Southern France (RDM, AR)
France is amazing, birds everywhere, more insects than you can shake your new stick at, more bats than you can shake your new Opinel towards, it just highlights how awful much of GB is. I took some photos of the local birds, most of them were awful so are not shown here, instead some incredibly dull, and slightly less awful insect pics...
Knapweed Frit a common roadside butterfly sharing the verge with another three species of Frit, Scotch Argus, Large Copper, Large Torts etc
Rubbish photo of Large Pincertail
Scotch Argus, zzzzzzzzzz
Southern White Admirals (yawn....)
Western Norfolk (RoMa)
Nearing the end of a somewhat ridiculous spring survey season I finally persuaded my scrambled brain that it was possible to derive some enjoyment from looking at birds when not contractually obliged. Thought it might be good to see some of the show-stoppers that I'm meant to be looking out for while EcIA'ing so first dropped in on Great Ryburgh. Arriving with some surprise to a deserted viewpoint a Little Owl, Hobby and fly-through 2nd cal. Med Gull left me struggling to suppress the feeling that I should be recording flight lines, but the overall experience was pleasurable. Inevitably the minibuses appeared by midday and soon the viewpoint was packed with eager 'speciality seekers'. The fourteen Buzzards dotted around gave them plenty to chew on, but it seems that h-b's here are somewhat unobtrusive at the moment. I slipped off, munched on a Morrison's pie then went back to looking for breeding lovelies. I found them more easily than expected, not only some nice Tree Sparrows but also a 2nd cal and adult male Montagu's Harrier. Like a good provider the latter had just popped out for some shredded wheat. Perhaps these sites I spend my life walking around are just crap.
Enough of that, I sauntered around Titchwell for the rest of the afternoon, until the dramatic clouds and lighting proceeded predictably to a dismal soaking. High tide gradually forced the beach onto the freshmarsh in the form of a decent wedge of a couple of thousand Knot and Bar-wit. These joined good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, a few Dunlin and 5 Little Gull (including some good singing from one of the latter, but all were first years). Shortly before the downpour a Bittern gently exploded, which I took as a good cue to leave.
Notable was the absence of any fluffy AV's at Titchwell, perhaps explaining why the Bittern was so happy, but they're still trying.
Blakeney Point (AL, JG)
A flying visit by JG into UK territory permitted just-about-enough time to squeeze in a quick try for a British first on Point. With the June mantra firmly instilled after countless past June frogmarches we were pleasantly-pleased* enough with 2 Reed Warblers, a Chiffchaff and a Blackbird, quite a haul of common for the time of month. Noteworthy was a big push of 'critters' with loads of Silver y-fronted moths and Painted Ladies everywhere...
Reed Warbler at the Hood, note how this is a more exciting experience than the one below (AL). Should probably have saved it for a mystery photo competition...
Reed Warbler at Strumpshaw a day or so before (AL)
britannicus Swallowtail: marginally more exciting than Reed Warbler, massively less exciting than this possible June combo.
Hannah has been getting some practice in digi-scoping scarce; anyone else think Mousa might be a good Needle-tail spot?
North Norfolk (AL)
Getting back in at 10am and preparing to do some work I got in, turned on the computer, opened up Birdguides, closed it, turned off the computer and headed north. After driving past the RBS, kidnapping Cockram and dropping him off in the middle of nowhere where he couldn't do any more damage, I called in at his finch. Ostensibly to see if watching my first BB rarity in nearly a year would help me find one of my own, or fine-tune my search image for Saharan megas. As it happens it was well worth the effort in its own right, although I didn’t find Tristram’s Warbler in the next five minutes. From there I had to escape from the totally rammed 10 km square. Esacpe to Hills; the perfect venue for albicollis. In fact it was pretty quiet out there, 2 Lesser Whitethroats included one out on the marsh, the same or a new Spot Fly was ranging widely and 2 Chiffs were still on territory, plus a single silent Cuckoo. Even Acro-king Furze couldn't 'sort it out'. A couple of seconds of sub-song from a distant Hippo/Acro was frustrating and even a Dendocopus proved elusive (and unseasonal). Walking back across the marsh a Spoonbill flew past distantly and dropped in, only to get up again, fly right at me and then eyeball me up - whether it had me pegged as predator/mate/food item or nesting material was not entirely obvious, but it was certainly a ‘moment’ with nature. Called in at Walsey Hills on the way back, crawled under the bushes round the back and heard the Luscinia sing briefly about 2m from my face but couldn’t see the damn thing...
Top Trump, splurging on Euphorbia (AL)
Lesserthroat out on Lodge Marsh (AL)
Distant Spoonbill (AL)
Not so distant Spoonbill (AL)
Kesteven Uplands, Lincs/Leics (AL, PL)
A day around the homeland botanising produced a nice haul of regional scarcities including Green-winged and Man Orchids plus Red Kites, Ravens, Peregrines (with the chance discovery of new breeding sites for the latter two) and a couple of pairs of Curlews – including one in Leics.
Green-winged, Man and Early Purple Orchids (AL)
North Norfolk (AL)
With the north-west haul more out of control than Piner’s hair, I decided to put some serious legwork in to up my chances. Out of the house at 0345 it was onto Hills and a pre-dawn channel crossing first; I spent an hour out on the flats where there was an obvious arrival of Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and Sanderling but no rarer Calidrids kept them company... In the trees, migrants were obviously not going to be abundant, but patience revealed a few titbits in hiding. A Reed Warbler gave a couple of seconds of song from an elderberry bush in the first section and my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was typically willow-the-wisp through the Sycamores there. The Gropper was still reeling away and a couple of Chiffchaffs were holding territory with a bonus Lesser Whitethroat. Crossing back I had to strip down to get over the creek at waist height and after a quick check of the Greens tried Stiffkey Fen. No rare warblers today. With the weather having now broken I decided to do Cley reserve and sat around in Dauke’s Hide waiting for Needle-tailed/Pacific Swifts but had to make do with a Temminick’s Stint. Suitably rested it was time for the Point. After twenty minutes I was soaked to the skin from wet Suaeda, but managed to battle to the end for 1 Wheatear. The rest of the 4-man crew who had been working it all day could add an extra Wheatear, 2 Reed Warblers and a Nightjar to that tally. I had walked a long way.
wet Tem (AL)