Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Norfolk Bat Survey at Rocklands: exciting first results!

To my surprise, the BTO have already processed the data from the first O. S. grid square that I collected as part of their Norfolk Bat Survey. They sent me an interesting resumé, the highlights of which appear below.

On the inaugural night of 25 July the recorder was located in a garden by an old clay-lump cottage along Green Lane. All three pipistrelles were recorded including the scarcest, Nathusius' Pipistrelle. There have been fewer than 850 British records of this bat (fide which was first reorded in Norfolk just 15 years ago; it's known UK distribution is plotted here (copied below).

All known UK records of Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusi (source:
Another uncommon bat, Serotine, was the fourth species. In the UK, it occurs south of a line from Cornwall to The Wash and classically roosts in old buildings, often churches. Its populations are declining.

The following evening, St. Peter's Church produced six confirmed species of bat. The Barbastelle  was the highlight. Its UK population is estimated to be c. 5000 and decreasing, and it is considered Near Threatened internationally.

Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus UK distribution (source:

Serotine was present once again. The other species were Noctule, Common and Soprano Pipistrelles and Brown Long-eared Bat. Nathusius' Pipistrelle may have been recorded too.

Bat detector @ St Peter's Church, Rocklands
A complex of old clay-lump barns and outbuildings next door to the church, which used to hold good numbers of bats, are in the process of renovation. Hopefully, mitigation measures have been taken to ensure that the bats are able to find new roost sites.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count

Once again this year, I've been taking part in Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count. The best location so far has been Great Hockham Hills and Holes (today largely planted with exotic pines). A broad patch of grass and flowers at the first bifurcation of the track held 14 species of butterfly and day-flying moth:-

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus, Great Hockham Hills and Holes.
Silver Y - 1
Six-spot Burnet - 1
Blackneck - 1, a local moth
Small Skipper - several
Essex Skipper - several
Large White - 1
Green-veined White - 2
Common Blue - 1
Small Tortoiseshell - 1
Peacock - 2
Comma - 1
Gatekeeper - 3
Meadow Brown - 5
Ringlet - 7

The Warbler Guide: downloadable 'quick finders'

Princeton University Press, publishers of the outstanding new guide to North American warblers, The Warbler Guide, have made available some helpful charts summarising visual identification features of the species - just in time for fall migration! These images appear at the start of the book. The files can be donwloaded from the Princeton University Press blog in .PDF and .JPG format.

I will no doubt be reviewing this book as soon as I can get hold of a copy.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bee Orchid on Chapel Green, Rockland St. Peter

I managed to overlook this plant when it was flowering but, thanks to Margaret Neale who runs the village's wonderful Rylstone B&B, I did eventually track down this fruiting Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera on Chapel Green next to our house.

Harold Neale's photograph of the same plant, taken when they found it 17 days earlier on 9th July, is a bit more impressive...

The presence of this species on our tiny plot of meadowland is a good indicator of the importance for conservation of even these small areas of appropriately-managed grassland.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Neotropical Birding 13 goes to press

Neotropical Birding 13 has just been sent to our printers, in good time for distribution at this year's Birdfair. Please visit the Neotropical Bird Club stand.

Welcome to issue 13 of Neotropical Birding!

We begin in Central America, where our cover story is an Identification workshop on the vocalisations of Unspotted Saw-whet Owl executed by regular contributor Knut Eisermann.

Steve Howell has contributed many scholarly articles to the Club’s journals, fruit of his unrivalled field experience. This time he argues persuasively for the recognition of Mexican Hermit Phaeothornis mexicanus, originally described by Hartert in 1897, now usually lumped with P. longirostris.

Taxonomic decisions have implications for conservation. BirdLife International’s Joe Taylor explains why Yellow-naped Parrot Amazona auropalliata is a Globally threatened bird.
Once again, our twin Photospots are dedicated to cryptic species - but these subjects are anything but dull. The two Eleothreptus nightjars, White-winged and Sickle-winged, are superbly captured by Paul Smith. The truly bizarre plumage of juvenile Cinereous Mourners has only just been documented (last year) on the basis of museum specimens, and our authors, Johan Ingels and Mathieu Entraygues, provide the first photographs from the field. Even more fascinating is the video clip that emerged after our article was submitted.

Capital birding focuses for the first time on a sub-national territory as Alex Lees invites us to take a closer look at his adopted city of Belém, capital of Brazil’s Pará state, home to the Goeldi Museum and gateway to some mouth-watering Amazonian birding.

Our regular Splits, lumps and shuffles column shows no sign of shrinking. As ever, we are in the capable hands of Alex Lees, the garimpeiro of Neotropical ornithological literature.

And we continue with Book reviews of the exciting new Fieldbook of the Birds of Ecuador, including the Galápagos Islands, and the superb compendium Neotropical Birds of Prey.  

Happy Neotropical birding!

Christopher J. Sharpe, Senior Editor