15th March 2015 – Bring Out the Buntings

It was ostensibly a day off today. So, after lunch, we had a family outing to Sheringham. Fortunately, that involved a nice clifftop stroll at Weybourne where, conveniently, there has been a little group of Lapland Buntings for the last week or so.

Lapland Buntings can be quite secretive. They like to feed in grass or stubble fields and can melt away into the smallest amount of vegetation. Often, the only time you know that they are there is when they fly off, calling – they have a distinctive dry rattling call often interspersed with a clipped ‘teu’.

These Lapland Buntings are feeding out in a bare field, which makes them slightly easier to see. They can be rather distant at times but, standing very quietly by the field today, they flew in and landed right in front of us. We watched them feeding in the small furrows – they could still be very difficult to see even on open ground, as they crouched low in any little depression. There were at least 6 birds present, but we could not be sure that we had seen them all.

P1120429P1120423P1120434P1120417P1120408P1120415IMG_3225Lapland Buntings – we saw at least six today

As well as the Lapland Buntings, the same field is also playing host to a small group of Snow Buntings. We saw at least 4 of those as well – not with the Lapland Buntings today, but feeding on their own further across the field. A two-bunting field!

On our walk back, the neighbouring field contained a very smart juvenile Iceland Gull. This bird has been lingering in the area for several weeks now, but it is always great to see it. Iceland Gull can be a very difficult bird to catch up with in Norfolk, but not this winter! This one is a bleached juvenile – the eye is dark and the pinkish bill base has extensive dark cutting edges. It can look quite white from a distance  – and across the haze of the bare fields – but closer and in better light the remnants of extensive brownish patterning to the mantle and wing coverts and the faded biscuit colour on the belly may be visible.

IMG_3235Iceland Gull – a faded juvenile

After such a nice walk, it was down in to Sheringham for coffee and cake – a perfect way to finish!

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