Archive for Mar, 2015


You Mipit

I was having a day off. A busman’s holiday. Standing on the east bank at Cley I was photographing whatever flew by. A Meadow Pipit called, landed and sang a little. I glanced down at the field and what I saw took me back a little.

Not the usual olive green and dull white pipit but an orange breasted creature. The first thing that went through my mind was Red throated Pipit, but this was quickly excluded when it called again and  had a good look at other plumage features. Water Pipit had been reported here the day previously and indeed several people passing asked if that’s what it was; some were sure it was! Despite the peachy colouration and supressed breast streaking the bird had pale legs and a lack of supercillium and it called like a Meadow Pipit. It was a Meadow Pipit … just an odd one.

Trevor Williams has kindly commented that it may be the race ‘whistleri’ from Western Scotland and Ireland. He points to a good article on this race in Birding World. (ref Porter, R ‘Orange Breasted Meadow Pipits – an identification pitfall’ Birding World 18 (4) 169-172). However, I’ve been to Ireland and Western Scotland … lots of times, and I’ve never seen birds like this one. Maybe they are from further north and further east? … or maybe it’s just an oddly marked Mipit! #lotstolearn

Meadow Pipit (2).. Meadow Pipit..


A bit of a Bustard

One of the mysteries of this last winter is the appearance in Norfolk on a Blofield roadside verge of a dead Little Bustard. One would think that this hapless individual having made the journey up from France or Spain had wandered into the path of a passing vehicle and that would be the end of it. Unfortunately the bird had actually been shot and recently died of it’s wounds. Little Bustard is a heavily protected species being on Annex 1 of the European Bird Directive.

Do you remember my post entitled ‘Shoot and Ask Questions Later’? Take another read of the penultimate paragraph.

I just can’t imagine someone would deliberately shoot a Little Bustard and then leave the corpse. I would suggest it was shot as a pheasant, seen for what it was when it was picked up and given it would incriminate the perpetrator if found on his person was left close to where it lie.

The picture of Little Bustards below I took in France. Do they look like Pheasants to you? It has to be said though they do look a lot more like pheasants when they are on the ground.

Perhaps the call for regular eye tests on shotgun holders is well founded.

Little Bustard


Woodpecker city in France.

We were seeing spots before our eyes. Lesser, Middle and Greater.

2015 03 05 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Lac Du Der France_Z5A1512 2015 03 05 Middle Spotted Woodpecker Lac Du Der France_Z5A1479 2015 03 05 Nuthatch Lac Du Der France_Z5A1468


Lap Dancing

On a grey day this week the wind was whipping in off the sea and over the cliffs. As we waited for the birds to shuffle a little closer across the tilled field my hands began to stiffen. The cold was almost unbearable.

I was occupying my mind with why these Lapland Buntings always prefer such open places when one flew over us and landed in the grass nearby. At last one was reasonably close. It flattened itself, found a hidden haven from the screaming north easterly amid the rough grass and promptly disappeared. It didn’t stay there long before it stood erect, took a look around and then flew back to the fine till of the winter wheat field. It showed better here and soon danced close enough for a few photographs … just!

Lapland Bunting_Z5A2768 Lapland Bunting_Z5A2903


Was there an eclipse today?

It had to be didn’t it. The 2015 Eclipse was eclipsed itself … by the weather here in Norfolk. At the last minute the cloud and mist parted and here on the hill it came good. Did you notice the sunspot top left? Not as good as the 1999 in my opinion. Roll on 2026 for the next partial eclipse which should be as good as the 1999 event.

2015 03 20 Eclipse Northrepps Norfolk_Z5A3087_edited-1



A little greatness

It’s strange. There were no little Egrets at the Lac du Der in France the other week; plenty of Great White Egrets but no Little’s. They are migratory and only come back to the region in summer to breed. How odd that they can be found here in the UK all year round.

2015 03 04 Great White Egret Lac D'Orient France_Z5A1252


tale of a white tail

I could have waited. In the end I decided to be more proactive.

The White tailed Eagle was reported to be shingle hopping east at Cley having been seen last night at Wareham. This morning it tried to re-orientate in the mist. I first saw it from the coast road over Beeston Bump stirring up a lively kettle of gulls. West Runton seemed to be the place to go. As I pulled into the car park a number of people pointed skyward and my camera went immediately to my eye. No time for settings. I was looking down the throat of a white tailed eagle the exposure would have to do. Marvellous beast.

Is that a tracker on its back or just an odd feather?

White tailed Eagle


Creeping around trees

I love the song of the Short toed Treecreeper, so different from our own Eurasian Treecreeper; still high pitched, but more fluty. Not difficult to find in France last week, we saw plenty. Readily distinguishable when not singing even at a distance by the white tips to the flight feathers forming a horseshoe on the back of the bird. A closer look also reveals the stepped markings on the wing are nice and even unlike the Eurasian which are very uneven.

2015 03 03 Short toed Treecreeper Lac Du Der France_Z5A0884


On fire

I must have seen many, many Firecrests in my time but last week in France I actually watched one. In fact I watched two. A pair … displaying to one another. Underneath the canopy of pines and oaks the sun shone through in shafts to light the forest floor in dappled squares. Flitting in and out of the light the male chased the female; his crown stripe gaping with excitement and luminous in intensity.

2015 03 02 Firecrest Lac du Der France_Z5A0673



Migration of the Cranes

Looking for Woodpeckers in deep forest we’d been aware of the sound of Cranes for most of the time. However, it wasn’t until we were nearing the end of the day that we were in a position to take a look at them. We found a small party in a winter wheat field. Parking the car at the roadside we got out to take a closer look … I couldn’t believe what we saw.

Last week we were among the gentle rolling hills of the Champagne region in France. We were there to watch the spring Crane migration and to see a few woodpeckers. The sun was out and the wind blowing gently. We had already seen cranes in some number, eleven hundred crowded into one field no less and I thought perhaps we had arrived in France a little late for further numbers.

As we stood on the roadside that evening a few cranes were flying over; I looked out southward towards the horizon to see ribbon after ribbon of birds migrating north towards us. Each flock was followed by another and then another. Tens became hundreds and hundreds became thousands. We estimated in the one hour before dark we had fifteen thousand fly over us that fine evening. As we left still more were coming.

2015 03 05 Cranes Lac Du Der France_Z5A1602 2015 03 05 Cranes Lac Du Der France_Z5A1678 2015 03 05 Cranes Lac Du Der France_Z5A1733 2015 03 05 Cranes Lac Du Der France_Z5A1788

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Mar 2015


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