Posts Tagged ‘Pied Flycatcher


One Day

It doesn’t often happen that a customer cancels a tour but occasionally everyone gets ill. So it was last Friday. The day was mine to do with as I wished.

I thought I’d have a go at the Red breasted Flycatcher that had been around Trimingham churchyard the previous day. Busmans holiday and all that. As soon as I arrived a Pied Flycatcher flipped into an eye level branch of a beautiful open Cherry tree. It stayed just long enough for me to un-clip the camera bag and get the camera out. It had vanished by the time I’d raised the camera to my eye. I waited another hour before I saw it again. It perched just above an old girl kneeling at a gravestone, whispering to herself or maybe her interned loved one. Rather than disturb her I went for a walk to the sea. The scene was grey. The wind was whipping in from the North off the water. There was a smell of rare bird in the air. It was palpable.

By the time I returned to the churchyard I had it to myself again. I heard the Pied call and followed the sound to a spreading oak, before seeing it in the canopy and firing off a few record shots. As I was watching the bird something caught my eye. It was a bat circling the church. A Natter’s Bat. I tried to take a few pictures but as soon as I’d altered the settings on the camera it disappeared under the church eves. Presumably it was late in from a night shift. I never did see the Red breasted despite assistance from Paul and Rose that popped in for a quick look, so I presume it had moved on. Curiously a good number of Speckled Wood butterflies were alighting on gravestones. Not sure why; absorbing salts maybe?

I used to visit this area a lot when I lived at Falcon Cottage. It’s grown up a little and the trees in the churchyard are now ideal habitat for migrant birds. The area suffers from an absence of parking. Something to consider if anything truly amazing turns up there. In fact when I returned to the vehicle I had a polite but lengthy note on my windscreen asking me to consider where I parked as they couldn’t reverse into their drive opposite when approaching from the main road. Well my lovie, if you couldn’t reverse into your drive given the space I’d left …. I think it’s about time to give up your licence. It did occur to me they could have rung me in the time it took to write the note, the mobile number is on the side of the car. I was only yards away. I’d have gladly come and moved the damn thing. I did think I’d leave a ‘counter-note’ where they could read it but thought better of it. Some of my friends still watch this area. I didn’t want to escalate anything that would reflect upon them when they visit. I resolved not to park there again.

Home for lunch and then I though I’d take a drive West to Cley. As I pulled away from Sheringham a beautiful green locomotive was steaming its way towards Holt. I got ahead of it and took some photos of the stately beast as it crossed the road. Steam engines still hold a thrill. I guess it comes from having a father who gave most of his life to British Rail.

A message on my phone regarding a Sykes’s Warbler was going to change my afternoon. This is a bird from the Middle East that winters in the Indian subcontinent. It’s occurrence here is accidental with less than twenty previous UK records. I missed the first one in Norfolk in August 2002. It would have felt churlish to ignore the second.

The bird acquired its name from William Henry Sykes, a naturalist serving with the British Army in India. He discovered fifty six species of bird new to science and several species, including the warbler, bear his name.

The bad news is this individual was on Blakeney Point; well half way up Blakeney Point to be exact. Another avian progeny of James McCallum and Kayn Forbes. I hate Blakeney Point. Three steps forward and two back. All that calf burning shingle. I took my time walking out there; a bit like a reluctant kid going to the barbers. Walking along the suaeda edge was no fun at all. The only passerine I saw in the two mile walk was a single Reed Bunting.

When I arrived at Halfway House the bird was still being watched at the end of ‘the runway’; a short turfed area amid the shingle and suaeda bushes where I’ve seen several rarities over the years. It was periodically being glimpsed by a line of optic toting admirers as it flew over the sea of fruticosa. I joined them and managed to watch from a high point and get one or two distant photos but I wanted to get a good look at the bird rather than photograph it. Over the years I’ve found in these instances it’s better to give the bird room and wait for it to show. Some in the crowd even voiced this … but it fell on deaf ears. Bush bashing, drive type twitching in my eyes is impatient bird watching and no longer appeals to me. I would rather the birds welfare came first. The bird needs to rest and should be left to show on its own terms. However, this sort of habitat, deep bootlace ripping growth, doesn’t promote the bird being seen without some intervention. I left slightly disappointed, with mixed feelings and perhaps earlier than I would have normally.

I dragged my feet walking back as I contemplated the day. Would it be better to make a ‘second plantation’ at Half Way House duplicating the area at the point to make observation a little easier for bird and birdwatcher alike? I don’t know.

I decided to make the return journey on the seaward side, along the beach; still shingle but maybe a little firmer and a bit of sea to look at too. It was good to have Ian’s company for part of the walk East. When Ian strode out ahead I was joined by a Grey Seal curious enough to follow me for a while; although she wasn’t up for much conversation

All in all … a mixed day.



The report of a Wood Warbler in Norfolk is always refreshing. We don’t often get them here but they are annual on their migration north. I was leading a ‘birds by song’ workshop for the NWT when one turned up on Saturday. We did call and have a brief look around but given it was silent didn’t place too much effort into seeing it. Besides it was a pig to see and even worse to photograph. I did however go back in the afternoon after the workshop and have another quick look for it. The event of lunch had not made it any easier; always at the back of bushes and never really showing well.

The Pied Flycatcher at nearby Granborough Hill that turned up late afternoon was only marginally better to photograph; by the time friend John and I got to it … the best of the light had more or less gone.


Catching Flies

Late last month I was waiting patiently for a Booted Warbler to show in a bank of coastal bushes. As I stood there a small piebald object skimmed over my left shoulder and alighted in the bushes I was watching. It had come off the sea. A Pied Flycatcher.

It took a little time to gather itself. It perched and preened. After removing the toil of a long flight it soon set about feeding and doing what flycatchers do best.

Pied Flycatcher


Black and White

The upper reaches of the valley we walked in during our trip to Mull last week was full of chirping Pied Flys. Lovely birds these so bold in colour and movement. Sweeping through the branches to perch motionless until a tasty morsel flying past temps them to sally out. Both Pied and Spotted Flycatchers entertained us – interestingly Redstarts were less common.

Pied Flycatcher_Z5A8757

Pied Flycatcher_Z5A8779


The World Wide Web of Wildlife


We were only saying at the weekend how good it was to see so many insects on the ivy flowers. The sound of bees and hoverflies was almost deafening. It was good to see.

Here at Falcon Cottage we don’t use chemicals in the garden and try to stick to native plants. We want wildlife to be at home here and one of the key factors of this is getting the environment right. Why does this sometimes get overlooked out there, beyond the sycamores at the end of the garden, in the wider world? Sure it’s ok to (re)introduce the large raptors but would it pay better dividends to start closer to the base of the food chain rather than the apex; get the foundations right and everything above will be of sound construction. Get the environment right and nature will move in. She will do the rest. The whole web of life means everything relies upon something else; everything is connected. Everything joined by fragile and sometimes tenuous links to every other living thing. Us included.

Despite walking the whole hill here on Wednesday I couldn’t find a single migrant passerine. It was only later during the afternoon did a Pied Flycatcher drop by to feed at the larder of insects that were themselves feeding on the ivy.

One of the Hoverflies gorging on the pollen was a Death’s Head Fly – Myathropa florea; named because of the so called death mask on its back. I think it looks more like the ‘batman’ symbol. Maybe nature is sending up a signal calling for a superhero to come along and rescue us from insecticides and over cultivation.


2014 09 10 Death's Head Fly (Myathropa Florea) Northrepps Norfolk_Z5A3250


2014 09 10 Death's Head Fly (Myathropa Florea) Northrepps Norfolk_Z5A3242


2014 09 10 Pied Flycatcher Northrepps Norfolk_Z5A3161



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Mar 2023


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