A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Small Canada Goose

A visit to Ryburgh on Saturday 24th May produced an interesting Canada Goose.  It seemed to be paired to an ordinary Canada Goose but was noticeably smaller and obviously shorter-necked.  Probably not small enough to be any of the Cackling Goose taxa so presumably one of the smaller Canada Goose taxa, like Lesser Canada Goose (parvipes) maybe?  The bill wasn't obviously different from the normal birds but perhaps a wee bit shorter.  The head shape seemed slightly squared but not as much as sasy Richardson's hutchinsii.  There was no difference in breast colour - just as pale as the other birds.  Is this within range for parvipes Lesser Canada Goose?  I'm not sure it fits any of the other taxa any better, but I suppose there's a chance it could have been a Cackling (e.g. Richardson's hutchinsii) x Canada hybrid.  Whatever it was it seems pretty likely that it came from Pensthorpe or some other collection, rather than being a natural vagrant from North America!  Note how the tertials are very worn compared to the accompanying Canada Geese.  I've been back to Ryburgh many times over the past month and haven't seen this bird again.

presumed escaped possible Lesser Canada Goose (race parvipes), Ryburgh, 24th May

Plenty of Barnacle Geese around at the moment too (also from Pensthorpe where they have a large free-flying flock, I understand), but it's unusual for them to visit the scrape.

Barnacle Geese, Ryburgh, 24th May

A bit of Lapwing vs. Grey Heron interaction...

Grey Heron, Ryburgh, 24th May

Common Tern, Ryburgh, 24th May

That evening Dave and I headed up to Gypsy Lane, Brancaster for some mothing.  A Spoonbill was feeding on the grazing marsh before flying off east, and 2 more Spoonbills flew east.  We heard a Whimbrel calling.

An afternoon/evening visit to Burnham Overy on 29th produced a Great White Egret over, 3 Spoonbills, Sparrowhawk, a Barn Owl carrying what looked like it might have been a mole, 3 Cuckoos and a family of Stonechats.

Other visits to various sites in the valley and surrounds have been largely uneventful - this Little Ringed Plover dropped in briefly but didn't stick around long.  A Marsh Harrier was seen the same day.

Little Ringed Plover, Ryburgh, 30th May

Grey Herons will happily take ducklings for lunch but it seems this Little Egret wasn't interested - and neither did the mother Mallard have any concern that it might be.

Little Egret and Mallards, Ryburgh, 30th May

I only occasionally see the Grey Wagtail at Ryburgh but when I do it often shows very nicely and I can't resist taking some photos.

Grey Wagtail, Ryburgh, 31st May

I shared some great birding moments with Mike Young-Powel in the mid 90s when he lived at Cley and birded Sheringham but he moved away to Pembrokeshire in 1997 and I'd not seen him since.  Seeing he was back in Norfolk for a few days I got in touch and Mike, Cathy and I headed out to Burnham Overy together on Wednesday 31st May.  Mike and Cathy had had a great start to their week finding Red-footed Falcon and Purple Heron but we didn't manage anything quite so exciting today.  We did see Great White Egret, Spoonbill and at least one Cuckoo, Cathy picked up a Yellow Wagtail in the saltmarsh and we watched a drake Common Scoter in the channel south of Gun Hill.  But regardless of the birds it was great to catch up with Mike and Cathy again after such a long time.  Hopefully the next time won't be so long.

Little Tern, Burnham Overy, 31st May

Cuckoo, Burnham Overy, 31st May

Ringed Plover, Burnham Overy, 31st May

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Iberian Chiffchaff, Grey-headed Wagtail and Short-eared Owl

On Friday 12th I headed up to Burnham Overy in the hope of finding some spring migrants.  I arrived early and had Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpipers, Spoonbill and 3 Bearded Tits on the way out.  The apparent Pale-bellied x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid was still paired to the colour-ringed Dark-bellied Brent BYB=.  A pair of second-summer Mediterranean Gulls flew over and I heard 2 Cuckoos.

Cuckoo, Burnham Overy, 12th May

From Gun Hill the sea was dead and overland migration quiet - I eventually managed 55 Swallows and 3 Sand Martins through along with 1 Grey and 2 Yellow Wagtails west.  But the weather never looked great for vis mig - it looked much better for grounded migrants - that was what I was really hoping for and expecting.  At this time of year I don't expect big falls, just the odd bird, and maybe the odd good bird.  Well sadly there wasn't the odd bird - practically nothing new at all.  Ok I did hear what sounded exactly like a Tawny Pipit calling once quite close to where I was standing in the east dunes but it never called again and despite 2.5 hours searching the area I never found it.  There were a handful of migrants remaining from previous days - 2 Ring Ouzels and 5-6 Wheatears - but it was pretty dire.  A Stoat and a Natterjack were more interesting.

I stopped at Ryburgh on the way home which was also quiet.  This Grey Wagtail was the highlight.

Grey Wagtail, Ryburgh, 12th May

It still was the next day...

Grey Wagtail, Ryburgh, 13th May

Actually I lie - a distant Marsh Harrier was my first for the site, although they're meant to be regular here.  I remember seeing Stickleback, Three-spined I think, when I was little, but haven't positively identified any for a long time.  I'm pretty sure the tiddlers this This Little Egret was catching were Three-spined Stickleback.

Little Egret with Three-spined Sticklebacks, Ryburgh, 13th May

Common Tern, Ryburgh, 13th May

These House Martins have been busy collecting mud for their nests in Great Ryburgh village.

House Martins, Ryburgh, 13th May

Wren, Ryburgh, 13th May

Little Egret, Ryburgh, 14th May

I was surprised to hear a Barn Owl calling a couple of times from my study on 14th.  I once saw one at the bottom of the road but have never seen or heard them here before. Other local birds around this time included a Kingfisher at Mill Street (Elsing) and Little Ringed Plovers at some gravel pits.

I was tempted up to Walsey Hills on Friday 16th to see (and hear) an Iberian Chiffchaff.  It was singing strongly when I arrived and continued to do so for some time.  It was much harder to see though, but I did get a few good views of it.  My photos don't do it justice.

Iberian Chiffchaff, Wasley Hills, 16th May

As I chatted to Mark G on Old Woman's Lane news came through of a Grey-headed Wagtail on the Eye Field.  It seemed rude not to pay it a visit so popped down and found about a dozen 12 Yellow Wagtails among the cows.  Eventually we picked out the Grey-headed Wagtail from among them - a stunning bird as always.  Someone called a 'Channel' Wagtail while I was there but I certainly didn't see anything I consider identifiable as such.  Having said that I'm never quite sure about the ID of some of the greyer-headed/backed female-type Yellow Wagtails that occur in late spring, like these two for example.

Yellow Wagtails, Cley, 16th May

Little Egret, Ryburgh, 18th May

Shelducks, Ryburgh, 20th May

Another trip up to Burnham Overy late on Wednesday 21st May produced little in the way of migrants - 3 Wheatears, a Willow Warbler and a Whimbrel.  This Short-eared Owl was nice though.

Wheatear, Burnham Overy, 21st May

Linnets, Burnham Overy, 21st May

A Great White Egret was also seen at Holkham.

Barnacle Goose, Ryburgh, 22nd May

House Sparrows, Ryburgh, 22nd May

Starling, Ryburgh, 22nd May