October 2014

 

Tuesday 14th October

As I emptied the moth trap before dawn I could hear Redwings and Song Thrushes calling overhead - unlike some people though, the number of Redwings didn't seem especially significant.

I arrived at Burnham Overy at first light and made my way down to the dunes. An adult Little Gull bounced around in the channel and a few Lapwings and flocks of Starling migrated west. A couple of Grey Wagtails flew over and there were obviously lots of Robins around but until I neared the dunes there wasn't a huge number of migrants in evidence - surprising given all the tweets I was getting about huge numbers of Redwings etc. - why wasn't I seeing (or hearing) any? It picked up as I reached the boardwalk - there were evidently lots of Goldcrests in, while Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were also here - and some Redwings at last. A flock of Brambling dropped in. It felt rare. There were birds about and I was the first one down there, so off to Gun Hill to find that rare. I always like it when I'm the first one out here, and I couldn't see anyone else coming, so I felt like I had a good chance of finding something before the crowds turned up. Then as I went to head off towards Gun Hill there ahead of me was Lee Gregory. I later discovered he'd gone down in the dark and had been in the dunes since 7, and now he was taking exactly the path through the sueda I was intending to make, just ahead of me. That was disappointing. There was no point in following in his footsteps so I took the central route through the top of the dunes, finding flocks of Goldcrests and seeing another 20 Little Gulls fly east at sea. I took the north side of Gun Hill as Lee was already doing the south side, but when I emerged at the western tip he hadn't got any further. I flushed a Woodcock, spied a Short-eared Owl over Scolt Head and saw 2 Red-breasted Mergansers in the channel, and then saw Lee was still on the south side of the hill. When he saw me he waved his arms in the air to indicate that he'd got something, so I headed over. He'd had a few brief views of a Radde's Warbler, but it wasn't showing. Over the next half hour or so we got several brief flight views, but they were really thoroughly unsatisfactory. Each time it dived straight in to cover and never showed in the bush at all. I then wasted a couple of hours or so trying to see it without seeing anything, eventually giving up and heading over to the east dunes.

The Great White Egret showed distantly on the fresh marsh and every bush had Robins and Goldcrests in it. In Holkham Pines I looked hard for Olive-backed Pipit but only found Dave Farrow, fresh from finding his own Olive-backed Pipit at Wells. Returning along the south side I bumped in to a couple who were watching a very nice Yellow-browed Warbler. They informed me about a Great Grey Shrike they'd found at Burnham Overy. I heard Ring Ouzel calling as I left the pines and returned to the dunes, but couldn't see the couple's shrike. I glimpsed another Owl (probably Short-eared, but I didn't see it well enough) but apart from more Goldcrests the only other notable bird I saw was a Black Redstart. I heard from Connor and Kieran who, as well as seeing as much as I had at Burnham Overy this morning, had now gone on to find a Radde's Warbler at Brancaster, along with several Yellow-browed Warblers elsewhere - lucky lads but they deserved it.

I got back to the car nearly 8 hours after arriving and felt utterly exhausted and more than a little disappointed. I guess the birds I'd seen hadn't been bad, but when practically every person I spoke to today had found much better things and when Twitter and RBA were constantly pumping me with messages about rare birds all around the coast, I felt like I'd missed out a bit! I considered twitching Connor & Kieran's Radde's Warbler but in the end decided I'd wasted too much time looking for one of them already today. There was still time to find a rare, so instead I headed to the path running alongside Stiffkey Fen - a patch I thought probably wouldn't have been watched much (if at all) today and could easily hold a Bluetail or something. Unfortunately the only blue tails I saw were attached to Blue Tits and although I thought a very brief tacking noise sounded good for Radde's, nothing emerged before it got dark.

Moths tonight included a November Moth (a male this time, so confirmable), Mallow, 2 Feathered Thorns, Merveille du Jour, Yellow-line Quaker and Large Wainscot.

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Goldcrests, Burnham Overy, 14th October

 

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Chiffchaff, Burnham Overy, 14th October

 

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Redwing, Burnham Overy (left) and Merveille du Jour, North Elmham (right), 14th October

 

Monday 13th October

Strong NE winds and driving rain all day meant lots of birds were arriving, but in a lunch-break visit to Thornham I didn't see any of them.

A power cut meant there was a delay in my light going on tonight and no doubt that contributed to me getting fewer moths than some others did. I did get a few though, including my first Red-green Carpet of the year and another late Yellow-tail. Migrants included 3 Diamond-back Moths Xylostella plutella and among the rest were Mallow, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker, 4 Beaded Chestnuts, Barred Sallow, 2 Pink-barred Sallows and 2 Sallows.

 

Sunday 12th October

Birding the patch this afternoon was pretty useless - the highlights were a new site for Little Grebe and a good local count of 114 Wigeon at Creaking Gate Lake.

A Grey Shoulder-knot was the best moth in the trap tonight, sitting alongside 1 of 2 Blair's Shoulder-knots. New for the year was an Epirrita sp. (probably November Moth, but indeterminable being a female). Among the others were Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, 3 Black Rustics, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker, 2 Pink-barred Sallows and 3 Sallows.

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Blair's Shoulder-knot (left) and Grey Shoulder-knot (right), North Elmham, 12th October

 

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November Moth agg. Epirrita sp., North Elmham, 12th October - a female so indeterminable

 

Saturday 11th October

After emptying last night's moth trap I headed up to the coast, seeing a flock of 5 Pink-footed Geese in a field near Horningtoft on the way - a good local record as it's unusual to see Pink-feet on the deck so far south of the A148. With the high tide completely covering the staithe car park and no spaces to park along the road there I acted on Stu's tweet about the shrike showing well this morning and headed back to Burnham Norton. The Steppe Grey Shrike was still showing very well, which was very good to see (although less so when I realised someone had been putting mealworms down which it seemed to be gagging on rather a lot - how many rare birds have been killed by inappropriate deployment of mealworms I wonder?).

I returned to Burnham Overy to find the tide still just as high - it had been up to 2.7m, 10 cm higher than when it flooded my car a few weeks ago (which still hasn't dried out in the footwells!). There was space along the road now though, so I headed down to the dunes, enjoying a fly-by Kingfisher and several Bearded Tits along the way. There were 2 Stonechats by the pool and a Grey Wagtail dropped in by the dunes briefly. Andrew B had mentioned seeing it in Holkham Pines yesterday but I was still quite surprised when a California Quail jumped out of the bushes at the boardwalk just in front of me - a good 2 km west of where Andrew had seen it. It was quite mobile around the boardwalk area and called a few times. There wasn't a whole lot else around - single Wheatear and Chiffchaff in the dunes, a flock of 5 Mistle Thrushes flying west and a Lapland Bunting flew east over the sea wall.

Temperatures dropped sharply overnight and the moth trap attracted just two moths: Green-brindled Crescent and another Yellow-line Quaker.

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Steppe Grey Shrike, Burnham Norton, 11th October

 

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California Quail, Burnham Overy, 11th October

 

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Kingfisher, Burnham Overy, 11th October

 

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Large Ranunculus, from Dereham, 10th October (left) and Yellow-line Quaker, North Elmham, 11th October (right) - Dave bought the Ranunculus round for me to see as it's an unusually dark example

 

Friday 10th October

This autumn it seems like most night's catches have included at least one second generation moth of a species that doesn't normally have much of a second generation and tonight's was another Yellow-tail. A Satellite was new for the house and the rest included 2 Mallows, Barred Sallow, 4 Pink-barred Sallows, Frosted Orange and Pale Mottled Willow.

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Yellow-tail (left) and Satellite (right), North Elmham, 10th October

 

Thursday 9th October

Yellow-line Quaker was new for the year and Privet Tortrix Clepsis consimilana was another I don't expect to see at this time of year. 2 Red-line Quakers, Barred Sallow, 2 Pink-barred Sallows, Rosy Rustic and Frosted Orange were among the rest.

 

Wednesday 8th October

A marginal improvement on the moth front, the highlight being an unseasonal Small Fan-footed Wave. Also 2 Mallows, Green-brindled Crescent, 2 Red-line Quakers and 2 Pink-barred Sallows.

 

Tuesday 7th October

Another cold night and just 4 moths, the best being a Blair's Shoulder-knot.

 

Monday 6th October

Another cold night ensured few moths - 2 Mallows and 2 Barred Sallows being the best. The following photos were snapped in my lunch break.

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Black-tailed Godwit, Brancaster Staithe, 6th October

 

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Dunlins, Brancaster Staithe, 6th October

 

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Ringed Plover, Brancaster Staithe, 6th October

 

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Teal, Brancaster Staithe, 6th October

 

Sunday 5th October

Headed up to Burnham Norton this afternoon to see the Steppe Grey Shrike. Have only seen one before, in Lincolnshire, and this was a first for Norfolk so well worth seeing. A bit distant for photos but views were reasonably good. An interesting bird with more sandy buff colour than the Lincs one. Towards the end of the afternoon it spent a lot of time fluttering its wings - looked like some sort of display but not sure why it was doing it. Also at least 2 Red Kites there.

A cold clear night meant just 7 moths of 6 species, including 2 Blair's Shoulder-knots and a Green-brindled Crescent.

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Steppe Grey Shrike, Burnham Norton, 5th October

 

Saturday 4th October

Chestnut was new for the autumn and hence for the house this evening. Others included Mallow, 3 Blair's Shoulder-knots, Red-line Quaker and Pink-barred Sallow.

 

Friday 3rd October

Tonight's moths included my first Feathered Thorn for the year plus Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana, Double-striped Tabby Hypsopygia glaucinalis, Mallow, Black Rustic, 2 Blair's Shoulder-knots, Red-line Quaker, Rosy Rustic and 2 Large Wainscots.

 

Thursday 2nd October

For the first night in nearly 3 weeks no species made double figures in tonight's trap. Lunar Underwing remains in pole position, for the 17th night in succession but although numbers were down variety remains good. The 26 speices included two new for the house - a very seasonal Red-line Quaker and a very unseasonal 2 Yellow-tails. Others included Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Rhomboid Tortrix Acleris rhombana, 2 Mallows, Black Rustic, 2 Blair's Shoulder-knots and the assortment of Sallows shown below.

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3 Sallows, 3 Pink-barred Sallows and a Barred Sallow (left) and Small Spurwing Centroptilum luteolum (right), North Elmham, 2nd October

 

Wendesday 1st October

Is it really October? Tonight's moth catch included this pristine Rosy Footman (supposed to have one generation flying from June to August) and a Common Grey Scoparia ambigualis (May to August). I've heard of a few others who've been catching Rosy Footman recently so like so many species this year, they're clearly making the most of the warm weather and having themselves a second generation.

Everyone loves a Merveille du Jour and one made it on to the new garden list tonight. Other stuff included Parsnip Moth Depressaria heraclei, Large Fruit-tree Tortrix Archips podana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Mallow, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Centre-barred Sallow, 3 Sallows and Rosy Rustic.

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Rosy Footman (left) and Merveille du Jour (right), North Elmham, 1st October

 

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Sallows, North Elmham, 1st October

 

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