I already had the first two Swallows of the year at Holkam on Friday along with more Swallows, Sand and House Martins, the first Chiffers and a singing Willow Warbler at Strumpshaw Fen yesterday evening.
The east or north Norfolk coast would definitely be worth a look so I headed up and away before 9 o'clock this morning.
I'm still learning where each place is. I thought of going to Holme but it's an hour and a half from Norwich so I decided to go over towards Winterton and Horsey. I knew Horsey Gap from visiting it with Nick Watmough on Easter Monday so I was confident I could find my way back there. Based on recent reports a Common Redstart, Black Redstart or Ring Ouzel could be possible, I'd settle for any of them.
I pulled into the car park at Horsey Gap and was a little surprised to see no signs of any other birders. I expected places like this to be well covered.
I could hear a Willow Warbler in song over towards the south side of the carpark so decided to check there first. Apart from the Willow Warbler, I had a singing Chiffer and about four Swallows. I went about half a mile before deciding to go back and check the path that runs to north of the car park. I followed that for about one hundred meters before noticing a stand of trees with gorze just in off the path. They looked interesting, so I broke away from the path and headed towards them.
As I came around the side of the first few trees a small bird caught my eye but immediately dropped out of sight. I relocated it quickly and thought....'here we go female Common Redstart, that'll do!'. However once I got the bins onto it I could see very striking orange flanks, it was shouting Red-flanked Bluetail to me but I still couldn't believe that it was. Then it turned its back to me, flashed its blue tail and took off deeper into the trees. I suppressed a shout of delight and turned back to get my camera.
I had a mobile number for Birdguides so texted the news in before calling Nick Watmough to ask him if he could put it out also (even though I'm here a few months I still haven't set myself up on Rare Bird Alert etc.). I gave Nick details of the location before settling down to try for a few shots. For about an hour it was just me and the bird, shots were tricky but I did manage some.
|Red-flanked Bluetail, Horsey gap, Norfolk - 14th April 2013|
Movie clip of Red-flanked Bluetail
Other birders arrived in due course and by the time I left a small sized twitch was underway (large by Irish standards but small enough for Norfolk I imagine).
Nick and I headed to Winterton to look for Black Redstarts (no joy) but did catch nice views of two roosting Long-eared Owls.
|Roosting Long-eared Owl, Winterton, Norfolk - 14th April 2013|
After a crappy Autumn in 2012 and a very long winter, finding my own Red-flanked Bluetail in my first spring in Norfolk is a very good consolation.