Monday, 11 October 2010

Olive-backed Pipit...No Thanks

High tides meant that early afternoon would be the best time to look for the Olive-backed Pipit at Stiffkey, so Laura and i started off at Holme. Walking the dunes towards the Warden's house there was an obvious fall of Song Thrush and Brambling with birds in nearly every bush. I also saw my first Fieldfare of the autumn and Richard's Pipit was briefly seen on an area of short turf. At least 2 Lapland Bunting flew over the dunes and Thrushes continued to come in-off. Around the Warden's House i saw 2 Redstart and a Black Redstart, before Laura found a Yellow-browed Warbler in a clump of Buckthorn. A Great Grey Shrike had been seen on the grazing marshes but looking from the hide we could see little. From the footpath to Thornham the Great Grey Shrike could be seen, albeit distantly. By the time we walked further down the footpath the bird had gone, first flushed by a Magpie then Sparrowhawk. A juv. Montagu's Harrier flew through, but we couldn't be bothered to walk further so returned to the car, and then had lunch at 'The Hero' in Burnham Overy. It was about 2.30 when we parked by the campsite in Stiffkey, cars were everywhere and i could see a line of birders distantly across the very muddy saltmarsh. Before setting off i made a phone call to check if the bird was showing, it was but an Isabelline Wheatear had also just been found in Lowestoft. Before even getting my boots on i had decided to leave the Olive-backed Pipit and go to Lowestoft. After a frantic drive across the whole of Norfolk we eventually arrived at North Denes. The Isabelline Wheatear was showing extremely well at close range, with little need for a scope, it was a shame the camera was at home. In the early evening sun the pale tones and posture of the bird along with it 'pot-belly' appearence distinguised it from a Northern Wheatear near by. We headed back to Norwich, mud free and rather content at seeing a stunning bird, leaving Stiffkey was probably a good call.


  1. Was Laura going to go with you across the mud or was she planning to stay in the car?! It was very slippery, even in the afternoon. Did you tell anyone at Holme about the Richard's Pipit? I don't think there's been a twitchable one yet this year in Norfolk.

  2. Laura was going to slide out to the OB Pipit with me, we had the wellies etc with us, but didn't get to put them on. I reported the Richard's Pipit to the info centre, and that it had flown inland. The guy on the desk was a bit weird though, i asked if the Great Grey Shrike had been seen and he told me 'No it's just a Grey Shrike!'