Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Migrants Galore

A walk around the lighthouse/golf course area this morning produced the now usual Chiffchaffs singing and a couple of Siskins flew over. East Runton was equally quiet on the bird front with just more Chiffchaffs, but a bit more action on the Butterfly front with my first Peacock of the year, along with numerous Brimstones and a few Small Tortoiseshells.

I then visited West Runton with little expections given how quiet it seemed to be, but that all quickly changed and it turned out to be a really excellent couple of hours there.

An initial scan along the cliffs revealed there was a flock of a dozen Sand Martins prospecting the cliffs which were then joined by a couple of Swallows, my first of the year. A couple of Wheatears appeared along the clifftop and then a scan out to sea produced the first Sandwich Terns of the year with a single and then a pair heading west. A Guillemot was noted close inshore and following too much attention from the local Herring Gulls it hauled itself out of the sea and hid amongst the rocks on the beach.

A few more Sand Martins were seen heading westwards, and a walk along the clifftop produced a couple of Snow Buntings feeding on the path and a White Wagtail in the field. Finally on the way back a Black Redstart appeared on the clifftop fence and then quickly worked its way inland across the fields.

Friday, 25 March 2011

First Blackcap of the year

My usual check of the Lighthouse and Golf Course area this morning produced my first local Blackcap of the year with a female on The Warren. A few Chiffchaffs continued to sing and a Brambling and a few Siskins passed over.

With the news that a Red Kite was potentially heading towards the patch having flown east over Salthouse and Weybourne, I set myself up on a high point at the back of Cromer and soon picked up what was presumably the same bird over the ridge near Aylmerton and watched as it gained height thermalling for some 15 minutes before rapidly drifting off north-east and out of view over Cromer. A couple of the local Common Buzzards were also noted along with a Sparrowhawk.

A visit to West Runton revealed that there had been a mini fall of Wheatears. I saw 4 birds at once but there were probably more than that as they were ranging widely all along the cliff top, fields and car park being continually flushed by all the walkers who were out enjoying the warm weather.

An Eider was again offshore, and a Stock Dove was down on the beach, but no sign of any Lapland Buntings and the Med Gull was conspicuous by its absence so may have moved on for the summer?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

First Sand Martins and Pochard on Felbrigg

A check along the fields at West Runton this morning produced the first Sand Martins of the year with a group of three flying west along the cliffs. There was still a Lapland Bunting in the recently sown field, the third bird of the week as this one was much drabber plumage wise then the two present earlier in the week.

Offshore there was a couple of Red-throated Divers and an Eider. Two Brent Geese flew west and a couple of Curlew east.

A trip up to Felbrigg revealed that the Firecrest was still in the western car park, along with a couple of singing Chiffchaffs. A few Siskins and Redpolls also flew over calling.

A walk down to the lake produced the surprise of a drake Pochard, the first one I had recorded there this year, and a pair of Mandarins were doing their best to evade detection amongst the trees.

Having been fortunate to be able to quickly acquire another Lumix TZ3, second hand but in really good condition, in addition to the Pochard I tested it out on some easy targets.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Lapland Buntings continue to linger

A check along the golf course and lighthouse area today revealed a number of Chiffchaffs still singing away, 3 Bramblings were in Warren Woods and a couple of Greylags headed NE out to sea. A few corvids were on the move and the first Brimstone of the year was also noted.

A visit to West Runton revealed the two Lapland Buntings were still present, inevitably showing very well now that I am camera-less, and the Med Gull continues to patrol the car park in its splendid summer attire.

Offshore a flock of 18 Eider was noteworthy, and a Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver were noted moving west. A few Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawks were noted along the ridge circling up high enjoying the warm and sunny weather.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Bunting Bonanza and more migrants too

A phone call from my Dad this morning alerted me to the fact that he had found a Lapland Bunting in the cliff-top field at West Runton. We had both been checking there regularly for one, especially as there were large numbers just along the coast at Webourne, so it was nice to know that our persistence with looking had finally paid off. Fortunately it was still there when I arrived and it gave excellent views as it fed along the field edge, and was in really smart plumage.

A Black Redstart briefly alighted on the fence along the cliff edge before vanishing, and then as I walked further east to check the rest of the fields I was delighted as three Snow Buntings flew along the field in front of me and began feeding in the ploughed field. After a short while they joined up with the Lapland Bunting and it was excellent to see them feeding side by side, before something flushed everything up from the field and they were lost to view.

Unfortuately at this point my camera decided to develop a terminal problem with completely of its own accord it zooming out to full magnification and jamming in this position and consequently preventing any other button on it from working so I was far from happy! It might be repairable, but as the lens is quite scratched now and the sensor being tempermental especially on the macro setting, its probably time to look at a new one.

Back in the car park a male Wheatear, the first of the year, was briefly seen on the large grassy area before vanishing as everything scattered revealing a Peregrine slowly moving west.

A check of the golf course revealed a number of Chiffchaffs singing in the wood and the undercliff, and other birds noted moving included a few Siskins, alba Wagtails and Starlings.

I then decided to do a bit of raptor watching from Incleborough, with the added bonus of some Cranes hopefully moving east along the coast as per the pager. Unfortunately the Cranes moved through unseen, probably too far inland to see, but a very distant Red Kite more than made up for that. It was undoubtedly the same bird that was seen over Cley reserve then heading SSE over Walsey, and I would guess it was over Kelling Heath when I picked it up before it dropped below the tree line on the Holt-Cromer ridge never to rematerialise.

Different people have different rules when it comes to counting birds for a specific area, for me its as long as I'm on the patch I count it for the patch irrespective of whether the bird is actually outside the boundary, after all its just a bit of fun, and I'm sure I'll have one over the patch in the near future anyway if past years are anything to go by.

A scan of the field at West Runton from the top of Incleborough revealed that there was now two Lapland Buntings in the field, so after I'd finished raptor watching, a few local Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawks were also seen, I went back down to the beach car park for a closer view of them before heading home after a really excellent day.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

First Chiffchaffs arrive on the patch

With the official beginning of Spring today, a walk around the golf course/lighthouse area coincidentally produced the first Chiffchaff of the year singing away in Warren Woods, and after a little searching it finally showed well making frequent sallies out from the trees after insects. Further along another was calling from the undercliff, and it was so nice to hear them again after what has been a long winter.

A check around East Runton produced the first Lizard of the year which happily froze on the bare earth it was sunning itself on, obviously knowing that I had left the camera in the car! A couple of Small Tortoiseshells flew by, but no other migrants or birds of note were encountered.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Another Firecest in Felbrigg

Another quiet week on the patch, and with the cold wind and foggy days spring can't come quick enough.

Highlight of the week was another Firecrest in Felbrigg, with this one being in last years haunt of the western car park. Although it was showing well as it did its circuit merrily singing away, getting a photo of it was another matter and I had to settle for the effort below which although is out of focus you can still see what it is so it'll do.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Rock Pipits

A check along the patch for Wheatears drew a blank, but a couple of Rock Pipits on the cliffs near Beeston Bump were a nice surprise and the first on the patch this year.

The Med Gull has now acquired a full black hood on one side, with just a tiny amount of white remaining on the other, and was looking splendid in the sunshine.

Presumably part of the small flock seen earlier in the year, at least 4 Bramblings were noted around the eastern end of Overstrand, with a couple of smart plumaged males, and a quick check of the sea produced half a dozen Gannets moving east.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

First Comma of the year

A walk along the golf course produced another Stonechat and the first Comma Butterfly of the year was seen sunning itself in Happy Valley.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Black Redstart

As with last year, Black Redstart was again the first proper spring migrant to be recorded on the patch with one on my Dads allotment in East Runton today which showed well on and off around the freshly dug plots.

The first Small Tortoiseshell of the year was also noted flying through.

A check around West Runton produced a pair of Stonechats around the beach carpark, so with the one on Tuesday obviously their spring migration is well underway now.

Finally a visit to Felbrigg produced the Mandarins which have recently returned to the lake with a pair plus a lone female present, although they were pretty wary flying off onto the meadow pool when disturbed by walkers.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


The West Runton Med Gull is fast acquiring its full summer plumage with virtually a full black hood now save for just a few white speckles remaining around the base of the bill. As ever it was dutifully obliging for a bit of food in return.

I also took some pics of the local Black-headed Gulls with a couple of them below.

With the nice weather, I then took a walk along the golf course in the hope of an early migrant and was rewarded with the first Stonechat of the year in Happy Valley lifting expectatations for the forthcoming weeks and an end to the near birdless last few weeks.

A check of the roosting Gulls on the sea to the east of the pier revealed another(?) adult Med Gull.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Oriental Turtle Dove

With the patch continuing to be quiet, a trip was made to see the Oriental Turtle Dove. A big thanks goes to the home owner who was continuing to kindly allow birders to view his back garden where it was frequenting from inside his kitchen.

After a short wait the Oriental Turtle Dove flew in and then busily fed on the ground at the back of the garden before flying up and resting in a tree. Eventually it plucked up courage to visit the bird table and we were treated to superb close views.

I took a few snaps as it fed which have come out ok considering they were taken through glass, plus another couple of more distant ones as it perched up in the tree.

Apart from the Dove, a good number of other species were regularly visiting the feeders with Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Bramblings and Bullfinches being the most notable.

On the way back several Red Kites were seen including one low over the car circling a dead Badger on the road.