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April 2009

 

Thursday 30th April

Still no interesting birds to report but the Waved Umber hasn't flown away yet:

Waved Umber, Bawdeswell, 30-Apr-09  

Waved Umber, Bawdeswell, 30th April 2009

 

Wednesday 29th April

Tonight's moths included this Common Pug - at least I think that's what it is but my Pug identification skills are still woeful.

Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 29-Apr-09  

Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 29th April 2009

 

Tuesday 28th April

I won't bother posting any photos as my DSLR without a macro lens can't do them justice, but tonight's moths were a very nice Waved Umber, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet and Brimstone Moth.

 

Monday 27th April

Went to Swanton Morley after work in the hope of finding a Whiskered Tern as there have been huge flocks of them all over the country (ok, I know that's a slight exaggeration). No such luck although new birds for the year (none particularly early) included Turtle Dove, Garden Warbler and Swift. Also Cuckoo and good numbers of hirundines.

 

Sunday 26th April

At least 3 Nightingales were audible from one spot on Salthouse Heath this morning but a quick wander down the East Bank didn't produce many migrants, though maybe if I hadn't been so completely cream crackered from the long day yesterday I might have noticed something! Dave found a Ring Ouzel at Blakeney where the Snow Goose remained, but after this I called it a day and went home.

Marsh Harrier, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09 Marsh Harrier, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09
Marsh Harrier, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09 Marsh Harrier, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09
Marsh Harrier, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09 Marsh Harrier, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09

Marsh Harrier, Blakeney, 26th April 2009

 

Ring Ouzel, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09 Stock Dove, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09

Ring Ouzel (left) and Stock Dove (right), Blakeney, 26th April 2009

 

Sedge Warbler, Cley, 26-Apr-09 Wheatear, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09

Sedge Warbler, Cley (left) and Wheatear, Blakeney (right), 26th April 2009

 

larva, Blakeney, 26-Apr-09 Yellow-barred Brindle, Bawdeswell, 26-Apr-09

Larva, Blakeney (left) and Yellow-barred Brindle, Bawdeswell (right), 26th April 2009 - anyone know what the caterpillar is? Photographing the moths is hard work without the Coolpix!

 

Saturday 25th April

With south-easterly airflow and some rain promised for the afternoon we had high expectations for migrants today and we arrived in the Broads at first light with the hope of finding a Savi's Warbler reeling somewhere. A few Grasshopper Warblers were heard (one seen) but nothing that sounded like Savi's. Waders at Rushill Scrape included 6 Bar-tailed Godwits and 7 Greenshank. Stopping at Horsey Mere was a mistake, partly because there were no birds there apart from a couple of Common Sandpipers and a Cuckoo but mainly because I dropped and smashed my digiscoping camera when I got out of the car. What was already looking like a disappointing day suddenly took a turn for the worse.

Martham Broad was equally uninspiring with little of remark apart from Bar-tailed Godwit and a booming Bittern. We would have probably headed to the coastal path next anyway, but news of a Red-rumped Swallow flying south a little earlier made our minds up. We knew we would be too late for that of course but if birds were on the move perhaps we would find something else, or even a second Red-rump. A light southerly passage of Swallows was still in force, with a few Sand Martins and things moving too, but there weren't the numbers to make it feel like we were in with an especially good chance of finding something better. Still, we looked long and hard, here and at Waxham, but to no avail.

At Sea Palling we stopped at the sheep fields to see the flock of 10+ Yellow Wagtails and the fine male Blue-headed Wagtail that was accompanying them. After almost 12 hours of effort, a not-self-found Blue-headed Wagtail was the best, no, the only notable bird of the day! All on a day where we had high hopes and moderate expectations. And I'd broken my camera into the bargain - things were not feeling good!

Then a message came through on the pager reporting a probable Black-headed Wagtail at Titchwell, and we were still in the east of the county. I love the various races of Yellow Wagtail and this is one that has eluded me so far, plus it's sometimes treated as a separate species, so it was a bird I was very keen to see - would it wait for us to get over there? A little while later we were at Titchwell and the day suddenly got a whole lot better for the Black-headed Wagtail was still showing well. The only downer was that without my Coolpix I had to settle for photos using my DSLR, for which it was really too far away - I'd have been able to get some cracking shots digiscoping. Anyway, can't grumble about a bird like this, stunning, educational and rare, and my first.

Having had our fill of this little gem we set off for home but a few miles down the road another pager message forced an abrupt turn and we sped up to the windmill at Cley. Our quarry was flying around and then obligingly perched on a TV aerial - a fantastic Red-rumped Swallow. The last one I saw in Norfolk was 15 years ago (also at Cley). Again it was frustrating not to be able to digiscope it, but at least we enjoyed seeing it!

Finally as we drove along the coast road past Cley Dave noticed a Spoonbill feeding in the pools next to the road just east of Walsey Hills. Presumably the bird that had been seen at Cley the day before but we weren't aware that it was still around so this was a nice surprise to end a long day with.

Black-headed Wagtail, Titchwell, 25-Apr-09 Black-headed Wagtail, Titchwell, 25-Apr-09
Black-headed Wagtail, Titchwell, 25-Apr-09 Black-headed Wagtail, Titchwell, 25-Apr-09
Black-headed Wagtail, Titchwell, 25-Apr-09 Black-headed Wagtail, Titchwell, 25-Apr-09

Black-headed Wagtail, Titchwell, 25th April 2009

 

Red-rumped Swallow, Cley, 25-Apr-09 Red-rumped Swallow, Cley, 25-Apr-09
Red-rumped Swallow, Cley, 25-Apr-09 Red-rumped Swallow, Cley, 25-Apr-09
Red-rumped Swallow, Cley, 25-Apr-09 Spoonbill, Cley, 25-Apr-09

Red-rumped Swallow and Spoonbill, Cley, 25th April 2009

 

Stonechat, Waxham, 25-Apr-09 Stonechat, Waxham, 25-Apr-09
Stonechat, Waxham, 25-Apr-09 Stonechat, Waxham, 25-Apr-09

Stonechat, Waxham, 25th April 2009 - I thought black underwing-coverts were supposed to be diagnostic for Siberian Stonechat but presumably not as this very un-Siberian Stonechat seems to have them... maybe they have to be more solidly black?

 

Greylag Goose, Martham Broad, 25-Apr-09 Greylag Goose, Martham Broad, 25-Apr-09

Greylag Goose, Martham Broad, 25th April 2009 - showing a dark tip to the bill and dark along the cutting edge of the mandibles, which is not typical of Greylag. These may be indicators of another species in its ancestry, probably domestic Swan Goose, but it doesn't appear to be a first-generation hybrid and I am not sure if these features could ever appear on a 100% pure Greylag Goose.

 

Friday 24th April

A quick dash round Swanton Morley before work produced a good selection of common birds plus two more unusual species for the valley - Wheatear (2 at the Billingford end) and Whimbrel (flock of about 7 flew over). Bintree Mill held Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Snipe - look forward to finding a Black-winged Stilt there before it completely dries up...

Bullfinch, Swanton Morley, 24-Apr-09 Blue Tit, Swanton Morley, 24-Apr-09

Bullfinch (left) and Blue Tit (right), Swanton Morley, 24 April 2009

 

Hebrew Character, Bawdeswell, 24-Apr-09 Whitethroat, Swanton Morley, 24-Apr-09

Hebrew Character, Bawdeswell (left) and Whitethroat, Swanton Morley (right), 24 April 2009

 

Common Pug, Bawdeswell, 23-Apr-09  

Common Pug?, Bawdeswell, 23rd April 2009

 

Thursday 23rd April

Two Little Ringed Plovers were much less interesting than this duck at Bintree Mill...

intersex Mallard, Bintree Mill, 23-Apr-09 intersex Mallard, Bintree Mill, 23-Apr-09
intersex Mallard, Bintree Mill, 23-Apr-09 intersex Mallard, Bintree Mill, 23-Apr-09

Probable intersex Mallard, Bintree Mill (Norfolk, UK), 23rd April 2009

Update: In the field I'd got the impression this had quite a long and slender bill with a reddish tip, which had recalled female Red-crested Pochard, and I'd therefore tentatively identified it as a Mallard x Red-crested Pochard hybrid. However there really wasn't anything other than the bill to suggest Red-crested Pochard, or indeed any other species apart from Mallard, and the photos don't really back up my impression of the bill shape and colour. The other possibility was intersex Mallard, something I've seen a lot in photos but never in life.

In my haste I'd plumped for the hybrid option but this was quickly challenged by several competent birders including some with great expertise in hybrid wildfowl. They believe, and I now agree, that this is much more likely to be an intersex Mallard.

 

Wednesday 22nd April

It's not just the birds that are early... According to the book these are on the wing from May to June:

Least Black Arches, Bawdeswell, 22-Apr-09  

Least Black Arches, Bawdeswell, 22nd April 2009

 

Saturday 18th April

With cold northeasterlies today was never likely to be one to remember and, although it ended well, it mostly lived up to expectations. Sea watching is rarely exciting in Norfolk in spring so a Red-throated Diver and a small handful of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Razorbill/Guillemots were about as much as I could expect. A single Great Skua east at fairly close range was a nice surprise, a scarce bird in Norfolk in spring.

Cley produced two new birds for the year: a singing Reed Warbler and a Whimbrel. Bucking this spring's trend, the Whimbrel wasn't early but I've only once had an earlier Reed Warbler and not in Norfolk. Other migrants at Cley included Little Ringed Plover and Wheatear. Stops at Salthouse Heath and Blakeney failed to add much else, but nearly everywhere I went today there were Lesser Whitethroats singing.

For the third time in as many months, news of a Kumlien's Gull had me setting off to Blackborough End. Although not a valid species, and perhaps not even a valid subspecies, these North American "Iceland" Gulls are interesting birds that I'd like to see more often. But today there was nobody else looking for it and it wasn't third time lucky. There's only so much time you can spend alone at a rubbish dump, especially when you can't find any remotely unusual birds there (although there were lots of gulls on view), so after an hour or two I gave up and headed down to Welney.

Welney's a great place in many ways but there's so much about it that bugs me. Top of the list is the fact that you can't get in before 10 and you have to leave by 5. The best time to visit a bird reserve is before 10 and the second best time is the evening. The worst time is between 10 and 5. Secondly you have to take out a small mortgage to visit unless you're a member. I am a member, and it costs nearly 40% more than either the RSPB or Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Thirdly the information is pants. In the good old days when John Kemp was there interesting and unusual birds were regularly found and news put out on the information services, and there were always staff on hand who knew exactly where things were. I don't know who wardens there now or whether he or she is a competent birder, but not much news comes out and I suspect that what does come out is reported by visiting birders. Consequently the staff present don't know what's about - for example they didn't have any recent news about the Garganey that were reported as still present on the pager this morning. In the past the place was always buzzing with visitors. The main observatory was usually full and the other hides often busy as well. The last few times there's been hardly anyone else on the reserve and the hides have been empty.

Having said that, the number of birds in front of Lyle Hide was extraordinary, with numbers of Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit especially remarkable. The enjoyment was tainted by the sense of rush, knowing that I only had an hour or so to watch them, or less if I couldn't find the Garganey and wanted to try for them from another hide. I couldn't find the Garganey, but then again they're are always elusive during the day - I'm sure that if I'd been allowed to stay there an hour or two longer I'd have found them. I might change my mind but I don't think I'll renew my WWT membership this year.

On the way home I stopped at Pentney where there were 3 Little Ringed Plovers and over 100 Sand Martins, but not much else. Fortunately I was near enough to Wereham when I received news of today's most interesting bird to be able to get there before dark. Among a small flock of Golden Plover (themselves very attractive in summer plumage) was a Dotterel. It was sexed as a male, but I'm never sure if spring migrants are safely sexed, especially early ones like this as they've not yet attained full breeding plumage. Anyway, very grateful for the opportunity to end an otherwise unremarkable day in such a fine manner.

Dotterel, Wereham, 18-Apr-09 Dotterel, Wereham, 18-Apr-09

Dotterel, Wereham (Norfolk, UK), 18th April 2009

 

Reed Bunting, Welney, 18-Apr-09 Ruff, Welney, 18-Apr-09

Reed Bunting (left) and Ruff (right), Welney, 18th April 2009

 

Black-tailed Godwits, Cley, 18-Apr-09 Whimbrel, Cley, 18-Apr-09

Black-tailed Godwits (left) and Whimbrel (right), Cley, 18th April 2009

 

Marsh Harrier, Welney, 18-Apr-09 Marsh Harrier, Welney, 18-Apr-09

Marsh Harrier, Welney, 18th April 2009

 

Black-tailed Godwit, Welney, 18-Apr-09 Black-tailed Godwit, Welney, 18-Apr-09
Black-tailed Godwit, Welney, 18-Apr-09 Black-tailed Godwit, Welney, 18-Apr-09
Black-tailed Godwit, Welney, 18-Apr-09 Black-tailed Godwit, Welney, 18-Apr-09
Black-tailed Godwit, Welney, 18-Apr-09  

Black-tailed Godwits, Welney, 18th April 2009 - if you look closely there are a few other species in here, but so far I've not found any Hudsonian Godwits

 

Mistle Thrush, Blakeney, 18-Apr-09 Mistle Thrush, Blakeney, 18-Apr-09

Mistle Thrush, Blakeney, 18th April 2009

 

Swallow, Welney, 18-Apr-09 Swallow, Welney, 18-Apr-09

Swallows, Welney, 18th April 2009

 

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blackborough End, 18-Apr-09 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blackborough End, 18-Apr-09

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blackborough End, 18th April 2009

 

 

Thursday 16th April

I've been known to answer the "What's your favourite bird?" question with Lesser Whitethroat, so nice for one to become my 200th (BOU) species in Norfolk this year. There have been several of these reported for a few days now and yet, once again, this was my earliest ever by the best part of a week (excluding a wintering bird in Cornwall). The last few springs I've perhaps been slightly less active than in the past, and this year it's really hitting home to me how much earlier things are arriving compared to the good old days before global warming took a grip.

Lesser Whitethroat, Thornham, 16-Apr-09 Lesser Whitethroat, Thornham, 16-Apr-09

Lesser Whitethroat, Thornham, 16th April 2009

 

Monday 13th April

Started off by walking south from Horsey Gap where we hadn't intended to spend long looking for migrants before heading into the Broads. Six hours later we returned to the car having walked all the way to Winterton and back via East Somerton. After a singing Grasshopper Warbler near the car park it was slow-going with just a trickle of migrants moving through and only a handful of grounded birds present. A male Ring Ouzel in the North Dunes flew to the top of some Marrams from where I'm pretty sure we heard it singing briefly. A second male Ring Ouzel appeared near the substation and then we saw presumably the same bird nearby in the Low Road paddocks.

Leaving Horsey we saw a Peregrine and 5 Cranes. Our intended next stop at Rushill Scrape was aborted when we bumped into someone leaving there who informed us that there was nothing of interest on show. Instead we headed up to Barton Broad where we immediately located a summer plumaged adult Little Gull among the Common Terns. An Arctic Tern was more of a surprise and 2 Redpolls appeared briefly but didn't allow time for a specific ID. Another early singing Whitethroat was also present between the Broad and the carpark.

By this time the bank holiday crowds were everywhere and we were struggling to come up with a sensible idea as to what to do next. News from the opposite end of the county settled this though and we were soon at Holme watching two distant small blobs on the sea (fortunately very calm). The tide was out, further out than I ever remember seeing it there, and we had to get right down to the beach before I could be completely sure we were watching the pair of summer plumaged Slavonian Grebes that an hour or so earlier had apparently been "showing well". Not a bird I would normally twitch, but they've been decidedly scarce this winter and, well, when you're year-listing you have to chase a few birds you wouldn't normally!

Finally a desperate attempt to find some more migrants took us to Burnham Norton. A few Wheatears and Willow Warblers were clearly fresh in but it was generally slow here - the best bird being a very pale-looking Peregrine.

Finally on the way home after a long day the escaped Harris's Hawk was seen again and, unusually, a pair of Wigeon were at Bintree Mill. A few new birds for the year today but still one short of 200!

Ring Ouzel, Winterton, 13-Apr-09 Ring Ouzel, Winterton, 13-Apr-09
Ring Ouzel, Winterton, 13-Apr-09  

Ring Ouzels, Winterton, 13th April 2009

 

Little Gull, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09 Little Gull, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09
Little Gull, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09 Little Gull, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09
Little Gull, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09 Little Gull, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09

Little Gull, Barton Broad, 13th April 2009

 

Arctic Tern, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09 Arctic Tern, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09
Arctic Tern, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09 Arctic Tern, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09

Arctic Tern, Barton Broad, 13th April 2009

 

Commnon Tern, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09 Commnon Tern, Barton Broad, 13-Apr-09

Common Terns, Barton Broad, 13th April 2009

 

Stonechat, Horsey, 13-Apr-09 Green Woodpecker, Winterton, 13-Apr-09

Stonechat, Horsey (left) and Green Woodpecker, Winterton (right), 13th April 2009

 

Blackcap, Winterton, 13-Apr-09 Yellowhammer, Winterton, 13-Apr-09

Blackcap (left) and Yelllowhammer (right), Winterton, 13th April 2009

 

Peregrine, Burnham Norton, 13-Apr-09 Peregrine, Burnham Norton, 13-Apr-09

Peregrine, Burnham Norton, 13th April 2009

 

Slavonian Grebes, Holme, 13-Apr-09  

Slavonian Grebes, Holme, 13th April 2009 (not Common Scoters, honest...)

 

Easter Sunday, 12th April

A birding-free day and it doesn't sound like I missed much! A Garden Carpet was my first ever in spring though I usually see a few later in the year.

Garden Carpet, Bawdeswell, 12-Apr-09  

Garden Carpet, Bawdeswell, 12th April 2009

 

Saturday 11th April

Started the day looking for migrants at Snettisham Coastal Park. Nothing in the way of scarce and not all that much in the way of overhead migrants, but the place was drowning in Sedge Warblers and there were 5 Grasshopper Warblers reeling and 5 Wheatears at the Heacham end. A quick stop near the lighthouse at Old Hunstanton was remarkably productive - simultaneously on show, all from the same spot and within 100 yards or so, were male Redstart, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 White Wagtails, Blue-headed Wagtail, 10+ Yellow Wagtails and about 120 Meadow Pipits. The Redstart was yet another earliest record for me, and my first spring male for several years. Finding Blue-headed Wagtails among spring migrant Yellows is one of the things I most love about spring birding, so this was a very well-spent five minutes.

Titchwell failed to deliver any Garganeys, nor the Red-necked Grebes, but the pair of Red-crested Pochards were still there and Dave found a Black Brant. Other bits and pieces included 3 Spotted Redshanks, a Bittern heard booming and a lone White-fronted Goose. After this, and gladly much later than forecast, the rain set in and we decided to call it a day. On the way back we stopped at Guist where the escaped Harris's Hawk was showing.

Yellow Wagtail, Old Hunstanton, 11-Apr-09 Blue-headed Wagtail, Old Hunstanton, 11-Apr-09

Yellow Wagtail (left) and Blue-headed Wagtail (right), Old Hunstanton, 11th April 2009

 

Redstart, Old Hunstanton, 11-Apr-09 Redstart, Old Hunstanton, 11-Apr-09

Redstart, Old Hunstanton, 11th April 2009

 

Robin, Titchwell, 11-Apr-09 Black Redstart, Old Hunstanton, 11-Apr-09

Robin, Titchwell (left) and Black Redstart, Old Hunstanton (right), 11th April 2009

 

Eurasian White-fronted Goose, Titchwell, 11-Apr-09 Eurasian White-fronted Goose, Titchwell, 11-Apr-09
Eurasian White-fronted Goose, Titchwell, 11-Apr-09 Eurasian White-fronted Goose, Titchwell, 11-Apr-09

White-fronted Goose, Titchwell, 11th April 2009

 

Harris's Hawk, Guist, 11-Apr-09 Harris's Hawk, Guist, 11-Apr-09

escaped Harris's Hawk, Guist, 11th April 2009

 

Grasshopper Warbler, Snettisham, 11-Apr-09 Early Thorn, Bawdeswell, 11-Apr-09

Grasshopper Warbler, Snettisham Coastal Park (left) and Early Thorn, Bawdeswell (right), 11th April 2009

 

Friday 10th April

Between Horsey Gap and Waxham Pipe Dump there were loads of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs singing, whilst early migrants included a singing Whitethroat and a bird that looked like a Tree Pipit but didn't call. Reasonable numbers of finches moving through too (Linnets, Goldfinches and 21 Siskins) and the Cranes were heard calling.

At Breydon I quickly picked out the American Golden Plover that's been present since Monday. This has been subject to much discussion about its identity, with, until this evening, most observers sitting on the fence but favouring Pacific Golden Plover. For me I toed and froed between the two whilst watching it but I'm now fairly confident that my first impressions were right, this is an American Golden Plover. It's still being put out as a probable Pacific, although several others are now concurring with American. Also at Breydon, a Yellow-legged Gull and my first Sandwich Tern of the year (first of several today).

A number of stops at several east coast sites failed to produce anything terribly exciting but a failed attempt to find a Wryneck reported at Muckleborough Hill produced the Jackdaw which shows characteristics of the Scandinavian race monedula (Nordic Jackdaw) at Weybourne Camp. Will this suffer the same fate as the Glaucous Gull with its damaged wing? At Cley Dave got straight on to the Lapland Bunting which eventually showed reasonably well and there was also a White Wagtail here. Finally a quick look for a reported Nightingale nearby produced a good view of a singing Dartford Warbler.

American Golden Plover, Breydon Water, 10-Apr-09 American Golden Plover, Breydon Water, 10-Apr-09
American Golden Plover, Breydon Water, 10-Apr-09 American Golden Plover, Breydon Water, 10-Apr-09

American Golden Plover, Breydon Water, 10th April 2009 - more photos on my American Golden Plover page if you're interested (click here).

 

Yellow-legged Gull, Breydon Water, 10-Apr-09 Yellow-legged Gull, Breydon Water, 10-Apr-09

Yellow-legged Gull, Breydon Water, 10th April 2009

 

Nordic Jackdaw, Weybourne, 10-Apr-09 Nordic Jackdaw, Weybourne, 10-Apr-09

Nordic Jackdaw (race monedula), Weybourne, 10th April 2009

 

White Wagtail, Cley, 10-Apr-09 White Wagtail, Cley, 10-Apr-09

White Wagtail, Cley, 10th April 2009

 

Lapland Bunting, Cley, 10-Apr-09 Lapland Bunting, Cley, 10-Apr-09

Lapland Bunting, Cley, 10th April 2009

 

Tuesday 7th April

A Red Kite was circling low over the A149 as I drove through Sculthorpe this morning. At lunchtime 2 Wheatears and a Swallow were the best I could manage at Heacham and on the way home I saw 3 Little Egrets, 4 Marsh Harriers, 3 Sparrowhawks but still no Harris's Hawk (although I bumped into someone who'd seen it well just before I passed through).

Grey Partridge, Tatterford, 7-Apr-09 Grey Partridge, Tatterford, 7-Apr-09
Grey Partridge, Tatterford, 7-Apr-09 Grey Partridge, Tatterford, 7-Apr-09

Grey Partridges, Tatterford, 7th April 2009

 

Sparrowhawk, Guist, 7-Apr-09  

Sparrowhawk, Guist, 7th April 2009

 

Monday 6th April

While the rest of the county enjoyed Lesser Golden Plover, Bonaparte's Gull (ok, not, as it turned out), Garganeys and bucket loads of Little Gulls and other spring migrants, the best I could muster up was a nice male Hen Harrier during a short lunch break at Thornham. On the way home from work I stopped off at Swanton Morley, hoping to partake in some of the Little Gull action, but diddlysquat there apart from a hybrid goose - and even that was common.

Hen Harrier, Thornham, 6-Apr-09 Canada x Greylag Goose, Swanton Morley, 6-Apr-09

Hen Harrier, Thornham (left) and hybrid Canada Goose x Greylag Goose, Swanton Morley (right), 6th April 2009

 

Early Grey, Bawdeswell, 6-Apr-09  

Early Grey, Bawdeswell, 6th April 2009

 

Sunday 5th April

Started the morning looking for migrants between Holme and Heacham. Generally very few around, the few including a House Martin west, 4-5 Wheatears, a few Siskins and a Grey Heron west. What was possibly the same Ring Ouzel that I'd found nearly a week ago was seen again, but things were pretty slow and I was quite glad when the pager brought news that gave us an excuse to head off somewhere else.

In a normal year I wouldn't dream of driving all the way across the county just for a Black-throated Diver, but it's not a normal year as I'm year-listing and there haven't been any around so far this year, so a little later we were at Ormesby Little Broad. It had been reported here earlier in the week but not since, although it has apparently been seen during the week. I'd looked for it briefly yesterday with no real expectation that it would be there, and given its behaviour today I'm not surprised I didn't see it. Even for a bird that seems to spend 99% of its time under water this was a particularly tricky one to find, but today we did eventually see it a few times. One or two Willow Warblers were singing here too, my first of the year.

Finally a fairly lazy potter up the east coast produced a couple of Black Redstarts.

Black-throated Diver, Ormesby Little Broad, 5-Apr-09 Linnet, Old Hunstanton, 5-Apr-09

Black-throated Diver, Ormesby Little Broad (left) and Linnet, Old Hunstanton (right), 5th April 2009

 

Black Redstart, Eccles, 5-Apr-09 Black Redstart, Eccles, 5-Apr-09

Black Redstart, near Eccles, 5th April 2009

 

Saturday 4th April

Strumpshaw Fen was today's destination for the group I help out with each month, and we enjoyed a few hours there seeing a variety of common species. Not sure what the highlights were for the group, perhaps the Grey Wagtail that showed well on the way back to the car park, or the Marsh Harriers, or attempting to count the well-camouflaged Snipe, but for me the best bird was a House Martin among a very distant flock of Sand Martins (also at least a couple of Swallows seen). This was one day short of my earliest ever although they seem to be turning up earlier now than they used to - last year I saw one on 5th April while I was with the same group I was out with today. Other migrants included Blackcap singing, but this one also obstinately refused to show itself to the group.

Before Strumpshaw I'd popped over to the Broads where Rushill Scrape failed to produce anything better than a couple of Kingfishers and a singing Black-tailed Godwit - the first time I've ever heard one of these sing. A very quick look at the broads around Ormesby/Rollesby/Filby Broads just in case the Black-throated Diver had seen fit to return, but no sign. Lots of Aythya ducks present there though, including a drake Scaup at Filby Broad. A more thorough search might have turned up something better, but time was against me.

Grey Wagtail, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09 Marsh Harrier, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09

Grey Wagtail (left) and Marsh Harrier (right), Strumpshaw Fen, 4th April 2009

 

Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09 Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09
Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09 Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09
Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09 Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09
Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09 Greylag Goose, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09

Greylag Geese, Strumpshaw Fen, 4th April 2009

 

Pochard, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09 Pochard, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09

Pochards, Strumpshaw Fen, 4th April 2009

 

Black-headed Gull, Strumpshaw Fen, 4-Apr-09 Early Thorn, Bawdeswell, 4-Apr-09

Black-headed Gull, Strumpshaw Fen (left) and Early Thorn, Bawdeswell (right), 4th April 2009

 

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