Posts Tagged ‘Northrepps


Through the square window

The end of the tax year saw me sitting at the laptop first thing this morning.

It was the song of a Blackcap that drew me to the window. Not my first for the year but always good to hear. Under the feeders was a Stock Dove. The iridescence around the neck  was absolutely glowing in the morning sunshine. I had to get my camera. As soon as I moved he flew up and away. I thought I’d set up the camera anyway just in case he came back; or maybe something else would put in an appearance.

I’d no sooner set up the tripod when an absolute carpet of Blackbirds landed in the garden. A spring movement north. Much to the consternation of the local birds that didn’t like interlopers on their patch. As I finished adjusting the camera I noticed something piebald land at the pond.

For the fourth year running Ring Ouzels have visited the pond here. Stunning birds these thrushes. I had a chance to fire off a few shots before the whole flock took off west.


Garden Tick

A glance at the wind indicator told me I should be looking out of the window as I ate my toast on Wednesday morning. The Sycamores weren’t alive with birds but there was a bird flitting among the leaves that I presumed was a Pied Fly and a Wheatear was balancing on the fence. I needed to get outside and take a closer look.

The Pied Flycatcher, or whatever it was, never did show again and the Wheatear moved quickly on. However, a Phylloscopus warbler that momentarily hovered in a little enclave among the Elms held my attention. It was bright. It was very bright. Only after another 30 minutes did it show briefly again and give its identity away. The sparkling white underparts, the lemon tart throat and that supercillium told me I had a new garden tick. Wood Warbler.



Charming little chaps

I counted nine at the peak on the local reservoir. An easterly element in the wind and a passage of Common Sandpipers filled the air with the rapid staccato of swee swee swee swee swuu’s. Charming little chaps.

Common Sandpiper



Fly away home

It was James who saw it. When he came to the house last month he and his wife Cathy were looking at the garden pond while I got ready. Jumping about on the lilly pads were a host of Poecilobothrus nobilitatus – catchy name, yes? It has no common name so I shall call them Green white-tipped fly – which just about says it all. Apparently they have not been recorded in this 10km square previously. As James confirmed, I fear that may be more to do with recording than occurrence

Poecilobothrus nobilitatus.


Berry hunter

Tidying the garden here at Falcon Cottage on Sunday I was conscious of a sudden change in wind direction. The arrow on the weather vane swung around to the east for a while. Almost immediately there was a change in what was coming to the bird feeders.

A number of Greenfinch landed in the Sycamores at the top of the garden. A few Chaffinch among them. A pale Coal Tit among the Blues and Greats at the feeder. Coal Tits are not common here on the hill. As I walked to the compost heap I flushed a large flock of finches from the cotoneasters, crab apples, pyrocanthus and yews. Among them I heard a familiar call. A Waxwing. Frustratingly in the melee of finches I didn’t see it. However it wasn’t long before it returned. It was only when it visited a neighbour’s garden I managed to fire off a few shots.





Given the invasive numbers of Yellow browed Warblers that were turning up further north and given I’d already found three here on the hill last week not but 800m from Falcon Cottage; I wasn’t in the least bit surprised when one started calling from the garden on Saturday. It or probably another brighter individual is still here today.

I wasn’t even surprised when yesterday a Lapland Bunting flew over the house; and I certainly expected the sixty or so Blackbirds, Redpolls, Siskins and Swallows that were using the garden as a staging post on their way south. What I wasn’t expecting however was what I flushed from a bush across the field.

When dawn broke I went for my usual walk locally. The mist was transient and at times quite thick as it overpowered the sun which was desperately trying to burn it off. I checked the far corner of the field and had given up on finding anything of true note when I noticed around 50 Blue Tits on the wires above the large hawthorn. They weren’t happy. I expected to raise my bins and see one of the two local Kestrels tolerating some incessant mobbing. Instead a Grey Shrike bolted from its perch over my head and landed way distant. Detail lost in the mist. From what I saw I’m pretty sure it was a Great Grey Shrike and not something rarer. Surprising yes! Given I’d not heard of any others this autumn throughout the whole of the country; although one at Horsey around the coast made landfall later the same day.

Yellow browed Warbler



The Decision

The other week I got a letter; or more correctly an email with a letter attached.

It concerned my submission of a description submitted to the BBRC (British Birds Rarities Committee) for the Italian Sparrow seen here on several occasions the year before last.

Because the bird generated so much interest the letter is repeated here in full. It is addressed to the three people, including myself, who submitted a description.

Dear Carl, Andy & Phil

Many thanks for your submission to the British Birds Rarities Committee of Italian Sparrow at Northrepps, Norfolk on 23 Aug – 06 Sept 2013. Unfortunately, the committee has found the record to be Not Proven.

As you can no doubt guess, this record provided the committee with a collective headache! Ultimately, it was decided that while there was nothing wrong with the plumage of this individual, a 1st record of this species would require DNA evidence and it was unfortunate that this eluded us on this occasion. As this was submitted as an informal record, we will not publish it in the Not Proven section, but instead put it into a new Appendix entitled ‘Appendix 4. Records held where either taxonomy or identification criteria have yet to be finalised’

It is worth clarifying that a not proven vote does NOT imply that the voter believes the observer to be either incompetent or dishonest in any way, but in many cases just that there is a risk of a genuine error having occurred because not quite enough evidence could be assimilated by the observer(s) in the time available. Experienced and highly competent observers will often submit records on much lower levels of evidence than less experienced observers, but these are sometimes not accepted because the confidence felt by the observer in the field may not be matched by the detached assessment of the voters.

Requesting a recirculation

It is possible to submit a record for a recirculation to the committee. However, there are some fundamental requirements before such records can be re-circulated.

  • We would not reconsider a record at the request of either the observer or the county recorder unless there is new information given which may affect the original decision.
  • We would not consider ‘retrospective information’. This includes
    • Drawings done several weeks/months after the original sighting
    • Subsequent experience of the species

Many thanks for your submission, we hope that you will not be too disheartened by this decision, and hope and look forward to receiving further submissions from you in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Paul French, Chairman.

I guess we knew it was coming. A positive decision without DNA would always be a difficult one, however I would draw your attention to the wording

“… nothing wrong with the plumage …”

Just to rub in the salt on the very morning I received the email the sparrow once again put in an appearance at the bird feeders.

Sparrow sp


Ruddy thing

In the garden my first Ruddy Darter of the year. It hung around for about an hour and then moved on.

Ruddy Darter 1


I couldn’t resist

When you spend a little time with such an enigmatic species like a Ring Ouzel it’s difficult to stop taking photographs. After the photo of the male I posted a few days ago I thought I’d pop up a shot of the female (type) that also came into the garden this week. However… I just couldn’t resist posting a few more of that corking male too. There’s just something about them that mystifies me.

Ring Ousel

Ring Ousel 1 Ring Ousel 2 Ring Ousel 3


Booted Eagle and Slender Billed Gull

Falcon Cottage did it again on Bank Holiday Monday.

Distracted from the laptop I kept seeing messages regarding a Booted Eagle over Norwich then North Walsham and Hickling. Given it was probably the same bird that was in Kent the previous day the thought crossed my mind it was heading north and that it was worth a punt to stand outside and watch the southern horizon.

Andrew from the village had the same thought and joined me. It was nice to have a little conversation. We had only just finished pleasantries when I noticed two distant Buzzards both up in the air. Not unusual but previous experience tells me that the local Buzzards get up when large raptors pass through their territory. I panned right a little and there heading north was a large raptor. It was still distant and the heat haze was furring-up detail but it so obviously wasn’t a Buzzard; lots of laboured flight and gliding. Andrew was onto it immediately.

It headed north and was greeted by two corvids obviously so much smaller. The crows pushed the raptor closer to us and lower. I could now see white underwing coverts and black primaries and secondaries. This had to be the Booted Eagle … surely. It went behind trees and hedgerows on strangely bowed wings – like a kite. I never saw the ‘headlights’ typical of this species or the tail pattern. Despite our reorientation to the north of Falcon Cottage to have a clearer view of the west horizon we didn’t see it again. Was this to be the 16th species of raptor seen from the Cottage?

These things can be so frustrating.

Harking back to the 15th May. We were travelling back from Mull and had stopped at Leighton Moss in Lancashire; a great reserve. Sat in the hide I was searching for a Little Gull that had been reported hawking over the main lagoon the previous day. There are a lot of Black headed Gulls around this year. I caught sight of a gull flying high over the hide and away from us to the north east. It had pink underparts. Now this is not unusual in Black headed gulls but for the life of me I couldn’t see a black head. I couldn’t even see a residual spot. It took me a moment as it flew away and out of view but could this have been a Slender billed Gull? Laughable I know given the last record I believe was in the 90’s (correct me if I’m wrong here) but I thought it may have been.

I put a note in the reserve log to say I had seen a ‘possible’ and joked to my guests that if a Slender billed Gull turned up on the east coast  somewhere (the direction it was heading) maybe I was right. Was it coincidence that one turned up in Titchwell in Norfolk this bank holiday Monday 11 days later? – another that got away.

So no photographs of raptors or gulls – no time to take either. However here’s a pristine Broad bodied Chaser that had newly emerged at Leighton Moss – why a photograph of a dragonfly? – principally because it was close and it sat bloody still!

2014 05 14 Broad bodied Chaserl Leighton Moss Lancashire_Z5A8084


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Mar 2023


%d bloggers like this: