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.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Little Bunting

A few days of easterlies ended on 25th October at the end of which the wind turned round to the south west overnight.  I’d had to work on 24th/25th but took 26th off work in the hope that there would be some visible migration, as well as perhaps a few eastern rares still waiting to be found at less well-watched sites.  I picked Stiffkey and Morston Greens as I thought this may give me some chance of experiencing some vis mig as well as a fair chance of finding something a bit more unusual - after all, it had worked its magic on my last visit on 15th October.

This time I started off at the north end of Green Ways at dawn walking east past the campsite wood and on through Stiffkey Greens.  There was a bit of vis mig (the odd Siskin and Redpoll and a few flocks of Lapwings - 230 Lapwings altogether which I always love seeing on migration).  There were some Bramblings knocking around and I enjoyed watching a fantastic adult male Hen Harrier over the saltmarsh.

Hen Harrier, Stiffkey, 26th October

There was a Yellow-browed Warbler near the start of Stiffkey Greens and a dead Weasel on the path.  When I reached the last big patch of gorse and elders before Stiffkey Fen a Reed Bunting was perched on top of an elder and a flock of Long-tailed Tits moved through the gorse.  As I watched, a second bunting appeared on the same elder.  It was mainly facing away from me but when it turned its head I saw chestnut ear-coverts seemingly lacking a dark lower border towards the bill, a conspicuous white eye-ring and a small pointy bill.   When it was facing away a reddish central crown stripe was visible stretching back towards the nape.  Surely this was a Little Bunting, and I switched to my telescope to check what I was seeing.  A quick squint through the scope was enough to confirm it was indeed a Little Bunting and now I picked up the camera to get the evidence.  I took a burst of about 5-6 photos and the bird dropped out of view as I did so.  I didn’t see precisely where it went but was pretty sure it hadn’t flown off.

Little Bunting, Stiffkey Greens, 26th October

After waiting some time without any more sign I moved round to the back of the bushes to view from the fields.  I had one possible view but too distant and too brief to be sure.  I walked on past the Fen and through Morston Greens which were quiet (Blackcap and Brambling about the best).  There were 2 Greenshanks at Morston but not much in the way of passerines around the village.

Grey Heron, Morston, 26th October

As I returned I counted 130 Shelduck in Blakeney Harbour, found a Goldeneye on Stiffkey Fen and then spent some more time looking for the Little Bunting again where I’d seen it before.  No sign at all, but as I walked through a field slightly west of there I flushed a small compact bunting.  It didn’t call and I didn’t get a good look at it – I suspect it was the Little Bunting but am not positive.  It flew a fair way but I could not relocate it when I reached the area it had gone down in.

Another Hen Harrier was hunting over the fields and hedgerows just inland of the path.

Hen Harrier, Stiffkey, 26th October

Once I finished here I decided to have a drive round some lanes a little way inland where sometimes there can be lots of thrushes in the hedgerows.  Not so today and I ended up at Wiveton Down LNR, a site I've never stopped at before.  Not much in the way of birdlife there today, at least not anything noteworthy, but a nice place with a nice view.

Cley viewed from Wiveton Down, 26th October

Finally I popped in to Friary Hills at Blakeney again but apart from a Brambling, not much doing there.

Goldfinch, Friary Hills, 26th October

Didn't manage to see much else before the end of October but a few thrushes in my lunch breaks including these Fieldfares.

Fieldfares, Thornham, 31st October

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