Barred Warbler. 1st for Bedfordshire.

A 1st for Bedfordshire.
What a great find this was, the only problem that I had was I was at work over the weekend, and with a 4:50am start and a get home time of 18:30 there was no way I was going to connect till Monday morning. With hopes of it still being present I set off for first light at Blows Downs. This was the first time I had visited and I was not sure of the area to view but from a photo taken by Lee Evans, I was able to guess where I should be. There were already a lot of dog walkers around the site crossing the numerous tracks. I set about scanning the bushes. There were plenty of birds around, a couple of Chiffchaffs, a group of around 5/6 Stonechat and plenty of overhead movement. 
 With no sign of the Barred Warbler, I was joined by 2 lady birders to aid in the search. With still no sign after a while, I scanned the bushes behind us and spotted it! tucked away in the brambles, I got the ladies onto it before it moved into the thicket. We then moved to a more higher position as it was not great looking up into the light, it was then found again moving around feeding in the bushes giving better views for us all. We were then joined by another birder, it was then a case of search for movement as it could be elusive when tucked away in the shrub.
 It never stayed out in the open for long, it would briefly feed on berries then disappear back into the bush. You had to be looking in the right place at the right time otherwise with bins pinned to your eyes it was easy to miss where it would emerge. But we were lucky that with a few pairs of eyes scanning, every time some movement was picked out we were all onto it straight away. I was lucky to get some shots of the warbler as it moved around. It then moved to another set of bushes and we lost sight of what direction it headed as it flew out of the back of the scrub we were viewing. One of the ladies had seen something move in the area that we had originally scanned, so we moved to search that area. After a while there was still no sign, and the ladies departed leaving myself and the birder from Watford way to scan on our own. I was then joined by a Birder/Photographer who started searching just away from me. By now there were more dog walkers in the area, and one had struck up a conversation with the Birder I had just met up with. It was only after she had finished talking with him that he moved over to me and said he had grabbed a shot of a bird just as the lady dog walker had approached him, the bird had then flew straight away on her arrival and moved on down to the lower hedgeline at the base of the slope. I saw the image he had snapped and indeed it was the Barred Warbler! at least he had connected with it. We then scanned for a while longer and with no more sign after around an hour I headed home. Another successful twitch.

*MEGA* Masked Shrike *MEGA*

The third for the UK and after wishing I had gone for the first, in Fife, I could not miss the chance this time. My Dad and I set off for Spurn to connect, neither of us had been to Spurn before and were surprised there was not more birders there on arrival. We set ourselves up at the viewing area and started scanning. I noticed a bird fly up from the grass, distantly in the field corner, I knew this was the Shrike and so moved around to look back into the corner and sure enough there it was perched on the wire fence. My Dad and I got good scope views and although it moved halfway along the hedgeline some time later, it was too distant for anything but a record shot. It then moved away to the far side behind Rose Cottage and never returned to this side during the 6 hours we spent there. The wind was in a different direction than the day before and therefore preferred the more sheltered distant hedges. Whilst there we searched close by for the Yellow Browed Warbler, but although I heard it call, it did not show itself for us. A great bird to get and an enjoyable twitch, I was glad to catch up with Steve Gantlett and his wife and had great company chatting with a bloke from Leighton Buzzard, all in all a great new addition.

Blowing the cobwebs off the Moth Trap. September 2014.

Setaceous Hebrew Character
 For the first time in a long while I got the moth trap out. For various reasons I hadn't listed/trapped anything for ages and despite missing the spring and summer months, I thought I would see what would turn up and so made the effort. I turned the light off around at around a quarter to one in the morning, the evenings catch had already been placed in the fridge till the next day when I would photograph them. It wasn't spectacular numbers but I did get a handful of species and I enjoyed it so that's all that matters. With the continued good weather I shall be placing the trap out again and hope for some different moths, who knows what I'll get.
 Pale Mottled Willow
 Brimstone Moth
 Willow Beauty
 Chinese Character
 Lesser Yellow Underwing
 Square Spot Rustic
 Lesser Yellow Underwings
 Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing
 Flame Shoulder
 Common Wainscot

Awful weather but Rosy in the end. Norfolk 1st-2nd Sept 2014.

 After a lovely lunch with friends near home on Sunday afternoon, Sarah and I grabbed our bags and gear and headed for Norfolk. It was only going to be a short stay with us returning Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately the only full day we had out Birding/Walking was the Monday and the forecast was not good. And it turned out the way they predicted it and worse. But unperturbed by this we still were going to make a day of it.
 Our first stop was in Weybourne for the Rose Coloured Starling present there. On arrival it was plain to see the bird atop a house aerial. But the light was now dull and very grey. It showed a couple of times for Sarah to see her first adult Rosy before it flew off out of sight. We then decided to head off along to Stiffkey and perhaps stop at Weybourne on the return trip.

The low mist and rain engulfed the whole coast, but we departed the Stiffkey campsite car park, heading West. We encountered quite a few birds, the most numerous were Blue Tits, they were all over the place. A handful of Chiffchaffs were seen with this one in full song. A distant Spoonbill was seen being moved on by a couple of Little Egrets.

 On a couple of occasions we had to shelter under what little cover there was as the rain became heavier. It was then I picked out a Lesser Whitethroat, it was quite active but I managed to get a few shots in the dismal weather. We encountered 2+ Lesser Whitethroats along with Common Whitethroat,Yellowhammer, and Blackcaps. 

 We then moved East past the campsite in the search for the Wryneck that was nearer Stiffkey Fen. On arrival at the spot, the bird was found by a birder and everyone caught views of it, mainly in flight and perched in a Hawthorn. It stayed very elusive, being chased off aggressively by a male Chaffinch, and after some time of it not showing we decided to head off to Cley.

 The weather was bad when we arrived at Cley, visibility was not good and the rain had gotten harder so we had to sit it out in the car for some time. But I found this relaxing as I watched the Swallows zipping past feeding, and the Meadow Pipits popping up on the fence wires close to the car. As the rain turned to light drizzle we thought what the heck if we get wet and took off along the beach. It actually then started to clear, the skies brightened and it turned very pleasant after what we had had. 

 3 Marsh harriers started to scour the marshes as things started to dry out. By now the afternoon was getting on and we decided to head back along the coast to Weybourne.

 Although the weather seemed to become more grey as we headed along the coast it was still dry and pleasant enough. We saw a couple of birders and asked if the Rosy was still showing to which I viewed through his scope to see the bird tucked away in a Elder bush. Without the scope you could hardly pick it out, so I waited whilst chatting to the visiting birder and also the owner of the house who had found it. The bird, after some time, decided to venture from the depths of the Elder to feed closer to the front, and although obscured by the branches I happily grabbed a few more shots of this lovely bird. 

 And no sooner had it filled up on half a dozen or so berries it departed to where we had seen it during the morning, and a last glimpse of it atop a conifer and it dropped from sight. By now the light was drawing in fast and we called it a day and headed back to Cromer. But we both said despite the awful weather and getting wet, it was a fantastic day and we saw some lovely birds...bliss.

 The next day arrived and it was a stunner, with clear blue skies and a lovely temperature, it was typical as we knew we only had the morning before heading home with a scheduled stop in Norwich on the way. What a contrast to Monday. We headed out to Salthouse Heath for a walk and maybe a sight of a late Grayling butterfly.  

 There were a few species of butterfly present but no Grayling. We saw Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and plenty of dragonflies. 

 This worn Migrant Hawker was one of many seen on the heath. You get some great views from up on the heath too.

 We noticed plenty of Common Darters, with quite a few in tandem mating. This one was sunning itself on the old Operations building. 
 A wreath rests on one of the old pylon bases that was part of the radar tower from the second world war, that sadly was destroyed by a bomber flying into it in bad weather. Here is a link that tells of this disaster:

It was time for Sarah and I to depart and time for a fish and chips lunch whilst sitting on the Cromer seafront. Both of us looking forward to return in October.