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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 ...

5th - 11th October

Sunday morning greeted us with heavy rain, torrential at times it seemed, before it cleared during the afternoon. Apart from some more, lighter, rain on Tuesday it remained dry. A light N-NE'ly wind opened the week, this soon backing round to SW for the most part. From the 9th, which was a lovely 'classic' autumnal day, it became a bit cooler.

It was so wet on Sunday morning that Oswald really wasn't bothered about staying indoors, but with the sun coming out during the afternoon he was more than pleased to venture out. We walked the lane to the paddocks, noting that the Redstart from last week was still present by the ditch, and insects disturbed by the cattle at Lower Farm were providing a source of food for a family party of 5 Swallows. These were present until at least the Wednesday and at one point they ventured over our garden where they hawked with a House Martin. A Monday morning walk to the village and along the cliffs to the Decca site and back was initially accompanied by several skeins of Pink-footed Geese, somewhere in excess of 1,500 all heading down towards east Norfolk. Cloud was slowly breaking as time passed and I took a favourite route off Beach Road and along the edge of the small field behind the RNLI towards St. Mary's to check for migrant birds that may have stopped off to feed. The habitat at Happisburgh village really is quite superb for small birds and, being situated atop the cliffs, must make a welcome sight visible from well out to sea to tired birds that have just flown perhaps many hundreds of kilometres. Today a Pied Flycatcher was living up to it's name in the treetops there and the hedge down to the lifeboat shed was providing shelter to another Redstart. Overhead were small numbers of Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches heading south and amongst the latter I heard the distinctive 'wheeze' call of Brambling. Heading south along the cliff, 2 Grey Plover landed briefly on the beach and a male Snow Bunting on the beach may well have been the bird reported to me last week. A Wheatear was also along this clifftop stretch and it was nice to catch up with Robin Abel, the finder of last years Buff-breasted Sanpiper that attracted many birders to the lighthouse field, who informed me he had seen two.

Tuesday saw our walk lead us away from the coast and follow the circuit towards Lessingham and along the footpath that leads back up to Whimpwell Green. Approaching the paddocks a small bird flew out of the mature hedgerow and across the field. It looked interesting and a closer look revealed it to be a Coal Tit, a bird which I seldom see in the parish although I'm sure more time spent watching around the village would turn them up more regularly. The SE facing side of the copse was sheltered and a real suntrap so I carefully approached as there was every chance a Warbler or similar insectivorous bird would be feeding there. A Chiffchaff was quite low down in the Hawthorns and soon joined by another but in the top of a Sycamore was something that was too small to be another and not behaving how I would normally expect a Goldcrest to. I suspected a rarer Phylloscopus and eventually saw enough to realise that it was another Yellow-browed Warbler, my third sighting in the area this autumn. It gave me several brief but decent views as it actively fed and then flew into the more dense foliage of an Oak where I lost sight of it. Also benefitting from the insects that were obviously abundant here was a Pied Flycatcher.

Quite a small warbler, the Yellow-browed has distinct supercilia and usually two obvious wing bars. They will often accompany Tit flocks when they reach our shores. © Ron McIntyre

Wednesday night through to Thursday saw the wind shift to NW, light in strength, and this was probably the reason behind a noticeable influx of Blackbirds. A few Song Thrushes were also involved but no 'winter' Thrushes yet. Saturday morning called for a change in location and I headed up to the cricket ground planning to walk out to the Coast Watch buildings. The highlight here occurred as I was getting Ossie on his lead when 5 Tree Sparrows flew over. Again, it was the call that alerted me and they continued flying towards the village. The field east of the track which had been a splendid sight in the spring, when full of Daffodils in bloom, now has a good covering of weeds and played host to c100 Meadow Pipits and c120 Linnets, the latter often wheeling around in a busy, twittering flock. Two Wheatears seemed to favour the heap of manure by the clifftop and the old pill box by the Coastwatch was being used by a pair of Stonechats to sight insect prey, the male often launching himself then hovering above the rank grasses as he searched. A male Reed Bunting looked at home along the track, one spent some time along here last winter, and 5 Siskins flew westward overhead as we headed back...

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