Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Options on Sunday morning were go north Norfolk and see someone else's bird (i.e. RB Fly at Salthouse) or strike out east and look for my own. I chose the latter.
I started at GY cemetery. I was trying my hardest to manage my expectations, no point in arriving full of optimisim only to lose heart an hour later when you realise that the place is devoid of birds. I told myself not to expect much but there's always a little voice telling you the big one is out there just waiting to be found.
Anyway, my low expectations were fully dampened within minutes of arrival. I met Justin Lansdell just as I arrived who told me it was bleak - no birds at all. Just a Garden Warbler, Grey Wagtail over and several Song Thrushes. Well bugger! I was here now so I had a poke around the north section knowing Justin would be right. All I could find was a female Blackcap and a Robin.
In the south section it was marginally better. I trying to see a calling Chiffchaff when a female Redstart made a very brief appearance. Not long after Tommy Corcoran found a Yellow-browed Warbler (although I didn't manage to see it myself) and soon after that we pinned down one if not two Firecrests.
Post lunch I drove to Happisburgh. Things got off to a good start (excuse the pun) with a female type Common Redstart in the horse paddocks near the pillboxes.

Redstart, Happisburgh, Norfolk

Further along the path I enjoyed a spectacle of two Hobbys being chased (in vain) by the local corvids. The Hobbys looked like they were having fun. At the cliff-edge I had two Wheatears and several Chiffers in the garden of the house opposite the paddocks.
I checked the church yard and around the cricket club but twas in vain. Before close of play I did a quick round of the area near the caravan park but could only dig out a Common Whitethroat there.
Its early yet but Happisburgh will deliver before the autumn is out.....I can feel it in me bones!
I should add though that bird of day was in fact seen long before I even arrived at Great Yarmouth - a Raven from the car near the Harford Park and Ride off the A47. Not so Normal for Norfolk!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Slim(ish) pickings!

This week has mostly been about large Shearwaters off Ireland's west coast and decent numbers of Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpipers on the Scillies and Western Isles. If I was still in Cork I'd be in heaven but here in Norfolk its slim pickings. I'll admit to being under-whelmed by wader watching at places like Cley, Titchwell and Hickling. Some smart birds but way too distant. How I now appreciate being able to crawl on my belly on the Ballycotton mud to snap a Semi-P Sandpiper or AGP from twenty feet!
Rain all day Saturday put paid to any birding. Clear skies Saturday night and a light southerly air flow didn't set my pulse racing either. But an early bank of fog gave rise to a little glimmer of hope as I drove to the east Norfolk coast early Sunday morning.
Two Chiffchaffs, a chacking Lesser Whitethroat and a juvenile Common Whitethroat at Happisburgh had me hoping but that was all I could I dig out there. I decided to walk the Nelson's Head track seeing what I could pick up en route and then finish with the 1st winter Red-backed Shrike at Winterton north dunes - assuming it had braved the rain and stayed put.
Nelson's Head track was actually quite good. At least there were birds. There and back I had three Wheatears, nine Whinchats, two Willow Warblers, a Blackcap and a probable Reed Warbler.

Wheatear, Nelson's Head track, Norfolk

Four of the nine Whinchats present along the track
Past the concrete blocks a small group of birders had gathered and the RB Shrike was still on show. A little too distant for photos and the sun was very strong by now. But still always a good bird to see. It had a series of look-out perches and was using them to good effect to pounce on unsuspecting beetles.

Red-backed Shrike, Winterton North Dunes, Norfolk
A Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and several Hobbys were reportedly in the same area but I didn't see them. The fog was long gone and the day had really heated up. I watched the shrike for about half an hour before turning for home.
More hot weather this week and no sign of any east winds means we will have to do with the same meagre ration we have had so far. But as today showed, there is always something to see and maybe the east winds are waiting for my week off mid-October. Fingers crossed.