Sparrow poser and drift migrants, North Norfolk, 26 August 2013

Despite a plethora of drift migrants along the east coast over the bank holiday weekend I resisted the temptation to head straight to any of those this morning. Instead I opted for what I hoped would be a rather educational sparrow at Hungry Hill just east of Northrepps. With seed having been out out the bird in question was seen very quickly and is indeed very interesting! Personally I can't see anything in it's plumage that doesn't look like an Italian Sparrow. The only thing going against it is the location! The following photographs show that it has the classic chestnut crown and pure white cheeks of Italian with a very pronounced white median cover bar and chestnut median coverts. Another thing I noticed was that the black bib is very crescent shaped unlike any of the House Sparrows which all showed bibs in more of a blob shape. This isn't and id feature I've seen mentioned in literature but the illustrations in the Collins guide, the Helm Finches & Sparrows and the Poyser The Sparrows all show. The sides of the bib show a very small amount of chestnut mixed with the black but I have no idea what that could mean! So all in all a very interesting specimen. As I turned to leave I'm sure I head it call 'ciao' too!
A walk down into Overstand from Northrepps didn't reveal too much with 2 Northern Wheatears, Chiffchaff and a Painted Lady being the only migrants. Every buddlia bush seems to be covered in Small Tortoiseshells at the moment too with literally hundreds seen today.

possible Italian Sparrow

possible Italian Sparrow

possible Italian Sparrow

For a late afternoon stop we popped in to Salthouse to be greeted by the news that the Gramborough Hill Wryneck had effectively been lost a while ago. Luckily I managed to relocate it about 400 yards east of the hill on the back of the single ridge where it showed very nicely. Plenty of Whinchats there too with c5 seen together with a single male Stonechat and 3 Northern Wheatears.



Migrant Butterflies, Lound, Suffolk, 11 August 2013

Still no birds but at least there are butterflies! I did a 4 mile geocaching walk just to the west of Lound this afternoon and butterflies and dragonflies were very noticable. A pair of Wall Browns were settling on the path followed by a pristine Painted Lady doing the same thing just 5 minutes later. Better still was a single Clouded Yellow picked up in flight but luckily it too settled for a photo. Other species seen were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White, Peacock, Small Copper, Common Blue and Holly Blue.
Dragonflies seen were Emerald Damselfly, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter, Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker and loads of Migrant Hawkers including a 'flock' of at least 40 over some field side set-a-side.

Clouded Yellow

Painted Lady

Wall Brown(s)

Wall Brown

You gotta roll with it! Horsey, Norfolk, 6 August 2013

I'd failed dismally to see the Roller up at Edgefield a few weeks back so another turning up at Horsey was very welcome indeed. Luckily not the panic of a Norfolk tick as I'd seen the Holkham bird back in 1987 but all that's done is make me feel really old!
This one was present on arrival feeding from low fenceposts about half a mile south of the Nelsons Head track but sadly wasn't coming close enough for any meaningful photos. The one below was all I got with my iPhone hand held to my scope!

Roller (you can see it if you squint!)

There were loads of butterflies along the tracks too with a Clouded Yellow passing by, several Dark Green Fritillaries, Small Coppers, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Small Whites, Large Whites, Peacock, Small Skipper and best of all an unseasonal Swallowtail. This individual is shown below and appears to be of the 'britannicus' race but even though the species sometimes has a partial 2nd brood here this one is early for that brood and is also worn which may signify it's a migrant.



Dark Green Fritillary

Small Copper

Yorkshire Dales, 1 - 4 August 2013

Nothing too mind-blowing to report from a nice long weekend walking in the Yorkshire Dales but a few bits and pieces nonetheless. A Red Kite over the A1 near Leeds on the way was unexpected but the national park itself didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary - 2 Common Redstarts, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 50+ Northern Wheatears (many fledged family parties), 2 Dippers, c8 Grey Wagtails, 2 Common Buzzards, 11 Goosander (all on the River Wharfe), 2 Nuthatches and the odd Willow Warbler still singing.

Odonata of interest were c10 Dark Green Fritillaries still out in the Malham Cove area, loads of Small Heaths and Common Blues and the odd Common Hawker. Two new bees were positively identified - Large Carder Bee (Bombus muscorum) and Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium manicatum)

Large Carder Bee (Bombus muscorum)