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Some photos that won't be making the Countryfile 2011 calendar

Late September 2010
Having seen loads of top-notch photographs of the Empid flycatcher in the past few days, I have decided to strike back on behalf of everyone that only has a compact camera and no photographic talent. Behold:

I call this one "Nuthatch in a tunnel". This Nuthatch has learnt that sunflower seeds are nicer than peanuts, but is yet to comprehend that it can stay and eat them rather than removing them one at a time and flying off.

This is a personal favourite, entitled "Deer in the garden, oh it's gone". The composition is aided by framing the photo with bits of wall and window, whilst shooting through the glass in poor light signifies the murky sadness of the deer leaving.

This photo, entitled "Nice spinny birds in the pouring rain" tries to show how being out in the rain can be fun, and how different species can get along together. By photographing pale birds in bad light you can save money on expensive black-and-white filters.

None of these pictures have been published yet, however I have set aside an old mug for royalties should they get snapped up.

Oh and yeah I saw the flycatcher if anyone was wondering, but as I can't add anything useful to the ID, I'll just keep my powder dry for now and leave it to others to debate.


18th September 2010
Having finally decided in the week that I would make the 3 hour journey to Holme to see the Arctic Warbler, it inevitably buggered off. Personally I blame the Pope. I decided that I'd spend the day at Cley & Salthouse instead, the weight of being the only Norfolk birder not to have seen a Lapland Bunting this year weighing heavily on me. Unfortunately no Quails from the train. At Sheringham I met Adam, who had just got a 4-skua haul on the seafront, and we watched loads of people in 1940s costumes wandering around.
From the central hides it looked like a flock of Canada Geese had eaten everything, but we did find two Little Stints and a few Dunlin. Two Carrion Crows were trying to eat an injured gull alive, which was a bit gruesome. Lots of Wigeon too, maybe a recent influx. The wind had died down completely and there wasn't much of interest on North Scrape. Walking towards Salthouse a Lapland Bunting called somewhere above us, and we eventually got good views of four birds feeding amongst the sea poppies. A couple of Wheatears and a Greenshank were the only birds of note as we walked back to Salthouse. Nothing new from the Dun Cow, although some nice flypasts from Swallows and House Martins still delaying the flight south.


17th September 2010

My last house had a small paved back garden, which only really attracted Goldfinches with any regularity. Whilst not being much bigger, my current garden is close enough for flocks of birds to pass through from Earlham Cemetery, with nothing so far beating a beautiful Nuthatch on the peanut feeder today. It didn't stay long, pecking at a few nuts before bending its head out in characteristic "L" shape and flying off. It's nice to be able to look out of the window and not know what may be lurking!

Anyone know much about snails?

12th September 2010
Not much change on the broad from Friday, although no terns today. I took to the woods to hunt down a Coal Tit, probably the commonest patch bird that I have yet to catch up with, but no luck. Whilst looking at some cup fungi I found these interesting-looking snails. Tony Irwin has suggested they are probably Plaited Door Snails, but I would welcome confirmation from any Snail-experts out there.

Whitlingham Sept counts & another Black Tern

10th September 2010
With the coast dripping with Redstarts earlier in the week, if ever I was going to find an autumn patch migrant, this should be the time. After spending far too much time checking the tit flocks along the edge of the Little Broad (one Chiffchaff, its a warbler bonanza) I revised my expectations to "nothing" and began my wildfowl count. A Black Swan that turned up a couple of days ago was the first of the year here, presumably last years pair were the ones that bred at Strumpshaw. Count:
Black Swan - 1 (Little Broad)
Mute Swan - 86 (6 Little Broad, 80 Great Broad)
Greylag Goose - 3
Canada Goose - None, but three Thorpe side of the river
Egyptian Goose - 6 (Mass exodus, now only 3 pairs)
Mallard - 140 (including Domestic Mallard types)
Gadwall - 28 (increase on last count)
Tufted Duck - 5 (flew over)
Great Crested Grebe - 5
Coot - 234 (5 Little Broad, 229 Great Broad)
Moorhen - 4
Cormorant - 31+ in roost trees
The walk around the broad was uneventful, with no watersports going on and few other walkers. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was the only bird of note along the south shore. The Coot were rather flighty, continuously half flying/half running along the water, particularly a group of 117 near the centre of the broad. I was scanning the conservation area bay to complete my Coot count when I spotted a Black Tern hawking along the east end of the broad. Going back round to the south shore I watched it near the island, marvelling at each swoop and soar up just above the water surface. Having twitched one here a couple of days ago it was nice to see this one and spend some time watching it. I called Cathy, who came and had a look, her first Black Tern.

Patch tick, Wryneck and some bats

7th & 8th September 2010
A couple of evening trips after work. On Tuesday I got a lift down to Whitlingham where a juvenile Black Tern was flying back and forth along the Great Broad. We then went to Cley where we got good views of the obliging Wryneck, which seemed happy to sit up and bask in the evening sun. We saw a Redshank/Spotshank/Greenshank treble on Arnold's Marsh, but probably passed the Lapland Buntings about 100m away. No new migrants around Salthouse in a quick search, but Gadwall (95) and Avocet (96) from the Dun Cow edged me closer to my Pub 100.
On Wednesday Cathy & I went on a rescheduled walk at Mousehold with Norwich Bat Group. Only Common Pipistrelles (45kHz) were seen & detected, but there were quite a few of them around.

Lots of red things and some more pub birds

5th September 2010
The last day of the summer holidays, and an opportunity to look at some migrants whilst Gary kept the yearlist ticking over. We started at Holme, becoming day members of the NOA to have a look at their Red-necked Phalarope. It seemed to have found the pool on Redwell Marsh to its liking, a view not shared by many other birds, and the circling feeding behaviour did make it look like it had been tied to four partially-submerged posts. A nice little earner ;-) The second red bird of the day was a stonking male Redstart spotted by Adam on the posts to the left of the hide.
A walk around the forestry was stopped to allow a parade of ramblers through, but eventually we found a Pied Flycatcher. Little else of note, even in the NOA part of the reserve (my first walk around, I'd consider membership if there was a reserve closer to home). Walking back along the entrance track we saw a close Garden Warbler, Stonechat, female Redstart and finally a Red-backed Shrike (one of two present) before two Peregrines soared above us and then flew off south-eastwards.
Next up was a bit of pub-birding from everyones favourite beer garden. Keeping our eye on the shingle ridge failed to provide a cheeky Lap Bunting, but we did get Common Tern, Sandwich Tern and Gannet passing through. Two more excellent pub ticks flew in, a Greenshank onto one of the scrapes and then three Whinchat (although there were four initially) on brambles straight out from the pub. A Hobby was a pub tick for Adam, whilst a couple of easy birds missing from my list were picked up in the form of Tufted Duck and Canada Goose.
Refreshed we set out again, doubling back to Stiffkey. We waited on the saltmarsh for a while for a furtive Barred Warbler to show itself, seeing yet another Garden Warbler. Eventually the Barred Warbler did come out in the open, working its way down a small tree before vanishing again. We stopped briefly at Cley, seeing a couple of Wheatears on the Eye Field and getting some good views of passing Arctic Skuas. Two times one of the Arctics landed on the sea, and it made a nice change that the winds allowed us to watch them bobbing up and down. The downside of course was that nothing else was being blown towards us, so we left for Weybourne.
We headed west from the main carpark, fighting our way through swathes of Pied Wagtails. No sign of the Wryneck seen earlier in the day, but a second Red-backed Shrike of the day was hunched low in the scrub near Moss' Pool. The vast expanse of the camp was inhabited only by Rabbits and Wheatears. We walked back, swotting more Pied Wags out of our hair. By the time I got back to Norwich it was dark - not only is it autumn, winter is coming!

First seawatch of the autumn

30th August 2010
I decided to put in an appearance at Sheringham for my first sewatch of the year. A combination of Bank Holiday trains and not wanting to put Cathy off before she'd started meant that we didn't arrive until 8.45, which as suspected was too late. Having been informed that I had missed Long-tailed Skua, Pom Skua and Sooty Shearwater, we stood to the left of the seawatching shelter and hoped. Nothing amazing, a few Great Skuas, 2 Manx Shearwaters, Gannet, Fulmar, Common Scoter, Teal, Oystercatcher and Tern spp. flew past . We went up to the boating lake to see if we could get better views, but the winds were too strong to keep the 'scope steady. Back to work next week, so I'm going to need some North-easterlies on a Saturday if I'm ever going to catch up with a Long-tailed Skua!