Thursday, 15 September 2016

scarce pleasure

Hot you say. The seaside then. Almost. Rich and myself went up to Norfolk yesterday to see what the east wind had blown in, and at six o'clock in the morning it was already teeshirt weather at Wells. We strolled around a little patch of bushes and reeds and were just beginning to wonder where all the birds had gone when our attention was drawn to one bush in particular, a straggly hawthorn with no leaves that for some reason seemed to be the best place for a bird to be. Just one bush- but it was packed with Blackcaps ( at least ten) and a few other birds. A Lesser Whitethroat chased by a Common Whitethroat, a very tame Reed Warbler, Reed Buntings, Chiffchaff and even a Whinchat.
After a slow start it was turning quickly into a bird day, and we drove across to Burnham Overy to see what else we could find. Our first stop, at the end of a hedgerow, gave us the best action of the day- a bright eyed Sparrowhawk suddenly took off from a hundred yards away and approached rapidly, scattering Linnets from the top of a willow. Most of the twittering finches broke to the left, but one went right and was soon singled out by the hawk. The first lunge saw a puff of feathers float away on the breeze, but a fraction of a second later the cloak of death spread over the Linnet and the hawk flew back to the hedge with it's meal.

Down on the sea wall there was a vision of a different sort. A reed filled ditch came alive with the plinking of Bearded Tits, and soon we were watching a flock of over a dozen rise from cover, circle round and back again- the very definition of a babbling, a word I have literally just coined to describe the energetic hopping and flitting of these birds readying themselves for a big move.

Babblers may babble, but chats do not chat. In the dunes, once we'd got used to the constant appearance of Linnets, Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits, without ever seeing anything rarer with them, we started uncovering the scarcer arrivals. Three Siskins were an anachronistic sight in the dune scrub, but a couple of Redstarts were more of an expected sight. Further along, two Whinchats and a Spotted Flycatcher sprang from bush to bush. We walked east over to the edge of Holkham Pines, and despite not finding anything major, we contented ourselves with more Whinchats- six or seven of them, a couple of Wheatears and a few Stonechats, as well as a Tree Pipit. We never did make it to the seaside as such, but a quick scan towards  the beach revealed a Peregrine eating something, and a distant Skua trying his best to eat something that the terns were catching.
A long hot walk back to the car was punctuated by a brief stop to watch two Red Kites tussling with each other. Not Bad at all.

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