It seems so long ago now when Sarah and I spent a few days in Norfolk. We travelled up on the Sunday 14th June, and after a fairly dry but very grey drive up the clouds actually started to clear! We arrived around midday and sorted our gear and some food shopping out then hit the coast. First we drove to Blakeney as Sarah had noticed signs for a antique's fair at the hall, so I relented and took her along. With a touch of blue in the sky we decided to head to Cley. We had already decided to walk to Blakeney Point the next day, Monday, and try and connect with the Blyth's Reed Warbler and Paddyfield Warbler there, but due to our position along the coast and the weather I couldn't resist to go for the nearest one at least! And so we got to the Cley beach car park and set off for the Halfway House. Twenty minutes later we joined the group of birders looking for the Blyth's Reed Warbler, this was a new species for me and Sarah and thankfully we didn't have long to wait before it flew from one area to another. We managed a few flight views before the weather started to really darken and look ominous. Deciding it was probably better to return to the car before the rain started rather than slog it to the point for the Paddyfield we headed back. How the hell we missed the flyby Laughing Gull I do not know, I was probably concentrating on being able to move one foot ahead of the next on the shingle that I was oblivious to anything else! That walk out and back always gets you, and this time it was only half of it!!
At least I had seen one of the birds and there was always tomorrow. Once back at the car the rain started and got worse as the evening went on. The next morning dawned bright and lovely, and we headed straight to Cley Beach and set off, well your'e probably guessing how the story progresses already and yes sure enough there turned out to be no sign of either bird, the highlight being 2 Wheatear at the point, I wished I'd gotten soaked the day before now.
Still never mind I was in Norfolk to chill and relax and that's what we did, I love nothing more than sitting on the beach and just watching the sea and anything that should fly past. On one day we took a drive to Narborough for the Marsh Warbler, and guess what it didn't show or even sing! So back to the coast to chill. On our return journey we had to pass through near Narborough heading towards the A11 and so I tried for an hour to see if the Marsh Warbler would give itself up just one time for me, and this time I got lucky, it was singing it's little heart out and even though it only gave itself up as it flew into the reeds I was more than happy to just listen to it's song.
I picked my Dad up, on route, and we headed for Titchfield Haven in Hampshire. This was our first venture to this reserve and our first Greater Yellowlegs if we connected with it!
I thought about heading straight to Posbrook Flood where it had been seen in the morning before then moving down to the Haven reserve. Not sure of how far and where to best view this area we headed straight for the reserve and hoped for it to appear there. With the reserve not opening until 09:30 (why? so many wasted early hours) we viewed from the coast road.
A few birders were there at the same time and we patiently waited, I took the opportunity to grab some shots of a Little Egret feeding among the rock pools close by. News then came through of the Greater Yellowlegs indeed on the Posbrook Flood! two birders headed off to connect but we waited hoping it would follow it's routine and move soon to the reserve. Luckily it did indeed fly off shortly thereafter and head our way.
It was still too early to gain access to the site and so we waited and hoped it would show. We saw a group of Black tailed Godwits fly around the reed beds before landing out of sight, then the two birders re-appeared and although they had connected with it before flying away, it had been quite distant, they also asked if we had seen the Godwits?, apparently it had moved off with this flock! but we couldn't pick out if it was indeed flying around with them as they were too distant with bins. So we moved about and I snapped off some shots of a close by kestrel and watched the Common Terns coming and going, and then we noticed they had started to let people in earlier so my dad and I headed onto the reserve and straight for the Suffern Hide, this was our best bet first thing in the morning.
On entering the hide we immediately got onto the Greater Yellowlegs feeding across from the hide, I set up on the bench next to a local photographer we had been chatting too earlier on the front, and began to watch and snap away at this elegant wader, my dad got good views from the hide and as the birders started to arrive in numbers it slowly moved just that bit closer to us but always stayed feeding in the water. Those legs really stood out as it walked through the water. We watched the bird for a total of 12 minutes, which flew by as it only seemed five minutes since we had gotten into the hide, before it took flight and headed up the river out of our view, but the rest of the hide could get a glimpse as it fed before moving along a channel. We waited a short while and with the bird not looking likely to move back, I gave my seat up to a woman and her son and moved off for some food. Some time later we ventured along the coast road and hope for some news or indeed for it to venture close to the beach road as it had done on several occasions before. But after some time and no news or sightings of the GY we decided to head off home. *Later that day (around 2:30/later) the GY was found back on the Posbrook Flood, so we both thought we were really lucky to of seen it well from the hide that morning, it seems that this bird is changing it's routine a lot and indeed the next day was only found to be on the Flood again.*
I had an eventful drive home after my final nightshift. As I drove through a village along the route I noticed something laying on the path next to the road. As I approached I could see it was a Buzzard and that it was alive, I immediately turned into the next road and turned around, there was no way I could leave this without helping. I parked up nearby and walked along the path to where it lay on it's front. It was awake and looking around but did not react as I carefully picked it up and returned to my car. I had noticed a couple of roadkill (rabbit) close by and could only presume this young Buzzard had been trying to feed on them when hit by a vehicle as it tried to get out of the way. I know for a fact a lot of idiot brainless morons repeatedly speed along this A10 route and ignore the speed limits, I encounter them on every journey going to work.
Once at the car I laid the Buzzard carefully on the grass whilst I made a makeshift bed out of a coat, I then placed the Buzzard into the bed and he almost immediately went to sleep. When home Sarah made up a box for the bird to be placed inside to keep it warm and less aware of its surroundings. It continued to sleep and quietly snore away. Sarah arranged for a local Raptor Rescue organisation to collect it, and hopefully it will pull through and have a long life.
Back at home the 2nd brood of Blackbirds had fledged and this one was risking himself by looking around from the top of the honeysuckle bush the nest was in, there are plenty of Rooks around that would easily take this little un', thankfully it didn't stay there long and dived back into cover.
This was the day I hoped I would target one of my wanted species of butterflies, the Duke of Burgundy. The previous couple of years I had gone too late and missed out, so this year I went when it was definitely during it's mid flight period. My Dad joined me as he had never seen the Duke of Burgundy's either and had never seen Dingy and Grizzled Skipper so hoped to connect with these also. The weather was lovely and sunny as forecast and once we arrived it changed......the clouds rolled in and everyone on site said how wrong could they get a forecast, same old same old!
After the temperature rose a Dingy Skipper was found by a group of enthusiasts, at least we had close views of the Skipper and my Dad had at least had one new species.
Duke of Burgundy
After some time and still no sign of any Duke's, I was pre-occupied with the many warblers calling and flitting around, with Blackcap calling and Whitethroats flying back and forth I was still enjoying the morning. Then the group further up the hill waved everyone in and sure enough shortly after I was looking down at my first Duke of Burgundy, what a lovely butterfly and smaller than I had envisaged, my Dad joined us a few seconds later and was staring at his second new butterfly species of the morning.
After a while the temperature rose and the sky did start to break. The butterflies started to awaken and we saw quite a few Dingy Skippers, before more Duke's started to appear. We ended up seeing 6 Duke of Burgundy's by the end of our trip so we were more than happy, but the day did not end there, we encountered just 2 Grizzled Skippers and one posed well enough for some photos and allowed us good close views. The only butterfly that had eluded us was the Green Hairstreak, we scoured a known area a few times but nothing and then as we were about to leave I noticed 2 butterflies high up in the tree next to us, and with some intense scanning we found one and was able to see the Green Hairstreak we were searching for. A successful and fantastic morning...one species down and Purple Emperor next....hopefully.