Thursday, 19 March 2015

March 19th Salthouse Heath, Kelling Quags and Weybourne

I'm out with my dad today around North Norfolk. He has two places he wanted to take me to and I have another place in mind for a couple of scarce birds. So the plan is to go to his places first and then after lunch we check out my birds. Our first location was Salthouse Heath. This is a small heathland area with farmland surrounding it. It has potential as a summer visit, but right now there was little about apart from gorse bushes that formed large hedgerows along the roadside. The yellow flowers amongst the thorny branches are starting to produce a pleasent aroma of coconuts and reminded me that it was spring and not winter like today's cold weather is making me believe.

Hedgerow leading to Kelling Quags
After drawing a blank at Salthouse Heath, we move on to Kelling. We parked the car and walked down a path beside the school there and it takes us to Kelling Quags and the beach. The path is bordered with lively hedgerows and a stream along the edge of one side. Goldfinches, goldcrests, blue tits, great tits, long-tailed tits, chaffinches, wrens, robins, chiffchaffs and a song thrush were taunting us with quick teasing glimpses in the hedges and as they went down for a drink from the stream. I think I have seen two pairs of chiffchaffs together in one section of the hedgerow as they battled for territory and a nesting spot. They were very active and seemed to stick to that one area as we made our way to the beach and back.


The hedgerow had gaps revealing ploughed fields behind them. Red-legged partridges, skylarks and meadow pipits were found here. The skylarks in particular, were busy as males hovered high in the sky performing songs that reminds me more and more of warm summer days. Further up the path, a large pool of water appears. Another habitat with another different cast of birds. This time, there were avocets, dunlin, black-tailed godwits, oystercatchers, black-headed gulls, a curlew, a redshank, teal, shoveler, mute swans and an Egyptian goose all feeding by or in the pool's water. There were a lot of waders and waterfowl in this relatively small area. They didn't seem to mind us walking by as the path meanders round the pool and towards the beach.

Stonechats showed us the way to the sea and then back to the pool afterwards. It was like they wanted us to follow them as they waited at the next bush along until we caught up with them again. On the beach, we found an old pillbox and we had a little rest beside it, using it to shelter us from the cold, strong sea breeze. Then, we made our way back for some lunch at our favourite cafe.

After lunch, it was time for my chosen distination. I have heard news that two birds that I have never seen before has taken refuge in a few ploughed fields at Weybourne. Both come from the Arctic Circle and are winter visitors to the UK. We parked the car at a layby near the Weybourne windmill with a ploughed field where an immature Iceland gull is suppose to be for the last month. We looked, but there was no pale brown gull in sight. No sign of rare birds at this field, but the one behind seemed to be more promising as a handful of people with scopes appeared to be looking at something. So we followed a track to the cliff edge and then walked through some rough grass to the birdwatchers next to the edge of the field I had seen from the top of the first field.

Lapland Bunting
Still no sign of the Iceland gull, but the other bird I was after was there! On the field were probably 4-5 Lapland buntings! And what a bird they were! Lapland buntings are brown streaky birds with a white breast marked with black streaks. Some of the individuals here are males and are in the middle of developing a black face, cap and breast and a rusty red patch on their napes, ready for the breeding season out on the tundra in the Arctic. This a stop over visit for them as they make use of the grain or stubble on this field to fuel up. For me, it is my first ever sighting of Lapland bunting and I did try to take some shots to remember them by. Unfortunately, they were a little bit far for my camera to get clear and sharp images so these are my best attempts. I also didn't bring a tripod, so Dad held me steady in an embrace, he was my makeshift tripod. Dad likes Lapland buntings now even if he is mixing the two target bird's names up and calling them 'Iceland buntings'. He's a good tripod but not good at bird names.

Male Lapland Buntings

No comments:

Post a Comment