Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Spring gathers pace

April has been a really busy month with nights away for work, a short family holiday and a family bereavement. Below is a bit of a wrap up of some bird and butterfly sightings this month. I've posted two short separate blogs about visits to the Peak District and Bempton Cliffs.

Friday 4th April, Snettisham
A work visit in between discussing the storm damage it was nice to see a male Red Breasted Merganser, a Black Brant and three Mediterranean Gulls. At the Coastal Park I heard my first Willow Warbler of the year.

Monday 7th April
On the way home from Norwich I saw my first Swallow of the Spring whilst waiting for the traffic lights at Heacham to change colour.

Wednesday 9th April
A sunny lunchtime walk in the Rosary Cemetery in Norwich gave me nice views of my fist Orangetip Butterflies of the year plus Holly Blue and Small Tortoiseshell and singing Blackcap and Chiff Chaff.

Rosary Chiff Chaff

Rosary Primroses

Friday 11th April
Durng a work visit to York University it was nice to see a male Goosander on the University lake and a early Swallow hunting for food. Two Great Crested Grebe nests close to the edge of the lake were a real treat.
York Uni Great Crested Grebes

Saturday 18th April
I took no 1 son for short walk down the West Bank path at Titchwell, from Parrinder Hide we saw Little Ringed Plover and Yellow Wagtail and elsewhere we heard Cetti's and Sedge Warblers. A kindly old lady offered to lend my 5 year old her bird book so that he could find out what the Black and White bird was only to be told he knew that it was an Avocet.
Titchwell Avocet

Monday 21st
A walk with the kids around Wharton's Belt at Courtyard Farm was great for lots of early Spring Butterflies including some wonderfully fresh looking Speckled Woods and Peacocks and more Green Hairstreaks than I can ever remember seeing here, in the short time I had with them I saw at least six insects quite easily.
Green Hairstreak

Wednesday 23rd April

A walk with no2 son along the top of the Dunes at Holme NWT this morning was wonderful with seen and / or heard: Cuckoo, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiff Chaff, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Whimbrel, Sandwich tern and 8 Wheatears.

A brief visit to the Peak District

River Manifold at Ilam Hall

Monday 14 to Friday 18 April

Just back from a short family get together in the Peak District. We stayed just to the south of the National Park close the north shore of Carsington Water at Knockerdown Cottages. This was first and foremost a chance for the family to get together and for the kids to play with their cousins, but I did managed a couple of short early morning walks.

Knockerdown Cottages were a great place to have a reunion with a small on site swimming pool, kids playground etc, the one major drawback being that our double bed was perhaps the most uncomfortable bed I have ever had the misfortune to have to try and seep on.

Birds seen included god numbers of Buzzards and the odd Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail and Dipper on the River Manifold at Ilam Hall. But the best birding was along the lane that ran from our cottage towards Carsington Water, highlights of two 30 - 40 minute early morning walks along this were: Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Willow Tit, Willow Warbler, and Blackcap, Really hadn't expected Willow Tit, I see a lot of Marsh Tits in Norfolk and these were noticeably different to look at and listen too.

Willow Tit near Carsington Water

Both pictures taken with the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 and the Willow Tot has been heavily cropped.

An afternoon at Bempton Cliffs

Gannet at Bempton

Saturday 12 April

I managed to grab a few hours at Bempton during a work visit to York this weekend/ Always a great place o visit in the Spring with an assault on the sense from the noise of the seabirds especially the Kittiwakes, the fishy smell of the seabird colony and of course the great views of Gannets.

What I was also reminded of on this visit was that Bempton also has a great supporting cast of land birds including a colony of tree sparrows nesting on and around the Visitor Centre, Corn Buntings in the cliff top fields and Peregrines on the cliffs. 

During our visit we saw all of the breeding seabirds: Gannets, Kittiwakes, Herring Gulls, Shags, Guillemot's, Razorbills, Puffin's, as well as Jackdaw's, Rock Dove's and Peregrines. We also had great views of Tree Sparrow's and Corn Bunting's. Worth noting that there are not that many Puffins nesting here and you can find yourself working quite hard to see them

Another Gannet at Bempton

A shame about the lack of a decent cafe with the food offer restricted to some long life cakes and packets of crisps served by a rather dour Yorkshire man, still I believes the RSPB have received a grant from HLF to extend and improve the Visitor Centre so hopefully the catering will improve.

Peregrine and Herring Gull having an altercation at Bempton

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Warming up, first Blackcap and lots of Chiff Chaffs

A pretty standard last ten days or so with a mix o work and family time and bird sightings woven into these.
Chiff Chaff, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich
Last Thursday the 27th of March saw me at Titchwell for a meeting that was enlivened by a female Brambling on the feeders outside the office. The following day I helped a friend out with some jobs at Snettisham at lunchtime and was rewarded with great views of five Mediterranean Gulls on one of the islands.

A lovely early spring morning on Saturday saw me taking the kids for a walk around Ken Hill Woods where several Chiff Chaffs could be heard singing and we saw numerous butterflies including 8 - 10 Brimstone's nearly as many Small Tortoiseshell's and a couple of Peacocks. Then in the afternoon I had a quick walk along Lovers Lane at the back of Hunstanton and enjoyed a Common Buzzard, lots of Hares, drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 10 to 20 Yellowhammers, walking back up Downs road a flock of c 40 House Sparrows was great to see and hear.

Sunday and I bumped into a Stoat and Little Owl on the Ringstead to Choseley road in the morning and a Buzzard and Hen Harrier on a back road near Stanhoe in the afternoon.

Spring blossom, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich
Today [Tuesday 1 April] I had a wonderful twenty minutes at lunchtime in the Rosary Cemetery in Norwich, real warm short sleeves weather and I was able to watch a sun bathing Grey Squirrel and see and hear my first Blackcap of the Spring as well as singing Chiff Chaffs, Stock Doves, Great Tits and Blackbirds and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker. Plus a couple of Peacock butterflies and loads of Primroses.

Primroses, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich