Monday, 28 May 2012

Norfolk last days.

Day 20 26th May
No birding done today except a quick stop in for 2 Wood Sandpiper and a Ruff at Salthouse. The light was all wrong unfortunatly.
Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper


Day 21 27th May
Yes were still here, the wonderful people who own the van let us stay here a couple more days. Definitely got to leave for Derbyshire on Monday though as its Daves funeral on Tuesday, then off home and back to finding a Job!!! Only birding done today was a walk out on the heath during the day and in the evening for Nightjars. A few churring, calling, wing clapping and showing well over the busy campsite.
Day 22 28th May
BOOOOOO HOOOOOOO time for home, or at least to Derbyshire for the funeral. Before we left I had a walk early on the heath produced nothing new but it was nice to be out, although the low mist didn't help. Unless theres something easy to twitch on the way home I wont be stopping.. I'm all birded out...
Time for getting back to serious life and trying to find a Job.

finished on a poor 166 species...

Friday, 25 May 2012

Norfolk Black Kite

Day 17 and 18 23rd-24th May
Well well well, 2 nights out on Kelling Heath and the first night I could only just heard a distant Nightjar churring.. The icing on the cake was when talking to a couple of guys a Stone Curlew screamed out from somewhere on our left. The guys left and the Stone Curlew flew around the heath for a short time. This I find out is a first for the Heath Woohoo.
Tonight however no sign or sound but much better sounds and sight from at least 4 Nightjars.
No birding through the day just the heath tonight.
Day 19 25th May, Probably our very last full day here boo. So we had promised ourselfs to do a Seal Trip to Blakeney point, but I wanted to do the trip when I thought it was gonna be good on Blakeney for migrants, soooo as it was our last day it had to be done without the migrants anyway, good timing id say though. We were on the point turning the boat around to be dropped of on Blakeney when all the gulls and terns took flight, something was in the Air. A large raptor headed towards us, it was only a flaming Black Kite, bloody brilliant. The Boat dropped me off on the point and I walked back covering the area fairly well but could only find a Spotted Flycatcher, but then it was such a nice day there's no way any migrants would be dropping in..To be honest my scope never came out on the walk back.
Im dropping in a couple more Bee eater shots i processed today ;-) Remember to click on the image to enlarge them...

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Atlas Flycather NOT!

Well the results are in and it seems the Atlas flycatcher i wasted 50 quid of diesel on was a bog standard Pied Flycatcher, it caught everyone out... heres the results..

Genetically, the four Western Palearctic black-and-white Ficedula species are all quite distinct from each other, and the feathers from the Flamborough bird provided a potentially foolproof way of deciding whether it was an Atlas Flycatcher. At the mitochondrial DNA level, the Pied, Atlas, Semi-collared and Collared Flycatchers show about 2.5-3.5% divergence in their sequences. On the first round of analysis we successfully sequenced 3000 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA from 4 separate genes and the Flamborough bird was identical, or almost identical (0 to about ~0.1% divergence) to nominate Pied Flycatchers. While we can occasionally make small mistakes in reading long stretches of DNA sequence, there is no way to make enough mistakes on that scale to turn Atlas Flycatcher DNA into another species. For example for 991 bases of the cytb gene, the Flamborough bird was identical to, or only 1 base pair different from, nominate Pied Flycatchers but 29-35 bases different from Atlas, Collared and Semi-collared Flycatchers. Whatever the Flamborough bird was, it wasn’t an Atlas Fly.
Another initial possibility was that the bird was a Collared x Pied Fly hybrid. The mitochondrial DNA comes down the female line, so to that point we only knew that its mum was a Pied Fly. To find out what its dad was we needed to sequence nuclear DNA, which would be a mixture of genes from both parents. Fixed differences between Collared and Pied Flycatcher genes have been defined previously by other labs – e.g. at position 315 of the RHO-1 gene, Collared Flycatchers always have a ‘G’ and Pied Flycatchers always have an ‘A’. If the bird was a hybrid, at that point the sequencing machine would get confused as an ‘A’ and a ‘G’ went through the reader together. For the Flamborough bird, the sequence was only ‘A’ – its dad was a Pied Flycatcher too.
Iberian Pied Flycatcher was the final possibility. Genetically, the iberiae subspecies is very close to nominate birds but appears to be, just about, reliably distinguishable. At the cytb gene, the Flamborough Flycatcher was 4 bases different from Iberian Pied Fly sequence, and similarly different at other genes. There wasn’t a lot in it, but it seems as though it was not an Iberian bird either.
Conclusion? Pied Fly. More cautiously, either the bird really was ‘just’ an aberrant, or extreme, Pied Flycatcher showing plumage features more consistent with Atlas or Iberian Pied Flycatcher, or there is something even more weird going on – maybe a second or third generation hybrid, or with some Iberian ancestry that we have not picked up on the first round of analysis. We will continue to work on this bird. It seems to have made the certain field identification of vagrant black-and-white Ficedulas a more daunting task.”

Norfolk Running out of time...

Day 15 21st May
Today the parents left for home so it was time to hopefully see my first lifer of the trip.I Started by checking out a reported Siberian Stonechat at Salthouse, id seen a Continental Stonechat there last week, its breeding with a nominate bird, or its just an unusual colored nominate Stonechat... Anyway after looking at this same bird and chatting to locals turns out this is the bird being reported as a Sib Stonechat, so that solved that, no Sib Stonechat but i can sort of see where there coming from..

I moved onto watching the Bee-eater at Glandford again, this time it was showing a little better. I just love these creatures..

An Icterine Warbler than got reported from Burham overy but instead of twitching this I foolishly hunted the dunes from Waxham to Waverton trying to find my own with no luck and absolutely no birds except 2 fly over Turtle Dove, there were no migrants of any sorts, big mistake. A Long-tailed Tit showed nicely for me.....

I then finished the day at Strumpshaw fen for the 2 week old Savis Warbler this was my first lifer of the trip, or so i thought but checking my records its not a lifer but i cant think where i had my first one.. Not a lot else around except a Booming Bittern and Marsh Harrier but at least I saw a couple of really nice birds today. I tried digiscoping the Harrier in fading light.
Day 16 22nd May
Today was Oriole Day. Started at Cley where I found a singing Nightingale then proper views of the Red Breasted Flycatcher at Warham Green and after picking Rach up moved onto a regular site for Stone Curlew, the heat haze was terrible and so dodgy views were had. I moved onto Weeting Heath for better views but still crap through the heat haze. Finished at Lackenheath for eventual nice views of a Male Golden Oriole.

6 Hobby's were showing superbly and Common Crane were calling frequently. Hairy Dragonfly and Large Red Damselflys were been eaten by the Hobby's. Birding seemed hard work today but successful in the end.
Day 17 23rd May
Today was once again spent up the coast to Hunstanton, scoping the usual spots, Salthouse, Cley, Blakeney etc. Nothing of note here. At Warham Greens we spotted a Spoonbill and 2 Great-white Egrets on the marsh. The Egrets then flew towards Stiffkey. The Red-breasted fly seems to had bugged off and a fly over large Skylark sized pipit had me thinking Richards Pipit but it never stopped or called.. Bugger one that got away. Onwards along the coast to North Creak and Thronham for the Monties but they STILL weren't in!!!! Looks like ill miss them this year. A Red Kite was the only thing of note here. I was gonna make an effort by doing Ryburgh Watch point for the Honey Buzzards but it was misty and I felt probably pointless as these were probably late too. The Red Kite was the last decent bird of the day really. I missed a fly over Black Kite at Kelling Heath which was a bit disappointing but I cant stay on site all the time. Only a few Days left here now boooo.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Norfolk getting better.

Day 11 17th May
Firstly had a bit of a sea watch from Sherringham, nothing of any note, it looked good for some movement...Then had a good route around the coast from Kelling to Happisburgh, but nothing seen of note but a color ringed Herring Gull
Day 12 18th May
Parents arrived last night for the weekend so that means no proper birding. We walked the scenic 5 and a half miles to Sherringham then caught the train back. So this meant typically the 1 day I don't have transport a pissing Bee-eater turns up at Salthouse and I couldn't get there. So on the walk the best I could do was a Hobby over Sherringham park, pair of Green Woodpecker and a couple of Stonechat.
Day 13 19th May
Today another day with the family, We visited Cromer then in the afternoon had tea at Cley where I managed to scope the pools from here picking up 6 Little Gulls, Little Stint, Curlew Sand and Wood Sand

Then I got dropped off at Stiffkey to twitch a 1st summer male Red-backed Shrike whilst the family went to Wells. As I arrived and was watching the Shrike a shout for Bluethroat in front of me, of coarse I never saw it and couldn't find it. I had to get back to the family so called it a day.

When we got back to the van I managed to nip to Cley again this time I went to North hide where there were 6 Curlew Sands, 2 Spoonbill, Temmnicks Stint, Dunlin and Sanderling. Then a Bluethroat landed on the fence and was then mobile around the hide...absolute brilliant, this time it was a 1st Summer bird not like the adult I missed at Stiffkey earlier. I watched this bird for a while but it was very elusive unfortunately.. What a great day Finally!!!
Day 14 20th May
Another brilliant day in the field, although an early morning stroll around the heath AGAIN produced nothing but Woodlark and Turtle dove. Back at the van I gave the dog a run when a Tree Pipit flew over singing brilliant!!!. Went on a walk with the parents but this was cut short again because of news of a Bee eater at Glandford so I had to run back to the van to collect the car, I could risk missing this one. Directions  were poor so it took me a while to find the spot but when I did I was very happy to see the Bee eater sat on wires catching plenty of bees, great scope views but a little distant for decent photos. A walk back to the car produced a Hobby. News broke of a Red Breasted Flycatcher at Warham Green, parked in the wrong lane so had to walk a little farther than I needed too. When I arrived the bird was showing badly on and off, and continued so. A flight view from one side of the lane to another whilst calling tak tak was all I managed on 2 occasions. So decided id wait for a better one in the spring, this was a boring 1st summer anyway. I was neglecting the family so thought id better return before I get into to much trouble..
These last two days have been better bird wise than the whole 2 weeks I've been here.
Saw many of the ASBOS this weekend good to see ya lads n lasses.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Norfolk part 4

Day 9 15th May 
Rachel's dad passed away unfortunately so no birding done, a train ride along the Poppy line was it really.

Day 10 16th May
A morning on the heath 2 Adders, a Slow worm and a Common Lizards, it was a warm sunny morning.

Slow Worm

Common Lizard
Bird wise Turtle Dove and Woodlark.

In the afternoon a quick look at Strumpshaw fen, but very little really, a Savis was in the reed bed but It never called when I was there. Lastly to Buckenham Marsh for good scope views of my first spring Pectoral Sandpiper. ~It was always distant so these were best i could manage.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Norfolk Part 3

Day 6 12th May 
Another none birding day but I did still do my early morning on the heath, but usual stuff, Turtle dove, Woodlark, Stonechat and Marsh Tit.

A Walk during the day took us from Cromer to the Lighthouse on the hill and around the town, nice views but once again few birds. Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Common andLittle Terns out to sea and Fulmars nesting on the cliffs. A few Yellow Wagtails still passing.

Common Whitethroat

Northern Wheatear
Day 7 13th May
Sunday lye in day, not much movement still the winds are all wrong so stayed in bed, getting the wife's site seeing done whilst theres no birds about....Eventually we had a walk along Burnham Overy Staith the walk was a bit tedious with a few Little Tern, Grey Plover and Little Egrets.

Grey Plover
Little Egret

Eventually we Got to the dunes and I noticed a white blob in the field, I got the scope on it and was surprised to see a Sacred Ibis, ok so its and escape but as the day was very quite it was the best bird so far. We moved on and had a wander through the dunes but again it was very very quite, 4 Wheatear were the only migrants in the dunes. On the way back I was scoping the fields for the Ibis again when a Drake Garganey flew past and into a pool that wasn't visible from the path. A walk back produced nothing new unfortunately..  A report of a Male Red Footed falcon from not far away so we went for a drive around but no sign unfortunately. Driving back I finally picked up my first Grey Partridge of the trip. Finished the day with a walk around the site but every wheres very quite.
Sacred Ibis

Grey Partridge

Grey Partridge
Day 8 14th May
Today was another quiet days birding, these Northerly winds are playing havoc with any migrating birds. Another drive along the coast starting at Salthouse, then Cley, 3 Spoonbill and Adult Med gull, 1st Summer Little Gull and best bird so far a fly through Hobby. Onto Blakeney where a or the same Hobby came through and another Short-eared Owl which showed really well. Also with the Dark Bellied Brent Geese a Pale Bellied Bird... no Black Brant though.
After this we moved to North Creake to see if there were any Monties but none, 2 Red Kite though and up-to 5 Common Buzzard. After this I moved onto Kelling in the pouring rain and got to hear my first Firecrest of the year.