Sunday 14 October 2018

Autumn doesn't love me anymore

I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that autumn is overrated! I don't think this year is quite as bad as 2017 was but its pushing it close.
Last weekend a much anticipated return trip to Cape Clear Island fell apart in spectacular style at the last minute. Instead of looking for nearctic vagrants and enjoying some creamy pints, I found myself scouring east Norfolk in vain for Yellow-browed Warblers. The best that could be pulled from Happisburgh were three Bramblings and a Snow Bunting. I'm not knocking those birds but everyone else seemed to tripping over YBW's yet we couldn't find one for love nor money.
This weekend I didn't bother to go out until Sunday, on Saturday that warm southerly wind was blowing a gale and I figured it would be better to wait until the gust stopped.
I started at Happisburgh once again although I'm losing faith in that place. It is a beautiful village and I love visiting it but it feels like I'm expecting too much from it. The area around the coastwatch buildings, the path leading up to that, the trees around the cricket pitch all look good and attract migrants. The churchyard looks very promising but I've only ever seen a Black Redstart in there. And yet, I've never done any better than finding Firecrests, YBWs, Black and Common Redstarts, Pied Flys and Whinchats. It does produce some decent birds like Pallas's Warbler, Black-headed Wagtail and Great Grey Shrike, its just not me who finds them.
Anyway, en route to the coast watch I kept an ear and eye out for the YBW that had been reported earlier in the morning and was fortunate to see that in the sycamores of the last garden before the coast watch. Unfortunately it was very mobile so no photos but still the first one of the autumn for me at last.
The coastwatch seemed very quiet until I nearly trod on this Short-eared Owl. I don't know who got a greater fright, me or it? Still a smashing bird to see. It flew into the nearby field and hunkered down against the strengthening west wind.

After Happisburgh I decided to walk Horsey Gap to the pipe dump. Apart from a few Goldcrests it was quiet and very windy. RBA reported a YBW at the pipe dump but I couldn't see anything there except for a few Magpies and Pheasant. I decided to walk towards the Shangri-La cottage and check the first set of trees along the path as they seemed to offer a little shelter and I managed to find a Yellow-browed in there. Probably the same bird that was reported from the pipe dump. This time I only heard the bird.
I headed for home feeling a little bit happier having finally seen a couple of Yellow-broweds and a nice SEO - then I heard news from Yorkshire!