I've parked there over high tide a lot. I knew the tides had been high recently but I've become complacent and didn't check what today's was. I did later - 2.6m, compared to a high tide of 1.2m a week later. That makes it a pretty high high tide. It had gone down by the time I got back to the car - or at least it had gone down around my car, but it was still pretty high inside the car! The footwells had several inches of water swishing around in them! Amazingly once I'd scooped the bulk of the water out the car started fine and I have had no problems with it other than the carpets still being wet as I write this 10 days later (and resulting issues with condensation on cold nights).

Tonight's moths included White-shouldered Smudge Ypsolopha parenthesella, 2 presumed Small Clover Case-bearers Coleophora alcyonipennella, Barred Marble Celypha striana, 2 Oak Hook-tips, 3 Chinese Characters, Poplar Hawkmoth, Ruby Tiger, 2 Centre-barred Sallows and Grey or Dark Dagger.

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Red-throated Diver, Burnham Overy, 13th September

 

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Wheatears, Burnham Overy, 13th September

 

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Dog Vomit slime mould (left) and Spotted Toughshank (right), Holkham Pines, 13th September - big thanks to James for the IDs

 

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Myathropa florea, Burnham Overy (left) and probable Helophilus hybridus, Holkham Pines (right), 13th September

 

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Stoat, Burnham Overy, 13th September

 

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Ruby Tiger (left) and Oak Hook-tip (right), North Elmham, 13th September

 

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Grey or Dark Dagger (left) and Poplar Hawkmoth (right), North Elmham, 13th September

 

Friday 12th September

A party of 5 Pink-footed Geese east over Thornham in my lunch break were my first of the autumn, and 200 Golden Plover flew over too.

A Barred Rivulet was probably a re-trap of last night's but there wasn't a huge amount else to shout about - Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet was the best.

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Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (left) and Frosted Orange (right), North Elmham, 12th September

 

Thursday 11th September

62 Tufted Duck was a good count on the patch this morning but other than Marsh Tits and Kingfisher nothing else of note was seen. The best moth tonight was my second-ever Barred Rivulet, but there were a few other nice bits and pieces, including White-shouldered Smudge Ypsolopha parenthesella, Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana, Pebble Hook-tip, Lilac Beauty, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Mouse Moth, Rosy Rustic and Frosted Orange.

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Barred Rivulet, North Elmham, 11th September

 

Tuesday 9th September

Had a day off today but with lots to do and imperfect conditions for coastal migrant hunting I decided to do the local patch early and then get on with other stuff. Two Curlew flew south from Rawhall Gravel Pits and a Kingfisher buzzed around Poplar Lake. At Creaking Gate Lake a Teal showed a Garganey-like strong dark line running back from the base of the bill. With the flank feathers seemingly lacking dark centres I briefly wondered if I'd found a Garganey, but the lores weren't pale and then it dawned on me that Garganey doesn't have the pale sides to the tail that were all-too-obvious on this bird. So a Teal it was, and to make sure I didn't start down the Green-winged Teal route it kindly gave me a good view of its wing. With that one just resolved I noticed another odd duck behind it - a redhead Smew! A Smew here in mid-winter is good, but a wild Smew here in early September is nigh-on impossible - surely this bird had come from Pensthorpe? And if this one is from Pensthorpe then what about the two in February/March - were they from Pensthorpe too?

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Scalloped Hook-tip (left) and Flame (right), North Elmham, 9th September

 

Sunday 7th September

Very few moths tonight but Poplar Hawkmoth and Turnip Moth, and my first Lunar Underwing of the year.

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Lunar Underwing, North Elmham, 6th September

 

Saturday 6th September

Went to Burnham Overy for dawn, getting Kingfisher and Greenshank as I walked out. Some really huge flocks of Greylag Geese have been gathering in the fields south of the road recently - must have been about 2000 in the air at one point - and weirdly several hundred Mallards among them too. I was a bit surprised to see a line of 99 Egyptian Geese heading out to join them (plus at least 2 up there already) - don't often see that many in a single flock. There were a few migrants around - 2 Pied Flycatchers, at least 1 Redstart, 3 Whinchats, 10 Wheatears and an early Goldcrest. An Arctic Skua went by and a juvenile/first-winter Mediterranean Gull was at the rivermouth. Non-avian highlights included Grayling butterfly and Carnation Tortrix Cacoecimorpha pronubana.

Back at home the moth trap produced a new moth for me, Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella. Otherwise Bee Moth and Scalloped Hook-tip were unseasonal and the rest included 2 Poplar Hawkmoths and Square-spotted Clay.

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Pied Flycatcher (left) and Redstart (right), Burnham Overy, 6th September

 

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Blue Tits, Burnham Overy, 6th September - it's not all about rarities you know!

 

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Bee Moth Aphomia sociella (left) and Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana (right), North Elmham, 6th September

 

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Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella (left) and Common Marble Celypha lacunana (right), North Elmham, 6th September - don't often see the dark form of lacunana

 

Friday 5th September

177 moths of 39 species tonight. They included a second-generation Flame, a species that normally flies just once in the year from June to July. Golden Argent Argyresthia goedartella, White-headed Ermel Paraswammerdamia albicapitella, Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana, 2 Ringed China-marks Parapoynx stratiotata, Dark Pine Knot-horn Dioryctria abietella, Grey Pine Carpet, 2 Dusky Thorns, 2 Poplar Hawkmoths, 2 Copper Underwings and Svensson's Copper Underwing. Some of the more numerous moths were 9 Garden Rose Tortrices Acleris variegana, 11 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, 6 Chinese Characters, 7 Blood-veins, 20 Brimstone Moths, 33 Large Yellow Underwings, 10 Lesser Yellow Underwings, 14 Square-spot Rustics, 8 Flounced Rustics and 9 Snouts.

 

Thursday 4th September

Had the day off today so went up to Burnham Overy early to find some migrants. A Yellow Wagtail by the staithe and a young Hobby flying up the river were a good start. A feeding frenzy in the channel consisted of 30 Little Egrets and several Grey Herons in a small area - can't recall seeing such a gathering of feeding herons in this country - it was like being in the Everglades (well, maybe not quite). Greenshank, Kingfisher and Bearded Tits all called and Grey Wagtail and Green Sandpiper flew over as I headed down to the dunes. The bushes by the boardwalk held a few migrants including 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Whinchat, so I thought I might be in for a good day. I'd have probably done well to turn round and go back at this point, as the next few hours slog didn't deliver a great deal more! About 4 Wheatears, another Pied Flycatcher in the bushes east of the boardwalk and 2 more Pied Flycatchers at the far west of Holkham Pines were it.

In the evening I popped up to Cromer to get a piece of the Caspian Gull action. On my arrival the adult Yellow-legged Gull was the easiest bird to pick out, but I managed to get on an adult Caspian Gull without too much trouble. The juvenile/first-winter Caspian Gull was also there, and was especially educational as it wasn't as white-headed as I expected. Also a Mediterranean Gull. Another small-headed, dark-eyed older-immature (3rd winter?) Caspian Gull candidate was intriguing. Some features don't seem to add up though, and whichever way I read the primaries (given they are in moult) I can't make all of them right for Caspo.

Tonight's moths included Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana and Pebble Hook-tip, both new for the house, and 2 Frosted Oranges. Making up the numbers were 28 Large Yellow Underwings.

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Wheatear, Burnham Overy (left) and Caspian Gull, Cromer (right), 4th September

 

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Caspian Gull, Cromer, 4th September

 

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Gull sp., Cromer, 4th September - though Caspian tends to have a longer bill apparently females don't have to and the small almost Common Gull-like head look a bit promising for Caspian Gull; most Herring Gulls of this age have a paler eye but I think Caspian Gull would normally have finer streaks on the neck. The legs are very pink, not insipid as one would hope on a Caspian, but I'm not sure that's a problem at this age, and the ventral bulge is supposed to be a Caspian features. I'm not certain which primary is which as it's clearly in moult, but although the distal new-generation primary (excluding the hardly-grown one) has a long grey tongue I don't see any primaries that look like P5 normally should on Caspian

 

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Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana (left) and Frosted Orange (right), North Elmham, 4th September

 

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Eupeodes latifasciatus (left) and Shore Sexton Beetle (right), North Elmham, 4th September

 

Wednesday 3rd September

Tried Thornham again in my lunch break and once again failed to find any passerine migrants in the bushes by the bottle bank, although I heard a Whimbrel calling. While waiting I started to become aware of larger than usual numbers of Curlew, Little Egrets and other birds flying around the saltmarsh. They seemed restless, like there was an overhead predator in the area. I moved forward down the track so that more sky was in view and lo and behold there was an Osprey circling. It carried on circling for a while before starting to move west, and then looked as though it was hunting at Thornham harbour (flushing an additional flock of 20 Little Egrets) before continuing west. A nice bit of lunchtime action.

The moth trap was heaving tonight - better than I expected! Among its inhabitants were 42 species including Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana, Ringed China-mark Parapoynx stratiotata, Gold Triangle Hypsopygia costalis, 3 Chinese Characters, Peach Blossom (a very late example - supposed to fly in June & July though records throughout August and into September aren't unprecedented), Maiden's Blush, 5 Blood-veins, Sharp-angled Carpet, White-point, Centre-barred Sallow and 5 Burnished Brasses. Numbers (162 moths in all) were swelled by 6 Garden Rose Tortrices Acleris variegana,13 Brimstone Moths, 36 Large Yellow Underwings, 8 Lesser Yellow Underwings and 16 Flounced Rustics.

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Osprey, Thornham (left) and Blood-vein, North Elmham (right), 3rd September

 

Tuesday 2nd September

Another reasonably good night for moths with 132 moths of 40 species. I await confirmation of one's identity, but to my eyes it looks an awful lot like Bryotropha basaltinella. Will be a first for Norfolk if it is, but quite possibly there will be a less exciting explanation*. The rest included Small Birch Bell Epinotia ramella, Nut Bud Moth Epinotia tenerana, Brown China-mark Elophila nymphaeata, 4 Blood-veins, Sharp-angled Carpet, 3 Dusky Thorns, Turnip Moth, Mouse Moth, Rosy Rustic and 2 Frosted Oranges.

*Update 8th: Jon has gen detted the Gelechiid and consulted with a leading Gelechiid expert, and they've concluded that it was indeed Thatch Groundling Bryotropha basaltinella - a new moth for Norfolk!

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Bryotropha basaltinella (left) and Nut Bud Moth Epinotia tenerana (right), North Elmham, 2nd September

 

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Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, North Elmham, 2nd September

 

Monday 1st September

At least 7 Spoonbills on the saltmarsh at Thornham in my lunch break.

A better night for moths than I expected with 114 moths of 37 species. They included Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix Pandemis corylana, Small Birch Bell Epinotia ramella, Brown China-mark Elophila nymphaeata, Canary-shouldered Thorn, 2 Dusky Thorns, Iron Prominent, Pale Prominent, Old Lady and Rosy Rustic.

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Pale Prominent (left) and Canary-shouldered Thorn (right), North Elmham, 1st September

 

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