Sunday, 16 October 2011

Dipping and Patching

With a change in the winds and a quite unprecedented influx of Short-eared Owls into Norfolk, I had a feeling the weekend might hold something special. A Rufous-tailed Robin, though, was not even on my radar! Mixed messages were coming through regarding the whereabouts of this Siberian mega, and I decided on the Friday night there was no way I could get to Wells, let alone East Hills, before darkness. Photos appeared, and there was only one place I wanted to be the following morning.
Myself and Ricky arrived at Wareham Greens for first light and joined the masses, shuffling to keep warm in the dark. If the bird was still around, only chaos could ensue. Perhaps anticipating a ruck, the Robin had either copped it or left on the clear skies of the night before. Yes, we were disappointed, but October in Norfolk is great on a bad day. Waiting for the Robin, we had seen Brambling, Marsh Harriers, Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Brent Geese and Curlew, all on their own morning commute.
Both of us had to be back for a late lunch, so after checking the other track to the saltmarsh (and picking up a few Redwing and 2 Chiffchaff) we headed to Wells Woods. After some searching, we were able to pick up a calling Yellow-browed Warbler. This individual offered us a glimpse, and a second then left the same bush, flying high and away.


Today, with nowhere in particular to be and not in the mood for chasing anything rare, I set out for Happisburgh. It was a cracking day, and the local Starlings and Black-headed Gulls were making the most of the warm conditions doing some fly-catching on the wing. Groups of Siskin called overhead, but that was about it in terms of migrants. Waxham was much the same, and my migrant hunt had by now turned into a leisurely stroll.
I needed no excuse to get going, but had to be at Surlingham before dusk to conduct the first of 6 Hen Harrier roost counts. Traditionally, there has been a Harrier roost at Surlingham Church Marsh, but last year I only managed a single ring-tail. Still, it provided a good reason to sit still and see what comes and goes. 
I was in place by half 5, and the reserve was a noisy place this evening. Cettis, Water Rail and Snipe were all a part of the evening chorus. Better vis-mig here than the coast: Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails, Redwing and Mistle Thrush all moved through. A small roost of the latter was present, and Magpie and Jay numbers seemed to have at least tripled. The only raptor I managed was a male Sparrowhawk, and the evening finished with views of the resident Barn Owl. Surlingham at its best? Not far off. 

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