Goldcrest in the Sycamore Glade, East Hills
Garden Drove and Wells
I was out early and arrived at Garden Drove, Warham at 8am. Very black clouds, made viewing difficult this morning. I walked east along the footpath to Wells. Between Garden Drove and Wells I saw a big movement of thrushes, including Blackbirds, Redwings, Song Thrushes and tons of Robins, Goldcrests and also a few Chiffchaffs. At the large scrub either side of the coastal footpath approx 1 mile west of Garden Drove, I sadly found 2 dead Goldcrests on the path. However, I had a nice surprise – a Whinchat appeared briefly in on a twig in the same scrub at 9am.
Oystercatchers and Brent Geese at East Hills
Brent Geese at East Hills
Wren in the Sycamore Glade, East Hills
Very wet walking out at East Hills today, can't believe I didn't fall over or sink! Hundreds of Brent Geese and a big number of Oystercatchers on the north side by Wells Harbour. It was exciting to be out here, as there was a MASSIVE fall of birds. Hundreds of thrushes including Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Redwings and smaller numbers of Fieldfare. Blackbirds and Redwings were in the biggest numbers and continuously scattered out of brambles as I walked along. Big numbers of Robins, lots of Wrens popping up everywhere, Hedgesparrows. Hundreds of Goldcrests, to be fair probably 1000+ were feeding on every available sycamore leaf and pine branch, a spectacle indeed! Flushed a Woodcock at the far end, also a couple of pheasants. A handful of Chiffchaffs were also seen in the main sycamore glade, along with 3 Bramblings and Blue Tits and Great Tits. I also found several very smart male Blackcaps. 4 Marsh Harriers were gliding around the south dunes. Also a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling. Whilst sitting under a pine tree at 12pm to have my late breakfast: an egg and vege sausage roll with coffee, I was treated to a spectacular overhead sighting of 2 majestic Red Kites, just over the tree tops!!! Couldn't get the camera on them quick enough though! Then the rain fell heavily. I hunkered against the pine tree whilst it hammered down. Suddenly another birder appeared and someone I hadn't expected – photographer David Tipling! David had flushed a Long-eared Owl in between two sycamores in the large flat area of ground! We swapped telephone numbers in case either found that elusive mega!
Chiffchaff in the Sycamore Glade, East Hills
Chiffchaff in the Sycamore Glade, East Hills
Quite a while ago I dragged up two plastic type boxes off the beach, which each have small compartments in – these hold water and they make a perfect drinking/bathing container for tired migrants and because the sections are small, there are no fatalities. Sadly though, I found a new deep, white plastic container full of water and a Robin who had not been able to get out – I turned the container on its side, to allow only a small amount of water to reside, a sad and unnecessary death for the Robin, after all his hard work getting here. I also found a dead Redwing later. Lots of pager messages bleeping up all day including a third Isabelline Shrike – must be a record having 3 Isabelline Shrikes in Norfolk! Also pager messages included Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler at Wells and Brancaster and one of my favourite birds, an Olive-backed Pipit at Muckleburgh Hill and equally as frustrating a Long-eared Owl on Gramborough Hill – lots of Great Grey Shrikes etc – torture! Kept telling myself that all these would seem insignificant when I found my mega!
Song Thrush, East Hills
I spent a long time looking for David's Long-eared Owl – it was very frustrating to know that a Long-eared Owl was on here somewhere and I couldn't find it! I walked round East Hills twice, covering every area in my search for that one special bird. Though, most of my time was spent in the sycamore glade, peering up at green sycamore leaves and checking out every Goldcrest. I so wanted to see a Pallas's Warbler out here, but simply couldn't find one. There had been one out here yesterday according to late news today, along with a Great Grey Shrike. I also saw a Kestrel and a Common Buzzard out here and a Sparrowhawk zoomed through, then landed briefly on a pine tree before heading off. I found a third birder in the sycamore glade who was staying out until 5.30pm, I presume he didn't find anything big after I left.
Redwing, East Hills
Blackcap at East Hills
I begrudgingly left the sycamore glade at just after 4pm and trudged back over quick sand, pools of water, creeks and mud. Saw 6 Grey Plovers flying north and 5 Little Egrets, arriving back at Garden Drove at 5.15pm, then headed back up the track to my car – I felt exhausted. It was now raining again. I could hear lots of Goldcrests on route back. Removed my extremely muddy waterproof over trousers and left quickly to twitch the Olive-backed Pipit.
Arrived at Weybourne at dusk. Flew out of the car, across the road and into Muckleburgh Hill as the light was fading fast. Several happy birders walking back, who told me exact location to see the Olive-backed Pipit. Passed R.M and M.T only yards from where it was last seen to have flown and Richard kindly gave me some tips on where/how to find it – search all along the edges of the bracken, which I did, but failed miserably. Got excited when a bird flew down on the edge of a strip of bracken to reveal a red breast! A robin tantalising me. I was gutted to say the least, I LOVE Olive-backed Pipits and this really made me p*ssed off to say the least. But time and light were against me. Nothing else I could do but make the long drive home.
So, in summary, a top draw day of migration at East Hills, but pretty shocked not to even find a Yellow-browed or Pallas's Warbler, never mind something rarer! I won't go out again before I go back to work on Monday. Three days left, its gone so quickly and there are still so many birds I want to see. I might follow the pager tomorrow!
MORE PICTURES TO BE ADDED