Sun, mist and unusual waders!

Wednesday was hot, hot, hot!

We amused ourselves with moths and bugs found at home and this beautiful Painted lady spent the whole day enjoying the dahlias (in fact she returned today too).

Peter brought this handsome bug over, as I am sure you know it is a Box bug.

We had intended to go out later in the morning but the heat persuaded us that we would leave it till a little later. So after lunch we ventured out, our chosen destination was West Acre, thinking a lot of the time we would find shade in the trees.

We saw plenty of Speckled wood butterflies and also Small coppers (for some reason I didn’t photograph the coppers).

Once again we were fortunate to see a Kingfisher, in fact we saw two. Also some lovely dragonflies which I am still struggling to ID with certainty.

This juvenile Pied wagtail took advantage of a bathe to help cool down, it was about 28 degrees so I was a tad envious!

As we walked on, under the shelter of the trees, we met many grasshoppers and one frog. I am including the tree/berries pictures just to illustrate the sky really.

When we returned to the car it was showing the temperature as 34 degrees, of course once we moved it went down but not far!

The forecast for today was 28 degrees but up on the coast a more pleasant 22 degrees which sounded good to us. We had already decided to be at Cley NWT reserve for 9 am when they open up the moth traps. This was not only to be of interest to us but to Alan too on the last full day of his visit, (I think he will be sorting pictures for a fortnight with all these moths and bugs!) Our moth trap had been very quiet last night due to a clear night and a bright moon, we were hoping that Cley had been different.

With the temperature at a steady 17 degrees and a very heavy mist surrounding us it wasn’t quite what we were expecting. Sadly the reserve traps there were quiet too, but some people had brought along some interesting moths to share so we added a few to our number. We are determined to get along to Cley for the moth sessions again soon and hope some of the knowledge of others might rub off!

A quick coffee then out for a walk on the reserve where I hoped to see waders returning, well here are the Cley waders!

Not quite what we had hoped for, but none the less an enjoyable walk in spite of the heavy mist all around. We saw a few dragonflies including this Migrant hawker and this pair of Common darters.

We saw a good variety of hoverflies, hopefully I will be able to get ID on them all.img_9844-hoverflyimg_9855-hoverflyimg_9849-hoverflyimg_9831-hoverfly_edited-1

We had hoped to pop in to see Janice but that didn’t work out so he headed on to Titchwell where a Yellow-browed warbler had been reported. The mist went with us on our journey and Titchwell was similarly shrouded! It seemed one person had seen the warbler but that was all, no other sighting, so no luck there.

Better luck was had getting ourselves some tasty lunch to boost our energy levels ready for our next walk. We began with a walk around the Meadow trial, I was hoping for more dragonflies but not much joy there. Instead we had the beetle (ID to follow I hope) and I was pleased to get a picture of a water boatman.

Now remember the waders that Cley had to offer?  Well it was time to find Titchwell’s offering, seeing through the mist was the only problem! Dunlin, Redshank and Godwit also (not illustrated) sandpipers, avocet and through the thick mist we got sight of two Spoonbill, a year tick for Alan.

img_9918-titchwell-in-mistWe walked down to the beach and the sea seemed to be as far away as it could possibly be. Add to that the mist situation and we didn’t really see the sea at all!  img_9946-titchwellWe did find this little crab and later on the walk back down the path this snail.

Our day out ended and we set off for home and the usual very welcome cuppa!

A mixed night is forecast, clear till the early hours then it will cloud over so hopefully so moths will be attracted to our trap and maybe there will be more new ones for us all. We have really enjoyed having Alan and Judy visit and hope to see them again before long.

 

An unexpected PJ tick and more!

It turned out to be a rather wet and dreary weekend so we were pretty much stop at homes. Ian took advantage of the occasional dry spells to mow the lawns; that reads far more impressive than the reality!

We set the moth trap and got a reasonable number but not high and nothing new, not even for the year. It seems to be a long while since we had one new for the garden but maybe that is more about my memory than the moths.

Any way back to my tick. I love a lazy bath, preferably earlyish so there is plenty of evening left to spend in my PJs. Ian was watching football on Tv so off I went to listen to the radio, relax and return, complete with PJs.

I work on the assumption that no one is spying on me (any way I am decently covered you understand) so out I go in my PJs to check if any interesting moths have flown in. First trip out at about 9pm nothing exciting to report. Nearing 10.30 and I thought I would pop out again so I opened on of the French Windows to be greeted by this!IMG_9126 toad

I instantly closed the door, called Ian and reached for a camera before opening for another look. Eight months with no frog or toad then both within the week and I didn’t even have to leave the house for the toad. It was sat wedged right against the door frame and didn’t move. I popped outside and took a couple more pictures, went to look at the trap (nothing to report there) and he was still sitting there. An hour later and still he sat but this morning he was gone, good job really.IMG_9122 Toad

I wonder if he lives in our garden? Maybe he will be back again tonight or maybe we will never see him again, who knows? Our shameful amphibian/reptile list has doubled for the year this week. Now I am hoping for the odd snake or lizard to appear!

Well as usually happens day followed night and we decided to go to West Acre to see what we could find, hoping the Kingfisher might make an appearance and it did! It didn’t come in as close as before so no improvement on picture but it is always a treat to see one.

We were also entertained by dragonflies and hirundines, both dipping into the water and both so fast catching them with the camera proved rather tricky for me! There were Swallows, House martins and some Sand martins too, they seem to appear in a very large group, feed and disappear just as suddenly!

When we first arrived at the hides the dragonflies were very active but as it clouded over they were less evident. I only saw one land, all the rest were busy in flight.

We got a message that sent us chasing up to the coast, a Pectoral sandpiper was at Salthouse so we were off. Now it is true to say that when I think of Salthouse I think of the long road down to the sea with Little Eye off to the West and Gramborough Hill off to the East. The message said it was on a pool West at Salthouse, at least that was how we read it. So off we trecked through the stones to Little Eye but not only was there no bird there were no birders either!

On checkng the message we began to wonder if we were in the wrong place, is that road known as the Iron road? NO! Back we went, hoped into the car and off to find the correct place and now I know why it is known as The Iron road I may just remember it, the track has loads of iron in it, simple really!!! IMG_9148 Iron road

A short walk and we were with others watching a Pectoral Sandpiper, hooray, bird number 243. It was rather distant but we got good clear views through binoculars and scope. There was also a Green sandpiper, Snipe and other bits and bobs. I’m not sure what that is lurking in the vegitation with the green sand.

 

As we were heading back ot the car we heard someone call that there were two Hobbys, they flew overhead then off but were a nice addition to our trip.

Almost time to head home but first a detour for a cuppa at a private tea shop nearby that never fails to please!

Meeting the king!

We have had a lovely weekend with Mim and Terry some old friends visiting, catching up and of course putting the world right!

Summer has now arrived but it would seem that the weather doesn’t realise it yet so we are having to take advantage of any breaks in the wet. This morning we thought we would stay local and see if I could get a few photos. I was pleased we did as I have got my first pictures this year of the king, no not Elvis but a Kingfisher!IMG_3164

What a beautiful bird he is, flying by flashing his stunning colours. I am pleased to get the pictures that I did but am aware that a better photographer would have got the action shots that I failed to get! Never mind it gives me a reason to return and try for better!

Considering how brightly he is coloured it is amazing how he can hide, in a tree or flying past, one minute I could see him and the next he was lost.

He would perch then suddenly swoop into the water and find a meal, possibly for young ones as we didn’t see him eat anything himself. He seems to be a good dad as it was only the male that we saw fishing. Maybe they follow the old traditional roles, him the provider out getting the meals and her at home looking after the babies!

The water was alive with small blue damselflies, at first glance they looked like gnats but on closer inspection it became clear. At least hundreds were over the water, constantly on the move. There were also a few of my favourites, banded demoiselles and we saw a couple as we walked later. I have only recently discovered them and I have really fallen for them big time!

We didn’t see anything else very exciting  but here are a few that we did see, a cinnabar moth, a speckled wood butterfly, busy bees, a seven spot ladybird, a Mistle thrush and of course some poppies. That wasnt  acomplaint as any day that provides Kingfishers is a special day for me.

After a rather late lunch I thought I would go and do some jobs in our garden. I should tell you that fourteen years ago it was a patch of earth but it has developed rather nicely over the years until…we took a year out and now it is beginning to resemble a jungle! When we got home from Scotland I was pootling about in the garden, dead heading roses etc when I thought I would see if the budleia was in flower yet, shock horror I couldnt even see the plant! Well I can now report the plant is found and free to breathe and hopefully flower again attracting the butterflies…I hope!

I have noticed though that when I work in the garden something strange happens to time, it slows down. I could swear I worked for about three hours but when I came back in only one hour had passed 😉 oh well at least I got a few bits done.

 

Spring has sprung!

April 1st felt more like a summers day than early spring but we weren’t complaining! On the first of the month we didn’t venture far (having trekked the coast all day yesterday) so stayed pretty local. We did however have a lovely walk on a beautiful sunny day and get our first tick of the month so we were well pleased!

We went back to the private hide; having now got a second permit for Ian and there we were treated to plenty of little visitors. We had taken seed and nuts with us and I trampled through the mud to position them so as to entice the small birds in. I felt rejected for some time as no-one came, but later once one came and the word spread so along came many!

The little Wren was probably my favourite, if I couldn’t see it I could hear it and it was soon back flitting around again.

Blue and Great tits enjoyed the food we offered as did a lovely pair of Chaffinches.

A Dunnock was happily feeding on the earth until another one landed on the log, where I had placed some food, he was up there in a shot chasing the other one away. Honestly there was plenty for them both but the idea of sharing obviously hadn’t reach the bird world yet! Of course a beautiful, though noisy, Pheasant was a frequent visitor.

There were plenty of geese on the water and they, like the Dunnock, seemed to be in feisty mood. The moment another one appeared on the water anywhere near them they would chase them off, I assumed it was a male seeing off a rival but I don’t know for sure!

Here we come to the tick part of the day! The sky really was beautiful and we were treated to views of Kestral, Buzzards and a Red kite but the best moment of the day was when three, yes you heard correctly three Swallows flew over! A year tick and one that is always lovely to see, I know one Swallow doesn’t make a summer but three together make a jolly nice spring! I am including the only snap I got as these birds flitted and swooped around. There will be plenty more to come and I am sure later one will pose on a wire for me!

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Just one of three!

On Saturday we headed to the coast again keen to find some migrants, we had more luck than our last visit! The day felt as though birds should be arriving for the summer, the temperature peaked at 16 degrees which to be honest is warm enough for me at any time of year!

 

Having mentioned Ian’s health previously I am happy to say that I think he is getting a bit better, the tablets are indeed working, phew! Walking seems to be getting a little easier and whilst I know he is still not his usual self it is a relief to think he is getting there and once the next lot of tablets kick in as well who knows!!!

We began at Titchwell and were lucky to see a pair of Little ringed plovers, distant but clear enough to ID. We walked along to the sea (which was looking far stiller than on our last visit) where some Scoters were sitting on the water and some people were spotting Terns in the far distance but we couldn’t see them, never mind.

We moved on to Cley and instead of the main reserve we first went to the sea and on Eye field we found the bird we had been waiting for, my favourite bird a Wheatear. If you have ever visited my home you will find confirmation of my fondness for them !

 

We were also pleased to see a Sandwhich tern flying over the sea, summer is on the way the birds are returning, fabulous! There was no shortage of Black-headed gulls but however common they are they really are looking smart now and as usual this one was very vocal!

So that is four ticks for April, a good beginning I feel and our bird total is now 170

Also moths are picking up in both number and variety so I thought I would show you just two recent ones. A brindled pug and an oak beauty, both new for us and now our moth total for the year is 17. We also got another butterfly yesterday, a peacock. in fact Peter was in our garden and I got a phone message saying there was a Peacock in the garden, took a moment before I realised he meant butterfly!

To celebrate Ian’ birthday we had a family lunch yesterday and it is quite tricky trying to plan a surprise lunch when the other person is around all the time! I did persuade him out to golf one day so I did some rapid cooking which thankfully Peter ‘hid’ in his freezer!

Below you will see him with the fantastic cake made by our daughter Ruth aka Roo! Ian has Cornflakes for breakfast every day, yes honestly every day, so you can see what a great design choice the cake was! Thank you to all who celebrated with us, (including our son,  Andrew in USA via FaceTime) or sent him greetings.IMG_0461 Ian cake (Custom)

April should be a good month for us with birds returning and us planning to visit places further afield soon, I am very optimistic!

February round up

Well I can truthfully say the second month has been as good as the first and we have been very lucky to have had such a mild winter. The weather hasn’t kept us in on many days and to be honest we do need to stay in occasionally to keep on tops of routine jobs that need doing laundry etc!). We have had 23 more year ticks including two life ticks not bad for two months in. I was very glad to eventually catch the Pallid harrier as it took several attempts. Our other life tick was the Ferruginous duck, often called a fudge duck and was also one I was pleased to get as we had been disappointed by one a few years ago. Strange how some birds are particular about their breeding partner where as others, including many ducks, are more into free love! This was how our original fudge duck let us down as it was shown not to be pure!!!

Definitely the highlight of February was our trip to Suffolk, it was last minute inspiration and an excellent time. From the little Rock pipit as we walked to see the glossy ibis, to the warm welcome at the Eels Foot Inn.

 

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I enjoyed playing with my camera and taking some short video clips which I hope to do something with probably at the end of the year when I have time! Early one morning I was videoing this Mute swan when a young one swam alongside and they swam around mirroring each other, ’twas a beautiful sight.

There were ducks, waders and small birds to watch to say nothing of the huge bonus of the appearance of an otter! At last we saw our first Great spotted woodpecker of the years and I don’t think any day didn’t provide at least one Robin.  We met so many lovely strangers and I am not going to attempt to pick any favourites this month.

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Of course Suffolk was only a few days in the month we visited many other places, old and new. Moths have been almost completely absent again this month , I think they need the warmer nights to tempt them out. I hadn’t expected to be adding a sperm whale to our list, that was some sight but such a sad if inevitable end for him. A White stork was another surprise!IMG_8816 White stork (Custom)

The past couple of months have proved that Ian and I can be happy in each others company; I say this as we haven’t lived alone since the birth of our first gorgeous son in 1972! Two more equally gorgeous children followed and the three of them have always been and continue to be, the hugest blessing for both of us. Twenty years of fostering meant our time sharing our home with children has been longer than most peoples!IMG_7745 (Custom)

It has been fun getting out and about, deciding where to go and sharing successes and occasional disappointments. March has already got off to a good start and I am confident it will be at least as good as the first two!

Thank you for reading this blog, it is great to know you are with us! I do love comments partly as without them I don’t know who is reading as it shows me numbers but not names!!!

Here is the list of birds seen up until the end of February, the ones in bold are new this month, the ones in red are life ticks:

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Bewick Swan
  3. Whooper Swan
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. White-fronted Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Barnacle Goose
  9. Brent Goose
  10. Egyptian Goose
  11. Common Shelduck
  12. Mandarin Duck
  13. Eurasian Wigeon
  14. Gadwall
  15. Eurasian Teal
  16. Mallard
  17. Pintail
  18. Shoveler
  19. Red-crested Pochard
  20. Common Pochard
  21. Ferruginous Duck
  22. Tufted duck
  23. Greater Scaup
  24. Long-tailed Duck
  25. Common Scoter
  26. Velvet Scoter
  27. Goldeneye
  28. Smew
  29. Red-breasted Merganser
  30. Goosander
  31. Red-legged Partridge
  32. Grey Partridge
  33. Common Pheasant
  34. Golden Pheasant
  35. Little Grebe
  36. Great Crested Grebe
  37. Red-necked Grebe
  38. Fulmar
  39. Cormorant
  40. Shag
  41. Bittern
  42. Little Egret
  43. Great Egret
  44. Grey Heron
  45. White Stork
  46. Glossy Ibis
  47. Red Kite
  48. Marsh Harrier
  49. Hen Harrier
  50. Pallid Harrier
  51. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  52. Common Buzzard
  53. Rough-legged Buzzard
  54. Kestrel
  55. Merlin
  56. Peregrine Falcon
  57. Water Rail
  58. Moorhen
  59. Coot
  60. Oystercatcher
  61. Pied Avocet
  62. Ringed Plover
  63. European Golden Plover
  64. Grey Plover
  65. Lapwing
  66. Knot
  67. Sanderling
  68. Purple Sandpiper
  69. Dunlin
  70. Ruff
  71. Common Snipe
  72. Black-tailed Godwit
  73. Bar-tailed Godwit
  74. Curlew
  75. Spotted Redshank
  76. Common Redshank
  77. Common Greenshank
  78. Lesser Yellowlegs
  79. Ruddy Turnstone
  80. Grey Phalarope
  81. Mediterranean Gull
  82. Black-headed Gull
  83. Common Gull
  84. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  85. Herring Gull
  86. Iceland Gull
  87. Glaucous Gull
  88. Great Black-backed Gull
  89. Rock Pigeon
  90. Stock Pigeon
  91. Wood Pigeon
  92. Collared Dove
  93. Barn Owl
  94. Tawny Owl
  95. Short-eared Owl
  96. Common Kingfisher
  97. Green Woodpecker
  98. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  99. Wood Lark
  100. Sky Lark
  101. Shore Lark (horned lark)
  102. Meadow Pipit
  103. Rock Pipit
  104. Water Pipit
  105. Pied Wagtail
  106. Wren
  107. Dunnock
  108. Robin
  109. Black Redstart
  110. Stonechat
  111. Blackbird
  112. Fieldfare
  113. Song Thrush
  114. Redwing
  115. Mistle Thrush
  116. Cetti’s Warbler
  117. Dartford Warbler
  118. Common Chiffchaff
  119. Goldcrest
  120. Penduline tit
  121. Long-tailed Tit
  122. Marsh Tit
  123. Coal Tit
  124. Blue Tit
  125. Great Tit
  126. Nuthatch
  127. Treecreeper
  128. Great Grey Shrike
  129. Jay
  130. Magpie
  131. Jackdaw
  132. Rook
  133. Crow
  134. Starling
  135. House Sparrow
  136. Tree Sparrow
  137. Chaffinch
  138. Brambling
  139. Serin
  140. Greenfinch
  141. Goldfinch
  142. Siskin
  143. Linnet
  144. Twite
  145. Lesser Redpoll
  146. Mealy Redpoll
  147. Bullfinch
  148. Lapland Longspur (bunting)
  149. Snow Bunting
  150. Yellowhammer
  151. Reed Bunting
  152. Corn bunting
Moths     6
Winter moth
Mottled umber
Pale brindled beauty
Early moth
Common quaker
Early grey
Other insects.  4
Wasp
Lacewing green
Ladybird 7 spot
Ladybird harlequin
Animals ( or What no wings! )  10
Rabbit
Stoat
Hare
Grey squirrel
Grey seal
Roe deer
Muntjac deer
Red deer
Sperm whale
Otter
Grand total  172

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwich

 

On our way into Norwich we detoured to a friends golf club where a Short eared owl has been frequenting. We had a lovely walk there but no sign of the owl that day, never mind, thanks Di for the tip.

Since I first saw a murmuration of Starlings on TV I have wanted to see one for myself and word had reached me that there had been one (albeit a small one) over the centre of Norwich lately. So off to Norwich we went with the opportunity to stay a couple of nights in a good friends flat (thank you!). We waited patiently and eventually saw just a few Starlings fly in but we were beginning to think that was it as it seemed to be getting much later than we had thought. Suddenly several larger groups of Starlings arrived and almost instantly they moved around the sky as one group.

Musical accompaniment would have seemed fitting but the only one to was the traffic, people going about their business.I wish I could show you photos that captured this but sadly they are a poor attempt, I do have video so as I meet you I would be happy to show you. Although they were a relatively small group it was a brilliant thing to see and has made me really want to see one of the larger more dramatic murmurations so I am on the look out for that!

The next day we went to Strumpshaw Fen RSPB reserve where we saw Jack snipe, such illusive little birds. There were a couple of them and they were foraging among the cut reeds just popping out briefly now and again making photographs impossible! We enjoyed watching a Marsh harrier flying and she was later joined by a second one.

 

Ian’s favourite duck are Gadwall so these picture are for him!

A Canada goose and a Greylag seemed to be firm friends, maybe they are the wildfowl version of ‘The Odd Couple’

We went on to Hickling Broad hunting for Cranes but were not lucky, never mind I am sure we will come upon them later in the year. It was like spring and we have really enjoyed these couple of days away and Jack snipe brought our bird total up to 153.

 

Tonight the moth trap is set up so lets hope that produces something as the next few days don’t look very inviting to go birding!