Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Aug 25th Salthouse and Cley

Salthouse Beach
The autumn migration is now under way! Birds are on the move across Europe as they begin their journeys south. This includes many birds that only visit this country as a stop over or lose directions and end up here by mistake. Anything can turn up and this thought gets birdwatchers like me excited as some of these birds may have travelled from half way across the world. It is early days at the moment, but there has already been some interesting birds reported in Norfolk this weekend that grabs my attention. A booted warbler at Salthouse on the North Norfolk coast was the big highlight and I was preparing to go see it myself. Unfortunetly, this small pale brown bird from extreme North-East Europe had not appeared since Sunday, but there were other things to try and see, if I was lucky enough.

Yellow Horned Poppy
When Mum and I arrived at the beach at Salthouse, I asked some passing birdwatchers if there was anything about. We were told that a juvenile pied flycatcher was hanging around some bushes further up. These bushes were being watched from all sides by mostly men with scopes and cameras waiting for it to show itself. Pied flycatchers are more of a passing visitor to Norfolk and I have never seen one before. What I really want to see is the male, looking spectacular in its black and white plumage. But this was a juvenile bird which is brown with black wingtips, dull in comparison to the adult male bird I was hoping for, but it would have to do. Annoyingly, this individual chosed to show itself when I was not looking and when I was, it was gone again within the dense branches of the bushes. It gave me the run around! I might have caught a quick glimpse of it at one point, but I am not sure. In the end, I gave up and went over to a colony of sand martins in a cliff nearby.
Golden Plover

As we made our way back to the car, we came across a group of birders crowding by a scrape of water. They were puzzling over a lone golden plover feeding by the waters edge. They were thinking it was an American or Pacific golden plover, but I am pretty sure it was just a regular European golden plover, not as rare but still lovely to look at in any case.

Waders everywhere!
After lunch at Cley, we made our usual visit to the hides on the reserve. There was plenty of waders out on the pools today, but surprisingly there were no sign of any avocets or spoonbills. Black-tailed godwits, ruffs, lapwing, dunlin a single greenshank and a few ringed plover were busy feeding and covered the landscape of the pools in large flocks. We also saw a little stint feeding with the dunlin and a snipe probing its long bill deep into the mud. The little stint was tiny and was dwarfed by the other birds surrounding it. This small wader is an autumnal migrant, mainly juvenile birds arriving from the breeding grounds around the Arctic Circle where they were hatched. This bird could possibly have travelled as far as Arctic Russia to get here.
Little Stint

Black-tailed Godwit
Canada Goose
Ringed Plover
Godwit, Ruff and Ringed Plover
Kestrel being mobbed!
As well as waders, we were in for treat as we saw, not one, not two, not three, but four species of birds of prey at Cley today. First a kestrel hovered above the pool, attracting the attention of some lapwings who went over to mob it until it was out of sight. Then a female sparrowhawk swooped low over the islands, causing all the birds to take to the air like a snow globe. Then a marsh harrier soared by and finally, a hobby came into the snow globe of birds and grabbed a dunlin on the wing, taking it to a post to pluck it apart. Thankfully, I missed this gruesome scene, but I did see the hobby flying over the car park with something in its talons as we returned to the visitor centre. It won't be long until this summer visitor will make its way south with all the other birds. This year's autumn migration has only just begun, who knows what exciting species will turn up. It is looking like it will be a great migration season already!
Marsh Harrier
A snow globe of waders!

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