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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 ...

12th - 18th October

Visibility was very poor to begin with, a dense fog enveloping this part of the county on Sunday morning. Light W to SW'lies followed although Thursday saw the wind veer to the NW for a time. It was generally fine and dry throughout with the exception of Wednesday/early Thursday when drizzly conditions turned to more persistent rain then showers.

Pink-footed Geese heralded the start to the week as many could be heard flying towards Lessingham and beyond above the thick, cold fog. It was clear above I know, for one skein directly overhead could just be made out, picked out by the sun which made them look rather ghostly through the gloom. Continuing the Goose theme, 20 'grey' Geese flying NW along the southern edge of the parish and seen from my garden on Tuesday, caught my attention initially with their calling which was unlike the higher pitched call of Pinks, being a noticeably more powerful, deeper 'honking'. I could see the birds in question, 20 in all, and they appeared quite large and stocky with long looking necks, large heads and quite dark upperwings. They weren't close, but my feeling is that they were possibly Bean Geese, probably birds of the Taiga breeding race fabalis. This subspecies visits the Yare valley in small numbers to overwinter (where they usually arrive quite late in the autumn), leaving the area in January/February. Scope views would have perhaps enabled me to be sure of their identification, so these had to go down, rather frustratingly, as possibles. I'd hoped they may have been picked up elsewhere but I heard no further reports.

Wednesday morning, and Ossie and I had a walk around the 'lighthouse fields' early on before the wet weather set in for the day. We soon found a party of 10 Snow Buntings, their rippling call advertising their prescence before we saw them. A Reed Bunting was also along the lane there and in the garden of Halcholm, just SW of the Decca site, were a pair of Stonechats. Two Wheatears fed in a field nearby too. I noticed that there wasn't a great deal of stubble left on the fields, most of it being ploughed in and redrilled with winter cereal. However, the large field towards the Cart Gap Road was still old stubble and several flights of Pink-footed Geese were whiffling down there so I drove around for a closer look. This was my first good look at Pinks on the ground this autumn, and they nervously watched back as I remained in the car.

With the wind shifting NW'ly on Thursday I managed 30 minutes watching the sea from the shelter of the RNLI building at the end of Beach Road. The wind strength was only light although I did manage to pick up 2 distant, unidentified Skua species, 3 Red-throated Divers, a few Gannets and singleton Mallard and Red-breasted Merganser. The best bird though was an adult or subadult Pomarine Skua which headed south quite a way offshore, the pale breast and dark rear end coupled with the characteristic lumbering, broad-winged jizz this species displays when cruising through on a light tail wind allowing a straightforward identification. East Ruston Common provided the interest at the end of the week for an Osprey had taken up residence, giving tremendous views as it either sat perched in dead trees, often looking for fish, or flying around the lake. It seems likely to be the same bird I saw here at the end of September and close inspection revealed it to be a juvenile bird bearing a metal ring on it's right leg. A Cetti's Warbler was again giving bursts of song from the dense vegetation and c.12 Siskins flew overhead; probably not too far as there is a good food source for them in the stands of Alders there. Bob spent several hours photographing the Osprey and whilst there on Saturday morning he was fortunate to see a family party of 2 adult and 5 young Whooper Swans drop in for a short while. Back at Happisburgh on Friday, a small flock of 15 Redwings were feeding along the edge of a hedge bordering the meadow behind Lower Farm and an immature Marsh Harrier passed through being mobbed by a Carrion Crow...

A superb portrait shot of the juvenile Osprey at East Ruston ~ Bob Cobbold.

This family party of Whooper Swans chose to stop off at East Ruston on their journey between Arctic breeding grounds and more temperate winter haunts in the UK ~ Bob Cobbold.

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