A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Mainly local birding

I've searched for migrants during my lunch breaks over the last couple of weeks, largely without much success.  A Black Redstart at Heacham a fortnight ago, a few Swallows moving south there and my first Sedge Warbler of the year, but nothing remarkable.

Other birds have included a Red Kite over Burnham Overy Mill and, on the way in to work, Little Owl at Sculthorpe.  A Treecreeper was singing just outside the office window one day but it's the local patch where it's all been happening. Unfortunately it was all happening while I was at work.

Last Monday there were 8 Swallows at Hell Pit, and still 25 Shovelers remaining.  Nearby my first 4 Sand Martins of the year (very late first sighting) flew over Creaking Gate Lake and my first Mallard ducklings of the year at Rawhall Gravel Pits (a brood of 12, accompanied by both male and female, unusually).  Other gravel pits in the area held a pair of Avocets still and pairs of Little Ringed Plovers at 2 sites.

Tuesday was when it all kicked off.  In the local area (not all at my patch) there were Little Gulls, Arctic Terns, Knot, Ruff, Dunlin, White Wagtail and all sorts.  Oh, and a Great White Egret just outside my village!  Needless to say not only was I at work today but I had to go out in the evening too, so I only had time for a very quick scan on my way home from work at one gravel pit where Dave had seen Arctic Tern, Ruff (both firsts for the patch), Knot (second for the patch), Dunlin and 3 Avocets.  Well the Knot was still there, and the Dunlin, and there were at least 7 Little Ringed Plovers which is a good count, but the real goodies had both gone.

On Thursday I managed to get to the patch before work and again briefly at lunchtime.  Pairs of Avocet were at two sites (though not at the same time, so conceivably the same birds) and plenty of Little Ringed Plovers.  A party of 5 Dunlin included four in breeding plumage as well as perhaps the same winter-plumaged bird that was there on Tuesday.  A Peregrine was having its breakfast early on.  We've been seeing Peregrines in the area well into breeding season on numerous occasions over the last few years but we haven't worked out where they're coming from.  Not inconceivable that they're the Norwich birds I suppose, but I rather doubt it.  Maybe the same birds that have been frequenting Wymondham Abbey?

Two Treecreepers were singing either side of me at Creaking Gate Lake - sounded like they were duetting with them seemingly taking it in turns to sing.  Made me wonder if females sometimes sing and these were a duetting pair, but according to Simon Harrop's "Tits, Nuthatches and Treecreepers" only the males sing (don't have it - conveniently Google Books shows the relevant page), although it looks some species covered in the book do duet with females singing too.  Assuming Harrop is correct I guess it must have simply being two territorial males.

On Friday my lunch time birding effort was hampered by heavy rain but I did manage a surprise second-year Mediterranean Gull in a ploughed field north of Stanhoe, followed by a pair of adult Mediterrean Gulls in the same field.

Mediterranean Gulls, north of Stanhoe, 15th April

On Saturday there were still 3 Dunlins on the patch along with at least 5 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Avocets at the same site.  More hirundines too with plenty of Swallows and at least 5 House Martins at last.  Still at least 50 Fieldfares present.  No sign of any Arctic Terns though, despite a good number moving through inland locations in the county.

Red-legged Partridge, Bittering, 16th April

Didn't get out birding on Sunday, except for a quick outing in the evening where Marsh Tit and Green Woodpeckers were the highlights, but drove past what seemed to be either a Polecat or Polecat-like Ferret dead on the B1145 just east of Billingford.  Went back later to see if I could get a closer look and photos but it was gone.

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