June 6th Strumpshaw Fen
A really horrible day at Strumpshaw as it rained heavily for most of the morning and barely anyone showed up. However, I did see an otter with a cub, marsh harriers, herons, a great white egret and a kingfisher and I heard bearded tits and a grasshopper warbler. We also had a scientist entertain us by collecting a water sample from the broad.
June 10th Buxton Heath
My former Reception Hide colleague Tricia and I had a little catch up session by visiting Buxton Heath for nightjars. It was a perfect night for it. But before dusk started to set in, we had a little walk around the site. Yellowhammers and linnets were seen singing on the tops of trees and wires, while moths were already on the wing. We even had a silver-studded blue land by our feet, a tiny butterfly that has tiny silvery dots within some black spots on the underwing that look like studs which give the insect its name.
|Nightjar (June 10th) Spoonbill,|
Red-crested Pochard, Brown Hare &
Silver-Y (June 12th) & Swallowtail (June 15th)
We then waited for it to get dark enough for the nightjars to stir. After a while, we began to hear them. One even did a mid-flight wing clap. Tricia then had a glimpse of one in a small woodland, but I missed it. Thankfully, I saw one myself in the open with the moonlight making it bright enough to see it clearly for a brief second. There was possibly 2-4 of these eerie-sounding birds churring on the heath and seemed to surround us in different directions. A night with nightjars, especially on a night like we had, is always a magical experience and one I recommend very highly if you have never done it before.
June 12th Titchwell
When I arrived to Titchwell today with Dad, there were two things on my agenda. First a spotted sandpiper, which had been seen for the last few days and I wanted to see it. The other, was to buy a digi-scope attachment that allows me to take photos with my phone on my scope and holds it in place. Unfortunately, nothing went to plan.
The sandpiper, which had been there just a day before our visit, decided that today of all days to leave and, as for my new toy, it was good to start with, but after awhile, it became nothing but a frustration as it was very fiddly to keep taking it off and putting it back on every time I wanted to use it. I just couldn't get the camera part of my phone to align with the lens of the scope. I was hoping in buying this thing it would help me photograph sea birds while sea watching, but in the end I had no choice but to get my money back. A real shame.
It felt like a wasted trip and I was very disappointed and angry with myself. However, I did somehow get 3 new species to my lists, making it 155 for my British bird list and my overall year list (which includes Spanish birds from my holiday to Spain last month) total to 200! These three species were: bar-tailed godwits, sandwich terns and a red-crested pochard. The pochard was probably the stand out highlight out of the three with a stunning male at the pool by Patsy's Reedbed.
Other highlights of the day included 3 spoonbills by the shore at the the beach and another at the final pool on the way there, marsh harriers, avocets and their chicks, a hobby, linnets, oystercatchers, sedge warblers, a cuckoo and a bittern that landed in the small East Pond as we sat on a bench overlooking it. The bittern then launched out again as we made our way around the pond. We then had a quick visit to Choseley Barns, but other than a hare, swallows, yellowhammers, a red kite and a flock of goldfinches, there was nothing new to add to my list.
June 13th Strumpshaw Fen
It was a decent day. It was sunny for the most part, but also a bit cloudy and slightly breezy yet good enough to be a brilliant day for insects. There was a bit of a dragonfly fest with many scarce chasers, black-tailed skimmers, banded demoiselles, red-eyed damselflies, but no Norfolk hawkers. Swallowtails occasionally were showing up at the nectar garden, while meadow browns, large skippers, red admirals and many small tortoiseshells were also about.
My highlight though was finding many ichneumon wasps (Ephialtes manifestator) crawling all over the bee login the nectar garden. They were finding holes occupied with bee nests and un-sheathing their really long ovipositors into these holes to lay their eggs onto the bee larvae inside. It was just so amazing to watch.
Also seen; marsh harriers coming close to the Reception Hide, a hobby, swallows and house martins and a bittern (which at one point was mobbed by the hobby).
June 18th Trimingham
North Norfolk has hit the headlines recently as a colony of 7 bee-eaters were found in a quarry near Trimingham. This was big news as it is the first time this colourful species have attempted to nest in the county.
|Ichneumon Wasp (Ephialtes manifestator) (June 13th), Bee-eater (June 18th)|
Scarce Chaser, Silver-washed Fritillary
& Otter (June 20th) & Curlew Sandpiper (June 26th)
My Aunt Barbara asked me if I wanted to go see them with her. This was a rare outing with my aunt and though it was a dull grey, drizzly day, it was far cooler than the heatwave from the day before. I also feared that the make-shift RSPB platform and car park would be ridiculously packed. Surprisingly, it wasn't. Though there was still a crowd, it wasn't exactly heaving with people.
As soon as we arrived and payed the £5 car park fee, we were instantly seeing them. They were spectacular, a splash of colour in the light rain. The crowd was glued to their every movement. There wasn't a moment a bee-eater wasn't in sight. They were sitting outside their nest holes in the sandy bank to my right or perching on the telegraph wires to my left. Occasionally they would bring back a bee to the wires and after a bit of juggling to get them into position, they then bashed the bee against it before swallowing. We were so captivated by them that an hour passed. It wasn't until the cold was getting to my aunt due to the cold wind that we decided to leave.
June 20th Strumpshaw Fen
Though it wasn't as unbearable as Friday 17th's heatwave, it was still pretty hot. I started the morning with a walk around the meadow trail with southern marsh orchids beginning to form a display. But, the meadow still seemed empty of flowers overall.
I then made my way to Tower Hide, seeing two great white egrets on the way. From the hide itself, a lot of moulting ducks and a pair of nesting common terns on eggs arguing with their black-headed gull neighbours.
An otter and a hobby were the highlights at Reception Hide. Most of our visitors were more interested in circling the nectar garden waiting for a swallowtail and couldn't tear themselves away to see the otter. It is funny, as I was seeing the swallowtails flying over the broad more than by where they were, where the otter was hanging out.
After my shift, I went back to the meadow trail where many dragonflies were on the wing, including Norfolk hawkers. The brambles by the pond near the trail entrance provided great views of a silver-washed fritillary as well as many meadow browns, large skippers and ringlets.
Barn owls had been reported flying back and forth to the nest box at the far side of the meadows in broad daylight recently. I was willing to wait for them until they appeared for the rest of the day. However, I waited and waited and it was just getting hotter and hotter. There was no shade, so I was quite exposed to the sun. I waited until 6:30pm, before the heat was just too much for me and I decided to abandon my stakeout without a single owl in sight. They remain to elude my bird list this year.
June 26th Cley
A visit to Cley with Mum and it was a chance to get a few more birds to reach to 160 British species before the month ends. Pat's Pool provided me with a curlew sandpiper feeding in the centre of the dried up pool amongst the many lapwings and several redshanks, avocets, godwits and little egrets, while marsh harriers and swallows fly above. I then did a spot of sea watching and I was certain that I saw a flock of 4-5 little gulls, but the heat haze was making it hard to focus on them in more detail. There were also sandwich terns, cormorants and a seal. In the end my total fell short of by two.
June 27th Strumpshaw Fen
My final shift of the month and I joined Strumpshaw regular, Liz Dack, to the Tower Hide. There was a lot of eclipse-phased ducks, little egrets, a heron, a pair of great crested grebes feeding their large chicks with fish and the common tern pair attending to their eggs. I then had a little walk around the meadow trail where orchids were poking through everywhere in the tall grass, but I noticed that there wasn't much else. The trail was incredibly lacking of other flowers and seemed rather empty, which is kind of worrying to me.
At Reception Hide, it was a slow start to the shift. As the day went on though, visitor numbers began to grow and the swallowtails were showing, but only flying over the broad and while everyone wasn't looking. Bitterns were occasionally popping out of the reedbeds, a kingfisher made a couple of fly overs, the marsh harriers flew close to the hide a few times and there were more ducks not looking their best. Nothing new for my list, which means, by the end of June, my British list is at 158 and my personal year list is at 202.