well ruffle my colis

These patch ticks are coming thick and fast. Relatively. Warm on the heels of the Hen Harrier and Gadwall comes today’s little cracker in the shape of Dabchick on the sea.  Yes, I said Dabchick.  Not a Litte Grebe, no.  When I were a lad it was a Podiceps, and a Dabchick and I’m happy for it to stay that way.  Here is the obligatory stunning image.

dabchick doing refusenik


Later in the day, Redwings were heard overhead which is also a patch tick.  I would produce a picture of Redwings flying overhead at night, represented by a black rectangle but I did that gag months ago.

I really should update the patch list page at some point this year.



…has my gast been so flabbered.

I stepped into the garden this morning expecting mist.  A mallard flew over.  Bloody hell, a duck over my garden I thought.  Before I had a chance to digest this, 5 Greylag Geese flew over.  Double garden tick!

I have not seen the bird represented in this picture in my garden.

a turnstone doing jaunty


[Edit] There was also a Chiffchaff singing!

near miss

It seemed that Friday was a good day for a seawatch.   I mean, a Fea’s Petrel flew past the evening before.  How good does it need to get? What with the patch being by the sea, it seemed a good idea to then proceed to sea and watch it.  Getting ready for ‘the big one’.  The patch tick of patch ticks.  A rare seabird.  Lets go!

The first Brents of the winter, some Wigeon, some Scoters.  No shearwaters, certainly not any Cory’s.  Or Gannets.  Some gulls.  No skuas. Some terns.  Hmmm.  But then!   Hang on one a second there is a small dark bird with a white rump flying almost on the waves!!! Bloody hell!  It couldn’t be could it?  Where has it gone?  Find it find it!  Oh, what is that what has gone and landed on that there rock.  Oh, it is a Wheatear. 

Swallow anyone?

a swallow doing not long now

rainy double patch tick whammy

So I went out into the patch and it looked like this.

sky doing just you wait sonny

Understandably, I started getting rained on.  So I retreated to the shelter of a nearby motorised vehicle and by the magic of the internal combustion engine I found myself by an area of scrubland.  Actually it is desolate industrial wasteground, but scrub makes it sound all wild and authentic and everything.  Bored out of my patch mind by the lack of birds to watch I even ended up taking pictures of a bird I don’t like.

a wood pigeon doing rubbish

I muttered, and took the Lords name in vain with reference to the rubbishness of local birds etc.  I mean Wrynecks are stalking local dunes, but not mine.  Greenish Warblers are being found in bushes a mere few miles away, but not here.  All I have is a Wood Pigeon.  And those Sparrows.  And that Blue Tit.  FFS.  Blue Tit?  But that would be a member of an entire family of birds that do not present themselves around here at all.  Have I fallen into the complacency of the common place again?  Yes!  Patch tick! Niiiiice!  Better get the bins out then and look at it properly.  It’s a respect thing.  But hang on, what is that flicky thing that is with the Tit and Sparrows in that rubbish bit of scrub/wasteland.  Oh it seems to look like a warbler.  At 8x magnification it revealed itself to be no less than a Chiffchaff.  Another bleeding patch tick!  Shmokin!

One rain shower for me, two photos for you dear reader, and a rambling post about two patch ticks.  Splendid.

a post mostly regarding birds

No really, a small update on patch birds.  Common Tern nesting.  However, due to the proximity of lots of hungry LBB chicks and knowing how tasty these gulls find Common Tern chicks, this breeding attempt will fail.  Starlings, post breeding murmuration in situ – 50+ birds and rising.  Goldfinches, Swifts and House Sparrows daily.  Herring Gulls breeding.  Bird X (or was it Y?) has successfully fledged young.  The other night there were four cracking full summer plumaged Meds between the piers in Yarmouth.  Nice. Ringed Plover this morning.  More nice.

The patch list has picked up a couple of ticks, but that might more accurately be a couple that should have been entered already – it’s the complacency of recording the common species situation again.  Subsequently the year list probably needs updating.

conrcrake and the croft

Twas flicking through the iplayer last night and came across a programme called The Corncrake And The Croft which had originally been shown on BBC Alba.  Excellent I thought, I’ll watch that – and now.  Although the beginning of the programme was in Gaelic with English subtitles, the majority of the programme was in English.  It was a revisit to an episode of The World About Us from 1977 (!) which, you’ve guessed it, was about crofting and occasionally Corncrakes in Uist.  There is plenty of photography of other birds and it is well worth a look.  It is from a time when a Corn Bunting singing on fence isn’t worth mentioning, when nobody spoke about conservation and when tractors didn’t have a cab.  The story line is a little unreal though.  This being the west of Scotland, it didn’t seem to rain in the summer which I found strange, only when the foaming seas of Autumn arrived did the weather change.   Anyway, if you have an  hour to kill while the rain stops birding this weekend, I recommend it.

Here is a link to the online version.

While I’m talking about foaming sea in Uist, here is a picture of just that, apart from the fact that it was not taken in Uist.

sea doing foam

what bird bloggers do in the summer

If you have been reading bird blogs for a while, you will notice the seasonal changes.  It goes a little something like this.

Autumn – wow! Birds are brilliant and my patch is full of migrants and stuff!  I’ll write about it!  It’s windy!

Winter – wow! Birds are brilliant and my patch is full of winter birds and stuff!  I’ll write about it!  It’s cold!

Spring – wow! Birds are brilliant and my patch is full of migrants and stuff!  I’ll write about it!  The days are getting longer!

Summer – Oh, all the summer birds are breeding and I can’t see them for the trees.  Boring.  Have you seen my butterfly/moth  photos?

For the sake of compliance in my little theory, here is another blue butterfly with a massively overexposed background.  I think it is a female blue one, but it would seem that my bug book is a little sexist and doesn’t  like pictures of certain female butterflies.

butterfly doing girly blue

tick and a bug

Patch tickeroo today, but hardly the most exciting.  While the twitcherati are going mad for a brown job with bits of white on it in Cleveland I am making do with a dozen Canada Geese flying over.

What I need to do is actually spend a bit of time in the patch, and see some more birds.

In the meantime, here is an incredible picture of another Damselfly from my garden.  I think it might be the female version of the one that I had before (Large Red), although I am happy to be corrected.  Either way, nothing exciting outside of the garden but massively important within it.

damselfly doing female

x, y, z

You may be wondering what has been going on in the patch and so, for that matter, have I.  
Not only has my activity been sparse, so has the action when there has been activity.  And then, when there has been action and activity combined, the species in question cannot be named.  Nor can some of my recent birding activities either, so although I’ve done stuff, chuffing on about it on here it is quite the wrong thing to do.  There has been a minor furore amongst the birding community (well, twitchers and photographers to be honest – everyone else is reasonably sane and can see both sides of an argument) regarding Birdguides’ excellent decision to stop uploading pictures of  Schedule 1 breeders, regardless of the context.  Good move I say.  I understand that bloggers shouldn’t be chuffing on about Schedule 1 breeders either, so being a fan of the moral high ground I shall cease to chuff.
So in summary, I recently went to not very secret location X to see bird Y but didn’t see it, and I’ve recently been homing in on bird Z to see if it is breeding.  I have also seen a marked increase in bird A in the patch, which is not surprising really.  I had been hoping to see bird B, but this also has been elusive.
See?  Interesting for me and the county recorder, but for you dear reader – dull as dishwater. 
To counteract this dullness – have a picture of a mammal what I took!  In my garden!  Sitting on a rock! By the pond! For no apparent reason!  At night! 

a hedgehog doing nervous

ded yoo hare it?

Behold the dramatisation of  conversations taking place in a ‘normal’ suburban street recently.

Mrs Thing (for it is she) “Darling, I was convinced that I heard a Cuckoo Cuculus canorus canorus in Mousehold Heath the other morning.  This pleased me, but my thoughts quickly turned to you.   Bearing in mind that in the many years you have lived around here and the many hours you have spent observing wildlife in this Heath area, you have not heard or seen a Cuckoo and do not have it on your garden list or for that matter your silly Norwich list nevermind your woeful year list; do you think it likely that I am correct in my identification?  For the Cuckoo does have quite a distinctive call does it not my dear?”

Thing (for it is he) “Dearest, it is true that this species of bird is not on the two lists of mine that you mention but this does not preclude the species occurring in the environ.  For your information, in the classified section of the Norfolk Bird Report between 1966 and 1987 there is hardly a mention of the Cuckoo (disregarding the spurious record of 300 on Acle New Road in 1983 that was subsequently withdrawn) and in the latest edition (2009) the entry is more substantial but it doesn’t specifically mention Mousehold Heath.  Furthermore, in the Norfolk Bird Atlas (Kelly, 1986) the Cuckoo is widespread throughout the county in non-urban areas during migration but breeding is much more localised but looking at the map, it would not rule out the chance encounter in Mousehold.  Unfortunately I cannot cross-reference with the latest Norfolk bird atlas because it is, although excellent, really ruddy expensive.  In conclusion, your record of the Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus canorus, although quite exceptional, is not impossible.  Of course, as I didn’t hear it I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the record, but admit that not much else sounds like a Cuckoo and you have been well-trained.

Mrs Thing “How wonderful.  In that case my dear, I maintain that I heard said species and will speak of it no more.  Before I finish though, I believe that in these circumstances (a garden mega I think you would call it) it is obligatory for me to swear loudly and say ‘get in’.”

Thing “Indeed.  Harrumph”

Days pass.  The mega is not mentioned again.  Mrs Thing visits a neighbour, an elderly local woman who is not unused to the country and it’s ways and knows some things about this and that.  The conversation moves away from a discussion on the mores of the local bandits, to natural history.

Brenda (the elderly local woman) “Wun lump orr too moi woomun?”

Mrs Thing (for it is she) “Just one thanking you, I don’t like my Earl Grey too sweet, what?”

Brenda (the elderly local woman) “O’roit moi woomun.  Tell yu whaaaa – ded yu hare that cuck-goo the other morrnun?”

Mrs Thing (behind a wistful smile) “Indeed I did Brenda, indeed I did…………..”

And so it came to pass, that Mrs Thing had independent verification that a Cuckoo was heard in Mousehold Heath from her garden.  Something that her husband (that’ll be me then) has not seen or heard anywhere near here in the last thirty years.  He is thus ‘gripped off’ in the parlance of the birdwatcher.  Mrs Thing is ‘quite pleased’ in the parlance of the normal human.

Bugger it.

no surprises

Patch list and year list updated.  As the title says, no surprises within.

Although the Chaffinch was nearly missed.  You know what it is like at the beginning of the birders year, well for those that like to keep a year list anyway.  All the common birds have to be firmly identified, and ticked with all the excitement of the years first Wheatear.  Blue Tits, Wrens, Blackbirds all put in the book with a satisfied tick.  Then as the year goes by, they are relegated to the ‘oh, it’s only an X’ box and largely overlooked.  This kind of attitude nearly cost me a patch tick last week.  I arrived in the patch and the House Sparrows where chipping about the bush that they regularly haunt and just above them a male Chaffinch was frantically pinking away.  Oh, it’s a Chaffinch thought I.  I haven’t seen one of those since I ws in the garden this morning .  And I continued to scan the area for Siberian Rubythroats.  The Chaffinch persisted.  ‘That is a very persistent Chaffinch’ I thought, while the bird continued to pink.  And then the penny dropped.  A quick mental recap on what I have seen in the patch, and blow me down if it wasn’t a patch tick.  Easily overlooked, but pretty uncommon for the patch.  Thery’are, as they say round here.

number 73

Peregine has been added to the Norwich list with a visit to the Cathedral yesterday where cracking views were to be had.  I thought I might have had another tick on this list last weekend when I saw a Rook nervously hanging around Plumstead Road.  It wasn’t a tick but it was the first I’ve seen in Norwich for a while.

Have a picture from the patch.  Nelson’s Column.  Yarmouth stylee – cos he was a Norfolk boiii you see.  It is topped with Britannia, but she doesn’t  look to sea rather to the place of his birth which is miles away. 

nelson doing column

feeling like a dead duck

And so to the patch. 

Several days of easterlies.  It is May.  That means migration.  The patch is on the coast.

What should this equal?  Birds – and lots of them.  What do I get?  The same Gulls and Pigeons that I always get and four Swallows.  This will not do!  If this does not improve I shall complain.  And then write a letter.  I’m not entirely sure to who, but I shall write it nonetheless!

The only item of interest on the beach today was this.

spitting out pieces of his broken luck



Those little things that adults look after and take to beaches, pets I think they are – not dogs but those noisy two-legged ones.  Scream a lot.  Run around a lot.  Scare birds.  They have all returned to their institutions this week, yes?  Leaving the world for the non-children loving adults.  Children – that’s what they are called – they are the ones!  Well I’ve stayed out of their way during their holiday so that some curmudgeonly old duffer doesn’t scowl at them and set the waterworks off again and now it’s my time hehehe…

To recap, the previous two weeks have been sunny and all that with low winds, high temperatures and generally undemanding weather for migrants, so they can all come and go as they please.  But now that it is my time, it’s the end of April the temperature has dropped the wind has turned and is now blowing directly, and with reasonable strength, directly onto the Norfolk coast.  How very convenient, it is almost as if it was part of my master plan for good spring birding! He he he!

So with all this going my way, it might well be time to venture out to those windswept cliffs and dunes and soak up all this migratory magnificence.  Year ticks too.

And I hear there are Spoonbills at Cley.  Sleeping of course, but worth a little effort, yes?And no children…



There has been inaction here.  There has been inaction on the birding front for me.  Due to ‘personal’ reasons I have not been birding, and thus you don’t get any posts.  That’s how it works.  Do not fret about the nature of these circumstance Dear reader, but needless to say, for prolonged periods over the last few days I literally found myself face down on a bare concrete floor, bleeding, waiting for the lactic build up in my muscles to pass, the straps that bound my legs gouging into my thighs while I struggled to move around.  The sun shining through the tiny locked window – mocking my tortured plight.  I haven’t been near a  computer, a set of optics or anything resembling a patch or a beach.   Don’t know what rarities I have smugly refused to go and see, haven’t visited any bird news services or reciprocally linked blogs or anything! I cannot type properly due to the bruises and blisters on my hands and the pain in my back.  You lot could have been sunning yourselves in Cley watching a flock of Slender Billed Curlew for all I know. 

But it’s all about to change.  Yes sirree.  This week will be different, and I might even go on a twitch.  Oh, yes.

And if you were wondering if there was any advance on the gull ID, well it is not conclusive at the moment but Mr Emerson has the last word for the moment in the form of this little snippet…

…a pair of gulls bred at Yarmouth last year that were ID’d as a Yellow-legged and a Herring x Lesser Black-backed…some small photos can be seen here: http://yarevalleywildlife.synthasite.com/bird-photos-2010.php

This particular subject is not closed, and a fuller discussion may or may not rear its head in due course.

Picture?  I’ll need to find my camera first.