Thursday, 30 September 2010

Yellow-browed Warber and Lapland Bunting

An excellent day on the patch today with another mini-arrival of migrants evident around the patch.

A check of the golf course and the clifftops woods produced a Ring Ouzel, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Bramblings, Siskins, Wheatears and still many Song Thrushes and Robins in every bit of cover. Also with the sun out and the fairly mild conditions, both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were heard singing.

Trimingham clifftop wood held 3 Pied Fly's and nearby a Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher, and then came what I thought would be the highlight of the day when walking the clifftop I flushed a Lapland Bunting out of the grass which flew round calling and headed off into the adjacent stubble field where I saw it a couple of times more before it again returned to the rough grass strip along the clifftop.

As it was now late afternoon I was in two minds to carry on checking other areas but thankfully decided to give the area around Sidestrand a final bash and was very pleased that I did as I located a Yellow-browed Warbler loosely associating with a tit flock. Although I can pretty much guarantee finding one on the patch each autumn, its always still a buzz when I do as they are such excellent little birds to see. Both Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher were also present rounding off what had been a really great day around the patch and one which makes all the many hours of relentlessly flogging the area worthwhile.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Late Common Swift

Highlight of today was a Swift that was over Cromer this evening with the local House Martins. One at this time of year is always worth a second look but indeed this was just a Common Swift but still a nice record and probably the last of the year that I'll see.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bonelli's and Yellow-browed Warblers

With the Bonelli's Warbler in Wells still not assigned to species, and rumours that on Sunday it was calling like an Eastern, a species that I have yet to see, I decided to pop over to see it for insurance purposes and hopefully clinch the id.

Whilst searching for it around the dell, I chanced upon a Yellow-browed Warbler, with a few Redstarts, a Pied Flycatcher and a few Garden Warblers also in the same area along with good numbers of Siskins. News filtered through that the Bonelli's had been located further along the main track so we quickly made our way along to the growing crowd and was soon watching it feeding in the back of the trees, and although it never gave really good views, they were enough for the general consensus to be that it was the more regularly occuring Western rather than the much rarer Eastern, which surely will occur before too much longer somewhere along the east coast.

Returning to the patch, a Pied Flycatcher was at West Runton and good numbers of the common migrants noted yesterday were still in evidence.

Monday, 27 September 2010

A good fall of common migrants

With the wind and rain of the last few days having abated, soon after getting out on the patch it was evident that there had been a big fall of common migrants on the coast.

Robins, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were the main species involved with one seemingly in every bush and many in the woods. Siskins and Bramblings were also very noticable with a number of flocks moving through and others feeding in the sycamore woods.

Other species noted around the patch during the day included a Ring Ouzel, a few Redstarts, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Redwing, Redpoll, Reed Buntings, Wheatears, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

More seawatching

A slightly later start today due to yesterdays exertions, saw me again seawatching of the patch where there were a few more birds passing then yesterday.

Highlights included a Red-necked Grebe which flew along close inshore in tandem with a Great Crested for comparison, and a Red-breasted Merganser, both of which were the first ones for the year on the patch. Also 6+ Sooty Shearwaters passed by with a couple pretty close in for a change offering very good views, and a Shag also passed along the tideline.

A few Arctic and Great Skuas also went by, along with good numbers of wildfowl with Wigeon, Teal and Common Scoter predominating, but a few Gadwall, and what was presumably a leucistic Pintail were also noteworthy.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Barnacle Geese and an American Fly on The Point!

Today started shortly after dawn with the anticipation of another good seawatch, however it quickly became apparent that there wasn't anywhere near the number of birds moving that there was yesterday which was rather disappointing.
However the early start was made worthwhile when I picked up two geese flying in from the west and as they got closer they were as I had initially suspected Barnacle Geese. I've previously recorded what were undoubtedly feral birds on a couple of occasions, so these were the first wild ones I'd recorded through the patch so obviously was very happy with the record.
The other highlights of the morning was a Shag that was lingering off the end of the pier, and a Merlin which was watched chasing an incoming passerine high out to sea.
On the seabird front there were small numbers of Arctic & Great Skuas, Manx Shearwater, Arctic Terns and Little Gulls. Waders were represented by Purple Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Curlew and Dunlin and ducks by Eider, Common Scoter, Shelduck, Wigeon and Teal.

I'd not long returned home when there was a MEGA Alert revealing that there was an Empidonax Flycatcher species in the plantation on Blakeney Point! After a quick drive to Cley coastguards I embarked on the 3 mile walk up to the point in what can only be described as atrocious conditions, walking headlong into the gale force winds and driving rain, with nothing better to walk on then loose shingle.
About an hour and a half later I arrived at the plantation soaked through, not helped by an apparent short cut resulting in having to wade through water to get back to the proper 'path'. Oh for the days when I used to cycle up there on nice hard ground in 20 minutes!
Anyway the long gruelling slog was soon forgotton when the Flycatcher appeared in the base of a poplar tree and gave good views low down sheltering from the elements and who can blame it. It continued to show occasionally and good views were eventually obtained, with special thanks to ETM who kindly allowed me to look through his scope.
At the time of writing the exact species concerned is still being debated, and whilst muted as a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher for a while, the current thinking is now that it maybe an Alder/Willow Flycatcher, hopefully a Willow as I saw the presumed Alder Flycatcher in Cornwall a couple of years ago, but even when that bird was trapped the identification hasn't yet been accepted, so maybe this one will remain in limbo too, especially if it departs overnight to prevent further grilling and photographing. Only time will tell but whatever the species, an absolute brilliant bird and an amazing record for the county.

Friday, 24 September 2010

An excellent days seawatching

For once the expectations for a good days seawatching came to fruition with an excellent 6+ hours from the patch producing 2 Leach's Petrels, 3+ Long-tailed Skuas and a few Arctic Terns and Little Gulls, all of which were new for the year bringing my tally up to 176 so far and already breaking last years total of 174.

However the most notable event of the day was the sheer numbers of Great Skuas which were passing, with a near constant stream throughout the day including numerous double-figure flocks, and were by far the most that I have ever seen passing in a single day. I've never been one for counting birds as they pass, but there was easily well over 300 during the day, and probably many more further out that were kind of ignored as we were busy concentrating on all the birds passing closer by, with numerous giving excellent views through the surf.

Other birds of note seen included a few Sooty Shearwaters, good numbers of Manxies including one flock of c30 birds, numerous Arctic Skuas and Kittiwakes, plus Purple Sandpipers, Brent Geese, Red-throated Divers, Sandwich Terns, Gannets, Fulmars, Common Scoter, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and a few distant auks.

Hopefully with the strong northerlies persisting overnight and birds continuing to pass up till dusk, tomorrow should also be good although today will take a lot of beating.....

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Southerlies bring in a few more migrants

With the winds round to the south there was a mini arrival of migrants on the patch today with 3 Whinchats at East Runton, and another two on Cromer GC along with a Wheatear. Also a Black or Common Redstart flashed across the road in front of me on the edge of Cromer but evaded further detection to confirm its species.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


A walk around East Runton today produced a real surprise when I found a Corn Bunting perched up on brambles on a scrubby area of land. This was the first one that I have ever recorded on the patch so it was an extremely good record especially as they are a fast declining species.

West Runton this afternoon produced a couple of Wheatears in the clifftop fields.

Monday, 20 September 2010


A walk at Trimingham this afternoon produced a Peregrine along the cliffs, then again drifting out over the sea and then I picked it up for a third time as it headed off east towards Mundesley being mobbed by the local gulls.

On the beach a group of 46 Cormorants was noteworthy.

Saturday, 18 September 2010


Today saw me taking a day trip over to Co.Cork for the House Crow that had been recently discovered at Cobh. Joining up with a crew from Essex, we took the early morning ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, arriving at c6.15am and were soon heading across southern Ireland. Just over a couple of hours later we arrived in Cobh and had it safely on the list from the car window before we had even parked!
A native of India, it was the second Irish record following one in the '70's, and like its predecessor, this one undoubtedly arrived via a ship, possibly from the small dutch population which had built up from other ship assisted arrivals.
Over the next couple of hours we watched it commute from the houses around the square by the lusitania monument over to the harbour where it would scavenge for food. It was very vocal at times especially when perched atop its favourite drainpipe. The gathering of birders caused great interest with locals and other tourists alike most of whom probably thought we were mad travelling all that way for a crow!

Also around the area was a nice supporting cast of birds including Hooded Crows, an Iceland Gull and Rock Pipit.

With the afternoon free to do some birding we headed back east checking out a couple of estuaries on the way which produced an assortment of waders. A fortuitous wrong turn in our quest to find Tacumshin Lake resulted in us ending up at the south-west corner of Lady's Island Lake where I spotted a Glossy Ibis feeding amongst a flock of 14 Little Egrets. It soon flew off west when I managed to grab a couple of flight shots.

We eventually found Tacumshin where the Wilsons Phalarope was located feeding on the far side of the lake and as dusk approached, I picked up two separate Glossy Ibis flying in from the east presumably heading off to their roost site. The site provides excellent habitat and its no wonder that its attracted the long list of vagrants that it has, but unfortunately time caught up with us and we had to leave for the ferry before some of the other species present could be located, but nonetheless it had been an excellent day.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Osprey, Black Terns and Curlew Sandpipers

A trip along the coast today started at Cley where my first Black Tern of the year was watched feeding along the ditches around the east bank car park, a Curlew Sandpiper, also my first of the year, was on Arnolds and 10+ Lapland Buntings were along the shingle bank there with 2 very confiding birds on the deck and a number seen in flight too.

A walk down to Stiffkey Fen revealed that all the birds in Blakeney Harbour had just been spooked so I busily scanned around for what I presumed was going to be a Peregrine, but instead to my delight picked up an Osprey tusseling with the local Marsh Harriers! It was then watched hovering high up over the harbour whereupon it dived down into the water making a successful strike and then flew off low steadily north west with what looked like a flatfish in its talons heading to the trees on East Hills to devour its catch. On the fen itself was a Spoonbill, Wood Sandpiper, 2 Curlew Sands and a Black Tern. Finally a visit to Holme again produced good views of the Arctic Warbler as it performed well to its small crowd of admirers.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Arctic Warbler

The offer of a lift along to Holme for the Arctic Warbler this morning was too good to pass up, and we were rewarded with good views immediately on arrival as it fed up in the pines along the seaward side of the reserves. This was only the second Arctic Warbler that I had seen in Norfolk, following one on The Point in Sept '93, and only my third ever (my first was in Lincs in Sept 86), so it was very nice to see one again and become reacquainted with their appearance in the field.

We then walked round to the NOA reserve and after a very short wait the Barred Warbler appeared right in front of us, had a quick feed and then disappeared off again out of sight below us making it a very successful morning.

With Titchwell open again, albeit only partially up to the first hide, we called in to see the results of the flood-defence works which looked pretty good, and was also treated to my first Little Stints of the year with 5 in with the Dunlin flock.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Weekend Round-up

Friday saw 3 Swifts moving east over the village, and maybe given the latish date these may well be the last ones I see this year?

A walk round Sidestrand on Saturday revealed little other than that the Wryneck was still present as it dashed across the reservoir in front of us, then showed briefly in the far hedge before dropping down out of sight.

A further visit there today showed it was still present, but again it was flightly and elusive. Two Redstarts were also around the reservoir, and singles were also seen in Trimingham clifftop wood and at East Runton.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Wryneck and Redstarts continue to delight

A check of the reservoir today showed that there was still up to 6 Redstarts present, but initially no sign of the Wryneck.
With the Redstarts posing so well I couldn't resist taking a few pictures as I think they are really smart looking birds, and something we'd go really mad about if they were a 'rare sibe'. There was a particulary stunning male present, which seemed to be having a lot of fun chasing around the other birds!

Whilst in the middle of photographing one of the Redstarts, I noticed a movement on the ground in the back of my field of view. Refocusing the scope to see what it was, I was delighted to see that it was the Wryneck busily feeding away on the ground about 20 foot away, but mostly concealed amongst the grass and other vegetation. It was then seen to fly up into the hedge and then every 20 minutes or so drop back onto the bank for a few minutes before going back up into cover.
After a lot of patient waiting it finally popped up in full view a couple of times, and I managed to quickly get a few pics of it as it did so, with the best two reproduced below.
Whilst waiting for the Wryneck to reappear, I heard a wooshing sound of fast wing beats above me and upon looking up saw a Hobby circling round, and on looking at it through my bins saw that it had obviously just taken one of the local hirundines as it was happily plucking it as it circled around before drifting off towards some nearby trees.
The Little Grebe was still present but as usual spent most of its time hiding, only very occasionally venturing out into the open water.
A late afternoon visit to West Runton revealed that there were still a couple of Redstarts there, along with a few Wheatears, and the regular adult Mediterranean Gull was around the car park and perching on its favourite post.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

WRYNECK at Sidestrand

The patch came up trumps today with the finding of a Wryneck up at the reservoir at Sidestrand. It was rather elusive but did give good scope views as it periodically appeared in the hedge along the far side, allowing a couple of record shots to be obtained. This was only the 3rd Wryneck that I had seen on the patch, and the first for a few years so was a very welcome bird and a delight to see.

Also around the reservoir was up to half a dozen Redstarts, and on the res itself the Ringed Teal had again put in an appearance, along with a Common Teal.

A check of a nearby site produced a couple more Redstarts and eventually a Pied Flycatcher there too, plus a male Marsh Harrier flew over heading east.
I then returned to the reservoir where I quickly located the Wryneck again, but it continued to be mobile and elusive for the remainder of the afternoon. On the res a Little Grebe was again present, a Common Sandpiper put in an appearance, and a Dunlin also dropped in.
A Hobby flew through much to the consternation of the local hirundines, a Yellow Wagtail flew over high calling away, and around the res a number of juv Swallows were continuing to be fed by their parents.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Migrants continue to arrive

Back on the patch today where I always feel more comfortable birding, especially being away from the crowds, a check of the golf course produced 3 Redstarts, up to 4 Whinchats and half a dozen Wheatears.

East Runton produced a couple of Redstarts, a single Whinchat, 2 Wheatears and a Hobby over, whilst West Runton produced yet more Redstarts (3+), a Spotted Flycatcher, Reed Warbler and a few more Wheatears.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Red-necked Phalarope

A trip along the coast today produced a couple of Lapland Buntings on the shingle ridge at Salthouse, plus a couple of Redstarts and a few Wheatears there.
Stiffkey Fen hosted a number of Spoonbills and a Wood Sandpiper, and at Holme a Red-necked Phalarope was on Redwell Marsh and a Red-backed Shrike was in the dunes, along with a few more Redstarts and a Spotted Flycatcher but the very blustery wind made searching for other migrants hard work.

Friday, 3 September 2010

More Whinchats and Wheatears

With the northeasterlies continuing another good look round the patch today was rather disappointing with very few migrants evident, although the day was saved somewhat with a couple of Whinchats and 6+ Wheatears along the clifftop at West Runton. However with easterlies set to continue well into the start of next week, hopefully there will be more birds arriving in the next few days.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Black-throated Diver

With light northeasterlies a check round the patch produced a Redstart and a Whinchat at Sidestrand, and at least 3 Swifts still up by the lighthouse.
Also whilst at Sidestrand I noticed the top of a pair of ears just sticking up above the stubble in a field and initially thought it was going to be a hare, but getting closer I could see more of the ears and a bit a reddish fur and my thoughts changed to it maybe being a fox, but when approaching it further and could see more of it, I realised it was infact a Chinese Water Deer having a bit of a snooze.

A check of the sea in the evening produced adult and immature Med Gulls past, good numbers of Sandwich Terns roosting on the groynes, plus 4 Common Sandpipers on the beach. However the undoubted highlight was a Diver Sp. that I picked up through my bins as it headed west, and quickly getting it in the scope I was very pleasantly surprised to see that it was a summer plumaged Black-throated, an excellent record for the patch, and probably the first summer plumaged bird that I have ever recorded in the county.