5th September 2014 – Autumn Migrants Galore!


Day one of a three day tour today. Weather conditions have been great for early Autumn drift migrants over the last few days, with high pressure over Scandinavia producing easterly winds off the continent. Cloud overnight suggested there might be some birds to see this morning, and we were not to be disappointed.

P1080948Gun Hill – the view out from Burnham Overy Dunes

We started off by walking from Holkham to Burnham Overy Dunes. There was nothing unusual in the pines, although the tit flocks have started to mass, and we spent a bit of time looking at Treecreepers and Goldcrests and lots of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps with them. At Salthole, a Kingfisher flashed across and perched on a fence post briefly. Out on the grazing marshes, an adult Peregrine sat in the trees with the resident Cormorants undisturbed around it.

Once we got into the dunes, the excitement started. A flash of a red tail from a bird flying away revealed a female Redstart, which perched up nicely in the brambles. While we were scoping it, a lovely male appeared on the other side of the fence. There were also several warblers – lots of Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a single Lesser Whitethroat. A large, heavy warbler glimpsed over the fence in the area of the marsh not open to the public was probably a Barred Warbler, but unfortunately it disappeared into a large thicket of bramble and willow never to be seen again.

P1080936Redstart – a classic early Autumn migrant in the dunes

Walking on through the dunes produced several Wheatears feeding on the short grass. As we got to the bushes at the end of the boardwalk, a Pied Flycatcher flicked up and perched in front of us. It was quickly joined by a second.

P1080940Wheatear – these birds love the short grass in the dunes

Walking on, we headed out to Gun Hill. Another Pied Flycatcher perched up nicely in the bushes, but the Wryneck which had been seen flying into the dunes earlier in the morning could not be relocated. There had not been many birds in the dunes as we walked out, but on our way back we flushed two more Redstarts and a couple of Whinchats from the Suaeda. Before we got back to the pines, we added another two Whinchats and yet another two Pied Flycatchers.

P1080957Pied Flycatcher – at least 5 were in the dunes today

After lunch, we headed along to Cley. We wanted to see the Wryneck which had been showing on the East Bank that morning and it was on view immediately as we arrived. It showed very well, feeding out on in the open on the path, at least until any casual walkers passed by. A short video of it can be seen here. While we were watching it, a Spoonbill flew over, first heading east and later presumably the same bird heading back west.

`Wryneck – feeding out on the East Bank at Cley today

After all the excitement of the Wryneck, we headed out to Kelling to see if we could find any more migrants. A Common Sandpiper was on the Water Meadow and a Common Snipe was probing in the mud nearby, and both a Grey Heron and a Little Egret dropped in. A repeated call from the fence line on the other side of the water got us on to yet another Redstart, this one presumably fresh in from over the sea. Down by the beach, we added yet another 3 Whinchat to the day’s total, along with a pair of Stonechat and another Wheatear.

Adding up the totals at the end of the day, we had amassed a very good number of migrants, a classic early Autumn day on the coast.

P1080960Small Copper – several butterflies were in the dunes

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