Archive for Aug, 2014

31
Aug
14

Just Chatting

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The short sharp chacking call of a Stonechat is never too difficult to hear in Norfolk. The heaths and coastal dunes hold pairs which although moderately dispersal never roam too far. On a tour the other week we watched this bird hawking insects from atop a bramble and being very successful too.

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Stonechat

29
Aug
14

Spiralis

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Delicate and small we eventually found them. The grass had been mown late; far too late. The orchids had probably been topped. However, we searched anyway and Bob managed to find a couple of spikes that were so small they’d escaped the blades.

Autumn Ladies Tresses are so called because of their resemblance to plaits of hair. This is also reflected within the Latin name of Spiranthes spiralis. I’m not sure what the passing builders thought of me lying flat out on the ground photographing them but it sparked enough interest for them to ask a few questions about what they were.

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Autumn Ladies Tresses

29
Aug
14

A crake in the corn

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I had a feeling the easterlies at the beginning of the week had not given everything. It’s feelings like that which drove me out into the rain to search for migrants yesterday. Four Swifts and a Whinchat on the hill were all I got for the effort until the rain drove me back to the laptop and to work.

When the sun broke through later in the day I thought I’d have a walk along the cliff top at Trimingham to relive the monotony. A Wryneck sheltered under the cliff edge was my target; what I didn’t expect to see was a Corncrake!

As I walked out of one of the cliff top woods a slim crake with dangling legs erupted from the path in front of me and went low to the left around the bushes and out of view. Damn it!

I walked forward half expecting to see it a mile away flying along the clifftop. It flew from a few metres in front of me again to the left, again around the bushes and again out of view. I knew if I was to find the bird I would need help and it came in the shape of Greg, Andy and Tony. Despite a thorough search of the field edges and stubble it was not seen again. Sorry guys.

Another Whinchat, Swift a Wheatear and a couple of Redstarts plus the palest Whitethroat you have ever seen in your life were all we could manage.

Obviously no photo so I thought I’d include this one taken on our Mull Tour earlier this year.

Now where’s that Wryneck?

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Corncrake

27
Aug
14

An ‘Icky’ & Greenish

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It was nice to see good friend Andy during my early morning walk. Neither of us had been able to get out during the late arrival of migrants the previous day and we were hoping for a consolation.

I’d already had a Hobby stirring up the hirundines and a Whimbrel heading high to the south. The target however was small passerines. A few Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat had set the scene and Andy and I watched a couple of Blackcaps rumble through an elderberry as we stood chatting. We were just about to move on when the elongated form of a pale warbler perched up in front of us; an Icterine Warbler! It showed a little and then it too moved on. The hill here in Northrepps is good at turning things up … but they don’t stick. It’s nearly always a case of find it or miss it.

Revelling in our good fortune we both eventually returned to our timetable.

I checked a few other likely places and turned up Chiffchaffs and the like but as the day cleared it was obvious things had in the main resumed their migration.

Back at Falcon Cottage a tame Southern Hawker demanded a macro lens to show her off in all her glory. As I lay recumbent on the lawn I heard a scalding squeak behind me, A Greenish Warbler landed among the wild flowers called again and headed off west; the second good bird of the day but far too brief. Despite looking in all the likely places down in the village I couldn’t relocate it.

A flock … well, three … Pied Flycatchers and a dark Chiffchaff, I couldn’t metamorphose into anything else, were consolatory.

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2014 08 27 Icterine Warbler Sidestrand Norfolk_Z5A1385

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2014 08 27 Icterine Warbler Sidestrand Norfolk_Z5A1420

 

26
Aug
14

Tideline discovery

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There’s been at least one maybe two Red Breasted Mergansers here in north Norfolk since mid summer. Relatively common here in winter; summer visitors are scarce. It was a shame to find what was presumably the female dead on the tideline last week. She appeared to be in good condition so I’m not sure why she died; maybe just old age.

If you look closely you can see why mergansers belong to the ‘Sawbill’ group of ducks. The ‘teeth’ along the cutting edge of the bill mean business when it comes to hanging onto to slippery fish.

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Red breasted Merganser

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Red breasted Merganser2

 

24
Aug
14

An August Vortex

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Walking along the North Norfolk ridge the other day and a glance out to sea stopped me in my tracks. There around a mile offshore was something that I haven’t seen for many many years; and I’ve never seen one as good. Snaking its way into the clouds was a water spout. The vortex was whipping up the sea at its base and tearing it into the heavens.

As the column tracked east it got weaker and after 20 minutes or so eventually died.

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2014 08 22 Water Spout off Overstrand Norfolk_Z5A1031

2014 08 22 Water Spout off Overstrand Norfolk_Z5A1051a

2014 08 22 Water Spout off Overstrand Norfolk_Z5A1055a

 

24
Aug
14

Gatherings

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The Swifts have all but gone; just a few straddlers. Each day that passes I’m seeing fewer and fewer hirundines. The Swallows are sitting on the wires strung between the fence posts around the cattle enclosure here on the hill. The House Martins are perched in neat rows on the telephone lines and the Sand Martins are fly catching in tumbling groups over the reservoir. All are surely contemplating the journey south ahead of them; feeling the urge to migrate. Soon they will all be gone … until next year.

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House Martin

 

22
Aug
14

Gnashers

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Some higher than normal tides during the middle of the month gave the opportunity for some great photography out in Blakeney Harbour. The Grey Seals are beginning to gather for the winter pupping season and the tides push them onto concentrated herds on low sandbanks.

As we sailed close to one of the groups I picked out one young bull that looked quite chilled out. I caught him mid yawn. Not sure I would want to be on the receiving end of those gnashers!

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Grey Seal

 

20
Aug
14

An old friend

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This morning was bright and sunny in north Norfolk. Big Cumulous clouds set against a blue sky at this time of year indicate thermals that are ideal for raptor migration. Sure enough a peep outside at around 10:30am saw a passage of Buzzards west; at their peak around 8 were circling above the garden.

Before the Red Arrows ripped up the sky for the Cromer carnival I settled down for a cuppa and watched the bird table and feeders. It paid dividends as a first time visitor to the garden; a Bullfinch, fed briefly; an oddly small bird. I fetched the camera to catch the moment but she had quickly moved on. A visitor that did show however was the Sparrow showing features of Italian Sparrow. Those regular readers of ‘Letter from Norfolk’ will know this contentious bird first turned up last year. He has returned briefly on two occasions this year, the 3rd July and today. I guess he must have bred again locally somewhere. The sightings from last year have been submitted to the various Rarities Committees under the banner of ‘Italian Sparrow’. We’ll see what happens next.

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Sparrow sp

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The Red Arrows also put on a good show with several passes directly over the garden.

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Red Arrows

 

18
Aug
14

Egg seller

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Watching a female Southern Hawker alight on a damp log the other week I was surprised to see her start laying within the clefts of the bark.

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Southern Hawker

 




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