Today (18th) was the only day during my annual two week 'Autumn Migrant Holiday' where the persistent Westerly winds gave way to a light Easterly/North-Easterly, and with a little bit of drizzle forecast I was probably a little over optimistic of taking something from a quiet Autumn.
Without the car I had two 'public transport' options head East and walk from Sea Palling or head North and start at Cromer. The train pulled into Cromer station at 8am, the light was poor with drizzle in the air. Looking out to sea I picked up a Fulmar and distant Gannet. Between the Doctor's Slope and the Lighthouse, Chaffinch (17) and Robin (18) seemed to be moving East along the clifftop, but it was too dull to see anything in the woods. A lone Redwing was in the gorse, but on reaching the golf course I was a little underwhelmed.
Looking out to sea a bank of cloud was heading towards me, then half way across the Golf Course while on the Coastal Path I seemed to be awash with Goldcrest (48), with them appearing in every bush. In this short stretch of maybe 1km I also saw my favorite bird of the day a Firecrest, a female Ring Ouzel and 3 Song Thrush all appearing to be new arrivals. A large flock of Goldfinch (100+) also held a few Linnet and Greenfinch but little else. Approaching Overstand my 'fall' of birds evaporated as quickly as it arrived, reverting back to being Robin and Chaffinch.
I stopped for a cuppa and toast in the cafe before continuing East, the light had improved now and I picked out 3 Red-throated Diver offshore. I was getting towards Trimingham before the next birds of note a flock of c30 Meadow Pipit and 30+ Skylark, that split and merged over the stubble fields. 60+ Cormorant were on the beach with a fixed gull flock and 6 Brent Geese headed West. The Clifftop Wood was silent, 5 Starling flew in off the sea and a Grey Wagtail flew over calling. I was aware of an elusive Barred Warbler behind the Pilgrim's Shelter on Monday, but wasn't expecting for it to be boldly sitting up in the hawthorn hedge. Needless to say it wasn't there long and despite knowing exactly where it was hiding I could not see it again.
The Coastal Path briefly comes inland to avoid the radar station and here a small group of 5 Yellowhammer had the company of a male Reed Bunting. Past the beach ramp at Trimingham I was skirting the caravan park when a smart male Stonechat appeared at close quarters. Sadly I gave him only brief attention as a large mixed flock of finches appeared from between the caravans (i suspect someone had put seed down) among the group of 50+ mainly Chaffinch and Goldfinch I picked out at least 2 Brambling. Walking towards Mundesley a heavy drizzle set in and I saw very little extra. Behind the Holiday Camp (on my patch), I turned up a lonely Goldcrest, 2 Reed Bunting and c20 Skylark before turning inland towards home. By Paston Great Barn a group of Redwing, my first thrush flock of the day passed over. Walking the Paston Way along the old railway line and via Pigney's Wood I saw only the expected resident birds.
I arrived home 7 hours and 26km after getting off the train in Cromer, time for a cuppa and sit down. Maybe it's already to late in the Autumn but I failed to see single Wheatear, Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler, but the fall of Goldcrest and great (if brief views) of the Barred Warbler have to be the highlights of an enjoyable if tiring day.
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