Monday, 15 September 2014

A (Half) Marathon Migrant Hunt

I had planned on catching an early train and sea watching at Sheringham and exploring the local area, but waking up to rain I stayed in bed awhile and caught a later train to Cromer. The sea mist was only just burning off so an earlier start would probably have been a waste of time. Although it's not Sheringham I still thought I give sea watching a bash, and did between 8.15am and 9.15am. Gannet made up most of the count with Cormorant going backward and forwards. Here's the full count;

Gannet e79 w16, Manx Shearwater e3, Cormorant e37 w31, Dunlin w2, Great Skua e1, Shoveler e1, Fulmer w2, Sandwich Tern e12, Common Scoter e16 w7, Arctic Skua w1, Teal w4, Kittiwake w2, Wigeon w12.

From the promenade I walked east towards the doctor's steps, seeing 2 Wheatear and a Yellow-legged Gull on the beach. I then had a look around Warren Woods and the area near the lighthouse. Another Wheatear and a few Chiffchaff were all I could muster before walking across the golf course towards Overstrand. The clifftop bushes and cliff slumps look idea for migrants but 2 Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaff, and a Garden Warbler seemed like a small haul. On the golf cause itself another 5 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat flitted about.

In Overstrand my first hindrines passed over in the form of 2 House Martin and 1 Swallow. A Wheatear was near the car park and another two were on the promenade. Also along the promenade a gentleman rebuilding the beach huts made me aware of a Purple Sandpiper.

Moving onto Sidestrand I found a Yellow-browed Warbler in some sycamores on Tower Road, my best find of the day. Behind the school I found my second Whinchat of the day, before coming across a group of 77 Cormorant resting on the beach. Before reaching Trimingham and the 'clifftop wood' a Tree Pipit flew over, 5 Grey Partridge strangely flew over the cliffs and 2 more Wheatear were in the fields.

Trimming ws my last coastal area before turning inland towards home. The clifftop wood only held a single Chiffchaff and a few tits, near the Pilgrim Shelter I encountered 2 Goldcrest and 5 House Martin flew through. By the sand pit 6 Swallow few around and I saw my 13th Wheatear of the day.

Skirting the edge of Gimingham I saw 2 Buzzard and my final Wheatear of the day. Walking the footpaths via Trunch, Bradfield and Lyngate 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler and a small group of Skylark where probably summer residents rather than migrants. And that concluded my sea watch and migrant hunt, 7.5 hours, 60 species and 22km (half a marathon) later.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Migrant Hunting Once Again

I started a week off work with an early morning walk on Thursday. Waving Laura off, I set off to walk a regular loop out towards Antingham Pond and back again. It was rather overcast with low cloud and everything seemed subdued, although I did hear a singing Chiffchaff nearby as I left. A Kingfisher whizzing down Lyngate Road as if it were a river, was probably the highlight, but it was just nice to do this walk again as I haven't for a few months. The rest of the day was devoted to jobs around the house.

Friday dad and I headed for the coast in the hope of some migrants. We plumped for Kelling, it seemed as good a place as any and I was hoping the Western Bonelli's may have still been there. Parking by the school we spent a short while looking for the Bonelli's but it was soon evident it had moved on. Walking down the track to the water meadows there were good numbers of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, giving us hope for the day ahead. The track also held a good-size flock of Chaffinch and mixed Tits. A single Bullfinch also flew over before I found a skulking warbler, luckily we didn't have to wait to long to see the bird, a Lesser Whitethroat. According to a 'local' the pools have been almost dry and only recently started to fill again, there was enough water though to attract 2 Dunlin, c20 Teal and a similar number of Pied Wagtail. At the beach I decided on a little impromptu sea watch as with binoculars I could see a few Gannet passing through. In 20 minutes we has 30+ Gannet, a handful of Sandwich Tern, 2 Guillemot and a Razorbill. The short turf by the Radar station had a single Wheatear hopping about and on the fence a female Whitchat frustrated me, moving along a post at a time as soon as I focused my camera! A recently ploughed field held good sized flocks of both Skylark and Meadow Pipit, possibly passing through? We soon found ourselves back at the car with few genuine migrants encountered, but nibbling on a few snacks before heading off a Honey Buzzard flew through quite low going east.

A quick walk around Kelling Heath in the vein hope a few of its Heathland specialities remain, proved fruitless with a group of 8 Buzzard the only thing worth reporting, unless your keen on Wren and Woodpigeon. We thought about stopping off at near Sheringham or West Runton, but with little being reported headed home. Checking the days sightings in the evening I learnt of a Wryneck at Beeston!

Before my 8pm physio app the evening still held enough light for a brisk stroll around the Spa Common area. Bird wise unsurprisingly it was rather quiet, but along the roadside I did see quite a bit of fungi and an area of digging that looks quite good for badgers.

Saturday Laura and I spent the day out and about doing various things, which included a brief visit to the cliffs at Paston. A lone Whinchat on the wires by the paddocks and 2 Wigeon on the sea were the total sum of migrants seen. But a ticking bird deep in thick brambles and unwilling to move was obviously something very rare.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Autumn Clifftop Migrants

With migrants now really starting to flow I decided to give Paston Cliffs a bash this morning with dad. The scrub by the car park held a couple of Whitethroat and a mixed tit flock buzzed about. It seemed quiet, except for the 75+ House Martin and Swallow hawking around. Scanning the bushes on the cliff face I spotted a rather aggravated Robin, it wasn't happy with something, and I soon managed to spot a lovely looking male Black Redstart at the base of the cliff. In the bracken area the usual Dunnock family flitted about, but diving over the cliff edge another bird caught my eye. Peeking over the edge a top a gorse bush was a female/juv Whinchat. Two new patch birds and I had a third shortly after as I spotted a Pied Flycatcher when if briefly left a scrubby area halfway down the cliff. A few more Whitethroat and a mixed Linnet/Goldfinch flock as I wandered towards the paddocks completed this very pleasant if brief walk.

We did then drive onto Trimingham, but had only reached the clifftop wood when it started to rain quite hard. The rain eventually eased enough for us to make an escape back to the car, but the days birding was over.