It was a real pleasure to meet Josh (PomSkua) on the 23rd which was a bright and breezy day on the patch and surrounds. Josh, like me, enjoys finding birds and exploring new habitat. We spent a good hour at Wood's End, heading up through the pine belt and down towards the sewage works at Whitlingham. At least 3 Common Buzzard were on the wing in the area and 34 Lapwing graced the ploughed fields. The scrub around the sewage works held a decent number of Redwing and a few Fieldfare- definitely worth coming back here during the Autumn.
At Church Marsh, a calling Oystercatcher was new for the year, a Chiffchaff was flycatching and a female Bullfinch gave her slightly odd trumpeting sound, similar to Northern but not quite right. Coupled with this was a slightly more 'optimistic' flight call, a more upbeat tone than the usual mournful call we expect. As Josh said, still much to learn about our more common species.
Last stop of the day was Claxton, and this proved to be a proper patch moment. Approaching the pub and the small aviaries by the river, a small grey passerine flicked down from a tree. We both took a moment, and exclaimed "Black Redstart!" Even though there was no doubt as to the ID of this migrant, I still took a while longer to process what I was observing. I suppose if you were on the coast at this time of year you would do well not to find a Black Redstart if you put the time in, but to have one turn up this far inland was quite brilliant. We watched her as she alighted to the roof of the pub, and as I understand it a few observers got to see her here the following day. It will be tough to beat this for bird of the year- but I will try! We finished by the marshes themselves, watching hunting Short-eared and Barn Owls together. Just gorgeous.
A further patch addition flew over the house in darkness on the 23rd, a Ringed Plover. I had thought Little-ringed more likely, so did check the calls for both straight away so as to be sure. A decent record this, with Ringed being the more coastal bird of the two.
Connor and I enjoyed (just about) a rank and sodden day in the Brecks on Sunday 29th. We had this in the diary and I am glad Connor convinced me it would still be worth it. We had drumming Lesser Pecker at a new site, and elsewhere Green Sandpiper, Buzzard, Grey Wagtail, Siskin, Redpoll and the expected woodland birds. We purposefully didn't go to the well known sites today, with the weather so poor we explored new habitat and ear-marked sites for future visits when it was dry. I particularly enjoyed the Great Cressingham-Hilborough area, lots of potential here.
We finished the day at Hardley Staithe and pits (not sure these are actually pits, but anyway). In poor light and windy conditions we were able to lock onto the drake Ring-necked Duck found earlier in the week by Justin Lansdell. My second ever of this species and very smart too.