Tuesday, 6 July 2021

June Summary

June 2021 was one of my best ever months birding!  Often, June is rather uneventful but this year proved to be the complete opposite.

The month started with an evening to to Winterton on 3rd where both Red-backed Shrike and Rose-coloured Starling had been seen.  The Starling had flown off  but, after a short wait, I relocated the Shrike and went on to enjoy good views.  With it's grey crown and nape, rich chestnut mantle, black face mask and whitish underparts this is one of my favourite birds and always a delight to see.

On 6th I headed to Hickling NWT where a female Red-footed Falcon had been seen.  A number of Hobby were dashing about over the reeds but sadly no sign of their rarer relative.  4+ Cranes were seen and a Bittern was heard booming.

Next day another evening trip to Winterton for what was considered to be a different Rose-coloured Starling to the one I had missed a few days earlier.  This time I had more luck and, although the Starling flock the bird was with bird was rather mobile  and often out of view, I was able to enjoy good views and even managed a few photo's.  A Spoonbill was from Breydon Bridge on 9th and a Red Kite flew over Ormesby Little Broad on 14th.

I was at work on 21st when I received amazing news of 9 Bee-eaters just down the road on waste ground behind Gapton Hall retail park.  I was soon on site and, after an anxious wait, the birds were located on wires over the marshes.  Although mostly quite distant nice telescope views were obtained of these delightful birds.  They were making frequent flights over the marshes and very hard to count as often not all the birds were visible at the same time.   

Next day a visit to Hickling NWT provided distant views views of a pair of Black-winged Stilts while Spoonbill and Red Kite were also noted.  I had a wander around the reserve hoping to locate Swallowtail with no joy only for 1 to briefly land on my car as I was packing up!

Two days later I made my first out of county trip this year as I was unable to resist the lure of a stunning Roller near Lackford in Suffolk.  Despite being next to a very busy road superb views were obtained of a stunning bird.  The colours on a Roller have to be seen to be believed especially in flight.

Next day saw a return to Hickling this time for a Collared Pratincole.  Again, good views were obtained and a nice supporting cast included the 2 Black-winged Stilts still present, several flight views of Bittern, Spotted Redshank and several Hobby.  with 9 Bede-eaters, 2 Black-winged Stilts, a Roller and a Collared Pratincole all within 5 days this was one of my best ever weeks birding!

Amazingly, the highlight of the month was still to come with news of a Black-browed Albatross on the cliffs at Bempton.  With the bird still on the cliffs at 2100 hrs on 30th Tony Stride and myself set off on the long overnight drive to Yorkshire arriving at first light.  The weather was awful with a near gale-force wind and frequent squally showers.  More than 1 person commented it felt more like November than June!  While waiting for the Albatross we enjoyed good views of the resident seabirds including a number of Puffins.  By 0730 the bird hadn't been found and I was tired, very cold and wet so we decided to return to the car to warm up.  We hadn't gone far when a shout went up that the bird had been refound!  Panic ensued, and with several people in front of me I couldn't get onto the bird before it flew out of view.  Luckily, a few minutes later it did another flypass and tis time I was in a better position.  Despite being a huge bird it was incredibly difficult to latch onto especially when flying against the dark cliffs amongst the numerous Gannets.  However, when located the very long dark wings, huge size, white head and pale bill made it quite unmistakable.  We enjoyed several views of this brilliant bird including a flypass almost directly overhead as well as seeing it from above as it flew low over the sea and also sitting on the cliffs.  Finally, we had it sitting on the sea being attacked by a Great Skua! Sadly, the weather was so poor that I didn't even attempt any photographs but that didn't detract from the fact that I was watching such an amazing bird.  An incredible end to an amazing month's birding.

As with most other moth trappers numbers in my moth trap were well down on last year both in terms of numbers of species and numbers of actual moths.  Presumably, this is weather related.  However, my first Small Elephant Hawkmoth was very welcome.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

May Summary

 A visit to Ormesby Little Broad on 5th produced at least 1 Garden Warbler which allowed good views.  On 7th a Spoonbill was seen from Breydon Bridge while after work I headed to Filby Broad to look for a Night Heron found earlier by Ken Saul.  I was joined by Tony Stride but as the bird hadn't been seen since the original sighting we weren't optimistic!  However, after an uneventful 45 minutes I spotted the bird in flight although it flew away from us.  Although I didn't get much of a look at the head pattern the pale grey wings and dark back left no doubt about the id.  It then dropped behind trees at the back of the Broad.  Although a better view would have been nice Tony & myself were the only observers other than the finders to see this bird so it was a case of considering ourselves fortunate to have seen the bird at all.

Drinker moth caterpillar.
On 16th the highlight of a visit to Ormesby Little Broad was a Drinker moth caterpillar found by Ken Saul and pictured left.  Variable & Blue-tailed Damselflies were also noted.

On 18th news came through of a Caspian Tern at Potter Heigham marshes.  It was a day of heavy showers and the thought of being caught out in the open wasn't very appealing but fortunately somebody had realised that the island the bird was favouring was visible from the boatyard carpark at the bottom of Cess Road, Martham.  I arrived to be told the bird had flown but luckily it soon reappeared and went on to provide good views despite the wet weather.  Caspain Tern is a real brute of a bird and I often refer to it as a Common Tern on steriods!  The huge size and massive bright red bill render it unmistakable!  Hobby and Cuckoo were also noted.

Variable Damselfly
A major surprise on 19th was the finding of a Great Reed Warbler beside the railway line at Breydon north wall.  As I was at work I was soon on site but initially the bird wasn't showing.  Although singing, it was very difficult to hear due to the constant traffic noise.  I returned later in the day and the bird was no longer singing but was now feeding & showing well in bushes the other side of the railway.  As it's name suggests this is a much larger bird than Reed Warbler with a much more substantial bill.  This was a nice unexpected addition to my Breydon List.  Back on the Trinity Broads a male Mandarin Duck was at Filby on 25th.
With many cold nights I was only able to run my moth trap on 3 nights and only caught a handful of moths with the highlight being my first Lunar Marbled Brown.  (pictured left.)


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

April summary.

April started with the 2 Slavonian Grebes (now almost in summer plumage) still on Ormesby Broad and the Great White Egret still at Ormesby Little Broad plus my first Swallows, Sand Martins and Blackcaps. On 7th I noted my first House Martin while on the 11th there were 37 Goldeneye in a single flock on Ormesby Little Broad and the Long-tailed Duck still on Filby Broad.

Highlight of the month occurred on 14th when a 'coffee' coloured Gull flew over Breydon Bridge.  I knew instantly that it was either a Glaucous or Iceland Gull and was worried that it might move off before I'd achieved managed to identify it!  Luckily, it settled on the mud at the mouth of the Bure and I was able to confirm the id as an Iceland Gull based on it's structure, rounded head, and a mostly dark bill.  I was able to take a stroll along the footpath beside ASDA from where quite reasonable views were obtained although as I was at work I didn't have my camera with me.  

On 17th my first Sandwich Tern of the year flew over Breydon Bridge while on the 20th a visit to Martham Broad and Horsey produced my first Large Red Damselfly of the year and also my first Sedge Warblers.


An aggressive Greylag Goose at Strumpshaw.

 On 23rd I had an enjoyable visit to Strumpshaw with the highlight being 2 pairs of Gargeney from tower hide although they spent much of the time asleep out of view.  Other species new for the year included Hobby, Common Tern and Grasshopper & Reed Warblers as well as some nice Orange Tip Butterflies.  I then moved on to Cantley marshes hoping to see a Grey Phalarope but the pool the bird was said to be on was only viewable distantly and a severe heat haze made viewing almost impossible.

Finally, my first Whitethroat was at Winterton on 26th and my first Swift over Rollesby Broad on 29th.                                                                                                  


Saturday, 3 April 2021

March Summary.

 With the covid-19 lockdown rules still applying, for most of the month I restricted my birding to the Trinity Broads.  Arriving at Ormesby Broad on the 3rd I was pleased to discover that the wintering Slavonain Grebe had been joined by another but both were distant.  Meanwhile, the Long-tailed Duck had moved to Rollesby Broad.  The 2 Grebes were still present on 15th and a fine male Scaup was on Rollesby Broad.  My attempts to turn it in to a Lesser Scaup were predictably a failure!

A Great White Egret at Ormesby Little Broad on 18th was my first for the site while on the 27th the Egret was still present, the Long-tailed Duck was back on Ormesby Little Broad, my first Chiffchaff was heard and the 2 Grebes still on Ormesby Broad.

With a White-tailed Eagle having been about I visited Horsey on 29th.  Time spent along the Nelson Head track produced nothing of note so I returned to the pull-in near the bend on the Horsey straight.  After a few minutes another birder picked up the Eagle in flight.  Views were distant and no plumage details visible but it was being mobbed by a Marsh Harrier which was tiny in comparison!  It gained height and drifted away so although far from good views still an enjoyable experience!

Finally, on a warm day I visited Winterton north dunes on the 30th.  I was hoping to see the Iceland Gull which had wintered but the warm weather had brought crowds of people walking along the beach so no surprise I didn't find it.  My first Wheatear of the year was nice and a singe Brent Goose flew north.  

No decent photo's to include this month!  

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

January & February 2021 summary.

 After the distant Smew at Filby on January 1st a coronavirus lockdown was announced which put the stop on any birding trips.  However, I did have the good fortune to find a nice Slavonian Grebe from Breydon Bridge on January 23rd.  It only stayed for a few minutes and has since spent almost all of it's time about 2 miles up the estuary near to the pumphouse so this was a rather fortunate find.

Not so fortunate was a brief flight view of a first-winter 'white-winged' Gull which flew over Breydon  Bridge towards the lumps late afternoon on February 12th.  It wasn't identifiable as either Glaucous or Iceland on the poor views obtained but I felt it may have been large enough to be the former although with size being difficult to judge on a lone bird this was one which will have to remain unidentified.

Towards the end of the month I began to venture out again and made several visits to the Trinity Broads with highlights being the long staying Slavonian Grebe still on Ormesby Broad and the long staying Long-tailed Duck still on Ormesby Little Broad. Rollesby Broad provided some new birds with a fine pair of Goosander on 19th and 2+ redhead Smew on the 26th.  Warm weather on 27th produced my first Butterflies with a Brimstone at Ormesby Little Broad and a Peacock outside my house.

I had little chance to take any photo's during this period although a Common Gull at Ormesby Little Broad was the sole highlight. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

A distant Smew to start the new year.

 To start my new years birding on January 2nd I decided to have a gentle wander around the Trinity Broads.  First stop was Filby where I bumped into Chris Small in the carpark who told me he had seen a very distant female Smew from the fishing platform.  My first attempt was unsuccessful so I wandered down to Ormesby Little Broad, picking up a few common year-ticks but nothing of real note.  I returned to Filby and this time located the Smew but right at the back of the broad so only very poor views!

Moving on to Ormesby Broad I failed to locate the Slavonain Grebe or much else of note.

Next day I returned to Ormesby Broad for another attempt at seeing the Slavonian Grebe in 2021 but again found little of note.  In December I made 5 visits and saw the Grebe each time so rather disappointing that in 2 visits in the new year I failed to connect.  

Friday, 18 December 2020

Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe still on the Trinity Broads.

On Dec 17th an early afternoon wander around the Trinity Broads revealed that the long-staying Long-tailed Duck had now moved to Filby Broad but views were quite distant.  The Slavonian Grebe at Rollesby Broad was again in it's favoured area and, as always, also rather distant.  A Scaup was present on Rollesby Broad but by the time I arrived the sun was low in the sky rendering the Ducks as mere silhouette and I was unable to pick it out.