Distant…elusive…mobile!

Distant, elusive and mobile are three words I dislike using about a bird but today I must! There had been a sudden fall of warblers in Norfolk (and elsewhere) recently and of course we were fortunate last week to get the Eastern crowned warbler (see previous blog entry) but it was time to go in search of more. Unfortunately I awoke on Monday with a thumping migraine and slept most of the day away topping it off with an early night! I really hoped Tuesday would be better and I was determined to go out birding the moment any reports came in. Unfortunately I didn’t feel a lot better than the previous day but out we went and the air did help (not a lot but a tad) and we were heading to Cromer. I should mention the weather seemed to be feeling similar to me as it rained most of the way! As we neared Cromer the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful morning.

A Dusky warbler had been there, by the golf club for a few days and it would be a life tick for me. We found our way to the golf club and although it is unlikely any of their members read this I hope they do. We met several players that morning and every one of them was delightful! Helpful with directions, interested in what we were after Etc so Cromer golf club got a big team point from me! We walked up to the lighthouse and what a beautiful setting it is.img_0671-cromer-lighthouse

We knew where the bird had been seen but saw a group of birders in a different place nearby so after a look in the original place we moved on. Indeed the birders had been watching the bird flitting in and out of the trees and we didn’t have to wait long. Here comes the blog title, not only was it distant, elusive and mobile but I was trying to focus through a banging headache and dancing lights, not ideal. I did see the bird and that is what counts, it was moving from tree to shrub and back again before being chased by a bully Chiffchaff! Not a chance of a picture which was a shame but under the circumstances I was happy to have seen the bird.

We decided to go for a walk at Cley and when we arrived there we were told a Dusky warbler had been seen on Arnold’s marsh, two in one morning that would be funny. We walked along the East bank but no sign and on talking to others it would seem someone had a brief view earlier and it wasn’t seen again, never mind the Cromer one was a life tick so no complaints from me.

There was no shortage of Greylag geese and also in the distance some white-fronted geese.

Also the now common Little egret, we definitely see more egrets than herons in recent times at least in Norfolk. Funny to think they used to be exotic!

We popped into the new hide on the East bank and a little bird flew through the hide nearly knocking my nose off, I have no idea what it was!!! Pipits were feeding on the still colourful marsh.img_0705-pipit

We decided to have a snack at the visitor’s centre and it was whilst there that we heard of a Barred warbler on the West bank! Soup downed and we were off feeling very optimistic as we could see a group up on the bank and the news was they were seeing it well, phew! We were there in a matter of moments and along with the group watching a shrub where it had been showing. It was a very busy bush, a Robin, female Blackcap and a Stonechat were among the other birds sharing the shrub with the warbler.

Out it popped, in, out and in again! At least we could see it well although again getting pictures wasn’t good. By this time my head had improved but sadly it was still not as I would have liked it to be. Time for a cuppa at my favourite tea shop in North Norfolk also known as Janice and Chris’, thank you once again!

As we drank our tea the pager kept beeping with news from Wells wood. An Olive-backed pipit, Radde’s warbler and then Aquatic warbler! Much as I really wanted to be back home it seemed daft not to go for them, before we set out the Aquatic warbler was corrected to an Arctic warbler!!! Off we went with only an hour or so of light left. We hunted around The Dell which was alive with birds including lots of crests and at least one Yellow-browed warbler but no sign of the ones we were after. It wasn’t long before the rain arrived and it came with a vengeance so we turned tail and headed back to the car and set off for home.

So we were lucky earlier with the Dusky and Barred warblers but not so lucky later on. The lack of photos of the day are testament to how I was feeling and the fact that I hadn’t even put them on the computer till today (two days later) tells you how I have been feeling but thankfully this morning I woke feeling a whole lot better so come on birds I’m ready for you!

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Late summer visitors

I am sitting enjoying some late summer sunshine and what gorgeous days we have been enjoying. Before I tell you about some visitors that came to stay I would love tell you about last Thursday when Peter and family came to tea. I opened the door and was greeted by Alice and Matilda standing close to each other with cheery smiles upon their faces. As they separated I saw why, there was little Daniel in his school uniform, it was his first week in reception class.img_9200-daniel

All was going well, he was enjoying school and I am certain school will have been enjoying him…long may it last!

I skip now quickly past Friday, (most of which was spent power hosing the garden patio and stones) past Saturday (rain, rain and more rain) too much later Saturday evening when our visitors arrived. My brother and sister-in-law, Alan and Judy. Only time really for some quick catching up before we were all turning in for the night ready for what promised to be sunny Sunday.

The weather forecast did not lie, it was a beautiful day, hot and sunny all day. We had decided to go up to Cley-next-the-sea and we parked in the main car park.img_9283-us-on-east-bankWe walked to the East bank and right along it ending up at the sea. There was no shortage of butterflies, mostly white and Tortoiseshells, also pleanty of hoverflies.

The colours along the way were just beautiful and although there were not a great many birds what we saw we appreciated.

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Back to the visitors centre where we stopped for lunch out on the raised patio still enjoying the beautiful September weather. We decided to head to Blakeney next where we walked along the sea wall, a beautiful Wheatear dropped by.

Not sure what this little building was or is but it certainly is in a smashing location.

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By now the heat was telling us it was time to head off, not for home but to Janice and Chris’ for a very welcome BBQ, all in all an excellent day!

Monday morning and we were having a visit from the tree surgeons, as promised they arrived at 8 am and got straight on with the job. A couple of hours later and trees were down or lopped, logs where cut and they were off leaving us with the rest of the day free. Moths and the hot tub called so we were all getting on with what ever we chose. This Speckled bush-cricket was found not in but near to the moth trap.

After an early lunch we headed straight out to Lynford water and the arboretum. We saw butterflies. including this small copper butterfly, dragon and damselflies

and I was particularly pleased with this one that landed on Alan’s hat!

img_9415-banded-demoiselle-femA female demoisel, we have seen lots of the males this year but this was the first female we have been aware of. The real treat of the day was seeing a slow-worm, it was anything butslow as it slithered off the path just in front of us but no chance of a picture.

This morning we set off for Castle acre priory, the first time Alan and Judy had been there and it is fair to say they were impressed. It really is an excellent place, (looked after by English Heritage), there are still plenty of remains to explore.

Also lovely grounds which provide shelter for all sorts of wildlife, including this tortoishell butterfly almost hidden in the dry leaves and this Buzzard out in the open for all to see!

Having just recently started a very small herb garden I love to see the very established one at the priory. img_9543-piroryherb-garden

Whilst looking around it we found several interesting little creatures! These included several garden spiders, a Silver Y moth and a Speckled wood butterfly.

 

But I made my best find whilst looking at the Silver Y, deeper down in the lavender plant I found this little beauty!img_9552-rainbow-leaf-beetle

It is a Chrysolina Americana or a Rosemary leaf beetle which may be a little easy to pronounce and remember! It is about the size of a Ladybird and really is a stunner although I read that it is a pest!

Time to leave the priory and head home for lunch before saying goodbye to Judy. Other comitments mean she must head home but Alan is staying on for another couple of days to see how many more moths we can find him, he has had over 20 new ones so far since he arrived! If we are really fortunate we might even find some birds.img_9513-us-at-castle-acre-priory

When the heat of the day has passed we may head out for a stroll locally and see what is lurking in the churchyard, but for now it is time to realx with a refreshing drink!

 

Just a tad breezy!

The weather forecast was consulted and the decision made, we would go out early so as to catch the good weather in the morning. Alarm set and we were true to our word, up and out and we were arrived at Salthouse fairly bright and early! As we got out of the car we realised it was considerably colder than recent days. Now we knew it would be a bit colder but we really were not expecting the wind!

Off we set, heading for Gramborough hill and we before long I spied a couple of Ringed plovers but were they Little ones I wondered? Even through the binoculars it was hard to see as they were, of course fairly distant and on the move a lot, but yes indeed they were Little ringed plovers.

It was good to be able to watch them for a while scurrying around.Battling cold and wind we moved on  Linnets were flying past in groups, making occasional stop offs.IMG_0555 Linnet (Custom)

We walked around the hill but couldn’t find anything else of interest, so we set off for Little eye. The walk along the shingle bank was a bit of a battle against the wind it amazes me that birds can still fly on such days!

I have said before that Little eye, Salthouse is one of my favourite placed and that Wheatears are my favourite birds so it doesn’t take much imagination to work out that Wheatears on Little eye are a real treat! The weather didn’t feel a bit like it but seeing Wheatears there made it feel like spring!

We saw a couple of Stonechats and plenty of Skylarks and Meadow pipits like the one here.IMG_0566 (Custom)

We left Salthouse for a coffee stop at Cley and to see what else was in the area before deciding where to go next. There had been a Whimbrel seen from the East bank at Cley a day or so ago so we decided to try our luck at that. No luck, in fact it was very quiet there and the rain was slowly arriving. We saw this single Ruff before heading for cover and decided to call it a day.

I was home for several hours and a couple of hot drinks before I started to defrost! I think the past few outings have spoiled me somewhat when it come to weather. A few days ago the temperature peaked at 16 degree today it managed a meagre 7 degrees but at least the birds are still showing up!

 

 

Good Friday reflections

My Good Friday began with breakfast of a cuppa and a toasted hot cross bun, well to be honest two! The sky was blue and it looked to be the excellent day the weather folk had promised us.

10am and time for church, time to reflect on the reason for this Easter weekend, for Good Friday. A lovely service, helping us to focus on the events of the first Good Friday, thank you Stephen.

We had decided to head up to the coast hoping to see a summer migrant or two but no luck with finding any. As I found myself to be still in reflective mood I decided to focus on just that, reflections.

Of course you can reflect on life and death, the future, the past anything that is in your mind and you can do it anywhere, but a nice setting helps!

Reflecting alone can be good…

or maybe with a friend or partner…

or it can be a group activity!

The groups above both the Godwits and the Dunlin are in ‘family’ groups but it can be fun to reflect with others too.IMG_0157 Redshank and Godwit (Custom)

If it doesn’t go well you can always walk away!!!

IMG_0158 Godwit and Redshank (Custom)

Little Eye at Salthouse is a favourite place for me, apart from the obvious joy of birding it is a wonderful place to reflect as you go or while you take the weight of your feet!

I haven’t said much about the strangers we have been meeting lately but I will tell you about one today. On Little Eye, tucked in on the side was a chap engrossed in drawing. With his permission I peeped at his work and he was drawing the scene there, as he said not an exact replica but with his own slant, it was looking good. We chatted a little about birds and life and it was a pleasure to meet him.

We went on to Cley, where in fact almost all of the photos above were taken. I think the little Dunlin were my favourite there today but they were soon to be pipped for the bird of the day accolade! We ended our birding day with a brisk walk down the East bank which was in fact rather quiet until we reached the steps back at the car park. Three common cranes flew almost over my head! Off over the trees they went but it was a thrill to see them so unexpectedly, bird number 162.

What a good Good Friday it has been, tomorrow Easter Saturday will probably be a quiet day and then comes Easter Sunday a day to celebrate.