Sunday 30 May 2021

The Phil More's Corner Podcast - Series 2 Episode 5

Just about time to get another episode in before spring ends and the summer doldrums begin. Graham and Sean have both been out in the field pointing their parabolas at anything that makes a sound and in the process have managed to capture some nice recordings. Rattling Lesser Whitethroats, spinning Wood Warblers, drumming Woodpeckers and scratchy Sardinian Warblers.......who'd believe it's an Irish spring. We finish with a promise from Harry and Brian that they'll get out birding and find something to talk about in Episode 6.

Sunday 16 May 2021

Local is where it's at!

I continued throughout the past week to look in on my local patch whenever possible. Most evenings there has been an impressive gathering of Swifts hawking insects over Earlham Marsh. On Tuesday evening I had a Common Sandpiper there (which I initially messed up as a Green Sandpiper - d'uh) and a female Yellow Wagtail. Whether that's a new bird or one that lingered on following the arrival of Yellow Wagtails a few weeks ago is hard to know but by Wednesday it appeared to have gone.

In terms of summer migrants, I think I have seen most of what I would expect within my 5 kilometer circle. So, on the weekend I decided to try the coast. I hit Happisburgh early on Saturday but in terms of migrants it was dead.....and very cold! There appeared to be good numbers of Common Whitethroats on territory plus I had several Sandwich Terns which were my first ones this year.

Bird of Year so far came along on Sunday morning when Norwich birder Dave Andrews found a Caspian Tern on UEA broad whilst strolling with the family. An absolutely cracking find by Dave and what is most likely the first record of the species in Norwich. The bird stayed around for at least an hour and half which meant most local birders were able to see it. For me it was my "5km from home" #117.

Caspian Tern, UEA broad, Norwich - 16th May 2021


Its been quality rather than quantity this week. I managed to put my gear out each night and had Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper each on four ocassions.


 Plus a Barn Owl briefly on Monday 10th May and full nocmig tick in Redshank on 14th May.


Actually I did a quick review of my recent nocmig activities. From the 13th April to the 15th May, I recorded 24 nights out of a possible 33 nights (73%). The species that occured the most was Redwing. I recorded them 21 times although the last one was on 30 April and I've unsurprisingly not heard any since. After that the commonest species were Oystercatcher (9), Moorhen (9) and Coot (8), I presume local birds moving about. Water Rail I've recorded 4 times (again I expect local birds rather than migrants). I had Common Sandpiper 6 times and Whimbrel 4 times. Other waders included Redshank and Dunlin (1 apiece). Highlights in that period have included Ring Ouzel (2 birds on 17th April), Little Ringed Plover (1), Barn Owl and Common Scoter (although the real passage for that species was late March to early April when I had them on 4 ocassions).

Sunday 9 May 2021

This weeks update

Despite the ongoing chilly weather, the migrants are continuing to arrive on my local patch. I headed out early on Saturday morning ahead of the heavy rain and whilst water levels are noticeably higher on Earlham Marsh, there were still a few birds there. The best being a female Yellow Wagtail. There hadn't been any Yellow Wagtails reported all week so I rather fancied that this was a new bird. I updated the Norwich birders WhatsApp group, looked back again and the Yellow Wagtail plus the three or four Pied Wagtails it was with had vanished. I never saw it again. 

It rained heavily thereafter before finally clearing around 7pm that evening when it was clear that a lot of Swifts had arrived. Dave Holman had 100 + over Colney Gravel Pits and there have been birds screaming high over the house all day. A little late but welcome back!

I walked Earlham Marsh early this morning. The temperature was nearly 20 degrees, seems like a very long time since I felt that. It appears like Common Whitethroat numbers are peaking, I had up to ten birds including one carrying nest material. I also had a female Blackcap carrying food, all very encouraging signs. After that 3 Sedge Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 1 Reed Warbler and bird of the morning a Common Cuckoo that flew over Earlham Marsh. 

One of the two Garden Warblers was singing very nicely so I popped back home for the Parabola and got a nice recording.



It even sat out for a bit, a little out of focus but you get the picture.


Garden Warbler, Earlham, Norwich - 9th May 2021

Common Cuckoo had brought my "5kmfromhome" list to 114, matching the number I finished on last year. As the day warmed up I hoped that I might be in with a chance to get a passing Hobby over the garden which would bring me past my 2020 total. Once home I sat out in garden with a cup of coffee and after about an hour of scanning my luck was in when sure enough a Hobby passed over. 

Hobby, Bowthorpe, Norwich - 9th May 2021

 It was quite high up so I needed to crop and brighten the image so the birds features (including its fetching orange breeches) were visible. As it happens I saw another Hobby later in the day so fingers crossed this bird may stick around for the summer.

Monday 3 May 2021

Earlham's Purple Patch

The unseasonably chilly weather hasn't stopped the migrants arriving at my local patch of Earlham Marsh / Bowthorpe and the place is having one of its best springs ever. A combination of good cover and the marsh being in decent nick. Its hard to believe that 4 months ago (on Christmas Day to be exact), heavy rain and big tides had turned the place into a lake.

West Earlham Marsh - 25th December 2020

The ink was barely dry on my last blog post when a pair of Greenshank showed up on Earlham Marsh. Perhaps not too big a deal on the face of it but they were my first ever Norwich Greenshanks and some seasoned observers hadn't seen any Greenshank in Norwich in over 25 years - so quite the bird!

The next day the keen eyes of Max Helicar picked up a Yellow Wagtail on Earlham Marsh. One bird became two, then three and by the end of the week there were four 'flavissima' Yellow Wagtails present. I'd never had even one before now. On a chilly Saturday morning, I popped down for a look and found a very smart male Blue-headed Wagtail which hung around until Sunday evening at least.


                                                Blue-headed Wagtail, Earlham Marsh, Norwich

With the Hirundines and Swifts buzzing overhead, Yellow Wagtails calling, Little Ringed Plovers bobbing around on the mud it's given the place such a great feel - its not always like that, but its a special place when it is.

As the week went past more migrants arrived. A Garden Warbler on Saturday, a singing Lesser Whitethroat on Sunday, at least seven Common Whitethroats, four Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler on Monday.

I tried but failed to record the Lesser Whitethroat singing. I managed to get it tacking at a Sedge Warbler which then burst into pretty impressive mimicry of Blue Tit. Take a listen!



On Monday morning I tried a second time to record the Lesser Whitethroat but it was silent. I bumped into Robin Chittenden who'd managed to find a cracking male Ring Ouzel on the slopes above Earlham Marsh. Its been a very decent spring for them.

I had just finished chatting to him when I checked my WhatsApp messages to see that Jack Morris had found a male Whinchat in the bushes behind the path that runs alongside the Bowthorpe side of Earlham Marsh - the gold streak continues.


Male Whinchat - Bowthorpe / Earlham, Norwich - 03 May 2021

Nocmigging has been a little quiet in the past week. Moorhen and Oystercatcher were the commonest birds. Two Common Sandpipers over on the 29th April were the first ones this year on nocmig and the accompanying Curlew was nice. I had a late Redwing on 30th April and close-by Water Rail on the 2nd May.



The weather looks like it will finally warm-up in the second half of the coming week. I'm still waiting for some local Cuckoos to arrive and hopefully I'll get a Hobby in the coming week. That will bring my past my 5kmsfromhome 2020 total of 114. 

If Earlham Marsh's purple patch continues who knows what else it could throw up - we'll see!