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, 21 November 2016

Radde's Warbler!

On 15th October I was sorely tempted to go and see the Siberian Accentor in Yorkshire but conditions were still good for finding rare eastern vagrants in Norfolk and as much as I was keen to see the Accentor I did not want to waste valuable birding time driving to Yorkshire and standing in a queue.  Instead I would try my level best to find one in Norfolk.  I decided to start my search somewhere that I thought may not have been birded much over the last couple of days (judged by a lack of reports from there on the rare bird news networks) and where I had seen plenty of Dunnocks in the past (making an assumption that Siberian Accentors might like the same sorts of places) – the footpath between Morston and Stiffkey.

Dunnock, Morston Greens, 15th October

I arrived at Stiffkey at first light parking at the layby near the barns where a Barn Owl was hunting.  As I walked down towards the Fen a total of 50 Little Egrets flew away from the Fen - these were just the birds flying SW from roost - there must have been a load more leaving in other directions.  A couple of Bramblings were calling and on the Fen itself there were at least 25 Greenshanks.  A Spotted Redshank flew in to join them as I headed off along the footpath through Morston Greens.

I stopped to check some buntings thinking I could hear one ticking like a Song Thrush, before realising that it was a Song Thrush flying high overhead - there were quite a few thrushes coming in from the north.  In looking for the bunting I retraced my steps for a few yards and flushed a Jack Snipe from under my feet in doing so - odd how I didn't flush it when I walked there a minute earlier.  Some interesting sounding geese caused me to look up - they were a flock of 27 White-fronted Geese flying east, part of a large movement of this species mainly the previous day.  It was shaping up to be an enjoyable morning.

Further along the path I found 2 Ring Ouzels in the bushes which eventually flew off inland.

Ring Ouzel, Morston Greens, 15th October

There were also a couple of Blackcaps and I continued on to Morston village where I did a loop round the village before heading back along the same path towards Stiffkey.

Stock Dove and Woodpigeon, Morston, 15th October

 Morston, 15th October

When I reached one patch of scrub I lifted by bins to look at a small bird in a rose bush ahead of me and was pleased to see a bird which I pretty much instantly identified as a RADDE'S WARBLER!  It was in full view (except perhaps its bill which I think was hidden behind leaves) and in side profile.  The view was very brief, but I clocked the key features I needed and felt confident about the ID.  I did not have time to take any photos before the bird moved, gave a soft ‘tac’ and then flew across the path to brambles where I could not see it.  It then flew back across the path to a large hawthorn behind the rose where I obtained further brief views, then back across the path and out of view.  Apart from a further possible flight view I did not see or hear it again.

A Yellow-browed Warbler called in the hedgerow to my side while I was looking - so loud it sounded like it was perched on my left ear but I couldn't see it.  Another Ring Ouzel was in the same area too.  Eventually I gave up looking for the Radde's and continued on towards Stiffkey.  There were 175 Pintail visible in Blakeney Harbour and a Tree Pipit (or perhaps an Olive-backed Pipit - I am not sure I can tell their calls apart) flew west over Stiffkey Fen.  Other than Brambling, a couple of Siskins and a few thrushes there wasn't a great deal at Stiffkey Greens and even less in the campsite wood.

Yellowhammer, Stiffkey Greens, 15th October

Robin, Stiffkey, 15th October

I then had a look round the village and took the road up to the south end of Cockthorpe Common.  I've birded the north end of the common a few times coming in from beside Stiffkey Flood, but never approached it from this end.  It was good this end.  There were loads of thrushes in the hedgerows here.  As one group of thrushes flew across the path in front of me I noticed one large bird that stopped me in my tracks.  It clearly wasn't a Mistle Thrush as it had no white on the tail, but it seemed to have scaly pale markings on the upperparts.  I know what you're thinking but this was no White's Thrush (sadly) - the flock all landed in a big ivy-covered tree and the larger bird was just visible although mostly obscured.  Just about all I could see was a big yellow eye peering at me - it was a Little Owl!  A short way further a Ring Ouzel appeared among the thrushes and then a Yellow-browed Warbler started calling in the trees next to where the path started to open up.

Further down the common the birds thinned out a bit but a second Ring Ouzel was calling from the blackthorn on the east side.  Then as I entered the wood that runs down the side of Stiffkey Flood another Yellow-browed Warbler was calling there.  It either followed me along the path or else there was a second bird in the same wood.  A Kingfisher flew along the ditch but there was nothing of much note on the flood.

After this I had just enough time and energy left to look round somewhere small and not too far away, so popped down to Friary Hills at Blakeney.  Brambling, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 40 Redwings but not the Cattle Egret that dropped in here the following day.

Muntjac, Blakeney, 15th October

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