This website is best viewed using Firefox v.3

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 ...

16th - 22nd November

A generally wintry flavour to the weather from the outset this week with a N'ly element to the wind direction most days, giving a keen edge to the breeze. Although the wind came from the south on Monday it remained cold, and despite some sunshine at times midweek 'real feel' temperatures remained low. Friday saw near gale force gusts bearing frequent showers of sleet and snow and enough fell overnight to give a dusting by the morning.

I was fortunate this week in that I added two species of bird to my Happisburgh and garden lists. The first came in the shape of a Water Rail which laid lifeless on the drive below some overhead cables. Although capable of migrating quite long distances, Rails are rather ungainly in flight and are prone to colliding with such man-made obstacles. However we have a cat, and I feel that she was most likely to have been the cause of the demise of this particular individual, perhaps catching it in one of the damp ditches close by. The second addition was added as I approached the gate returning from one of Ossie's walks when a very distinctive ringing trill triggered an almost involuntarily exclamation of "Waxwing!". It was aimed at no-one, I was alone, and I don't suppose for one minute poor Ossie understood, but on the whole birders are prone to do this when they chance upon a half decent bird. Looking up, ten of these most handsome northern wanderers flew over and headed westward over the fields. I presumed that these were the same birds that had spent a few days between Ingham and Sea Palling in recent days but it was nice that I had connected with them in the home parish.

Curious birds are Water Rails. Their bodies are strangely flat, designed for a life walking through reeds and they make a squealing sound rather like a pig.

The RNLI station in the village provides some shelter from the elements and I stopped by a few times in the week to see what was happening at sea. A flock of Common Scoter was starting to build offshore and numbered c.50 on most visits. Their larger, scarcer cousin, the Velvet Scoter was a nice sight to behold on Monday when 4 flew westwards quite close inshore over a relatively calm sea, a second individual passing by on Friday. Scoters are, by and large, dark brown or black sea ducks but the Velvet's dark monotone is relieved by vivid white inner wing patches that instantly seperate the two species in flight. Seawatch tallies were rather lean during my visits with a few Gannets, Guillemots and occasional Red-throated Divers passing, small numbers of waders and wildfowl too, two Red-breasted Mergansers being second best to the Velvets. Passerines noted whilst watching from here included an 'in off' Fieldfare, a single overhead Rock Pipit and a male Snow Bunting.

A keen eye can occasionally pick out the odd Velvet Scoter associating with larger numbers of Common Scoter. Here is a pair, the male in the foreground. © Arthur Grosset

At least two different Marsh Harriers visited the parish during the week, I had four sightings in all, and a Woodcock burst out from under a hedge by the paddocks as I walked past one day. Blackbirds were again around in good numbers and as I walked from the paddocks homeward, at least 80 moved along the hedgerow in front of me enabling me to count them as they flew from the end of the hedge across to the mature cottage garden opposite College Farm. Golden Plover had gathered on a clifftop field one morning but nowhere near the numbers that I had seen over this way last week, as the party numbered just 57. The final two species worthy of mention were another Snow Bunting near the Decca site, perhaps one of the two seen last week, and a nice wintering flock of 24 Skylarks which I saw from the green lane near the border with Lessingham...

No comments: