14th June 2014 – Cleaning up along the coast

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Day 2 of 3 day tour, we started by going to see the long-staying Spectacled Warbler at Burnham Overy Dunes. Only the 8th time one has been seen in UK, it continues to draw big crowds despite having been present for almost two weeks. But there were also plenty of other birds to see on the way out (and back). The first highlight was the Swifts – a cloudy, cool start to the day, and a group of birds were hunting low over the grazing marsh, whizzing about in between us and low over our heads. Next was the Bittern – two birds were seen on a short flight over the reeds but only two of the group managed to see them. Normally that would be it, but suddenly a head extended up out of the reeds and the bird stayed there for several minutes giving us all the opportunity to study it at length. While we were watching it, two adult Spoonbills also dropped in to a neighbouring pool, so for a while we didn’t know where to look. After the Bittern had finally disappeared into the reeds we turned our attention to the Spoonbills sweeping their bills back and forth through the shallow water.

Out in the dunes, the Spectacled Warbler was being harried somewhat by unscrupulous photographers, but this fortuitously pushed it in our direction as we were just walking out to its favoured area. It flew towards us and landed right in front of us, perching up on the top of a bush and singing. We were fortunate to be able to watch it for a while before the crowd caught up with it again. We then escaped and wandered out through the dunes to the Little Tern colony. The way back produced more Spoonbill action and the chance to compare Lesser Whitethroat with the more common Whitethroat (and contrast the latter with the Spectacled Warbler we had just seen).

Next stop was Wells, where we quickly found several splendid Mediterranean Gulls among the Black-headed Gulls and a single Arctic Tern feeding among the Commons and Littles. Then inland for lunch, where we caught up with several Turtle Doves and a single Clouded Yellow fluttered over the field margin. Finally, we headed back east and up onto the heath. A gentle stroll round produced a lovely male Dartford Warbler which perched up right in front of us and several Woodlarks, flying overhead calling and dropping down into the grass to feed.

We saw a real variety of birds in the day, and each member of the group went home particularly pleased about a different aspect, happy all round.

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