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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 ...

26th October - 1st November

Wet weather from the SW opened the week, clearing by early afternoon. Overnight rain Monday continued into Tuesday, eventually clearing eastwards. Dry and frosty followed but rain returned for Thursday and a heavy, wintry shower struck on Friday evening by which time the wind was NE'ly. It was a cold, cloudy end to the week with the wind now in the east.

My shift pattern only allowed me to get to the clifftop fields for afternoon dog walking this week and on Tuesday, as we reached Upton Way, a flock of 13 Snow Buntings dropped in close to the footpath. Casting my eyes out to sea as we walked the clifftop, a single Shag flew south whilst 7 Shelduck and 2 Brent Geese headed north. An actively hunting Barn Owl at the Decca site may have been the same tired looking bird there in September, as it sported the distinct, buff breast-band of that bird. It kept dropping to the ground from the post and rail fencing along the southern edge, perhaps taking earthworms. The next day as we walked the same route, c.1000 Pink-footed Geese flew over to the NW and Starlings were flying in from the sea in several flocks. A Grey Heron appeared over the clifftop and flew quite high inland, perhaps a bird that had just crossed the North Sea or had finished the journey after a stop off on a gas rig. Out to sea, a Great Black-backed Gull was chasing a small, dark looking passerine over the waves. By the time I had my telescope trained on it the gull had knocked down and, I assume, drowned the unfortunate bird, for it's lifeless body could be seen floating in the water. I've witnessed this several times before and one wonders just how often this scenario takes place each autumn as 1000's of small birds struggle to reach our shores. Several Meadow Pipits along the base of the cliff prompted me to check the beach every few yards and it wasn't long before a late Wheatear appeared. A party of 5 'presumed' Linnets flew past, landing at the base of the cliff and on closer inspection I was surprised to see the yellowish bill and buffy face of a Twite looking back at me. Twite are quite a scarce winter visitor to Norfolk, favouring the saltmarshes of the north coast, so they were a rather unusual find at Happisburgh. The birds soon flew out of sight as they were disturbed by several people on the beach. Returning homeward, the Snow Buntings appeared, the flock size having increased to 14.

An easterly force 3-4 encouraged me to look at the sea before returning home on Thursday in the hope of some wildfowl passage. I watched for 25 minutes, logging a Teal, 40 Wigeon, 18 Eider, 60 Brent Geese and 5 Red-throated Divers all heading north. Southward passage was restricted to 4 Gannets. A shorter dog walk was called for today, so we walked the lane and back. Winter Thrushes had obviously been arriving as the paddocks and surrounding hedgerows contained a Fieldfare, c40 Redwings and at least 120 Blackbirds. It was quite astounding to see so many Blackbirds in a small area; how many more had arrived in the rest of the village I wondered. I heard the call of a Goldcrest from the trees behind the Anglian Water pumping station and a search revealed at least 2, along with 2 Chiffchaffs and a Pied Flycatcher that should really have been much further south by now.

The Thrush arrival prompted me to have a quick look near the church and cricket ground the following day, but I saw nothing more there than 10+ Goldcrests. I stopped near the paddocks to see if yesterday's Flycatcher was still there and was pleasantly surprised to see my 4th parish Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn. A Chiffchaff was with it and a Brambling called from somewhere close by but the Pied Fly wasn't to be seen. I tried here again on Saturday, there were 2 Chiffchaffs again, as well as several Goldcrests and Song Thrushes. A flyover Grey Wagtail as I walked home may have landed on the paddocks.

Grey Wagtails nest quite close by but are only seen in Happisburgh on passage.
© Arthur Grosset

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