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Monday, 2 June 2014


Burnham Overy Dunes/Gun Hill, Norfolk
Found By Neil Alford

At work today, I was tired and was going home to write yesterday's post that I was too tired to write last night. My lunch starts at 12.30pm. I was showing Jules some beach pictures of East Hills on my iphone (no signal in office, so no texts etc) yesterday and didn't actually go out to my car (where I escape for lunch break) until 1.45pm. Sat in car, started eating my microwave meal, phone came into signal..... 'MEGA SPECTACLED WARBLER at Burnham Overy Dunes at 12. 32pm...' and a text from a friend saying 'just go as soon as you can after work, go home, change, no washing hair or anything, no making sarnies, get optics and camera and go'!!! OH MY GOD!!! This was a seriously mega bird, no messing about Penelope! Never mind about going home to get stuff after work, it needed to be got now! At 1.55pm I flew home in the car, bundled birding gear into boot, found clothes, grabbed two cakes + drink left over from yesterday, flew back to work and really luckily got same parking space and was back on the ward for 1.15pm exactly! Phew, shattered! It was torture being at work in the afternoon, not knowing if the bird was still there etc. Got changed into birding clothes, much to the amusement of my colleagues and I was first out of the door at 4.45pm.

Pouring with rain as I drove to Burnham Overy. A car pulled out, on the main road parking area – so, so lucky, I pulled straight in, magic! Rain almost stopped now. I walked and jogged along the track to Gun Hill. I hate those last few hundred yards, it just adds masses of stress and panic! Passed James Mc. (glad he didn't find this on BP, much worse having to walk that after work!), also Ashley Banwell who said 'come on gal'!!! Lots of people walking back, people who had already been and gone and were at home (Andy Wilkinson who happened to the have the day off!). Here was I, feeling like I was the last one here. Why does bloody work have to get in the way. All weekend I have had and this mega bird turns up on a Monday!!! At the end of the main track, I turned left (west) and followed the bottom path alongside sueda, until the path starts to rise (where you normally start to walk over the short-turfed area) and the bird was in the first main lot of bushes and scrub on the right hand side.

It seems like forever, those last few yards, but eventually I join the crowd and stand next to Julian B. The bird is not showing right now, panic, panic.... heart beating like crazy, hot, flustered and all that jazz! Suddenly it shows, Wow, Wow, Wow!!! My first Spectacled Warbler at 5.50pm!!! This was a seriously smart bird, couldn't believe I was actually watching this. No words....... well ok, it was a SPECTACULAR EVENING to say the least! Lots of birders here who I knew including Julian B., Jason Ward and Chris (nice to meet you both), Phil Heath, Pete, Steve West, Justin and Chris L, Sue B., Dave Foster, Andy J, Andy B., Robert S., LGRE (of course).... list goes on. Approx 100+ people at most whilst I was there.

Very difficult bird to photograph – constantly flitting in out amongst the branches and leaves, hardly ever sitting still. I wanted to try out my new phone scoping kit, but it didn't sit still enough for me to do this. Took 285 pictures, most of them rubbish. I did manage a very amateur video with phone, very late on, but not much good. I was impressed that no one moved forward, excellent behaviour, apart from the fact that there was a little too much noise – I DO wish people wouldn't talk so much and about so much other stuff that they can talk about elsewhere. I noticed the bird did move further back, as the volume got louder. If you all want awesome views tomorrow, its quite simple – BE QUIET!!!

There was only a handful of us left at the finish and we were all then going when the bird started singing again!!! We all stayed a bit longer, so fabulous to hear this mega bird singing and so late in the evening!!! It was still singing at 9.10pm when we all left (put the news out to RBA). So it was left singing alone and no one flushed it or booted it out of the bush, so everyone has a 50/50 chance of it being there in the morning – I hope it is, as I want to go back again! I was determined to stay to the end, to make sure this bird was left to roost in peace!
The area scrub/bushes were the bird favoured.

The above picture is the original picture of my crop/edit at the very top of this post, taken with a 300 f4 lens. Just to give you an idea of distance that people were standing from the bird. You can just make out the Spectacled Warbler in the middle of the picture!
The crowd standing to my left!

The crowd standing to my right!

Massive thanks to Neil Alford who found this mega bird, congratulations!

It's hit the headlines already!!!! In the Eastern Daily Press on line this evening!!! 

This mega bird is the Second for Norfolk, but the first twitchable bird, the first being on Scolt head Island on 6th May 2011 and suppressed. This is only the 8th Record for Great Britain!!!


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