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Monday, 8 September 2014

12 Hours Birding at Stiffkey, Warham, East Hills, Blakeney, Walsey Hills & Cley!

Reed Bunting, Warham Greens.


The mist, rising sun and light was magical, as I cruised along the A148 to hit the coast in search of migrants. Westerly winds did not excite me, but the day developed into a beautiful sunny day with blue skies and warm temperatures. No 'big' birds were found, except for 9 Common Buzzards spiralling high in the thermals over East Hills.

Stiffkey & Warham
7.30am – very chilly first this morning, as I walked west from the campsite carpark. The tide was high and the channel was full and included lots of gulls and also a single Common Sandpiper right near the edge of the carpark! Several Little Egrets and lots of Curlew and Lapwing on the Marsh.
High tide at Stiffkey Campsite Carpark.

Greenfinch at Warham Greens.

 Hedgesparrow at Warham Greens.

 Blue Tit feeding on aphids at Warham Greens.

Whinchat at Warham Greens.

 Lesser Whitethroat skulking in the 'Pit' at Warham Greens.

Comma at Warham Greens.

The hedgerows along the path were full of birds – there was a real buzz in the air. There was a heavy dew and there were lots of silvery spiders webs, knitted between the wet grasses. Lots of Greenfinches feeding on blackberries, Reed Buntings, Hedge Sparrows, big flock of Linnets and Goldfinches, a few Robins and Blackbirds. Best birds of the morning were a Whinchat (see pic), 2 Garden Warblers together in a hedge near the bee hives – which I didn't get a photograph of, waited for a good while but only managed a head shot of a Reed Bunting poking his head out of the hawthorn! Several Carrion Crows flying west. At the Pit (known as the 'Blyth's Pit) I found 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 female Blackcap and another Garden Warbler, Blue Tits, Hedge Sparrows and as I walked back 4 House Martins flew over west. Saw a few Swallows on route as well. No sign of any wrynecks sadly, even though I walked round the 'Whirly gig' twice!

At 10.15am I walked up into the campsite wood and apart from 4 Pied Wagtails in the adjacent field saw absolutely nothing.
One of the creeks to cross on the way out to East Hills.

East Hills, Wells.

Garden Drove, Warham & East Hills!
Started the walk out to East Hills at 11.35am. No birds of note along Garden Drove or in the copse at the end. It was very wet on the walk out today and the mud seemed more squelchy, how I didn't fall over, I really don't know! More luck I think! 10 Little Egrets in the main channel, a Marsh Harrier and 2 Skylarks.

At East Hills itself, I was very disappointed, apart from a Wren and a Woodpigeon it was devoid of birds. I sat in the sycamore glade and enjoyed my lunch and coffee, whilst hoping something would appear, but it was silent. I covered all areas and 'pished' all bushes, but nothing. Found a Painted Lady Butterfly, Speckled Wood and a Sand Wasp. At 2pm I started the long haul back and as I did, I spotted a Common Buzzard come in off the sea, then another and with several counts managed a tally 9 Common Buzzards spiralling on thermals against blue skies – I managed to get some pictures too, lovely! 3 Reed Buntings were sitting on a sueda bush, flushed a Snipe and 2 Spoonbills (flew west) on route. I phoned Holme NWT as I was walking along, to see if they had any birds of note today and a lady told me they had had 10 Turtle Doves in the Forestry today – nice number, but pity they didn't get reported to all and sundry. It was really hot now and my energy was draining. You need so much concentration when doing this walk and mental energy is at the max, when crossing the big creek with patches of quick sand! Trudged back slowly up 'Garden Drove' to my car. Wrestled for ages to get my wellingtons off! Note: Steve on BF also had 10 Common Buzzards circling overhead at Holkham – see HERE

'House on the Hill' & Blakeney Freshmarsh
Pulled into the parking area by the House on the Hill and had a relaxing session at 5pm. Changed my hot, muddy clothes. Sat in my deckchair chilled, enjoying a sandwich, fruit salad and more coffee. Suddenly a Common Buzzard appeared right in front of me and over my head – WOW, best view of one ever! Rushed like hell for the camera, but was too late, gutted! It would have made a prize winning picture, oh well. 2 Kestrels were hovering high above me. No birds in the scrub/clearing.

Parked up at Friary Hills and walked the lower path to Blakeney Freshmarsh and had lovely views of the Red-backed Shrike again. Could not get any pictures though, as the bird was always obscured by branches and twigs and the light wasn't very good this evening either. It was fascinating to watch this shrike catching dragonflies with amazing speed and agility – it would then perch on a branch and strip the dragonfly of all wings, allowing them to drop the ground and then gulp back the body of the dragonfly before nipping off for more! There were around 10 other birders whilst I was here. No other birds of note.

Walsey Hills NOA
Now 6.30pm. Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and a Whitethroat 'tacking' deep in a bramble. Bumped into Andy J. who had just seen a Pied Flycatcher in the big oak tree at the end of the bottom path, so he kindly walked back with me to look for it again. It would have been a nice end to the day, but it didn't show again whilst I was there!

Cley – Waterworks Road
Watched thousands of Rooks and some Crows come into roost – the noise and racket was incredible! Also a Kestrel sat on a telegraph wire – heard a Robin and a Cetti's Warbler. Now 7.50pm and I had been birding for over 12 hours – time to go home!

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