Friday, 11 October 2013

Rustic Bunting, Warham Greens, Norfolk

I didn't have high expectations for today, but it worked out well in the end. It was calm and bright at 8.30am this morning in Norwich, but by the time I picked Nick Watmough up at midday it was dark and wet with a strong north-easterly wind blowing. Even if there were birds around, I figured that wind would keep them down.
Having done a few hours on the east coast on Wednesday and having only two Firecrests and a Wheatear to show for my efforts, we both considered that the north Norfolk coast would be a better bet.
We headed first for Warnham Greens, a place I hadn't been to before. We headed down the track to Garden Drove and parked up. At least at this stage the rain had ceased, the wind was still strong but it was possible to find the odd sheltered spot.
We walked towards the saltmarsh, checking and listening as we went. The most small bird action was at the end by the steel gate. We spent about thirty minutes here but the best we could dig out were several Chiffers, two Goldcrests and the odd Redwing. Possibly there is more but the wind seemed too strong and you'd rather fancy that when it dies down, things will be found.
We spoke to a group of three birders who'd just come from Well's Wood, where they had a Ring Ouzel, Firecrest and both Common and Black Redstarts. It was better than what we'd seen so we decided to head back to the car, have our lunches and then head over there.
We were still chatting and birding as I drove back down the track away from garden drove. We stopped a couple of times as small birds darted across the path in front of the car, but each time it turned out to be either a Robin or a Chaffinch.
About fifty meters from the end of the track before it reaches the A149, two birds flew up from the ground within a short distance of the car. I braked immediately, one was a Chaffinch and the other......all I got was a silhouette perched in the ivy before it vanished. At the same moment Nick said 'what was that.........looked like a Bunting'. The shape I saw seemed to have a peaked hind-crown and was smaller than a Reed Bunting or Yellowhammer, Nick said he got a white stripe across the face and that it definitely wasn't either a Yellowhammer or Reed Bunting. His thoughts were leaning at this stage, towards it being a Rustic Bunting.
We decided it might be worth giving this a little time. I pulled the car over onto the ditch and we began checking the track and the adjacent fields. After fifteen minutes we had nothing. I arrived back where I had parked and picked up a small Bunting feeding on the track where we had flushed the two birds from earlier. I waved Nick over. When he arrived it had gone, but a minute later he picked it up further along the path and confirmed the ID almost straight away as an adult male Rustic Bunting. A brilliant find by Nick!
I popped off a few shots (handheld at 700mm in poor light I might add). This was the best I could do.

Male Rustic Bunting, Warham Greens, Norfolk - 11th October 2013
With the bird feeding in the open, along the track I expected to do better, but a short time later it disappearred.
We settled down by the car to have our lunch, this way we figured that other birders who we had already met at Warham Greens, would have a chance of seeing it along the path as they walked towards us.

However, by the time other birders arrived, we hadn't seen it for twenty minutes. The photo below shows a rather satisfied looking Nick Watmough (in the green jacket) leaning up against my car as birders search for the Bunting.

Rustic Bunting twitch starting at Warham Greens, Norfolk
We gave it until 5pm, but the bird failed to show. Maybe with the number of people on the track, it preferred to stay in one of the adjacent beet fields. Hopefully tomorrow it'll be re-found.
So, the day worked out well in the end. A great find by Nick and a life-bird for me. There has to be more out there before I go back to work on Monday.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Graham!!!!! Found a nice Snow Bunting after that east of the concrete pad, feeding by the brick buildings. Didn't realise it was you, taking the picture! Have a fab weekend.