Thursday, 12 July 2012

Lean Pickings

Its July, I have been working every hour god sends so it has been difficult to update the blog. Despite this there have been a few interesting bits and pieces since I last posted so I thought I would lob them all into one melting pot of a post...

So I journey to Norfolk a while ago and saw a handful of Hobbies including whilst in transit, whilst out jogging and best of all whilst supping tea in the back garden of the work cottage. Infact the work cottage garden is proving a raptor hot spot. The lack of horizontal vista and the reams of squealing Swifts mean that eyes are pointing upward and the proximity to the coast and the hills just behind has produced some goodies. A male Marsh Harrier circled over with backlighting making it look more interesting briefly. Sparrowhawk and Kestrel  are regular fare and I missed a Red Kite & an Osprey the week prior.

Hobbies are a daily sighting if the weather is clement enough but the premier sighting was last Thursday when we were breakfasting in the brief spell of sunshine between showers and my colleague spots a high-flying bird. It looked massive. I stayed on it whilst he ran for his bins. Once he was back and on it I grabbed my optics and we gazed skyward. Not a buzzard, tail too long, should be a honey - no tail still too long, hen harrier then? no far too bulky. It was about 1000m. At the same time we both blurted Goshawk! The bird had cruised in from the sea and there was no doubting the ID - must have been a female as it was enormous. It performed a huge stoop and rollercoaster - not sparrowhawk behaviour - and came down to about 600m circling high over the garden for 2-3 minutes before heading west. At the lower height the plumage could be seen a little clearer - a dirty undertail and brownish tones led me to juvenile female. I guess post juvenile dispersal would make the timing right. I wonder whether it came from the continent or from somewhere closer?

Otherwise bird sightings have been a little quiet with us managing to miss the Cley Caspo Tern but the first few seabirds are heading through with Manx Shearwater and a Arctic Skua passing in small numbers. A sprinkling of Little Gulls amongst large movements of Black-headed Gulls were a bonus as was a migrating Merlin. An evening looking for nightjars was ruined by inclement weather but we saw good numbers of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits on Stiffkey Fen. A Tawny Owl also posed nicely on a tree stump before legging it when I got the camera out.

The biggest event was an influx of flies and hoverflies in mist and light southerlies which had us plastered in them. We managed four species of hoverfly including the common Marmalade Flies, Eupeodes corollae (and another similar species) and the migrant giant Helophilus trivittatus. There were clouds of flies on the boat and in the water drifted by the wind and put down by the mist. Horrid but interesting.

Helophilus trivittatus

Eupeodes corollae
So that was my week away...

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