Natural History Diary : October 2019
Monday 28th October
The Coal Tit made several visits to the garden feeders this morning. A Sparrowhawk also made an appearance, performing its usual high-speed ambush routine, but it didn't catch anything.
Blue Tit, Abingdon, 28-Oct
Coal Tit, Abingdon, 28-Oct
Blue Tit | Abingdon Coal Tit | Abingdon  
Sunday 27th October
There was a Coal Tit in the garden this morning.
Sunday 20th October
I went over to Farmoor this afternoon as a female/juvenile Black Redstart had been found earlier in the day. It was still there, catching flies around the Thames Water buildings. After a bit of patience I got a couple of decent shots of it. Other birds of note were four or five Meadow Pipits, and a couple of Little Grebes.
Black Redstart, Farmoor, 20-Oct
Black Redstart, Farmoor, 20-Oct
Black Redstart | Farmoor Black Redstart | Farmoor  
Thursday 17th October
I visited Otmoor this morning. It was fairly sunny when I got there. I saw three Common Darters as I walked along the seasonal path. The usual tits and finches were on the feeders, and I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the willow tree. There weren't a lot of birds to see as I walked along the bridleway, just a pair of Stonechats in the reeds, and Goldfinches feeding on teasel and burdock seeds. I saw a few more Common Darters as well as three Migrant Hawkers. A Red Admiral was flying about at the start of the path to the first screen. The usual species were on the lagoon. There were at least four Snipe on the mud and I heard a Water Rail squealing. Raptors seen were a Marsh Harrier, two Peregrines and two Red Kites. A Kestrel was hovering over Big Otmoor as I walked back. As it had started raining I went into the hide, stopping to photograph some Shaggy Inkcap fungi on the way. There was little visible except lots of Canada Geese on Ashgrave and The Closes, and more distant Greylags on Ashgrave.
Stonechat ♂, Otmoor, 17-Oct
Migrant Hawker, Otmoor, 17-Oct
Shaggy Inkcap, Otmoor, 17-Oct
Stonechat ♂ | Otmoor Migrant Hawker | Otmoor Shaggy Inkcap | Otmoor
Wednesday 16th October
I went to Bagley Wood this morning, looking for fungi. With all the rain we've had, there were a lot about. Turkeytail and Witches' Butter were common on cut logs. There were a few probable Magpie Inkcaps, but they were well past their best. Other species I could identify were Yellow Stagshorn and Common Earthball. There weren't many birds about; eventually I saw a couple of Jays and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. I also saw a Red Admiral and several Hornets.
Red Admiral, Bagley Wood, 16-Oct
Witches' Butter, Bagley Wood, 16-Oct
Yellow Stagshorn, Bagley Wood, 16-Oct
Red Admiral | Bagley Wood Witches' Butter | Bagley Wood Yellow Stagshorn | Bagley Wood
Tuesday 15th October
After days of rain I was surprised to see a Large White in Eynsham today. At dusk a Bat was flying around at the front of my house.
Thursday 10th October
There were two Red Admirals in the garden this morning. Although it was sunny, the air temperature was only 12°C.
Saturday 5th October
First stop today was at Walsey Hills. I had an excellent view of a Yellow-browed Warbler, and subsequently saw a second one (that's a UK tick for me). I also saw a Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff here. Although it was mostly cloudy I saw a Red Admiral, a Common Darter and a Migrant Hawker.
I then walked up the east bank of Cley marshes. There wasn't anything here that I hadn't seen earlier in the week, but one Curlew was quite obliging for some photos. Then it was back to the hides on the marsh. Black-tailed Godwits were quite numerous again, and there was a single Bar-tailed Godwit there as well. There were also seven Dunlin and seven Ringed Plovers. There were a couple of raptors today. A Buzzard was sitting on a fence post, and flew off westwards. A Sparrowhawk flew across the lake, scattering everything present. That was a cue for some lunch. There were around ten Common Darters on the boardwalk, and a couple of Migrant Hawkers as well.
Later I drove down to the beach at Cley for a bit of sea-watching. With the wind coming from the south-east there wasn't a great deal of activity, but there were a few Common and Mediterranean Gulls, a Black-throated Diver and a Razorbill to be seen. A couple of parties of Brent Geese flew westwards.
Curlew, Cley, 05-Oct
Bar-tailed Godwit, Cley, 05-Oct
Common Gull, Cley, 05-Oct
Curlew | Cley Bar-tailed Godwit | Cley Common Gull | Cley
Friday 4th October
This morning I visited RSPB Titchwell. There was some sunshine but also a few showers. As the tide was high, there were a lot of birds on the fresh marsh. These included about ten Avocets, six Egyptian Geese, around fifty Gadwall, at least two hundred Black-tailed Godwits, four Dunlin, around sixty Brent Geese, two Snipe, one Barnacle Goose and one Ruff. There was a Pied Wagtail with a yellowish head. A flock of around fifty Golden Plover looked as though they were going to land, but went elsewhere. Small parties of Blackwits kept departing, some going south and others north. On the Volunteer marsh there were several Redshank. Small numbers of Knot and Turnstone, and a lot of Oystercatchers were waiting there for the tide to turn. Out to sea I saw around thirty Brent Geese heading west.
In the afternoon I stopped east of Burnham Overy Staithe, and walked down the track to the sea wall. I saw two Red Admirals, a Small White and a Migrant Hawker here. From the sea wall it was just about possible to make out some Cattle Egrets amongst the cattle on Overy Marsh. There was a Great White Egret in the same area, which was at least easier to see.
In the evening I heard a couple of Tawny Owls calling west of Cley village.
Redshank, Titchwell, 04-Oct
Ruff, Titchwell, 04-Oct
Pied Wagtail, Titchwell, 04-Oct
Redshank | Titchwell Ruff | Titchwell Pied Wagtail | Titchwell
Thursday 3rd October
The weather on day two in Norfolk was very different to yesterday: a light SW wind and hazy sunshine. It still wasn't very warm, though. I started off by going to Wells Woods. There were five Little Grebes on the boating lake, and three Jays flew over. Further along the path I can across a mixed flock of small birds, which included Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest. While watching these I spotted a Treecreeper. There were five Curlew and a Muntjac in the field where Pink-footed Geese have been in the past (a flock did land, but out of sight). I found a Comma, which was surprising considering the temperature. As there wasn't anything else about I cut across onto the beach, and through the scope spotted a Great White Egret on the Holkham inlet. There were lots of gulls further out on the strand line.
I returned to the lookout station at Wells, where the mud was starting to be exposed by the retreating tide. There were many Oystercatchers, Brent Geese, Curlew and Redshank taking advantage. A Red-breasted Merganser, two Cormorants and three Common Seals were fishing in the lagoon.
After lunch I drove east to Morston, parked in the NT car park and walked west again towards Stiffkey. There was little to see along the path, but I could see a lot of seals at Blakeney Point. I finally got to Stiffkey Fen. On the lake there were lots of Greylag Geese, Wigeon and Teal, but nothing of note. On the exposed mud in the saltmarsh I saw at least thirty Redshank, a couple of Little Egrets and a Grey Plover. I also spotted a Stoat, but he also spotted me, and disappeared. Back at Morston there were more Curlew, Redshank and Little Egrets feeding, and I also spotted a trio of Meadow Pipits.
After dark I spotted a Tawny Owl on a TV aerial in Cley.
Treecreeper, Holkham NNR, 03-Oct
Grey Plover, Stiffkey, 03-Oct
Little Egret, Stiffkey, 03-Oct
Treecreeper | Holkham NNR Grey Plover | Stiffkey Little Egret | Stiffkey
Wednesday 2nd October
The first full day of a short break in north Norfolk. It was quite chilly this morning, with a brisk NW wind, but at least it was sunny. After breakfast I walked along the east bank at Cley Marshes. A flock of around 50 Pink-footed Geese were flying around. I also saw a flying Curlew, and there was a Little Grebe on one of the ponds. I then spotted a Spoonbill flying west (or trying to, against a strong headwind). At Richardson's Lookout I saw three Black-tailed Godwits and around ten Dunlin. There were lots of Wigeon and Teal on the marsh, three Little Egrets and three Brent Geese flew over, and I spotted a Meadow Pipit.
I spent some time in Avocet and Teal hides. There were lots of Pink-footed and Greylag Goose on the grass. Shelduck were quite numerous and a Kingfisher flew past. On Pat's Pool I counted about 36 Black-tailed Godwits.
To get out of the wind I went up to Kelling Heath to have some lunch. There wasn't a great deal to see here, but I did come across a number of Fly Agaric toadstools, and spotted a Kestrel, a Buzzard, a Common Darter and three Migrant Hawkers. I then stopped at the beach at Weybourne, but there wasn't much about except for a Kestrel. I returned to Cley marsh and had a look from Bishop's hide, but there was nothing new except for a Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Black-tailed Godwit, Cley Marshes, 02-Oct
Pink-footed Geese, Cley Marshes, 02-Oct
Kestrel, Weybourne, 02-Oct
Black-tailed Godwit | Cley Marshes Pink-footed Geese | Cley Marshes Kestrel | Weybourne