Anser Rare Breeding Bird/Rare insect Weekend 4-5 July 2009

To view the gallery with images from the weekend please click on the link below.

Summary On the 4 July 2009 we departed Whitminster at 0630, stopped for coffee and comfort en-route arriving in North Norfolk at Swanton Novers for 1130. Although perfect conditions were in place the Honey Buzzard did not show, it was however seen at 1430-1500 distantly from this site. We then headed for Strumpshaw Fen RSPB where the sunny warm weather prevailed and the birding/insect watching was excellent. From here we went to a Montagu’s Harrier site in North Norfolk where a similar story to our other rare raptor was told, they had not been showing much at all. We decided to head for WWT Welney for some wetland birding rather than Titchwell as a Caspian Tern had been seen there and the reserve was open late, it was not about but the birding was still very good. We ate at the Lamb and Flag, Welney Village before transferring to Brandon to our hotel for the night. An early start on Sunday and we were breakfasted and on the way prior to eight. We had some of the best British Stone Curlew watching I have known and then headed for RSPB Lakenheath. This site once again provided a really good morning of birding and we stayed until the afternoon. From here we visited Thompson Common and Wretham Heath with our last stop being Wigginhall St Germans to miss the Caspian Tern again on the way home. We arrived back at 2100 having travelled 632 miles. The tour went very well despite not seeing two target birds, with a short visit it is always possible. To be perfectly honest, the Honey Buzzard site does not produce good views very often and you really need to visit many times, stay all day and have luck with weather etc to guarantee one. 

Around 90 bird species were seen/heard on this two day visit, a list of the more notable ones follow with a list of the insects seen also.

Bittern– two booming birds heard and flight views of the breeding pair obtained at RSPB Lakenheath.
Whooper Swan-unseasonal but injured birds at WWT Welney.
Red Kite– one seen en-route along the A14 on 4th and two seen en-route in Northants on way back.
Marsh Harrier-c14 seen, pairs with young at Lakenheath and Strumpshaw Fen and two males seen fighting over cereal fields in N Norfolk.
Montagu’s Harrier- not seen at a reliable site and apparently having an off day.
Honey Buzzard- not seen, the birds were not showing during our visit period.
Hobby-seen at RSPB Lakenheath.
Grey Partridge-seen with young in tow in North Norfolk.
Water Rail-sqealing birds at RSPB Lakenheath.
Common Crane-a pair showed briefly at RSPB Lakenheath but were elusive.
Avocet-a few included a juvenile at WWT Welney.
Stone Curlew– at least eight were on show at one site in the Brecks, very vocal and active.

Black Darter June 2009 Coolpix MJMcGill 022
Little-ringed Plover-a few at WWT Welney.
Green Sandpiper-one at RSPB Lakenheath.
Black-tailed Godwit-c30 at WWT Welney.
Ruff-nine males in breeding plumage, all colours noted.
Turtle Dove-pairs and singles seen in flight but no perched up birds.
Cuckoo-singing birds still at RSPB Lakenheath.
Barn Owl-one hunting the bank at WWT Welney.
Yellow Wagtail-juveniles on the main lagoon at WWT Welney.
Cetti’s Warbler-seen and heard at Strumpshaw Fen.
Spotted Flycatcher-a pair with young on the visitor centre at Strumpshaw were very approachable. As with Grey Partridge, a treat to see these days.

White-faced DarterNorfolk Hawker 1to5 June 2009 Lumix MJMcGill 041
Bearded Tit– excellent views from a variety of places around the RSPB Lakenheath reserve were mostly of juveniles. Also seen at Strumpshaw.
Golden Oriole-after a patient wait we were all rewarded with many stunning views in the open of the singing male at Lakenheath.

Other birds included Teal, Shoveler, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Common Tern, Reed and Sedge Warbler, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer.

Dragonflies– at least 11 species noted.

Norfolk Hawker-c6 were seen at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen. Fighting and territorial males and ovipositing female noted. Excellent views were had by everyone, we studied them in detail. The green eyes are clearly seen in this image.

White-faced DarterNorfolk Hawker 1to5 June 2009 Lumix MJMcGill 078
Scarce Chaser-a male at RSPB Lakenheath was resting on the edge of a reedbed pool.
Southern Hawker– a male at Thompson Common.
Brown Hawker– seen resting and hunting at Lakenheath and Strumpshaw.
Ruddy and Common Darters, Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmers, Emerald, Blue-tailed, Red-eyed, Common Blue and Azure Damselflies.


Swallowtail-one of our target species, a magnificent example of the brittanicus race was found by Denise soon after leaving the visitor centre.
White Admiral– one found by NRS at Thompson Common.

Lime Hawk Moth-one attracted to lights in the hotel at Brandon.

Grass Snake-one along the reedbed path at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB.
Muntjac-one at Thompson Common

I may well have missed something out from the list but it still shows a great set of wildlife, thanks to all that attended and to Bob Radford for driving Neil and some of our group around.


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