looking over my notes as far back as the 22nd, Debs and I enjoyed a fine visit to Rush Hills scrape at Hickling. I remarked, rather untimely as you will see, that if money and work were no object I would love to live in this part of Norfolk. The leafy country lanes and abundant water bodies nearby make Hickling and surrounds so appealing. It was a particularly hot day, and the Waders on the scrape remained distant and hazy, but we did see 17 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Snipe, 2 Little Stint, 50+ Lapwing and 4 Ruff. As usual, great variety here.
With easterly winds and some rain, a fall of common migrants occurred beginning on the afternoon of the 23rd. Unfortunately I was unable to get to the coast that day but set off early on the 24th for Grambrough Hill hoping that the Booted Warbler had stayed overnight. The forecast had been wrong, the night had been clear, and the Booted had gone. 1 Pied Fly remained in the same bush, along with juvenile Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Wheatear, Whimbrel, Fulmar and Sand Martin were added to the day list. I then headed to Wareham Greens to see what else was left over. 2 Pied Fly were the best of the bunch, a lovely Lesser Whitethroat showed nicely and there were plenty of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff around. I caught up with Connor and Kayn coming back from East Hills, where they had had 30 Pied Fly and a good few Redstart. I fully expected them to say they had found a Greenish, but as we discussed, this fall seemed mainly to have been made up of common migrants bar the Booted and the odd Wryneck.
I met up with Colin and Ben (Moyes) on the 28th for a bit of bush-whacking at Winterton. 1 Pied Fly, 2 Redstart, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Whinchat and 2 Stonechat were our reward for a solid session in the dunes. Frustratingly, I am fairly sure we had an Icterine Warbler by the fence line. Initially, I saw the bird feeding on the ground near the Whinchat. Alerted by odd behaviour, I followed it back to the bush it had come from. Tail was long, square-ended. Breast was yellowing and the back was olive coloured. I never quite pinned it down close enough to confirm, but this was certainly not a Willow Warbler. Later that day, I noticed someone had reported a possible Icky from the same area.
After losing our prize into the bushes, we headed to Caister. Ben spotted 30+ Med Gulls loafing on the shoreline, and the bushes here held 2 Whitethroat. I was pleased to see that someone found a Barred Warbler here on the 31st, and back at Winterton a Bluethroat had turned up. Can't see everything!
I gave Caister another shot, just Wheatears for company this time. Next weekend looks decent if the forecast easterlies hold, and I may get out to the coast again if time allows.
Back on the patch, a high tide has swamped much of the local marsh and flooded the lane in the usual places. on the 31st, a Garganey on the river adjacent to Church Marsh was a surprise and a welcome year tick. A trundle round this morning threw up only a couple of Bullfinch, although a fellow Twitterer had a Hobby there later on in the morning. Very nice.
As I alluded to earlier, all is not well at the mill. It is with a heavy heart that Debs and I have to leave Surlingham, as we have been served our notice. I am absolutely gutted, and with 2 months to find somewhere to rent I cannot foresee a place coming up in the village between now and then, nor Rockland either. Some people seem surprised we are not buying, but of my friends who have bought somewhere, they were able to do this due to an inheritance. Enough said. We have had to look further afield, Loddon to the east and as far west as Mulbarton, Bawburgh etc. We are determined not to move back into the city, and I am sure somewhere will come up for us. Depending on where we end up, how much I can visit Church Marsh will likely change. I am desperate to continue my involvement here, but I am obsessive when it comes to time and making best use of it. I have already considered Ashwellthorpe Wood and Flordon common to the west as potential pieces of a new patch. All speculation until we get a place somewhere. Until then, we intend to enjoy a final few walks round marsh and the fen.
Pied Fly at Gramborough
Evening scene at Church Marsh