Winter at Holme Bird Observatory (please click for clip)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Late autumn comes good!

To answer the previous post, yes, autumn 2011 certainly did have a sting in the tail! This was provided by a cracking male DESERT WHEATEAR on the beach 10th-12th November (T. Bennet et. al.), only the 2nd site record and captured well by John Furse above (click to make it bigger), as well as an elusive Hoopoe 11th-12th, a flyby juvenile Sabine's Gull on the 6th (C.H. Mills et. al.), a good arrival of common migrants, including 350+ Blackbirds on the 7th, as well as the usual late autumn smattering of Lapland Buntings, Pomarine Skuas, Woodcocks and Short-eared Owls amongst more standard fare. Will the continuing SE winds spring one last surprise (maybe a Desert Warbler if we wish hard enough!)?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Autumn finally springs into life!

Well, the fact that there have been no updates on here since early September is a stark indication of the standard of the autumn this year, undoubtedly one of the most frustrating in recent times. Following the few bits and pieces at the end of August a barrage of westerlies halted migration its wake, with very little noted through the whole of September and early October. A brief spell of northerlies on 14th September produced a Sooty Shearwater and a good count of 70 Manx Shearwaters, whilst Balearic Shearwaters were noted daily 15th-20th, involving at least 3 birds. A Barred Warbler 2nd-4th October, and perhaps the same on the 12th, started the month of well and seawatching picked up with some strong northerlies producing 34 Pomarine Skuas and 2 Long-tailed Skuas 7th-8th October. However, the much desired easterlies finally arrived on 13th, producing a major arrival of 13 Short-eared Owls, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Woodcocks and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers. Over the next couple of days more Short-eared Owls, Ring Ouzels and Lapland Buntings were noted, with the outstanding highlight being the sites 2nd RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL trapped and ringed on 15th and pictured above. Warden Sophie Barker takes up the story:

I arrived at the Observatory at 7.20am to find Assistant Warden Gary, who had agreed to open up the nets on Sat, at the foot of the steps with a bird bag. I asked him 'have you caught the Rufous-tailed Robin?' he said 'nearly! - its a Red-flanked Bluetail'. Gary had just this moment extracted the bird in the 0s. I was blessed with the ringing of the Bluetail, - when I turned it over in my hand to see the bright blue rump and tail, my knees almost went from under me. This was a first year male with a moult limit in the greater coverts and a hint of blue in the median coverts. The upper mandible was pale inside, and the tail very pointed. It was in good condition carrying a healthy pectoral muscle score and a small amount of fat, and weighed in at 13.9g. The bird posed very helpfully for piccys, and then flew up into the pines on release. It was elusive and mobile for much of the day, showing on both the NOA and NWT reserves, but enjoyed by many.

A report of a brief PALLID HARRIER on 17th unfortunately failed to give itself up for the masses to be confirmed. Will this arrival prove the highlight of the autumn, or does autumn 2011 have a late sting in the tail yet?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Colour Ringed Black tailed Godwit Redwell Marsh

Black Tailed Godwit photographed on Redwell marsh in July 2009. Used here to illustrate a colour ringed bird on Redwell on 12 August - but would not sadly pose for the camera.

26.06.05 Ringed Langus Fljot Northern Iceland
28.08.05 Holkham Norfolk
30.08.05 Holkham Norfolk
01.09.05 Holkham Norfolk
20.09.05 Stifkey Norfolk
22.09.05 Stifkey Norfolk
25.09.05 Stifkey Norfolk
27.09.05 Cley Norfolk
29.09.05 Cley Norfolk
28.01.06 Santa Amalia. Extremadura. Spain
10.08.06 Cley Norfolk
30.06.09 Haganesvik Fljot. Northern Iceland
16.07.09 Snettisham Norfolk
11.03.11 Dundalk Bay louth Ireland

Another Hungry Caterpillar - Pine hawk Moth 30th August

With the Bedstraw Caterpillars shown in a previous post thriving under the tender care of the Warden, and growing to enormous size to the delight of visitors to the Observatory, this Pine Hawk Moth Caterpillar was discovered in the vegetation near the moth trap.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Autumn migration gathering pace

The end of August and start of September has seen a few scarcities at the Observatory, with an elusive Red-backed Shrike in the dunes, a fly-through Honey Buzzard and best of all 2 Wrynecks, with a long-staying bird in the NWT dunes and another ringed yesterday (2nd September), the 37th ringed at the observatory in its history and the 3rd consecutive year one has been trapped.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Spotted Redshanks

21 August.2 Spotted Redshanks that spent 5 minutes feeding and preening in front of the hide at Redwell,with a supporting cast that included a feeding group of 6 Snipe, both common and Green Sandpipers, and a Barn Owl looking on from a post in the hedge. Ray roche

Some very Hungry Caterpillars now doing well at the Obs.

The Bedstraw Hawkmoth pictured in the previous post not only managed to get itself caught in the Moth Trap more than once, but also produced Eggs. These survived the transition to the Caterpillar stage, and these tiny eggs have gone on to produce equally small but now rapidly growing caterpillars !! Watch this space for the NOA'S very own version of Autumn watch - but without the traditional webcam peering into the nest.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bedstraw Hawkmoth 31 July

A scarce migrant moth trapped the previous night and feeding upon the buddleia before flying off. Photos courtesy of Ian Simmons

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Swallows nesting successfully in the Richardson Hide

Photos kindly supplied by Ian Simmons. Cute!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Little Ringed Plover Redwell Marsh 9th July

A couple of snatched record shots of a juvenile Little Ringed Plover on Redwell - before beating a hasty retreat to see the 2 Roseate Terns that had turned up at Snettisham - A local patch tick. Ray Roche

Saturday, 4 June 2011


These superb shots of the male Common Rosefinch at Walsey Hills NOA on the evening of 23rd May were taken by Penny Clarke.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Jeds Farewell at the Lodge - Hunstanton. Life will never be the same again!

Above Jed receiving a farewell gift from Geof Barker - NOA Chairman

Below Jed with Sophie Barker - the new NOA Warden after years of service as Assistant Warden

Jed received a presentation of the proceeds of his leaving collection from NOA Chairmam Geof Barker at an informal gathering at the week-end.The former Warden was quite overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and members who had raised a substantial amount for his gift.(His choice of time and venue having nothing to do with the champions league final which was going on in the background)Jed would like to say a very big thank you to everyone for their wonderful support - and he'll be back to get you !

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Butterflies and moths

More recent pictures from the observatory by Jed Andrews (click to make them bigger). Large and Small Elephant Hawkmoths (top) and an obliging Common Blue.

Wood Warbler

This Wood Warbler was an excellent Holme record, especially in Spring, although slightly overshadowed by the Flycatcher! Photo © Julian Bhalerao.


More images of the 1st-summer male COLLARED FLYCATCHER found by David Roche on 8th May. Tope photo © Julian Bhalearo, bottom two photos © Sue Bryan.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

8th May Collared flycatcher at Holme - another Mega and only the fourth norfolk record

Collared flycatcher Holme 8th May
with grateful thanks to Dave Holman who took and supplied the photos

2 happy people on another glorious day at Holme.

Sophie Barker with David Roche - A red letter day for DAVID who had returned to the trees around the Caravan along the entrance track, relocated the mornings rather elusive Wood warbler - and then set the pagers ablaze by finding a Male COLLARED FLYCATCHER IN THE SAME TREE !!!!

Fortunately the bird stayed and showed well to an ever increasing crowd, which at 1 point included both Sophie and NOA Chairman Geof Barker, as well as the Norfolk County Recorders, Dave and Jackie Bridges among the admiring crowd.

The opening of the NOA Car park at Redwell Marsh prevented gridlock along the access track and a welcome opportunity to raise funds in generous donations from arriving birders

A small part of the crowd anxiously scanning the Trees

Green Hairstreak 1 of at least 2 chasing around the Obs pond and actually settling for the camera - unlike any of the Flycatchers around the Obs.

Small Elephant Hawk moth - A couple of recent Hawk moths out of the trap

Poplar Hawk Moth

Friday, 6 May 2011

Whinchat 6th May

Photo by Ian Simmons. Amongst a few more grounded migrants today, hopefully a promising sign of more stuff to arrive over the weekend....

Recent butterflies and moths

All photos by Jed Andrews.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Speckled Wood

Quite a few butterflies on the wing now at the observatory, with several Green Hairstreaks and many Speckled Woods (pictured).

More spring ringing

A couple of the ringing highlights so far this spring, with a male Redstart (photographed by Jed Andrews) and a Tree Pipit (photographed by Mike Beatley).

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Spring in full swing

With SW followed by E winds there has been some good overhead passage including Hooded Crow, Spoonbill and up to 7 Tree Pipits, as well as a good grounding of migrants in the recording area, including 2 Nightingales, Redstart, 2 Ring Ouzels, up to 50 Wheatears and up to 6 reeling Grasshopper Warblers, one of which was captured fantastically well by Lawrie Webb:

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Spring ringing

With spring migration well underway a couple of photos from birds that have turned up in the nets - a typical male spring Reed Bunting (photo by Sophie Barker) and a highly unusual Marsh Tit (only the 8th observatory ringing record - photo by Jed Andrews).