Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 29 August 2016

Watton Brook Valley (Little Cressingham/Bodney)

2 Kingfishers
6+ Blackbirds (inc. juveniles taking elderberries)
1 Redstart (female)
1 Whinchat

Arrived in the valley at sunrise with a beautiful mist hanging over the course of the brook.  A nice temperature to start the day at 12 degrees Celsius with little or no wind.
My walk this morning took in a number of fenced off grassland habitats where I have previously found evidence of a Shrike species in previous years, however, no sign this morning.
I positioned myself in an area of scrub, including Elder, which has always been good for migrant passerine species.  A few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were present, also juvenile Blackbirds feasted on elderberries. 
Whitethroat 29th August.  Managed this shot through a gap in the Bramble.
A beautiful female Redstart was seen in a Hawthorn from which, it often made sallies to the ground for food. Without optics this bird was noticeably pale against the ground and hawthorn, viewed through optics she was mostly seen front on, her crown, ear coverts and nape were very pale brown-grey, and her fore-crown was paler, as was the chin.  The dark eye stood out on the pale surrounds, and the lack of markings gave the bird a somewhat gentle expression.  The upper-breast had a pale peachy wash to it and the belly was paler.  The beautiful orange tail was typically and habitually quivering.
A check along a ditch which was thickly lined with Rosebay Willowherb produced a single Whinchat on the fence.  This species is a frequent late summer/autumn migrant in the valley.
A check of a patch of Bramble produced a single male Whitethroat. This beautiful Warbler often gave a quiet sub-song, often within cover.   Occasional views were had of this skulking Warbler as it moved through cover.  I managed the above shot when it appeared through a small gap in the Bramble.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Watton Brook Valley

A interesting short visit at dawn to a section of the valley near Little Cressingham produced some movements of birds as well as good counts of commoner species.
There had been a little overnight rain but the day dawned bright.  A lovely mist hung over the valley.

1 Hobby
1 Kestrel
2 Buzzards
1 Goshawk (juv)
15+ Duck species - unidentified (very high east)
1 Redshank (heard)
600+ Starlings
4 Swallows west
1 Willow Warbler (passage bird)
300+ Linnets

The visit started with a single Hobby drifting high west, a check through binoculars clearly showed the white cheeks in the early sunlight.
As with most early morning visits recently, good numbers of Starlings (600+) gathered in their post roost tree in the valley where they chattered amongst each other.  After a short while a large part of this gathering left the tree and performed a mini-murmuration by forming a perfect, tight ball shape in the sky before departing north-west to their feeding stations.
A small line of 15+ Duck species passed directly overhead in an easterly heading, these appeared to be a small species, however, I could not properly identify them.   It was about this time that I heard a passage Redshank.
In a nearby patch of Osiers a single migrant Willow Warbler was seen and occasionally sang whilst in a Bramble patch a Whitethroat was seen.
Evidence of passage seen later when 4+ Swallows passed overhead in an westerly heading, I watched them continue their journey until almost lost to view.
An area traditionally set aside for growing maize, along with a wide weedy strip, attracted 300+ Linnets whilst in an adjacent wooded pit a Blackcap and 2+ Chiffchaffs were present.
As almost expected a single Goshawk appeared quite close to me where it appeared to chase one of two Buzzards present.

Marlingford, Norfolk 25th August

1 Kestrel
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
Mistle Thrushes (many)
3+ Chiffchaffs
Blue Tit flock
Coal Tit
1 Nuthatch

Mistle Thrush at Marlingford 25/08/16 (One of many seen)
I decided to spend my afternoon break from work in the beautiful surrounds of the church at Marlingford.  This is a well-wooded parish which is dominated by the River Yare.
The most noticeable bird of this visit was a good number of Mistle Thrushes, many of which frequently dropped down from nearby trees to drink from a water trough within a small paddock.
A good sized mobile Tit flock kept my attention for a while, most were Blue Tits with Coal Tit and 3+ Chiffchaffs making up the numbers 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Little Cressingham

1 Goshawk
2+ Buzzards

Following work I visited the Watton Brook Valley hoping for migrants, however, none were visible on this very short visit.
Walking back to the car I glanced east and saw a large Goshawk (prob. female) circling over woodland, it remained in view for a few minutes before diving out of view behind trees.  A Buzzard was soaring close to the Goshawk and offered good comparisons between the species.  The Goshawk was as large as the Buzzard.  When seen from behind the Goshawk showed extensive under-tail coverts.
I have found throughout the years that August and September are good months for seeing Goshawks, most sightings are of wandering youngsters and they do turn up anywhere at this time.  Last autumn a young Goshawk was seen from my garden in Watton. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Watton Brook Valley

1 Stonechat juv.
1 Yellow Wagtail west
1 Whitethroat (juvenile)

A night of showers was followed a morning of cloud and frequent showers driven along on a fresh, occasionally strong south-westerly.
The overnight rain, and continuing poor weather following sunrise was a good recipe for searching for grounded migrants, therefore, a check of the Watton Brook Valley at Little Cressingham was in order.
The first bird found was a juvenile Stonechat on fencing and posts.  A heavily spotted and streaked individual with some evidence of reddish beginning to show on its belly.
Whitethroat in a Briar patch in the Watton Brook Valley 21st August
A single juvenile Whitethroat was seen in a Briar patch close to the Brook, it was moving about in the sheltered side out of the strong wind.  I think this bird probably arrived here during the nights rain showers.
Whilst trying to relocate the Whitethroat I heard a familiar "sweep" call, I readily located a single Yellow Wagtail flying low and west along the valley.  I watched this bird for some time through binoculars as it continued its westerly passage until lost to view.  A lovely sleek looking Wagtail showing beautiful yellow underparts as it flew by.  Over the years I have seen migrant Yellow Wagtails in both spring and autumn along the valley.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Migrant Warblers at Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

A distinct change in the weather today and somewhat unseasonal.  The day dawned fine and bright and it remained sunny for some two hours following sunrise, however, cloud quickly moved in and by 0915 the first signs of rain came.  The wind was a fresh to strong south-westerly.

0554: The day certainly started well when a juvenile Goshawk was seen at Merton.  This very large raptor left its perch and swept up strongly through the trees ahead of me.  Overall brown upperparts seen well in the early light.

Houghton-on-the Hill 0730-0915
It was very bright upon my arrival, however, the wind was a very noticeable feature with an increase in strength from fresh to strong.  Passerine species were few and far between, clearly keeping to the shelter of hedgerow cover.  Despite the wind direction and strength I was confident of finding migrants and therefore chose to watch the sheltered northern edge of a wonderful habitat which I have observed for many years now.  This 'migrant magnet', a spring which is located on high ground and visible from distance, has undoubtedly been a staging post for birds for millennia.
Migrant Warblers were plentiful here with Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, and Whitethroats all sharing similar habitats, and indeed on occasions, several sharing the same Elder where berries were eaten.  The relative quiet on this side of this habitat allowed birds to feed without buffeting from the wind.  A couple of juvenile Blackbirds visited and other local residents seen included Goldfinches and Chaffinches.
Close by in a hedgerow Elder, a single Reed Warbler was found along with Chiffchaffs and another Blackcap.  The Reed Warbler appeared to be a juvenile bird.   I always think that this reed-bed specialist appears odd in a hedgerow, but then that is passage for you, birds turn up anywhere.
Blackcap at Houghton 20th August

Blackcap - A few present both at the staging post as well as nearby hedgerows.
This is a juvenile bird.

Blackcap (male) at Houghton 20th August

Blackcap - adult male.  All ages were seen at this site on this visit with 'red-headed' females and juveniles being most numerous.

Blackcap at Houghton 20th August

Blackcap - female seen here in typical late summer habitat of Elder.  The soft Elder fruits are consumed by Warblers in late summer/autumn in order to increase levels of energy for their southbound migration.

Willow Warbler at Houghton 20th August

Willow Warbler - Two or three Willow Warblers were seen today, including this delightful bird, which is some lights appeared to have a very yellow throat and breast.
The main differences seen here which helps separate from the similar Chiffchaff is the bold supercillium, quite intense yellow in plumage, long primary projection and pinkish legs.  The "hoo-weet" call and song was sometimes heard.
Reed Warbler (prob juvenile) at Houghton 20th August.

Reed Warbler (probable juvenile), always strange to see this reed-bed specialist in an autumn hedgerow.
This bird was skulking about in this Elder for several minutes, offering good views.
The beautiful warm-brown tones of this birds upperparts have a smooth silky appearance.  The buff flanks aged this bird as a juvenile.
This is the second migrant Reed Warbler at this locality this week.  

A short visit to this section of the Watton Brook valley this afternoon continued to see strong unseasonal wind.
Alarm calling House Martins was shortly followed by a single Hobby passing over before powering away out of sight.
A check of the ditches and posts in the valley did not produce any passage migrants, although I am sure birds would have been present and keeping low.
A single Grey Wagtail was seen in the valley.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Watton Brook Valley

A check of a small section of the valley near Little Cressingham this morning produced a single juvenile Stonechat.  Stonechats are short distance migrants, therefore, I suspect this bird was raised locally in the Brecks.
4 Swallows passed overhead and a single Kestrel was seen.
Poor weather at the time of writing may produce some locally good numbers of grounded migrants, I shall be out early tomorrow checking suitable habitats.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk (Migrants)

Another beautiful morning, cool at 12 degrees with a light to moderate easterly wind.  Eventually a warm day with highs of 25 degrees.
This was another morning for checking up on migrant activity and indeed good numbers and species range seen in a relatively small area, thus indicating passage is well and truly underway.
Species seen and numbers were as follows:

1 Golden Plover over N/E
25+ Blackcaps
20+ Whitethroats
15+ Chiffchaffs
1 Willow Warbler
1 Reed Warbler
1 Greenfinch

A spot count was conducted at a favourite site of mine where thick Elder, Hawthorn, and Sallow fringe a spring.  Several species seen in close association whilst feeding upon Elderberries, these included several Blackcaps (4 or 5 seen in same bush), Whitethroats, and Chiffchaffs.
Whilst watching these migrants I noticed something different from the Phyllosc and Sylvia species, it was a Reed Warbler with beautiful rich brown upperparts, quite different from the other species present.  The Reed Warbler fed upon Elderberries, and once showed aggression towards a female Chaffinch.
Whilst conducting my spot check a single Golden Plover flew over in a north-easterly heading, calling.
Whitethroat at Houghton, Norfolk 17th August
Having conducted my spot count I took a slow walk between a beautiful, long, and well stocked hedgerow.  The first bird noticed here was a single migrant Willow Warbler which often gave a strong "hoo-weet" call, somewhat different from the Chiffchaffs weaker "hweet" call.  The Willow Warbler also occasionally sang.
Whitethroats also featured strongly along this hedge corridor with several seen together at one locality.  Blackcaps were also seen and heard here, including a lovely female feeding upon Elderberries.
The current fine weather and light is good for picking out different species, however, with deteriorating weather predicted for the coming weekend, light may be poor, but migrants could be grounded whilst on passage, so check those lovely patches of Elder and hedgerows for hungry migrants.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

A short visit to Watton Brook Valley.

Today was a very busy day as I had to take my wife to a London hospital to see a specialist, the first of many visits to come I feel.
Before setting off I paid a short visit to Watton Brook Valley near Little Cressingham for another check on migrants.  A good count of 400+ Starlings and 12 Stock Doves occupied overhead wires along the valley.  Checking the valley east of the road produced a juvenile Stonechat on fence-posts and fencing alongside some very lush habitat.  Dunnock and Wren was also noted here.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Houghton-on-the-Hill (Arrival of migrants)

This morning had an early autumn feel to it, cool at 9 degrees, calm with early sun soon replaced by high cloud.
This morning turned out to be very productive for migrants, and indeed, I conducted a spot check on a favourite late summer habitat with good results.  The check took in a small area of thick Elder, Hawthorn, and Sallow around a natural spring.

Spot Check 0615-0645:  It was clear from my spot check that a recent arrival of migrants had probably occurred in the night.
Many Blackcaps were seen, in fact 3 males and a female shared the same small Elder where they fed upon the fruits there.  Also seen in the immediate area and feeding upon Elderberries was 2+ Whitethroats, 1+ Lesser Whitethroat (a spectacular looking bird), Chiffchaffs, and a single Tree Pipit

Also noted was good numbers of resident species, these included 4+ Bullfinches (all juveniles), Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Goldcrest, several Blackbirds, and at least one Song Thrush.
Further checks of nearby hedgerows produced Whitethroats and Blackcaps whilst overhead, 20+ Golden Plovers flew over in an easterly heading. 

Friday, 12 August 2016

Watton Brook Valley

A very warm afternoon with temperature highs of 29 degrees Celsius.  The wind was a warm but fresh to occasionally strong westerly.
I decided on another visit to check for migrant passerines, however, looking west towards the bright sun didn't help with checking for species and all I saw was the silhouetted form of a single Yellowhammer on fencing and several Wood Pigeons further along the valley.
Looking east with the sun behind me gave great views but little seen other than a single male Swallow flying along the valley and a distant hunting Kestrel.

Whitethroats at Rush Meadow, Dereham, Norfolk.

This morning I visited the beautiful Rush Meadow near Dereham.  A few Whitethroats were seen along the River Wensum tributary, notably a juvenile was seen well in an Alder.  This bird was giving the typical "churrrr" alarm as well as a rapidly repeated "cht-cht-cht-cht-cht"  which I felt had a Sparrow like quality to it.  The following is a series of shots of this bird.
Also seen was a pristine looking Whitethroat on the top of an Hawthorn, a very alert bird, constantly turning its head and flitting about.  The light brown head, nape, and mantle along with the typically marked wings appeared very neat. 
Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher, and Buzzard all noted.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Watton Brook Valley

Another dawn check of a section of the valley near Bodney for migrants revealed nothing other than an alarm calling Blackcap.  However, good numbers of commoner species seen included 400+ Starlings arriving from the south, 30+ Mistle Thrushes, 4 Song Thrushes, 5 Blackbirds, 3 Yellowhammers, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Kingfishers, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and Goldfinch.
Close to 'The Arms' a single Marsh Harrier flew west.

NOTES: Initially quiet upon my arrival with little movement, but at 0520, 400+ Starlings flew in from the south and all alighted in a single dead Oak.  Most of these birds were juveniles, and many were beginning to acquire patches of adult plumage.  After some preening, many flew off north to presumably feed on pig fields whilst smaller numbers settled on the grassland adjoining the brook to feed.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (juvenile) Watton Brook Valley 10th August.  Note red crown which ages this bird.
30+ Mistle Thrushes arrived in the same tree as the Starlings, again, most were juveniles, these birds later were seen on posts and wire along the brook, often dropping to the ground to feed.  Many of these young Mistle Thrushes had pale heads which contrasted with the brown-grey upperparts, also, some juveniles appeared slightly older with unmarked brown-grey mantles and rumps whilst others were heavily mottled birds.
2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers also joined the Starlings and Mistle Thrushes in the same dead tree, one of the Woodpeckers was confirmed a juvenile bird with its all red cap.
Despite the slow start, this turned out to be a productive visit with an exciting range of commoner species all in a gregarious mix.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

0515 I arrived at Houghton to a bright, cloudless sky, however, the most noticeable feature of the weather was the moderate, occasionally fresh north-westerly which gave a fairly cool 9 degrees at dawn.
As I approached St Mary's Church a single Barn Owl was hunting along the long grassy/weedy field verge, a good start to the morning.
This morning was used to search for early signs of migrant species on the move.  A few Warblers were seen and heard but the dominant species this morning was many observations of highly mobile Bullfinches.  I was intent of taking a picture of Bullfinch, especially the resplendent male as I have yet to photograph one, I decided to rest my arms for a while after waiting for a bird to appear as they were in the area, yes, you guessed it, a stunning male appeared on a sprig which I was focussed on seconds earlier.
Walking along the course of the Peddars Way path a single Whitethroat uttered its "churrrr" alarm note from cover.  The walk along the lane to Houghton Common produced calling Bullfinch in the dense tree-lined hedge, and indeed as the path opened into arable habitat further Bullfinches were heard.  I recently saw a nice group of 5 juvenile Bullfinches at this locality.
I continued may walk through the wonderful corridor of hedgerows and was greeted by 2 singing Yellowhammers and alarm calling Blackcap.
Towards the end of the hedgerow corridor things started looking up when it was apparent that several Warblers were present, these included a couple of Whitethroats (one seen near ripe Elderberries), and a few Chiffchaffs.  Local post-breeding movements or genuine migrants, that's the exciting thing about bird behaviour I find.
A well stocked hedge at Houghton 9th August.  Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs seen here today.
I arrived back at St Mary's and had a protracted stay here listening and watching life around me.  Several Blackcaps were seen and heard here, those seen were adult male and juvenile birds, also lots of "tak" calls heard.  A rather scruffy Chiffchaff passed through.  Bullfinches featured strongly in this area with several birds mobile and frequently calling.  A stunning male briefly settled on an exposed sprig.
Buzzard.  Probably a parent of a noisy nearby juvenile bird.  The light reflected from stubble below shows of the markings beautifully on this bird.
The noisiest bird of the morning goes to an incessantly calling juvenile Buzzard, an adult Buzzard was also seen, probably one of the parent birds.  A brief sky-watch did produce 7 Buzzards soaring high to the distant north-east. Two Kestrels were also seen, one mobbed a Buzzard.
A couple of Green Woodpeckers were in the area, this included a very scaly juvenile bird seen on the ground before flying into nearby woodland.  BlackcapsChiffchaffs, and Goldcrests featured in this nearby woodland. 
Finally, I was attracted to a number of noisy "seeeu" calls low down close to the woodland floor, but I could not see movement, so I sat a while and waited.  Eventually, several juvenile Wrens appeared along with at least one of the parent birds, I watched as the parents delicately took small food items from weeds and feed its young.  The young Wrens appeared very weak in flight and seemed very recently fledged, clearly a very late brood.

Monday, 8 August 2016

A guided walk at Thompson Common, Norfolk, Sunday 7th August.

The recently reformed Breckland Group of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust enjoyed another event today with a visit to Thompson Common.  21+ visitors arrived for this walk which was led by the Breckland Reserves Manager, Matt Blissett, with myself as co-leader.  Matt provided the introduction of how the site was acquired, an overview of the route to be taken, what we will be looking for, and a talk on how the famous Pingo's at this site were formed.   My role was to assist with finding and identifying birds.  Matt described so many plant and insect species, more than I could take in, I therefore apologise for not showing here those identified by Matt.
Our walk started from the car park and through sun-dappled woodland where a variety of insect species were seen.  Leaving the woodland, we entered open country and was confronted by one of the larger Pingo's on the common.  A Swallow was seen flying low around this site and the soft piping call of Bullfinch was given from the cover of woodland.
Matt described a variety of plant species to the group, also he found a wonderful Roesel's Bush Cricket, a beautifully marked insect and a new species for me.
Whilst walking over open grassland I heard what I thought was a calling Spotted Flycatcher, a check of a patch of woodland soon revealed 4, possibly 5 Spotted Flycatchers together, obviously a family party.  Often, the birds were seen silhouetted due to the angle of the light, however, as we moved around the woodland we were eventually treated to some lovely views of both adult and juvenile birds.  These delightful birds typically sat on exposed branches in an upright carriage and would often launch into a fly-catching sally before returning to its perch.  A wonderful sighting of an ever decreasing species.
We stopped by sunlit woodland edge and was treated to a spectacular variety of insect life, many of which I could not identify correctly and was helped with by members of the group.  Dragonfly species seen included Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Emperor, and Banded Demoiselle.
As our walk continued, Matt described a variety of plants and insects to the group, including a plant which I thought was particularly attractive, Purple Loosestrife, a small colony of which grew alongside a Pingo.
With ever-increasing warmth and wind, I decided to keep an eye skyward for Raptor species.  Soon, as we walked along woodland edge I saw 3 high raptors, I initially focussed on a Buzzard, but immediately saw a large Goshawk closing in on the Buzzard and perform a mock attack.  I was keen for the group to see this spectacular species and despite the height of the birds, many thankfully were able to see these birds, however, one or two of the group missed out as they had walked slightly ahead.  It actually transpired that we had 2 Goshawks and a single Buzzard in view.  The Goshawk performing a mock attack on the Buzzard was clearly either female or a large juvenile bird as it appeared as large, or larger than the Buzzard.  It was easy to notice the difference in the structure of the two raptor species, even at height.  We walked ahead a little to watch more open sky, however, all three raptors had moved on, but we were treated to a single Hobby diving steeply before going out of sight behind woodland.
As the walk neared its end, one of the group identified a new insect species for me, which the group also enjoyed, a Migrant Hawker Dragonfly, also seen was a Small Skipper Butterfly.
We passed some stables and were treated to the wonderful sight of several Swallows flying in and out to their nest sites.
Just as we were to end the walk, a final view of the large Pingo produced nice views of a hunting Emperor Dragonfly.
Back at the car park it was pleasing to see that our group enjoyed their visit to Thompson Common.  I will end thanking Matt Blissett for his enthusiasm and vast knowledge he imparted to the group, and to the impressive numbers of visitors who joined this walk.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Little Cressingham, Norfolk

0530 I arrived north-west of 'The Arms' for a walk to the Watton Brook Valley for early sign of migrant activity.  There was a promise today of warm, sunny weather with a temperature high of 28 degrees Celsius, although at sunrise a weather front moved in bringing dark cloud, however, it remained dry.  The rising sun shining against woodland and the backdrop of dark cloud really highlighted the beautiful colours of the trees in the distant valley.
Watton Brook Valley 7th August.  Distant dark cloud and rising sun really highlights the tree colours beautifully.
As I approached the valley 150+ Starlings were gathered on wires where they undoubtedly were attracted to good feeding around grazing sheep.
A check of the fence-posts and lush sides of the brook was checked for early migrants, but I could not see anything this morning.  Despite that, 3 Goldfinches flew in as did a pair of Yellowhammers, the male Yellowhammer collected food and flew over the grassland to a hedge.
13+ Swallows passed directly over me in a westerly heading and then appeared to start feeding low over grassland.
Two Buzzards and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen in the valley.
Heading back to where the car was parked I briefly heard a single call of a Lesser Whitethroat, most probably an early migrant.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Kimberley, Norfolk

Between 0915 and 1030 on Friday 5th August I walked footpaths close to the River Tiffey valley on the boundary between the parishes of Kimberley and Carleton Forehoe.  This beautiful Norfolk river flows partly through the Kimberley Hall estate.  The rolling parkland was designed by Capability Brown.  Some very fine, and indeed very old trees graces the land there.
The River Tiffey at Kimberley
As is often the case at this time of year much more was heard than seen with a variety of high pitched calls of young birds within tree canopies and hedgerows.  Most were Tit species with a few Goldcrests also heard.
Bullfinch (juvenile) near Kimberley.

A small pond surrounded by large Sallows, Hawthorn, and Oak held several species. Goldfinches present (juveniles) seen, Great Tits, a female Yellowhammer and a couple of juvenile Bullfinches were seen through a gap in a hedge.
The juvenile Bullfinch pictured here was viewed briefly through a gap in a hedge.  This is a useful identification photograph of the species and shows the bright white rump which is present in all age groups of this species.  The Bullfinch is quite a thick set Finch and in winter there should be no confusion with this species and the more slender Brambling (also with white rump) when flying away from you.
A stop at the beautiful River Tiffey at the Kimberley/Carleton Forehoe parish boundaries produced an in-flight Kingfisher and 3 Mallard on the river. 

Kelling Heath and Kelling Quags, Norfolk (with Richard Farrow)

At 0700 on Thursday 4th August I set off for a leisurely drive up to Shreringham on the North Norfolk Coast to meet up with my very good friend Richard Farrow for a days birding on his patch.  I arrived at Richards to the smell of cooking bacon and shortly afterwards sat down to have a wonderful bacon and egg sandwich and coffee with Richard along with the company of 30+ House Sparrows in his garden.  Shortly afterwards we were joined by Richards lovely wife Di and enjoyed a great time of chat and discussed our birding day ahead.
Fuelled up, Richard started our tour off today with a visit to a new site for me, Selbrigg Lake, a wonderful large body of water surrounded by mature woodland habitat.  In and around the water we saw a pair of Mute Swans with 3 cygnets and Moorhen, also a single Grey Wagtail dropped into the muddy fringes of the lake.  Nearby mature, mixed woodland habitats held Marsh, CoalGreat Tits, Robin, and Blackbirds.  Also of particular interest was the range of insect species seen.  Peacock, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Comma, and Dragonfly and Damselfly species all seen, and in fact, Butterflies held our attention throughout our birding day.

Kelling Heath
What a wonderful place to visit, Kelling Heath represents a vital habitat, which I believe from previous reading, is not only of great national importance, but probably internationally as well given how few examples of this habitat remains throughout the world.  The rich colours of Kelling Heath are indeed to behold, from the gorgeous purples of the heather, interspersed with patches of Gorse, Broom, and Birch habitats.   Kelling Heath is located on the Cromer Ridge, its elevation is such that some fine views are had looking down on the small coastal town of Weybourne.
Weybourne from Kelling Heath

Our visit today to Kelling Heath was warm, however, the wind was a noticeable moderate westerly in force.
Richard gave me an idea of what to expect at Kelling Heath, therefore all suitable habitats were explored.
Linnets were as expected seen and heard passing overhead and Yellowhammers also noted.  A couple of distant Stonechats were seen in suitable habitat.
Warbler species would have now departed their natal areas to undertake post-breeding dispersal, and indeed we reached a recently cleared area where I heard the distinctive yet quiet chattering of young Whitethroats and very soon afterwards we were rewarded by some nice but brief views of 3 Whitethroats together in mixed bracken/Birch habitat.
Slow Worm on Kelling Heath

This time of year brings a variety of 'different' calls, mostly "squeaks, peeps, seets, and heets", and at one such location a strange piping "heet" call given by an unseen species was probably a young Chiffchaff.  Further along the distinctive two syllable "hooweet" call of a Willow Warbler was heard, the bird then flew directly above us to relocate elsewhere on the heath.
Our walk back proved very interesting for Butterfly species, most were Meadow Brown, with Red Admiral and Peacock also seen, and new for me, a Grayling.
Walking along a narrow path and a Slow Worm was basking, this delightful creature remained for a few minutes to offer some lovely views.
Back to the car and Richard brought out some welcome foldaway chairs where we enjoyed coffee and a light lunch.

Kelling Quags
Our next destination was Kelling Quags, a site I have not visited before, and one which I am so grateful to Richard for introducing me to.  A wonderful location and lots to see.
Richard parked up and we walked north along the track leading to the Quags.  The tall, wild hedgerows here are readying themselves for the forthcoming passage of Warbler and Thrush species over the next two to three months.
This afternoons visit started with Whitethroat, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, and adult and juvenile Goldfinches, whilst a little further along a couple of Mistle Thrushes rose from the hedge with their usual rattle-like call.
Chaffinch (female) at Kelling Quags 

A check of the water and muddy fringes produced a good array of species. A single Shoveler and Mallard were present whilst on the muddy fringes, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Lapwings, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, Pied Wagtails, and juvenile Starlings were all seen.  At least 3 Sand Martins and Swallows swept over the Quags.  Later, a pair of Egyptian Geese flew in.  The only raptor species for the day was a hunting Kestrel.
A check of the ditches, ditch-side habitat, and fencing was also productive.  The dominant species here was Goldfinch with adults and juveniles wandering around undoubtedly attracted to the wealth of weed-seeds for feeding.  It was here that I heard a Yellow Wagtail pass overhead calling.  The odd Whitethroat was also seen passing through cover in the ditch here.  Meadow Pipits were also present.
Stonechat (male) at Kelling Quags

Following the fence-line I saw a Chat-like species in a lone Elder, this was a heavily spotted juvenile Stonechat, this was to be the first of up to six Stonechats seen in the area. 
As the afternoon wore on we spotted some very threatening black cloud approaching from the west, it was about this time that Richard suggested we take another path to check a site he know was good for Stonechat.  This area had some thick cover where once again Goldfinches dominated.  A weedy slope produced another Whitethroat clambering about within tall weeds.  A very fine looking male Stonechat was watched at close range at times, always on the top of a hedge. or on a post, giving his distinctive call.  On one occasion the Stonechat approached to almost within touching distance.
Stonechat (juvenile) Kelling Quags

We watched the black cloud drift inland from us, however, we caught the edge of a heavy shower from this cloud, Richard donned his rain-coat and I thanked Tilley for my fine hat. 
Walking back to our start point it was clear that the rain had forced insects close to the ground as a number of Swallows flew up and down the hedgerows for their quarry.
It was about 1600 that we arrived back at the car, feeling a bit wet, however, we arrived back at Richards for a lovely hot cup of tea.
I must finish this post by thanking my dear friend Richard and his lovely wife Di for keeping me fed and watered, and for their hospitality overall.  A great day with great company.