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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Burnham Overy Dunes and Gun Hill!

Ring Ouzel
This evening at Gun Hill, Burnham Overy Dunes

Today was my first proper day's birding in ages! I also can't remember the last time I walked to Burnham Overy Dunes! It was a gloriously sunny day, but with a biting north easterly wind to keep you alert! It was obvious that the Easter break was over, as there were very few people about and hardly any dogs.

As I walked along the hedge-lined track, a Swallow flew over and a Spoonbill flew west. A male Blackcap appeared in an elder by the stile. My first Sedge Warbler burst into song, by the first metal gate – this was one of several I heard this afternoon. There were lots of Egyptian Geese, Greylag and Canada Geese on the marshes, along with Lapwings displaying, Red-legged and Grey Partridges, Little Egrets, Shelducks, Mallards, Marsh Harrier, a Kestrel and Meadow Pipits. A Yellow Wagtail flew over calling. At the end of the boardwalk a Hedge Sparrow was singing in the newly blossomed apple tree. I love this apple tree, so many good birds have found shelter in this little tree  – I won't forget photographing a Pallas's Warbler here a few years back.

I headed east through the dunes to the pines. At least five Wheatears were feeding on the short turf, along with a big flock of 50+ Linnets – some of them were very bright indeed, as they perched on the barbed wire fence in the sunshine. I explored most of the dunes, which was hard work – as I'm pretty unfit at the moment. A striking male Stonechat was perched at the top of a bush singing, which was nice and the Wheatear count continued. I walked to the Subalpine Warbler pit (locals will know where I mean) and it started to rain – no birds here. The rain shower was brief thank goodness. I walked around the pines and then back to sit on the high dune overlooking the fenced off area in hope of a Ring Ouzel. I played the 'Lark Ascending' on my iphone and thought about my father, got upset and turned the music off – it was pretty silly to play it in the first place! A Robin sat in an elder the entire time I was here – no Ring Ouzels were seen! Two Marsh Harriers were cruising over the marshes distantly. The best bird here was an unexpected Fieldfare, which flew past me at eye level, going east towards the pines.

I walked back through the dunes with several more sightings of Wheatears and Meadow Pipits. I climbed the high dune to walk along the flat area next to the barbed wire fence, but looked back for a few moments and suddenly spotted a blackish bird distantly – looked through bins to find a smart male Ring Ouzel! Another appeared and another..... four in all – good job I looked back before I continued my walk. They were too far away for photos though. Back at the boardwalk, I headed west to Gun Hill – it was now 6pm.
Ring Ouzel at Gun Hill, Burnham Overy Dunes

Along the lower path I found three lovely Reed Buntings in the suada scrub and more Wheatears appeared, along with another big flock of Linnets. There were approximately 400 Brent Geese on the marshes and two Spoonbills were in the creek just south of Gun Hill. There were at least 10 Wheatears in this area. Three Whimbrel flew overhead calling. I walked to the far west end of Gun Hill and then back along the seaward side. The only bird I found in the scrub just below the hill was a Hedge Sparrow sneaking around in the undergrowth. As I walked around the hill to view the slope below, I had wonderful surprise of four more Ring Ouzels! They were nigh on impossible to get close to and even more difficult to photograph! They are typically nervous birds and I have never obtained a crisp shot of one yet. There was also a pair of Stonechats perched up with the Ring Ouzels and along with the Wheatears and Meadow Pipits flitting around, it was a lovely scene to watch.
Stonechat at Gun Hill, Burnham Overy Dunes

I made my way back to the boardwalk – it was extremely chilly now, which helped me to quicken my pace! I saw another Spoonbill near the sluice and heard more Sedge Warblers on route. Got back to my car before dark and headed to Holme to visit mother for a short while and collected the on-line shopping list, which I only just got done in time before the deadline, when I returned to King's Lynn. Back to work tomorrow.

I have wasted quite a bit of time over the Easter period, but my spirit is still feeling so sad and its difficult to pull yourself together at times. Once we have scattered father's ashes, hopefully time will heal and normality (what ever normality is) will I'm sure return to some degree. I have a week's holiday starting on Saturday 29th April, but not sure if I want to be on my own for a week with the way I am still feeling – I may cancel it. On the other hand, maybe I'll wait and see what the weather and winds are doing for that week!😀

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