Saturday, 22 September 2018

Sep 22nd Titchwell

This morning, Mum and I went out to the North Norfolk coastline for a visit to Titchwell. It didn't started very well as I noticed that I had some how lost my RSPB membership card. Where did that disappear to? At least Mum had her card to claim the free car park perk that comes with it.

Pink-footed Geese
There was a bit of a chill in the air during our visit today. Mum was wrapped up like it was winter and was still feeling cold. My mind, however, was more on the birds than the chilly conditions. Pink-footed geese have now started arriving from Greenland forming V-shaped skeins in the sky. A few individuals could be seen out on the freshwater pool, which was dried up to just mud. Teal, wigeon, shelducks, ruff, dunlin, a snipe and a few avocets were busy sifting through the wettest sections of the mud for invertebrates hiding within it. Meanwhile, marsh harriers and a kestrel were seen patrolling and hunting over parts of the reserve away from the pools.

Pink-footed Goose
Mallard hybrid
Black Slug (with parasite?)
Waders galore feeding along the tideline
The beach was were it was at for most visitors this morning. Many scopes lined the dunes manned by their owners scanning the waves. The tide was a long way away from the dunes, but they claim to see skuas and other seabirds. I didn't bring my scope today and Mum was feeling even colder to hang around for too long, so we just made our way down to the sea where many oystercatchers, redshanks, bar-tailed godwits, turnstones, curlews, herring and black-headed gulls and a little egret were foraging the seaweed along the tideline. It was a bit of a feeding frenzy as the gulls chase the waders to rob them of the molluscs gripped within their bills.
Bar-tailed Godwit
Little Egret
Herring Gull
Bloody-nosed Beetle
On the way back, I had the briefest of views of a flock of bearded tits teasing onlookers as the occasionally pop out from the reeds and continuously calling out their pinging calls. However, I was more pleased in finding this beetle just moments later. It was crossing the main path and I almost stepped on it. I picked it up so that no one else makes the same mistake. When I picked it up off the ground, I noticed small drops of blood staining my hand. The blood was not coming from me, but from the beetle. I had just found a bloody-nosed beetle. The 'blood' is released from the beetle's head as part of a ruse to fool and deter predators from eating it. It doesn't fool me. In fact, it makes me marvel at it more!

You can see a drop of 'blood' on my hand

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Sep 19th Strumpshaw Fen and Buckenham Marshes

Marsh Tit
This morning at Strumpshaw was rather blustery, but at least it wasn't raining this time. A mixed flock of long-tailed, blue, great and marsh tits and a treecreeper greeted me on my arrival as I began my usual walk to Fen Hide. When I got to the hide, however, there wasn't much to see. So instead of waiting around for something to appear, I decided to make a rare visit to Tower Hide. Thankfully, the extra walking mile was worth it. This hide had many teal, gadwall, shovelers, mallards, greylags and 2 snipe and a marsh harrier and a kestrel patrolling over the reserve behind them. The sun was low and blinding as it shone into my eyes and covering the wildfowl in a bright glow making it tricky to distinguish them as I tried to spot any potential garganey with no such luck.
Shaggy Inkcaps
View from Tower Hide
Butterflies on Ivy
Red Admiral
Speckled Wood
A half hidden Common Lizard
Common Darter
Spider on its web
The Reception Hide was equally full of the same kind of wildfowl but with the additional 6 wigeon and 20-30 or more coot. That is until they all took off together in a sudden rush. Their sudden departure was a good sign that an otter was about somewhere. With everyone in the hide keeping their eyes peeled, it wasn't long until it was spotted as it was busy hunting across the broad from right to left often appearing with just its head or as a hump of its back emerging from the surface before submerging again. At one point, it resurfaced with a large eel wrestled within its jaws and paws and we presumed it took it somewhere to eat it behind a cover of reeds as we didn't see it again for some time before it made another brief cameo swimming down the far left channel of the broad.
Red Kite
After the otter sighting, I found myself on a bit of a roll as I was finding one bird of interest to another. I was giving some beginner birdwatchers a run down on what they could see and how to identify them when the otter made its second appearance. When the otter made its exit, a little grebe was flushed out from hiding. The grebe eventually came a bit closer in front of the islands for everyone to see clearly. Then, I spotted a red kite soaring over the trees to my far right. These wonderful forked-tailed raptors are becoming more of a regular sight these days at Strumpshaw, but they are always still a highlight to me whenever I see them. I'm still finding them a challenge to photograph, though. Even today, my camera was fighting me to focus this continuously moving, distant bird. Finally, I then spotted a marsh harrier and a hobby for the beginners, but these were even more distant to photograph than the red kite.
Little Grebe
Ivy Bee
The wind picked up towards the end of my shift and was quite gusty. I met up with my dad, who happened to have the day off today and wanted to take me out for a walk at Buckenham Marshes. Before leaving, I wanted to check the ivy for the rare ivy bee. This is a charming little solitary species of bee that emerges in the autumn and is largely associated with ivy flowers. They look a bit like honey bees, but have a sandy yellow abdomen with black stripes and a slightly fluffy orange thorax. If you have ivy in your garden, you may be fortunate to have these little bees pollinating it.
Cattle and Geese at Buckenham Marshes
When we arrived at Buckenham this afternoon, it seemed even windier than at Strumpshaw. Dust was constantly flying into my face swept up from the main path and made it hard to scan the fields for wildlife. Cattle and geese were the main things I could see before I had to protect my eyes from the next incoming blasts of dust. We took refuge inside the only hide at the far end of the site. The River Yare was like a raging sea with the wind churning up waves. The scene from the hide was equally rough, but at least we were sheltered from the worst of it. All the birds were a long way away from the hide on the far side of the field. Flocks of lapwing and starlings with the odd ruff were constantly forced up into the air as the wind made them jumpy, though the marsh harrier with green wing tags, hobby and three kestrels could also be the cause.
The bull in the herd
Lapwing and Starling
Lapwing and Ruff