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.

Monday, 27 April 2015

A few migrants

A busy week at work restricted my ability to witness the spring migration that others have been enjoying during the last few days.  I did manage to get out Friday lunch time but could only find common migrants.

Sedge Warbler, Heacham, 24th April

Whitethroat, Heacham, 24th April

Yesterday I headed up to Burnham Overy for first light.  I had a very enjoyable morning seeing a good range of common migrants, though it sounds like I might have done better if I'd waited til the afternoon.  I didn't see another birder until I was leaving, which was nice, but those I saw arriving managed to find a fair bit more than me, and someone else arriving later (presumably) even reported an Ashy-headed Wagtail - which I would have loved to see.

But I won't let others' successes spoil my day.  The first migrants were immediately obvious even in the half-light as I parked my car - Whimbrel calling from beside the car park.  Hard to say how many I saw altogether - I put 10+ down but it might have been nearer 20.  

 acrobatic Whimbrel, Burnham Overy, 25th April

A Spoonbill was feeding in the saltmarsh and this was another species I kept seeing but which it was hard to know how many different birds I was seeing.  Possibly as many as 5, but some sightings could have been duplicates.

Spoonbills, Burnham Overy, 25th April

The dykes were full of Sedge Warbler song, and 2 Reed Warblers could also be heard among them.  The first of 7 Wheatears had appeared before I'd reached the dunes, but had I stayed longer this is one of the species I may have seen more of, judging from later visitors' accounts.

 Wheatear, Burnham Overy, 25th April

As I approached the boardwalk I could see 3 Ring Ouzels in the field adjacent to the dunes.  They were gone when I passed here again later but I did find 3 Ring Ouzels behind the fenceline just east of the end of Holkham Pines - the same birds I guess.

Ring Ouzel, Burnham Overy, 25th April

Linnet, Burnham Overy, 25th April

A few birds were moving west, though not hordes.  Among them were a handful of Swallows, 2 House Martins and at least 10 Yellow Wagtails.  Two Sandwich Terns flew past, followed by 2 Little Terns, while a Common Tern was hunting in the channel.

I flushed a Cuckoo from the dunes by the Sea Buckthorn patch and 2 Mediterranean Gulls flew over.

A broad-wing raptor moving west low over the sea looked interesting.  Wasn't sure if I saw a forked tail when I first picked it up but this was no Red Kite.  But neither was I convinced it was any kite, and I couldn't see that forked tail again.  It was pretty uniformly dark brown except for a slightly paler base to the primaries on the underwing.  The upperparts were very plain, though the wing-tips and trailing edge were a fraction darker.  Marsh Harrier probably, but  the head was paler - not pale-crowned like a female-type Marsh Harrier, but generally looking slightly paler, like a Black Kite actually... And there was no sign of pale on the leading edge of the wing... could it really be a Black Kite?  The way the wings bent back at the carpals looked sort of Kite-like and then I noticed a reddish wash to the rear underparts - I've seen that on warm-looking Black Kites before.  But where's the tail action?  Something wasn't right.  I never actually thought this was a Black Kite, despite more and more bits of the jigsaw apparently pointing that way.  It disappeared behind the dunes as it came in closer so I ran up to a higher point.  I couldn't see it at first but then picked it up - further out than I thought.  But it was coming in and getting higher - now I could get a better look at its tail... its long straight and not even remotely forked Marsh Harrier tail.  And at this point I finally got to see some pale on the leading edge of the wings too.  An educational bird, and one that I could well imagine getting misidentified as something more interesting.

Oystercatcher, Burnham Overy, 25th April

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