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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Burnham Overy Dunes, Gun Hill, Holkham & Beyond!

Sedge Warbler singing at Burnham Overy Dunes


It felt exciting to be walking along the track to Burnham Overy Dunes, I can't remember the last time I came here! In the field just west of the first stile, there were 2 Song Thrushes and several Blackbirds. A Willow Warbler was singing and Sedge Warblers seemed to be popping up everywhere! Several Whitethroats were in the brambles along with Chiffchaffs, Linnets, Long-tailed Tits, Robin and Hedge Sparrows. Over the marsh there were 3 Marsh Harriers, a Common Buzzard, Red Kite and my first Swift of the Spring flew across reedbeds, along with hundreds of other Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins, some of which landed to rest on the marsh, which was fascinating to watch! In the large field east of the track, there were 5 Ring Ouzels feeding around a large bramble (Ashley S. had seen 6 earlier) and some Starlings in the far corner. Other birds seen: Heron, Blackcaps, Cetti's Warbler, Pochard, Redshanks, Reed Buntings, Brent Geese, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. I also spotted a tiny fluffy Lapwing chick with parents out in the middle of the marsh.

Ring Ouzels – two of five seen on the east side of the track
out to Burnham Overy Dunes

Red Kite at Burnham Overy Dunes

Wheatear along with Meadows Pipits at Gun Hill
Self Explanatory!
Holkham Pines

Salts Hole, Holkham


At the end of the boardwalk, I found a Chiffchaff and 2 Goldfinches in the apple tree, but no other birds seen in the scrub. A Red Kite was flying just above my head, but the light was very poor, so rubbish pictures. Shortly after this, the sun came out for a while. I walked west to Gun Hill. On route I found a Sandwasp, a male Stonechat and 2 Wheatears. I sat at the most western end of Gun Hill, just outside the roped off area to have a coffee and something to eat. I spent a while here, watching Meadow Pipits, Linnets and 2 Wheatears. The Red Kite (or a different one) was upsetting the waders in the harbour. Saw a few Sanderling here too and a Little Egret. Walked back east to the boardwalk and apple tree and then continued east through the dunes.

I found a Wheatear and a Small Copper butterfly. Spent a while searching for migrants in the dunes, before I reached Holkham Pines, but it seemed everything had now gone quiet. Walking along the track through the pines I found a Speckled Wood butterfly. Cetti's Warblers were singing and several Blackcaps seen and heard, but nothing else of note. A couple earlier, had told me they had seen a Common Crane on the pools, seen from the wooden ramp up to Washington Hide (closed), but it wasn't on view when I looked. On the lawn of Meals House there was a Blackbird and a Robin feeding. It was lovely walking along the track through the pines and hardly passed anyone at all. After finding out the Lynx bus service leaves the bus stop at Holkham at 41 minutes past the hour, I had to speed walk along Lady Anne's Drive to catch the 15.41 bus to Burnham Overy (back to my car). I made it with 5 minutes to spare! Unbeknown to me at this point, I found out later that Common Crane was on view just east of here! The bus was punctual, but the driver was grumpy and  said "you want me to drop on the dangerous corner by the junction?" "anywhere close will be fine" I said. It was worth £2 to save me walking all the way back to my car! Collapsed in the car and had lunch. It was spitting with rain and felt much colder now.

I then decided to visit another favourite place and went to Garden Drove at Warham Greens. Parked up on the concrete pad and walked along the track to the copse and back again. Sadly this only produced a single Chiffchaff. Also saw a Red Kite and a Kestrel. The pigs and units are now on the eastern side/field of the track – I've only ever seen them on the west side/field.

Checked out the paddocks at Morston Quay, no sign of the Ring Ouzel, but several Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes and Jackdaws. Also stopped at The House On The Hill at Blakeney, but no birds seen here at all.

Parked a few yards along Beach Road at Cley to look at lots of cows and sadly no Blue-headed or Yellow Wagtails (seen earlier by other lucky birders). Walked along the track past the cows and up as far as the spot where the Grasshopper Warbler was, opposite the visitor centre, but no luck with that. Saw House Sparrows, 2 Greenfinches and several Goldfinches. Returned to my car.

Parked up at Salthouse and walked along the Iron Road to view the pool just west of the track and saw a Little Ringed Plover, Shelducks, Redshanks, Avocets, a Heron, Oystercatchers and a pair of Shovelers. It was now 7pm. A campervan was parked next to my car and was frying up sausages and bacon on a gas stove in the back of the van. 

Parked up at Walsey Hills NOA to have a coffee. On Snipe's Marsh, there were a pair of Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Mallards, Coots and Greylag Geese. It started to rain and I headed home at around 7.30pm. An exciting day initially, but deteriorated as the day progressed!

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