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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 ...

23rd – 29th March

The wintry theme continued; it remained cold with a NW wind and we saw some light snow showers. Indeed the 24th dawned to reveal 1” – 2” of snow lying on the ground. More occurred over the next couple of days but didn’t settle to any significant depth. From the 26th the wind turned through SE to SW and as a consequence the milder temperatures ensured any precipitation fell as rain or drizzle.

My neighbours keenly feed the birds in their garden and, whilst looking out of the kitchen window at the snow scene one morning, a female Reed Bunting appeared on the fence. Although not generally a ‘garden bird’ they will visit gardens in snowy weather, even in quite urban areas. This one stayed for most of the week and may have been the same individual I’d noticed previously in the weedy cabbage field just along the lane.

While many of our winter visiting birds are doubtless beginning to get the urge to leave our shores and find their breeding grounds, the weather conditions we saw at the beginning of the week will usually force them to prolong their stay here. As a result, c.30 Redwings and c. 45 Fieldfares were around the paddocks on my dog walk. Starling numbers were increasing on last week’s counts too as birds that wish to get back to Eastern Europe are also getting held up. It was a spectacular sight as an estimated 10,000+ headed westward over the village on the 26th. These, I later discovered, were feeding on fields NW of the church as one noisy rabble.

With a light E’ly and milder air on the 27th some visible migration was evident as Oswald and I wandered around the fields by the lighthouse and along Doggetts Lane to Cart Gap. In two hours around noon I logged c.120 Chaffinches and Greenfinches following the coast SE as well as almost an almost continuous passage of Starlings, from small groups to larger, ribbon like flocks several hundred strong. A flock of 6 Stock Doves also headed purposefully in the same direction. Two Chinese Water Deer were also close to the lighthouse. They had probably seen us well before I saw them and they lay low in the grass margin nervously watching, looking like two lost teddy bears.

Light rain coupled with a SE’ly on the 28th delivered some Goldcrests to the hedges along the lane and around the paddocks. Unfortunately they weren’t accompanied by one of their brighter cousins, the Firecrest. The time and weather were ideal for one to appear but it wasn’t to be today. A ringing ’piu’ call overhead caught my attention as a single Siskin flew northward. Often common as winter visitors, they have been rather thin on the ground so far this year.

In neighbouring parishes during the week I was fortunate enough to see 3 different Common Buzzards and at Lessingham a male Marsh Harrier quartered the damp meadows while a Barn Owl hunted nearby. A Little Owl at Hempstead, my first for some time, flew across the road in front of my car and glared down at me indignantly from an oak. Whether a mate was nearby I didn’t know but I’ll be checking next time I pass that way…

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