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.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Stork and Shrike

A Peregrine was the first noteworthy bird I saw at Burnham Overy on Monday 9th.  Among the lingering Brent Geese on the saltmarsh was the overwintering Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid.

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid, Burnham Overy, 9th May

I've known for a long time how these things morph their appearance according to the light and the angle to the observer but the effect was really dramatic today as the bird showed in sunshine and at close range.  Some times it looked really black-and-white, very confusable with a pure Black Brant.  In fact if Black Brants can show that much dark in the flank patch (which I believe they can) you'd be hard-pushed to tell it from a pure bird at those times.

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid, Burnham Overy, 9th May

At other times it hardly looked any different from the surrounding Dark-bellied Brent Geese... no wonder I don't pick it up every time I come here if it looks like this!

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrid, Burnham Overy, 9th May (it's the right hand bird in the lower pic)

At least one Pink-footed Goose remains and a Barnacle Goose was on the freshmarsh.  There were 2 Common Sandpipers in the channel and a Whimbrel, while a distant summer plumage Knot was among 55 Grey Plovers.  A little more unexpected was a flock of 5 Greenshanks flying east over the sea.  At least 3 Cuckoos were seen or heard and a Hobby.

Not many birds were moving through: 2 Yellow Wagtails and just the odd hirundine.  Not many grounded migrants around either though I did see the Ring Ouzel east of the boardwalk.  I also found another Whinchat and a single Tree Pipit in the dunes.  I could only find 3 Wheatears but 2 Lesser Whitethroats at Gun Hill were new in and posed nicely for photos.

Lesser Whitethroat, Burnham Overy, 9th May

Meadow Pipit, Burnham Overy, 9th May

Heading back to the car along the sea wall I saw my second Red Kite of the morning.  I also noticed a lot of birds get up from the heronry at Holkham in the distance.  I think I saw 4 Spoonbills among them but before I could give them a proper look my attention was diverted by a massive bird soaring above them, presumably responsible for the unrest.  It was being mobbed by a Grey Heron and the heron looked minute against it!  Sadly this was no eagle or vulture though, it was a White Stork.

There have been a number of reports of White Stork around the county recently, probably all involving escaped birds.  Unbeknown to me at the time this one has apparently been photographed in the Wells area recently and proved to be the polish-ringed bird, but it was way too distant for me to pick out any such details - I could only just see through the haze that it was a Stork!  It continued circling for ages, eventually coming marginally closer over the wood between the freshmarsh and the coast road, before finally disappearing behind that wood.

White Stork, Holkham (viewed from Burnham Overy), 9th May

Although polish-ringed, this bird was apparently taken into a wildlife rehabilitation centre following a collision with overhead powerlines in eastern Europe.  Among others, it was then transported to Shorelands Wildlife Centre at Diss in south Norfolk, apparently due to fears that the Polish winter would prove too cold for them.  I can't help thinking that if Shorelands don't have the means to look after these birds securely they shouldn't have accepted them in the first place, but given that it was allowed to escape presumably they don't.  Either that or they released it deliberately which is equally irresponsible and illegal.

That evening I heard a Woodcock calling while looking for moths near Anmer.

Next day the rain promised rain all morning and NE winds.  I hoped the rain would bring down migrants and planned to go out after the rain to find them.  In the end the rain continued much longer than had been forecast so I didn't have enough time to give justice to Burnham Overy.  Instead after a quick look round the patch (2 Avocets but little else) I headed up to Salthouse and Kelling.  Gramborough Hill was a migrant-free zone apart from a fly-by Greenshank with only the presumably local Stonechat making my notes.

Lapwing, Salthouse, 10th May

Kelling was just as bad.

Whitethroat, Kelling, 10th May

Chaffinch, Kelling, 10th May

Shoveler, Kelling, 10th May

On Wednesday I headed back up to Burnham Overy hoping to find some migrants.  When I arrived this pale Collared Dove was with a normal bird at the staithe - have seen a few such birds in various places before but not here.

Collared Doves, Burnham Overy, 11th May

A Barn Owl was hunting as I walked down the sea wall and a Spoonbill was seen.  One Barnacle Goose remained on the marshes and a pair of Mediterranean Gulls were seen.  Waders included 3 Common Sandpipers, Whimbrel, Greenshank and 14 Knot

Whimbrel, Burnham Overy, 11th May

Turnstone, Burnham Overy, 11th May

I was standing with Marcus when he picked up a Short-eared Owl flying over the saltmarsh, and we also saw a Hobby.

Marcus had seen some Willow Warblers on his way down from where he parked and we continued to find more Phylloscs.  I saw at least 6 Chiffchaffs and 3 Willow Warblers.  Not a huge fall, but enough to keep us hopeful for finding something good.  Well there was something good, but we didn't find it.  Marcus received a message from Ashley who was leading a tour and he'd found a female Red-backed Shrike.  We eventually got views of this, albeit a bit too distant for photos.  Apparently there was a Wryneck there later too.

This Reed Warbler showed on the way back to the car.

Reed Warbler, Burnham Overy, 11th May

On Thursday I headed up to Kelling Heath for a walk with the better half.  I was hoping to find some moths but also bump in to some birds.  Not a great deal doing from either perspective but my first Garden Warbler of the year (at last) was singing in the car park.  Heard a Woodlark singing in the distance and a Grey Wagtail flew over.  We also went round East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens - some great birds there...

Red Jungle Fowl, East Ruston Old Vicarage, 12th May

Helmeted Guineafowl, East Ruston Old Vicarage, 12th May

I didn't get out much for the rest of the week, but one of a number of quick visits to the local patch revealed that Little Ringed Plovers had  managed to produce a few chicks - at least 3 tiny balls of fluff running arond one parent bird.

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