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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 ...

25th – 31st May

Starting off with a beautiful starlit night sky, the week’s weather soon deteriorated, the NE’ly wind picked up with cloud building to 8 oktas and heavy enough to give us some light rain. This scenario continued with occasional brighter spells and the wind direction veering through SE to SW-S midweek. There was a fantastic thunderstorm before dawn on the 28th, the sky lighting up every few seconds and almost continuous loud claps and deep rumblings. The wind became rather variable for the rest of the week but had moved to the NE by the weekend.

Stopping by the fen at East Ruston I could see that the light rain had forced Swifts to fly low but warblers were for the most part undeterred and Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Willow, Reed and Sedge Warblers all continued to sing. The rain cleared after lunch so I took Oswald for a walk in the direction of Lessingham. Rounding a bend I could see a Great Tit on the road feeding one of its young. Two fluffy balls beside them were another pair of hungry mouths. A car approaching me from behind slowed down and fortunately for the young Great Tits, the considerate driver gave them a wide berth. Thinking they wouldn’t stand much chance of seeing out the day where they were sitting I kept a very interested dog on a short lead and easily picked them up, releasing them into the relative safety of a nearby thick hedge where I could hear at least one other sibling calling. As I got home, another danger to Great Tits was sitting on my garden fence in the form of a Sparrowhawk.

A hedgerow near the paddocks, with a couple of strands of taut barbed wire adjacent on the sheltered side, had been looking a likely place for something interesting to turn up and sure enough, on the 26th a Robin gave chase to a small bird that flashed a rufous tail. It was a female Common Redstart. Not a spectacularly colourful bird like the males, she still had the tail-quivering charisma of the species. Like many quite northerly breeding migrant birds, the females appear a few weeks after the males who need to have established their breeding territory before prospective mates arrive. Later that evening I watched the sea for half an hour in the hope of catching up with a Manx Shearwater as a few had been reported in the recent blustery conditions. None passed while I was there but I did see 18 Gannets and 6 Fulmars moved through to the east. My first Happisburgh Common Tern of the year was also slowly passing offshore, trying to fish occasionally in the choppy swell.

Most Common Terns from the UK spend the winter off Western Africa and many won't return to breed until their 4th year.
© Arthur Grosset

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