Monday, May 30, 2005

Migrant butterflies have arrived

The only thing to follow a great late night is a great lazy morning, and after breakfast and moths (Angle Shades being the visual highlight) we managed to get in to the field around noon!

It was a gentle walk around Farcet Fen enjoying a day-flying Barn Owl, Yellow Wags, song-flighting Sedge Warblers, Grey Partridges, Cown Bunting, Several Whitethroats, Brown Hares, dykes full of Large Red-eyed Dams and a couple of Hairy Dragons, and butterflies - loads of them.

Large an Small Whites, Peacock, Small Copper, countless Small Tortoiseshells and two Painted Ladies - the migrants have arrived at last assisted with recent days southerly winds.

Painted Lady

Small Copper
Butterflies | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

After lunch we bid farewall to Chris and on our evening wander around the fen had stunning views of two Barn Owls, a female Marsh Harrier and found the fist broods of Pied Wags and Mute Swan on the fen this year.

Summary of todays highlights -
Grey Partridge - 2
Marsh Harrier - 1
Barn Owl - 2 daytime hunting birds
Yellow Wagtail - 6+
Corn Bunting - 2
Painted Lady - 2
Hairy Dragonfly - 2
Brown Hare - 6+

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm reelin' - a nightbird extravaganza

Grasshopper Warbler Woodwalton Fen
Leica APO Televid with 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Our friend Chris Jones joined Liz and me for a couple of days of 'nightbirding' around the fens and Brecks this weekend.

Yesterday was spent around Farcet Fen and the Benefield area enjoying great views of Grey Partridge, Hobby and Red Kites while the evening was spent at a rather chilly Woodwalton Fen where we had great Woodcock, Hobby and Long-eared Owl action. But this was topped with views of Chinese Water Deer and . . . Badger! Wow! While watching a baby LEO, a Badger came trotting right up to us along the ride! I've never seen Badger in the fens before so this was pretty cool!

We followed this up with some amazing Barn Owl watching and 1-2 calling Spotted Crakes.

Summary of the days highlights -
Grey Partridge - 2
Spotted Crake - 1-2 calling birds
Red Kite - 5+
Marsh Harrier - 4+ birds
Hobby - 3 (at two sites)
Woodcock -3+
Long-eared Owl - 3+ squeeking young
Tawny Owl - 1 calling
Barn Owl - 1 perched hunting in car headlights
Nightingale - only one bird on a cool night
Chinese Water Deer - 1
Badger - 1 - a fen first for me!

Today dawned late after yesterday's late night, and over breakfast in the garden we emptied the moth trap. I was pleasantly surprised at the quantity and was amazed at the quality since I thought the cool night would have been a no-hoper.

Alder Moth New for the garden

Rustic Shoulder-knot

Marbled Minor

Pale Prominent

Common Swift

The Lynchis

Large Nutmeg
All moths | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

The afternoon was spent at Woodwalton Fen enjoying dragons (including Scarce Chaser and Hairy Drag) and damselfies (mainly Red-eyed and Azure Blue). Birds were a little quiet, but included more Hobby action, some great views of Marsh Harrier, a Little Owl we watched whilst having lunch, and a party of well-guarded cygnets lead to a rather long detour to avoid stressing mum and dad and us!

Mute Swan cygnets Woodwalton Fen
Leica APO Televid with 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Last night was so cool that we only heard a single Nightingale as we left, and not a single Grasshopper Warbler (recently up to 5+ reeling birds heard). So we were surprised when a Gropper started reeling along one of the rides. It was presumably the same bird Liz and I had failed to pin down a couple of weeks back, so I didn't hold out much hope. Amazingly, I found it sat in the top of a dwarf willow low in the reeds and could just about squeeze a near-reed-free scope view through the reeds. Fantastic!

Grasshopper Warbler Woodwalton Fen
Leica APO Televid with 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Our walk back to the car was interrupted briefly by this caterpillar

Yellow-tail moth caterpillar
Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

We finished the day off in Brecks. Our first stop was a Breck heath whre we enjoyed a pair of Stone-curlews gaurding their single small chick from a circling Common Buzzard, before moving on to Thetford Forest for dusk with Woodcocks and Nightjars. It was simply magical (as any good Nightjar night should be). Cloud cover, warm and loads of churring males. We had at least five males delivering their eerie songs and two birds in particular really showing off with countless bouts of wing-clapping and 'dancing' around a single tall tree in the middle of a clear-fell area. The only odd thing about the evening was not a single female was seen.

Summary of the days highlights -
Mute Swan - pair with cygnets
Marsh Harrier - 4+
Hobby - 2+
Stone-curlew - pair with chick
Woodcock - 5+
Turtle Dove - 2 in garden
Little Owl - 1
Long-eared Owl - single calling young
Nightjar - 5+ churring males
Kingfisher - 1+
Grasshopper Warbler - great views of reeling male
Garden Warbler - many singing and one seen well
Tree Sparrow - in garden
Scarce Chaser - 2
Hairy Dragonfly - 1
Yellow-tail moth - 1 caterpillar
Alder Moth - new for the garden

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Prior's Fen - it ain't the same any more!

Little Grebe One of the few avian highlights from this evenings visit.
Leica APO Televid with 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995
I can't remember the last time I visited this one time favourite birding site of mine. It peaked for me when I found a Pec Sand here in September 2003, but it just seems to have lost it. Water levels are all to cock. The new workings have been dug out and are now one large pit, and apart from the stony shoreline, there is no wader habitat left to speak of. Oh hum.

Four-spotted Chaser
Leica APO Televid with 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995
This evening the place was buzzing with insects, in particular drags including a handful of Variable Damselflies which as far as I know are the first for the site. At least it appears to be good for something!

As for the birds, well, one pit didn't hold a single waterbird, and apart from a few warblers, it was all resident wildfowl - nothing to set the world on fire here.

Brown Hare
Leica APO Televid with 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995
A bonus was managing to get within snapping distance of this stunning Brown Hare. Just look at that eye!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Time for a wee trump

Trumpeter Finch Landguard Point NR, Suffolk.

Well it had to happen. FA Cup final day. Man U vs Arse-of-them-all. Major rare bird finding day. Only most years Man U ain't in the final and the major rare that is found I don't need (me being a moderately large lister n' all). But this year was different. MEGA: TRUMPETER FINCH Landguard Point, Suffolk, showing well!

Well, having psyched myself up for the cup final I was now in utter turmoil. But sense prevailed. I always hate the jossling crowds of first day of major twitches, so the cup final won (shame Man U didn't!) and I sweated on the bird staying overnight.

And it did! So, Liz and I took a quick trip over to Suffolk, had great views (despite howling wind), and with record shots obtained, it was away to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and flavours of the town of Felixstowe - cockles, prawns, crayfish tails - yum!. Top bit of twitchin'.

Today's bird wasn't quite the spankers seen in Almeria in Feb where singing males were enjoyed trumpeting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Turts 'n' Treeps - the real deal!

Not quite the double figure numbers I had in the garden last spring, but this bird is one of at least four visiting the garden at present.

Two of the 16 birds using the garden at present.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Here puss!

Puss Moth A monster of a moth and a garden tick.

Swallow Prominent

So, who's the mama eh?

Pebble Prominent

Muslin Moth

Lime-speck Pug

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Bird race day often turns up the odd goodie, and today, Martin Coates, Dan Williams, Bob & Sue Titman did the bizz with this Fulmar on Langtoft West End Pits right at the end of the racing day! An area tick for most of us (including king area lister Martin) and taking me on to 218 for the area.

Farcet Fen

Brown Hare
Despite over 120 being killed in a single day by local landowners (their anti-coarsing measure!), we still have a few of these wonderful creatures left on the fen.

A typical fenland sight! Try spotting a line of telegraph poles out here which aren't wonky!