Monday, 15 September 2014

From Horsey to Happisburgh

There had been a steady run of light easterlies for the past few days but clear skies meant that birds were probably passing over rather than stopping off in Norfolk. Nonetheless Nick and I decided to try the east coast early on Sunday morning so we hit the road at 6.20am reaching Horsey Gap car-park just around 7am. Things looked promising when we picked up two Common Redstarts within the first one hundred yards with a Whinchat present in the same area. One posed reasonably well for photos in the early morning light but that was as good as things got really.

One of two Common Redstarts, Horsey Gap, Norfolk

We walked as far as the pipe dump but apart from two more Whinchats and a flyover flava Yellow Wag, that was it really.
We returned to the car park and took some coffee before heading east along the Nelson's Head track. Here we had up to six Wheatears and two more Whinchats before deciding at the metal container to stop and head back. At least this Wheatear posed obligingly before we left the area.

Wheatear, Horsey Gap / Nelson's Head track, Norfolk
Back at the car-park Nick noted a report on Birdguides of an Olive-backed Pipit at nearby Winterton south dunes. Seemed a bit early but daft not to check given how close we were. We arrived at Winterton, however a brief discussion with the single observer was less than convincing so we quickly departed the area.
Given that birds were being reported from Great Yarmouth Cemetery we thought it would be worthwhile doing a quick look at Caister on sea cemetery. Neither of us had birded this spot before but Nick had heard of migrants being present in previous years. However, on arrival it looked less than promising. This presumed Hooded x Carrion hybrid was the best on offer.

Hooded x Carrion hybrid ??
At Great Yarmouth Cemetery we walked the northern section and met another birder who had earlier picked up a male Redstart, Tree Pipit, Garden Warbler, Pied Fly and Spotted Fly. We strolled around both north and south sections and never had as much as a movement in the bushes. So this means one of two things, either Nick and I are totally useless birders (hope not and definitely not in Nick's case) or the strong anti-cyclonic weather means that birds drop into the cemetery off the sea, feed up and rest for a few hours before moving on again. Hopefully the latter if the conditions favour it.
We toyed with heading home via Cantley to look for the Pec Sand but loath to leave the east coast when the afternoon was looking like birds were arriving (RB Flys and Yellow-broweds were beginning to appear up the coast), we decided to try Happisburgh. I hadn't been there before and while we failed to turn up anything, it looks like a good spot for migrants early morning after east winds and a night of rain. There would appear to be a lot of cover further back off the first line of sycamores, but migrants just in off the sea may hold for a while in these trees to rest, feed and re-orientate. So I figure that with the right conditions Happisburgh would be a good spot to start from early on an October morning before heading either north or south along the east coast depending on what is being found. Sadly, Happisburgh sits on sandy cliffs and is slowly falling into the sea as with several places along the east Norfolk coast. We called it a day just as the road came to an end!

The cliff road at Happisburgh, Norfolk