18th May 2014 – Morston-Stiffkey & the Heath

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Day 2 of the two day tour today. Another glorious hot and sunny day. Again, we were looking to avoid the main nature reserves.

In the morning, we started off at Morston and walked along the coast to Stiffkey. The surprise of the day was a Spotted Flycatcher, which hopped up in some coastal bushes all too briefly, before flying off inland. Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail were also seen. We managed to get good views of all four of our resident terns – as well as Sandwich, Common and Little, the bonus was an Arctic Tern feeding in one of the channels, which perched for a time on a post for us to watch. A lovely summer adult Mediterranean Gull circled over Stiffkey Fen and landed on the water. Plenty of waders were also in evidence, with the highlight being two very showy Bar-tailed Godwits in full summer plumage feeding close to the path on the edge of the saltmarsh, with a small group of Black-tailed Godwits for comparison on the freshwater Fen.

In the afternoon, the request was to see Dartford Warblers, so we headed for the heaths. We quickly located one calling, but it was hiding in dense gorse and refused to show itself, and then promptly went silent. Working our way across the heath, we could hear another male singing and eventually managed to locate the pair with three young – the latter were hidden away in the gorse while the adults went off to feed, but hopped up when the parents returned. With patience, we were rewarded with great views, the juveniles with much longer tails now than when they first left the nest. Elsewhere, Garden Warblers were singing, though being typically skulking in the bushes, several Green Hairstreaks were still flitting around and a Roe Deer fed out in the open surprisingly unconcerned at our presence. We also managed to locate the Woodlarks again – the male singing from the trees and the female feeding quietly in the heather below.

So a thoroughly rewarding couple of days out in the field: a great group, lots of nice walking in beautiful countryside (mostly) away from the crowds, at our own pace with the chance to watch and learn, and some really good birds thrown in for good measure!

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