Heading north

After months of planning, booking accommodation, changing our minds, cancelling and booking again we are off…up north! We decided to break the journey up with a stop in Yorkshire to do some birding there, in fact the site we visited is in North and West Yorkshire! Fairburn Ings and RSPB site was to be our first stop and the journey was going well, ETA 11.30am but it wasn’t to be. Suddenly the traffic on the A1 ground to a halt and for about five miles we crawled very slowly along until we saw what had been the cause, a nasty looking accident. Thankful to have arrived safely we got there about an hour late.

It was a nice looking site with a really good visitors centre and very friendly staff. We spent some while overlooking the feeders, as we were told that Willow tits often visit them, not today it seems! We were treated to lots of Tree sparrows including this young one that sat on the feeding station demanding to be fed.

Nuthatches, Bullfinches and other small birds but sadly still no sign of a Willow tit. Off we  good walk out to some of the hides much of the time in the pouring rain. Not a great deal on the water but at least this little Robin was put off by the weather.

We enjoyed the visit and if it were nearer I suspect we would visit again but it was rather a long way to go and sadly no tick today. Off to continue the journey northward, next stop Darlington to Hall Garth Hotel our stop for the night and by the time we arrived the weather had improved dramatically. We were able to have a walk around the garden and golf course and work up an apitite for what we hope would be a delicious meal at the ‘local pub’ in the hotel grounds as an alternative to eating in the hotel dining room.

We found a small, ‘secret’ garden, a peaceful spot that with an enthusiastic Gardner at work could be beautiful. Then off around the hold course we went, I suspect Ian was feeling a few pangs of missing golf!

There must be a lot of work involved in keeping the course looking good but then I wonder if this little fella help keep the grass so short!

Well sadly our meal wasn’t a great hit, ok but not anything to make a return visit appealing! Thankfully our room is very pleasant and I think we will both sleep well. When we awake we are off again heading to Seahouses but we plan to detour on the way to the WWT site at Washington (sadly not D.C.). We are planning to visit most of their sites this year probably just leaving out one as that is in Ireland!

Hopefully the next few days will bring some exciting reports…watch this space.

Chalk and cheese

As different as chalk is from cheese was our target bird from yesterdays. No bright showy colours, no high wire acts, in fact nothing to really make you notice it if you weren’t looking! Today we headed to Overstrand, up on the coast, hoping to see a female Red-breasted flycatcher. I had seen one just once before and for Ian it would be a life tick so we were both hopeful. The other one I had seen was the day I first decided that birding was for me, I had been out with Peter watching a Red-backed shrike when on route back to the car the flycatcher appeared!

On the cricket pitch at Overstrand the message said, behind Leslie Curtis bench and sure enough there it was!IMG_1808 Red-breasted flycatcher benchTo be honest when we first saw her she was in a tree but it was later she landed on the bench, I don’t know who Leslie was but I like to think he might be pleased to have such a visitor!

She was an active little bird, in a tree, on the fence, in a shrub, on the floor this little bird liked variety! So although she is not a spectacular looking bird she was fun to watch and a sweet little thing.

Before leaving home, if we are going after a certain bird I like to have a look in Collins Bird Guide so I at least know what I am looking for. One thing it said about the flycatcher was that it likes to cock it’s tail a lot and let me tell you the book was correct!

We watched her, along with a small group of birders, for about half an hour when along came a Robin and chased her off! We stayed a while but she didn’t return while we were there and so far I have not heard that she did at all so we were pleased that we went when we did.

Later we enjoyed a walk along by the sea at Sherringham, the day had warmed up nicely and thankfully turned out much better than the BBC would have had us believe!

 

One of the many things I love about being out and about is seeing how other people enjoy the same places that I do but often in very different ways. Below are two example of people having fun in their way doing things I wouldn’t even contemplate!

Now this might have been the end of today’s blog if it weren’t for Peter asking us to do a favour for him. As we were heading to the coast he had asked if we could pop into Birdscapes (a lovely art gallery in Glanford near Cley and well worth a visit!) to collect something for him, no trouble at all and it turned out we were richly rewarded! Whilst there we were told of a place that is good for Nightingales a bird that I have tried and tried to see but failed over and over again. Just as it used to be said that children should be ‘seen but not heard’ nightingales are so often ‘ heard but not seen’ not today we got one. So thanks for that Peter!

After only about an hour of listening and watching something moved and yes it was a much wanted Nightingale, at last I can add it to my list.

So now our year bird list stands at 215, 15 of those are life ticks for me, not bad say I!

Birds and bugs…pretty ones at that!

 

It was another bright sunny day and off we went coastward to Titchwell after first looking at the moth trap. Not a lot there but we did have one that we had last summer but it was the first for 2016, a White ermine, another really pretty one I reckon.

We did make one small detour on the way and that was to see the Dotterels again in the hope they might be near enough to photograph. Well they were a lot nearer but in some corn stubble so again photographs were not an option. Over the weekend there has been a lot of bird movement but it seems most of them didn’t stay in any one place for long! We knew a couple of Stints had been at Titchwell but were uncertain that they would be waiting for us!

We were in luck, first a Little stint then a Temminck’s Stint, excellent two more for the year. They were once again distant and behind a wire fence erected to try to protect the nesting Avocets. We walked on up to the sea which apart form gulls and a few Oystercatchers there was very little about. We had just missed seeing a Peregrine falcon taking an Oystercatcher away in its claws being pursued by some large gulls!IMG_2756

I knew the marshes at Titchwell were tidal but I have never seen the change quite so clearly, one picture is as we passed by on our way to the sea, the other probably only about half an hour later!

A brief coffee stop and then off for a walk around the fen trail where we were serenaded by two Willow warblers. It took some while before I saw one and managed just one snap before it vanished into the tree again. We also saw these two Damselflies , Azure Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly. (thanks to James for the ID help)

We also saw Holly blue butterflies but they move to fast to picture. It really did turn into a scorching hot day and I think this Wood pigeon was feeling the effect, he struggled to stay awake, but failed!

We went for a late lunch at Brancaster staithe which didn’t have many birds but those that were there are looking smart. Take this Turnstone now in his breeding plumage.

It was time to head for home having had a really good day, I wonder what tomorrow will bring, but that’s half the fun!

Six legged creatures!

We have had a really lazy weekend and enjoyed every moment of it! Yesterday we enjoyed the sun in the garden and shared a BBQ with family whilst trying something new in our mothing experience! We had trapped the night before and got a few moths including a Powdered quaker and one new for us, the Least black arches.

I have read of  lots of people lately having Emperor moths in their gardens and I rather fancied the idea myself. The males, which are the most spectacular looking ones, aren’t attracted by light traps but they can be lured with pheromones. The excellent ALS (suppliers of all thinks mothing!) sell lures, tiny bits of rubber soaked in the sent which we hoped would bring one to our patch.

A few hours after hanging the lure I saw an Emperor moth but it just wouldn’t land and after a little while I watched as he flew over the fence and away, very frustrating. An hour or so later and he was back, fortunately by then Peter was here and he kept into action, net in hand and he was caught, that’s the moth not Peter!

IMG_2726 Emperor moth

Now honestly isn’t he a beauty? Not quite the image most people have when you mention moths is it?

After just a short while we saw another one and again Peter leapt into action and again the moth was netted. So at our first attempt to lure an Emperor we now had two.IMG_2706 Emperor mothsIMG_2714 Emperor mothThere was quite a difference in the colour, the second being quite a bit darker. They posed for photos and then were off maybe they will return another day. Another couple of visitors were the common green shield bug and a Small white butterfly both pictured below.

 

So without mention of birds we have still been pursuing wings this weekend, back to birds tomorrow I think!

 

Quiet days

Due to afternoon commitments we only had a brief time to be out and about yesterday so we decided to go for a walk fairly locally. I don’t know if it was due to the unexpected heat of the sun or general lethargy but there was a dearth of birds out and about! We did see this rather nice Mistle thrush and a family of Canada geese.

Today as we drove up to the coast I was expecting a lovely walk in the sunshine but as we neared the coast the temperature dropped six degrees and a grey mist appeared! We decided to head for Salthouse and see what birds were lurking there, the early answer was…not a lot! One Wheatear and a Meadow pipit  along with Stonechats which seem almost guaranteed at Salthouse

We went from Little eye to Gramborough Hill and as we walked up the hill the number of birds changed dramatically as lots of Sand martins flew overhead. The number picked up as they flew back and forth and we realised they were going into the bank beneath us so I went down onto the beach to get a better view. They were lovely to watch but the speed they move means my photos are of a less than perfect quality!!!

There are numerous holes in the sand bank but still they felt the need to squabble over them! I am hoping to return to the site and see how they get on with their nesting.

We called a halt to our birding day and went for a cuppa at Janice and Chris’ before returning home to do some much neglected chores!

Even sunnier Lincolnshire!

As we needed to call into the hospital again this morning to return the heart monitor it seemed to make sense to carry on up and visit Frampton Marshes in Lincolnshire where a Black-winged stilt had been reported yesterday. We hadn’t been there long at all before we say the bird, of course it was distant I hardly need to tell you that! In fact I reckon when I look back on this blog at the end of the year distant is going to be one of the most frequently used words, but hey it is better than disappeared!!!

We walked around the site beginning with a walk through a wooded section and between trees and shrubs we caught a closer look at the Stilt and even managed just a few shots.

As some of you will remember a Black-winged stilt flew into Titchwell and stayed about nine years, I wonder how long this one will stay at Frampton. On our walk we saw several Speckled wood butterflies and the occasional Peacock too.

The day was like a summer day and the birds seemed to be enjoying it as much as we were if their song was anything to go by. This Sedge warbler sat atop a tree singing for ages only stopping to move to another perch!

We saw several Whimbrel running around in the grass and today I got the first shot of a Swallow for the year as it was the first one that had stayed still long enough!

We met a really nice couple yesterday, (well it was due to the miniature schnauzer with them really) Chris and Helen and today we met them again as they are going for their best year I suspect our paths will cross again!

We got two more year ticks as well as the Stilt, we saw a Turtle dove and a Lesser whitethroat which as things stand bring us to 206 but we may be reconsidering a couple that we have included, we will see. May is getting off to a good start, I wonder what will be next!

 

Back in sunny Norfolk

Having got home on Saturday we spent the weekend with family visiting which was lovely, On Sunday we were in Kings Lynn cheering Roo and Stu on as they ran 10k, (I was happy to be cheering and dog sitting whilst they ran) they both did really well and I am proud of them both!IMG_2303 R & S

Yesterday was a day of getting to grips with some chores, luxuries like doing the washing and as April had ended I needed to sort out the photos from the month that I wanted to order prints of. Today, after a trip to hospital (Ian has a 24 hour heart monitor) we headed to Titchwell via Chosely where Dotterels have returned for their annual visit. We have a good place to park and look and we were in luck, of course they were a long way off, brown bird running around on brown earth so no pictures I’m afraid. That does make Dotterel bird 201.

It was a beautiful day and Titchwell was understandably busy a good chance to meet with other birders. We added bird 202 in the form of a Garganey a handsome duck but of course it was distant; he swam along then settled down for a good sleep!

It was a smashing day for a walk and Titchwell didn’t let us down, Brent geese were abundant on the marsh and in the air, Gadwall and a couple of lovely Little ringed plovers.

We had, rather foolishly, forgotten to take anything to eat out with us so we ate courtesy of the Titchwell café! After that we moved on to Sculthorpe Moor, and spent a little while in one of the hides watching the small birds and the birds of prey flying overhead. There was a pair of Bullfinches, some Reed buntings and the usual ‘garden birds’.

Overhead we saw a Marsh harrier, Buzzard, Kestrals and bird 203 a Hobby, considering it was a brief visit I reckon we did ok!

Now May has arrived the moths are getting a bit more interesting and I feature just two recent catches, a Muslin moth and a Swallow prominent. After getting home today I had a walk around the garden looking for insects and this tiny section of garden struck me as rather pretty, just a shame it is mainly weeds!!!


Tomorrow we make another trip to hospital so are panning to go birding straight form Kings Lynn again and fingers crossed I have my eye on something special, if it stays put!