A grey day, with fog and mist but Cranes and a Barn Owl saves the day......
Another grey day (11th) with mist and fog (measured by density, but no tricorder handy!) was not the most productive day Jason Nichols and I have had, but nevertheless an enjoyable day.
Happisburgh was the ‘first port of call’ with 10+ Meadow Pipits, Skylark, Stonechat, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and a fly-over Linnet were found in the mist, but no Shore Larks.
The lure of an Iceland Gull and a Coue’s Arctic Redpoll at Cromer made a visit there worth a shot, even in the thickening fog as the drive along the coast road continued. However, 3 Redwings were the highlight here!
Letheringsett found a charm of 40+ Lesser Redpolls but no sign of any Arctic or Mealy varieties of redpoll so on to Langham.
Waxwing had been reported feeding and drinking in the gardens at Cornfields at Langham, so worth a look but no success with any waxwing. However, this was the highlight of the day so far as we watched a garden-full of birds, with birds coming to the ornamental heavily laden berry bush/tree and the garden feeders of this relatively small front garden. Four Stock Doves were even on the ground and a constant stream of ‘common garden birds’ were visiting the garden.
From Blakeney a drive back down the coast ensued, with birds hard to come by or indeed see, but a Song Thrush and 2 Redwing with Blackbirds at Blakeney were good to see and a few Brent Geese and flocks of Pink-footed Geese were also seen further down the coast.
A look on the sea at Cley found nothing in the fog and at Walcott without any mist or fog nothing stirred except for the usual Gulls and Turnstones patrolling the sea wall in search of food.
A look around the area at Ludham airfield found no ‘wild swans’, but 6 Bewick’s were seen from Cold Harbour Road, through Ludham, as was a Goldcrest busily searching for food before going to roost.
Finally, a stop at a place near Thurne, which has been very productive in the recent past, produced again. Four Fieldfares were seen followed by 8 Cranes on the fields. The eight cranes consisted of two family groups of three (2 adults and a juvenile) and another two adult birds, maybe a pair that had failed to produce any offspring.
Suddenly out of nowhere (or so it seemed) a Barn Owl appeared close to the parked car, from where it continued to hunt over the rougher grass areas in between the fields. The owl made several ‘dives’ down to the ground before it went out of view in what were really murky conditions now! But later it was seen flying back, at speed clutching a dark/black shape in its talons, possibly a young rat?
A great end to a very variable day!
Grey Heron flying off in the fog, representitive of the day!
Barn Owl with prey
Nature Notes from BC......
The first moths of 2018 were found at Marina Park, Burgh Castle (13th), with a Winter Moth Operophtera brumata and an Early Moth Theria primaria, both of which came to light via the building’s back door window.
At 19.15 (15th) at Marina Park, Burgh Castle a sound, momentarily thought to be one of the two introduced Deer species (Chinese Water and Muntjac) was in fact a Fox which walked across the park’s road. This was immediately followed by another, most probably relating to courtship behaviour, in what is now the foxes mating season.
Colourful birds in Norfolk......
A fairly sunny day along the North Norfolk coast with Jason Nichols (25th) began in the Thurne area where two family groups (of three) of Cranes were seen, before a look over the parts of Cromer golf course, which was visible from the road, failed to find the reported Iceland Gull.
However, at Sheringham, near the shelters, a male Black Redstart had been present for several days, probably due to mealworms being put down for it by ‘photographers’!
For a while the redstart was partially hidden in a patch of vegetation around an Elderberry, but after a while it came out to feed on the aforementioned mealworms. These were dried mealworms and not a good constant source of food for a bird, being so dry birds have been seen choking and gagging whilst trying to swallow these and this bird was no different, in that it was seen to partially regurgitate one of the mealworms, after it had returned to perch in cover again. Its behaviour was very lethargic and the health of this bird is debatable.
Male Black Redstarts are very attractive birds with the combination of Black and Orange, contrasting with the pale grey and it was a pleasure to study and photograph the bird’s behaviour, particularly its preening routine, which included fanning out the bright orange tail.
After looking for the Black Brant along Beach Road, Cley, where it was seen briefly amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Geese before disappearing into the midst of geese again a look on the sea from Cley Coastguards saw a Guillemot and a Red-throated Diver flying over the sea.
A journey inland began as it was decided to visit Massingham Churchyard, in search of Hawfinches. Three were seen, but typically these finches were not easy to see as they fed on Yew berries, keeping to the interior of the tree for most of the time. However, one did show most of its self briefly and was duly photographed!
A look around nearby Abbey Farm saw two Common Buzzards and a Red Kite, which was carrying nest material, but small birds were at a premium, maybe due to the presence of a Sparrowhawk and or the shooting going on nearby.
A flock of approximately 10 Fieldfares and a Mistle Thrush were seen and after some searching, Grey Partridges revealed themselves (initially by hearing them) and a total of 8 birds were seen, mainly in pairs but ‘threes a crowd’ came into play also!
Letheringsett did not produce a Coue’s Arctic Redpoll, although a charm of approximately 25 Lesser Redpolls was seen. What the area did produce were two resplendent male Bullfinches, which came down from the hedgerow to feed on plant seed heads in what was really nice late afternoon light.
A Barn Owl flying high (much safer!) over the A149 at Potter Heigham, towards Potter Heigham Marshes ended a really good day out.