Sunday, 31 December 2017

Insects! Review of the year.

As regular readers might know, I'm pretty keen on butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, but largely steer clear of moths: there are just too many of them! However, there are some moths that are so totally intriguing and terrific to look at that I make an exception.

This year I actually became quite obsessive in my attempts to find and photograph Clearwing moths. I had intended to buy a set of pheromone lures, but had left it too late: however, great naturalist and all-round good bloke Rob Holmes lent me his for a few days. In the event, though, the Clearwings I found were without chemical assistance! I'm determined to add to my haul in 2018...

Despite several focused attempts, I still haven't seen a Common Hawker in Norfolk or White-legged Damselfly: I did reacquaint with Scarce Emerald at Thompson Common and Willow Emeralds continue to expand their range - I even had one in the garden!

My favourite insects of the year, however, were the Hummingbird Hawkmoths that arrived early and stayed late in the garden and a superb Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth at Minsmere.










Saturday, 30 December 2017

Gigrin Farm, Berkshire!

Linda and I had a couple of days with Mum-in-Law in Maidenhead: as always there were Red Kites everywhere, whatever the weather conditions. As we were returning from a shopping trip in town, we came across a gathering of at least a dozen birds swooping in and out of someone's back garden. It's safe to assume that the householders had put out the remains of their Christmas turkey!

Other birds that visited M-in-L's garden included Redwing, Mistle Thrush and, of course, Ring-necked Parakeet.








Wednesday, 27 December 2017

2017: review of the birding year.

2017 will be recalled by many as the worst year ever for migration and vagrancy: certainly the volume of spring / autumn migrants was the lowest I can remember. But for me personally, a year that began in hospital with double pneumonia could only get better! Although there weren't lots of shrikes, warblers, flycatchers etc to chase through Holkham Pines, nor a single new entry for the life list, every month provided me with decent photographic opportunities of some fabulous birds.

Even better, of course, it's been a great year out in the field with the newly-retired Linda and our friends Peter, Sue, Brian and Norman, as well as all our chums from the Heath and Strumpshaw: Brian Shreeve and his lovely wife Ann get a special thank you for their kindness when I was housebound throughout January.

Here's to an equally bird-rich 2018 and to continued (or improved!) health and happiness to friends and blog-readers everywhere!

Waxwing: Brian & Ann's garden! (January)

Glaucous Gull, Sheringham (January)

Hooded Crow, Mautby (January)

Iceland Gull, Mautby (February)
 
Great Grey Shrike, Cockley Cley (March)

Ring Ouzels. Winterton (April)

Goshawks, the Brecks (April)

White-tailed Eagle, Buckenham / Cantley (May)

Hobby, Buckenham - one of hundreds this year! (May)

Black-winged Stilts, Potter Heigham (July)

Purple Heron, Minsmere (July)

Stone Curlews, The Brecks (August)

Arctic Warbler, Wells Woods (September)

Great White Egret, Holkham (September)

Little Stints, Titchwell: 2017 was a bumper year! (September)

Red-necked Phalarope, Kelling (October)

Grey Phalarope, Cley (Same day as the RNP!)

Shorelark, Happisburgh (November)

Parrot Crossbill: part of the large flock at Santon D. (November)

Twite: photogenic flock at Thornham (November)

Coues's Arctic Redpoll, Hazelwood Common (December)

Great Northern Diver, Oulton Broad (December)

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

North Coast: Divers, Egrets and Kites..

Our great friends Peter and Sue have been staying up on the North Coast for a few days, so we agreed to meet for a walk round and catch-up. They're not the earliest of risers, so Linda and I started the day (at 8.15) at Cley Beach, intending to drift westwards for our get-together at 11.00.

Lots of Brents on the Eye Field, but if the Brant was there, we didn't see it. Good numbers of Red-throated Divers offshore, as well as a couple of Long-tailed Duck. We moved on to Blakeney, enjoying the Wildfowl collection by the harbour car park - and good views of two Merlins (a male and a female) en route.

After coffee at Wells Quay, we parked at the free car park by the gates at Holkham, not having to wait long for Sue and Peter to arrive. Sue quickly picked up the first of a number of Red Kites of the day, while Nuthatches and Marsh Tits flitted around in the canopy. We walked down Lady Anne's Drive, deciding to avoid the beach (more dogs than Crufts!) and look for Great White Egrets on the marshes. After a few minutes spent in each of the two hides we found three - perhaps four - Great Whites, all somewhat distant, unfortunately. Lots of Geese and a few raptors - Marsh Harriers, Kestrels and Buzzards. A brief check of the beach at the western end of the pines added just a female Stonechat to the day's tally, so we returned to the cars and headed west for soup and a drink before saying our farewells.