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.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

A slow end to summer and then some Caspian Gulls

After the Great Knot, July was dominated by moths not birds.  Mothing activity went crazy leaving little time for birding, so not much to report here for July.  Highlights were:
  • singing Corn Bunting at Ringstead on 6th;
  • Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshanks and Whimbrel at Brancaster on 16th (when looking for moths);
  • a superb adult Hobby carrying prey back to where I presume it was nesting, and then another or the same bird heard calling and seen again;
  • a Nuthatch added to the house list - heard then seen in my neighbour's garden (while I emptied the moth trap early on 18th);
  • 2 Common Terns over the house on 24th & 26th;
  • A Skylark over the house on 29th;
  • various Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Treecreepers at different places either at home or in my lunch breaks.

Red-legged Partridge, Beacon Hill, 20th July

August kicked off with a Hobby near Horningtoft on my way to work.  Then on 4th August I joined up with Pete Wilson and Dawn Balmer for some gull-watching in the Livermere area.  I'm keen to sharpen my skills in gull identification so am always grateful for opportunities to spend some time with gull gurus.  It proved to be an excellent evening with at least 4 Caspian Gulls the highlight, along with a likely 5th bird, a juvenile bearing a yellow ring, that was too distant to be quite sure about.  Also a probable Caspian Gull x Herring Gull hybrid and at least 28 Yellow-legged Gulls.

Caspian Gull, Great Livermere, 4th August

Yellow-legged Gull, Great Livermere, 4th August

Yellow-legged Gull, Great Livermere Lake, 4th August

There was also a Barn Owl by Great Livermere village hall and a Grasshopper Warbler could be heard reeling at the lake for most of the time we were there.  Also at the lake Barnacle Goose and Common Sandpiper.

A moth event at Claxton on 6th produced Barn Owl, Tawny Owl and what looked like a Hobby in addition to moths.  A Red Kite near East Rudham was growing its outer tail feathers making it look very weird.

Then on 11th I returned to Livermere with Pete for more gull learning.  We saw 5 Caspian Gulls - an adult, a 3rd calendar year, 2 2nd calendar years and a juvenile.  Also a possible Caspian Gull x Herring Gull hybrid and at least 34 Yellow-legged Gulls.

Caspian Gull, Great Livermere, 11th August

A third go on 18th produced 6 Caspian Gulls and about 25 Yellow-legged Gulls.  Excellent stuff, and really grateful to Pete for his help.  Still tonnes to learn though!

The local patch produced a juvenile Shelduck and 2 Mandarins on 21st August, along with Common Sandpiper, 4 Green Sandpipers and a Snipe.  Next day 3 Green Sandpipers were still present.

A Willow Warbler heard singing and then seen while I was emptying the moth trap at home on 23rd was an unusual record for here.  Also Bullfinch and Green Woodpecker heard that morning.  Next day a Turtle Dove was on wires at Wighton and a Common Sandpiper was on the local patch.

25th August saw my first trip to Burnham Overy this autumn.  A Peregrine was carrying something big away over the saltmarsh as I arrived.  Walking down to the dunes I saw 6 Spoonbills on the saltmarsh over towards Burnham Norton and a Water Rail preening on the edge of the reedy pool.  Whimbrel and Greenshank were heard calling, Common Sandpiper seen and 60 Golden Plovers flew over.  Later a Green Sandpiper flew over having come up from Holkham Freshmarsh.  A flock of 16 Common Terns flew over relatively high.

Common Tern, Burnham Overy, 25th August

Marsh Harrier, Burnham Overy, 25th August

At least 2, probably 3-4 Whinchats were in the dunes along with at least 6 Stonechats and 2 Wheatears.  Other migrants included various common warblers (all in low to middle single figures) and a Hobby was seen.

The last few days of August and start of September got me Little Owl calling at home, Nightjar heard calling on a central Norfolk heath, a couple of Tawny Owls from the car and live Badgers near Reepham and at Old Beetley.  Also a migrant Wheatear inland at Marsham Heath on 1st September.

Wheatear, Marsham Heath, 1st September

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