Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Indian Summer's Day in Norfolk - 17th October 2016

I seem to have been making up for time with my late autumn birding and this has thrown my own blog into a bit of chronological confusion as I have not yet had time to put together either September Lesvos or the Shetland adventure but I am sure I will get there soon...

Anyway, yesterday saw me getting up nice and early once again and heading off to Norfolk in the hope of another fine session of autumnal birding. Warham was our first stop and the next couple of hours were spent ambling up and down Cottage Drove and associated hedgelines in the search of yesterdays Radde’s Warbler. It was a fine clear morning and I was not overly surprised that it had moved on.

It was a seriously high tide looking out to East Hills

It was not a wasted effort though with great views of a Siberian Chiffchaff amongst several Commons and Goldcrest along with at least ten Bramblings in the fields with Chaffinches, Linnets, Green and Goldfinches. The odd redpoll and Siskin headed over and the Suada held many Reed Buntings, two Yellowhammer and numerous Robins and Dunnocks.  Small numbers of the usual thrushes (bar Ouzel) were seen and a Rock and Meadow Pipits commuted from the seriously flooded saltmarsh to the fields beyond.

A fine male Brambling

The expected suite of waders were encountered and a couple of Marsh Harriers quartered the expanse looking for easy pickings while a young Peregrine rather ambitiously had a poke at three Curlew before turnings its attentions rather pathetically onto a flock of splash diving Teal. Brant Geese were scattered across the vista and Pinks and Greylags drifted through.

Back in the hedge there was still not Radde’s but the flowering Ivy was covered in insects where it fell in the warm sunshine. Red Admirals and Peacocks supped along with countless flies including several Mesembrina meridian and six species of hoverfly with my first (if somewhat late) Xylota segnis of the year, Helophilus pendulus, Eristalis tenax and pertinax, Syrphus ribesii and Eupeodes luniger (TF943436).

Red Admiral

German Wasp

News of the Olive Backed Pipit still at Wells Wood sent us all that way and after stumping up £6 per car we hit the beach to ensure we found the correct spot in the woods. The beach was really busy and it was starting to feel more like a Bank Holiday Monday that a quiet autumn day on the coast!

The Beach Walk - Denis Tuck

The next couple of hours was somewhat frustrating as we spread out to search for the skulky pipits and unfortunately the only person in the whole wood to connect in that time was me... not once but three times and with two birds on the last occasion. My first encounter was the best and I managed a quick shot before it dropped back out of view. My party was fortunately rather understanding and were not overly distressed when I called a halt for lunch.

Olive Backed Pipit

The car park was now practically full and so after a spot of lunch we headed west for Titchwell which was equally bogging but with some degree of luck we all found spaces to squeeze into.

The rest of the day was actually very pleasant as we ambled down through the throng towards the beach and back. The freshmarsh was a carpet of birds with a spangly carpet of Golden Plovers, about 100 assorted mystery wader Ruffs, two each of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper and the usual Godwits, Avocets and a swathe of still largely brown duck.  Two Jack Snipe did a superb job at lurking in the short Sea Aster with a single Common for company and Beardies pinged around us.

Golden Plover


Curlew Sandpiper

Black-tailed Godwit

Stupidly obliging Teal

Four Spoonbills dozed over the back and Marsh Harriers were playing in the increasing breeze. Down on the sea we had to walk all the way to the mussel beds to get a good view of the sea but the light was great and the views we gained of two spot faced female Velvet Scoters along with three Commons, 11 Mergansers and singles of Great Crested Grebe and Red-throated Diver was worth the extra footwork and it also allowed us to get closer to the feeding Knots, Sanderling, Oystercatchers and Bar-wits. 

You could see the Big Dipper at Skegness in the distance and the scale of the beach at low tide here is just epic.

Jurgen headed back to the car as he was in need of a kip and coffee and so we hit the Fen Trail in light shower and immediately connected with a calling Yellow-browed Warbler that I was very pleased to then locate in the willows where it performed pretty well for the group.  


Further on three bouffant headed male Red-crested Pochards were loafing around and Water Rail found its way onto the list. The Spoonbills had moved on precluding closer views but the images of the skeletal trees against the setting sun were worth the walk. Brambling and Marsh Harriers circled before dropping into their respective roosts and a Barn Owl quartered the horse paddocks and rounded up and a well salvaged day.

A fine Bloody Nosed Beetle

Red-crested Pochards - like they have just stepped out of a salon

There was a one slight twist left for us to work around... Jurgen and his car were no longer in the car park as he had inexplicably left us behind thinking that we had done the same to him while he slept. Thankfully Pat had room to squeeze Denis and Pete into his and they still got to partake of the glories of a £6.95 Special at Mother Hubbards in swaffham on the way home...

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