Monday, 19 October 2015

Massive influx of Goldcrest accompanied by a few Shrikes and Owls

An excellent weekend on the east coast. My better half was quick to veto any talk of going to the north coast, and looking back I am glad she did considering the heaving crowds of camo. On saturday afternoon, the 2 of us attempted to dissect Great Yarmouth cemetery. Upon arrival the calls of Goldcrest almost echoed round the churchyard, every tree dripping with these tiny birds. 3 Brambling flew over and alighted somewhere within, and at least 50 Redwing were in amongst the cover. Best bird was probably a Woodcock I inadvertently flushed but the spectacle of migration was something to savour; continental Robins, Blackbirds, Thrushes and crests all arriving en masse, tired and desperate for cover and food.
Debs had never seen Great-grey Shrike in the UK so we popped for a look at the bird in Lowestoft North Denes. The bird was surprisngly elusive for a Shrike, and was eventually picked up taking shelter from the confines of a fir tree.

On the Sunday, I met with Joe Harkness in Caister beach carpark at 8.15am. I had not wanted to jinx the site, but I was optimistic we might pull something out of the bag early doors. My instincts were right, for a Great-grey Shrike was perched atop some gorse on the edge of the golf course! My camera quickly told me to charge my battery, so we just had to enjoy the memory of the moment instead. Quite literally a Great bird for the self-found list. Buoyed, and with groups of Siskin and Redpoll moving overhead, we headed to the main cemetery in Caister. Like yesterday in Yarmouth, the tress were alive with Goldcrest. A few Redwing and Fieldfare added to the variety. Heading into the dunes north of the town, we flushed a Short-eared Owl which gave us quite a display on the wing before hiding in a tree. I always feel sorry for exposing an Owl when flushed like this, but every time an Owl bursts from the scrub, cue heart in mouth moment.

We then continued the day at Hemsby, meeting Ryan and Tim for some scrub bashing. We only really had an hour before Joe would have to depart, and this would come back to bite us as later that day the guys confirmed a Red-flanked Bluetail was present and pulled out an elusive Olive-backed Pipit! What a site the wood at Kings Loke is, love it in there!

Joe headed home and I continued to Waxham. It was surprisingly quiet during the walk to the pipe dump, although I did spot one of the two Great-grey Shrikes that had been found in the last few days. My third in two days! The wood at Shangri La was more exciting, a cacophony of noise led me right to a roosting eared Owl, probably Long-eared given the timing and habitat (my second in here) but I only managed to see its backside as it angrily disappeared deeper into the wood, Thrushes in pursuit.

My final stop for the day always gives me goosebumps after the RFB a few years ago, Whimpwell Green. Nothing rare in here today, although 3 late Swallow over were of note. Plenty of crests in here, no reason why a YBW or Pallas's couldn't be amongst them somewhere.

Returning home, I was pleased to see Steve had found a Pallas's at Caister. It has been a decent year here, with Barred Warbler, Wryneck, GGS and now this beautiful sprite. I am enjoying working Caister and there are still areas I haven't checked out.

So, a fantastic day of migration in action with some good finds too. I am not a coastal birder by trade and I enjoy any chance I get to be out in the field. If that is to be my one 'big day' of the autumn, I'll take that.


  1. What a day mate and some great finds !U even found a way of reminding us of that Red-Flamked Blutail you self found other year;-)

  2. Couldn't help myself mate, might be my only moment in the sun ever, but it is enough to keep me going for every Autumn yet to come!