Sunday, 15 September 2013

The question facing every Chiffchaff- should I stay or should I go?

Counted upwards of 7 Chiffchaff around the patch this morning, 5 at Surlingham Church Marsh and 2 at Rockland Broad. 2 were in song, which got me thinking. How many of the birds I saw today will be wintering here in Norfolk? A minority I would suspect, but wintering Chiffs are on the rise, so the data tells us. Perhaps the birds in song were the birds planning to stay, proclaiming this is me, and this will be my territory for Christmas dinner and beyond. The songsters remained hidden, but the birds I were able to see appeared to be fresh juveniles integrated with mixed Tit flocks, gleaning insects from the greenery. I also heard what I believe to be the warbled and guttural sub-song of a Blackcap, another candidate for residency. Add in the singing Cetti's Warbler (2) and for the first time in around 2 months, Warbler song had returned to the patch.
After walking the circuit at church marsh and seeing no-one (lovely) I headed to Rockland Broad chasing a report of a juvenile Black Tern from yesterday. No sign, yet again Rockland fails to deliver! Reports on the sightings board of recent Osprey and Bittern.

Yesterday I decided a sea watch was well overdue, but so was I it seemed as an hour at Scratby in the afternoon threw up 2 Med Gulls and a R Diver. I had feared the best had passed. Losing the will, I had a quick poke round King's Loke in Hemsby. No migrants as yet, but I will persist here and hopefully the best is yet to come this Autumn. My new job is enjoyable but time consuming, so I will have to make the most of some early starts over the next few weeks I'm sure.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Chat about the patch

Looking back on a busy few weeks, I did catch the tail of the fall including a superb inland Wryneck at Strumpshaw Fen and a Red-backed Shrike at North Denes Lowestoft. Also here were a Whinchat and a Wheatear. Working now in Carlton Colville, that means Lowestoft and in particular Pakefield are within easy reach for a post-work visit if conditions are good.

This morning I made an early start hoping for some migrants on the patch. The resident birds were initially the highlight: Kingfisher and Barn Owl at Surlingham got the day off to a good start. From the lagoon, a patch of scrub held at least 3 Reed Warbler, 1 Reed Bunting and a couple of Blue Tits. This reminded me of a similar encounter at Claxton over a week a go, a seemingly inconspicuous bush holding Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Stonechat and Reed Bunting. All birds looking like fresh juveniles, sticking together in the hunt for food before the long journey south. I was determined though to find a Whinchat today, so widened my search to Langley Marshes and then Claxton. It was here I scored, 3 Whinchat seen from the footpath that leads away from the river starting at the Beauchamp Arms. Excellent little birds and a good bird to add to the patch list. Hopefully after a quiet couple of months this will kick things off again.

Of note, the sightings board at Church Marsh recorded 2 juvenile Ruff from August. Still need that one!

Debs and I had a walk on the beach at Happisburgh this afternoon before dinner. Sand Martins were still feeding young on the cliffs, and whilst it was still mild the evening pulled in much more quickly and the air turned cold and damp as we left.

Last night, I volunteered at Strumpshaw where a large group joined us for a Bat walk. Soprano and Common Pip were seen well to the delight of the group, and a Noctule flew over unseen. A few moths had been saved from the trap, including Canary Shouldered and Autumn Thorn.