Monday, 23 December 2013

A review of the year - part one

In previous years I had selected my top three birding moments and written about them on my blog. Having just moved in January to Norfolk, there's too much to try and fit into a top three so I'm going to try and do the year some justice by writing a top ten. Here goes:

# Ten - Confusing Crossbills

In Ireland I'd only seen Common Crossbills. With influxes of both Parrot and Two-barred Crossbills, this was the year I got 'schooled-up' on Crossbill ID. I missed the very first Two-barred Crossbills at Cley but a few days later caught up with others at Lynford Arboretum. I twitched them straight out of work in temperatures of 30oC as they fed high in the larches. See A second bite of the cherry.
Later in the year when I went back to see the fine male that had been reported, I started an ID debate over what I believe is a wing-barred Common Crossbill - see  Two-barred Crossbill....? and Birding Frontiers
and further discussions on Birdforum, facebook and twitter.

Juvenile Two-barred Crossbill - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk - July 2013

'Wing-barred' Common Crossbill - Lynford Arboretum, Norfolk - November 2013
A little later in November and after a few attempts, I managed to connect with the flock of Parrot Crossbills at Holt CP. This time the ID was not so contentious.

Female Parrot Crossbill, Holt CP, Norfolk - November 2013
# Nine - Strumpshaw's Swallowtails

Okay, so they're not birds but still winged creatures. In the middle of a relatively quiet period for birding, I managed to catch up with the fine Swallowtails at Strumpshaw Fen as they fed on the Budelias in a private garden. Stunning they are!

Swallowtail butterfly, Strumpshaw Fen RSPB - Norfolk

# Eight -Rustic Bunting at Warham Greens

This was a great find by Nick Watmough, the first record of the species in Norfolk for seven years. Driving back down the lane from Warham Greens, we flushed two birds, one of which turned out to be a male Rustic Bunting. The bird did a vanishing act afterwards and all I managed was a very blurred record shot, but a lifer nonetheless for me.

Male Rustic Bunting, Warham Greens, Norfolk - October 2013

# Seven - East Wretham Heath

This NWT reserve is only fifteen minutes from where I work in Thetford. Its one of the quieter reserves in the county and a good spot for breeding Common Redstart. I paid several visits here after work or very early in the morning before work and enjoyed great views of singing Common Redstart and singing Wood Warbler. I also had Little Owl and Hobby here, I believe its good for Nightjar too although I never went there late enough to see or hear one.  
To have a place on my work-place doorstep like this is really special, I saw my first ever Comma butterfly here too.

Male and female Common Redstarts at East Wretham Heath

A short movie clip of the Wood Warbler singing here

Wood Warbler - East East Wretham Heath
Comma butterfly, East Wretham Heath

Count-down to continue in the next blog entry.

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