Sunday 23 September 2012

Naaarfaak for migrants

Norfolk actually worked. This is the first time ever. Normally what happens is that I look at a forecast, decide that Norfolk looks really promising, and then go there and see nothing. Today, on a forecast with east in it, there were lots of migrants, decent ones, and though I didn't see them all, I got my fair share - Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, and Barred Warbler. All good training for Shetland, autumn has started.

Bradders and I left London yesterday afternoon so as to be in place for an early morning seawatch. It was only so-so, with some decent views of Great and Arctic Skuas, and a good Sooty Shear, but otherwise quieter than the forecast had suggested. For a moment it seemed like it was going to be a typical Norfolk day of unfulfilled promise, but when the first bird found down towards Kelling Watermeadows was a Yellow-browed Warbler, I began to change my mind. Soon afterwards news broke of a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Warham Greens, annoyingly our next destination, but we couldn't pass it up. Following in the slipstream (more like jetstream!) of Sir John of Furze were nearly first on site, and had some great views of this brilliant little bird as it flitted along the track. Somehow this is my sixth one in the UK, it wasn't that long ago that this would have been a monster rarity in my book!


We poked around Warham for a couple more hours, plenty of birds but nothing from the east, and again with Shetland training in mind headed to Holme to hone our Barred Warbler identification skills. As we arrived we could see a few people peering into an elder. The bush swayed from side to side, its trunk straining under the weight of the gigantic warbler as it crashed around, half the time I expected a Woodpigeon to clatter out, but it was just the Barred daintily picking off berries as it skipped lightly from branch to branch. Eventually it came most of the way out, and we all backed away in fear. I'd even go so far as to say it was quite showy, and it's not often you can say that about a Barred Warbler.

This is not normal
Finished up the day at Twitchwell dipping a Pec Sand. Lovely light, but most birds just a little distant. Plenty of waders, including a Little Stint, and plenty of typical visitors. My favourite ID today was a lady who found a juvenile Shelduck and wondered if it was a Smew. Then again, I was able to look at a Knot wading around without working out it was a Knot, so I was pleased to get Smew in September, and thanked her very much.

A top day out in warm sunshine, good company, plenty of good birds for once, and plenty of junk food, always a key ingredient in a full day's birding. Hopefully a taste of things to come - on all fronts.

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