The skies were stippled with raptors - 35 individuals on one scan. Twenty-odd Buzzards, six Marsh Harrier, ten Red Kites, three Hobby (see below), Peregrine, five Kestrel and two Sparrowhawks at a minimum. All hanging aerially in the fine weather.
After three days of yucky weather, conditions cleared yesterday. With the time between school runs at my disposal, I resolved to go to the coast and see whether any migrants were up and about after the 72-hour hiatus. I chose my favourite place in Norfolk: Burnham Overy Dunes. The selection proved wise.
Two Cuckoos were new for the year. Neither were calling. Migrant warblers included a few Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcap and a Willow Warbler. Breeders included a GrasshopperWarbler, plus several Common & Lesser Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers. Here's a showy male Common Whitethroat.
Bird of the day came on my retreat from Gun Hill. Only my second-ever spring Wryneck popped up on a bush for a few seconds, before being caused off by a Linnet. Presumably the bird seen a few times since the weekend, but at a slightly different location (i.e. it had moved west from the boardwalk). A fine culmination to a wonderful #NorfolkWalk.
Swallows and other hirundines were scudding west, at a rate of perhaps 150/hour. I checked as many as I could: no Rumper. Yellow Wagtails and a couple of Tree Pipits also headed west. Five Ring Ouzels chacked around. The dunes were full of Northern Wheatear. I counted a minimum of 41, and groups of 5 and 6 in different areas may have been additional to that. Never have I seen so many of this fine chat at a single location.
The best birds were either side of Gun Hill. First a female Black Redstart - not a species I was expecting in early May. The first two photos were taken at an awkward angle; I couldn't get down to the ground. But they do capture a neat behaviour of the bird tossing up a grub before swallowing. Testament to sunny conditions granting a rapid shutter speed.
The whole area at BOD was packed with birds. The grazing marshes were full of (hopefully) breeding waders: Avocets, Lapwings and Redshanks. Top work by Paul Eele and co. Three Whimbrel, a Barwit and a few Greenshank evidenced migration. Long-legs were in evidence. A booming Bittern and perhaps the same bird later in flight. A succession of Spoonbills - at least six, but probably double that. A Great White Egret (but isn't there always, now).