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Thanks for taking time to visit the 2008 Happisburgh Bird Diary, we hope you enjoyed reading it. To find out what Ossie and I see this year please visit the Happisburgh Parish Bird List 2009 ...

20th – 26th January

Weather-wise the week started in a similar vein to last week with blustery westerlies and showers. The 22nd dawned with a beautiful pink mackerel sky and a light northerly breeze and we enjoyed a couple of calmer days before the clouds and wind returned.

The high point of the week for me came early, on Monday 21st. As I drove past the old Victoria public house on the morning school run, a large white bird in flight caught my eye. It was my first sighting in the parish of a Little Egret, a bird I have seen 2-3 times since moving here but always in Lessingham. 25 years ago this would have been an event to set birders pulses racing but this species has spread northward from the continent to such an extent that small breeding colonies have become established in more southern counties. Indeed, breeding even occurs at at least 2 sites in Norfolk.

A trip to the bottle bank may seem like a mundane to task to most but our nearest, at the Wenn Evans Centre, gives me the chance to have a look over the fields to the west of the village. Today a bird on top of the old shelter warranted closer investigation. Bringing my telescope into play I could see it was a male Stonechat, doubtless one of the birds I had seen earlier in the month. Scanning the fringe of vegetation along the cliff edge, back towards the village, I saw 2 more. These soon worked their way to the rough area next to the Coast Watch where all 3 fed alongside some Blackbirds, a Robin and a Wren. Stonechats regularly turn up at coastal locations in late winter/early spring; indeed this could be seen as an early migration. Another pair, seen just south of East Ruston church the next day and subsequently, perhaps supports this idea.

A pair of local Stonechats. Thanks again to Bob Cobbold.

Reports from other birders this week included 3 tundra race Bean Geese and 2 Lapland Buntings SE of the lighthouse. The latter were probably flyovers, picked up on call; a distinctive ‘chu’ followed by a rapid, dry rattle, ‘ptt, ptt, prrrtt’. Wintering mostly in southern Russia it seems, small numbers of ‘Laps’ regularly spend the winter in coastal fields around the southern North sea coasts.

Other sightings through the week were limited but Fieldfares, a large, winter visiting thrush, once again made an appearance in fields close to home: there were 17 opposite my house on the 22nd and 19 on the meadows below Lower Farm on the 25th. Nearby, a flock of 30 Chaffinches fed on some weathered ploughed land, seeking cover in some tall Poplars as Oswald and I walked past. The week finished up rather bright and a male Greenfinch ‘songflighting’ at the end of my lane gave a hint of springtime activity to come...

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