July 2016 Tour reports
 
 
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June 30th-July 3rd 2016  Norfolk Summer Wildlife Tour

TOUR OVERVIEW
A four day Norfolk tour taking in a wide variety of habitats, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, moths, insects and orchids.


30th June Day One of Four Summer Wildlife Tour
We started off with a productive morning at Holme. Though the first hour was exciting as well as frustrating!  We had just arrived on the foreshore to see a stunning flock of c1500 Red Knot flushed by a Peregrine, with the falcon taking a Red Knot from the flock. Normal situation would have been exultation and wows! However, the flock of Red Knot that was now airborne held a single Great Knot, a very rare visitor which we were hoping to see!! There was also a mixture of other shorebirds on the beach, Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank, Oystercatcher & Bar-tailed Godwit.

We then headed back to the dunes where we explored the dunes to the south at Old Hunstanton. We were soon admiring a beautiful carpet of orchids. There was a good selection including Early & Southern Marsh Orchid, the latter displaying 3 forms, the main form plus albaflora and coccinae. Some images below showing the differences. There was also Common Spotted orchid and several apparent hybrids Common Spotted x Southern Marsh.


We next joined Robert Smith, one of the wardens from Holme and sought out some of the local and scarce Dune Tiger Beetles.

We then had a relaxed lunch whilst pering over a nice selection of moths at the Holme NWT centre, highlights were  Buff Tip, Emerald, Poplar & Pine Hawk Moth and Burnished Brass.


After lunch Rob had kindly brought a Clearwing pheromone lure along with him and we headed to another location. The lure didn’t take long to work it’s magic, with a Currant Clearwing landing atop the lure!! We next tried looking for Hornet Clearwing but sadly this time without success. We headed out on to the grazing marsh area and had great close up views of a pair of Marsh Harriers, especially the male hunting.

The sun had brought out a good selection of commoner insects, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoishell, Red Admiral, Large Skipper and some stunning Comma.  Also Common Darter and Southern Hawker.


We thanked Rob and then headed to Titchwell. We were hopeful that the Great Knot had settled back here, its favourite location during it’s two week stay. We were grateful to find a small army of birders, all with telescopes pointing in the one direction! We eventually had good views of the Great Knot, stood with a nice flock of 1000 Red Knot.
There was an excellent selection of waders with 4 Spotted Redshank, c500 Avocet, c100 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ruff, 15 Dunlin and Little Gull. Also nice was a young Bearded Tits flitting along the reed edges. Plus 2 Spoonbills showing very well and a 1st summer Little Gull

Quite good numbers already of retruning Teal plus 1-2 Wigeon.
Currant Clearwing160709005

Currant Clearwing160709005

Tiger Dune beetle160630001

Tiger Dune beetle160630001

Small Tortoishell160629001

Small Tortoishell160629001

Black-tailed Skimmer160725001

Black-tailed Skimmer160725001

Coccinae Southern Marsh orchid160630001

Coccinae Southern Marsh orchid160630001

albiflora Southern Marsh orchid160630001

albiflora Southern Marsh orchid160630001

1st July Day Two of Four Summer Wildlife Tour
We started the day by exploring some of the nearby farmland around Ringstead and Choseley areas. We were rewarded with good views and some photography of Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and Brown Hares.

We then drove over to Burnham Overy Staithe where we walked out along the seawall and out to the dunes at Gun Hill. It was a lovely and productive walk! On the way out we had lovely views of fishing Little & Common tern, Sedge & Reed warbler, Reed Bunting. Plus families of Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Pochard. Out on the muddy flats there was a nice group of c100 Black-tailed Godwit. Once out towards the dunes we had lovely close views of the Little Tern colony, with some nesting birds visible, as well as them fishing along the shoreline. Also nesting in the area Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover. Offshore a few distant Gannets were visible fishing. We walked back through the dunes, the weather was a little dull for fritillaries, but we were soon admiring a nice group of Pyramidal Orchids, a small spread of 100m with 100+ plants.

We finished the afternoon off visiting Kelling Heath. We were soon admiring several Silver-studded Blues, we had photographed several when one of the group spotted a superb mating pair, it made for great photography as you can see below. We also had lovely close views here of 3 Woodlark, including the beautiful song from a late singing male.

We had a fish and chip supper and then headed off for our evening session.
We first stopped off for a Little Owl, one of the adults was sat perched and a fledged Little Owl chick was sitting not so faraway. As we then headed over to the heathland area a hunting Barn Owl flipped over the hedge and hunted alongside the minibus, we managed to follow it for round ½ mile before it disappeared towards a barn! We reached the Heath just in time for the first roding Woodcock
and were soon listening to several Nightjar churring. We had some nice flight views and eventually we had good scope views of a Nightjar perched. We were constantly treated to overhead views of at least 4+ Woodcock! Just as we were leaving at least two Tawny Owl were calling but we didn't manage to see this bird.

A long but wonderfully wildlife rich day!


2nd July Day Three of Four Summer Wildlife Tour
Today we headed off to South Norfolk to explore the Brecks and Lakenheath. We stopped off and luckily 2 Stone Curlew, were still just visible, despite the crop now being very tall and hampering viewing. Everyone managed good scope views as they edged further away!
Nearby we also had good views of Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Shelduck, 10+ Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.

We then headed south and searched any area of the forest, we heard 2 Firecrest but neither showed. After a bit of searching we eventually located a pair of Spotted Flycatcher.

A pair of Little Grebe were feeding young, then a Green Woodpecker was heard and flew overhead. Next we searched another patch of woodland - good views of Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit, Blackcap, Willow warbler, Chiff-chaff, Mistle & Song Thrush.
Another singing male Firecrest, eventually provided good views to a few feet.


More searching and As we left the area a beautifully smart Grey Wagtail was feeding on the cut grass, showing very well from the minibus. W

We then headed to a forestry clearing where we had great views of 2 Tree Pipit, unfortunately the Woodlark here were quiet, though we had seen them well yesterday, 5 Yellowhammer, numerous Whitethroat and a family of Stonechat.

We lunched at Lakenheath RSPB reserve. We walked to wards the fist viewpoint and many Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and at Reed Warbler were noted singing.
At the first viewpoint, several juvenile Bearded Tits were coming to the grit tray, providing good views.
Up at the far viewpoint Several Marsh Harrier flew overhead, with a nice food pass witnessed, plus 5 Hobby.

The highlight was yet to come though as a Bittern flew past for quite a prolonged view, unfortunately three of the group had headed back to the Visitor centre, but those that had remained enjoyed the spectacle!

There was a reasonable selection of damsel and dragonflies, but all the commoner species, the intermittent cool and showery weather putting paid to our chances of Scarce Chaser!
BB Chaser & 4 spot Chaser160725001

BB Chaser & 4 spot Chaser160725001

Coomon Emerald_Spreadwing160626003

Coomon Emerald_Spreadwing160626003

Five spot Burnet moth160725001

Five spot Burnet moth160725001

Fragrant Orchid100714001

Fragrant Orchid100714001

Broad-bodied Chaser (fem)160703001

Broad-bodied Chaser (fem)160703001

Woodlark160702001

Woodlark160702001

Slow worm160703002

Slow worm160703002

Silver-studded Blue160702001

Silver-studded Blue160702001

Keeled Skimmer20140621002

Keeled Skimmer20140621002

Green Tiger Beetle160703002

Green Tiger Beetle160703002


3rd July Day Four of Four Summer Wildlife Tour
Today, dawned bright and sunny! We headed over to Buxton heath, for orchids and insects. We had not walked far from the car park before we were admiring a nice duo! A Broad-bodied Chaser sat above a Four-spotted Chaser! We headed into the damper areas and were soon marveling at a lovely spread of mixed orchids. Southern Marsh, Common Spotted & Marsh helleborine dominating with a few Fragrant Orchids also located. Ringlets & Meadow Browns were numerous. We then reached the wet mire area, and were treated to really good numbers of Keeled Skimmer including a mating pair. We were again serenaded by a sing Woodlark, this bird singing high above us near the parking area.

We next headed up to Holt CP. We lunched and then headed into the woodland, we had good views of Green Tiger Beetle and everyone was able to get some nice pictures. We also had several more Keeled Skimmer, numerous Common Darter, Four-spotted Chaser and numerous Azure Damsels though unusually less obliging than Buxton heath. We also located at least 2 Slow Worms, one of which sat still enough to get some pictures taken.

A great 4 days with a great wide range of birds, butterflies, dragonflies., moths, beetles and orchids. The photographers came away with some nice images and the others enjoyed super close ups of some great species.



8th July - Evening Session
A good evening session with Little Owl and its fledged youngster, plus Barn owl hunting near it’s nest site, followed by a good session of Nightjar & Woodcock. The Nightjars were exceptional this evening, one perched and with 3 male Nightjar flying right past us at very close quarters!


14th & 16th July - Spanish student half day sessions
Two half days with a group of 7 young Spanish teenagers and their teacher. The first morning we had studying the Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral, along with commoner dragonflies plus Keeled Skimmer. We were also lucky to see 4+ Slow Worm.

The second half day we spent the afternoon at Titchwell where with two telescopes they enjoyed lovely close ups of many waders, Bar & Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Dunlin, Spoonbill and several young Bearded Tits, apparently their favourite birds of the trip!
Go to June 2016
Avocet120328003

Avocet120328003

Common darter160626001

Common darter160626001