Today was an annual day out with a group I’ve been meeting up with in October for many years! It’s always a pleasure to guide these guys as they leave the itinerary and day completely up to me and we always see something nice or different!
With the wind in the South, we decided to meet up at Hunstanton to start with some visible migration, this was unfortunately scuppered by heavy rain that hadn’t been forecast. We took a coffee and then by 9am it had all but stopped.
We headed off to Holme and walked out on to the Southern dunes. As the rain had lifted, a nice overhead passage of birds flowed, it was dominated by flocks of Chaffinches, but in amongst these were also several Brambling, a few groups of Siskin and 1-2 Redpoll passed by, there was also Skylarks and Reed Buntings on the move. As we watched the groups of birds passing overhead, I heard a dry ripple call, and a Lapland Bunting passed through as well.
We then walked out on to the saltmarsh, there was a big group of roosting Curlew, plus Redshank and Oystercatcher. We searched the strand line and there was plenty of Skylarks, Meadow Pipit and Linnet, but I couldn’t find any Lapland Buntings feeding on the ground. Out on the sea there was lots of Great Crested Grebe, a few Common Scoter and Gannets.
We then walked back to the dunes, as we headed through the sea buckthorn a small bird was just in view flitting through the thickest branches. I thought it would be a Goldcrest, but as I stepped up to look it flitted right into view, baring wingbars, head stripes and a lovely lemon rump – a Pallas’s Warbler! I shouted the guys over and we stood vigil for the next few minutes, eventually it reappeared and we got nice if brief views as it showed along the edge of the buckthorn. Although I had seen 2 or 3 a week ago there hadn’t been any reports for the last few days or of any in this location, so this was a great bird to have found. In amongst the excitement of watching this lovely gem of a bird, 4 Crossbills flew over calling.
We next had a look for the long staying Red-flanked Bluetail, but it had become more elusive and as it had only been seen briefly in the last 2 hours we didn’t expand too much time looking for it.
We had a lovely lunch up at the Observatory, there was lots of Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal and 12+ Little Grebe on the Broadwater. We then headed back out on to the beach. We stood for an hour looking at the sea, there was Red-throated Diver, small groups of Common Scoter passing by, plus a nice group of 7 Red-breasted Merganser. Spectacular were the constant flocks of shorebirds passing by, heading off from their roost areas, hundreds of Oystercatcher, plus flocks of Bar-tailed godwit, Dunlin, Sanderling and smaller number of Ringed Plover and Turnstone.
We finished the day off with a walk along one of the inland tracks at Holme, this added a few more species, Blackcap, Bullfinch, Mistle Thrush, Sparrowhawk and also gave us lovely views of 5-6 Marsh Harriers heading into their roost areas.