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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 ...

16th – 22nd March

The fog had cleared by the morning of 16th and the day progressed with a windy NE’ly and rain which eased for a while late morning. With the exception of Thursday, when it went W’ly, the wind was from the north or north-east all week, increasing to about force 6 by the 21st. It became bitterly cold too by this time, and following a generally dry midweek spell, we saw some wintry showers at the end of the period.

The paddocks at the top of the lane continued to prove an attraction for thrushes with 3 Mistle Thrushes, 4 Song Thrushes, 12 Blackbirds and 5+ Redwings faring well amongst the hoof-churned grass all week. 5 Fieldfares had rejoined the throng by the end of the week and Blackbird and Redwing numbers had increased to 20 and 15 respectively. 14 Yellowhammers found the area to their liking and 60 or so finches there were fairly equally represented by Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. A male House Sparrow there for one day may have been a refuelling migrant bird.

A Chiffchaff was again at the same sheltered privet on 16th although not subsequently. Whether it was a different individual from last week I couldn’t say, although at the time, that bird did head off purposefully towards the village. The same afternoon I briefly looked over the sea from Walcott where 2 adult Gannets and a summer plumage Guillemot were additions to the 2008 parish tally. 20 Turnstones on the wall were typically fearless; I wondered how many visitors had marvelled at their antics during the day.

Gannets can be seen all year round, most numerously on autumn migration.

Photo © Arthur Grosset

I took a different route home from there, choosing to return via Rookery Farm which lies on the western edge of the parish. There’s some good habitat here including some mature deciduous trees and a large lawn at the farmhouse, some tall, thick hedgerows and a couple of long established grazing meadows. There is also a nice pond not too far from the main Stalham road but this is, unfortunately, no longer easily viewable from the public highway. Taking the narrow lane that runs alongside the pasture to the Ridlington road I came across 4 Stonechats, 3 of which were resplendent males, feeding from the fence and hedge and by dropping down on to the road.

I became aware on the 17th of a decent flock of Starlings in my home area. Over 200 were gathering to feed in the meadows opposite and over the next few days more flocks were noted passing eastward. The flock nearby slowly grew until well over 1,000 birds could be seen wheeling around the meadows and still birds flew to the east.

Tuesday 18th morning saw Oswald and I trek off northward and across to the fields by the lighthouse, along Doggett’s Lane and back along the Cart Gap road. There was a westward trickle of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls riding the updraught from the cliff and yet more Stonechats (5, including 2 males) were along the track close to Larkfield. Since late January I’ve seen at least 19 Stonechats locally, good numbers indeed and comparable to good counts elsewhere in Norfolk over this period. Two parties of Pied Wagtail, 3 and 9, were likely grounded migrants but ‘bird of the day’ goes to the female Merlin that sped low across the road and off towards Lessingham.

Not having looked there for several days, I checked out the weedy cabbage field late in the week to find 8 Linnets and 6 Goldfinches taking advantage of the variety of seed-heads on offer. The long staying female Reed Bunting would have passed un-noticed had she not been flicking open her tail, the clean white outer tail feathers catching my eye as she sat in some camouflaging brambles.

At the weeks end it seemed that Robins were making an appearance as 6+ were dotted around hedgerows on the usual dog walk where none had been noticed previously. These may well have been birds that spent the winter here, putting on fat reserves before continuing their journey to breeding haunts in Europe or further east…

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