Garden Birding and Staying Home. March 2020.

What a month March has turned out to be, something more akin to a virus/zombie film at times when you hear headlines! The first week in March started with hope of spring and new arrivals, just 2 days in and Sarah and I watched a Barn Owl hunting along the hedgeline as we walked the dogs, the celandines had really taken over the lane verges which was lovely to see.
 I managed to get just two visits to the clifftops for some birding before the restrictions came into play, it was quiet but there were things to see and enjoy, I chill out just watching gulls drift past me with the hope of something more worthy of a smile from under the moustache!

 Most of the time the gulls consisted of Great Black-backed and Herring but I did get quite a wave of Common Gulls passing through one time, the Black-headed tend to drift over the house in numbers as they go to roost on the sea.

 There were a few reports coming through of Red Kites along the North Norfolk coast, I saw one from the garden on the 7th, a young bird which had been hanging around Sidestrand. Sparrowhawk is usually seen most days from the garden but this lovely male bird drifted past me on my final trip to the cliffs, usually they dash past but this one slowed down enough for a pose, later I had a pair dash past together hunting the clifftops.

 As I watched a pair of Muntjac moving through the scrub on the lower slopes I noticed this fox following up behind them, the deer had noticed him but calmly watched as he went about looking for food, stopping at the slightest movement in case it was a vole. It could hear my camera clicking but couldn't quite make me out tucked up on the clifftop.
 With the weather a lot brighter it was only a matter of time before the first butterflies put in an appearance in the garden, first up was a Small Tortoiseshell followed by a few Brimstone's and a Peacock. 
 The garden birds were either in full song and displaying or already collecting nesting material. 
 On the 17th and for the second time since living in Norfolk, another B2 Stealth plane flew over, this one was not as jaw droppingly close as the first but still a sight to behold, apparently there had been a pair passing over but only one was seen through the wispy cloud.
On a morning walk we counted 13 Hares running around and boxing, great to see.
As restrictions started to be imposed, the dog walk of the day became a bird walk too, my first Chiffchaff  of the year singing and a Hooded crow briefly before being sent on its way by a pair of Carrion crows.
Back Garden Birding
Birding now took place from the back garden, this was exciting as from my location anything could fly past. A group of 6 Common Buzzards drifted east and the local pair were displaying right opposite the garden, diving and locking talons before tumbling.

 One morning whilst sitting with breakfast coffee, I noticed a few small groups of Chafinch moving along the coast heading east, by the end of the day it had turned into a mass movement of the finches and a few hundred had passed over, this went into the next day with group after group heading over.

 A female Marsh Harrier slowly drifted east, these seem to be regular sight past the garden every year, a lone Curlew made itself heard as it circled around the garden before heading back towards the coast.

 The temperature dropped somewhat nearing the end of the month, but with sunny days it made it feel very spring like. Another butterfly was a Comma, thought I would of seen a Red Admiral by now?

 A pair of Coal Tit's kept still long enough for photos! usually they grab a bit of food and dart off immediately, but now they were romancing they had to time to pose.

 So a weird month with events we were not accustomed to, and maybe scary to think about at times, but immerse yourself in the wildlife and nature just outside your door and it all seems miles away. 

Mothing Year Begins. Yippeeee!!

If the weather is kind then the thought of lock down is somewhat eased with the prospect of Mothing from the back garden. Nature and wildlife still carry on regardless so it was a welcome sight when my first moths of the year graced my trap. 5 Species so far, and despite the winds picking up yet again I really hope to quickly add some more species in the desire of beating last years tally of 188 Macro moths.
 Hebrew Character
 Oak Beauty
 Early Grey
 March Moth
Common Quaker

New Art For Sale.

These pieces of wood were bought from my local sawmill, such beautiful grains and patterning. The first piece I have completed is of a group of Long Tailed Tits, I loved the idea of using the knotted hole through the centre as a perch for the birds to be on. One of the other pieces will probably have a study of moths painted on, maybe the Hawkmoths I think!

 Turnstones at Titchwell, a common wader but one that is striking in summer plumage, the mixed  tones of brown, black and white really stand out, love to see them scurrying around at the sea front in Sheringham.

  Sadly a bird you don't always see a lot, the Tree Sparrow, I have been fortunate to of seen a number and photograph them before moving to Norfolk.
 I love the colour and tones of the Brambling, as with the Tree Sparrow and Turnstones I kept the background subdued so as not to detract from the subject.
  Me posing with the Brambling and Tree Sparrow paintings to show the size.
 Gouache painting of a flock of Avocets, I also painted a similar group of Avocet but with just a monochrome look by only painting the black parts, regardless of no other detailing it is instantly recognisable as these iconic birds. 

Thanks for looking.

A windy and wet February in Trimingham.

The wettest February on record and governed by strong winds, this was bound to be a quiet month with one storm after the other and very strong winds which just didn't seem to end. I tried some sea watching during the first week, a few Auks and Divers on the 5th but on the 6th there were numerous Red Throated Divers on the sea, I counted groups of 30 plus birds as I scanned but then a fast moving boat came along not far off shore where the divers were feeding and it was then I started to see a lot more fly off out of the boats way, I picked a point on the sea and counted as diver after diver flew past and within minutes I had counted 100 red throated divers and there were no doubt a lot more out there, and a pair of Great crested Grebes added to the tally.

On the 9th I watched the full moon of February rise, this was called the Snow Moon by Northern Native Americans, earning the name from the heavy snow that can fall at this time of year. 

The windy weather continued, few birds were seen flying around in it, gulls seemed the only ones to brave the rough seas.

Mind you the Kestrels still had to feed and amazingly there they were fighting to hover in one spot over the cliff slopes, every now and again resting up and still having to balance themselves.

One lunchtime I took a look off the cliff during a dry spell, although it was still very windy I managed to pick out a small wader fly along close in between the groynes, it turned out to be a Turnstone, a very welcome sight and hope of things changing, as I followed it onto the groynes I then picked out 3 other Turnstones feeding between the sea defences.

After this we seemed to be bombarded with wet and extremely windy days, there were signs of change ahead though, the Song Thrush had started to call on a few mornings, the Long tailed tits were no longer in their troop but now paired off along with the Blue and Great tits following suit. Down the lanes the Celandines were starting to come out, and a lot of new leaf growth on the bushes. At the end of the month close by there were reports of Stonechat's and Great Skua on the move so I hopefully there will be more to see in March, and also the next full moon on the 9th March is called a "Worm Moon".

Wagtail Wednesday !

I headed off to Sedgeford for the Blue-headed Eastern Yellow Wagtail that had been hanging around for some time now. I arrived at first light and set off for the manure heap. After an hour+ I had seen just common birds on the heaps and a Barn Owl very close but too dark for photos so I just admired it instead, there were a lot of linnets and pied wagtails in the field behind me and what I thought was possibly the Blue-headed' fly over towards where I had parked the car? After some time and people coming and going I was the last one standing at the heap and still no sign of the bird so I decided to head back to the car and get the blood back into my feet and have a drink, on heading down the lane I noticed there were a lot of cars still there considering they'd all left, I thought they may be checking the hundreds of geese nearby.
No they weren't!! Lined up near my car were all the birders watching the wagtail on the flooded field!! I slowly set my camera down in a gap not too far away and watched the wagtail moving around and luckily for me towards where I was standing. It flitted off for a while then returned back to the flooded field corner to resume feeding. 

End of the Year.

December was a very quiet month indeed, I only saw a few notable birds on the daily dog walks with Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammers fighting for the top spot! Even the gull numbers off the front were low with a lot of the previous Great black backed's moving on. The weather didn't bring any good strong windy seawatching days either. Mothing again turned up nothing so the final tally of 2019 was 188 macro moths. The patch bird list stands at 172 and 101 for the garden. Now for a look at some of my highlights in 2019.
 Iceland Gull in February.
 Firecrest (pair) in March.
 Osprey in off the sea in April. And Alpine Swift past the house.
 Painted Lady invasion in June.
 Always a joy when Hummingbird Hawkmoths turn up.
August saw an influx of Pied Flycatcher.  

 This "metal bird" was a sight to see! 
My first B2 Stealth Bomber.

 Med Gulls fly catching over the house is getting to be a yearly experience.

 September saw numbers of Great White Egret moving along the coast.
 This Common Redstart was a welcome addition to the garden list.
 Sat 5th October, the morning of the Water Spouts
Sarah and I counted 6 on our morning walk.
 Little Auk in October.
 Black Redstart and Ring Ouzel both in October and Ring Ouzel finally getting on the garden list.

 A welcome addition to the patch, Pomarine Skua.
 One of my favourite's, Great Grey Shrike.

Great Northern Diver finally got on my patch list.
And my favourite moth of the year Garden Tiger, and a first for me.
Roll on 2020.