Having decided to have a day of chores and trying to catch up with myself the lure of a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Trimmingham was all too much. Tim and I set off to meet Roger, Bob and Geoff in the churchyard where a Pied Flycatcher was flitting around. Besides a Dunnock, a few Woodpigeons and Roger's claim of a House Sparrow (which was suppressed at the time and will have to go through my committee) there wasn't a lot to watch. However the biggest surprise was a Snipe flying over. Tim, Roger and I drove to Cromer and set ourselves up for a seawatch in the shelter where after a cup of tea and a piece of date slice we soon settled down and watched a couple of Bonxies until Marcus alerted us to a Caspian Gull on Cromer pier. Tim and I wandered down and eventually found it sitting on the roof of the pier.
Back at the shelter we watched an Arctic Skua and a few Kittiwakes along with a Red-throated Diver until a Long-tailed Skua flew east with another Long-tailed Skua flying west a little later on.
With many recent splits on my I.O.C world list it is going to take some time to plough through all the validation list on my Wildlife Recorder. I gained 31 ticks on the last update, goodness knows what it will be be when I have finished this time.
I finally completed my validation of my world list in the early hours of this morning and the I.O.C have given me 29 ticks from the splits that have taken place. With no world travel this year I didn't expect any world ticks this year!
I headed over to Potter Heigham today and joined several other friends and birders watching the Long-billed Dowitcher from the river bank in the north-east corner of the marsh. I cannot say that the view was spectacular. A kind birder let me have his spot so that I could attempt a phone-scope photo without reeds dancing in the way. I had issues with Mallards, Black-tailed Godwits, slope of bank and reeds all making life difficult; so it was fair to say it was not the best view that I have ever had of a Long-billed Dowitcher!
At Winterton there were birders searching for the Pechora Pipit that was seen yesterday. Sadly it was not re-found and neither was the Red-breasted Flycatcher. It was had going as I added Whinchat to my Norfolk year list. There were two Wheatears and a Willow Warbler as possible migrants but little else was seen as a Whimbrel called overhead.
Well it was a long wait but today I finally had my graduation ceremomy. It's been 40 years since my last graduation! What a day it was too. It was so good to see everyone again after all the delays and rearrangements. We sat socially distanced and waited our turn. A piper brought in all the academic dignatories all dressed in thier robes and we listened to the speeches. When my turn came to receive my Batchelor of Arts degree I doffed my mortar board and accepted my scroll. I clapped my fellow graduates as they received their degrees too. After the ceremony we did the usual throwing of the mortar boards. I was lucky to have my former housemates to celebrate with. A few laughs were had as Joan's mortar board landed on Jan's head up on the chapel steps.
Sue in front of the chapel
Jan, Joan and Sue. LL housemates
What an amazing and fantastic weekend that all my fellow graduates have had as we all met up once again this afternoon at the pub that we all used to frequent after our day's lectures. The weather could not have been better with wall to wall sun as we all chatted sharing our stories of the last few years. There was so much friendship and laughter as we chatted and looked at photos.
I spent the morning at Farmoor Reservoir where a Black Tern was flying over the water whilst Black-headed Gulls loafed around and Coots and Mallards fed near the water's edge.
With wall to wall sun and a hot day forecast it certainly brought the visitors out in force to Titchwell. Our car park was soon full and Carrie and I had fun and games trying to find spaces for as many cars as possible. It was a tall order at times! We both took some unnecessary abuse as I am not too sure what we are expected to do when we run out of parking spaces! By the end of the day I was exhausted but with news of a Camberwell Beauty butterfly at Burnham Overy Dunes, which a visitor had told me about early in the morning, a good long walk in stunning scenery with some good company was just what the doctor ordered. News that the butterfly was still present as we approached the end of the path heightened our anticipation. However it was not to be as minutes before I arrived the butterfly flew over the top of the brambles and was not seen again all evening. All was not lost as I did see the Barred Warbler present several times as it flitted from bush to bush.
I did not leave home quite as early as I intended as I had no electricity last night. After calling Eon's emergency number I now know that I have a fault on the downstairs lighting circuit that also affects just a few sockets as well. Goodness knows what is happening.............I await an electrician!
Eventually I set off only to find the tide was high at Burnham Overy and there was nowhere to park............not my day it would seem! With a bit of a squeeze and discussions with others I found a slot and hoped I would not get clamped! It was a long walk but a glorious one. I caught up with several friends and together we watched a stunning Camberwell Beauty as it fed on the brambles. Photography was not exactly easy as it liked burying itself in amongst the leaves and closing its wings making it difficult to see at all at times. Trevor Ellery, Tim and Simon all enjoyed the views as we gathered many interested tourists, intrigued as we were. Camberwell Beauty takes my U.K. butterfly list to 62 species.
Jim and I waited on news and then headed to Bempton Cliffs RSPB where we had been advised to park so that we could walk a mile along the clifftop to Buckton where Mark Thomas had trapped and rung a Green Warbler yesterday. The traffic was horrendous and it took us much longer than we had anticipated to get there. Once we had arrived on site it we watched a Pied Flycatcher, a Common Redstart and a brightly coloured Willow Warbler flitting in the Willow, Rowan and Crab Apple trees. The Willow Warbler was causing issues as it was a brightly coloured one. After and hour and a half the Green Warbler popped out and Jim and I had to shift very quickly to see it. Glen did an excellent job giving directions and I soon had it lined up in the scope after a quick binocular view. I needed to see it in the scope to see the wing bar. I managed 3 very quick photos using my phone through my scope before it flitted away again.
Having booked a day's holiday to complete a WeBS count I was somewhat less than amused when the date was altered meaning that I will lose a day's holiday unnecessarily. However the last few weeks have been manic and I have hardly had a moment to breathe and cope with all life's domestic arrangements, let alone keeping my garden up together and so I decided to keep my day's holiday as planned. After watching last night's brilliant Open Tennis final it was not the earliest start for me when my phone sprang into life telling me that the Black Stork was on view from the Visitor Centre at Frampton. Although this bird has been resident there for a month it keeps dsappearing in ditches and can't be seen or flying off over the fields and out of view. So a decision had to be made.................hoovering/dusting the house or to go and enjoy a warm sunny morning watching a Black Stork and other wonderful birds......................now let me think..........................
I arrived at Frampton to be told that the Black Stork had flown off towards the sea-bank 5 minutes before I had arrived........................why is it birds always fly off 5 minutes before you arrive? Grrrr. A lady thought it might be visible from the sea-bank but wasn't too sure which side it had landed. I drove down to the sea-bank and scanned watching 3 Short-eared Owls out on the marsh. They were wonderful to watch as they flew around occasionally landing down into the vegetation. Two Marsh Harriers could also be seen as Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff were put up. Several Snipe emerged from the vegetation as I continued along the bank where I met Mickey a regular at Titchwell. He had been watching the stork in the channel between the hedges and knew it was still nearby when all of a sudden it popped out into the field where I managed to take some phone-scope images of it before it took off and flew up high disappearing int the distance.
The Fresh Marsh project at Titchwell is paying dividends at the moment. The birds have loved the mud being dug up and we have had a wonderful selection of waders on offer. At lunchtime I wandered down the West Bank path to try to see the reported Pectoral Sandpiper. By the time I got there it had morphed into a Curlew Sandpiper and several Ruff as well as a Common Sandpiper.
Having only a short time as it was a busy day I was needed back at the Welcome hub and so as soon as work was over I walked back down the West Bank path with Ryan where once again I managed not to see a Pectoral Sandpiper but a Wood Sandpiper, Common Snipe and a Little Stint. As I was due for a farewell dinner in a local pub I only had a limited time and so reluctantly had to leave the banter in the hide and walked back up the West Bank path. Back at the Visitor Centre, Ryan phoned me to say that the Pectoral Sandpiper had flown back in again. I ran back down the path where the assembled crowd told me that The Pectoral Sandpiper was hiding behind a pile of mud. Just my luck! I waited and eventually I saw the Pectoral Sandpiper at last! Much laughter ensued at my expense!
It was a beautiful sunrise as I walked down the West Bank path to join the Titchwell team early this morning. The Curlew Sandpiper was still present along with a Little Stint and Dunlin by the Island Hide feeding around the newly created island. We watched the Wood Sandpiper fly from the Freshmarsh to Thornham Marsh and disappear down into a creek. There were many gulls still present as a Great White Egret flew over the reed bed before we made our way down to the sea admiring all the newly created islands in the new compartments on the Freshmarsh.
Down at the sea Gannets and Cormorants were flying around as two Great Crested Grebes were asleep on the water. Trevor spotted the Pectoral Sandpiper flying over to join the Wood Sandpiper but I did not see it. I was glad I had made an early-morning start as by the time I started work in the Welcome Hub it rained for the rest of the day.
Painted Lady butterfly
Red Admirals and Painted Lady
The last few days have been spent sorting out repairs to my home and property. The electrician has finally got my downstair lights back up and running after having to totally reorganise my loft, searching for junction boxes underneath well screwed-down boarding (and cursing along the way) and I finally got round to getting some new tyres on my bike. What a difference they made. I no longer have to puff and pant but can whizz along like everyone else now as the new tyres do not pose anything like the resistance to the road that my old tyres did! This meant that after seeing nothing on Roydon Common except a few Crows I cycled to West Newton where a Stonechat was sitting on the log pile by the barn whilst a Great Spotted Woodpecker chipped away high above me.
Along one of the tracks it was Red Admiral city as they are loving the sun and ivy berries. Three Painted ladies were also seen along with Speckled Wood and Comma butterflies.
Wader Quest Earrings
My evening was spent at the Wensum Valley Birdwatching Society where Rick Simpson was showing slides that Elis Simpson had taken from their travels around the world of waders in 2012. It was reminiscent of my travels around the world in 2010 but Rick and Elis concentrated on waders. They saw many waders of the world with some excellent photos and stories of the birds themselves. The talk was very informative and was also horryfying at the loss of habitat and the decline of numbers of birds. It was certainly not a talk to be missed by anyone who enjoys watching waders. Memories came flooding back from my time in New Zealand and it was good to hear that some of the wader recovery programmes are making good progress. Rick also showed some photos of waders that I have yet to see and I was very envious of his travels to such remote places. Thanks must go to both Rick and Elis for such an entertaining talk delivered with some good humour.
I shall enjoy wearing one of my favourite bird earrings, the Northern Lapwing, knowing that all the money raised will go to a wader conservation project (mainly Spoon-billed Sandpiper)
I spent the day down in West Sussex where Fiona had promised that a wander around Ambersham Common might be productive for a few snakes or more importantly a sighting of Smooth Snake, a reptile that I had never seen in the U.K. We wandered around looking in the heather to no avail until we found a few refuges. At the third refuge a Smooth Snake was all coiled up staring up at us. It was much smaller and thinner than I was expecting. Three Dartford Warblers were calling but I only saw one of them. We wandered around and watched two Ravens fly over, calling as they went. A Common Lizard darted away but we failed to find any Sand Lizards in the now cloudy conditions. A Bog Bush Cricket took our attentions for a short While as we tried to photograph it before it leapt away.
Motoring on to Pulborough Brooks RSPB I was interested in talking to their staff about how things were going. I loved the surroundings of the Visitor Centre.
I followed the trail and admired the wild flower area in the sun, where a Clouded Yellow Butterfly was flying around. I was lucky to manage a photograph of it in the hot sun as it was very mobile.I managed a few photograhs of it as it perched momentarily on the Fleabane.
Down at the platform I picked out a Pectoral Sandpiper, a Ruff and two Common Snipe before all the Lapwings flew up as a Peregrine flew over. A Green Woodpecker also flew by, calling eventually in the trees above.
The day was eneded by a magnificent meal in a Saffron Walden pub on the way home. Superb!
Bog Bush Cricket
After booking accommodation and a flight for a short holiday, my time was limited and so I paid a quick visit to Flitcham where I watched a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard interact over the fields. There was only a lone Moorhen on the pool in front of the hide. The hide and reserve is now looking very unloved which is a shame as it has been a wonderful small area of peace and quiet over the years where I have enjoyed some lovely bird watching.
I had a wander around the reserve at Titchwell today after work to see the progress that the amphibious diggers have made on the reedbed project. They are making good headway with digging new ditches to give better connections for fish and eels etc as well as making islands that will hopefully encourage a new area for Spoonbills to use and breed. We have been lucky to secure funding for the project that will transform the reedbed. I am so lucky to work in a team that works so hard to make Titchwell such a special place for wildlife that so may people enjoy visiting.
Titchwell's new ditch by the iconic trees
The three diggers at work
Some of the new pools and ditches
Great White Egret nicknamed 'Grumpy'
It was nice to be able to welcome Iolo Williams of Springwatch to Titchwell today. We seemed to have had several celebrities at the reserve just lately!
Having endured the nail biting of a lifer dragonfly available at Waxham over the last two days I finally made it over there today. It was a glorious day to be out in the sun and heat with just enough breeze to make it very pleasant indeed. I joined several familiar faces as we watched Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters on the wing. It was good to see Trevor Ellery again who had already spent several hours searching for the Vagrant Emperor. Simon Chidwick was also here who had seen the beastie yesterday and so knew where to look. He showed us a Wasp Spider and I Trevor and I enjoyed watching the seals on the beach for a while. The search group walked up and down the dunes many times and we had a sighting after about an hor or so but the Vagrant Emperor did not linger before disappearing over the reeds. We continued our search and I phoned Will to see if he had had any luck further down the dune system. He said that he had and so we all walked down towards the old pipe dump along with Patrick and John. Simon had a female Vagrant Emperor fly by him and I saw another one too a bit later. We walked back up to the flat area after receiving a phone call from Simon where after many attempts and lots of empty blue sky photos I eventually got a few photos. Thanks to Simon for all his advice and efforts today.
The Vagrant Emperor becomes my 45th UK dragonfly. After bidding our farewells to everyone we drove on to Weybourne where we were luvky to see the Wryneck straight away in the late afternoon sun sitting up on the brambles below the radar station.
It was good to meet up with Mike Robinson today at Winterton where we watched more Vagrant Emperor dragonflies. I shared a holiday with Mike to Spain back in 2008. Neither of us managed any photos today as the dragonflies were simply too quick for either of us!
Sue, Iolo Williams and Kathryn Chivers
We had a little celebration at Titchwell today for our welcome team which I have been part of for the last 10 years which meant a well-deserved walk on the reserve after work. I joined many friends present that were all enjoying the evening sun. Kathryn and I enjoyed having our photo taken with Iolo as we watched the Starling murmuration along with the Rose-coloured Starling. The Golden Plover were stunning in the evening sun as the Pectoral Sadpiper fed on the mud in front of us. The Fresh Marsh was covered in birds and I wasn't too sure where to look first as Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Snipe and Ruff all fed in the mud as the many duck present swam around . The contractors have done such a good job and the birds are loving it. What a fabulous plece Titchwell is!
I had a nice surprise from my managers at work today. Thank you. Recognition of how hard you work is always appreciated and I was glad to share it with the rest of the team who are always very supportive and also work very hard to provide a wonderful reserve for birds, wildlife and visitors alike. After birding at Titchwell for nearly 30 years I still think it is one of the most consistent places to see a variety of birds no matter what time of year that it is.
After yet another busy day at work i attended the first indoor NarVOS bird club meeting that I have been to in over 18 months. Our club's night and venue have changed back to the Swaffham Assembly Rooms that have all been refurbished and made to look much smarter than they were. It was so good to meet everyone again and good to watch Graham's delightful willdlife and bird films that he has made over the last two years. The magnification on some of the footage was amazing and very instructive to see exactly how an Oystercatcher extracts its food from a bivalve shell. We were treated to many short films about waders, many filmed at Titchwell and some wondeful 4K dragonfly close-ups of eyes, wings and mating! It was a real treat. Thank you Graham for a wonderful show. Many of the old stalwarts trooped over to a local pub afterwards and it was good to catch up with everyone's news and stories, just like the convivial socials that we used to have with us all sitting as one group and sharing our laughter. It was an excellent evening enjoyed by all.