Sunday, 20 December 2015

November birding

November 2015

2 November 2015 Titchwell, Norfolk

A walk out to the sea stopping in the Island Hide where large numbers of waders and wildfowl were feeding or roosting out on the freshmarsh. There were two groups of sleeping Swans which turned out to be 12 Bewick's and 5 Whooper. The local Mute's seemed unimpressed by the presence of the Whoopers, chasing them around the pool with wings raised and necks arched. Golden Plovers, a few Ruff and numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot sat in the shallow shoals and large numbers of Teal, Wigeon and plenty of Pintail were feeding around the pool.

The local Mute Swan takes exception to the Whooper Swans
Sleeping group of Bewick's Swan
A few Red-breasted Merganser were on the sea. On the walk back a Jack Snipe was watched roosting beside a brackish pool over the counter wall, before it dropped down and began feeding in the pool with a Redshank. Three Spotted Redshank were watched on the brackish pools. As we walked back flocks of Pink-footed Geese were arriving off the sea building numbers for the winter.

Jack Snipe on the Saltmarsh

7 November 2015 - Cley, Norfolk

A Red Kite was circling over the woods behind Walsingham as we arrived early Saturday morning. After the rain cleared we headed out to Cley, via the brilliant Birdscapes Gallery. We parked at the East Bank and walked around the new reserve towards Salthouse, back along the beach and down the East Bank. A juvenile Peregrine was spooking all the birds over Pope's Marsh. As the rain stopped 6 Marsh Harriers circled up out of the reed bed. 2 Water Pipit were heard calling in flight, but didn't land in view. Loads of Teal, Wigeon, a Shoveler, and a single Tufted Duck were on the marsh.

A pre-roost of Gulls on Arnold's Marsh produced nothing odd, just numbers of Black-headed, a few Common, Herring, Lesser Black-back and Great Black-back. Curlews and Redshank, Dunlin and a few Black-tailed Godwit. Overhead a flock of Golden Plover flew west. As we walked back along the East Bank a few Bearded Tits were heard calling from the reed bed.

Stunning skies over the sea at Cley

8 November 2015 Titchwell, Norfolk

I decided to spend the morning at Titchwell, but delayed by departure due to thick fog. It turned out to be patchy along the coast with clear skies at Holkham and west of Brancaster. A Common Buzzard on sallows to west of the track and a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard was seen sitting low down on a woodpile. Four Marsh Harriers were hunting over fields and reedbed. 

At least 2 Bramblings were calling around the feeders, with plenty of Siskin and Goldfinch also heard. Thornham Pool produced 4 Water Pipit, though mainly distant views. There was no sign of the Jack Snipe in the cut reeds beside the footpath, or the Shore Lark along Thornham Point, though a male Snow Bunting flew over as I returned along the beach. A Greenshank flushed from mud and 150 Dark-bellied Brent's in the creek. 

Offshore a Black-necked Grebe was unusual and a female Long-tailed Duck was feeding in the surf. Also 4 Red-breasted Merganser, a Red-throated Diver and several Great-crested Grebe with the usual Gannets in the distance. A single Fieldfare struggled in off. Walking back 2 Spotted Redshank were watched in the usual spot on the brackish marsh. The freshmarsh produced loads of common ducks and the usual waders. 

I checked Thornham Pool again on the way back. 4 littoralis Rock Pipit and at least 4 Water Pipit plus a brief odd pied wagtail that should have grabbed my attention - an Amur was reported later. Regular flocks of Pinks flew noisily overhead. 

I saw that the Rough-legged Buzzard was still sitting on the back of the woodpile out of the strong southerly breeze so I turned right to Thornham and found somewhere to view  across the field that gave superb views of the bird. It sat for over an hour occasionally preening and wing stretching but resolutely sat on its perch with no real intent to hunt. Stunner.

13 November 2015 - Warham Greens

Arrived in North Norfolk late afternoon. I drove from a meeting in Luton and saw five Red Kites before on my journey, one as I left the hotel, 2 along the A505, one in the Brecks and 2 over the wood at Walsingham as I arrived at the cottage. With the evening drawing in we headed quickly over to Warham Greens for the harrier roost. Five Hen Harriers were great to see; 3 ringtail (including a young male) and 2 ghostly adult males, a hunting Sparrowhawk, a brief juv Peregrine and a Marsh Harrier. At least a dozen Little Egrets, Curlews, Starlings in small numbers going west and several flocks of Brent's were also seen out over the marsh. The strong cold wind made the visit less than pleasant and Mac quickly returned to the car for shelter.

14 November 2015 - Titchwell

My first bird of the day was a Barn Owl in the rough field opposite the cottage before I'd even opened the front door. A flock of Pink-footed Geese flew west in the distance and a second Barn Owl was hunting at Burnham Norton.

Titchwell was cold and windy. A super juvenile Merlin was sat on a post to the west of the track by the Visitor Centre. There was no sign of the Jack Snipe anywhere on the reserve, though 3 Spotted Redshank were still feeding in the tidal pool. On the freshmarsh typical ducks and waders included 3 Ruff, a few Avocet, Black-tailed Godwits, a big roost of Bar-tailed Godwits, 25 Dunlin and a couple of Knot. On the sea distant Common Scoters, 5 Red-breasted Merganser, a couple of GC grebe and 2 Guillemot and a Razorbill. Two Marsh Harrier were hunting over the reedbed. A few Meadow Pipit and a couple of Pied Wagtails but no Water Pipit in the rather breezy conditions. I drove the Choseley lanes finding 150 Pinks, a flock of 15 fieldfare and 3 Common Buzzard.

15 November 2015 - Cley

Another very windy day. We dropped into Cley after lunch at the White Horse in Blakeney, checking the Dark-bellied Brent Goose flock in the Eye Field. The adult Black Brant was picked out but only distant views and a couple of Marsh Harrier were hunting over the reserve. I had planned to visit Warham Greens at dusk for the harrier roost, but changed my mind at the last minute - bugger! A Pallid Harrier flew in just after I would have arrived.....

21 November 2015 - Sheringham, Norfolk

With a forecast for an unprecedented force 9-10 northerly gale blowing down the North Sea I couldn't resist a sea watch at Sheringham.I arrived early enough to bag a seat in the eastern most shelter with the locals, including James McCallum and Kevin Shepherd. A little later we were joined by Lee Evans.

The gale materialised and produced a superb and mixed passage of birds in very rough high seas and changeable weather, with occasional squally showers. Wildfowl were constantly moving west with skuas initially west and latterly east and other birds both ways. It was pretty hard to keep track with birds moving both ways along the beach, over the shelter, at at every range to the horizon. Sometimes the scope was ideal, often binoculars and occasionally naked eye. A constant movement and some really good birds and numbers. 

The highlight were the Goldeneye, and a couple of stonking drake Goosander, a close juvenile Long-tailed Skua, 4 Great-northern Diver, a Leach's Petrel, a dozen Poms, good numbers of Great Skua and at least 20 Little Auk. I managed to miss a couple of sightings of Grey Phalarope, seen by birders sat either side of me, but in the circumstances so did many in the shelter. The shelter proved protective even in direct northerlies, but my car fared much worse, somehow getting its windscreen smashed by flying debris in the road behind the cliffs.
  • Great skua - 200 
  • Pomarine skua - 12 (incl 1 spooned adult) 
  • Arctic Skua - 1 
  • Fulmar - 5 
  • Manx shearwater - 3 
  • Sooty shearwater - 3 
  • Kittiwake - 1,500 
  • Little gull - 50 
  • Guillemot - 250 
  • Razorbill - 3 
  • Little auk - 20 
  • Gannet - 500 
  • Great-northern Diver - 4 
  • Black-throated Diver - 1 
  • Red-throated Diver - 10 
  • Great-crested grebe - 6 
  • Red-necked grebe - 2 
  • Leach's Petrel - 1 
  • Mallard - 30 
  • Teal - 300 
  • Wigeon - 1,000 
  • Pintail - 100 
  • Shoveler - 5 
  • Common Scoter - 200 
  • Velvet Scoter - 4 
  • Eider - 5 ad 
  • Goosander - 2 drake 
  • Red-breasted Merganser - 5 
  • Goldeneye - 143 
  • Scaup - 2 fem 
  • Tufted Duck - 15 
  • Pochard - 1 
  • Starling - 50 in 
  • Snipe - 2 
  • Dunlin - 350 
  • Knot - 15 
  • Bar tailed Godwit - 6 
  • Lapwing - 4 
  • Grey plover - 10 
  • Golden plover - 12 
  • Curlew - 6 
  • Oystercatcher - 2 
  • Shelduck - 50 
  • Brent Goose - 300 
  • Pale-bellied Brent - 1 
  • Turnstone - 10

22 November 2015

After the thrilling seawatch I wanted a quieter day, so drove along the coast road to Snettisham before dawn. A Barn Owl on a roadside sign at burnham Norton and a woodcock that blasted across the road in front of my car were nice.

Arrived to a cold and crisp morning that turned sunny later. Initially quite still with the wind increasing to N 3. I walked south along the beach. There were vast areas of exposed mud covered with loads of Shelduck. The pits held about 7 Goldeneye and 3 Red-breasted Merganser among the Wigeon and Teal. A couple of Snipe dropped into the pools while overhead several flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare and countless flocks of several thousand Starling moved through. Occasional Redpolls were heard flying overhead.

At the southern end of the reserve I scanned the salt marsh seeing a Common Buzzard, 3 Marsh Harrier, a Merlin and a Kestrel, but unfortunately did not see the Pallid Harrier that was hunting behind me! Ouch. The guy who saw it was bouncing when he told me because of the amazing close up fly by. Bugger. He was unsure where it went, not helpful, but understandable in his excitement.

I waited for over an hour and then warmed up behind the hide. A male Hen Harrier quartered the salt marsh in the distance. Then from less than 5m from where I had earlier been stood the juvenile Pallid Harrier took flight? I ran closer to get a view but it had vanished again. It surely couldn't have gone far? I walked through the sueada along a path. Nothing. I stood quietly and waited. Still nothing. Suddenly as I turned around there it was flying across the path behind me. Some grabbed shots and some brief scope views as it flew away and over the bank. Awesome.

Juvenile Pallid Harrier - Snettisham

I raced to the bank but couldn't relocate it and despite waiting for another 45 minutes saw no further sign. I walked back stopping to check a flock of about 100 Golden Plover that flew off the fields to the mud. Nice views but nothing unexpected among them.

I headed back north to Thornham Harbour. As I set off along the sea wall a superb male Twite flew in, settled on the weeds and began singing. Out along the dunes I eventually found the three Shore Lark feeding in some low weeds. I checked the large full roost around the harbour entrance as the tide rose and scanned over the sea where a Long-tailed Duck flew west, a few Guillemot, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and several Common Scoter. Two juv Gannet went east along the beach. I wandered back as the clouds darkened seeing 2 Stonechat along the wall and checking the gulls one last time. A splendid day.

Male Twite - Thornham Harbour
Adult Shore Lark - Thornham Harbour
Three Shore Larks at Thornham Harbour
A storm arrives of the sea over Thornham

Back at the car park just in time
The rain arrived as I drove back through Hunstanton creating a number of dramatic rainbows, that followed me south on my journey home.

Blakeney Seals

13 December 2015

Blakeney Point, Norfolk

We arrived in the Cley beach car park at dawn and set off up the 3 miles of shingle on a beautifully still, calm morning. Our objective was to see some of the Grey Seal colony that inhabits the Point. About halfway out we encountered the first large beached bull Seal, which allowed surprisingly close approach, barely lifting its huge head to acknowledge our presence. Further along flat trails in the shingle showed where others had hauled out or crossed the path. 

As we reached the grassy ridges the first female and small pups were found. The females were very protective, moving themselves between us and their fluffy white offspring. However at three weeks old the pups are left to moult, surviving of the huge amount of blubber they develop in that short space of time (they more than triple their body weight in that time). These proved perfect photographic subjects and with the soft morning light we enjoyed the next hour or so in the company of these fantastic animals, watching all the activity on the edge of the colony. 

Over 2,500 pups have been born this season, and they arrive over a protracted period with everything from new borns to heavily moulted more mature juveniles seen. The bulls were becoming more territorial with the odd bloody fight breaking out around the females, which come into season soon after giving birth.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The whole Autumn in two days

October 2015

The weekend of 27/28 September was spent on the Norfolk coast. The weather was not ideal for bird arrivals, but it was late September and the still conditions and sunshine made birding very pleasant. I worked the hedgerows and field edges around Warham Greens. The lanes held the usual small flocks of Tits, mainly Long-tailed and Blue with the occasional Coal and a few Goldcrests mixed in. On 26th I found a Pied Flycatcher along Garden Drove, which eventually showed quite well. The following day a few Chiffchaffs were feeding along the second droveway with a few Blackcap. As I reached Garden Drove I found a Pied Flycatcher in the small wood, showing much better, but presumably the same bird. However on close inspection of the photos it proved to be a different bird - just shows you shouldn't always make the obvious assumption.

Blue Tit - Warham Greens
Chiffchaff - Warham Greens

Chiffchaff - Warham Greens
Long-tailed Tit - Warham Greens
The first Pied Flycatcher at Warham on 27th
Eventually got a better view
And the evidence of the wing pattern/age that proves it a different bird
The second Pied Flycatcher seen on 28th at Warham - note the lack of a primary covert flash on this juvenile
This bird showed much better
I spent the 10th October birding in NE Kent with Gary Howard, who I hadn't been birding with since we were in China back in May. We started the day at Chamber's Wall near Reculver birding the hedges and fields along the track, across the railway and on to the sea wall. A Brambling flew over the fishermen's car park and a Kingfisher showed well along the ditch. Migrants were thin on the ground as we worked the scrub, finding a few Goldcrests and the odd Chiffchaff. A few Meadow Pipit and six Stonechat were seen along the track and three Golden Plover were hiding in the field. Surprisingly in the few bushes along the concrete sea wall we found 5 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap, suggesting a few birds had arrived overnight. A couple of Bearded Tit were feeding in the reeds, possibly migrants?

Spurred on I decided to kick through the wet grass and reeds along the ditch back to the railway. A ticking bunting call caused me to stall and kick back through one section, but to no avail. As I turned to continue down the ditch an acrocephalus warbler flicked out of the grass. I pished to attract it into view and sure enough it appeared allowing some brief but good views. Unfortunately I was unprepared and the camera was tucked safely in my ruck sack - damn. I was pretty sure it was just a late Reed Warbler and not one of the rarer plain acros that I might have dreamed about finding. However some photos would prove it for sure, so I grabbed the camera and moved to a better position before pishing again. Thankfully it responded again and I fired off a few images. It was indeed a Reed Warbler.

Reed Warbler
It performed perfectly showing its wings beautifully in the sunshine

The return walk was pretty uneventful. We moved on to Reculver checking a rather windy West Brook where a Peregrine flew across the otherwise quiet valley. We went to the Towers and scanned out to sea from the car park. A flock of 8 Little Gull flew west and 4 Great Skuas went east, so we walked up to the Towers where I was delighted to find Micky Baldock and Colin Osborne - two of the Reculver regulars when I used to spend more time here. A couple of high Little Gull came in and headed inland, but otherwise little moved over the next hour. Gary and I walked around the edge of the caravan park where the owners seem to have destroyed much of the habitat and filled it with rubbish - very sad. We walked right around the edge seeing a few Chiffchaffs in the hedge but nothing much else. 

The following weekend back in Norfolk we had a walk at Holkham from Lady Anne's Drive westwards towards the dunes at Burnham Overy. It felt like Yellow-browed Warblers were everywhere, their distinctive calls coming from every suitable patch of scrub and bushes. We saw at least six along the path getting good views of most, among good numbers of Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. With the first flocks of Pink-footed Geese appearing on the marshes autumn was properly underway.

Burnham Overy Dunes
Two more Yellow-browed Warblers were seen in the campsite wood at Stiffkey, feeding in the sunshine on the southern side of the narrow strip of sycamores. An early morning visit to Warham Greens produced yet another Yellow-browed Warbler among a small Tit flock near the concrete pad. My first Redwings of the autumn flew inland and regular flocks of Starlings moved west almost continually.

Yellow-browed Warbler - Stiffkey Campsite Wood

Mid-month the wind turned properly into the east with its source extending right across eastern Europe and beyond. Almost immediately rarities started to arrive and the North Norfolk coast started to concentrate rarities. As the wet weather persisted arrivals largely stayed put with new birds joining them at key sites. Wells and Holkham Woods proved highly attractive and by the weekend of 17/18 October were literally full of scarce and rare eastern migrants, and many hundreds of birders.

I arrived at Wells Woods just before dawn and walked in prepared for a full day of birding. A second Red-flanked Bluetail (the other at the Holkham end all week) had been found by the drinking pool late on Friday and despite having now seen quite a few in Britain and abroad since my first (with most other British birders) at Winspit Valley back in 1993, I grew up with this as an almost mythical mega bird, they are rather stunning, and I just can't resist them. I went straight to the drinking pool, with flocks of Redwing, Brambling and Goldcrests all around. A group of Fieldfare flew noisily out of the woods. 

I arrived at the pool and instantly the Bluetail was calling. It wasn't long before a small group of birders on the far side of the hollow got on it and soon it flicked into view. Making its way around the edge of the gulley it gave superb views in the early morning half light, pausing on suitable perches and flicking its beautiful blue tail.

Red-flanked Bluetail - Wells Woods

As the crowd started to build I walked back to the main path where the Hume's Warbler was showing well as it fed and occasionally called in some brambles. I had decided to try the Blyth's Reed Warbler after the crowd died down assuming it will have been kicked around first thing. I walked back towards the car park and arrived just after the skulking warbler had shown to the assembled hoard. Almost everyone, having got views after a long wait, had left a few of us to peer aimlessly into a patch of brambles. I stood around for an hour and a half without so much as a 'take', and eventually decided to head back to meet Mac for some lunch. A smart Kingfisher was feeding under the large Leylandii by the car park lake.

After lunch Mac and I walked west from Lady Anne's drive. We arrived at the Washington Hide to be told the Isabelline Shrike was distant and had dropped out of view. With viewing difficult on the ramp we sat in the hide. Suddenly the Shrike appeared on a nearby hawthorn and after some good scope views it flew to the near edge of the woods where it showed brilliantly feeding from small hawthorns and sallows right beside the trail. Great views were had and a few dig scoped shots obtained. 

Isabelline Shrike - Holkham

I was tempted to walk on to look for the other Bluetail, but we decided to head back to the car and have another look around the Wells Woods end, where the Bluetail was much easier and maybe the Blyth's Reed Warbler might hopefully show towards dusk. As we walked back to Lady Anne's drive I found a cracking Siberian Chiffchaff feeding low down among a small tit flock.

We spent another fruitless hour looking at blackberry bushes where the Blyth's had apparently just vanished again, feet away from where I had stood this morning. There was no sign of the Bluetail at the pool so we walked back down the trail for the Hume's Warbler which gave brief views beside the path.

We walked back to the drinking pool to find there had been no sign of the bird for over an hour and a half. However news came through of it being seen 250m west of the pool in the woods. Not exactly precise but we decided to have a wander. Fortunately after about ten minutes of fruitless meandering we came across a birder on his mobile. Suddenly his mate appeared and they set off determinedly as if they knew something. I decided to follow and sure enough they led us to a small group and the Bluetail.

We watched it feeding and flicking around, quite mobile for 30 minutes, at times struggling to stay with it. It vanished into a thick holly bush and hadn't reappeared after ten minutes so we started back to the car. As we walked the Bluetail flew right past but again disappeared with a small crowd in hot pursuit off to our right. I decided not to chase it further and turned back towards the main track. A birder came racing towards us, looking desperate and asking if we knew where the bird was. We pointed towards where it had vanished, he set off and we continued down the path. Within three paces a bird flicked onto a small stump to my left and I raised my binoculars to see - the Bluetail! No idea how it got there, bit fortunately I was able to call the other birder back in time for him to get a view. 

We followed it down the valley getting some super views until it had almost returned to the drinking pool. As we watched it feeding under some scrub loud footsteps racing up behind me caused me to turn to see a young birder with his dad trailing somewhere behind. Fortunately as he arrived I managed to slow him down and got him his first ever look at this Siberian stunner. The smile on his face and look of relief was fantastic and brought back some great memories of some of my first sightings.

The bird flicked away and back towards the drinking pool where after a few minutes it reappeared - just as Gary Howard arrived. We headed away towards the car having enjoyed some very special moments alone with a stunning bird despite the crowds of birders present all day - definitely todays real highlight. We stopped briefly in the Dell area where the Blyth's Reed had been seen but there was no sight nor sound, and we called it a (wonderful) day.

I was up early on 18th and headed straight back to Wells Woods. The weather was perfect for keeping birds grounded but consequently there was nothing new arriving. This at least meant I could focus on looking for some of the birds I missed yesterday. Learning from yesterday I decided to start with the Blyth's Reed Warbler. I stood in the clearing where it had been seen yesterday. 

Three Common Crossbills flew over calling loudly and several Bramblings wheezed overhead. A flock of 30 Redwing burst loudly from the woods as the first dog walkers arrived. A few other birders joined me, but gave up quite quickly, doubtless tempted by news filtering through of some of the other birds being seen. I moved into the brambles having thought I'd heard a 'tek' call. After about 15 minutes I realised everyone else had gone?  I moved toward the Dell area and found the crowd on the other side of the bushes I'd been watching. A sudden rush as the crowd moved into the wood suggested someone had seen it, so I quickly followed. 

Sure enough a birder had been watching it feeding just over a ridge - game on!  As people gathered in the area he had seen it I moved back along the path. A distinct double 'tek' came from dense cover below me followed by a beckoning whistle. As I arrived it dropped into the bramble - getting closer. After a few frantic minutes as it flicked, 'tekked' and showed in different positions around the bush it started to move into the nearest cover.  Keeping on the movement the bird thankfully hopped up and finally into full view. After a couple of brief but good views it vanished again. 

I waited for some time with no further sound and walked out into the clearing towards the path. As I made my way around the edge of the clearing that distinctive 'tek' call came from some large and quite open willows. I found a path into the bushes and found two other birders quietly watching the warbler. Over the next ten minutes it gave really good views as it fed in the willows, sometimes quite high up. Eventually it flicked into thicker cover and the crowd caught on - time to leave. I went back through the clearing and along the path. As I walked past the drinking pool the distinct sound of camera shutters made me stop briefly for more views of the Red-flanked Bluetail, despite yesterdays views I still can't walk past one!

I then walked further down the path where a small crowd was gathered. Instantly the Hume's Warbler started calling and within minutes giving good views. Just before I arrived the group had seen a Pallas' Warbler and a Yellow-browed Warbler in the same area so I waited patiently.  It was hard to keep track in both directions along the path. One sudden gathering gave more views of the Hume's, before I finally clapped eyes on the Pallas' which gave stunning views along the edge of the path. A Yellow-browed was heard calling but not seen.

Pallas' Warbler - Wells Woods

Delighted with my morning I headed back to the car and home for some lunch with Mac. Afterwards we decided to drive down the coast to Weybourne and Sheringham. As we passed Salthouse I caught sight of a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard on a post beside the road. It was in a very dangerous (to view) area right on a blind bend. I turned around and parked but it was too difficult to view and I couldn't stop on the road. Frustrated we carried on to Muckleburgh Hill, Weybourne. As we got out of the car a Yellow-browed Warbler called from a roadside garden. We crossed and walked down the path to an isolated oak tree in some cut brambles, surrounded by birders. The Olive-backed Pipit had flown into the tree and vanished. After 20 minutes someone spotted it fly down into the woodland behind us where we got some superb views as it fed in the leaf litter.

Olive-backed Pipit - Muckleburgh Hill

As the bird vanished into the deeper woodland we returned to the car and drove further east to Beeston Common where the very pale Isabelline Shrike showed well and a roosting Long-eared Owl sat motionless in a high sycamore tree having arrived off the sea earlier in the day.

Isabelline Shrike - Beeston Common

Long-eared Owl - Beeston Common
In the evening we walked from Morston to Stiffkey Fen seeing a Short-eared Owl over the marsh and thousands of Pink-footed Geese flying out to the mudflats to roost. Mainland birding really doesn't get much better than this weekend! Two Isabelline Shrikes, Red-flanked Bluetail, Blyth's Reed, Hume's, Pallas' and Yellow-browed Warblers, Siberian Chiffchaff, Olive-backed Pipit, Long-eared, Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged Buzzard plus loads of common migrants - simply outstanding.

Pink-footed Geese flocking out to roost
An early morning walk at Warham on 24th produced nice views of a Merlin sat in a stubble field. Despite much effort I found nothing unusual in the quarries or the hedgerows, but always a lovely walk.

Merlin - Warham Greens

Warham Greens
I returned to Warham on 31 October walking the droves and along the coastal path. Blackbirds were around in numbers. A few song thrush, a Mistle Thrush and a couple of Redwing along the coastal strip.  Lots of Reed Bunting around the western quarry and a pair of Stonechat.  A marsh harrier and two Hen Harriers were hunting out over the saltings (adult male and a ringtail). Brent Geese, Curlew, Lapwing were roosting out on the salt marsh over high tide with lots of Little Egrets feeding in the pools. Starlings, a real feature of this autumn, continued to move west in flocks over the marsh, the fields and even inland at Walsingham.

The hedges held a few Goldcrests, Long-tailed Tits and Blue/Great Tit. A couple of Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and 2 Sparrowhawk. Dunnocks and Robins were plentiful and in the stubble Skylark numbers were building.

A walk through the fields near Walsingham, along a quiet spring, produced about 10 Yellowhammer, Siskin, Golfinch and Linnet plus a few Reed Bunting in the hedges.  A daytime hunting Barn Owl, a couple of Common Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel. A Curlew called loudly as it flew over. The highlight came as I walked back up the hill towards the village when a superb ringtail female Hen Harrier flew across my path and away over the fields.