Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Baby Barn Owls

My Schedule 1 license for ringing Barn Owls came in to use last night, as I had time to visit a near by nest box. This, pleasingly, revealed four very healthy looking chicks. As ever with Barn Owl chicks, there was a clear difference between the oldest...

Too big really!

And the youngest...

Just a ball of white fluff with a Barn Owl face!

The biggest were the oldest Barn Owl chicks I have ringed, and boy do my hands know it...

It didn't hurt at the time, but it looks like I've been pulling up brambles with my bare hands!

Friday, 8 June 2012

A Storm In June!?

Well the weather has been a bit, shall we say, unseasonal! It can't be good for breeding birds up and down the land - very worrying indeed.

The heavy rain put me off sea watching yesterday, but as soon as it looked to be clearing early afternoon I headed to Beer. I sea watched from here 14:00 - 15:00, and saw;

7 Arctic Skua (2 pale close west, then 2 pale, 2 intermediate and 1 dark east)
50+ Gannet
42 Manxies
3 Kittiwake
5 Sandwich Tern
2 Guillemot
3 Razorbill

So no Stormies or Puffins, but it wasn't bad for a June sea watch - they are usually dire!

This morning, I had a quick look out from Seaton at about 8am. An Arctic Tern came close in and flew west, and further out several Gannets and a few Kitts and Manxies also passed west. I'm going to head out again now for another go - still hoping for a Stormie!

Lots of flood water in the valley today, but the only notable sighting from me is of these three first-summer Med Gulls near Boshill Cross...

Not always an easy species to see in June on our patch

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Barn Owl

At about 8am this morning, the rain eased a bit, and this Barn Owl obviously took advantage of the slight break in the weather. I had truly breathtaking views of it, it just didn't see me...

What a treat!

I had a bit of a good look around this morning, the only other bird I saw of note was a first-summer Med Gull that flew south down the Estuary.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

I'm Home!

Well I have been home for several days now, but just haven't had time for this update. Here it is though...

Firstly I will just mention the only worthwhile sighting since my return home. On Monday I was very surprised to hear Crossbills calling whilst in the front garden, and looked up to see three flying over. I wouldn't have been so surprised if it was Sept/Oct. Even July/Aug would be ok for migrants, but early June? Must be local birds surely?

Also I would like to say thank you to anyone and everyone who signed the Buzzard petition. It worked! See here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/30/buzzard-trapping-plan-abandoned-uturn

Ok, so where have I been? NORFOLK! It wasn't a birding trip at all, just a relaxing few days away with Jess, and it was superb - we had so much fun in this beautiful part of the world. The drive back was a bit of a nightmare though, not only was the traffic horrendous, but this happened whilst driving on the M25...

Oh dear! AA did a temporary fix, but am still waiting for a full repair

It didn't dampen our spirits though as we had such a great few days. I have got hundreds of scenery photos, but I won't bore you with all of them. Just four to give a taster...

Makes me feel relaxed just looking at them

Just being in Norfolk meant we saw plenty of birds - but we did visit Titchwell, Holkham Gap and Cley once or twice whilst here.

I actually managed a UK lifer on this trip! On Wednesday a Great Reed Warbler was found at Cley, and late afternoon I managed some brief views of it - just a pity it wasn't singing when I was there. In the Cley/Salthouse area I also saw a Wood Sand, some excellent views of Bearded Tits (the photo doesn't do the views justice), very brief views of a raptor that flew in off which I hope was just a Hobby (it was either this species or a Red-foot), and stacks of Avocets...

A family of Bearded Tits in the reeds

We even saw some chicks wandering about too. They were too far to photograph though, unlike the above adults!

Titchwell produced a nice bunch of 1st-summer Little Gulls and two Little Ringed Plovers. And Holkham Gap gave a Cuckoo.

On Wednesday we went on a seal trip in Blakeney Harbour. Great views of masses of seals (I took about 100 photos of the Seals, but don't worry I'll post just three here), but bird wise it was also enjoyable with a fly over Spoonbill being a surprise, loads of terns (4 species, incl. loads of Little), a couple of adult Med Gulls and 3+ Marsh Harriers. A lone Brent Goose I presume was an injured or sick straggler.

They really are funny looking things!

Just driving about and stopping now and then also showed plenty of birds. We saw numerous Marsh Harriers (the males really are so stunning, never seen an adult male on the Axe), several Barn Owls, Grey Partridge all over the place and a lone Corn Bunting near Choseley Drying Barns...

These were everywhere!

But these weren't, just one Corn Bunting - this photo was taken some time after 9pm, hence why it is so dark. He was still singing away though!

We stayed in Wells, and ate out every night. The best meal I think we had was in the Victoria, at Holkham. The service and dinner was brilliant, but it was the desert that really did it for me...

Called 'Tasting of Strawberry'

Unfortunately the two days I had set aside for possible Swallowtail searching were much cloudier, with Thursday being quite wet. So in the end we didn't make the drive down to the south of the county to see this butterfly. That's ok - just means we will need to come back again some time soon!

Back to work again now though, and back to 'the norm'. Now spring is over, it's time for me to knuckle down and get stuck into DBR 2011...