9th May 2014 – A Day of Surprises

Another day of coast and heaths today – a different group and always a different take on the birds. The wind was really blowing, and heavy showers were forecast, which didn’t bode too well, but you never know what you might see.

We started at Stiffkey Fen, with a good selection of waders. Single Common Sandpipers were on both the freshwater side and in the muddy saltwater channel behind. Ruff and Little Ringed Plover were also on the Fen, we found a couple of Whimbrel on the saltmarsh and several of the winter waders were still lingering in the harbour. On the way back a smart 1st summer Mediterranean Gull flew in.

Up on the Heath, a Hobby flashed through. Windy conditions are not normally ideal for finding Dartford Warblers but, just as we thought our luck was out, we found a male feeding in the gorse. We saw him in flight a couple of times, and it seemed like that would be the best we would do. However, as we followed him, we could hear other birds calling and after a while, he dropped into a sheltered hollow in the gorse and a female appeared with him. Suddenly, one then two recently fledged young birds, still fluffy with short tails, appeared there as well. For several minutes the two adults collected food around the area and returned to feed the young in front of us. Stunning! We had a quick look for the Woodlarks and, just as we thought it would be too windy for them (and us!), two dropped in and started feeding.

Retreating to the car, we dropped back down to Cley for lunch, just as the dark clouds swept in. Through the rest of the afternoon, we dodged the showers. Bearded Tits also don’t like the wind but this was a particular target for the day and we managed to get great views of a female gathering food, working her way methodically in a zig-zag low through the reeds along the edge of a channel. Other highlights here included Temminck’s Stint, Yellow Wagtails and Wheatear.

Two of the birds hardest to see on a windy day, and we got great views of both. You never can tell!

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