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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 ...

19th - 25th October

We had a dry start to the week with winds light and from the SW. Wind strength then picked up slightly, easing again on Friday, which led to a touch of frost the following morning. Plenty of bright periods were interspersed with more cloudy spells and Monday saw rain from late pm as did overnight from Thursday to Friday.

Passing through East Ruston early Monday afternoon, a birder was looking for the Osprey but I didn't have time to stop. Reaching Honing, I had to make time to stop as a 'ringtail' Harrier flew across the road in front of the car. I quickly got onto it, could see that it was a Hen Harrier, and I watched it reach Honing Hall woods where it flipped
over the treetops, drawing attention from a couple of Carrion Crows as it did so. Returning home by the same route I stopped at the fen where there was no sign of the Osprey, although a Common Buzzard appeared and a Kingfisher called, unseen. Two Marsh Tits were close to the road within quite a sizeable flock of mixed Blue, Great and at least 15 Long-tailed Tits. There seems to have been quite an influx of Tits this autumn, most noticeable from higher than usual encounters with parties of Long-tails. The next three days passed rather quietly but there were plenty of the common Thrushes in hedgerows whilst several flocks of Starlings and a few Chaffinches were noted westward on 23rd.

Friday morning after the school run saw me returning to East Ruston, where the Osprey was perched on a favourite tree and Bob was taking some more photos. It was totally at ease with our prescence and flew to other perch
es during our stay as it looked for fish, eventually flying to the body of water to the north of School Road. We followed it over, and on reaching the trees met Richard Rowe and Andrew from Cley Spy, who were also enjoying good views of it perched close by. We stopped awhile, chatting and soaking up the common's distinguished guest, noting 3 Marsh Harriers, c50 Siskins in the Alders and a secretive Water Rail close to the road. At 11:30 the Osprey flew low across the fen and directly overhead, giving us that remained fantastic views before it headed northwards. As far as I know, it wasn't seen here again; if anyone reading this knows any different I'd be glad to know. I'd noted a Chiffchaff feeding in the hedge as I left my car first thing, and following a walk around the west of the fen and back along Weavers Way with Richard, noted that it was still there. I had to pay another visit the following day, around noon, as we needed to make the monthly visit for Matilda's school project. It was quite chilly but we wandered around wrapped up warm. A single Redpoll flew over and a Little Grebe, or Dabchick, was on the open water. Heading back, a large brown bird appeared over the reeds, and my immediate reaction was that it was perhaps the Hen Harrier from earlier in the week. The girls were taken aback by my excitement when I soon realised it was a Bittern! It flew to our left and landed in the reed edge at the west end, where it soon disappeared into the reeds and out of sight. Bittern is a very rare breeding bird in the UK, nesting only in extensive reedbeds, and is afforded special protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Recent years have seen an increase in breeders though, and up to date information can be found in this informative 'Birdwatch' article. The habitat at East Ruston Fen has been recreated in recent years with the purpose of attracting and supporting Bitterns during the winter months, and with two other recent records prior to this one, it seems that the project is proving to be successful.

Bittern numbers are boosted each winter by birds from Europe, some of which will hopefully remain to expand the UK breeding range and population. This bird was photographed at Strumpshaw RSPB. © Ron McIntyre

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