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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 ...

13th – 19th April

With the wind from the south-west the week began much milder than of late. Cloud built up during the 13th and the rise in temperature triggered a heavy thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Showers continued through the night and the wind veered to the NE’ly quarter where it became stuck for the rest of the week. Wind strength was never more than a light breeze and there was some overnight rain on the 16th. Cloud cover was mostly 7 oktas or above from then and this, coupled with the wind direction, kept temperatures down.

Following on from last weeks Swallow and Sand Martins a familiar buzzing sound heard along the lane on the 14th drew my attention to my first House Martin of the year. It flew northward towards Happisburgh village, perhaps returning to familiar eaves there. Another spring arrival was heard during the morning of the 16th. A walk along the footpath beside Moat Farm’s weedy cabbage field revealed a flock of c.40 Linnets and close by were 18 Meadow Pipits but the new arrival was singing from some Sallows just behind the farm itself; I could hear the gentle cascading song of a male Willow Warbler. It was too far away to see amongst the foliage but the song is unmistakable. 5 Fieldfares were at the paddocks this morning too; there were 2 here on Monday 14th along with a single Redwing.

Returning home from the morning school run on the 17th I could see 2 Oystercatchers feeding on a dry, ploughed field almost opposite our house in company with some Jackdaws. The latter are always present here but the Oystercatchers are more unusual. Not exclusively a bird of the immediate coast they often feed a few miles inland and will nest on larger, open fields, preferably those cropped with sugar beet or similar. I’ve only seen them from the garden as flyovers until now. Glancing up, 2 thrush like birds with quite long wings and tails headed towards the sea; Ring Ouzels! A 3rd bird flying over a bit further away turned towards the original two and I guessed which group of trees they were heading for. Grabbing my binoculars, I jumped into the car and drove about 200m towards the village (this may seem lazy but cars are quicker than walking and make a good ‘bird hide’!) and sure enough, all 3 Ouzels were in the top of a taller Oak in the hedge. Pleased with my find I drove home and shortly after walked up the lane with Os. There was no sign of the Ring Ouzels, but on reaching the paddocks I bumped into another local birder who had cycled over to see them and was watching them, with a 4th bird, on the short cropped grass there. Two more birding friends came along and we all enjoyed good views of them.

Ring Ouzels are regular spring migrants in varying numbers each year. Coastal fields, heathland and dunes as well as grassland tend to be favoured. This male was photographed at Salthouse in 2007 by Bob Cobbold.

Although it was cold on the coast, sheltered spots further inland were comparatively warmer and driving homeward through East Ruston on the 19th I stopped to watch a mixed flock of over 50 Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins which were feeding over the fen near the water pumping station. A loud burst of song from close to the road was given by an unseen Cetti’s Warbler, a species that hadn’t been recorded in Norfolk until 1973 when a Belgian ringed bird was picked up dead in Norwich. Since then they have increased dramatically in number and have spread from their Broadland/Yare Valley stronghold to the north and east coasts. Resident all year round, harsh winters can decimate their numbers, but such weather has, to their fortune, been scarce recently…

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