Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Wheatears and Wildfowl

With the daylight hours drawing drawing in, we made the most of the Friday afternoon by leaving Bedford and heading straight for Holme, where we enjoyed good views of the male Desert Wheatear feeding along the strandline in the company of a rather late Northern Wheatear. The light may have been terrible but, with only one other person present, it made something of a change to be able to watch a new bird at close range without the crowds.

Saturday morning was spent ringing in the Coastal park for our last session of the season, with a respectable tally of 76 new birds and 8 retraps, including two Treecreepers that appeared out of the blue, which we had ringed during the summer and autumn. Blackbirds made up the bulk of the tally with 49 new birds, whilst other highlights included a young male Sparrowhawk and another three Bullfinch; a bird which has clearly enjoyed a successfull breeding season in the park with probably close to 30 birds being ringed.

Juvenile male Sparrowhawk Note the heart shaped breast markings and rufous tinged scapulars

Returning to Holme for a second look at the Wheatear, I quickly abandoned the wait for the Hoopoe, which had dissapeared into one of the ditches out on the grazing marshes, and continued onwards to the beach. In the end this proved to be the right decision, with the Wheatear dissapearing overnight and the Hoopoe not putting in another appearance for the rest of the afternoon!

Male Desert Wheatear Holme

Much closer views and in far better light. Not quite bright enough for the camera but still a pleasure to watch, with the bird feeding at a distance of less than 20 feet.

Sunday was a glorious day of warm sunshine and light winds, with a productive morning at Snettisham yielding two patch year ticks, in the shape of a fly past Great Northern Diver (only my 2nd Snettisham record) and a party of five Velvet Scoter. Three groups of Swans included two partys of five Bewicks and a group of six Whoopers, whilst the sea also offered three Scaup, two Guillemot, seven Red throated Divers, and several groups of Shelduck moving south. A party of four Barnacle Geese flew into The Wash off of Heacham, with another bird seen in the company of nine White fronted Geese flying in off the beach between Hunstanton and Holme.

A late Greenshank and a juvenile White fronted Goose, both on the saltmarsh opposite the boardwalk, offered some compensation for the lack of a visible Hoopoe, which had spent the afternoon hiding out on the grazing fields, whilst two Long tailed Ducks and a group of three Slavonian Grebes, together on the sea proided a fitting end to the day.

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