Sunday, 27 October 2013

The first day of winter

Not an early start today, stayed up a bit late last night and even with the extra hour I was still exhausted when the alarm went. At least by the time I headed out the rain had stopped and the sun was shining.
First stop was Winterton south dunes where a Pallas's Warbler was present among the sycamores beneath the Hermanus restaurant. It took around twenty minutes before giving itself up to the small crowd that had assembled. Up to then all we'd had was the occassional 'ju-wee' call. Nick and I watched it for about ten minutes as it fed very actively in the lower branches. As is always the case though, photographing it was very tricky. I got one record shot which just about out does the shot I got two weeks ago of the same species over on the north side of Winterton dunes.

Pallas's Warbler, Winterton Dunes, Norfol - 27th October 2013

I enjoyed good binocular views of the bird as moved around the sycamore, showing its lemon yellow rump to good effect and being quite vocal - always a very nice call to hear.
Two Pallas's Warblers in one autumn is good going. At this stage I still haven't seen a YBW. It's conceivable that I could finish the year with Pallas's and Hume's but no YBW - not the worst problem to have.

Birders wait for the Pallas's to show at Winterton south dunes
After that we moved over to beach and began to search for the reported Shorelark. A rare bird in Ireland and so a life bird for me. This was one I wanted to see. With a bit of 'gen' from another birder we easily found the bird feeding amongst some shingle about four hundred yards south of the car park. Unfortunately though, with it being a Sunday, there were plenty of walkers and loose dogs. The bird was mobile as it was being flushed quite frequently. Eventually though it returned to the spot where we first had it, I managed some reasonable shots as it fed on the beach.

Shorelark, Winterton Beach, Norfolk - 27th October 2013
It was actually walking towards us closer and closer, when a group of people disturbed it. Having spent over an hour watching it and having obtained reasonable shots we decided to head back to the car for lunch and then head northwards to look for late Swifts.

A small huddle of birders watch the Shorelark on Winteron beach

Before we departed, we spoke to several local birders who mentioned that news had been put out of a Black-browed Albatross seen from Gorleston (although reported by RBA from Hopton-on-sea). The news said 'possible' rather than 'definite' though.
At Trimingham we parked up and began scanning for the Pallid Swift. It had been reported before 1pm and several other birders had seen it twenty minutes before we arrived. The wind was starting to really strengthen and it didn't seem like such a good idea to stand on the edge of a cliff. At the same though, we read news of a possible Pacific Swift having been seen off the cliffs earlier in the day. With a White-rumped Swift being reported earlier from Sweden, birders were starting to get excited. A late House Martin had me going for a second or two.
In order to get better views without the risk of being blown off the edge, we drove on to Overstrand. We spent a good hour scanning for Swifts without any success. Meanwhile though, big news was breaking from my old stomping ground of Cape Clear Island. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet, first for Ireland and fourth WP record.....amazing. Trapped and ringed in Cotter's garden by Steve Wing. I couldn't be happier to hear that. With there being no observatory or bird warden any more on Cape, I am personally delighted that Steve Wing is till working the island and keeping it very much on the map!

View south from Overstrand, Norfolk

From Overstrand we gave it one last whirl and headed for the lighthouse compound just outside Cromer. We scanned carefully for Swifts but our luck was out, the light was fading now. At around four thirty we picked up news once again of a Black-browed Albatross seen heading west from Overstrand (where we had just come from.......darn!). We stayed until the light had gone, by which stage no Swifts and no Albatross.
Not too worry though, I still had a lifer in the bag not to mention a second Pallas's. Not a bad day's birding for the first day of winter.

Cromer Lighthouse - end of play!

1 comment:

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