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Monday, 15 September 2014

Cracking Day at Garden Drove, Warham, Cley & Blakeney Point!

Far Point, Blakeney Point

Garden Drove, Warham Greens
After a very late night, it was impossible to get up early – on route to the coast it was raining on and off – excellent news for migrants! I arrived at Warham at 9.20am – I remember this time specifically as that's what time it was, when I rang out the Red-breasted Flycatcher to RBA for birders, as no one else had bothered.... rant. I didn't expect this many cars on the concrete pad on a weekday and was surprised by this. A good number of birders had been watching this bird since early morning (at least by 6.45am) and not a single person had phoned it out!!! I am specifically talking about birders with pagers of which there are many – people expect to see messages popping up on their pagers, but you have to remember that it's YOU that put the messages there! It is helpful to other birders, some who are travelling a distance and trying to plan their day around what birds are where. I just wondered if I hadn't have phoned the news out, when and if it would have gone out at all! I wasn't over bothered about me as I had seen, enjoyed and photographed this bird well yesterday. I also noted that there was NO news out from Burnham Overy Dunes yesterday aside from the Black-necked Grebe – birders must have been out and seen something surely? Even if it's a redstart or Pied Fly, its nice to hear about, so please PUT THE NEWS OUT for others to enjoy!!! Rant over!
Spotted Flycatcher at Warham Greens.

Walking along Garden Drove didn't produce too much, but soon discovered tons of birds further along! At the end of the track the Red-breasted Flycatcher was proving elusive, but I think I saw it for a nano second, flitting about, but not sure to be honest. I didn't wait, as too many people here and wanted to see what else was around, so I headed off west along the hedge line and had a fabulous time. In a big sycamore tree I found a very crisp Pied Flycatcher feeding high up amongst the lime green leaves against the blue sky, but it was impossible to photograph and only managed a tail shot! (note: phoned this out to RBA!). There were chiffchaffs in here too and further along I found another sycamore full of Chaffinches, more Chiffchaffs and then a Spotted Flycatcher!!! Climbed down from the field side onto the public footpath and walked a short distance to the pit which has a big pond. I couldn't believe it when I reached this, as it was dripping with birds – I didn't know which way to look first – it was one big bird party!!! This pit is lined with elders, hawthorns and brambles and is a big draw for birds. In here there were 2 more Spotted Flycatchers flitting about, along with Chiffchaffs, Garden Warbler, Yellowhammers, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Linnets, Reed Buntings, Hedge Sparrows, Robins, Wrens, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds and also I noted several Jays flying over – seemed to be a small movement of them as I saw more later. It was almost impossible to leave here and I wanted to sit down and continue to enjoy this magical scene, but I had arranged to meet Andy Wilkinson at 11am at the Cley Visitor Centre, to walk Blakeney Point, so I had to go. Walking back to my car didn't produce anything else of particular note. I heard from others that a Pied Flycatcher had been seen along Garden Drove.

Cley NWT Visitor Centre
I was about 10 minutes late, but Andy was fine with that! My breakfast.... yes you've guessed – a big scrumptious cheese scone with butter, yummy! As we went to sit down I noticed a lady walking towards me and I thought 'that lady looks like Christine....' I looked again and it WAS Christine, I was so excited and pleased, I couldn't believe it was her!!! She was as surprised as me and we had a big hug – Christine was a lady I lodged with in my early twenties in Lavenham, Suffolk and I have known her for years, been to her wedding, she has been to mine etc etc.  She lives in Bury St Edmunds and is a lovely lady. She was here with a friend and staying in Wiveton on holiday for a few days. I couldn't believe I bumped into her here at the Cley Visitor Centre!!! It was actually quite frustrating as Christine and I can talk for England and we could have easily chatted all day, but eventually I had to tear myself away.... there were birds to be found!! We said our goodbyes and Andy and I whizzed off to Coastguards. Along Beach Road, I screeched to a stop to photograph a Kestrel perched on top of a telegraph pole. As I neared the carpark I could see a couple of Wheatears in the Eye Field.
Kestrel on perched on telegraph post, along Beach Road, Cley.

A very dear friend, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Blakeney Point!
At coastguards we scanned for the Red-breasted Flycatcher (seen here last night), but no sign whilst we were there. Several Gannets were flying east over the sea. We started walking at 12.30pm. The weather on the way out was a mixture of sun and light showers. My dodgy ankle was killing me, but tried very hard to forget about it. From the off we were counting Wheatears and got to 36 by Half Way House. Lots of Reed Buntings, Meadow Pipits and a few Hedgesparrows around too. 9 Little Egrets were in the channel. 2 Redstarts just before Halfway House along with 2 Whinchats. We worked hard today and covered almost all areas on Blakeney Point. We were surprised to find no birds in the sueda at Halfway House or at 'The Hood' – I was hoping for an Icterine Warbler, but no luck there! Not even a Chiffchaff. However there were huge numbers of Red Admirals all the way along BP. The Wheatear count continued as did Redstarts. We walked along the path to Yankee ridge and in the big Elder in the high dune, we managed to see a Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit and a Redstart!
Redstart near Halfway House, Blakeney Point.

Andy Wilkinson trying to ID a LBJ, Blakeney Point!

Spotted Flycatcher in 'The Plantation', Blakeney Point.

Cracking Redstart in 'The Plantation', Blakeney Point.

 At the Plantation it was pretty busy, with at least 4 Chiffchaffs flitting about, a Willow Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and 2 cracking Redstarts. Managed to get a few photos and we sat here for a while drinking coffee and snacks. There was also a male Redstart perched on a blue string fence wire, next to the big Yucca which is in flower at the moment – a fantastic scene. This Yucca plant is over a 100 years old! See history about this on the fabulous Blakeney Point Blog HERE.

Far Point, Blakeney Point

Sunset from Long Point, Blakeney Point.

Andy and I left the Plantation and decided to cover BP properly and walk to Near, Mid and Far Point! This is something I don't often do myself, but I was so determined to keep going to find that mega and on a day like today with easterlies and rain, there had to be something lurking out here, surely?! The setting sun looked stunning over Blakeney Harbour as we walked down the boardwalk to Near Point. We saw another 2 Wheatears in this area. Saw a couple of elusive LBJ's and some Meadow Pipits. I got some cracking sunset pictures. I was feeling very weary by the time we reached Far Point and I didn't even want to think about the long trek back with my bad ankle. At Far Point we bumped into Ajay, who is the Ranger here and I'm so glad we did – he very kindly pointed out a HOOPOE feeding amongst the dune and shingle – I couldn't believe it, what a fabulous end to the day! The Hoopoe even displayed his crest for us for a few moments! Ok, so we hadn't found that mega yet, but this magical bird slightly made up for that! Ajay presumed the Hoopoe was the same one seen yesterday, but who knows. Ajay also told us that this Hoopoe was only the 10th record for Blakeney Point! The light was fading fast now as we walked back – as we neared the boardwalk to walk up and over the hill to the Lifeboat House and Plantation, a bird appeared on a bramble. The sillouhette told me it was a Pied Flycatcher, with it's rounded belly and general shape, but we were not sure, so walked around the bramble bush so that the sun was behind us for a better view – looking at the bird front on it appeared to have an orangy breast (we didn't feel this was due to the light). As we moved round further to the right for improved view it disappeared behind the bush. It was so frustrating as it vanished and we didn't see it again. Andy was thinking male Red-breasted Flycatcher. I said to Ajay that I'm sure James would find it tomorrow!
Ajay and Andy walking back to The Plantation, Blakeney Point.

We returned to the Plantation and had another coffee before the long trek back. We peered hard into the scrub for any new birds, but the light had gone. We walked back via the dunes on the seaward side and flushed some Red-legged Partridges. Walking back in complete darkness from Blakeney Point with someone else is so much more entertaining than being alone! Saved me talking and singing to myself anyway! There was no moon showing and it was exceptionally dark and I found myself contantly stumbling over boulders and near the end, I had to switch the torch on. We got back to coastguards at Cley at 8.50pm!!! Coffee and hour drive home.
Sunset looking out towards Near Point, Blakeney Point.

Sunset as we left Blakeney Point.

By the end of the day we had seen 52 Wheatears, 8 Redstarts, 2 Whinchats, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Goldcrest, Chiffchaffs (at least 5), Willow Warbler and a big unexpected bonus: Hoopoe! No megas, but a cracking day's birding.

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