Sunday 15 October 2017

The end?

By morning the wind was up again. I decided to check Happisburgh and if nothing was doing there then I'd call time on the whole thing and go home early.
As usual the churchyard was empty, there was no shelter there from the brisk west wind. However the band of trees by the cricket club was a little better with a busy tit flock that included several Goldcrests and I thought I had a brief glimpse of a Yellow-browed but couldn't be certain. I checking the willows at the pond just as bird flew in and perched up - Black Redstart (or Black Rodney to use its County Cork name).

The Black Rodney!
This put a little spring in my step but to be honest from that point onwards it never got any better. I completed a circuit around Happisburgh and later on walked the Nelson's Head track as far as the container but all I had were Blue Tits and Wrens. With no sign of any other birds around Norfolk (apart from a fly-over Serin at Hunstanton) - I called time on my week, returned to caravan, tidied up and headed back to Norwich.
The next a Great Grey Shrike was found at Happisburgh (well done Richard Moores) and a Barred Warbler at Trimingham - what did I do in my past life to deserve such luck??
I think every five years or so you get a dud autumn - and I was due one. The last one I had was in Cork in 2012. But this on this occasion, with precious little time off available, it felt like a waste of my holidays. Maybe its over-familiarity, or the over-crowded UK birding scene - or whatever but I'm not enjoying birding as much as I used to and really need to think about whether I change my attitude towards it or drop out altogether.

October week- part 3

Thursday morning I birded Horsey gap first but the only migrant at all was a rather rotund an upright looking Northern Wheatear (thinking maybe leucorhoa?). 

Northern Wheatear - maybe Greenland race?

At least this Kestrel stayed still long enough for a decent shot.

Happisburgh was dead with no sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler. I stopped for forty winks at the "bird obs" and finished the evening with a very pleasant stroll along Trimingham beach. There were no migrants to see but as the sun dropped the wind eased off considerably and I rather hoped that combined with the clear skies – maybe, just maybe something would show up on my final day!!

Trimingham beach, Norfolk

October week - part 2

I started Tuesday morning with a pre-breakfast walk along the beach at Trimingham, the wind had picked up and there was no sign of any migrants. After breakfast I headed for Happisburgh where the Yellow-browed Warbler was still present in the same spot. Otherwise it was as dead as a door-nail. With better light I decided to head back to Kelling and try for better shots of the Red-necked Phalarope. However on the way I picked up news of an Olive-backed Pipit at Wells Wood – a much desired lifer. I met the finder James Lowen at the car park in Wells and got directions for the drinking pool. I was feeling optimistic as I walked the track but after two hours searching the area I had to come away empty handed. Still, a great find by James. I didn’t bother looking for reported Radde’s Warbler either and instead decided to head back to Trimingham stopping off at Kelling along the way. I have to admit that at this stage I was ready to throw the towel in on the entire week. The winds were all wrong, what few birds were around I had dipped on and the forecast was looking grim for the rest of the week. Kelling saved the day though, the Phalarope was around still and had company in the form of two smart looking juvenile Curlew Sands and two equally tidy looking Spotted Redshanks. 

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope

One of two juvenile Curlew Sands

One of two Spotted Redshanks
That night at the Trimingham bird obs I could hear the wind picking up. By morning it was blowing a gale and I decided to take a break for the day and catch up on some stuff at home.

October week - part 1

I had arranged to take the second week of October off and had rented a mobile home from a friend just outside Trimingham on the north-east Norfolk coast. In the weeks leading up to that there had been precious little east winds and my week off was looking no different. The forecast predicted all westerlies and strengthening as the week progressed. Expectations were rock-bottom but despite that I got off to a reasonable start with a Norwich garden tick in Coal Tit before leaving for Trimingham.
I stopped off first at Happisburgh en route where I picked up a Yellow-browed Warbler in the willows at the end of the bowling green. Sadly though that was as good as it got. A few Goldcrests in the sycamores, Meadow Pipits around the coast watch buildings and several Redwing passing overhead were the other highlights.
I dropped my stuff at the caravan in Trimingham and walked along the cliff edge and down to the beach. I couldn’t even dig out a Chiffchaff but there were still the odd bird coming in off the sea. Three Meadow Pipits calling as they reached the cliff face and a Blackbird who skilfully out-manoeuvred a voracious Great black-backed Gull just as it reached landfall.
I made a quick beer run to nearby Mundesley and stopped at a nice little spot along the road on the way back where I a single Chiffchaff and a second ‘possible’ Yellow-browed Warbler.
I sipped a cool beer as the light faded with the sounds of Pink-footed Geese arriving into Norfolk for the coming winter.