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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Hot Birding at Warham, Stiffkey, Salthouse, East Runton & Cley!

Garden Drove, Warham Greens.

Next door's dog barked continuously until 1.30am this morning, so no hope of my plan to go to Burnham Overy Dunes at first light! Unfortunately the forecast cloud for most of the day has now changed, so probably everything will fly straight over our heads, oh well, keep plodding on!

Coastguards, Cley
Plan B was Blakeney Point. I headed for Cley and as I drove through the village, I passed John F. who was off to look for birds at Warham with Eddie. At coastguards I chatted with Jill and Rob Wilson, whilst getting my bag ready to walk Blakeney Point. Jill and Rob crossed the shingle to sea-watch. I was just about to head off, when I got a phone call from Eddie to say that John F. had found a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Garden Drove, Warham! I ran round to the shelter to find Jill and Rob to tell them, but couldn't see them anywhere, don't know where they disappeared to. I nearly didn't go, but I decided that I would regret this, if I didn't see much on 'the point', so off I went to twitch John's RBFly.

Garden Drove, Warham
At the concrete pad at Garden Drove, there was no sign of the Red-breasted Flycatcher – typical! A little while later though it was re-found at the bottom of the track near the copse – what a gorgeous bird, never tire of seeing these – flitting about and teasing us in the shadows of the leaves and branches – however it did show nicely a few times in good light. There was a fabulous supporting cast of 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chaffinches, Long-tailed Tits, Blue and Great Tits and Robins. Most of these birds were in the elders/bushes along the field edge, west of the end of the track. I spent quite a while here, photographing the Red-breasted Flycatcher and other birds. Quite a few birders here by the time I left.

Garden Drove, Warham Greens.

Devouring a Wasp!

Garden Drove, Warham Greens.

Stiffkey Campsite Wood
I decided to have a mooch round Stiffkey Campsite Wood at 3pm, but didn't see a single bird in there, which surprised me. I did see around 20+ Pied Wagtails in the campsite itself though and a few Chaffinches and a couple of Robins.

Walsey Hills NOA
Several Chiffchaffs and a tit flock, a Hobby flew over Snipes Marsh along with a Common Buzzard. There had been 2 Hobbies earlier, so David the Warden told me. It was hardly surprising that there were hobbies around, with the huge number of dragonflies around, especially at the bottom of the path by the willows. Heard news that there was very little down Blakeney Point and birders were disappointed – only birds seen were 20+ Wheatears and a Garden Warbler and not too much else. It was late in the day and I decided it wasn't worth walking there now anyway, especially with the lack of birds seen.
Hedgesparrow in the willows at Walsey Hills NOA.

East Runton
Thains Lane (this is opposite 'Gold Coast Caravan Park') – parked up on the verge and walked along the lane to see the reported Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler. No hope whatsoever – dipped on both of these! Left here and walked north along the public footpath alongside the caravan park which leads up to the cliff edge (be careful here!). This path always looks good for migrants and at the end there is lots of cover. I spent a while here hoping for something to pop out of the bushes, but only saw a Robin and a Hedgesparrow. The view from the clifftop towards Cromer is stupendous! Jackdaws and Crows were sailing round the cliff.

I stopped at the old piggeries at West Runton (where the Black-headed Bunting was) and was shocked to see the state of the place. All the high banks of vegetation and bushes have been stripped to bare earth, it all looked dreadful, made me feel sad, what a mess! Looks like a building site and nothing more now.
Clifftop at East Runton.

Salthouse and Cley
I was going to walk to Gramborough Hill, but the light had faded and it was really cold now, also big black clouds loomed over head – so I opted to be lazy and sat in the car eating a snack with a cup of coffee. If only I knew at that point what was happening at Coastguards!!!!

East Bank carpark – parked here and started to set up my wide-angle lens on tripod in preparation to take pictures of the Aurora later on. Suddenly a red car that was driving past, braked and reversed quickly and spun into the carpark – window wound down and an excited birder called Matt (friend of Phil Vines) proceeded to tell me he had been watching a Red-breasted Flycatcher on the fence line at Coastguards for the last hour and a half!!! I was the first birder he had seen. He had gone out birding without his phone (I so wish he hadn't) and couldn't believe that no other birders had turned up whilst he was there. He very kindly said he would drive back to show me exactly where he had just left it – so off he went ahead of me, I shot in the car, spun off a few yards to Walsey Hills carpark where I knew Eddie and Andy J were and beeped my car horn loudly, several times.... no response. Stood at beginning of path and shouted until they heard me.... they both came running up the path and off we all zoomed to Coastguards. In the semi dusk we saw absolutely zilch!!!! How frustrating to think I was sitting at Salthouse having a coffee, when I could have been sitting at Coastguards watching my second Red-breasted Flycatcher of the day, oh well! Nice of Matt to go back though.

Drove back to East Bank carpark and had great fun taking pictures in the dark until 9.30pm. I then got bored and very tired, so left and went home.
 Pictures taken late evening from the East Bank

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