A Windy August.

 A Windy August which hampered mothing but did bring some nice bits in. The first half of the month brought in new birds and new moths. I found this huge beetle near the moth trap one night, I had seen one the year before but this time round I was able to get a closer look and some photographs. It is a Great Silver Water Beetle, not the sort of thing you'd expect near a moth trap but they do inhabit coastlines along here and get attracted to the light. When it flew off it was like a mini drone taking to the air, you can see the size next to my little finger.





Around the garden or in our neighbours and overhead I saw a few species of dragonfly, Southern,/Migrant Hawkers, Brown Hawker and Common Darters. This male Common Darter was seen with a female on the lawn and looked like it was laying eggs?

These next two moths were both new additions to my garden moth list, the Canary Shouldered Thorn and Twin Spotted Wainscot. The Canary Shouldered Thorn is a favourite with its bright yellow almost furry body.

Once again I was lucky to see a few Pied Flycatchers as they moved through on their way south, such a lovely little bird and one I won't tire of seeing every year hopefully.


The second half of the month saw a movement of birds moving through but also strong windy conditions which gave way to some sea watching. There were groups of wildfowl and waders being blown through the choppy seas with sightings of Skuas and the odd shearwater too. I was able to see a group of 3 Black-tailed Godwits which were new for the patch list, in this photo we have the other Godwit, the Bar-tailed. The Black tailed has a white rump, whereas on these birds the white extends up the back.

This group of Sandwich Terns were resting up on the beach one morning, normally actively feeding as they pass along here.

Smaller birds passing through over land were not matching the numbers of birds passing out to sea but I still managed to see a few nice ones, this Lesser Whitethroat was my only sighting of one this year.

Wheatear had also been a no show bird in the spring just like the Lesser Whitethroat, so a couple of birds in front of me on the cliff one morning was a welcome sight even if it was for the briefest moment.

A young bird and adult Blackcap were a nice sight as they moved and fed in the bramble.

As the summer draws on I now check for the large Convolvulus Hawkmoth, watching the Nicotina plants every time I ventured out in the garden in the hope one was feeding on this favourite flower of theirs, and approaching the end of the month I got one, but this time not on the plants but resting up next to the moth trap.

Joyful July.

July was a mixed bag of weather, some sunny days, some windy days, some rain and some warmth, but here we didn't have the heatwave some had experienced further inland. At the beginning of the month there were a lot of Swifts on the move. They seemed to be moving in different directions some days but what was noticeable were the numbers. a few hundred birds estimated some days but on the 8th I must of seen close to a thousand birds head east/southeast, what a sight seeing them move over wave after wave. After that day the numbers eased and returned to the odd group now and again.
I finally got to see a Hobby this year, on the 11th !!, and sure enough just like buses they continued after that, on one occasion I had a pair feeding over the house along with a Peregrine. The garden was attracting plenty of insects, the marjoram was alive with bees and hoverflies, the butterfly bush was in bloom and bringing in a lot of butterflies.
This Hornet Hoverfly was seen regularly in the garden, a large Hoverfly, largest in the UK, it mimics a Hornet to help keep predators away, but is entirely harmless.
Dragonflies were up in numbers now the weather had warmed, I was seeing Brown Hawker over the garden and even saw a couple of Banded Demoiselles!
This Four Spotted Chaser sunned itself for a time, enabling me to grab a camera. 

Sarah and I found out what had been cutting down plants and indeed making plants vanish? I watched a Nigella plant moving back and forth wondering why it was the only plant seemingly doing so, we then saw a Bank Vole run from cover to the next plant victim and watched it chew through it in sections before taking it away! It continued doing this till it had all but one piece stashed away. It was obviously well fed as it even looked a decent size and we continued to watch it running around the garden selecting different plants to eat, even the dogs were catching sight of it as it was so busy moving around.
I believe this is a Essex Skipper that visited the marjoram, the antennae don't seem to show any orange on the underside as a Small Skipper would show.
On a few days I would see Hummingbird Hawkmoth in the garden, with more than one individual as this one was very bedraggled and unlike the pristine one seen other times.
A Holly Blue butterfly ventured down from the Holly trees to feed, happily showing off the silvery underside of the wing.
On a couple of days during the month there were hatchings of insects which attracted a lot of gulls. The first hatch at the beginning of July were flying ants, and my god did they bring in the gulls. There must of been 300 or so overhead picking off this newly emerged feast, most were Black headed Gulls but I did see Common Gulls too. The second time was at the end of the month and involved just Black headed and just a fraction of the numbers, but I watched them doing circuits over the trees and garden close enough to grab a couple of shots, including this gull about to gulp down a insect.
Mothing produced 45 species for the year list which now stands at 171 macro species. A few of these were new for the garden also which boosted the list numbers up.
Barred Straw
Bordered White
Scorched Carpet
Oak Hook-tip
Pine Carpet
Grey Arches
Varied Coronet

JUNE. In the studio much of the time!

June.
The start of the month looked promising for one bird in particular, the Rose Coloured Starling or Rosy Starling as it's also known. There had been a large movement of these birds across europe moving from Hungary and now there were quite a few birds across the water in France. It wasn't long before the odd bird was showing up further south. Then there was a report of a bird in Cromer followed by reports of maybe 2 different birds in Roughton, I unfortunately could not get to see them and despite searching the flocks of Starlings around the village or flying over I could not find one. The adult birds are stunning to look at, this bird in the photos was from Weybourne back in 2014.




Local birders were treated to a couple of Blyths Reed Warblers, one at Beeston and one near North Walsham, the weather was a mixed bag with some lingering sea fog for a few days. Mediterranean Gulls were starting to turn up along at Cromer but I didn't pick any out this way, later in the year is the time I see the gulls feeding on insects over the trees behind the house. There were some large numbers of swift passing over during the second half of the month, I estimated quite a few hundred from the back garden on a couple of days, made up of feeding birds and also non-breeders they probably included younger birds prospecting nesting sites for next year, once the young birds have left the nest they will not land or nest for the first couple of years of its life, they will stay airborne.  Near the end of the month a staggering count of around 6,000 swifts were counted past Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, birds probably feeding further south as the weather was probably rainy further north and unfortunately they didn't venture this way. I had a new garden tick on the 24th with a group of Crossbill flying over low. 
The dragonflies are now starting to appear in the garden and down the lanes, a Black Tailed Skimmer was sunning itself early one morning down Church road and a Southern or Migrant hawker was patrolling over the garden.
Mothing has been very productive , although entering the last few days of June has put a stop to that with the strengthening winds. I have trapped 34 species of macro moth that were new for the garden year list which stands at 125 species at the end of June. Here are some of the great moths.


This Sandy Carpet moth was a new species for the garden and a first for me.


Treble Brown Spot, another new species for the garden.


The Scorched Wing, named so because of the 'burnt paper' look to the wings.


These Yellow Shell moths can sometimes be seen during the day if disturbed from hedges or resting on the underside of plants.


New Artwork For Sale & New Beginnings.

 Lockdown has been a mixture of back garden birding and me planting my butt in the studio for a lot more than I was. It enabled me to get stuck into subjects I have been wanting to do for a while. First up was another Gorilla, a challenge but a lovely subject to work on.
The Peregrine Falcon has been awaiting a start for a long time, and tied in with hearing that the local Cromer Peregrines were nesting again it seemed very fitting, and a nice sight to sometimes see one of them passing the garden on food expeditions.
 A bit behind other artists in doing Koala art, I nonetheless jumped in with my piece, there was so much hair detailing some times I wondered if I had actually done anything when I looked back after a few hours!
 NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT
With no commission work needing attention I finally decided to get my Pyrography equipment out and get stuck in with something totally new. This was the start of something really fun and addictive.
First piece was a Lime and Eyed Hawkmoth. 
 I had great fun learning about this art and new I had a lot of learning to do, but it felt refreshing trying something different.
I moved straight onto the next piece of a Barn Owl. The tones from the burning depicted the owls plumage and made it more real, I was enjoying these new challenges and learning about controlling the burn.
Jumping straight into the deep end with the next piece, set on a piece of Cheery wood and measuring around 2 foot long I started on a Red Deer Stag......
To Be Continued

Much going on in May


Marvellous May.
Looking through my notebook for May I thought I had a few decent entries to write about, so I then checked through my 800 or so photos taken during May and found a few more subjects to add and came out with quite a wildlife filled moth. On a morning walk along the clifftops we saw a few more Swifts passing along the coast and my first pair of Sandwich Terns of the year. Further along the coast in the bigger towns there were good numbers of Swifts which is lovely to hear, but in Trimingham I have only noticed one pair, presumably not enough suitable nesting sites.
Common Swift
I had another 'funky' looking Buzzard over the house, it had also been hanging around Mundesley, it was associating with another buzzard at the time. Lovely to see these paler type birds, so striking.


Little Egrets
Entering the second week the birds were in full song everywhere with some migrant birds still moving through, 3 Little Egrets were a nice sight flying along the cliffs, seen from the garden. I got a Sedge Warbler and Whinchat along the clifftop fields, the Sedge Warbler was only heard as it was tucked away in set-a-side crops, Common Whitethroats were holding territories around the village lanes and clifftop scrub.
 Great Tit
Garden birds were now actively feeding their young, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Dunnocks all seemed to of done well. 
Goldfinch begging for food
Carrion Crow
The young birds had to keep their wits about them, the Crows and Magpies were always on the lookout for an easy meal.
Entering the second half of the month I added a great new bird 'tick' for the garden, a single Turtle Dove flew along the clifftops, high enough above the trees for me to watch it, a lovely addition and a sight that sadly is not seen enough. On the 26th Sarah and I listened to a Cuckoo calling from the coastal scrub behind the house, it didn't call for long but was a welcome sound none the less.
Painted Lady
Even with the glorious sunny days upon us, some days seemed to be butterfly-less. But a few graced us with their appearance, I didn't expect to see a Painted Lady quite so early, what a stunner they are. 
Painted Lady

Orange Tip
Green Veined White

Red Admiral
Marvellous Moths
On the mothing front the number of species being seen were increasing and adding to the year list, but I also managed to trap a few new species not recorded in the garden before. The tally for the year is now standing at 89 macro species.
Lime Hawkmoth
I've waited for a couple of years to get one of these lovely hawkmoths in the garden here, typically another one was trapped a few nights later ( more greener colouring made it identifiable as another)
Puss Moth
This is quite a large moth, lovely patterning.
Orange Footman
Pale Oak Beauty
Light Brocade
This was a welcome new moth and what lovely markings.
Scalloped Hook-tip
Some lovely new moth additions with plenty more species to be on the wing entering June, mind you they will have to run the gauntlet as I've seen a large bat, probably a Noctule by the size, active at the bottom of the garden recently!