Description


A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Wigeon x Mallard hybrid, Brant hybrid and the leucistic intersex Wigeon

I headed up to Burnham Overy on 26th November.  The walk out was uneventful save for my second Barn Owl of the morning and a flock of 7 Bearded Tits.  From Gun Hill I spent a while scanning the sea.  There were quite a few Red-throated Divers on the sea but very distant and it was going to be tricky picking up anything more interesting at that range.  Then I noticed another diver that was a little bit closer - it was a Great Northern Diver.  As I watched it a much smaller bird appeared next to it - a Red-necked Grebe.  I later saw a Red-necked Grebe flying west - not entirely sure if it was the same bird or a different one.  Also a few Great Crested Grebes on the sea and half a dozen Red-breasted Mergansers just beyond the shoreline.

I had a look round the dunes with little to report.  There were 3 Stonechats (all in different places) and a Merlin, but nothing else of note - in particular I didn't see the Isabelline Wheatear that I thought was long gone but which reappeared here a few days later.

Stonechat, Burnham Overy, 26th November


From the east end looking into Holkham Bay the Scoter flock was too distant to identify individual birds until it took to flight.  Then it became apparent that there were somewhere in the region of 20 Velvet Scoters among them, the best count I've had in Norfolk for a while.

As I returned to my car a fabulous male Hen Harrier flew west through the freshmarsh and on towards Burnham Norton.  The Brent Goose flock contained a bird with white speckling on the head - a pattern of leucism I have observed many times though I still do not know why they are prone to this whereas birds with evidence of leucism on the wings/body are so rare.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Overy, 26th November


The Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid was also there.

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid, Burnham Overy, 26th November


Next day I didn't have much time but enough to nip up to Stiffkey to see a hybrid duck that Mike Buckland had tweeted about the previous day.  It was still there, on the marsh opposite the Red Lion best viewed from the Muckledyke Way permissive path, with 345 Wigeon - a splendid Wigeon x Mallard hybrid, the first I've ever seen.  It was mainly grazing with the Wigeon but occasionally the whole flock was spooked and came forward to the pool closer to me.  The light was poor so my photos were taken with very high ISO...








Wigeon x Mallard hybrid, Stiffkey, 27th November


Also on the pool were 203 Teal and 123 Black-tailed Godwits.


Yesterday (Saturday 3rd December) I headed up to Cley first thing.  As I got out of my car I heard Bewick's Swans calling and looked up to see a family party of 5 flying east over my head.  Good start!

As I started to walk out a Cetti's Warbler was calling away and, unusually, showing quite nicely.  As I crossed the bridge a Water Rail flew from under it and was then seen swimming in the dyke for a bit.  I entered Dauke's Hide, opened the flaps and there in front of me was a Water Pipit.  The day had started well!  It didn't contine so well.



Water Pipit, Cley, 3rd December


I searched the Teal flocks hard looking for the Green-winged Teal x Eurasian Teal hybrid that Mark had found earlier in the week.  No luck, although I was interested to see one Teal that seemed to show a very faint hint of a pale vertical bar between the flanks and the breast.  On closer inspection I think it was just the light - at any rate it didn't seem to be an actual plumage mark.  I don't think it was a hybrid - in all other respects it was 100% Teal and when it eventually moved the line seemed to disappear and didn't seem to be present on the other side.

Teal, Cley, 3rd December


As I returned to the car there were 2 Stonechats and then I popped along to Salthouse to see the odd Wigeon that's been wintering there for several years now.  It's a fascinating bird, apparently an intersex female, a female that's developed male characteristics, and has a white patch on the head.  Noel E and John M both contacted me recently to say that they had watched it on the duckpond apparently paired to a drake Wigeon and they heard it calling, giving a call that is typical of female Wigeon.  It was still there today, still paired with the drake Wigeon, but I didn't manage to hear it call.



leucistic intersex female Wigeon, Salthouse, 3rd December


It was still early and I had a little bit of time before needing to meet friends in town so I went on to Blakeney Freshes.  The walk out was uneventful save for a lovely Kingfisher in the channel, 4 Goldeneye and 4+ Red-breasted Mergansers.  A Stonechat was seen but not much else at first.  Eventually a small finch flew up and off - I was pretty sure from the call that it was a Twite but I hadn't seen it well enough.  Fortnately a minute or two later it returned and landed on the fence - it was indeed a Twite.


Twite, Blakeney, 3rd December


I had hoped to pop along to Stiffkey to see if the Wigeon x Mallard hybrid was still there but I'd now run out of time and had to race off to Norwich (where I saw a Grey Wagtail).  Fantastic lunch at Baby Buddha - it helps so much having a Chinese person in your group who knows what to order!  After lunch I had just enough time to look for a Ruddy Shelduck x Egyptian Goose hybrid that Dave had seen recently (possibly the same bird I saw at Burnham Market although a long way from there).  He hadn't seen it again during the last few visits and I didn't either - just 71 Egyptian Geese.  Not far away I saw at least 12 Red Kites at a known roost site. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Cliff Swallow on the way to Titchwell, and Waxwings

On Saturday 5th November I was due to meet the group I regularly help with at Titchwell in the morning.  The only problem was that on Friday afternoon a Cliff Swallow appeared at Minsmere, with news emerging too late to get there that afternoon.  Now I've seen a few Cliff Swallows in North America, but the opportunity to see one in the UK - especially one in East Anglia that doesn't require a long drive and probably a ferry or helicopter ride to reach it - was too big a chance to ignore.  The Cliff Swallow was thought to have gone to roost at Minsmere so the odds were that it would be seen early in the morning.  Also a reasonable chance that it wouldn't hang around for long after it was up - these are diurnal migrants.  I would have to be there early.

Well most people wouldn't consider Minsmere to be on the way from North Elmham to Titchwell but this time it had to be.  I set off very early arriving at Minsmere in the dark - I wanted to be in position at first light.  I was surprised to find just 2 cars in the car park although more started arriving pretty soon after.  I clocked on that the two people who arrived just after me had more gen about its actions yesterday than I did and were likely to be in speedy communication with others who might be the first to see it this morning (both of which proved to be accurate), and decided they'd be good people to hook up with (with their permission!).  I headed down to the footpath just past West Hide with them, a good viewpoint where we stood a good chance of seeing any birds emerging from roost.

Water Rail and Kingfisher called, a couple of Brambling flew over and a flock of 20 Siskins went by, but no sign of any hirundines as it got light.  Quite a crowd had now amassed and others were looking from other locations.  Then one of the guys I'd gone down with received a phone call advising him that the hirundine flock was on view from the north wall, rapidly followed by confirmation that the Cliff Swallow was among them.  We started running up the track towards North Wall before I (and I noticed quite a lot of the others) realised we were far too old and unfit to run and slowed to a fast walk.  As we approached the dipping pond area the hirundine flock appeared over our head - about 8 Swallows and among them the Cliff Swallow, easy to pick out with its highly distinctive structure.  It showed nicely for a short while before the whole flock drifted south becoming distant and eventually disappearing - just as the bunch of hopefuls that had been waiting in Bittern Hide were catching us up.  They must have got the news slightly after us as they weren't that much further away, but things were looking pretty gloomy for the ones that didn't make it in time.  There was every chance that the birds would not return.  I felt a bit sorry for them but was personally elated that I'd got there in time.

After using the facilities I emerged some time later to find the mood a bit merrier - while I was inside the bird had reappeared and was now showing from the Stone Curlew watchpoint.  I headed up there to find probably hundreds of people watching the bird which was, initially, perched in one of the bushes.  It kept on leaving the bushes and going for a little fly around before returning to a different bush.  Initially it showed quite well but with people getting too close it seemed to be retreating further back before heading off south again.





Cliff Swallow, Minsmere, 5th November


I was now going to be late to Titchwell so decided to leave Minsmere and head up there quick.  Apparently the Swallow did return and continued to show all day but the following morning it flew off shortly after leaving roost never to be seen again.

Lots of birds on show at Titchwell, if not all that many notable ones among them.

Titchwell, 5th November


An area of cut reeds just next to the hide proved popular with 2 Stonechats which were enjoyed by the group.


Stonechats, Titchwell, 5th November


A pipit visited the same area briefly.  In life it showed a blazing pale supercilium, streaking on the underparts largely restricted to the breast, grey brown upperparts lacking any olive tones, very white wing bars and tertial edges and indeed looked like a fairly straightforward Water Pipit.  It called too, and I thought it sounded like a Water Pipit.  When I looked at my photos I was a bit surprised and confused to see a bird that at first glance looked much more like a Scandinavian Rock Pipit.  The supercilium looks much less distinct in the photos than it did in life but the breast streaking is also thicker and less distinct than I had remembered.  I started wondering if I had stuffed up - maybe I hadn't looked at it carefully enough in my attempt to get others on to it.  In the end I don't think so - yes the streaking on the breast isn't quite as I had remembered it but its pretty minimal on the flanks, the wing bars and tertials look ok. 


Water Pipit, Titchwell, 5th November


Among the waders were 6 Avocets and an impressive 95 Ruffs, the highest count I've made in a decade.

Black-tailed Godwit, Titchwell, 5th November


Shoveler, Titchwell, 5th November


Teal, Titchwell, 5th November


With the strong northerly wind and profusion of rain I had wondered if the group would cancel, but they're made of hardy stuff.  Not hardy enough to spend very long looking at the sea mind, although they did brave the elements to take a quick look.  I managed to see one Great Skua fly past but it wasn't easy conditions for showing birds to people and we soon returned to the comfort of the hides (or did we go straight for the cafe, I can't remember).

On 13th November I was in Norwich when I heard some Waxwings calling.  I didn't have my optics with me and I was in a hurry, but a flock of around about 10-12 birds landed in the top of a tall tree between Mill Hill Road and Park Lane - I was pretty sure they were the Waxwings I had heard.  A couple of hours later I returned to this area and was about to start having a more relaxed look for them when I received a message from Jos (leader of the group I'd been at Titchwell with) to say she had seen a Waxwing at Jenny Lind playground, near where she lives.  Perhaps the birds I'd seen had moved on to there - it wasn't far away.  I had a quick skirt round the block first anyway, just in case there were still some there, and then headed up to Jenny Lind.  I met Jos and by now more birds had appeared.  They were hard to count but in the end we saw at least 9 Waxwings here - very probably the same flock I'd seen earlier that morning.

Over the next few days varying numbers of Waxwings continued to entertain visitors before running out of Rowan berries.  I popped in again on Sunday 20th (again with no camera gear) and saw 30 Waxwings but there were hardly any berries left so I don't think they were seen much more after this.  Plenty elsewhere in the Norwich area by now though, very likely including some crossover with the same birds - mainly being seen in Bowthorpe and Costessey.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A perfect seawatch

The weather chart for Tuesday 1st November looked interesting - a northerly wind coming down from a long way up picking up mid-late morning.  Not classic, but I thought there might be a few wildfowl moving and perhaps a handful of semi-scarce birds if we were lucky.  It was worth a punt - worth taking a day off work for.  I arrived early, about 6.30, and was the first one there, soon to be joined by Justin and, in the first glimmers of light, this Common Scoter just below the prom.

Common Scoter, Sheringham, 1st November


The wind wasn't very strong first thing - just a few white horses so force 4 but only just.  A few wildfowl were moving - not large numbers but a good variety.  Highlights included 27 Eider, 5 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall and the first few of 6 Goldeneye.  I missed the first 2 Velvet Scoter but saw another 2 Velvet Scoter later on and Common Scoter eventually reached 438 including up to 2 birds sitting on the sea just off the Leas.  There was also a Red-breasted Merganser and later on a Scaup moving with a flock of Common Scoter.

Eider and Common Scoter, Sheringham, 1st November


My total for Red-throated Divers only reached 56 and the vast majority (over 50) were moving east.  None of them had looked remotely interesting in terms of being anything else, so it was a bit galling when we heard news from Cley that they had had a White-billed Diver flying west.  Had it passed us, perhaps high up out of the line of our scopes?  Or had it come in from the north somewhere between Sheringham and Cley?  Annoying to have missed that but we weren't as gutted as we might have been because by this time it was already shaping up to be an enjoyable morning.  The wind had picked up and seabirds were starting to move.

I can't remember exactly what order everything came in but we'd seen the first of 5 Sooty Shearwaters pretty early on and the first of 14 Pomarine Skuas, one of which was a lovely close adult with full spoons.  It was clear fairly soon that it would be a good day for Bonxies and in the end we totalled 147 Great Skuas.  Not so many smaller skuas early on but eventually we got 25 Arctic Skuas and in the afternooon one close party of four Arctics accompanied a nice juvenile Long-tailed Skua.  Other Shearwaters included 5 Manx Shearwaters but the bird of the day came through early afternoon.  We'd had a message about a Cory's Shearwater flying east at Burnham Overy already and then news came through of a probable Scopoli's Shearwater flying east at Cley!  Just a Cory's Shearwater would be fantastic - they're rare off Norfolk although a tiny number are recorded most years.  I've personally got a poor track record with them having not seen one in Norfolk for 20 years.  Scopoli's Shearwater would be on another level!  Until recently considered to be a subspecies of Cory's Shearwater it is now treated as a separate species - its status is hard to be sure about due to the difficulty in identification but I think (I haven't checked) there is only one accepted record for the UK.  Others have been suspected in the south west, and I think I remember hearing of one or two reports on the English east coast, but I don't recall any claims in Norfolk before.

We made sure we were ready for it and started looking hard to the left.  It was Nigel who picked it up first and I think we all got on it pretty soon.  It wasn't all that far out and came through nice and slowly, staying in view for nearly all of the time.  In fact it was the best view I've ever had of a Cory's-type shearwater ever, anywhere.  It was not, however, quite close enough to be absolutely sure of the detail of the underwing pattern.  We got the impression that white extended well into the dark at the primary tips but we could not be sure of the detail.  And the bill?  Well we couldn't make it out - it was just too far to see the bill clearly.  That in itself is interesting: most of the Cory's Shearwaters I've seen have been much more distant but one I remember fairly well - the first I saw in Norfolk - was maybe a similar distance to this bird or thereabouts.  And on that bird a big yellow bill was quite easy to see.  So its tempting to imagine that this bird did not have such a big and yellow bill, which would make sense if it was a Scopoli's Shearwater.  I don't know how well Richard and others saw it at Cley so don't know if they'll be submitting it as a definite Scopoli's, let alone whether it has any chance of being accepted as such, but even if I can't ever count it on any list watching it was a fantastic and exciting experience.  Wonderful bird, wonderful flight action and brilliant to see.

Another feature of the day was the gulls and terns.  We amassed an impressive total of 1300 Kittiwakes although attempting to extrapolate from timed counts I was quite conservative and the true figure may well lhave been a great deal higher.  We got news of a Sabine's Gull heading our way from Cley and kept a close eye out for that.  Dave H picked it up first and we all got nice views of this juvenile Sabine's Gull as it moved through with a party of Kittiwakes.  Not the closest I've ever seen but it wasn't too far out at all - close enough to see it well.  We didn't pick up the second Sabine's Gull that was reported off Cley but we did see 116 Little Gulls, all flying east, which were delightful.  An adult Mediterranean Gull flew up from the beach and was seen several times during the day and in the afternoon a second-year Mediterranean Gull flew east too.  There were also a handful of Herring Gulls migrating east throughout the day.  It being November now any tern is noteworthy and this morning a Sandwich Tern flew west high up and in the afternoon a juvenile Arctic Tern flew east.

There were lots of auks moving today too - both Razorbills and Guillemots but of the ones I identified Guillemots were in the majority.  In total my estimated total based on a number of timed connts was 2420 - quite possibly another underestimate.  The biggest count of the day was another potentially underestimated estimate based on conservative extrapolation from a number of timed counts - 3000 Gannets.

Other birds of note included a Shag that I picked up on the sea seconds after a conversation about the fact that we hadn't heard of many Shags being reported yet this autumn.  This first-winter bird later appeared on the groynes.  The last good bird of the day was predicted and then picked up by Dave H.  Despite nearly all the larger auks flying east a Little Auk had been seen flying west at Cley.  Re-orienting Little Auks often fly west close inshore after a blow and although this blow wasn't quite finished the news from Cley got Dave looking down the beach to the right.  And this technique came up trumps as he soon picked up a Little Auk heading our way through the surf.

A great end to a fabulous day.  On reflection it wasn't just the great birds and the company that made it such a good day.  I've sat throught lots of seawatches with similar quality of birds, except perhaps the Scopoli's assuming that's what it was, but this was somehow different.  I think I know what it was - it lacked the frustration factor that often comes with seawatching.  Often I'm cramped in an uncomfortable position, I'm freezing cold, I'm getting wet (or else the sun's so bright everything looks too contrasty), I end up sitting next to some dofus who keeps shouting "what's this" every time a Gannet or Kittiwake flies past close enough for them to notice it, my eye isn't in, people are seeing things I can't pick up on, I'm struggling to identify things that I feel like I should be able to identify, and I go away having seen some good birds but feeling more frustrated than elated.  None of the above applied today.  It wasn't too cold, I had an uncrowded seat in a good position, the company was good, it was windy enough but not so windy that everything was lost below the crests of the waves, the light was excellent nearly all of the time.  My eye was in and I was picking up nearly everything all of the time and I don't think I made any significant blunders.  And some great birds exceding my expectations for the day.  A perfect seawatch!


I sometimes drive the track between Heacham North Beach and Hunstanton in my lunch breaks at this time of year in the hope of a rare Wheatear or something.  No such luck during my lunch on 3rd November but as I scanned the Wash from the raised bit at the north end I saw 6 Whooper Swans (4 adults, 2 first-winters) heading south along the edge of the beach.


Whooper Swans, Hunstanton, 3rd November

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Little Bunting

A few days of easterlies ended on 25th October at the end of which the wind turned round to the south west overnight.  I’d had to work on 24th/25th but took 26th off work in the hope that there would be some visible migration, as well as perhaps a few eastern rares still waiting to be found at less well-watched sites.  I picked Stiffkey and Morston Greens as I thought this may give me some chance of experiencing some vis mig as well as a fair chance of finding something a bit more unusual - after all, it had worked its magic on my last visit on 15th October.

This time I started off at the north end of Green Ways at dawn walking east past the campsite wood and on through Stiffkey Greens.  There was a bit of vis mig (the odd Siskin and Redpoll and a few flocks of Lapwings - 230 Lapwings altogether which I always love seeing on migration).  There were some Bramblings knocking around and I enjoyed watching a fantastic adult male Hen Harrier over the saltmarsh.

Hen Harrier, Stiffkey, 26th October


There was a Yellow-browed Warbler near the start of Stiffkey Greens and a dead Weasel on the path.  When I reached the last big patch of gorse and elders before Stiffkey Fen a Reed Bunting was perched on top of an elder and a flock of Long-tailed Tits moved through the gorse.  As I watched, a second bunting appeared on the same elder.  It was mainly facing away from me but when it turned its head I saw chestnut ear-coverts seemingly lacking a dark lower border towards the bill, a conspicuous white eye-ring and a small pointy bill.   When it was facing away a reddish central crown stripe was visible stretching back towards the nape.  Surely this was a Little Bunting, and I switched to my telescope to check what I was seeing.  A quick squint through the scope was enough to confirm it was indeed a Little Bunting and now I picked up the camera to get the evidence.  I took a burst of about 5-6 photos and the bird dropped out of view as I did so.  I didn’t see precisely where it went but was pretty sure it hadn’t flown off.




Little Bunting, Stiffkey Greens, 26th October


After waiting some time without any more sign I moved round to the back of the bushes to view from the fields.  I had one possible view but too distant and too brief to be sure.  I walked on past the Fen and through Morston Greens which were quiet (Blackcap and Brambling about the best).  There were 2 Greenshanks at Morston but not much in the way of passerines around the village.

Grey Heron, Morston, 26th October


As I returned I counted 130 Shelduck in Blakeney Harbour, found a Goldeneye on Stiffkey Fen and then spent some more time looking for the Little Bunting again where I’d seen it before.  No sign at all, but as I walked through a field slightly west of there I flushed a small compact bunting.  It didn’t call and I didn’t get a good look at it – I suspect it was the Little Bunting but am not positive.  It flew a fair way but I could not relocate it when I reached the area it had gone down in.

Another Hen Harrier was hunting over the fields and hedgerows just inland of the path.

Hen Harrier, Stiffkey, 26th October


Once I finished here I decided to have a drive round some lanes a little way inland where sometimes there can be lots of thrushes in the hedgerows.  Not so today and I ended up at Wiveton Down LNR, a site I've never stopped at before.  Not much in the way of birdlife there today, at least not anything noteworthy, but a nice place with a nice view.

Cley viewed from Wiveton Down, 26th October


Finally I popped in to Friary Hills at Blakeney again but apart from a Brambling, not much doing there.

Goldfinch, Friary Hills, 26th October


Didn't manage to see much else before the end of October but a few thrushes in my lunch breaks including these Fieldfares.


Fieldfares, Thornham, 31st October

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Siberian Accentor and Isabelline Wheatears

I'd decided not to go for the Siberian Accentor in Yorkshire while there were easterlies in Norfolk and finding a Radde's Warbler made me think I'd made the right decision.  But the Accentor outstayed the easterlies so in the end I had a chance to see that as well, and headed up to Eastington with Dave on 18th October.  We would have liked to have spent a full day there birding the area but for reasons too boring to describe here we would only have enough time to see the main target and perhaps one or two other rares in the area if we were lucky.

Not sure I have any readers who need this explanation but Siberian Accentor is a rare relative of Dunnock that until this year had never been recorded in the UK and only a handful of times anywhere in Europe.  This year has seen an incredible arrival of them in northern Europe - well over 200 recorded including 13 in the UK (the Yorkshire one being the closest I think).

Anyway, we rocked up to Easington mid morning and as we walked up the road to see it we noted lots of Chiffchaffs - far more birds had arrived here than I had seen in Norfolk recently.  We were advised by people coming back from the Accentor that we wouldn't need our scopes (what were we meant to do... abandon them on the road?) and indeed we didn't - we hardly needed our bins!  The Siberian Accentor was hopping around just the other side of a small fence, sometimes too close to focus on.  It was strangely hard to get decent photos of it - not quite sure why.  These are the best of hundreds taken - ok, but for a bird that was virtually in touching distance not as good as they ought to have been.









Siberian Accentor, Easington, 18th October


Once we'd had sufficient views of this we would have gone straight down the road to see the Isabelline Wheatear but were under the mistaken impression that it hadn't been seen this day (very poor signal here making it hard to get up to date news), so we decided to enjoy the Accentor a little longer.  Eventually we realised that the Wheatear was in fact still there, so wandered down to see that - or more like rushed down as by now we hadn't got much time before we had to go.  In the relative shelter of the Siberian Accentor site we hadn't appreciated how windy it was but standing on the sea wall overlooking the open fields it was hard to keep optics still enough to get a good look at the Isabelline Wheatear.

Isabelline Wheatear, Easington, 18th October


Apparently Dave saw another bird close to the Wheatear but with the noise of the wind I didn't hear him mention it - I didn't see it and didn't know about it until I processed my Wheatear photos and found that one of them had a Lapland Bunting behind it!

Lapland Bunting and Isabelline Wheatear, Easington, 18th October


On the way back to the car we paused to have a look at a flock of 50+ Tree Sparrows.

The following day I headed up to Sheringham for a sea watch.  The strong north-westerlies should have produced more than they did but there were a few noteworthy birds that made the effort worthwhile, including 2 Velvet Scoters, Red-necked Grebe, 3 Pomarine Skuas (along with 8 Great and 3 Arctic Skuas), Little Gull and Puffin.  Things eased off late morning and I decided to call it a day, having enough time to get home and work the afternoon (I'm on unpaid leave now so didn't want to waste it).  As it turned out things picked up during the afternoon with over 50 Little Gulls and a Sabine's Gull among other things - typical!

On the evening of 21st a flock of Pink-footed Geese flew over my house after dark - sounded like quite a large flock.  A Grey Wagtail had been heard earlier in the day - heard several days in October.

On Saturday 22nd I thought there would be too many birders at Burnham Overy again so went somewhere quieter, Brancaster.  Turned out to be a bad decision as I ended up having to go to Burnham Overy after all.  Broad Lane was pretty quiet - hardly any thrushes though a flock of 30 Brambling flying over was good.  I headed down towards the beach with a view to walking up Gypsy Lane and was surprised to see a Water Pipit on the practice green.  A flock of 10 Bearded Tits flew up from the reeds as I headed up Gypsy Lane.

Bearded Tits, Gypsy Lane, 22nd October


When I reached the wooded part I received news of an Isabelline Wheatear at Burnham Overy.  That's a bird that I (and most other people) had never seen in Norfolk so I needed to get over there as soon as possible.  I was reluctant to hang around as I could foresee people flushing it over to Scolt Head where access would be extremely tricky but I was about as far from my car as I could be on my circuit.

I got to Burnham Overy as fast as I could and was pleased to find the Isabelline Wheatear still showing nicely, alongside a Northern Wheatear.  It was nice to catch up with lots of birder friends I hadn't seen in a while too.




Isabelline Wheatear, Burnham Overy, 22nd October


A Pallas's Warbler appeared in the bushes in front of us, although it was very hard to see.  Sadly we didn't know that just a few yards west of where we were standing someone photographed a Desert Wheatear - news of this only emerged after dark.  Another Northern Wheatear appeared on my way back to the car.

I had a quick look round Burnham Deepdale churchyard but apart from a few Redwings and a Brambling there wasn't much doing.  I walked along the coast path to somewhere between Brancasters Staithe and Brancaster but it seemed very quiet.  A Yellow-browed Warbler called briefly and 3 Red Kites were over Brancaster Staithe, but that was it.

Redwing, Burnham Deepdale, 22nd October