Saturday 28 July 2012

Done & Dusted

I finished up in Norfolk on Monday and we had a few excellent days weather with heat stroke being a danger best avoided. I am now the owner of a cracking tan! Birdwise it was steady but a handful of Arctic Skuas were quality fare. We tried to get a decent shot of this dark morph but the boat was so unsteady that it was impossible whilst moving.

We also had a Blue-tailed Damselfly alight briefly whilst we were stationary. Another crap photo I am afraid.

Common Terns were plentiful around the harbour with this guy showing nicely as we came in.

We had a few passage birds this week over the house with 9 Whimbrel and 9 Crossbills but we were short on the raptor side of things. A 1st summer Yellow-legged Gull greeted us on one day as we returned to the harbour. In the garden I found some Colletes bees on the Ox-eye daisies. Also included below is a Scorpion Fly and a really cool parasitic wasp Gasteruption sp.

This week I did my low tide counts around the Humber and managed a few Common Terns as well as some Broad-bodied Chasers. Not a lot on the wader side of things with Curlew and Lapwing being the most exciting. Not even a med gull.

Friday 20 July 2012

Caspian Tern. Spanking!

I was weathered off today so I thought it would be rude not to have an attempt at the Caspian Tern in the broads. It was still over an hour from Wells to Buckenham but on arrival it took less than 10 minutes to get a majorly excellent fly past. One of the hardest birds to twitch had been reduced to epic tickage in mere moments. On this pass I got some shots of it as microdots (included) or frame filling blurs. Damned tracking...

Microdot heavily photoshopped

Nevermind - I thought I would get better as the bird was obviously so easy. Hmm. About an hour later and I saw the bird again passing west towards Stumpshaw. I didnt see it again. I waited 2 hours at Buckenham and then cracked and went to strumpshaw. On leaving strumpshaw it promptly returned. Do I care? Not a jot - I had a lovely day enjoying this part of Norfolk and looking mainly at bugs. I managed to see a family of Marsh Harriers food passing and saw Scorpion Flies, Hover Flies and Dragons of all manner of flavours. I was quite happy. Here are a selection of my shots.

Sunday 15 July 2012

The Winner Takes It All

Or in my case a Birding Frontiers memory stick. I forgot to blog that I managed to win the Birding Frontiers competition a little while back successfully guessing that the animal rotivator was a wild boar and the lifer for the frontiers team in Hungarian woods was a White-backed Woodpecker. It was a popular answer so I was fortunate that I got in there first. Many thanks to Martin and his team over at Birding Frontiers for the memory stick. I have had a good perusal and it contains some corking ID work and puzzles ranging across the spectrum of species a WP birder will encounter. The articles are updates and workings of those that have appeared in publication or on the website with opinions and correspondence all together to give the reader an insight into whats really going on with some difficult birds and interesting challenges.

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...

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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