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.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Corncrake from the garden and a Dowitcher

On Sunday 16th July Jake Gearty found a Long-billed Dowitcher along the East Bank at Cley.  This is a bird that rarely turns up in Norfolk and although I've seen a few elsewhere the only one I recall seeing in Norfolk before was the Pentney bird in April 1994.  On checking my records it turns out I also saw the juvenile at Titchwell in September 2007 - strange how that one seems to have completely disappeared from my memory.  I checked back on my diary page to see if I could jog my memory - weirdly I can remember well the Mallard x Egyptian Goose hybrids and Signal Crayfish I saw the same morning but even though I have a rubbishy photo of the dowitcher I still can't remember seeing it.  Must be old age.  Anyway, I can remember this one still, which I went up to see late afternoon - a fine bird showing well, if a little distantly, from East Bank.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Cley, 16th July

After a while it flew off west over the reserve and appeared to go down, much to the frustration of Penny who was just arriving.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Cley, 16th July

There were some nice cute baby Lapwings and Redshanks viewable from East Bank too...

Lapwing, Cley, 16th July

Redshank, Cley, 16th July

Penny heard from Eddie that the Dowitcher had dropped in to the central scrapes but in no time it had flown again.  We headed round to North Scrape in the hope that it would settle there but alas there was no sign.  I heard a Whimbrel at some point and a Mediterranean Gull flew past.

The area where people have been hearing Corncrakes calling in North Elmham is no more than 500m from my front door and I wondered if I might be able to hear one from my property at some point.  But I'm always up checking the moth trap before dawn and I'm often in my study with the window open facing that way and I'd had no luck.  Some neighbours had told me they'd heard one at the top end of my road a few times - the other way from the main site - and from their description I was pretty sure they meant it had been calling from my next-door neighbour's property (they have a lot of land).  After hearing this I made an even more concerted effort to hear them from my garden but still with no joy until the morning of Tuesday 18th July.  I went out to check the moth trap as usual at 3.40 am while it was still virtually dark, and almost straightaway I could hear the distinctive "crex crex" call.  The Corncrake continued to call for the next ten minutes or so by which time it was starting to get light, and then stopped completely - I was out there for an hour or so and didn't hear it again.  I presume it was calling from my neighbour's property although it sounded like it was coming from just up the road (where there are just houses and gardens).

The following night there was terrential rain from before dawn so there was no chance of hearing anything above the noise of the rain, not that there was any chance of anything calling anyway.  I never heard it again.

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