Friday, 20 April 2018

April 20th Mousehold Heath

The fine weather is still continuing and today, I was at Mousehold Heath to join a moth themed group walk as well as a talk about these insects. Peter, our naturalist, showed off some of the moths that he caught last night at his home while we were having some lunch. This included a few I'm familiar with and a few others that were new to me. Here's some of the highlights...
Nut-tree Tussock
Brindle Beauty
Light Brown Apple Moth
Common Plume
Clothes Moth (of some kind)
Side view
Water Carpet
Many-plumed Moth
Early Grey
Another Plume Moth
Bee Moth
Hebrew Character
Double-striped Pug
Speckled Wood
After our moth talk and lunch, we went for a walk around the heath. We were meant to be looking for day-flying moths, but we ended up being distracted by the other wildlife instead. Solitary bees and wasps were buzzing around their nesting holes dotted along the exposed ground that made up the paths of the site. These holes were closely watched by bee-flies, which I watched hover above them and with a flick of it's abdomen, I saw one fire a few eggs into an unguarded nest hole entrance in a blink of an eye and with incredible accuracy. Fascinating stuff indeed! However, the others in my group were more in awe with the newts popping up for air at the Mustard Pond (the first time we've seen them in this pond before). In the end, we didn't see many moths during this moth walk, but we did see plenty of butterflies. Close enough, I guess.

Green-veined White

Pantaloon Bee?

Tawny Mining Bee
Some kind of Nomad Bee?
Dark-edged Bee-fly
Smooth Newt at the  Mustard Pond
Tadpoles at the Vinegar Pond

Thursday, 19 April 2018

April 19th Cley

Sunny Cley
What a scorcher it is today! Apparently it is the hottest day in April here in the UK since 1949 with temperatures reaching 28°C in some places. So what better way to enjoy a day such as this than a trip to Cley with both my parents. This morning, we started our visit with a walk to the beach along the East Bank. Skylarks sang their crescendo of delightful notes from high above, the quintessential sound of summer in the British countryside. Oystercatchers, redshanks, curlews, lapwings and avocets, meanwhile, provided the sounds of the British saltmarsh in spring with many also performing courtship displays. The lapwings especially were putting on quite show with their rollercoaster-like display flights as they dipped and dived just above the reeds.
The beach at Cley
Tufted Duck
Mute Swans

Little Egret

There were more springtime displays from the birds at the pools in front of the three central hides, too. Shelducks and avocets dominated Pat's Pool. I have never seen so many shelducks in one place before as each pair cemented their bonds through duets of topsy-turvy sounding calls. While the avocets and shelducks were rather showy in the mirror-like reflective water of the pools, a snipe came out from hiding along the far edge of the ditch in front of the hide. It was busy probing for worms in the mud of the ditch's bank with its long bill, providing great views for everyone inside this gradually overcrowding hide.
Black-headed Gull

Despite being just next door, it was Simmond's Scrape that really provided a great variety of bird species. Some of these birds were major contenders for bird of the day. On opposite ends of the scrape, I could clearly see two great white egrets. One eventually flew off from the far side, but the other, much closer individual remained as it tried to defend itself from the dive bombing gulls. Joining the black-tailed godwits and ruffs was a little ringed plover feeding from the muddy edges of one of the scrape's islands. While these are all great contenders, the true bird of the day had to go to the male garganey snoozing within the grass of the bank dividing Simmond's Scrape and Pat's Pool with its partner and a pair of teal. He was hard to spot at first, but then something startled them (possibly a marsh harrier) and he woke up, revealing his stunning grey and chocolate brown plumage with that striking white supercilium (the stripe above the eye). What a bird! What a great way to round off a fantastic hot sunny day out!
Female Garganey (left) with male Teal
Great White Egret

Little Ringed Plover
Black-tailed Godwit