28.10.2023 - Field Trip : Magnificent Migrants! Exploring the North Norfolk Coast from Burnham Overy Staithe to Holkham
Leader: Steve Chapman
Reporters: Stuart and Marion Malone
Species List: David Laurie
Pre-meeting travel arrangements worked well and an enthusiastic group of 14 souls set off eastwards in cool, unexpectedly overcast conditions. Unbeknown to the group a very special day lay ahead. Within 200m many sightings were observed, giving David Laurie the hard task of recording them as they were rapidly called out.
We made our way away along the staithe, with the reed beds on our right, being escorted by a lovely small group of Bearded Tits.
At Overy Marshes we stopped to observe a Common Buzzard resting on a fence post, only for a Hen Harrier to fly past right behind it! The Skylarks were in good voice and we saw plenty of Pink-footed Geese both grounded and in-bound!
We set off across the dunes towards Gun Hill. As we were climbing, there was a call of ‘owls!’ and several birders broke into a trot, seeking higher ground for a better view. We were all rewarded with sightings of three Short-eared Owls looking wonderful as they glided slowly over the dunes. A period of calmness was now needed and we spent some time looking out
over the shore line checking out the waders and wildfowl. Sightings included a Red-breasted Merganser, Great White Egrets, Pintail, Razorbill and Red-throated Diver.
Making our way back across the dunes the next shout went up - ‘eagle!’ And it was at this point the White-tailed Eagle was sighted motionless high in a tree. Fortunately, it took flight and we were thrilled to watch it flying majestically across the marsh to higher cover. Next, we made our way through the woods, forever stopping in anticipation of hearing and/or seeing the elusive Yellow-browed Warbler!! Walking through the woods several of us were fortunate to meet a Holkham Warden who showed us a dead Short-eared Owl that he had picked up that morning. It had looked rather frail for a couple of days so although it was a shame to have died so young, this provided an opportunity for us to see the beautiful feathering, bright yellow eyes and the surprisingly short ears of this lovely bird.
We lunched next to the Joe Jordan hide, again sighting the White-tailed eagle which was almost overshadowed by the sighting of a Peregrine Falcon.
As the sun came out in the afternoon, we enjoyed overlooking the fields from the Washington hide towards Holkham Monument. There had been much chat during the day on the possible sighting of Ring Ouzels but sadly they remained elusive unlike their numerous Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbird, Mistle and Song Thrush cousins.
Having rested in the hide and with the afternoon sun helping us on our way we finished by walking to The Lookout for a well-received cup of tea and facilities!
We all enjoyed a fantastic day and on behalf of everyone can we say a big thank you to Steve Chapman for his planning, support, endless enthusiasm and especially for arranging such excellent viewing!
Marion and I, as relative novices, would also like to thank everyone else on the trip who kindly shared their time, knowledge and scopes to make this a very enjoyable and rewarding day.
The complete bird spot (86) and their locations are detailed in the spreadsheet below which was kindly compiled by David Laurie. At the end of the day Steve and David continued to Holkham Lake where they spotted another additional 5 species.
Cetti's Warbler (heard)
Great Black-backed Gull
Great White Egret
Water Rail (heard)
Yellow-browed Warbler (heard by 2!)
Extras seen by David and Steve at Holkham Park
Great Crested Grebe
Please feel free to read through our reports from our monthly outdoor meetings.