Friday, 24 July 2015

July - birds and butterflies

Although it seemed to start slowly as its gone on July hasn't been a bad month for birding and wildlife watching.

As ever at this time of year I am mindful that the Swifts that in so many ways are synonymous with summer will be on the verge of leaving us for another year shortly after the schools round here break for the summer holidays. So during my regular evening walks around the block I have tried to count the local Swifts, always a tricky proposition but by standing on Hunstanton's Recreation Ground I have managed a couple of counts on Wednesday 15th July I counted c 47 Swifts and the following evening 35 from here. Last night [the 23rd] there seemed to be fewer Swifts and I detected a certain indefinable urgency about the packs that remained as they careered through the air above Hunstantons' residential streets.

Peacock butterfly, Ken Hill Wood
Lunchtime walks in Ken Hill Woods near Snettisham are always a bit hit and miss, if the weather is too nice the and the dog walkers are out there is a noticeable drop in the amount of wildlife on view as the dogs and their owners sanitise an area either side of the path of snakes, deer etc. Still on the 17th I saw a Silver Washed Fritillary patrolling a ride and occasionally settling although never long enough for me to take a picture and it disappeared the moment the sun went behind a cloud. Also flying were some White Admirals and a few wonderfully fresh looking Peacocks. The highlight though were two Grass Snakes my first of the year on the ride that skirts the woods southern boundary I even managed to catch one for a closer [and smellier look]. The walk was topped off with nice views of Muntjac and Green Woodpecker.
Black Tailed Godwits, Snettisham

Brown Hare Snettisham
On Saturday 18th I got a call in the morning about a Broad Billed Sandpiper in the wader roost at Snettisham, family commitments meant I couldn't go and look for the bird until the evening tide. I spent a pleasant hour in the hide looking through the large flock of Black Tailed Godwits bit the Broad Billed Sandpiper didn't show. Nonetheless I had a great time photographing terns against the pink twilight sky on the old jetty and had the place to myself.

Oystercatcher at dusk, Snettisham
Terns at dusk, Snettisham
The next morning I had another phone call letting me know the bird was back and this time i could make a mad dash to the southern pit where I joined a few folk, the bird was hidden behind a Black Tailed Godwit and a Knot, eventually it moved and I enjoyed great views for all of about five seconds before the whole roost spooked and it disappeared, at this stage the hide was begining to creak at the seams as more and more birders arrived and I left. On both visits I saw and heard Med Gulls.
The "Gallery" for the Snettisham Broad Billed Sandpiper
Adult Med Gull, Snettisham
A rare treat on the evening of Wednesday 22nd July a week day evening at Titchwell, I got no further than Island Hide where I must have spent an hour and a half. The Marsh was stiff with birds with several hundred Avocets present and good numbers of Black Tailed Godwits plus Ruff and Dunlin, single Greenshank, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and a couple of Curlew Sandpipers. Overcast when I arrived the sun broke through and for a short while I had a wonderful combination of great light and close birds including some stunning summer plumaged Black Tailed Godwits. The birds on the Fresh Marsh were quite jumpy and eventually the cause a large female Sparrowhawk showed itself and then later a Hobby shot though. Other birds  included juvenile Bearded tits on the edge of the reedbed and a couple of juvenile Marsh Harrier. But the best bird was a wonderful summer plumaged Little Gull that came really close to the hide.

Adult Little Gull, Titchwell
Black Tailed Godwit, Titchwell

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