Tuesday, 28 June 2011

June 28th

Back to the moths a very warm and surprisingly dry night brought dividends, there were two new site records, to go with one I missed yesterday (Short Cloaked Moth), they were Bordered Pug and Four Dotted Footman. The numbers of moths were high at over 300 and the night so far for species with a whopping 91 species recorded, some really nice moths supported the two new ones with Beautiful Snout, Red necked Footman, Barred Red, Twin Spotted Carpet, Muslin Footman and Suspected!! plus a really stunning Orange Moth, not amazingly rare but a real beauty as well as 7 Festoons a Nationally Scarce B moth, it took a while to record them all but it was great to have had a really busy night!
Argyresthia Brockeella (tiny!)


Orange Moth

Twin Spot Carpet

The birding was a bit more predictable, it was pleasing to hear TURTLE DOVE by the moat. The odd SWIFT was drifting around over the woods and the CHAFFINCH flock was again touching maybe 30 birds. It was surprising not hear or see any Goldfinches, the first time for several months they haven't appeared on the morning list. Two of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were seen this morning and the first young BULLFINCH of the year was seen, I was beginning to think they may not appear!
I couldn't find any early wandering warblers in the hedges only a couple of LESSER WHITETHROATS and COMMON WHITETHROATS, the young REED BUNTINGS were also still around. My gull species this morning was 1 LESSER BLACK BACKED!
Morning skies

Monday, 27 June 2011

26th June, Lakenheath to Titchwell

We set off to Lakenheath just after 5am yesterday morning (we being two friends called Pete and me), we didn't see too many birds on the way up but as we pulled into the car park of the reserve a BARN OWL carrying prey flew over the edge of the washland, nice start! Once I'd loaded myself up with camera, bins, scope, and rucksack with provisions, we were off. A couple of strides away from the car and a KINGFISHER flashed passed closely followed by another a few seconds later! Once into the reserve there was plenty to see SEDGE, and REED WARBLERS were abundant as were COMMON WHITETHROATS and REED BUNTINGS.
Reed Warbler

It wasn't long before we had our first of 6 raptor species today KESTREL closely followed by MARSH HARRIER. Just after seeing the Marsh Harrier we heard the first of 2 GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS. Everything was happening quite quickly, a quick stop at the first view point and it wasn't long before we were listening to a Golden Oriole, the two Petes had never seen one but had heard them before, it sounded like the bird was heading a long the long thin strip of poplars to our left, we took the path along the edge of this strip and I managed to pick up the male GOLDEN ORIOLE in flight, about 40ft up, it flew right passed us over the view point and landed in full view, albeit briefly, in some dead branches at the top of a Poplar!!! Brilliant, so we decided to head home!?
After deciding that now we were here we might as well have more of a look round we continued. I always enjoy Lakenheath and try to get at least one trip a year in. We soon added BUZZARD, BEARDED TITS, 2 BITTERNS, a couple of HOBBIES and countless CUCKOOS and MARSH HARRIERS, by the time we left at 10.30am we had made a note of 55 species.
Four Spotted Chaser

Weeting is so close to Lakenheath and on our way to Titchwell, it made sense to drop in to see how the Stone Curlews were doing, unfortunately our timing was a bit out and a coach load had just started queuing to get in the hide! Since our last visit, the reserve has opened up an area of woodland to the public on the opposite side of the road to the hides, it didn't look too far on the map. 2hrs later, the circuit was complete! not without a few birds being added to the growing day list several though. TREE PIPITS sang and one displayed well, then a second new bird for both Petes was a WOODLARK also singing and displaying, a little late but a very welcome sight, it then sat in full view singing until it was time we moved on.Eventually back at the hides, now empty, it was great to see 2 STONE CURLEWS with a chick not far out in their favoured field.
Next stop was just outside Burnham Market, looking for raptors. There were loads of gulls over the fields including a couple of MEDITERRANEAN GULLS, we also managed another raptor Pete S picked up a RED KITE flying towards Burnham Market, a really nice surprise!
On to Titchwell and the hope of the maybe a Temminck's Stint, we were heading that way anyway. Pretty much the first bird we saw was a SPOONBILL which flew right passed us, for once camera at the ready, I fired off a few shots, once again I was on the wrong setting, will I ever get the hang of this, I wondered to myself!

Black Headed Gull

The scrape was full of waders, loads of BAR TAILED and BLACK TAILED GODWITS as well as AVOCET, KNOT, some excellent summer plumaged SPOTTED REDSHANKS and a single GREY PLOVER. The last stop was the sea and a couple of GANNETS headed east as did a single LITTLE TERN. There was time just see one last BITTERN as it flew towards the Fen Hide and dropped into the reeds. Unfortunately the reported Temminck's Stint had gone but there was plenty to see!


Shelduck with young

A total of 100 species exactly was more than I expected, to keep the numbers round we also saw 10 butterfly species a Muntjac, Common Lizard and a couple of moths not forgetting a the Four Spotted Chasers Emperor Dragonfly and I think a Variable Damselfly. Back home by 9.30pm, I gave the moths at Sissinghurst a miss this this morning. (it might be worth clicking on a couple of the images).

Saturday, 25 June 2011

June 24th, New Butterfly

It was really pleasant this morning, the sun was out and yesterdays breeze had dropped. There wasn't a great deal of bird action on the car park but one of the first things I saw was a movement about 15ft up in an Ash, it was either a moth or a butterfly, it disappeared but a quick search with the bins found me looking at a fine Purple Hairstreak! I know they are not rare but it was a first for me, I did try a couple of photos as it sat there for at least 2 or 3 minutes, unfortunately I struggled to get a decent result!

Carrying on the walk, a LESSER WHITETHROAT sang from where the Garden Warbler has been this week and a young GARDEN WARBLER was near the restaurant, several GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were seen, mainly in flight and a BULLFINCH called by the gate to the lake field. Here there were also a few butterflies one Small Skipper and 6 Meadow Browns. A GOLDCREST sang from somewhere near the lake, as did NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER. On the way back towards the fields, I went via the moat and found 2 new MOORHEN chicks.

Young Garden Warbler

New Moorhen chicks

Once in the fields the small mixed flock was still feeding in the edge of the crops, I thought I heard a BUZZARD and a minute or so later one appeared and headed into Roundshill Wood as I watched this 2 SPARROWHAWKS came into view one of which was attempting a half hearted display type flight, a SWIFT completed the scene as it passed by them. A really enjoyable walk all over far too quickly!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

June 23rd

Quite a contrast to yesterday, it was a bit breezy and until I got into the fields there was hardly any activity. The birds were certainly quieter, unless their songs were being blown away on the wind! That's a question someone put to me several years ago, you see leaves and feathers and what ever else it might be, blown along in the wind but how does sound get blown on the wind, it's not a solid object that can be moved like leaves and feathers etc. yet the wind certainly has an affect on it? I couldn't come up with a sensible answer!
This is the only bird that posed today

Anyway back to the birds such as they are, the GARDEN WARBLER was again singing just below the veg garden, a couple of MISTLE THRUSHES flew toward the lake and ones and twos of LINNETS were criss-crossing the fields. A CORMORANT flew south, while 3 HERRING GULLS flew north. I noted singles only of REED BUNTING and YELLOWHAMMER but they were in a flock of maybe 20 birds that held CHAFFINCHES, HOUSE SPARROWS, a couple of COMMON WHITETHROATS and a CHIFFCHAFF, all feeding at the edge of the wheat field.
In one sheltered spot I did find a Blue Tailed Damselfly and a Meadow Brown.
A lone Poppy
Blue Tailed Damselfly

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

June 22nd

Steve was back recording the moths with me today, he does the lions share, there were reasonable numbers of moths but we got through them quickly, Leopard Moth, Large Emerald and Yellowtail were new for the year, we also had 3 types of Hawkmoth another Beautiful Hook Tip, the morning totals were 227 moths of 62 species and the year total stands at 225 species.
Leopard Moth

This is the tiny 'micro' Hawthorn Moth (please correct me if this is wrong)

Just to give a size comparison!

My eyes were still a bit blurry but I started my birding walk close to 5am. A LESSER WHITETHROAT really gave me the run around, singing from various bushes and circling me a couple of times as I tried to get a photo!!!
This is the best I could do!!


A flock of around 16 GOLDFINCHES were around the veg garden and several GREENFINCHES were whizzing around. SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were represented by 4 birds this morning and from their locations it could be that we do have 3 pairs, as a bird appeared away from where the others are normally seen.

This little chap looks proud to be a Robin!

Young Chiffchaff

Young Dunnock

I had about 3 hours of watching before work and although there were no new birds, I did manage 50 species this morning and I doubled the normal daily allowance of gulls which instead of one Herring was 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED, another thing I noticed were a few flocks of STARLINGS all flying north-west with about 20 birds in each flock.
It was pleasing to see a KESTREL, which was the first one since I got back from Morocco, which seems a very long time ago now. MARSH TIT and LONG TAILED TIT were both seen and a young GREY HERON was by the lake.
The noise around the fields was tremendous, SKYLARKS were as yesterday just filling the air with song, today interspersed with YELLOWHAMMER, GARDEN WARBLER and 2 COMMON WHITETHROATS. 4 HOUSE MARTINS flew west and a single SWIFT was seen as I followed 3 CORMORANTS along the valley.

I actually saw a few butterflies this morning my Small Skipper of the year, 2 Meadow Browns and a Large White, ok not many but I was happy :-)  Stephen was out and about this morning and he had CROSSBILLS over and a SPARROWHAWK to add to the tally.
Small Skipper

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

June 21st

It was certainly warmer and drier than yesterday morning and within 10 minutes almost 20 species had been noted, 3 GREENFINCHES were picking up grit in the car park accompanied by a squirrel and 2 CHAFFINCH. A GOLDCREST sang continuously and a LESSER WHITETHROAT was on the edge of the car park. A pair of COLLARED DOVES flew up from in front of the barn where a family of NUTHATCHES were busy feeding alongside it, I took some pictures, as they showed well but messed up the camera setting, which was a bit of a blow!
One of the results

I spent my half hour or so looking across the valley, just for a change a single HERRING GULL was seen and I was treated to a GARDEN WARBLER singing for nearly the whole half an hour from various points up and down the hedge, interrupted only by the odd rattle from another Lesser Whitethroat and joined briefly by a young BLACKCAP.
The SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were busy around the vegetable garden and a single YELLOWHAMMER could be heard, among the several SKYLARKS that were appearing and disappearing in and out of the wheat. There wasn't a great deal flying through the valley, the odd MALLARD and a couple of SWALLOWS, still a vast improvement on yesterday :-)
Young Blackbird

Spotted Flycatcher

Monday, 20 June 2011

Quick post, June 20th

I didn't manage to get out this weekend but I was checking the moths from 4.15 this morning in the pouring rain!! There were just over 200 moths in the traps of 44 species. New moths for the year were few and far between but there was a nice Swallowtail and a Scalloped Oak, otherwise 57 Heart and Darts made up the bulk of the numbers with a fair few Uncertains (yes, that really is the name of a moth!!). By the time I finished the moths around 6am, I was pretty wet and cold, so decided to go to work early as I had a busy day ahead. I did hear SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, GOLDFINCH and COMMON WHITETHROAT while I was checking the moths but that really was about it!! Hopefully I 'll have more to report tomorrow, I don't think it could be much less!!!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Yesterday evening and today

I did a walk with a friend yesterday evening to try to get a few bird shots but my opportunist approach to the task wasn't the most successful! Though the rainbow we encountered did give us at least a couple of shots to go away with. We did actually come across several birds I didn't mange to see in the morning, a couple of TREECREEPERS were mixed in a flock of mainly LONG TAILED TITS with a MARSH TIT, while watching these a KINGFISHER called and whizzed over our heads a second or two later. I did think I might get my first chance at a GREEN WOODPECKER picture when one landed in a willow about 20ft away but it was there all of 10 seconds before it clocked us and disappeared! As we got back to the car, the LITTLE OWL heard this morning flew across the car park.
Evening Rainbow

This morning was a very brief 25 minute drop in, so not lots to report, a CUCKOO 'bubbled' a couple of times and then was seen flying down the valley, where a single SWIFT lingered. A small LINNET flock numbered 6 birds and a COMMON WHITETHROAT was seen carrying another one of those white larva/grub things, as in yesterdays photo. I did manage one picture of a Linnet, another bird that before today has been very difficult to get anywhere near, even today it wasn't going to hang around!
Tricky little Linnet!

June 16th, A nice early start

Straight to the traps at 4.15 this morning, moth numbers were lower than in the last few days but still there were 55 species and again several that were new for the year, Buff Arches, Small Dotted Buff, Bordered White, Dunbar and Small Fanfoot. There were a couple of my favourites in today as well, we had 4 Elephant Hawkmoths and a Peach Blossom. One of the pictures below is of micro moth Pseudargyrotoza conwagana, not a particularly attractive name for really well marked little moth. I couldn't see the silver dots all over it until I looked at the photo on the computer! It's only 13mm long, apparently it's quite common and is found in woodland.
Small Dotted Buff

Beautiful Hook-Tip

Pseudargyrotoza conwagana! (micro)

What a stunner! Elephant Hawkmoth

 On the bird front, GOLDFINCHES came top with 16 in a flock around the veg garden, a party of 4 GREY HERONS flew west, I almost forgot when I started checking the moths the LITTLE OWL was calling again nearby. I managed to find both families of REED BUNTINGS today and really struggled getting any photos of anything, despite sitting quietly at various points around the estate! I was pleased to actually see TURTLE DOVE and CUCKOO, they have both been heard reasonably regularly over the passed few days without showing until today. By the lake I thought I heard the odd note from a Reed Warbler in between the BLACKCAP, GARDEN WARBLER and CHIFFCHAFFS that were drowning out everything else out not unpleasantly I might add!, I'll try again tomorrow, if the rain isn't too torrential.
Behaviour never witnessed before, 'Chiffchaff sniffs Honeysuckle'!

Common Whitethroat

The hedges were busy with young BLUE TITS, just one LESSER WHITETHROAT and a few each of COMMON WHITETHROAT and CHIFFCHAFF. The hoped for House Martins that were seen earlier in the spring seem to have disappeared and not taken up the free housing offered by the kindly Gardeners, unless I've just missed them recently. Each day at the moment seems to produce just one gull per visit most of the time, a single HERRING GULL obliged today.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

June 15th, Winter Visitors?

Pete the warden got up early to record the moths and left me a few to have a look through, as he has a school group in today, they will see Elephant and Poplar Hawkmoths, which always go down well for their size and colour. Among the others that he left there were a few year ticks, which included Green Arches, Beautiful Hook Tip, Barred Straw and Dot Moth! I think he ended with 57 species this morning. While I was checking through these two WRENS were really making a lot of noise, then one landed close to where I was sitting with a beak full of food (the Wren, not me!), I moved along a little and the birds continued popped to and from the nest. A familiar call sounded while I was sitting there which made me do a slight double-take as it was SISKIN! they called twice more, before I picked up two birds in the tops of the Silver Birches near to where we record the moths, what was nice is that they were young birds, so must have bred nearby, probably Hempsted Forest if anywhere. This is the second time in three years we've recorded summer Siskins.

Various Wren poses from this morning

I decided just to walk the hedges today, as I had taken so long watching Wrens and checking moths! I did have 3 separate LESSER WHITETHROATS and the REED BUNTING family were in the same place as yesterday. YELLOWHAMMERS were represented also with 3 different birds and I did spy what looked like a young COMMON WHITETHROAT. A couple of CHIFFCHAFFS moved through the hedges quietly and a SWIFT and 3 SWALLOWS joined the half a dozen or so SKYLARKS over the fields. The SPOTTED FLYCATCHER did the same as yesterday, called a lot but didn't show itself!
I'm recording moths tomorrow, so I hope there are some good ones out tonight!
Pied Wagtail

I'm sure it's a while since I posted a Chaffinch!!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

June 14th more Moths and Birds

I arrived at 4.15am and checked the walls and doors for moths Scorched Wing and Eyed Hawkmoth were the best on the outside of the trap, when Pete arrived we did the boxes around the trap then moved to trap 2, there were a couple of year ticks here, Riband Wave and Common Emerald. Returning to check the larger trap we found our first Pine Hawkmoth of the year as well as Lychnis, Minor Shoulder Knot and what I think is a very early Cloaked Minor, we ended on 225 moths of 55 species.
Green Silver Lines

Common Emerald

Thistle Ermine (micro)

While checking the moths a CUCKOO sang almost constantly and a LITTLE OWL called from a nearby line of oaks, it was great way to start the day. A TURTLE DOVE purred somewhere near the bridleway and the SKYLARKS were really going for it with as many as 6 in the air at once. I took a look around the car park and found a GARDEN WARBLER feeding on wild cherries, 2 MISTLE THRUSHES chased each other through the top of the trees and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER crossed the car park on more than one occasion.
Garden Warbler (click for larger image)

By the moat, I stopped to try and get photos of 2 NUTHATCHES that were low down in the oaks that line the banks but they either stopped in the shade or I wasn't quick enough when they did come out in the open!! I briefly heard a SPOT. FLY. here but couldn't locate it. At the lake 2 GREY HERONS flew up and another Garden Warbler was singing well from the undergrowth.
Sunlit Ox-eye

Out to the fields next, and I stood listening to a warbler 'tacking', it didn't sound right for Blackcap or Common Whitethroat, so I stuck with it, eventually a LESSER WHITETHROAT came fleetingly into view. I was around 50yards from the stream but the KINGFISHER was heard a couple of times, 3 CORMORANTS flew south east and I came across two young REED BUNTINGS in the hedge which were soon joined by the adults. I ended on 45 species an average total but without actually going into the wood this morning quite pleasing, I did see a single Red Admiral and Meadow Brown, I mention it only because butterflies are few and far between walking early in the morning as I do.
Reed Bunting