Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Adders on Croxton Heath, Norfolk

The end of each February sees me looking for the first evidence of Adders emerging from their long winter hibernation.  Providing the weather is mild, sunny, and settled, Adders will emerge as early as the end of February, however, March sees most activity, and by the end of March, one should be certain of seeing these beautiful creatures taking in the early morning warmth from the sun before retreating to cover if it gets too warm.
Adders on Croxton Heath, Norfolk 07/03/15
I walked a favoured length of woodland edge intially in my search for Adders, however, I may have been a little too early as the sun had only just broke through and the wind was cutting along the woodland trail and giving a cool feel.  Despite the cool feel I did locate a couple of basking Common Lizards.  I decided to search more sheltered locations for Adders.
I arrived at a traditional site for Adders, a dead tree stump with plenty of Bracken ground cover, I immediately found an Adder which was soon followed by a second coiled at the tree stump.  Tree stumps are great habitats for Adders as they use these to seek safety as well as hibernating underground within the root systems.  Some great views of these beautiful Adders were head, and at close quarters also.  Beautiful creatures.

6 comments:

  1. My bro's going to be furious!!
    He's always trying to get early Calculator shots...
    I wonder if he has been out hunting today as well...
    he hasn't posted anything on Flicka yet...
    and I don't do Facewotsit... he does.

    However, we've had Brimstones flying...
    and the big black bombers... viz: Carpenter Bees....
    and, of course, lizards...
    one of whom, I honestly think, couldn't have got itself any flatter...
    and possibly heard a Corncrake last night...
    comb against credit card...
    but...
    crex five times... pause... crex five times, etc.
    not crex-crex, gap, crex-crex, gap, crex-crex, gap...
    very odd!
    They are down as arriving here in March...
    according to the local guide...
    but not when in March...
    but BWPi has the migration as starting mid-March...
    and the books say April...
    however, the Common Cranes have almost all been through...
    80,000 across France on Wednesday, a further 50,000 on Thursday...
    and a mere 23,000 yesterday....
    and our Stonechats are back... a good fortnight early!!
    So, it could be, it could just be Crex crex...
    they breed in our commune... but very few records over the last couple of decades...
    however, recorders are very, very thin on the ground...
    and, unless heard, AND recognised... well??
    With all the mechanical noise from the farms around here...
    and the sparse population, they could so easyily go unheard.
    It was still, cold and absolutely silent last night...
    the call could well have travelled a mile, or more!
    Keep well,
    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Tim
    Corncrake it is...very well done. The scientists are telling us that spring is arriving 2 weeks earlier now and as far as Bird Guides go....well, I always think Parameters are always subject to change. Last April for example I had an early Quail at Great Cressingham, usually not heard before May.
    Wheatears have already arrived on the south coast of England and the BTO migration blog suggests that Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs should be looked and listened for over the weekend, especially given the recent fine weather conditions. Given your record of Stonechats I honestly think we are going to be in for some surprises this Spring with arrival records of spring migrants being broken.
    What can I say about your notes regarding Cranes...very impressive indeed..both sight and sound.
    I love patch birding Tim and your reference to recorders being thin on the ground is echoed by myself here in the Brecks, yes, there are birders here, however, most appear to be atracted to the North Norfolk Coast. Some birding friends are surprised when I say I didn't go to see a particular rarity just up the road on the coast, but the attraction of 'patch birding' is always paramount to me as rarities do turn up here if one is prepared to be persistent...notably, soon will be the 16th anniversary of my rarest personal find, the Pied-billed Grebe at Thompson Water, also, in July, it will be the 20th anniversary of the 'Balearic' Woodchat Shrike at Great Cressingham.
    The one species I would love to see back as a breeding species on the patch Tim is Red-backed Shrike, this is very unlikely to happen in my time, however, it would be nice to see the odd pair turn up now and then to breed...and I am confident that this will happen.
    Once again Tim, well done with Corncrake, a a species I have yet to see or hear,
    Always great to get your posts Tim....Thank you.
    Paul

    ReplyDelete
  3. Patch observations are very important...
    as they accumulate, they show the potential of an area...
    they can also show problems occuring long before they are visible to most people.

    As for bird guides... none of us should be seeing Great White Egrets...
    almost all guides list them as a Mediterranean species...
    yet they are here all year round now...
    and a fair number have been present in the UK this year...
    including a couple over at Narborough... sort of your greater patch.
    As for chasing rarities... pah! I would rather see the birds behaving normally...
    on their own home turf... that gives you a real understanding of the birds.

    Pauline is out tonight with an LPO volunteer...
    doing an owl survey... 25 listening spots... a 2.5K square in a 5x5 grid.
    They are using recordings and listening for answers...
    recording the number and direction they came from... and that is then plotted up....
    including ones that are "outside" the 5x5 grid.
    France seems to go in for a lot of this type of volunteer surveying...
    another friend has just been on a wintering bat survey...
    and she and another friend are both part of STERF...
    a monthly butterfly survey that takes place from March to November...
    again, they do the same transects every year...
    so patch info accumulates.

    As for RBShrike... they are meant to breed around here...
    and as I think I told you, I got some good [for me!] shots of one that passed through our potager...
    but didn't stay... heyho!
    Keep recording... and convince others... cripes, that's the difficult bit!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Tim
    It would appear that you and I have similar thoughts on patch birding...which is great news indeed.
    Great White Egrets are potentially a breeding species for the UK. My 'Collins Bird Guide' (2nd edition...dated 2009) does not show on the UK map......a 3rd edition will undoubtedly be needed to show changes in distribution etc.
    Yes Tim I do remember you Red-backed Shrike passing through...you lucky chap...surely my favourite group of birds the Shrikes....then I say that about all bird families.
    Pauline's Owl survey makes for very interesting reading as I recently took a young man around my patch who told me about a similar activity that someone he knew who did similar work here in Thetford Forest. He tells me his friend played a recording of a Long-eared Owl...........and an Eagle Owl responded...can you imagine that. I did read in recent years that a dead Eagle Owl was found in the Brecks and that DNA testing indicated it came from wild origins.
    I read Tim that a Chiffchaff was singing on the North Norfolk Coast yesterday (08/03)...they are on their way.
    Patch recording is best...be it birds, butterflies, moths, bats, mammals, reptiles etc. I like to visit the North Norfolk Coast twice a year for Spring and Autumn migration (but I always steer away from crowds...don't feel comfortable with 'em), always great to get back to the patch Tim.
    Paul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paul, there is an Eagle Owl in the Castle Acre area at present...
      it was last seen near the Priory about a week ago...
      allegedly it is an escape... in fact a regular escapee!!
      Comes from over near Litcham way...
      now wondering, as when seen, no jesses were visible!

      Pauline and her companion had a distant Hiboux Moyen-Duc [Long-eared Owl] yesterday just as I went to pick her up...
      and a large number of Barn over the evening... nice after the vole crash of 13/14 winter...
      we lost ours then... last seen vanishing down a buzzards throat...
      all that it left was a pair of feet and some wing feathers.
      We might get one back, soon... I hope.
      At this moment I have the trail camera pointing up at the big owl box in the meadow...
      running on time-lapse... one picture every 20secs... all night 8 'til 8....
      I'll wade through them tomorrow evening in the hope of seeing a Tawny going in...
      or coming out...
      The wood on the bottom of the entrance looks much more abraded than before Christmas... but that could be wishful thinking, or something like a Beech Marten!
      There were fresh Red Deer slots along the riverside path this evening...
      if I get nothing in the box watch, I'll re-angle the camera and see if I can get pictures of them.
      And Pauline heard Wiki-leaks... our name for Stone Curlews... last night too!
      So they are on their way North... will be with you shortly!

      Delete
  5. Tim, aren't Owls wonderful creatures, I also love the enigma associated with this group of birds. I think you should certainly be successful with the time-lapse photography at the Tawny Owl nest box...that will provide you with some great shots of these wonderful Owls.
    I recieved my BTO news magazine yesterday and it says that Barn Owls have had their best ever breeding successes....this is undoubtedly down to the bird being the most monitored species.....but that is good and very encouraging.
    Great to see that Pauline heard Stone Curlews, my next day off is Friday, therefore, I shall have a look at good areas for them to see if they have indeed arrived.
    Best of luck with the Tawny Owl/Red Deer photography Tim.
    Paul

    ReplyDelete