Monday, 14 October 2013

A Day in the Dunes

The middle 2 weeks of October are always set aside by Gary and myself for a spot of Autumn migrant hunting. Going away this year wasn't really an option, Gary has a new baby and I'm moving house, so Norfolk will be our stomping ground for the next few trips. 

We started today bright and early at Burnham Overy dunes. Walking down the Gun Hill track it seemed rather quiet, maybe this is just because last year we had thousands of thrush streaming in all day, or maybe it was the stiff breeze keeping things low. The first migrant was a Woodcock flushed from the hedge, followed by a few Redwing and Song Thrush. 2 Bullfinch were nice to see, even if not of the trumpeting northern variety. In the sueada by the sea wall we located a few Chiffchaff, Robin and Goldcrest, an early president for the day. A fly over Crossbill with a strange call could of been part of the Parrot Crossbill influx but we will never know. The bushes by the board walk are always productive and today was no exception, singles of Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethoat and Ring Ouzel, along with more Robin and Goldcrest. Walking Gun Hill large numbers of Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit seemed to dominate along with small flocks of Redwing off the sea. A few Blackcap were by the old brick chimney, and 3 Brambling were near the board walk as we returned. 

Walking towards Holkham we continued to pick up small numbers of thrush, before Gary found a Great Grey Shrike being chased by a large flock of Meadow Pipit. We watched this for a short while before it headed inland with some purpose. In the brambles and bushes by the pines, Robin and Blackcap were about in good numbers, before we stumbled upon a group of c30 Chiffchaff all in a small area. Here we also found our only 2 Fieldfare of the day, 4 Mistle Thrush and 2 Swallow. Walking the southern edge of Holkham Pines we soon stumbled across a Pallas's Warber, more Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Pallas's Warbler are one of my favorite birds and this tiny eartern migrant flitted about at close quarters for a while. From the Cross tracks we headed towards the beach and dunes, seeing 2 further Crossbill and lots of Goldcrest. Things had gone rather quirt so we headed back along the seaward side of the dunes. Nearly back at the boardwalk came news of 2 probable Parrot Crossbill back in the pines! We headed back but after 45 minutes without signed decided to call time on the days birding. Nearly back at the boardwalk again and more news, this time a Siberian Stonechat at Wells. 

Parking in the beach car park and walking back we soon found the location to the West of Beach Road but no sign of the Stonechat. Gary headed back to pick up the car giving me 10 minutes or so to keep scanning, and just as Gary arrived back I found the Siberian Stonechat a little distant, but still showing most of it features and general pale appearance. With a Barn Owl Drifting past in the back ground this was a nice way to finish the day. 

Totals for the day included, c900 Redwing, 58 Song Thrush, 3 Fieldfare, 58 Blackbird, 10 Ring Ouzel, 4 Mistle Thrush,18 Brambling, 3 Crossbill, 125 Meadow Pipit, 64 Reed Bunting, 55 Robin, 56 Chiffchaff, 73 Goldcrest, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 58 Blackcap, 2 Swallow, 1 Pallas's Warbler, 1 Woodcock, and 1 Great Grey Shrike.

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