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Sunday, 31 July 2016

"Under the radar" with the Purple Swamphen at Minsmere

A long day out in the field and I was relieved to get back home and do some cooking and housework in readiness to entertain guests on Monday. Checking the computer I couldn't quite believe that a Purple Swamphen was at Minsmere in the pool behind the South hide!! Was it plastic or fantastic, to quote a well known song lyric? Could it be an introduction scheme bird? Minsmere tweeted initially it was an escape but when they later tweeted it was unringed the consensus moved to it being a wild bird. I flew into action and around 40 minutes later was pulling into the car park quickly followed by ace digiscoper Craig. After some confusion about whether permits were required after 4pm on a Sunday, apparently they were! This held me up for 10 minutes, not good for a potential 1st for Britain! I finally ran down the path behind the South hide. Even though, I'd dropped everything to get there as quick as possible, the info I had received half hour before I'd picked it up because my phone doesn't bleep on alerts! James B, Rob Will were there & Rob told me to go the far end and look to the far side of the pool on the right hand end. Once in position. A shout went up after 10 minutes, but there were no directions and I missed it on the first 2 times it showed briefly, as it quickly went back into the reeds. A kind lady explained that it was indeed over the far side but in a more central position (and not the far right). Finally, I saw it walk out a big dark purple bird, aptly named with a deep purple plumage and big red bill and facial shield. Smoke on the Water indeed! It was the superb Purple Swamphen. It then walked out again and walked right. It was then seen several times, its longish red legs showed no rings and the really long feet seen caked in mud. It then disappeared in and out of the reeds. For the next 20 minutes it played cat and mouse occasionally showing well before popping back in to the reeds. But when some people thought it was moving closer, I spotted it walk around the reedy fringe (partly concealed by reeds) in the mid distance (I called this out) and then it walked right behind this much closer reed edge and I again saw it walking right half way down (I again called this out). I obtained some shots, one came really well. Moving down, the Swamphen later moved quickly very left, literally sprinting past the corner again! Later arrivals included Steve G, Rob H, Maurice B and OFB, JHG, Chris D, and Andrew E. from Links road car park, 1 common tern seen on the groins and 5 Common Terns seen flying over the sea, plus a transitional summer/ winter plumaged unringed adult Mediterranean Gull quickly spotted on the car park before as always, a car flushed it and it flew off. Why does this always happen every time, I find a Med Gull on the car park then a car appears and always flushed them so I can't get any pics????!

Honey Buzzard at Westwood Lodge & Purple Emperor nearby

On Sunday 31st July I was eager to get out after a day of very localised heavy downpours which just seemed to affect Bosquet Close on Saturday 30th!!! I was at Westwood Lodge bright and early at 8am, it was really good to meet the Dereham Boys, Ian Paul & Richard & David W. Always kind and friendly (unlike some I can mention!) and top drawer birders, if its about they'll spot it first. As if on cue, one of the Dereham birders shouted there it is and 8.55am the superb Honey Buzzard with mousey brown upper parts, small protruding head and longish tail flew up quite close but behind a Pine tree where I lost it for around 90 seconds before it wheeled up showing slightly darkr wings tips and darker underparts than usual (but not as dark as some I've seen) it wheeled up further. It's wings were always held flat in profile, never turned up at the primaries and had a slightly more elongated shape than a Common Buzzard that wheeld up with it, eventually. Initially a Marsh Harrier had flown up with it too. First a Carrion Crow, started chasing and it flew strongly left/ east before flying back, this time being mobbed by a fine Hobby, a belated first for me for this year. It was flying ever higher joined by the Harrier and the Common Buzzard and this gave me valuable revision in profile raptor ID. Finally by 9.15am it had disappeared flying higher and to the west. A later trip to Westleton Heath failed to turn up Honey Buzzard. I saw a Common Buzzard here instead. But on the walk down I heard brief snatches on song from a male Dartford Warbler half way down and by the "cliff" by the "quarry" the brief "churr" of another Dartford Warbler but not seen. Several c30 Graylings were seen including 2 showy individuals on the path. (to be posted later!) c40 Gatekeepers also seen. At a nearby wood, by the road parking a few yards away, a resplendent male Southern Hawker flew up and down the road. shout went up and a fine female Purple Emperor settled on some cloth and fed for several minutes before a couple turned up and flushed her up into a tree where she was seen perched for a further few minuutes. Around 15 Migrant Hawkers also sen flying around here at the Dell. Plus 20 yards down the path, a Brimstone perched on a dandelion briefly and turning left at the end, a Painted Lady showed well as did 4 Southern Hawkers, 3 female and a fine male. 1 of the female perched long enough for me to obtain 1 or 2 pics.

RIP female Brown Hawker

On 23rd July RIP This female Brown Hawker (not male!) found dead on garden lawn yesterday. On a brighter note these Digger Wasps active in nest by the garden Pagoda

New flowering Southern Marsh Orchid in garden

July 24th, Weird or what! This Southern Marsh Orchid, flowering in one of Jenny's potted planter pots on in the front garden! We assume Jenny used some soil from the back garden that had an Orchid seed!? Now flowering in garden plant pot!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Med Gull & Hawkers

On Wednesday 20th July, a stunning adult summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull flew over the north mound car park at James Paget Hospital at 3.40pm plus a little later in the garden an equally stunning male Southern Hawker alighted on sunlight vegetation behind the wildlife pond, as I rushed to get the camera I inadvertently disturbed a Brown Hawker resting on th wooden Pagoda. Needless to say when i returned with my camera the Southern Hawker had gone!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Now 2 Brown Hawkers in the garden

On Monday 18th July, first 1 and the 2 Brown Hawkers were seen at rest by the wooden pagoda on a very sunny and hot evening in the garden. Before I could even focus on them they both flew off. However, 1 Brown Hawker returned on the end of a vertical beam on the roof part of the pagoda and showed well and posed nicely for the camera. Also around 5 Digger wasps regularly visiting holes near the top of the south east wooden corner pole.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Brown Hawker in the garden

On Sunday 17th July, a Brown Hawker was lingering in the garden today in active feeding flight this afternoon and resting high up in the Cherry tree. Speckled Wood and Large White butterflies also seen.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Bluethroat at Ness Point

On Sunday 23rd June, I had got up at 4.30am left at 5.30am and by 9.15am I was back home in Lowestoft. Good thing too as news was tweeted out by Rob Win not long after that he had found a female Bluethroat at Ness Point. Parking by the southern most ramp of the sea wall and with Rob, Andrew & Rob Will all looking my way I carefully circled around talking on the sea wall to join them. The bird had been in the tamarisks but was favouring a small bushy area of Tamarisk just north of there. Then suddenly it appeared, the fine female Bluethroat.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Rainbow Rising again at the NEC Birmingham

Tickets for this concert when they first went up for sale were like Gold dust and sold out in seconds. Fortunately I was able to obtain one on a resale site at a vastly inflated 3 figure sum. Saturgay 25th June saw me at the Birmingham Genting Arena at the NEC. You could tell it was a sell out as masses of people everywhere. The merchandise stall we had to scrum for some 20 minutes but I did eventually get my tee shirt. My seat was about 1/3 of the way back on what might have been a former standing area. At 9.40pm, land of hope and glory started, the the familiar sounds of Judy Garland from the Wizard of Oz and "being over the rainbow, rainbow, rainbow ..."and we were straight into Deep P{purple's "Highway Star". The 71 year old Ritchie Blackmore played a blinder, his first rock concert in the UK for 19 years. he'd obviously relearnt all the solos and played well if a little slower than when he was on in his prime. There were many highlights, my favourites were "Catch the Rainbow", "Man on the Silver Mountain" and a majestic "Stargazer", unsurprisingly all from classic Dio-era rainbow. The singer Ronnie Romero, originally from Chile was a revelation, a great find and his rasping vocal delivery did justice to all the songs. As Ritchie said "truly a cross between Ronnie Dio and Freddie Mercury". Jens Johansson on Keyboards was good but the rhythm section of Bob Curiano and David Keith (both former/ current members of Blackmore's Night) were OK but could have been a lot tighter. They finished off with a majestic Burn and then the obligatory 'Smoke'.

Caspian Tern in the wet at Breydon

On Friday 24th June, early morning lovely to hear a loud singing Song Thrush either in the garden or just outside it. I was tired after a long day at work and looked at twitter and saw there was a Caspian Tern on Breydon! Half an hour later I was getting out of the car at the Herbert Barnes south side of Breydon. I got totally drenched as the heavens opened. Within 10 minutes the rain had stopped and I got out of the car. No one about, so I scanned after 2 minutes I picked up the obvious Black- headed Gull sized fine Caspian Tern on Breydon over the far side but obvious with a big red bill. Later I was joined by Norfolk photographer Rob Wils and his wife, plus good to see Jeremy G. The bird spent most of its time standing there. It moved around from being side on to back on. Then suddenly it flew south and was flying over Bugh castle and appeared to be flying towards the coast at Gorleston, it was definitely seen over Watsonian Suffolk and Lizardland, result!!! Is this a Lizard tick for me, I think it is! Scanning for 20 minutes after we found it back in the same place on the mud! Somehow it had flown back without us picking it up! Early morning Saturday the Song Thrush was still singing from the garden. Jenny saw a Hummingbird Hawk Moth mid afternoon in the heat of sun feeding on the Red Valerian in the back garden just beyond the Kitchen window. On Tues 28th June, again after work i saw it on the mud the far side not far from the Lumps viewing from Asda this time.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Great Dip

Very disappointing to dip on the Great Knot on practically the only day it wasn't at Titchwell On Saturday 18th June, A A very early start for a trip to Titchwell to see the GK with Paul & Jane F. Unfortunately we didn't see it as it was only there for some ten minutes. Saw several 1000 Knot on th beach and c1000 flew onto the freshwater marsh with several fine sp individuals c5. Also on the reserve was a fine dusky sp Spotted Redshank, many Black- tailed Godwits, 3 wp Bar- tailed Godwits, several close Avocets and Gadwall and a pair of red- crested Pochards on one of the islands. Didn't spot any PGP on the brackish marsh either, although had looked there perhaps it hadn't flown in as we left about 4pm.(apart from 10 minutes in the morning) I knew probably wouldn't get another chance as I was tied up for the next few weekends. On a much better note, I was able to Norfolk tick a fine sole Lizard Orchid.