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, 20 July 2016

Great Knot but not great

Having dipped on the Great Knot three times I thought it was about time I saw it.  It was on the fresh marsh at Titchwell on 27th June while I was at work.  Did I have enough time to see it in my lunch hour?  It would be touch and go, but I went for it.  Racing out to the freshmarsh I looked a bit out of place all togged up for work, a fact that was confirmed by the various comments I received, but I got there with 5 minutes to go before I needed to head back to work.  The flock of Knot was still there, but was the Great Knot?  Yes, but it was asleep in the middle of the flock. All I could see was what looked like a dark breast on a bird more or less front-on, but views weren't great - I wasn't quite sure which side its body was on for a start!  Then briefly it woke up and stuck its head up - that's better, I can see it's a Great Knot now, just.  Then immediately it went back to sleep.  It woke up again once or twice more, and then I had to go.

When the Great Knot arrived I decided I wasn't bothered about seeing it unless I could get good views of it.  Now I'd seen it, but I still hadn't got good views of it.  I enjoyed the Mediterranean Gull that flew over the visitor centre as I raced back to the car just as much, and the Corn Bunting that was singing at Choseley as I drove past without stopping, just as much.  I'll just have to keep trying with the Knot, I figured.

It stayed on the reserve most of the afternoon, long after high tide had been and gone.  It was a nice evening and I didn't have to be back home for anything so I decided to have another go after work.  Needless to say I arrived a few minutes too late - it had just flown off.  But I did have a very pleasant evening chatting to Paul and watching a few bits and pieces.  The reserve was teaming with birdlife in fact and it was a wonderful bright warm calm evening.  Among the highlights was a fine female Spotted Redshank parading around in front of us.  This is a Dutch-ringed bird that has returned for the third consecutive year.

Spotted Redshank, Titchwell, 27th June

Other waders included a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and about 3-400 Avocets.  A Red Kite flew over in the distance and both Little Gull and Mediterranean Gull put in an appearance (a different Med Gull to the one I'd seen at lunchtime).  2 Bearded Tits showed briefly but the bird of the evening for me was a Teal.  At this time of year I often get sent pictures of Teal with brown cheeks which the observers think might be hybrids, but in fact they are pure Teals moulting in to eclipse plumage.  This appeared to be one such bird but it was a more distinctive example than any I've seen before with really strikingly pale cheeks.  Later update: it transpires that the unusual appearance of this bird is due to it being intersex... a female developing male features.

intersex Teal, Titchwell, 27th June

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Third time lucky - (K)not!

In my last post I mentioned two failed attempts to see the Great Knot at Titchwell.  Here are some pics from those trips which I've only just got round to processing.

part of the Knot flock (without a Great Knot), Titchwell, 17th June

Common Tern, Titchwell, 17th June

Blackbird, Titchwell, 17th June

On Saturday 18th I went up to Holkham for moth trapping with the Norfolk Moth Survey.  We saw 2 Barn Owls on the way up and while we were waiting for the key 5 Spoonbills flew over and a Great White Egret dropped in.

The following Wednesday I went searching for gulls in my lunch break.  There were plenty in the pig fields near Houghton though I couldn't find any interesting large white-headed gulls (a possible immature Yellow-legged Gull, but I wasn't convinced).  A total of 6 Mediterranean Gulls was good though, for such an inland location.

There is a pair of Swallows nesting in my neighbour's property and one has been singing outside my study window all summer.

Swallow, North Elmham, 24th June

On 25th June I headed up to Burnham Overy early, passing this Barn Owl on the way.

Barn Owl, south of South Creake, 25th June

There had been a couple of recent reports of Savi's Warbler at Burnham Overy, although the circumstances (twice reported early afternoon, but not evening or early morning) seemed a bit odd.  Anyay I learned that locals had not seen or heard a Savi's there, but there was a Grassshopper Warbler in the area.  Well today I didn't venture into the east dunes so I didn't even see or hear that, but I did see a few things worth noting.

Best was a juvenile Cuckoo in the hedgerow running along the dyke north from the staithe.  I heard it calling first, though didn't recognise it - I don't think I've ever heard a Cuckoo's begging call before.  It flew along the hedge a bit before landing in view, albeit partly obscured.  A while later it flew a short distance further and disappeared from view.  I could still hear it though and looked out for what might be feeding it.  At first I could only see Blue Tits and Sedge Warblers in the area and was pretty sure they weren't responsible.  Eventually a Reed Warbler appeared, carrying food.  The Cuckoo wasn't in view now so I can't be 100% sure it was feeding the Cuckoo, but I presume it was the Cuckoo's foster parent.

Cuckoo, Burnham Overy, 25th June

Other notable birds included 2-3 Spoonbills and at least 4 Bearded Tits.  Young birds included this Lapwinga and at least 2 Pochard ducklings surviving.

Lapwing, Burnham Overy, 25th June

Pochard with ducklings, Burnham Overy, 25th June

Afterwards I went back to Titchwell hoping I would be third time lucky with the Great Knot.  Saw 2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Peregrine and heard a Cuckoo, but not a Knot.  Well not a big Knot anyway.

Little Egret, Titchwell, 25th June

There will be some better news from Titchwell in due course, I promise...