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Wednesday 11 June 2014

Spectacled Warbler Again & A Chilled Afternoon!

Burnham Overy Dunes

With no other major birds around, I decided it would be great to see the Spectacled Warbler again and try and improve on my pictures too. Arrived at the car parking area on the A149 for Burnham Overy Dunes at 4.10am. My last early morning stint here was surprisingly warm early morning – today it was surprisingly cold, very cold! I was the first one there, great I had the place to myself! As I was getting my gear out of the boot, a second person turned up, who looked like they were in a massive hurry and grabbed their stuff and sped away, ahead of me. I didn't recognise them at first, but realised later it was Robin Chittenden. Walking down the track, I could hear the usual Whitethroats in the hedgerows and a Barn Owl was seen hunting. It was beautiful to be here at this early hour and watching the red glow of the sunrise as you walk along is spectactular!

Few Linnets by the bushes at the end of the boardwalk,  but nothing else really of note apart from the Redshanks and a few Little Egrets. Walked west along the path by the suaeda. On the note of suaeda.... Robin informed me later (I really should know this!) that the suaeda as alot of us call it, is actually called Shrubby Sea-blite (Suaeda Vera). When I googled to find out more, I found out that it is a nationally rare plant and that Norfolk has the biggest concentration of this! See distribution map here and info on the Blakeney Point blog here. Anyway, back to the Spectacled Warbler – positioned myself on the dune slope above where the bird has been making its nest and sat and waited and waited. No sight or sound at all! It was freezing cold sitting here and I wished I had brought gloves with me. I stood up to see where the other birder was (didn't know at this point it was R.C.) and I could see them intently looking and using camera in the sandy gulley where I saw the bird on the very first day. I walked across to join them and found the Spectacled Warbler was there, singing away and showing nicely at 5.15am! I got much better pictures this morning, so worth the early start.
Burnham Overy Dunes

The Spectacled Warbler was much more mobile this morning than on my previous visits and flitted to different bushes, singing and feeding. A bit later on, we discovered it was building a second nest! This nest site is much further up than the previous one, in the 'sueada' along the path, just before Gun Hill itself. I spent a long time with approx. 15 people photographing and watching this magical little bird, going back and forth with nesting material – at one point I watched it eating a bright, green small caterpillar. There was a camo clad photographer there with matching trousers, top and hat with no binoculars – I find it really weird that someone is photographing birds, but isn't actually a birder! Anyway, after a nasty little incident involving someone 'official' and someone I know (not RC) getting ticked off (very loudly) for being too close to the bird, I decided it was a good time to depart! In my opinion, that person was close, but I didn't see a problem with it, as the bird was happily singing away on top of a bush – the bird had flown from where we were all positioned, to somewhere in the sueda further up – that 'person' had walked quietly and slowly towards where bird had landed and got lucky when it appeared singing on top of a bush and started taking pictures, lucky him! I didn't see a problem. I could see this 'official' person speed walking past all of us and made a bee line for the 'person' and ticked him off (loudly). That's probably why he was singled out, he was alone, much easier to confront someone on their own than a crowd of people. I thought it was unfair to have a go at someone who wasn't doing anything different to the rest of us. If anything that 'official' person should have spoken to all of us, if he thought that person was too close!!! I didn't feel anyone disturbed the bird this morning – it went about its business and alot of the time would only be yards from us!
Burnham Overy Dunes

The butterflies this morning were fabulous, saw my first 'Painted Lady' and these were loads of Tortoiseshells feeding on the flowers of privet. Saw a few Red Admirals and also some Peacocks. Also one Ringlet was seen and a few Small Heaths. On the seaward side of Gun Hill the Little Terns were up in the air on mass – a few moments later I found out why – a Muntjac deer appeared, it was completely soaking wet, my guess is that it had come across from Scolt Head Island, gone through the tern colony and was now heading straight for me – I remained still and it was only yards from me, before it realised I was there, then sped off round to the cover of bushes at Gun Hill.

I trudged slowly back to my car, it was boiling hot now. Sedge Warblers singing, more Linnets seen and also a Marsh Harrier distantly. Back at the car, I collapsed in the seat and snoozed for ages. I couldn't decide what to do next, it felt too hot to do anything much really. Drove to Burnham Deepdale and browsed in 'Relish' a funky jewellery and accessories boutique and fell in love with a ring which I bought. Bought an ice-cream from the garage shop and then drove to Brancaster and turned left along the B1153 Road and pulled onto the concrete pad (where I dipped a bee-eater once – see here) next to a large puddle. This puddle is brilliant for bird photograpy, had my ice-cream and then sat with camera positioned ready for any birds that might pop down for a drink. Some Goldfinches landed briefly and I got some lovely pictures. The views from here are amazing, you can see a big part of the coastline including Scolt Head Island from here. The colours of the turquoise sea and white sands made the whole scene look like the med.! Hirundines were skimming along and it looked good for a Bee-eater! I wish! Found myself feeling tired again and kept dozing off, heat, early start and impending old age combined!

Choseley Barns – good time I thought to see the recent Turtle Dove, mid week, less people, nice and quiet..... how wrong was I! Loads of cars there and birders walking around the concrete pad!!! Two things: how will birders see the birds that feed here with people standing WHERE they feed and no wonder the farmer looked cross, when he drove out of the yard and people had to move out of the way for him to pass!!! There are signs clearly stating to stick to the official footpath and that the rest is private property! The people here were definitely at an age where they should understand the signage! After a while the people left the concrete pad and a few birds started to return including Yellowhammers, Pied Wagtails and Chaffinches. Two Common Buzzards circling overhead which I managed to photograph. No sign of any Turtle Dove, I could have waited longer, but couldn't be doing with all the cars and people here.

Titchwell RSPB – there was no way I was walking along the main path in this heat, but decided to just do the Fen Trail. Passed one of the tame Robins on the path to the visitor centre. Had a brief chat with Sue B. in the v.c and was very impressed by the new layout in the centre, looks more spacious, less cluttered and well, smarter overall. A nice lady working there said she enjoyed reading my blog, thank you. Around the Fen Trail I watched cute baby Moorhens in the pond, Blackcaps singing and also some Damselflies were seen. I didn't see any dragonflies at all, which surprised me. Chiffchaff also singing. I don't quite know what's going on in the Fen Hide, but there were lots of paint splashes on the floor and paintings in the hide created by children, I guess. There was a low table with small stools adorned with crayons and paper – this hide definitily has a family feel to it now.

I had planned to go to the village hides at Holme next, but felt too hot and tired to bother. Visited parents very briefly and then went home. Fabulous day, but too hot for me!



  1. Excellent pics, Penny. You deserved it after putting in the time and effort with your early starts.