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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 ...

30th March - 5th April

March, in contrast to the beginning of the month, ‘went out like a lamb’. Fine and sunny weather ensued with the wind light in strength and from a SE’ly direction. From the middle of the week the wind veered round to north or even NE’ly at times, it’s strength increasing and the air temperature dropping. The cloud cover tended to be rather variable and brighter spells were interspersed with the odd shower.

unday 30th was a truly glorious day and we visited friends at Ludham for the day. Walking our dogs to How Hill we noted several butterflies along the way; Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma were all on the wing in the warm sunshine and Marsh Harriers courted over the reed beds.

Chiffchaffs continued to arrive during the spell of fine weather and a male spent the Monday afternoon singing from the hedgerow that runs along the bottom of our garden. It was such a lovely afternoon that I thought Oswald deserved a short car ride and a walk out to the Coastwatch and along the clifftop. My decision also revolved around the fact that the timing, weather and location would collectively give me a good chance of finding one of a birders favourite early spring migrants; Black Redstart. And I wasn’t disappointed. Initially the area appeared pretty much devoid of anything interesting but on the way back, a familiar shape on top of the old shelter proved to be a male Black Redstart. More often than not, the rather dull and sooty females are seen but this one was a real stunner with a jet black face and upper breast and a white wedge on the closed wing as well as a nice rufous tail. He was quite happy catching insects around the buildings and eventually disappeared over the cliff edge.

A male Black Redstart. Regular along the Norfolk coast on spring passage and an irregular breeder in towns and cities. They like old, large buildings. © Arthur Grosset

I chanced upon another species that excites birders early in the spring on April 2nd. Walking the footpath behind Laurel Lodge a sharp ‘zeet’ call alerted me. Not many seconds passed before a Firecrest appeared in the hedgerow just a few feet away. Firecrests share the title of Britain’s smallest bird with their cousin the Goldcrest. Given a fleeting view they are very similar but when seen properly the Firecrest is a much brighter green bird with a striking black and white stripy head pattern and often a bronze patch on each side of the neck. They really are a jewel of a bird and always a welcome sight.

Three distant Plovers on a large field near the lighthouse on April 3rd had me going initially but on closer inspection they were just
Golden Plovers, albeit birds starting to show the black breast and belly feathering of summer plumage. They didn't stay for too long and soon departed westward. The following day a male Blackcap was in a roadside hedge at Brumstead, my first of the spring. It seems that several sites recorded them today for the first time too. Later, as I walked the dog out, my ears picked out a single Snow Bunting calling softly ‘pyuu’ followed by a gentle, soft trill as it flew over the Cart Gap road and away towards Eccles. Another local birder has been putting out seed for some Snow Buntings at Eccles over the winter so perhaps this was one of his well fed guests stretching it's wings.

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