This website is best viewed using Firefox v.3

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 ...

6th - 12th January

The week was rather breezy with the wind variable between south and west, occasional heavy showers and several hours of heavier, more persistent rain on Friday. Saturday 6th however, dawned bright and sunny. I walked Oswald up the lane mid morning taking in the Barn Owl and noting c.80 Lapwing heading from the direction of the village towards Lessingham and perhaps the marshes beyond. Approaching the first bend I decided to head along the path that leads through an interesting area of grassy fields and a very weedy field of cabbages. This could hold some finches or buntings I thought. As I approached the weedy area two small birds took flight and landed in a nearby Oak; Lesser Redpolls. This diminutive finch is more often associated with Alder Carr and heathland but they're not unknown as visitors to more open farmland, and I was nonetheless pleased to see them looking settled so close to home.

I fully understand the benefit to farmers in autumn ploughing of fields but it is always pleasing for a birder to see stubbles and pasture left untouched as they are a valuable source of food and shelter for smaller bird species. I was therefore pleased that a nearby field had only been riffled with a cultivator and held a small flock of Skylark and Meadow Pipits, a dozen or so of each. More special though were the half dozen or so Common Snipe that flew up individually and further into the field as we passed, each giving its distinctive rasping call similar to a wellington boot being slowly pulled from wet mud. I have seen up to ten of these together in flight from my garden so I now know where they sometimes spend their time feeding.

The week continued, cold and mostly windy, and nothing of much note was seen. The Lesser Redpolls were seen again, on the Friday and Saturday, so it seems that they are happily settled here and there was a single Yellowhammer close to Lower Farm. One day a Sparrowhawk flew over at dusk having obviously been feeding as it had a very pronounced, extended crop bulging from its chest. I hate these short winter days with the seemingly dark mornings and am happy that they are getting longer, albeit slowly.

Following a wet Friday night, Saturday 12th was much brighter and less chilly. I paid a brief visit to Walcott seafront and it wasn’t long before the adult Mediterranean Gull appeared. On a global scale this is a rare bird but the species has undergone something of a westward expansion in recent years and even breeds in Norfolk now. Between the piers at Great Yarmouth is one of the best places locally to see this handsome Larid, well over 25 often being reported together on the sands here. I have seen up to five together at Walcott and the adults are a distinctive bird with their icy grey wings and blood red, yellower tipped bill. Some dark flecking behind the eye and on the nape area gives but a small clue to the jet black hood and white eye crescents that this gull will sport in its breeding plumage. Immature Med Gulls (as birders often refer to them) have much more black in their flight feathers in their 1st winter plumage and show a black tail band, a very dark bill and long, dark legs. As they age the blacker feathers disappear, a 2nd winter bird having just a few blacker streaks to its outer primaries; the longest wing feathers. Adult plumage (such as the bird I photographed at Caister in 2005) is attained by the 3rd winter.

No comments: