…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!



Or Woodland?  Woodland or Mottled? Is this the money shot for the iD?

a grasshopper doing I don't bloody know

That’s another bug post dear reader.  Tomorrow I think that I shall focus on clover.  Exciting, huh?


grasshopper doing enough already

Three posts and three bugs – brilliant eh?. 

This is the Woodland Grasshopper Omocestus rufipes and according to my book, it shouldn’t be in my garden nevermind Norfolk at all.  I’m not going to stick my neck out and claim any significance for this due to two facts.  I could have the id wrong.  The map in the bug book could be pants.


oak bush city limits

oak bush-cricket doing Meconema thallassinum


Pun-tastic!  Because, right, it’s an oak bush cricket and I live in the city and this is at the limits of what your humour can endure?  Anyway it was found in the bathroom and released into the wild where it posed for the camera. Another stunning bug i-d in the bag.  Evidently this is a male because it hasn’t got an ovipositor but does have long and curved cerci.  No really.  So there is another first, not only have I identified a bug but I have sexed it too. 

(Look, I know this is supposed to be a bird blog, but it is August ok?  This was going to be a post about seeing Swifts this morning over the garden and it kind of morphed into something else.  Ho hum.)


twa bugs

Bug one.  Any ideas?

a bug doing mystery


Bug two. Just because.

ladybird doing close-up

more on the buses

Another garden butterfly tick, hot on the heels of the ringlet, but this is a Holly Blue, perhaps a female [Insert observation regarding repeated use of bus analogy here].


butterfly doing quite smart actually

garden tick

Ringlet methinks…

butterfly doing tatty

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

garden tick

First damselfly, like ever.

damselfly doing large red male

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.


Noted above the garden this morning…

magic realist birding

On Sunday, the post what I put on here ended with an optimistic flourish along the lines that I was going to hear a Chiffchaff in the garden, and almost immediately.  Within minutes this did in fact, occur.  Brilliant – first migrant of the year  (and six days later than last year fact fans!).  So, dear reader, I am going to try the same trick again at the end of the post to see if it works again.  Not for a Chiffchaff, not in the garden.  For a patch bird, in the patch.

But what if it works again?  What if it turns out that flippant predictions at the end of a random post on my blog effects the space-time continuum and the ornithological predictions come true?  What would I do then?  Keep making predictions?  Haul in some right old rare birds to the patch on a daily basis?  Experiment with effects beyond the scope of the blog?  It could be the plot of some fanciful magic-realist bestselling novel.  Hell – I could syndicate the rights to HBO and have it made into a rubbish series stateside where a man with incredible  hair writes a blog that affects the real world and then has naff adventures that only last an hour (with adverts) with just enough time for a little sanctimonious preaching about how we all need to help each other more before the titles roll up at Mach 2.  Wow, it would be like getting tomorrow’s paper today!  How amazing would that be?

That’s been done hasn’t it.  Damnit.  I thought I was onto something there. 

Truth is that there hasn’t been much magic round here of late.  Nor was all that very realistic.  But I don’t know if I don’t try! So here goes….

I’m off into the patch to find a Wheatear.

random observations

There were half a dozen Waxwings on Riverside Road yesterday.  Might have been the only person to have noticed.  I was in a queue of traffic, looking for Peregrines.

The patch was consistently constant, and devoid of migrants last week.  An Eider, a Common Scoter.  Gulls.  Not much else.

Actually, if you ask me – everywhere is devoid of migrants up to now.

I though I saw a Treecreeper from the Garden this morning.  Not like that funny one in Suffolk.  It has shorter toes than normal evidently.  Honestly, I think birders make these things up.

Referring to a Ring Ouzel as a ‘Rouzel’ is annoying.

Quelea.  I always had it in my head that it was kway-lee-ah, but Attenborough pronounced it kwee-lee-ah on the tellybox last night.  If he says it is kwee-lee-ah then that’s what it is.

Have an iffy picture of some birds in mostly winter plumage.

plovers doing by the sea


I’m off into the garden to listen for Chiffchaff.

garden porn

So then, dear reader, it is almost warm enough for it to be classified as spring.  Migrants are arriving at our shores.  Even those fictional beasts known as Hoopoes.  There is a mild southerly wind coming from the continent which will quite possibly bring summery birds with it.  There are still wintery birds around the fringes of this fair county.  What is a patch birder to do?


Get in!

The following species could be seen doing spring like activity during the day (singing, fighting, poking about in holes – that kind of thing).


Great Spotted Woodpecker

Finches, Gold and Green

Tits, Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal



Pigeons and doves


The frogs have been ‘at it’ for about two weeks now in the pond, but their inhibitions and shyness have gone and rather than disappear into the depths of the pond when humans are near they now have a reckless abandon verging on the exhibitionist.  The fecundity on display today could easily described as amphibian hardcore.

Here are some photographic images from the day.


mrs thing referred to this as 'the money shot'


always one knocking about


holy hawks!

 As seen by many people in the local press, a ledge has been put up on the spire of Norwich Cathedral to encourage some Peregrines to hang about, nest and breed.  The Hawk and Owl trust have been involved and I understand that there will be big tellies in the visitor centre and everything.  Bravo say I – plenty of fun to be had there over the summer.  So impressed was I that I stole a picture from the local press for your delectation.

peregrines doing norwich cathedral


Of course, the Cathedral being but a  couple of minutes from Chez Thing as the Peregrine soars,  my first thought was that there could be a garden tick on the way when they find the inhabitants of the local pigeon loft.  Kerching!