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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Dawn, The Little Bunting & Birding 'til Dusk!

Snettisham Coastal Park

Snettisham Coastal Park
I was out of bed before dawn and arrived at Snettisham Coastal Park at 6.15am. 50+ Mallards greeted me as I parked up on the side of the road! They all waddled at speed towards me! As I was getting my gear together, a car pulled up into the caravan park and a lady got out carrying a large bucket of food – the mallards soon abandoned me, when they realised I was the wrong food source!

It was cold and dull first thing, the sun didn't appear until 7am. The coastal park was alive with birds first thing and the first bird I heard singing was a Lesser Whitethroat in a bramble. 2 Little Egrets flew over, Sedge Warblers singing, Cetti's Warbler's, Swallows west all day, Linnets, Chiffchaffs, several Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Reed Buntings, one Whimbrel flew over, a Yellow Wagtail flew over and a Ring Ouzel bombed over the large flat area into sea buckthorn.

Bumped into Jim Swalwell who had caught me up at 7am 'ish and knew exactly where to look for the Little Bunting. No sign of this bird for quite a while. At about 8am the LITTLE BUNTING appeared, creeping about on the sand, through the sea-buckthorn. Fabulous views of this cracking bird, but difficult to photograph as it didn't come out in the open at all. There were around 12 people here at this time. It was only there for a very short time and then flew up into the top of a large elder bush before disappearing.

I walked further east to search for birds. Heard my first Cuckoo this Spring, a Med. Gull flew over west, 2 Bullfinches flew over and a Grasshopper Warbler 'reeled', but I didn't see it. I returned to try and see the LITTLE BUNTING again, which I did briefly at 10.25am as it appeared from the thicker sea-buckthorn and then flew over the path into bushes, no one else saw it apart from me. It then appeared again at 10.45am and showed for the longest time this morning, giving people really good views, but again obscured by irritating bits of sea-buckthorn! I helped a few people to see the bird under the canopy of the buckthorn. Realising I wasn't going to get a better picture than I did earlier this morning, I left. It was really hot now and the rest of the day, up until late afternoon was beautiful. Back at the car I enjoyed a coffee and part of my lunch at 11.30am.

Hunstanton & Holme
At Hunstanton I did a small shop for parents and went to visit them for a short while. Mother had risked leaving Father this morning and cycled to the farm shop at Thornham. They were both enjoying crab with bread and butter for their lunch when I arrived. Orange Tip Butterfly and a Speckled Wood on flowers outside their front gate. Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Goldfinches in the pond area opposite the house.

Thornham Deli & Sports Field
One Ring Ouzel, 3 Linnets and 1 Pied Wagtail in the field.

Choseley Barns
Red-legged Partridges, Grey Partridges, Yellowhammers, Chaffinches and Pheasants in the drilled field south of the barns. Didn't see any Dotterel though. Annoyingly, the White-tailed Eagle which had been seen at Salthouse this morning decided to put in an appearance at Holme at 2.40pm, before heading west and not seen again. I don't know how it managed to fly from Holkham to Holme without being seen by any other birders on route!!!

Burnham Overy Dunes
I headed to Burnham Overy Dunes for the reported 'probable' Ashy-headed Wagtail that was seen mid-afternoon. As I parked up on the A149 the skies looked pretty evil – black rolling clouds and imminent rain! I started walking down the track – no birds whatsoever and after speaking to another birder who had seen nothing at all of note, I changed my mind when I got as far as the sea wall and retraced my steps to the car. It wasn't worth getting wet for I decided! No sign of any wagtails on the fields anywhere!

Burnham Norton
The skies still looked dodgy, but less so than earlier. I had a lovely time here, no cars in the carpark and no one else here! Cuckoo calling and seen flying high across the path as I walked out to the marshes. A Cetti's Warbler singing and lovely views of a Sedge Warbler singing away in a bramble bush alongside the path. A Grey Heron flew across and a Marsh Harrier was over the windmill. It was really cold now and started to spit with rain. 3 Mistle Thrushes out on the marsh, one of them gathering food. The highlight was 30+ Yellow Wagtails with the cattle!!! Part of the reason I came here – Burnham Norton is a good spot for Yellow Wagtails. All the usual birds on the marsh: Greylags, Egyptian Geese, Canada Geese, Shelducks, Lapwings, Shovelers, Coots, Moorhens, Gulls etc etc. Lots of Swallows and both Sand and House Martins overhead, just before I left at 6.30pm.

Barrow Common, Brancaster
As I drove up the hill to Barrow Common I witnessed a Sparrowhawk killing a Collared Dove in the middle of the road – a gruesome sight! I didn't see anything on the Common – too late in the day, gloomy and light rain. This must be a good habitat for birds with all the gorse, trees and grassy areas I would have thought. The views of the coast from here are spectacular. Barrow Common is reached from the road that runs south and uphill from 'The Jolly Sailers' pub.

Choseley Barns
Grey Partridges x 2, Yellowhammer and Pied Wagtail on the concrete pad by the barns. Further along, the large drilled field held a good number of birds feeding up before dusk, including both Grey and Red-legged Partridges, Pheasants and a large flock of finches: lots of Chaffinches and Yellowhammers in a feeding frenzy. I noticed that the Chaffinches were dust bathing as they fed. Lots of Hares around – they are always a delight to watch. It was seriously cold now and felt like winter again! Drove home with the heating on full!


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