Sunday, 30 December 2012

Ready, steady, recce

With only a few days of the year to go, I decided to spend the afternoon having a good look around the patch in search of hard to get species.

The farmland section was pretty good with a nice flock of 23 yellowhammers and further on, 30 skylarks. Will be scoping those next time for any Lapland buntings (well you've got to dream..) A male grey partridge with 2 females, kestrel and buzzard should get the list off to a good start.
Down on the common its was a walk through the fringing birch and oak woodland in search of woodcock. Despite the recent rainfall much of the woodland was pretty dry but right at the end, in some wetter areas, 2 birds were flushed. Don't go too far...
Green (2) and great spotted woodpeckers, treecreeper, marsh tit and mistle thrush along with several tits flocks should give me plenty to go at.

Mixed birch, beech and oak woodland fringing the common. Good for woodland birds especially tits, treecreeper and peckers

Nice wet area found today although didn't have willies to have a trash through. Could be where I add moorhen, a duck sp and even a water rail to the patch list...?
Away for January 1st but the patch is going to get a good pounding on the 2nd!!! 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

'Interesting birds...'

Shock horror, I actually managed to get out of the office yesterday afternoon although I still didn't make it to the sea. Mind you, I cant complain too much as it was a couple of interesting sightings that slowed  me down.

My main reason for getting out was to test a 20-60x zoom eyepiece for my Swaro scope (another story). The first birds to test on were some brent geese on thee grazing meadow but as I was setting up my scope I noticed a large raptor circling in the distance, 1st target for the zoom... As  soon as it circled and showed its upperside I could see that the uppertail was white!! I radioed to Richard and Tony to come out of the shop but the bird remained frustratingly distant and always in poor light. The bird spent most of its time quartering over the saltmarsh, hovering regularly and dropping several times. The underwings showed the isolated dark carpel patches and dark belly of a rough legged buzzard but I don't think I had enough to claim for sure. The main thing that worried me was the large broad black tail band that came at least half way up the tail making the white area rather small (not a good rough leg feature I thought) but looking in Forsman, it fits pretty well... The bird flew off over Thornham and unfortunately I couldn't chase it for better views.

The 2nd bird was a little more straightforward. I was looking over the fresh marsh with one of the volunteers when I spotted a drake teal asleep on one of the islands showing both the horizontal and vertical white stripes of a hybrid green-winged/common teal. The bird was pretty distant but the stripes were obvious. I hoped it might still be around this morning for our WeBS count but lots of the teal had left the reserve. Another one to keep an eye out for!

25 twite on the east along the beach, shag and bittern were the WeBS highlights this morning and a look around the patch this afternoon produced several calling marsh tits and a green woodpecker

Monday, 10 December 2012

Just testing

I have set up an automated update to my Twitter feed so just testing if it has worked....

Ignore me, if you can....!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Toys back in the pram!!!

After the 'goings on' back in the summer my toys have been picked back up and I am ready to get back into the blog. I wont be blogging much about my ringing activities as that will be staying on Twitter (@pauleele) as you can't get into much trouble with only 140 characters!!

So why the return...?
Well, after several years doing yearlists at Titchwell I was wanting to stay local to home and have my own patch where there was nobody else birding and the birds are all mine to find. Along came the @patchbirding account on Twitter and an idea was born.

So welcome to the patch.Centred around the village of Sculthorpe it is a mix of farmland, woodland, gardens and some poor quality heathland in Syderstone Common.
Most of the patch can be covered on foot although there are a few roads for a quick boot around before and after work when necessary. I have looked around the area since living here but not really given is much attention but there is already a good species list. Marsh tit and turtle breed on the common and I have seen red kite, stone curlew, little owl, common buzzard and firecrest in the area in the past. Ringing in the garden will hopefully bring in a few sculking species.

Thats is for now, roll on January 1st...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

New Forest delights

In amongst the football, water fights, wrestling and cycling with the Rowlands clan last weekend, we did manage to fit in a bit of wildlife watching.
Biking around the forest tracks turned out to be pretty good despite 2 crazy children in tow. The highlight was a male honey buzzard circling low above our heads while trying to work out which way to go! Non avian stuff was also pretty good with silver washed and dark green fritillaries, painted lady, golden ringed dragonfly, southern damselfly and scarce chaser in decent numbers. A trip to the reptile centre (sounds naff but worth the visit) offered good views of smooth snake, adder, sand lizard and natterjack toad all within 15mins!
The coastal marshes around Lymington had plenty of waders but we failed with the curlew sand although 8 med gulls inc a green darvic ringed bird was nice. We did manage to get the world's worst views of the long staying night heron, just it's eye showing through the leaves!!

Just booked a week in Cornwall in early October. The website said your holiday starts in 49 days, bring on the yank rares!!!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Missing words

Unfortunatley, some missing words in one of my recent blog posts have caused me a few issues so I will no longer be posting about my ringing activities. If you are interested in reading about bird ringing then check out the blog written by the BTO at

I will still occassionally post here about my birding antics or you can follow me on Twitter @pauleele.

Off to Hampshire tomorrow for some spotting and crazyness with the Rowlands family!!!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Swift exit

Another early start for a CES visit to one of our coastal ringing sites this morning. It was a pretty productive morning with 20 new and 4 retraps captured. Highlights were 3 chiffchaff, 2 bullfinch (retrap male), 5 reed warbler and a retrap female Cetti's warbler.

The main highlights was the westerly movement of swifts. Back in early June there was a similar good day and in a sample count I had just over 130 birds wesst in an hour. Today there were even more. In 30mins between 06:10 and 06:40 I had 320 birds west with groups of upto 40 at the same time and by the end of the morning (11am) I had recorded over 540 through. Also over were 15 crossbill, single tree sparrow (yeartick 179), 5 spoonbill and small numbers of linnet.

Just been entering my ringing data into my PC and there have been some decent numbers in the garden in July. Out of the 78 new birds ringed, 23 were blackbirds along with 2 blackcap and a whitethroat.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cracking clearwing

Saw my first ever clearwing moth at work today. A visitor brought in a red tipped clearwing that he had caught on the Meadow Trail. Cool little thing.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It's all rose!

Today was a mid-summer WeBS count and I wasn't really expecting much about. The large knot flock seems to have moved off and there is only a small number of migrant waders about. Being a counter down I headed straight for the beach and left Richard with the fresh marsh to do and I would help if he needed it.
I had only counted a few sanderling when he radioed to say he had a roseate tern on the fresh marsh! Being a reserve tick I needed to see but had to finish my count section. Thankfully it was pretty quiet although a roost of 52 sandwich tern, 130 sanderling and a common sandpiper!!! was nice. A couple of dark phase arctic skuas were also about chasing terns close inshore.
I headed back to the fresh marsh as quick as poss only to be stopped by a couple of people for a chat. Richard radioed to say the terns were getting restless and I made my excuse to get away. Thankfully, despite a short flight, the bird was still present although the Arctic tern that had also been there had flown off.
Having only seen one in the UK before I was keen to see how pale they are and it stood out like a sore thumb with the almost white upperparts, black head and all black bill, the underparts were even still flushed pink! The news was phoned out and it stayed around for a couple of hours before flying towards the sea.
Not bad to see 4 of the 5 breeding British terns together on one island!

Few waders also on the move, 19 spotshank, 11 greenshank and 15 dunlin on the fresh marsh and with white rumped sands at both Frampton and Snettisham, it can't be long before we get something

reserve tick 266, Norfolk tick 279, yeartick 178

roseate left, common middle, sandwich left

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Garden Tick

I knew it was going to be 'one of those days' when I got to my coast ringing site this morning. I had planned to get up early but I could drag myself out of bed, so it was about 6:30 when I left home. Got to site put my wellies on, opened the boot and I had left the net poles at home...arse!!! There was not point going back to get them so I decided to do the garden instead.

This didn't start well as all the top poles pulled out leaving nets on the floor and me swearing!! It has been pretty quiet recently so I wasn't expecting much. Now that the flowerbeds are growing up, some of the birds are now hiding in them when I check the nets so I have started to tap the plants with a cane to push them out. First bird to fly out was a dunnock but as I went to get it out of the net I realised that it was a juv whitethroat, a new bird for the garden! There are loads of juv blackbirds about at the moment and 5 managed to blunder into the nets along with 2 coat tits (1 re-trap) and a male goldcrest. 6 crossbills over east was a garden yeartick taking the total to 51.
Afternoon trapping was slightly curtailed by yet more heavy thunderstorms and after a while I get fed up with open, close, open, close and shut for the day.

The sun is shining now...bloody typical!

Juv coal tit

Juv whitethroat, 1st record for the garden
male goldcresy

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


Given that we have had an extended weekend, I have made the most of it and got in a load of ringing.

The highlight of the weekend was getting my new site set up on the coast. It has got loads of potential for the autumn migration and should have some breeding accros present. The site is mainly dry reed with lost of nettle beds, willowherb, a tree-lined ditch running across the middle and willow scrub around the outer edges. Until I know how well the site will work I have started with a ringing rides across the middle cutting into the willow scrub on one side and the hedge in the middle.
Thankfully the rides didn't need any cutting this morning so we were able to get the nets straight up. It took an hour,but these things always do for the first time, and the 5 nets were up.
In spite of the strong wind and sunny conditions it was a very productive few hours producing 8 new and 2 controls including 5 sedge warbler, 1 reed warbler, 1 male bearded tit and 2 blue tits.

The highlight however was the control sedge warbler. As I approached the net I saw that I had caught a sedge but was dissapointed when I could see it was of the birds I had just done? As I got it out I checked the ring and the numbers looked far too big and then the address gave it away - MUSEUM PARIS, a French control...awesome!! There is a good chance that it could have actually been ringed in Africa so we will have to wait for some info back.

Also around the site was a singing grasshopper warbler, cuckoo, 4 bullfinch and a ringed male whitethroat near the car - will try for him next time!

In an attempt to catch some corvids, I have taken delivery of a spring trap from my mate around the corner. The rooks and jackdaws are very clever and have sussed out where my mist nets now are and keep well out of the way so a new direction is needed.

The trap is a large piece of netting attached to two long rubber strap. It is attached to two angled poles with a firing pin in each side. All you need to bo is bait the area infront on the net and wait. When the birds are in range, pull the string and it fires.

It was very success managing to catch 1 rook (ringing tick), 2 jackdaw and 10 starling.
Adult jackdaw

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


I have to admit that with all the rubbish weather recently I have done very little birding. The time I have spent in the field I have carried my camrea and got some varied shots.

Reed warbler trapped on our 2nd CES visit

Male red legged partridge that flew into my
garden nets. Due to the fact that they have
spurs on their legs you can't ring them.

Juvenile oystercatcher ringed at Bircham
Short eared owl on the way to work

The swifts and martins were very low (and fast)
and these were the best I could do.

Juvenile bearded tits as Titchwell. If you look
closely you can separate the sexes...the males
have pale eyes (left) and the females are dark
(right). The top image shows 2 male and 1

Saturday, 5 May 2012

CES started

Today was the first visit to our new Constant Effort ringing Site (CES) on the coast. The weather conditions didn't look terribly promising with a strong NW wind and the occasional shower. Despite the lack of any real migration and most of the resident birds incubating and not moving far, we had a decent catch of birds. The highlight was the capture of two Cetti's warblers, a new species for me. 22 birds were ringed including 2 chiffchaff, 1 willow warbler and 2 blackcaps. Hopefully numbers will improve as spring arrives.

Male Cetti's warbler

A walk around the Choseley area in the afternoon included 2 hobbies and several yellow wags but not a great deal else. The news of a female pallid harrier the had been further down the coast made me head for the reserve. If was difficult to decide where the best place was to view the bird so headed for the height of the dunes. The walk down produced a cuckoo (162) and a 1st summer little gull (163) on the fresh marsh. After an hour in the dunes and no sign of the bird I gave up.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Oh deer!

Had a bit of a surprise on the way home from work yesterday. Along the back road just south of Choseley I came across 4 red deer hinds in the road. As soon as they saw me they were through the hedge and off. I did manage to get a photo on my mobile but it is rubbish! It is the first time I have seen red deer this close to the coast. I assume that they are wild and not escaped from Park Farm at Snettisham. 3 birds added to the yearlist today, a nice female redstart (159) on the access road this morning and both whitethroats in the carpark.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

This weather is taking the piss now!!!

It is early May, the classic time for spring to start and what is it doing....chucking it down with a poxy northerly wind...fed up with it now. Decided to go out to Thornham Point after work this evening to see if there were any migrants that had braved the conditions. Well it was pretty quiet! 2 willow warbler, 1 chiffchaff and a male blackcap were the only birds in the bushes. A female whinchat (152) was in the scrub on the way back and a late female merlin was chasing pipits. The fresh marsh was pretty good with loads of swifts, swallows and house martins (still only see 3 sand martins) along with 2 common tern, black tern a hobby through but 3 brambling over reminded that winter hans't gone yet. Still managed to add 7 yearticks (158) but that probably says more about the time, or lack of, I have spent in the field recently. Bank holiday this weekend so hopefully the weather will oblige? Two new species added to the garden yearlist yesterday, house martin (43) and cormorant (44).

Friday, 27 April 2012

Pied piper?

Well it did feel like that a bit today. Just after lunch a report came in of a male pied flycatcher the the trees by the main path and as spring males are pretty unusual on the reserve, we went out to look for it. The bird was reported to be mobile and sure enough, it had moved off. Despite the poor weather for migrants (strong northerly with constant rain) there did seem to be a few birds about. Loads of swifts (100+), swallow and house martins were moving through, there were yellow and white wags on the fresh marsh and a couple of greenshank were reported. David also had seen another osprey moving through west early morning. At about 4pm the pied fly (151)was relocated and we were able to get cracking views as it fed low in the trees. The contrasting brown wings showed it to be a 1st year bird. Fingers crossed the weather will change for the better soon!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Need to pull my finger out!

Not really sure what has been happening recently but I have been missing loads of birds. Probably been a combination being distracted and the poor weather but I need to get it sorted. David was in early this morning and found a black-necked grebe on the sea along and along with spoonbill and the hawfinch he has nearly caught up with me in only 2 months!
From next week (unless it is chucking it down)before and after work birding is a must.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

150 up

A singing male grasshopper warbler on the edge of the reedbed takes the reserve yearlist to the 150 mark but it could have been even better. David had a hawfinch in the carpark on his way home but despite searching there was no further sign.
Swallow over the garden moves that list onto 42.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Bye bye Bluebell :(

After 4 years of excellent egg production and hours of amusement for us, I arrived home to find that Bluebell had died during the day! Being one of our original 'girls', it wasn't the nicest of things to find.
RIP Bluebell

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Farming and wildlife do go together

Driving through the agricultural heartland of the Fens (and much of East Anglia) you never seem to see much if the way of wildlife apart from the odd kestrel and dead rabbit!
As soon as I arrived I was greeted with at least 3 singing corn buntings around the farm buildings and then a couple of fly-over yellow wags (local breeders). Part of the day was a farm walk to look at some of the work that has been going on. It was great to see the skylark using the 'skylark plots' left in the cereal fields and there was loads of lapwing displaying over the fallowed area. Despite frequent hail storms there were good numbers of linnet, yellowhammer, corn bunting in all the fields and even a couple of buzzards over the local woods.
Where there is a will....there is always a way!
This fallowed area had a lapwing nest, 30 linnet, 5 corn bunting and a yellowhammer feeding on it
A small 10x6m bare area in a cereal crop is all you need for a skylark plot - this one has a male displaying over it
The water levels are not great but the wide margins are stuffed full of small mammals. Barn and little owls along with kestrel all nest in boxes about the farm.

Trying to be 'arty' with an oilseed rape field!
After the event, Simon took me on a mystery tours of some very bumpy backroads to look for some common cranes. Despite another sharp shower we managed to see 2 distant birds.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Damm north wind

The plan was to ring in the garden first thing and then head out to the coast. The hard frost put pay to opening my nets so I headed to the reserve. The weather was nice around the carpark but as soon as you got out of the shelter of the trees it was a different matter!

I wanted to get out to Thornham Point first to check for migrants and thankfully there wasn't many people about. As I got to the beach I met Stuart who was twitching the black guillemot so I soent a bit of time with him chatting and looking at the bird. Despite the sea being petty choppy the light was really good but it was too windy to digiscope.
The walk to the Point was very uneventful and I didn't even see a's mid-April for gods sake!!!!! Things didn't get much better, the Thornham Point bushes held 2 dunnocks and 3 woodpigeon and a sample hour vis mig count from the dunes produced 12 linnet and 2 swallow! The morning was saved by a fly-by male ring ouzel (146) that sadly didn't stop. A yellow wagtail (147), 15 swallow and 3 house martins on the walk back did brighten my mood a bit.

An hour looking for raptors from Choseley barns failed to produce anything but I did have yet another red kite on the way home.

Friday, 13 April 2012

The weather make all the difference

Easter weekend and the weather was wet and more importantly the wind was in the north. A couple of days later, the wind swings around to the south and the migrants pile in.
First wave was on Wednesday morning when were out bearded tit surveying. A singing sedge warbler (6 in the end) and 3 willow warblers gave a clue that a few birds had dropped in overnight. Next to be added and the least expected was a common swift west over the reedbed. This is the 2nd earliest record for the reserve and probably more amazing was the fact I still hadn't seen sand martin! That didn't last long a several small groups of swallows passed through including a couple of martins. An osprey west in the afternoon was the 2nd in a week.
With cloudy conditions and showers on Thursday were were expecting a fall of migrants. Sadly this didn't happen although I did add whimbrel (143) to the list. I had been in since 04:30 surveying bitterns so I was planning to leave early. We had been tracking 3 cranes down the Lincs coast but when they had turned and headed south over the Wash I headed off. From the gateways on the ridge you can get a good view over the reserve and the coast to the west so I stopped on the off-chance I could see the cranes. I was very surprised to see they were flying over Holme towards the reserve. I phoned David and raced back to get them on the yearlist. A couple of minutes later they were on the list (144)
The 3 cranes drifting off east.
Maybe not very obvious in this shot but the one in the bottom left was much smaller in the field and probably a female?
Now they would have been the highlight of the week if it hadn't have been for Friday 13th. Normally a day to stike fear into you but not today.
I was actually on the phone when the initial radio message came in and I could see people coming in to see if I was still talking. I knew something was up but not what it was. When I had finally finished the words 'black guillemot on the sea' were spoken.
'Are you sure' and several other words that souldn't be repeated were said and waterproofs were quickly donned. I could barely keep up with David and in no time we were watching the bird close inshore. It was moulting into summer plumage, the body was pretty black with the white wing patch but the head was still mainly in winter. Being a reserve tick for all and a Norfolk tick for many, there was a bit of a mass exodus from the office. Yearlist goes to 145, reserve list to 265 and Norfolk list 283. Short-eared owl and red kite made it a pretty good day.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Grey day

In more than one way...

Today was one of our monthly reserve-wide bird counts and the weather forecast wasn't terribly inspiring overnight. Thankfully the forecast rain didn't appear but it was very mcloudy and murky and the light was terrible. The wind has switched to the south and I was counting the Thornham Point section so I was hopeful of some migrants.
Things didn't start well as I found out that two shorelarks had been on the beach earlier in the morning and had flown west. I was walking the whole beach so hopeful of bumping into the them but unfortunatley there was no sign, not an easy bird to get back. In fact, the whole beach was very quiet and I only recorded 7 oystercatchers in over 1km of beach!
Things picked up a little once I reached the Point. The wintering 9 long-tailed ducks dropped in just offshore, the two males are now in full summer plumage, something I have not seen before. Heading to the tower to count the saltmarsh I flushed a pair of grey partridge (135) from the edge of the dunes. The saltmarsh, apart from a couple of RB mergansers was very quiet and I managed to miss the short-eared owl seen by Richard.
A quick stop on a bench overlooking the reedbed produced a swallow (136) west and a good number of displaying marsh harriers but not a great deal else. David has lucked in on a jack snipe that flushed out of the ditch when he sat down, a singing sedge warbler (1st of the year) and a male willow warbler.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Suffolk control

Just had the details back about a goldfinch I caught in the garden in mid-January this year. Instead of being a local bird, this is quite a nice movement. The bird was ringed in Suffolk at a place called Iken Marsh near Aldeburgh in December 2010 making it a movement of 97km and 399 days since it was ringed.
Spent a bit of time preparing a new ringing site on the coast today. It is a mixture of dry reed and scrub so hopefully I should get a few reed and sedge warblers this summer and maybe a goodie amongst them.....finger crossed!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

NE India 2012 pt3

Nameri at dawn
After our first decent nights sleep in a few we were up early (a repeated theme throughout the trip)for breakfast. While we were waiting for our guard for the morning we were introduced to birding India proper. Species such as great hornbill, greater flameback, scaly (White's) thrush, white throated fantail and grey-headed canary flycatcher were added to our growing list.
After a short while our guard arrived. Due to the presence of wild elephant, tiger and buffalo were had to be accompanied by an armed guard...just in case. At one stage in the morning I asked him how old the gun was and if it still worked. He said it was 50 years old and offered to fire a shot, I declined the offer!!
Our armed guard!

The main reason for visiting Nameri is to look for white-winged duck on the woodland pools on the far side of the river. A short boat ride and we were crossing the sandy river bed. Riddy shelduck, river tern and 3 sand larks and a paddyfield pipit were on the 'beach'.
The first of the pools we checked held no WW ducks but we did get a flock of 50 fulvous-whistling ducks. The the surrounding trees we had our first crested serpent eagle, wreathed and Indian pied hornbills. The woods were alive with birds but as with all forest birding is seems, they were a nightmare to get onto. Most of the flocks contained a bunch of green/yellow warblers but there were a few standouts. Little pied flycatcher, sultan tit, Whistler's warbler and yellow vented warbler. After checking a few more pools were struck lucky, finally a white-winged duck. Despite its rarity value, it wasn't really anything to write home about, bit like a flighty muscovy duck!
Fulvous whistling ducks
not the greatest photo of sultan tit - awesome bird though

A slow walk back to the boat allowed us to check the shingle bars for waders. Highlight was a flock of 4 great thicknee followed by 16 Indian stone curlews. We probably could have spent a lot more time walking the trails but by now the heat was getting and the birds were going quiet so we headed back for lunch.
The plan for the afternoon was a boat trip down the river in search of ibisbill. Dave isn't a good swimmer so he decided to dip out so if was left to the 3 of us and Abid to head for the river. The rafts were rather smaller that expected but once used to them they were fine. 2 guys paddling and steeering and were were off.
Our craft!!
The other boat
After a few wet rapids the river flattened out and we had the first birds of the trip, a group of small pratincloes flying upriver, then 3 ruddy shelducks. Abid stopped his boat near an island in the middle of the river where he had spotted 2 ibisbill. We both jumped out of the boats and had great views of the birds.
The rest of the trip was uneventful but we did add Pallas's fish eagle, river lapwing, osprey and Temminck's stint to the list.
This was our last night in Assam (for a while) we are heading for high country tomorrow!
One of many awesome meals

Thursday, 29 March 2012

An indifferent week!

With the the upcoming changes at work my time is going to become increasingly busy over the next few months so taking any leave is going to be difficult. My solution is to take a few days 'here and there' and head further afield for long weekend birding trips.
With Spanish sparrow (UK tick), dark eyed junco, rose-coloured starling along with firecrest and hawfinch I decided to head to the New Forest as my first destination with mixed results. Unfortunatly the sparrow didn't show (it was like looking for a sparrow in a housing estate!) but I did spent a pleasent couple of hours around Caldhot Spit before heading into the Forest proper. The weather was stunning and every man and his dog was out but I did manage to find some quiet areas of heath were I had good numbers of stonechats, several pairs of Dartford warblers, my first raven of the year and loads of buzzards.
The plan is to kip in the back of the van so I headed towards Boulderwood for a suitable carpark for the night. No problems and I settled in for the night. The only problem was I must have picked up a stomach bug at work the day before as I spent most of the night climbing in and out of the van being sick and doing what bears do in the woods - the worst night ever....ever!!
With not much sleep I stumbled around Boulderwood looking for firecrest and hawfinch but I really couldn't be arsed. After a couple hours sleep I was feeling much better and went in search of raptors. The site failed to produce any large accipiters but I did get loads more buzzards.
A trip down to Hordle for the rose-coloured starling also failed to produce so I cut my losses and headed home.

The rest of the week has been pretty decent. Managed to add several new species to the yearlist but it was kites that stole the show again.
While out checking on some contractors I noticed all the gulls up over the fresh marsh. A scan produced a red kite coming in from the east. The bird circled around and I managed to get a few visitors onto it. As I walked down to the hide I picked the bird up again. It was quickly joined by a 2nd and almost straight away, a 3rd! All three birds circled up high and went west. A 4th bird arrived over the reedbed and also headed west. Add these to a bird over in the morning (seen from the office window) and at least 4 common buzzards it was a pretty good migration day.

First blackcap and chiffchaffs ringed this morning.

Friday, 23 March 2012


Recorded 20.3oc in the garden today and it felt more like mid-summer that the end of March - even worked in a T-shirt at Snettisham yesterday, almost unheard of even in mid-summer!
The reserve was alive with birds singing including 2 chiffchaff and the first blackcaps (126) of the year. Highlight of the day was a pair of garganey (127) on the new reedbed area. I was out checking a few things out when I thought I heard the croaking call that the male garganey does. I had already checked to pool and not seen them so it was a bit of a surprise to see the swimming across the middle. The birds flew almost straight away but thankfully they dropped onto the fresh marsh. 60 black-tailed godwits over calling were probably the first migrants.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Golden delight

I have made many trips and spent many hours at Wolferton Triangle looking for the golden pheasants without any luck. Yesterday morning I was on my way back from the station in Lynn when I decided to stop for a quick drive around the triangle. Luck was in straight away as there were 2 males crossing the road! They didn't stay long but showed wel.
Later in the day I added a fly-over linnet (41) to the garden list

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bloody weather!!

The weather forecast for the weekend was unpredictable and so it proved. We decided to go for a Sunday ringing session as the forecast was dry for the morning. I got up a 4:30 and it was pissing it down!!
Every cloud has a silver lining though and after going back to bed for a couple of hours, the rain had stopped by 6:30 so I decided to open my nets. I grabbed some breakfast while the birds were arriving and was pleased to see a few birds had been caught while I was eating. Even better was the fact that in the same net there were 2 lesser redpolls.
Adult male
1st year female
I had the nets open for a couple of hours before the rain came again but not before I had a/the red kite over the garden again.
Later in the day the weather cleared and I was able to open for the afternoon which coincided with a another flurry of birds.
By the end of the day I had ringed 24 birds and re-trapped 2.
Greenfinch - 11 new, 1 re-trap
Lesser redpoll - 2 new
Chaffinch - 8 new
Blackbird - 1 re-trap
Song thursh - 1 new
Goldfinch - 1 new
House sparrow - 1 new
Blue tit - 1 new
1st song thrush ringed in the garden
Don't get many house sparrows in the garden so it was nice to catch this male.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Think I might be obsessed!

I seem to be posting loads at the moment but I am really enjoying it. I have had some feedback from people so it can't be too dull so I am going to keep going.

Despite a wet start to the day (thankfully plenty of office work to do) I still managed to add 5 new species to the reserve yearlist. First one was following a phonecall from David (he is going to find something big this spring) on Gypsy Lane to say a red kite was flying west. I radioed Ray who picked it up over the back of the fresh marsh and by the time I got down the path it was circling nicely over the dead trees - 121.
With the weather clearing up I headed out onto the reserve for the afternoon. Soon added a female stonechat (122) and a pair of wheatears (123) on the grazing meadow and then onto the beach were I finally caught up with the velvet scoters (124), an adult female and 2 1st winter males. A gannet (125) was a nice surprise but I didn't catch up with the sandwich tern that was on the fresh marsh.

Miss of the week, and probably the year so far, was the 3 hawfinches that were seen briefly drinking from the Fen Hide pool yesterday afternoon before flying west. I have seen several fly-overs but never had one on the deck on the reserve yet.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Flutterby ID'd

Following a message from one of my many beautiful readers (thanks John), I have been able to the ID the black and white butterfly from Nameri.
It turns out that it is a Clear Sailer (Neptis clinia) and looks to be pretty widespread throughout SE Asia.
While I am on the Indian butterfly theme, here is one I do remember. This is a chocolate pansy - lovely name!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

NE India 2012 pt2 a

Following a very early start (up at 2:30am) we were the only Western people waiting in the queue for our now delayed flight to Guwahati (something to do with low cloud). Eventually it left about 30mins late. The weather on the flight was clear and we had amazing views of the Himalayas as we flew east arriving in Guwahati in sunshine. The airport was very small (similar to Norwich) and we were soon through and meeting up with our guide Abid and driver Kanak. Bags were loaded onto the car and we were off.
Now every good birding trip is not complete unless you visit a rubbish dump or sewage works as the are usually great for birds. Our poison for this trip was a visit to the local dump and our quarry was the greater adjutant.
Rachael, Mandy and Abid birding the tip
Kites, adjutants and egrets
Greater adjutants
The roads were no better than Delhi and we were soon off the main road onto a track but we could see where we were heading by the large number of adjutants and black kites circling in the distance. As were arrived at the tip the scene was 'different' to say the least. Rubbish piled high with roads cut through, people everywhere sifting through looking for anything of value and birds everywhere. We had at least 180 adjutants, 100 black kites, 3-400 cattle egrets along with loads of citrine and white wagtails. Once Dave and I had got a load of photos and before we got mobbed we set off for Nameri.
Greater adjutants, cattle egrets and locals
Abid told us that the kites were black but I think that they may be black-eared, any comments?
I don't really remember much about the journey only that it seemed to take forever, something that we would get used to!
Crossing over the Brahmputra river was pretty special as the bridge (road above railway) was at least 4km long although there wasn't much water flowing at this time of year. A brief stop by some roadside pools produced 50+ lesser whistling ducks and 15 pigmy cotton geese.
A stop for tea gave us a chance to stretch our legs and we added black hooded oriole, crimson sunbird and small Indian mongoose.
We arrived fairly late (4pm) at Nameri and after having something to eat, had a bit of time to bird the local area. 3 spotted owlets were roosting in the trees by our accommodation and we picked up our first long tailed shrikes, Indian rollers and a couple of striated grassbirds.
Butterfly sp, can't remenber the name
Our first proper Indian dusk - Nameri.