Saturday 18 November 2017

20171114 Caspian Gull RSPB Titchwell

Caspian Gull
1st winter bird cane into Gull roost on Freshmarsh at 1530hrs.
The roost here is getting better by the day and the birds are clearly viewable well before the fuscus hour.

Caspian Gull
Note damaged face.
Dark streaks around eye and on breast sides indicate 1st winter. 2nd winter birds show a cleaner white head and breast.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

20171031 Cattle Egret Stiffkey Flood

Western Cattle Egret
Parked up to check white dots about the cattle and found a second Cattle Egret.
If they haven't bred in Norfolk in 2017 surely they'll be added to the breeding birds list in 2018... 
Western Cattle Egret
20171116 Western Cattle Egret

Monday 30 October 2017

20171030 bleached Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Kelling Water Meadows

It that a pale or grey belly?
Note brownish-grey feathers on back within the mid-grey.
SJMG commented, rather bleached Dark-bellied, Pale-bellied look much cleaner.
AMS commented, the dark belly extends back between legs enough to eliminate Pale- bellied....the wash on the fore-flanks and belly is clearly grey, any wash here should always be slightly brownish on Pale-bellied.
In addition note the pale barring on the upper flanks does not extend down onto the belly or forward enough onto the breast to meat the black neck area.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose
Pale bird flew in with these 2. Note odd upper belly patch on left bird.
20171210 Pale-bellied Brent 
In with flock of 400 Dark-bellied near Gravelpit Hill.
Extensive white in flanks on this bird.

Thursday 26 October 2017

20171026 Spotted Redshank Kelling Water Meadow

Spotted Redshank
Confiding 1st winter bird.
Kelling WM is holding onto waders well. 3 Little Stint, 2 Jack Snipe and a Curlew Sandpiper today. 

Spotted Redshank
Little Egret
Demonstrating its skills in the shallows here.
Spotted Redshank
Bird still showing well against good light on the 30th.

Tuesday 3 October 2017

20171003 Photography Workshop RSPB Titchwell. Tawny Owl & Pectoral Sandpiper

Leaflet for Photo course at Titchwell this autumn.
A great time was had by all on the first day.
Pectoral Sandpiper and Ruff shot at Titchwell.
Birdwatch Scarcities review July 2017.

The  scarce but the commonest  American vagrant  to the British Isles a  Pectoral Sandpiper turned up at Cley on the 9th September and showed well from the East Bank on the Serpentine. Cley attracts this species consistently in spring and autumn as it is a very long distance migrant that has a keenness to go off course. It is actually the longest distance migrant of any North American shorebird wintering in deepest South America,  Australia and even  New Zealand and having breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic. The bird at Cley was a juvenile of the year and therefore has an excuse for being over this side of the Atlantic and way off course.  Unusually a Pectoral Sandpiper at Titchwell Freshmarsh recently at the end of July was an adult in breeding plumage. This bird was probably a female as it was dull and rather small and the timing suggesting  an early  failed breeder. One theory has it that adult individuals arriving earlier on the east coast may be birds that arrived the previous year and are undertaking the pattern of north south migration, but on this side of the Atlantic and wintering in Africa. Another possibility to consider is that the early birds arriving on the east coast are from the Siberian population and have therefore come in from the east.
Both Pecs associated with the bulkier Ruff providing a good comparison of the two similar wader species. Males of both species are larger than females by up to 30% and can be twice the weight.
Wader return migration is now well under way down on the Marshes with commoner vagrants much in evidence,  the vanguard of much rarer things to come....
Tawny Owl
Day roost beside the Fen Trail just above head height.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

20170926 Yellow-browed Warbler NT Blakeney Point

Yellow-browed Warbler
Bagged by Ryan and myself whilst checking suaeda spurs towards Far Point.
Bird in low veg with Willow Warbler and remained in this area for the afternoon.

Yellow-browed Warbler

With light ENE winds on the 25th and  26th September conditions looked ideal for scare drift migrants making landfall along the East coast. I had booked a seal boat trip for the 26th to Blakeney Point the day before and disembarked mid-morning  with the clear smell of rare birds in the air. I was also hoping to meet the young and enthusiastic NT summer warden here before his stint drew to a close.  Fortunately  he was in the  kitchen and keen to join the search for scarce passerine migrants in the sparse cover about the Point. On reaching the Lifeboat House garden it had already  become clear that the area was alive and hopping with migrants. Two Whinchat and five continental Song thrush were found here. The game was afoot. Every circuit of the plantation produced more Redstarts, Willow Warblers and Song Thrush,  also a lone Garden Warbler was located in the sycamores and a Brambling flushed from this clump. 
After checking other clumps we headed off to search the low shrubby sea-blight towards Far Point. Alarm bells continued to ring as we found yet more Redstart, Willow Warbler and continental Robins lurking under the low shrubbery, some almost under our feet. Over eight  Song Thrush were sitting out on the mudflats here;  an odd setting for a woodland bird. As we approached Far Point two birds were located in a very small clump of sea-blight and glasswort, one a Willow Warbler the other smaller and more active. Pulses doubled as we rapidly moved into better viewing positions and saw a strikingly long yellow supercilium as the small bird flitted up and down. ID was then confirmed as Yellow-browed Warbler the bird zipping out into even less cover of glasswort and sedges. It popped up briefly posing and  facilitating the required photo opportunity which was seized upon.
Of the many Yellow browed Warblers I have connected with in autumn this is the first found at ground level in low vegetation of scrubby sea-blight and glasswort out on salt mudflats. The backdrop of lush green sedges and crimson glasswort coming into flower really made the photograph unique. The bird remained in this area for the rest of the afternoon and was seen by at least two other Point enthusiasts.

The 1st record of Yellow-browed Warbler in Norfolk was of one shot to smithereens at Cley on 1st October 1894. Its remains are said to be in storage at the City of Birmingham Museum, well worth a visit for the required record shot I suspect...... H. N. Pashley the noted Cley naturalist and taxidermist records in 1925 that the man who shot it was only discharging his battered old muzzle loader at the bird so as not to take it home loaded.  Fortunately he took the remnants of the Goldcrest sized bird Home. This bird was then probably the fourth record for the British Isles in those early days of specimen collecting.

The 2015 and 2016 Norfolk Bird & Mammal Reports noted  exceptional and  excellent autumns for  Siberian Yellow-browed Warblers with over 180 birds reported, with a peak on the 4th October 2016 of at least 60 birds in the county. In recent years birders have now come to expect this arrival as an annual event , as 2017 has also demonstrated.
The 2016 Report from the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalist's  Society is an excellent publication and a must have for anyone with an interest in Norfolk's wildlife. Hats off to all involved in the sterling work required to get this report to publication each year.

10+ counted on the Point today.
Also found under suaeda but favouring the Plantaion.

Robin of continental race Erithacus rubecula rubecula
Exhausted just up from the surf near the Hood.
Another 8 found under the suaeda about the Point.

Monday 21 August 2017

20170821 Water Vole Cley Marshes

Water Vole
Hastily grabbed shot from bridge over Catchwater Drain. 
Hopefully numbers are recovering in Norfolk but this individual seems to be on its own.
This vole has its own little feeding raft here supplied by local wildlife enthusiasts.

Water Vole
The Otter family are still about the marshes and one theory suggest that this helps the Water Vole population by removing American Mink from the area.

On  21st August I was fortunate enough to catch up with a Water Vole that has taken up residence in the Catchwater Drain on Cley Marshes.  The little guy was just beneath a footbridge and gave a hastily grabbed photo opportunity.
Hopefully Water vole numbers are recovering in this region as good habitat still exists here. The unfortunate and invasive 'introduction' of American Mink caused a greater than 90% range reduction of Water Vole in the UK. More recent controls of Mink may have helped to turn the tide on this situation. Also helping this is the theory that points to  the recent range expansion of Otter and Polecat ousting Mink from their territories and thus allowing Water Vole numbers to recover. Let's hope a healthy vole colony can be established  on the marshes.

Saturday 8 July 2017

20170708 EDP field sketching article RSPB Titchwell

Many thanks to Carrie for the compiling and editing.
Excellent student sketches and notes from this seasons course.

Thursday 15 June 2017

20170615 Spotted Flycatcher Glandford

Spotted Flycatcher
Pair nested near the Ford this year in ivy clad tree.
Feeding young in the nest on 15th but by the 21st there was no sign of the family.
Appear to be very thin on the ground this year in North Norfolk and going the same way as Turtle Dove and Nightingale...??
Last summer we came across Spot Fly family of 3 fledglings on the Blickling Hall Estate. 

Tuesday 16 May 2017

20170516 Turtle Dove RSPB Titchwell

Turtle Dove
In the car park and very confiding following a long lurking period.
Is this the ultimate TDove shot?

Turtle Dove
Is this the ultimate TDove shot?

Tuesday 2 May 2017

20170502 Turtle Dove & Yellowhammer Choosley

Turtle Dove
Collecting spilt grain on concrete pad.

Turtle Dove
One of 3 birds on ploughed field.
Turtle Dove
3 birds just in from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Arguably the last 3 in Norfolk to make it through the Mediterranean zone.
Turtle Dove

Resplendent male
Corn bunting in song here also.

Sunday 2 April 2017

20170402 Stonechat Kelling Heath, colour ringed

History of the bird:- Orange/Green; Black/Metal ring no.Z057442;
Nestling 4/4; Home Heath, King's Forest; TL823731; 03/05/2016
Not reported previously so the ringer is especially pleased to learn she
has survived and potentially breeding.

Fortunately saved this shot which clearly shows black ring over the metal, not obvious in previous shot.
She has paired with a very bright black and white male on the Heath.
And by the end of May, John Wagstaff says that the C-R female Stonechat  from Thetford Forest that nested on Kelling Heath had at least three youngsters fledge successfully from her first brood.
1st summer female Stonechat
Kelling Heath
Many thanks to Stonecahat consultant Noel Elms.

Saturday 1 April 2017

20170404 RSPB Field Sketching Course
Many thanks to Carrie Carey Designs Ltd.
Field Sketch & Notes, Patsy's Reedbed Pool.

Friday 31 March 2017

20170331 Great White Egret Bayfiled Estate & Cley Marshes

Great White Egret
Non-breeding bill and leg colour.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret
No elongated plumes.
Great White Egret
Bird arriving on reserve high from the East.
Went down West side of Main Reedbed.

20170331 Great White Egret
In flight by Bayfield Lake.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

20170328 Gargeney Salthouse Marsh & Little Grebe by East Bank

Male about the East end of the reserve for several days now.
Little Grebe
In Dyke by East Bank.

Monday 27 March 2017

20170327 Red-flanked Bluetail RSPB Titchwell

Red-flanked Bluetail
Adult female...?
Re-located early on 27th near ground in mossy willow carr.

Red-flanked Bluetail
Fly catching around Dragonfly pond once the day had warmed up by afternoon.
Paul Eele's comments:
I was just on my way back to the visitor centre when a radio message alerted me to say that a red-flanked bluetail had been reported from the Meadow Trail! I was rather surprised by the news and if I am honest, I expected to find a robin. When I got to the Meadow Trail there was a small bird flycatching from the willows. I raised my bins to find there was indeed a RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL!!
The bird was showing really well and I managed to get some signal on my phone to enable me to broadcast the news. Before long people started to arrive and watch the bird performing well.  It is a migrant species breeding in mixed coniferous forest in northern Asia and northeastern Europe, from Finland east across Siberia to Kamchatka and south to Japan. It winters mainly in southeastern Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The breeding range is slowly expanding westwards through Finland (where up to 500 pairs now breed), and is a rare but increasing vagrant to western Europe. However, the local robins were not as pleased to see our special guest and started to chase it about causing the bluetail to become more mobile and elusive but still favouring the Meadow Trail. Having only seen them in autumn hopping around on the ground, I was rather surprised to see it flycatching from the tops of the willow bushes.
2016 was an excellent year in the UK for bluetails and Norfolk didn't miss out with two records of its own in the autumn. This represents the first record for the reserve after the single observer record in September 2008 was unproven.
Passing the time of day waiting for a Bluetail to show.