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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Orwell Bridge Buzzard

A trip down south yesterday Monday 20 June, I managed to see a Common Buzzard flying over the A12 just before the Orwell Bridge. It's interesting to note more Crossbills were seen in Norfolk/ Suffolk today, perhaps the ones I heard the other day flying over the garden were the vanguard?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Rain stopped play!

This weekend has been a wash out with frequent heavy down pours and thunderstorms.
This is not good weather for me as the atmospheric conditions frequently give me migraines, and this weekend proved no exception.
On Thursday 16th June, I looked on Fallowfields and could only find a paltry 10 Orchids, 3 Southern Marsh Orchid and 7 hybrid Orchids (Southern Marsh X Spotted) ones all in the usual place.
Sunday 19th June, at 12.20 to 12.25pm, the excellent Hummingbird Hawk Moth visited the garden again feeding from the Red Valerian flowers again.
Also just afterwards, at 12.30pm I heard the distinctive "chup chup" calls of Crossbills flying over (probably a single figure flock appearing to go west) but try as i might I couldn't see the birds.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Smoky Falcon, a male Red- footed Falcon at Horsey

A tip off from work colleague and friend Peter C that he had seen the male Red- foot down at Horsey from the Nelson Head Pub track yesterday evening had me keen to make up for not going to see them at Hickling Broad at the weekend. So picking up OFB we drove north and parked near the track, also fortunately meeting Chris Ba and then walking down, other walkers told us they (the male and female were still there) Walking down to near the end, we could see 3 birders scoping something just south of them, I could see the excellent immature 1st summer male Red footed Falcon perched on the fence post just by the track, and 75 yards away from the bird was well known rare bird photographer Rob Wils who was busy snapping away, the bird then flew over the field towards us and then over the next few hours hunted for insects mainly dragonflies, seen feeding in flight and then settling on fence and gates posts mainly in the field stretching north of the vertical entrance track. He was an ash grey colour, darker grey above with an inflection of chestnut on his nape and lighter grey below, with chestnut undertail coverts and bright red legs. Over the southern field, we were also fortunate to see a Hobby hunting, and a second Hobby hunting behind or north of the hunting male Red footed falcon in a similar hunting style. Sadly, we didn't see the female Red- foot at all.
The Red- foot treated us to a fine display of hawking and hunting for flying insects, it would fly very low over the field then often fly up high chasing a dragonfly and then over the dunes and would often settle on the fence posts on the western border of the north field. It often flew past us quickly very close to us. On two memorable occasions it perched on fence posts bordering the beach (where we were joined by Richard W) and we managed a few distant shots from 100 yards away. It also perched briefly on the fence posts near the beach and later on by the bushes near the track too. 
By the beach dunes tracks some teenagers driving a hideous buggy vehicle along the track towards us, flushed 2 Cuckoo that flew towards us and north over the field, although unfortunately against the light when they flew by us. Near the end of the beach track on the south side of the path, I noticed 4 very fine looking Southern Marsh Orchids in full bloom. Finally walking back the Red- footed Falcon flew and perched on a post by the bushes right by the track about 80 yards away.
Walking back 4 Goldfinch seen feeding on the path plus a close feeding male Reed Bunting seen very briefly.
A Yellowhammer was heard calling from a tree near the entrance to the track.
Finally, driving back through Great Yarmouth, an Oystercatcher was seen by the Vauxhall roundabout.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Carlton Marshes Cuckoo

An evening circular walk around Carlton Marshes taking the northern path and then coming back along the track was very pleasant this evening, lots of Reed Buntings c30 seen and a few 5 Whitethroats and several 2 Sedge warblers, one buzzing at me from a bush and 1 youngster near the start of the walk were noted. Back along the north path, half way along several large Dragonflies seen, at least 3 were Norfolk Hawkers and the others couldn't be specifically identified, may have been Hairies? A large caterpillar was that of a Drinker Moth and a Small Tortoiseshell was seen briefly on several plants but was camera shy. In the distant field a Barn Owl was hunting on full sunny daylight and by the Owl box one shot past flying north towards Fisher Row. A Cuckoo was heard from the direction of Fisher Row, whilst a male Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds, I spotted a Cuckoo (from afar- see pic best I could get need to try again for a better one!) near the return track perched up on some dead branches of a bush as I managed to get close to the bush the Cuckoo frustratingly dropped to the lower branches of the bush and was obscured from where I was, but a couple walking past just at the wrong time, flushed the Cuckoo and it flew east down a dyke to some other bushes I saw the Cuckoo here briefly before it flew out to a field south of here and it perched up again before flying back to its original bushes and then finally visited bushes just south of the northern path and even sat up in a dead tree by the main north path.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Turquoise Blue beauty, a stunning Roller!

Finally the long wait for a British Roller is over, when the news broke of a Roller in Suffolk at Upper Hollesley Common at lunchtime, it was an agonising wait all afternoon until leaving time at 5.30pm.
Picking up Rob W, en route at Lowestoft, we drove down (an hours drive) to the site near Woodbridge, which is actually reached on the road almost opposite the Sutton Hoo historic site.
Upper Hollesley Common borders an RAF base (we frequently saw RAF Apache helicopters flying over, at least 3 were seen) and the bird in question, an absolutely stunning adult Roller, (a personal British tick) was often perched on a bush just in side the base, but often partially obscured by having to look at some distance through 2 fences. The Roller was a large obvious bird sitting out in full view in the bush, the size of a crow, it was first picked out by its stunning turquoise blue plumage, the turquoise blue was on the head, face, crown, upper and lower wing coverts, underparts and tail. The flight feathers were a darker blue colour, its back was a contrasting rich chestnut colour. It had a thick black bill with blackish lores and whitish throat. An absolute stunner of a bird, especially when it flew an incredible and wonderful looping flight high up in the sky, doing a loop the loop like a Spitfire doing the Immelman turn, obviously hunting for flying insects. In flight the wingers were pointed with a long turquoise blue tail. It spent the first hour or so sitting in its favoured bush within the compound, but as the evening wore on, it took increasing frequent flights dropping down to the ground and catching beetles and returning to its favoured bush perch. It would promptly wolf them down, the Roller then flew to the inner fence and perched up in full view, its beauty again admired the turquoise blue on the head really stood out albeit distantly and a few record shots (one poor quality one is reproduced here- taken from 300 yards away!) were obtained. 
At this point the lovely fluting "lulla-lulla" song of one of my favourite songsters a gorgeous Wood Lark flew over the road and south over the common, its rounded wings and short tail noted, my first of the year. Meanwhile the "little bit of bread and no cheese" calls of several Yellowhammers were heard too.
Returning to the Roller, it was now more active flying down on regular feeding sorties to the ground and then moving down the fence, often perching near the top of the inner fence, it then flew down to a fence leading vertically away from us within the compound, before it finally flew back to its favoured perched of the bush. By now the sun was going down and we finally decided to leave after 2 and a half hours of viewing this glorious bird, one of the most impressive avain sights I have seen in the UK.
Other observers seen included regular correspondent Paul W (who had kindly texted me to tell me the bird was there at 6pm), Ricky F, John H, Baz H, Ian M, Jon E, Steve P, Dick W & Matt D.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Excellent Mimic at Winterton

Saturday 11th June, Jenny & I visited the Old Vicarage gardens at East Ruston near Happisburgh in Norfolk. As we walked past the car park near the entrance, a Norfolk Hawker dragonfly flew past. At one of the ponds, a Four- spotted Chaser posed well constantly returning to a perch near the edge of the pool. At another pond, a Common Toad was seen plus 1 or 2 froglets crawling up the spike of a Water Soldier leaf. Also seen here was a fine male Broad- bodied Chaser.
On Sunday morning, I was just about to leave the house to go down to Minsmere when I received a call from Tim H to say he had found a Marsh Warbler at Winterton. Some 40 minutes later at 10.40am, I was making my way down the public steps by the caravan park and joined Tim and Neil M by the path in the southern valley overlooking the sloping bank leading up to private gardens. Snatches of the bird's song were heard with the calls of Swallow and Great Tit interspersed within it. Still I couldn't see the bird but when we were joined by John H I saw a very pale sandy coloured warbler fly over to a bush half way up the bank lined on its left side by a flowering honeysuckle and the excellent Marsh Warbler appeared just to the right of the bush for a couple of seconds before disappearing. I later saw the bird closer perched on a bracken stem for a few seconds before it flew back top the bush again. It was then heard singing for more prolonged periods as the sun came out and the wind abaited a little. Suddenly, a Cuckoo flew over our heads and inland over the bank. Paul & Jane and later OFB arrived and at around 12.50pm I left. I should have stayed a little longer as the bird came out just after I had left and posed briefly (albeit some distance away) for the cameras.
A great find for Tim and very well deserved and many thanks for ringing me personally and letting me know, cheers Tim.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Few Bee Orchids

Just 6 Bee Orchids seen at Great Yarmouth yesterday, Tuesday 7th June, at the usual site, on a visit before work. I have added a shot of the Greater Butterfly Orchid, albeit a poor one, taken in fading light onto the "Needle in a Haystack entry" about a visit to Foxley wood in North Norfolk on Sunday 29 May 2011.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Another Hummer Visit

The Hummingbird Hawk Moth visited the Red Valerian plant at 7.10pm and 9.10pm this evening for a couple of minutes both times. I heard the buzz of the Moth as it whizzed by inches from my ear.

A more Prolonged Stay!

On Saturday 4th June, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth spent a more prolonged time feeding from the nectar of the Red Valerian flowers.
It first arrived at 5.10pm and didn't depart until 5.25pm and I was able to finally obtain some shots of the moth, having to change the setting on my Canon 450 camera to the TV "Shutter speed" mode and ramp up the setting to get some none- blurred shots of the moth but at the same time achieving a little blurr on the wings to achieve the impression of rapid flight in the photo. I will load the pics later.
Again the young 6 Blue Tits were around the garden, they had been fed by their parents but now appear more independent feeding off the peanut holders themselves and looking for food themselves around the garden. The young Great Tits were about too.
On Sunday 5th June, early morning, a Hairy Hawker Dragonfly seen briefly around the wildlife pond area too.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Return of the Hummer and another Broad- billed!

On Wednesday the 1st June, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth was seen again at 5.15pm again visiting the Red Valerian plant. On Thursday 2nd June, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth was seen again at 8.15am.
In the early evening, walking 200 yards past the Humberstone farm, another Broad- Billed sandpiper, seen slightly closer than the previous individual and in better light, this time this bird was a better marked individual on the edge of the mud on the Suffolk side just south of the channel. It was just left of 3 sunken posts and feeding with a Dunlin, Ringed Plover and nearby were 2 Bar- tailed Godwit. It spent most of its time feeding along the edge of the mud the split supercilium was seen well.
On friday 3rd June the Hummingbird Hawk Moth was seen again at 5.20pm again visiting the Red Valerian plant.