A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Spring migrants (!) and a hybrid Wigeon

The drive to Burnham Overy this morning produced Barn Owls at Horningtoft and Hempton.  Most of the 81 species of bird I saw at Burnham Overy this morning were seen during the walk out to the dunes - although nothing amazing seen it felt birdy!  2 Chinese Water Deer were on the marsh along with 2 Barnacle Geese.  From the dunes a Pintail was among the Wigeon and a Red Kite flew west along the dunes.  Two drake Eiders flew east and the Rough-legged Buzzard performed well along the fence posts where it was visible for most of the morning.

From the east end of the dunes I could see at least 35 White-fronted Geese at Holkham and 2 more Red Kites in a tree there.  Then I was distracted by a loud call - it sounded like a Phyllosc but surely too loud as it was some way across the dunes.  Black Redstart entered my head and then I glimpsed a bird fly up flycatching like they do sometimes.  I wasn't convinced though and as I approached I found it flitting around feeding actively, constantly calling and very mobile.  It was clearly a Chiffchaff - but what was it doing here now?  A wintering bird?  Perhaps but I've not seen it on previous visits this winter and why out here in the dunes?  A spring migrant?  Well it behaved like it was freshly arrived but in northerly winds on 7th Feb?  Surely not?  Wherever it came from I suspect it hadn't overwintered quite here, even if not very far away.

1-2 Snow Buntings flew over the boardwalk and as I walked back 2 Short-eared Owls appeared briefly.  A Goldcrest appeared in some brambles beside the dyke - another bird that I haven't seen here all winter, except in the bushes adjacent to the pines.  Was this an arrival like the Chiffchaff, or had it just dispersed from the village?  There had seemed to be more Blackbirds than of late and 2 Fieldfares were in the saltmarsh, so maybe there was a small passerine arrival today?

Eddie tweeted a photo of an American Wigeon or hybrid at Cley.  It looked good for a hybrid to me so I headed off there - wouldn't have bothered for a pure American Wigeon!  On arrival I was told that the bird was certainly not a pure American Wigeon and might even be an odd Eurasian.  I didn't think so from the photo, but worth a look anyway.  In the hide I was again told it might just be an odd Eurasian - apparently it was a bit paler-backed than normal but otherwise like a female Wigeon.  Eh?  The photo on Eddie's tweet was clearly a male!  Anyway, there was no sign of the male but continuing the surely-not-a-spring-migrant theme, the drake Garganey was showing.  This Little Egret showed better though:

Little Egret, Cley, 7th February

Two Eurasian White-fronted Geese showed among the Pink-feet but despite several optimistic shouts the Tundra Beans were hiding.  Eventually the Wigeon flock was flushed and when they came back down on the water the (very male) American Wigeon x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid was finally bagged.  A bit distant for photos unfortunately - here are my best efforts:

American Wigeon x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid, Cley, 7th February

While I was watching that the 2 Tundra Bean Geese appeared behind.  Back at the car a male Stonechat was keeping guard.

I'd planned to go to the local patch this afternoon in order to look round the private site where I recently obtained permission to access.  The diversion to Cley meant I didn't have long but I took a look anyway.  Only a small section of the pond is visible from the road (and only in winter) so it was interesting to see how far it extended round the corner.  Plenty of birds on it too, though nothing very exciting.  11 Pochard and 7 Tufted Ducks were noteworthy for the site - at least so they seem when you can only view from the road but maybe they aren't so unusual at this apparently deeper end of the pond.  Another pool that's also hidden from public access held scores of Teal, though I have yet to work out a way of viewing these without flushing them.

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