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.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Eagle surprise and Savi's

I arrived at Potter Heigham church at dawn on Saturday and walked out to Rush Hill scrape where I hoped to see the Savi's Warbler.  Almost the first bird I heard, and certainly the first Locustella, was the Savi's Warbler and it proved reasonably easy to get some kind of views of it.  I must have stayed with it for at least an hour and a half and during that time it sang continually, and was usually visible, if only just, as it did so.  It tended to keep quite low in the willows so it wasn't easy to see, and was pretty much always a bit obscured, but it was visible and views were perfectly adequate.  It wasn't as distant as I'd imagined, but with it being quite obscured and low down it was very hard to photograph.

Savi's Warbler, Potter Heigham Marsh, 22nd April

While I was watching this a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling close by, from the bushes adjacent to the hide I think.  At least one Bearded Tit kept appearing and a Water Rail called.  Another Grasshopper Warbler reeled further away into the reeds the other side of the hide.  There were 2 Spoonbills sleeping on Rush Hill and a Pintail among the Shovelers.  As I continued along the footpath to Potter Heigham Marsh a Cuckoo was calling and a third reeling Grasshopper Warbler showed.

Grasshopper Warbler, Weavers Way near Rush Hill, 22nd April

As I approached Potter Heigham Marsh I saw a group of 3 waders flying off - two were clearly Grey Plovers but the other was much much smaller and had a short straight bill.  I've an inkling it was a Little Stint, or at least Stint sp., but I can't be certain on the views I got.  A pair of Cranes were on Heigham Holmes but flew off north from there.  Another Cuckoo was calling over towards Potter Heigham and there were 31 Avocets on the marsh.

As I headed back from the far end I found a drake Garganey in the SE corner.  It was my intention after finishing here that I would head down to Ormesby Broad to see the White-tailed Eagle that had been there yesterday and it had been confirmed as still present this morning.  The thought occurred to me that I might get really distant views of it from here if it were to get up high, though I thought that fairly unlikely.  However as I scanned in that direction I was surprised to see the White-tailed Eagle - not miles away over Ormesby but not far away at all - my side of Martham! It was circling around but soon disappeared behind some trees at which point I lost it for a while.

White-tailed Eagle, Martham, viewed from Potter Heigham Marsh, 22nd April

A little while later I picked up a flock of 16 Cranes over to the SW.  They spent a while circling before eventually coming towards me, over me and off to the north-east.  I've seen larger flocks than this before but I think only on the deck or low in flight - the sight of such a large flock spiralling around high in the sky seemed like an exciting and novel experience for me, although I'm sure Broads locals see it all the time.

Cranes, Potter Heigham Marsh, 22nd April

The 2 Spoonbills, presumably the ones from Rush Hill, dropped in on the marsh.

Spoonbills, Potter Heigham Marsh, 22nd April

I found another 2 drake Garganey sleeping with some Teal.  At least I had only just left the first one in the corner behind me so I assume they were probably both different to that one, but in an attempt to make sure I retraced my steps the check the first one was still there.  It wasn't, or at least it wasn't on view, so I shall have to put it down as 2 in total, though I suspect there were 3.

After a while I picked up the White-tailed Eagle again, this time somewhere over towards Horsey, and now a long way off.  It was still visible quite some time later, mobbed by corvids and now seemingly drifting south slowly.

I noticed that there were now 3 Spoonbills on the marsh before I headed off back along Weavers Way (hearing Kingfisher along the way).  There were 2 Cranes on the fields north of Potter Heigham Marsh (is this Candle Dyke Marsh?) - I can't be sure if they were the original 2, 2 of the 16 (two had split off from the rest) or additional birds.  Another or the same pair of Cranes were later seen in flight as I neared Rush Hill.

Cranes, near Potter Heigham Marsh, 22nd April

After this I had a quick look at Rollesby Broad where the Blue-winged Teal x Cinnamon Teal hybrid was still present, along with a female Mandarin.

Blue-winged Teal x Cinnamon Teal hybrid, Rollesby Broad, 22nd April

Ormesby Broad had 5 Common Terns and a Sparrowhawk flew over.  Lastly I headed off to the local patch where 4 Little Ringed Plovers (2 sites) and a Snipe were the highlights.

On Sunday I popped into Longwater on my way back from Norwich and saw the 16 Waxwings that have been hanging around there for a while.  They failed to come down to the berries for photos though, and instead headed off towards Longwater Lane.

Yesterday I went up to Burnham Overy, again arriving in the dark so that I could get to Gun Hill by first light or thereabouts.  Once again a Spoonbill was seen in the dark feeding in one of the pools just across the dyke, and a Barn Owl was visible as it started to get light.  Vis mig was relatively slow early on so I didn't spend too long at Gun Hill before wandering round the dunes.  It included a Marsh Harrier west at sea, at least 7 Yellow Wagtails and single figure counts of all 3 hirundine species.

I heard Tree Pipit a few times but wasn't convinced they were different birds moving through - maybe one bird knocking around in the dunes somewhere.  Eventually I located it at the east end of the dunes.

Tree Pipit, Burnham Overy, 24th April

Not the best photo, I know, but I was happier with this hastily grabbed shot of a Meadow Pipit.

Meadow Pipit, Burnham Overy, 24th April

There were still a few Ring Ouzels around - I saw 8, others saw more.  Also 9 Wheatears and 7 Whimbrels and, at last, my first Whitethroat of the year.  Hanging on from winter were 20 Pink-footed Geese and a Golden Plover.

Wheatear, Burnham Overy, 24th April

Pochard, Burnham Overy, 24th April

I also found a pair of binoculars lying in the dunes - if you have lost them or know of someone who has get in touch!

Next I headed to Burnham Norton where there were at least 9 Wheatear and 7 Yellow Wagtails including a party of 5 which were the first I've seen on the deck this year.  Also at least 4 Whimbrel, 3 Mediterranean Gulls and, on Deepdale Marsh, 2 Little Ringed Plovers.

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