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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 ...

24th - 30th August

The wind direction followed a similar pattern to last week; SW'ly until Friday when it turned NW'ly. By Saturday morning it had veered to the south-east. Wind strength remained rather light throughout and, with some light rain, Monday was the only wet day.

Family parties of Goldfinches have been grouping together following successful breeding and c.20 have been regularly seen along our lane; the buffy headed juveniles are easily differentiated from the more boldy marked parent birds. There were still 4+ Spotted Flycatchers in the trees by Moat Farm this week and the Willow Warbler had been joined by a second bird and a Chiffchaff, whilst in our garden the berries of a Himalayan Honeysuckle were proving irresistible to a male Blackcap. The majority of our Swifts leave by the end of August and I noticed just one present over the garden on the 27th; any sightings from now will be noteworthy.

From the 28th was quite eventful and I visited the clifftop each day. A Yellow Wagtail headed SE on Wednesday, 2 Common Whitethroats and 7 Wheatear were south-east of the lighthouse on Thursday and something was going on with Redshanks. I heard some calling and got onto a flock of 22 flying west with 2 Knot, followed by 2 more with a single Knot. Shortly after another flock flew east, perhaps containing the original birds, but this time numbering 45. Three smaller waders may have been the 2 + 1 Knot. Finally a lone bird flew south-west calling.

Usually only seen here in small numbers, the large flock of Redshanks this week was rather surprising
© Ron McIntyre

An early seawatch the following morning added a new species to my Happisburgh list when I picked up a Balearic Shearwater flying north at about middle distance. What is possibly the same bird has been seen several times in recent days from Eccles and Sea Palling, flying both north and south at various times of the day. A few others have been seen elsewhere around the coast, but the regular appearance of a single bird off this part of the coastline leads me to believe that one may be roosting either offshore here or even in a suitable crevice on one of the reefs off Sea Palling. On a worldwide scale Balearics are very rare, indeed it's status on the IUCN Red List is 'critically endangered'. This is mainly down to predation at the breeding colonies by introduced mammals such as cats and rats. They nest on cliffs and small islets in the Balearic Islands and outside the breeding season they wander around the western Mediterranean and venture northwards to the seas around the UK and as far north as south-western Scandinavia. More in-depth information can be found on the excellent Birdlife International website.

It was quite hazy on Saturday in the light SE'ly breeze as I parked at the Cricket Club and headed out towards the Coastwatch. Hearing Swallows alarm, I looked up for the usual Hobby sighting but nothing was apparent. Putting Ossie on his lead the alarms continued, so I looked around to catch the tail end of a large raptor disappearing westward, quite low, behind the barn complex at the Forge. From the brief views had I suspected it was most likely a Marsh Harrier and hoped that nothing rarer was reported during the day! A Golden Plover flew over calling and Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow Wagtail were present as I walked the track. Scanning the slightly swelling, almost oily looking sea 2 Balearic Shearwaters were heading south, close together and not too far out. Their brown colouration, dusky markings to the underwing, broad 'hand' and pot-bellied appearance allowed me to easily identify them even through my 10x binoculars. I'd left my pager at home but when I checked it I was pleased to see that two had been seen together passing Cley less than an hour previously. Several other birders managed to track them past other sites further round the coast, in all a good set of records of this rare species...

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