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.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Hybrid hunting

Last Monday I headed up to Blakeney for a walk round the Freshes.  Partly inspired by a report of a putative Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrid and partly just because it's a great place.  I walked round from the duckpond to the corner at the east end where the path turns back to Cley.

A Spoonbill flew down Blakeney Point and seemed to go down on the reserve at Cley and a Whimbrel flew in the opposite direction.  One or two Barn Owls were hunting over the marshes.  Good to see lots of breeding wader activity with chicks seen of Avocets (at least 3 broods), Lapwings and Redshanks.  Also a pair of Little Ringed Plovers there.  No sign of any hybrid ducks though.

Redshank chick, Blakeney, 16th May

Reed Bunting, Blakeney, 16th May

Skylark, Blakeney, 16th May

I couldn't resist a quick look at the collection on my way back past.  Interesting to see how the first-winter birds have progressed.  I thought the Smew and Hooded Mergansers would have got further than this by now.

captive Hooded Merganser, Blakeney Collection, 16th May

captive Smew, Blakeney Collection, 16th May

captive Blue-winged Teal, Blakeney Collection, 16th May

I headed to Cley next, starting off at Dauke's Hide.  There wasn't much doing here at all - a Knot and a single Dunlin were the only waders of note.

Avocet, Cley, 16th May

Gadwall, Cley, 16th May

A couple of Bearded Tits were seen as I headed back to the road, along with this Sedge Warbler.

Sedge Warbler, Cley, 16th May

I then headed down to Babcock hide, my first visit to this new hide.  Getting my lungs full of the spray a farmer was depositing on the field opposite wasn't the most pleasant experience and I didn't see much from the hide to make it worthwhile, but I can see the potential here and will certainly visit it again.  Another Bearded Tit was the best bird seen here, but also good to see a brood of 8 Pochard ducklings.

I returned to Blakeney Freshes next, this time walking to the corner from the Cley end.  The Little Ringed Plovers had moved on and again no sign of any Scaup hybrid on the pools in the corner.  But as I walked back towards Cley I did see an Aythya hybrid in the ditch nearby - no Scaup involved though, this was a Ferruginous Duck x Tufted Duck hybrid.

Ferruginous Duck x Tufted Duck hybrid, Blakeney, 16th May

Dave and I went to the Brecks in the evening with a view to moth-trapping.  By the time we got there conditions proved not to be as forecast so we soon abandoned that idea, but in the meantime we did get several sightings of at least 2 Woodocks, Cuckoos and heard Nightjar and Tawny Owl.

With poor conditions for migrant birds I spent the rest of my holiday in search of moths or brownie points and didn't get a great deal of birding in.  The mothing was quite successful with finding one first confirmed vice-county record (Bluebell Conch Hysterophora maculosana) and a county first of Pine Cone Tortrix Gravitarmata margarotana.  The latter involved 3 individuals but may only be the 4th or 5th UK record although that is not quite yet clear.  If you're interested in the moths then check out my mothing diary.

One trip to the local patch produced a good number of gulls though and a second-year (third calendar-year) Yellow-legged Gull was quickly located among them, a good record for the local area.

Another mothing trip to the Brecks produced the same species as before with the nice addition of a singing Tree Pipit.

Tree Pipit, Norfolk Brecks, 20th May

Back at work this week and on Monday I had a nice surprise at work.  In a meeting with my boss I just had to interrupt proceedings to point out a Spotted Flycatcher on the fence outside the window.

Today I saw a Red Kite in my lunch break from Coxford and perhaps the same Red Kite on my way home at Dunton.

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