Friday, June 21, 2019

📖 Norfolk Short Break

☀️⛅️⛈18/20C Thursday/Friday 20/21 June 2019 ~A short break in Norfolk for me Thursday and Friday while Dazza is in France having a girlie few days with her mum. Plus a stop on route at Glapthorn Cow Pastures for Black Hairstreak.

One of (14) Black Hairstreaks during my short stay at Glapthorn
I've been planning to catch up with my mate Theo de Clermont at Holme Dunes Nature Reserve where he's spending the summer as a Warden for a while now and this was a perfect opportunity.

Ringed Plover at Holme, Norfolk
We met in the late afternoon on Thursday after I'd spent a short time at RSPB Titchwell Marsh mid-morning and I was treated to a wonderful tour of the reserve. One of Theo's main duties is overseeing the Little Tern colony at Holme and I spent a fantastic 90 minutes being driven around the perimeter.

Another Ringed Plover at Holme
Among the nesting Terns which I'm not posting pictures of were Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers and I was lucky enough to get some close-up views, particularly the plovers, which didn't seem at all phased by our presence. Theo tells me that there are currently (30) Little Terns on site after recent storm disruptions but (84) have been recorded this year on a single day.

Spotted Redshank along the access road
Along the access road to the reserve, the pools had a couple of Spotted Redshank, almost complete in their dark summer plumage and the meadows held many wildflowers including Pyramidal, Early Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids. I also came across a few species new to me which I'll post photos of at the bottom of the report.

Pyramidal Orchid at Holme
It was a real treat to see Natterjack Toad tadpoles too which I haven't seen for many years and although the adults may have been around I sadly didn't manage to connect. Also of note at least (10) Painted Lady Butterflies, which along with the (22) I'd noted at Titchwell earlier another influx year appears to be materialising.

View from Snettisham Coastal Park beach
After dinner, we planned to head off to Dersingham Bog at dusk for Nightjars but dropped in for a short time while the light faded at Snettisham Coastal Park. The treat here was a couple of Turtle Doves we came across, which appeared to be displaying, plus the makings of an excellent sunset shouldn't go unnoticed.


Nightjars at Dersingham courtesy of Theo
Dersingham turned out to be an immense treat with at least (6) Nightjars not ten feet above us churring and wing flapping. I'm not even sure how Theo managed to get a single image of the occasion in the fading light but to achieve what he did was amazing. While here at least (6) roding Woodcock, Stonechat, Tawny Owl, and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler only added to the twilight experience, only tainted by the many annoying midgies!

Closer views of the Green-winged Teal at Cley Marshes
The highlights Friday before heading back late afternoon included my first visit to the impressive North Point Pools at Wells, where (12) Spoonbills were present. The day ended at Cley with decent views of the Green-winged Teal on Pat's Pool, where a single Little Gull was also present.

More Images of an Enjoyable Few Days...


One of (12) Spoonbills at North Point Pools, Wells
Bloody-nosed Beetle at RSPB Titchwell boardwalk
Black-tailed Godwit from RSPB Titchwell

Red-crested Pochard at RSPB Titchwell


Early Marsh Orchid Holme Dunes

Black Henbane at Holme

Painted Lady ~ Looks like being another influx year

One of two Spotted Redshank at Holme Dunes

Viper's-Bugloss ~ Seems quite common around the Norfolk reserves

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

📖 Gloomy Brandon Marsh!

☁️13C Wednesday 12th June 2019 ~ After recent prolonged heavy rains, strong winds and cool temperatures I feared the worst when visiting Brandon Marsh this morning. Strangely enough, the River Avon had not flooded to the extent I'd expected but this can sometimes take a few days before the reserve can flood, so time will tell. Sadly though my worries were bourne out when I discover that all the Common Tern chicks, at least twelve to my knowledge, had been wiped out! Whether by predation or weather-related its a devasting blow.

Just one surviving Oystercatcher in this family of three ~ Photo by Alan Boddington
Even more of a surprise was that one Oystercatcher family which had three healthy and quite large youngsters only yesterday was also down to just one individual. A second family with two smaller youngsters could well have survived but the adults remained undercover during my visit so I was unable to confirm this.

A busy Willow Warbler parent
Thankfully it wasn't all doom and gloom with the woods alive with activity and noted today were a fledged family of (8+) Long-tailed Tits and various groups of Blue Tits and Great Tits were feeding frantically. Other youngsters included (3) Willow Warblers, (4) Bullfinch, (2) Blackcaps, (3) Green Woodpeckers and (2) Little Grebes seen from the Carlton Hide with parents.

Lesser Whitethroat
A new addition on East Marsh Pool was a Summer plumage Dunlin and from the Olive bench a showy and reeling Grasshopper Warbler, well I say showy buy not enough for a decent photo. From the Carlton hide a Lesser Whitethroat was more obliging.

Also Today...

Auricularia auricula-judae, known as the Jew's ear, wood ear, jelly ear or by a number of other common names, is a species of edible Auriculariales fungus found worldwide. This one found on Elder to the rear of Carlton Hide.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

📖 Unsettled Week Locally 💨

☁️ 🌧 ⛅️ ⛈💨 12C/20C Sunday 9th June 2019 ~ With the jetstream firmly positioned to the southeast of the UK the past week has remained unsettled, with a little bit of everything thrown in over the period. Storm Miguel moved through on Friday/Saturday and produced some strong winds with a gust of 39mph recorded on the onboard weather station, along with over 2 inches of rain.

Managed to capture this image from the boat window of an adult Reed Warbler collecting food. 
This week I've spent time around the marina and locally but despite the weather, the reedbeds have been a hive of activity with at least two fledged families of Reed Warblers along the mooring. A Lesser Whitethroat has also been singing regularly and the odd Common Tern drops in occasionally to fish.

My 1st Large Skipper of the year at the marina.
There hasn't been much butterfly activity, the cooler conditions playing their part but I did manage to find my first Large Skipper of the year along the west bank of the moorings.

Still image of the Chiffchaff Sp. at Draycote Water.
On Wednesday afternoon I took a walk along Farborough Bank at Draycote Water, managing to dodge the heavy showers and spent a little time watching, filming, recording and listening to a Chiffchaff along the boardwalk. From reading local social media some believe this is a possible Iberian Chiffchaff and some have decided its a Willow Warbler, another possibility thrown into the mix is a hybrid bird like those found in a small area of the western Pyrenees. I have to say that I'm no expert on the subject, although I've encountered Iberian Chiffchaffs during my many visits to Spain. The bird's song does have a few of the characteristics of the birds I've heard but its pretty mixed and my recording doesn't seem to capture the distinctive and some would say diagnostic contact call similar to that of a Reed Bunting or Siskin and so the actual origin of this particular bird will likely remain unresolved for some.

The first Meadow Browns are beginning to appear.
On Friday morning a short visit to Brandon Marsh before Storm Miguel arrived didn't produce anything new to get excited about. The highlights on East Marsh Pool, 6/8 Little-ringed Plovers, 4 Oystercatchers with 5 young, 2 Redshank their three young sadly predated, juvenile Caspian Gull, 2 Shelduck and plenty of Cuckoo activity. The nesting Common Terns do have young but I couldn't determine how many and the Sand Martin structures were also busy with birds constantly visiting. Today's visit was much of the same but with the first Meadow Brown of the year emerging and a Red Kite drifting over the centre mid-morning which was I think my first on the reserve this year! 

A stop at Stockton Cutting on route home also produced a Meadow Brown, along with Dingy Skipper, Brimstone and Common Blue but frustratingly the sun disappeared and I still haven't managed to connect with Small Blue this year. A small number of White-legged Damselfly were also noted.

Lots of Orchids to be found with Common Spotted and Greater Butterfly photographed below.

White-legged Damselfly

Greater Butterfly Orchid ~ Taskers Meadow/Stockton Cutting

Common Spotted Orchid ~ Taskers Meadow/Stockton Cutting

Closer view of Greater Butterfly Orchid ~ Taskers Meadow/Stockton Cutting


Tuesday, June 04, 2019

📖 Brandon Marsh ~ 'Tip' and River Meadow

⛅️16C Tuesday 4th June 2019 Wind SSE @ 6mph ~ After a short break from social media and a revamp of my blog it was back to some normality at Brandon Marsh today. I arrived mid-morning for a few hours to enjoy what little sunshine there was before the forecasted rain set in later.

Firstly though a massive congratulations to the Brandon Marsh Voluntary Conservation Team for winning the coveted Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2019 in recognition of our dedicated efforts at Brandon Marsh over the past 50 plus years! 

I spent my time around the 'Tip' area and along the bank at River Meadow.

Wood White ~ A recently discovered new species for Brandon!
Despite the cooler conditions, there was still plenty on offer with butterflies the main attraction, including one of the recently discovered Wood Whites, which I noted alongside my first Bee-Orchid of the year. Plenty of Common Blues to be found, along with the odd Small HeathBrown Argus, Small Copper, Holly Blue and Small Tortoishell.

Mayfly ~ There are 51 species of mayfly known from the British Isles today and they range in size from less than 5mm to over 20mm
Burnet Companion ~ A very attractive dayflying Moth
Along the river bank, there was plenty of Banded Demoiselle, plus the odd Mayfly and the meadow itself produced double-figure Chimney Sweeper moths and a few Burnet Companions. The only Dragonfly of the day was a ♀Black-tailed Skimmer.

A very pristine looking Small Tortoishell
Birding wasn't the priority today but at least four Garden Warblers during my walk was a good count and worth a mention. The most bizarre moment to report was the distinct call of a Peacock, which I heard twice towards the back of Old Hare Covert. I did a little investigation but couldn't find the bird, which I suspect must have been within the Barley crops on the other side of the fence! Quite a surreal moment so keep your eyes peeled if your heading that way.

Images of the Day...

♀Black-tailed Skimmer

Small Copper

Holly Blue


Bee-Orchid