Sunday, 25 August 2013

A weekend of Wrynecks and Whinchats

The weather forecast for this weekend looked excellent and so it proved to be. I've stayed local and had a good weekend, despite Lowestoft not quite being on a par with Burnham Overy on the North Norfolk coast.
I ran our moth trap on Friday night so most of Saturday morning was spent sorting through the trap after walking the marshes in the drizzle. The marshes were quiet but the trap was seething with moths including some new ones for the garden and some good records (I think) for the local area. Top of the tree was this Latticed Heath:

Closely followed by Sharp-angled Peacock:

The rain eased off in the afternoon and with reports of migrants coming in my husband and I headed off to Corton on the coast starting first in the churchyard where 2 Pied Flys had been reported. We drew a blank here so walked out on the track past the old sewage works. Things started to look more promising with a Whinchat sat on the wire fence and then a Wheatear on the path. Two more Whinchats appeared and a Yellow Wagtail flew across the barley crop. Reaching the cliff edge I heard a Common Sandpiper calling and looking down saw a flock of 29 waders flying off the beach. Given the location we were expecting  this to be one Common Sand in a flock of Turnstones but lifting bins it was obvious that they were all Common Sands! I don't recall ever having seen a group this big being used to seeing them in scattered ones or twos.
My husband is usually the keen sea watcher but it was me who was avidly scanning the sea for skuas and terns and him that turned to look back across the fields. He suddenly announced he had a Wryneck in his scope sitting on the sewage works fence. In the seconds it took me to leap round and look down his scope the bird had dropped off the fence. Suddenly losing my enthusiasm for seawatching we walked quickly back to the sewage works but there was no sign of the Wryneck. My husband headed off around the back of the compound whilst I stayed scanning back and forth across from the dry bank, scattered with ragwort and dead docks, to the fence repeatedly. On what seemed like the 50th scan the Wryneck seemingly materialised from nowhere in front of me, sitting motionless in full view. There was plenty of time for my husband to get back from the far side of the compound and then watch as it started to feed before it slowly sidled out of view. Having tweeted the news out a small group of local birders rapidly appeared and, having explained where it had been, we left them to go for a quick walk around the new sewage works. It was quiet here until we got to the old railway line where a Tree Pipit was feeding by the side of the track under the trees.
This morning I worked the marshes again hoping for migrants and was rewarded when I found first one, then three and ultimately five Whinchats feeding in a weedy field. I toyed  with the idea of going to the North Norfolk coast this afternoon but news that the Greenish Warbler was showing well on the North Denes in Lowestoft had us heading there instead. Unfortunately this bird proved extremely elusive and the best I did was to hear it calling for 30 seconds. A Wryneck perched in a pine tree by the wall of the cricket ground was some compensation.
Tomorrow I'm off to the Aylsham Show with children and sheep so I'm hoping there's nothing too good found, although Blickling Park where the show is held isn't that far from the North Norfolk coast. I'm sure the sheep won't mind a small detour if needs be!

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