Saturday, 29 October 2011

Little beauty!

It was hard to believe the string of texts I received whilst on Fair Isle two weeks ago. First a Rufous-tailed Robin in Norfolk, then even more gripping news: Short-eared Owl, Tree Sparrow, another Woodlark and a Whooper Swan at the Lakes in quick succession, all of which would have been Lakes ticks for me (this patch-listing lark does funny things to your perspective)! Although Blyth's Reed Warbler, Olive-backed Pipit and a certain jewel-throated Luscinia up in Shetland went a long way towards softening the blow of those dips at the time, once I was back in full Lakes mode, the still-present Goldeneye just wasn't enough to rectify things at a local level.

The balance was well and truly restored today though; an impromptu scan of D Lake this morning (when I'd told my wife I was only going as far as the flood) resulted in a big Little surprise: a first-winter Little Gull swimming around among the Coots and Black-headed Gulls! The latter weren't particularly welcoming to their diminutive relative, and after a preen and a couple of brief circuits of the lake, it headed off south.

140 OTL (both the Challenge list and my own Lakes 'life' list).

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Big ears

Ledra aurita appeared in our moth trap a few weeks ago. I found the one pictured here earlier in the summer when I was walking along the path and heard a short buzzing noise coming from an oak. I did not know they could make themselves heard like this; it seems to be the closest thing to a cicada that we have on our list.

Dry weather has halted the mushroom season for us. Assuming that there has been a similar drought in Thetford, I am quite glad. because it gives me time to look at insects of having to spend evenings chopping up fungi and looking for clamp connections.

Our species total is now 1592. Still behind, but perhaps close enough to make it an interesting finish.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Feed the birds weekend

The only new one - Black Redstart
It’s been quite a rip-roaring weekend at The Lodge.  Not only was it a ‘feed the birds’ event all weekend, but some excellent birds dropped in to say hello too.

First up are the regular Woodlark posse, which has dropped from a peak of six last week to a fairly constant three.  They have been showing really well often at just a few yards around the Hill Fort.

Next up there has been an Osprey which seems to like to feed on it fishy meals in one of the trees on the new heath.  It was first seen on Friday afternoon and reappeared again Sunday.  Some of the photos taken of this bird are so good that you can also identify the species of fish in its talons!  I wonder if we can count that too?

The ‘best’ bird of the weekend was a Black Redstart which flitted around the top of the Avocet building right above the main event on Sunday.  This was not only a new bird for the challenge, but also a site tick for me!  It kept visitors entertained all afternoon, but unfortunately did a bunk Sunday night so many staff missed it.

As if that lot wasn’t enough, the ringers in the gardens caught a Firecrest Sunday afternoon too.  So all those, along with plenty of Siskins, Redpolls, and the odd Brambling and Crossbill makes The Lodge a great place to come birding for a few hours at the moment.
One of the six Woodlarks that have been around The Lodge recently

We’re still two down on the Nuns with our Black Red triumph.  I wonder if we can make up the ground before the year is out?

Black Redstart

Yesterday was Feed the Birds Day at The Lodge, so several staff members were on site, including Tony Payne, who for a change had his bins with him. Good job really, because he found a Black Redstart bouncing round on the roof of the Avocet building (where, incidentally I work). He beat Bash to it by seconds, so BX remains a glaring miss on the latter's self-found Bedfordshire list. I believe Steve has photographic evidence to be posted here soon.


Friday, 21 October 2011

All that glitters...

As expected, yesterday's Whooper Swan had realised its mistake and presumably headed to Welney overnight, but it had been suitably replaced by a 1st winter drake Goldeneye, taking us to 139.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Thanks goes to WWT for the temporary loan of one of their Whooper Swans, swimming around on D lake this lunch time. We'll send it on to Welney shortly. Bird no 138. Only my second record here (one in 1999).

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Weekend double

I spent this morning down the lakes hoping to relocate Dave's Short-eared Owl from yesterday but with much more disturbance from fishermen, there was no sign.  With glorious weather, there was quite a bit of stuff going over, the highlight being 3+ Tree Sparrows which circled overhead before possibly dropping onto the adjacent fields.

That puts us on 137 and back in the lead for now, and I quite agree Steve, I must come into work on a weekend more often!

What an 'Owler

Not wanting to know the score of the Man United Vs Liverpool match yesterday until I got home to watch the rerun, I switched my phone off.  Getting home, watching the game and satisfied with the 1-1 result (Charlie Adams diving for the free kick not withstanding!), I switched my phone back on to be greeted to a text message and two frantic voicemail messages from Dave Leech who was (well a couple of hours earlier at least) watching a Short-eared Owl along the track by the lakes.

That puts us on 136.

Ring-tailed Ouzel gets us twozl

Quite a cracking morning at The Lodge today.  Darren did a bit of vismig first thing, but apart from Wood Pigeons not much else was moving.  His highlight were up to three Woodlarks and a mighty Ring Ouzel south-west, leveling the playing field between RSPB and BTO.

I arrived a little later after being on an adjacent hill seeing just as little.  As I arrived, one of the Woodlarks was on a song-flight that went kept going for the next hour non-stop.  A Raven cronked over, and just as I reached the vismig spot another Ring Ouzel zoomed over west - right over Darren's head (and who never saw it!)

The best was saved to last however, when we tried to locate a furiously cronking Raven in a pine belt.  While scanning the tops of the trees a dark brown raptor came out the top of one of them - a ring-tail Hen Harrier!  Boom!  After an unid'd ring-tail over the house on Friday, this baby sealed the deal.

I think that makes us leaders in the bird stakes once again?  I should come to work at weekends more often...;-)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Golden moment

The following text pinged onto my mobile yesterday morning:

"12 goldies w over the track now"

... so that's Golden Plover finally OTL (assuming Dawn hadn't just seen a flock of eagles, diving ducks, orioles or pheasants). If only I hadn't been trying to make things happen on the N Norfolk coast I'd have probably got them on my garden list too... but that can wait. 135 and after a lengthy absence from top spot, the Nuns retake the lead!

Well done to Dawn's husband Pete who first picked them up - having expressed his amazement to me that they weren't already on the list exactly one month ago!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Back in the game

As if pulling the Woodlark back wasn't enough, whilst failing to relocate that bird at lunchtime, compensation was delivered in the form of a Barnacle Goose (fully winged and unringed to boot!) on one of the Lakes, looking exhausted after its (probable) 8 miles flight from Livermere.

That puts us back on level terms at 134

Wood you believe it?!

Stop press news: Paul Stancliffe and Kate Risely have just heard a Woodlark singing whilst they were out on the reserve filming a Breeding Bird Survey training video! Those who've followed this blog for its entirety will know that this one really hurt the Breckland-based White Nuns when it squeezed onto The Lodgers' list way back in March - there was always a slight chance of us getting Woodlark back in the autumn but having never seen/heard one on/from the Lakes myself, I wasn't holding out much hope. I refer you to the following phrase:

Get in!

Running out of time

The recent heatwave was probably the last chance to pick up a fair few insects before they succumb to the first frosts. Checking out the flowering ivy in the garden produced the two standard large Eristalis species (tenax and pertinax) but also this rather handsome Epistrophe grossulariae which is a first for the year.

Epistrophe grossulariae

The Merv

Surely this is the Rolls-Royce of moths? And what a great name (best said in a ropey 'Allo 'Allo! style French accent): Merveille du Jour.

1 of these stunners was in the trap this morning, with 2 more sitting around outside it (as they do). The other TEAL tick was a Streak and the total haul was 61 moths of 21 species - not bad for October.