Thursday, 22 October 2020

East winds - part one!

I was off for all of last week and although my trip to Cape Clear Island had been cancelled due to Covid, it was starting to look like staying in Norfolk all week might not be so bad. On Monday and Tuesday I added some brownie points into the bag but from Wednesday onwards, just as the wind started to blow from deep in the east, I went birding!

The first day I focused my attention mainly around the Happisburgh area. Birding around the village of Happisburgh and up as far as Walcott and down as far as Cart Gap. In the morning there were good numbers of grounded Redwing, Fieldfares, Blackbirds with some Robins and Chaffinches, though numbers thinned out as the morning wore on. In the afternoon I picked up a smart male Ring Ouzel between Cart Gap and Happisburgh Lighthouse. I finished the day at Waxham hoping to see the Pallas's Warbler that had been found just north of the Shangri-La Cottage and although it was present I found it very tricky to see in amongst the ivy-clad sycamores. However, a pair of Black Redstarts at Waxham church were a nice conclusion to the day especially the dapper looking male.

Female Black Redstart, Waxham Church, Norfolk - 14th October 2020

Male Black Redstart, Waxham Church, Norfolk - 14th October 2020

I started Thursday morning again at Happisburgh but apart from two fly-over Brambling at the Cricket Club plus a Short-eared Owl that appeared to come in off the sea near the Coast watch, it was a bit quiet. After I'd left Waxham the previous evening, a Red-flanked Bluetail had been found near the pipedump. In fact as the week progressed there were (I think) at least ten Bluetails in Norfolk alone including four birds at Holme. Anyway, being nearly eight years since I saw my one and only Bluetail, I decided it was time to see another. I headed over to Waxham and enjoyed great views of the bird as it fed along the fence line between the Shangri-La and the pipe dump.


Red-flanked Bluetail, Waxham - 15th October 2020

I had the briefest of views afterwards of the Pallas's Warbler plus another Short-eared Owl and both Black Redstarts were still present in the churchyard.
On Friday, I walked from Horsey Gap car park to the plantation at Winterton but just managed four Brambling. However, Goldcrest numbers were impressive with many looking like they had literally just made landfall as they flitted around the marram grass at the top of the sand dunes. (By the way, I love their alternative moniker 'Woodcock Pilots', in my mind I can see them safely guiding migrating Woodcock on dark autumn nights. Very evocative!). 


Goldcrest, Winterton Plantation, Norfolk - 16th October 2020

On the way back I had a nice female Black Redstart at the pillbox just south of the car park.


Female Black Redstart, Horsey Gap, Norfolk - 16th October 2020

In the afternoon I chased after a Red-throated Pipit at Sea Palling (without success). The best I could muster was one more Brambling and two more Short-eared Owls that appeared to come in off the sea somewhere between Cart Gap and Happisburgh.

Distant cropped shot of two Short-eared Owls, Happisburgh / Cart Gap, Norfolk - 16th October 2020

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