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Saturday 3 October 2020

Burnham Overy Dunes and Gull Hill – Dripping with Birds!!!

With rain overnight, North East Winds and rain all day, there was a massive fall of birds all along the East Coast and Norfolk had the biggest fall I have seen for a good number of years – it was truly magical and for most of it I was alone!
I parked up along the main road, just east of Burnham Overy Staithe and with full waterproofs, camera in rucksack and bins, I was off to find some birds at Burnham Overy Dunes. As I headed along the hedge lined track it was obvious there was a good fall of birds, before I got anywhere near the boardwalk or the dunes! There were several Goldcrests in one hawthorn alone, Redwings, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Robins everywhere, Blackcaps, Hedge Sparrows, Wrens, Chiffchaff and big flocks of Starlings flying over. The track between the stile and the sea wall was atrocious, a complete quagmire and I nearly fell over several times! A Short-eared Owl flew over heading east. At the end of the boardwalk, I briefly watched an interesting bunting (probably a Reed) partly obscured and sitting in the Apple Tree, which another birder was also trying to ID, sadly it sneaked off and disappeared. Bumped into Ian (Kelling birder) and his wife and daughter – they went east and I went west to Gun Hill.

Flushed a Redstart from the suaeda bushes as soon as I headed west! I felt quite excited, as I realised I was the only birder out here and could potentially find something incredible! A Swallow flew over west. Hedge Sparrows, Reed Buntings, Linnets and Meadow Pipits also seen. At the main scrub/bushes just east of Gun Hill it was alive with birds and I didn't know which way to look first! Male and female Redstart here, along with a Willow Warbler, Chiffchaffs, Robins, Redwings and Song Thrushes. Every Robin had to be checked properly – I didn't want to miss any blue tails!!! Walked to the extreme west end of Gun Hill onto the beach and saw lots of LBJ's exploding in all directions from small suaeda bushes, most of which were Robins, but some I lost! On the seaward side of Gun Hill it was alive with Blackcaps, Robins, Song Thrushes, Redwings and a couple of Chiffchaffs. I spent a long time here, hoping for something more exciting, like a Radde's Warbler or something more, but no luck. A second Short-eared Owl was seen west of Gun Hill. I didn't want to leave here, there had to be a mega here somewhere surely?! I spent more time at the main scrub area and watched the Redstarts again, but they didn't want to be photographed – every time I raised my camera, they disappeared into a bush. Four birders then joined me, who had walked all the way from Wells!!! I take my hat off to them for walking all that way and I expect they would be returning in the dark, by the time they got back to their cars. They told me they had seen a Barred Warbler east of the end of the boardwalk, so it was a good time for me to head in that direction!
Back at the end of the boardwalk I bumped into Ian and family again and found it was them who had found the Barred Warbler and Ian described where it was to me. Off I went, down the big dune slope and then followed the path along the fence line until you get to a large bramble area with two pine trees behind – this is where they had seen it last. The Barred Warbler had relocated to the scrub just south of the fence line and I managed to see it (with help from another birder, thank you), which I really pleased about and also managed to get a distant shot on the camera too!

Ambled back in the continuing rain. Put my camera away, before it got any wetter. Still loads of birds to see, even as dusk fell. 2 Chiffchaffs and some Blackcaps in the bushes at the boardwalk. Walking along the sea wall, skeins of Pink-footed Geese flew over east and I continued to see birds flitting around, including a very tired looking Chiffchaff at the base of a suaeda clump below the sea wall. Heard a Cetti's Warbler by the sluice area and saw a Red-legged Partridge and more Starling flocks. By the time I got back to my car, I was plastered in mud, bedraggled, wet and exhausted! Emptying a car of wet gear is not funny when you get home! Couldn't be bothered to cook, so ate a left over sandwich and the rest of a small bowl of Tiramisu I had made the other day. Washing machine load done and wet gear hanging up – hope its dry by the morning! Good night!

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