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Friday, 16 December 2016

Autumn Round Up with an all-star cast

Golden Pheasant, Nr Thetford, Norfolk
 
What an amazing Autumn for migrant birds. The action kept coming after my Shetland trip finished on October 5th, first with the White's Thrush on Holy Island and a nearby supporting cast of Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Yellow-browed Warblers and Bittern. Not to mention dipping Franklin's Gull.
White's Thrush, Holy Island
 
At Bempton and Flamborough I dipped (for the 3rd time) an Eastern Crowned Warbler and also the Greenish Warbler. However, I did manage to see the Arctic Warbler and a tristis Chiffchaff. The number of migrants that weekend was jaw-dropping! Everything from Bean Geese to Brambling to Paddyfield Warblers seemed to be reported between Whitby and Skegness.
Male Brambling, Flamborough Head
Siberian Chiffchaff, Bempton Cliffs RSPB
 
By mid-October it was plain to see that the Russians were coming. Numbers of rare Eastern migrants were astonishing. Take Siberian Accentor...the only bird in history to go from a British First to scarcity inside of a week! A supporting cast of Dusky and Radde's Warblers, Pine Buntings, Mealy Redpolls, Stjeneger's Stonechat etc. etc.
I went up to Spurn Point a few times this Autumn. Obviously I went to see the Siberian Accentor (on one of October's wettest days) but also a host of other rarities such as Isabelline Wheatear, gutted though because an Isabelline Wheatear was found in Norfolk as I was walking to the Easington Bird. Rectified that for my Norfolk list next day. Back at Spurn it seemed that every bush either had a Dusky or a Radde's Warbler in it. Pallas's Warblers appeared, as did the first Waxwings of the Autumn.

Isabelline Wheatear, Easington
Shorelark, Bluebell Café, Spurn
a very soggy Siberian Accentor, Easington
 
The South side of the Humber was also productive. A trip to Donna Nook led to some awesome views of Red-flanked Bluetail, Pallas's Warbler, Firecrest and Siberian Stonechat.
Firecrest, Donna Nook


Red-flanked Bluetail, Donna Nook
 
The influx of migrants extended into Norfolk & Suffolk. Again, with Dusky & Radde's Warblers, Olive-backed Pipits, Little BuntingsDesert & Isabelline Wheatears. One of the big Autumn surprises was the young Cliff Swallow that turned up at Minsmere.
Sea watching has been extremely productive, with large numbers of Little Auks, Long-tailed Duck, Velvet Scoter (sometimes inland) and also occasional Leaches Petrel and Grey Phalaropes.
 

Cliff Swallow, Minsmere

A shy Radde's Warbler, Garden Drove, Warham

Little Auks, Cley
Some of the 60+ Long-tailed Duck at Titchwell
female Velvet Scoter, Whitlingham Country Park, Norwich
 
On the coast the cold snap forced the Titchwell hideaways to show themselves. Jack Snipe, Kingfisher, several Water Rails, Bittern and up to 8 Water Pipits.

Kingfisher, Titchwell
Water Rail, Titchwell
In the Brecks on the Norfolk / Suffolk border birds were also massing. Near Santon Warren I counted a flock of over 300 Brambling, a dozen Bohemian Waxwings and 23 Hawfinches. Goshawk, Red Kite and Tawny Owls were also observed, as well as several Golden Pheasants and Reeve's Pheasants.
Hawfinch, Santon Warren
Golden Pheasant, nr Thetford.
 
So you think Autumn is over then someone throws you a curve ball! Enter Beeley, Derbyshire, and what a "ball". A 1st winter female Dusky Thrush
 
1st winter, female, Dusky Thrush, Beeley, Derbyshire
 
Finally, I have found 2 pieces of very poor quality video from the Hebrides in May 2009. View both without sound unless you like wind. Small screen is best for the wader.
 
 video
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Balranald
video
Long-tailed Skuas...en mass, Balranald









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