Saturday, 8 October 2016

Participating in the Yellow Browed Warbler invasion

For the past few weeks the UK has been inundated [well there have been rather a lot] with Yellow Browed Warbler's and I had seen precisely none this year. So it was wonderful this morning to have a chance to go birding with my mate Jim along the north Norfolk coast.

Yellow Browed Warbler, Brancaster
We headed to Brancaster Staithe, our plan was simply to walk the boardwalk back west towards Brancaster and bird the hedgerows and trees that border it. Initially this seemed like a bad call, although there were birds about the wind was keeping them down and those that there were always seemed to have the sun behind them. But then we reached Branodunum, not the housing estate but the field owned by the National Trust and surrounded by a nice sheltering hedgerow, soon we heard our first Yellow Browed Warbler here and although we couldn't pin this bird down we started to feel lucky.
Yellow Browed Warbler, Brancaster
Walking into the north west corner of the field I picked up a a Phylosc in the top of a tree and Jim and I called it simultaneously as a Yellow Browed, soon we had two of these flitting around and calling giving good if always brief views.

Leaving Branodunum we headed back to the car at Brancaster Staithe with the pinging of Bearded Tits accompanying us. A couple of Red Kites drifted overhead and a Peregrine shot through with the sun behind it as it hunted the marsh. We also saw Common Buzzard and Marsh Harrier here.

Not seeing the Red Breasted Flycatcher at Titchwell
Titchwell was busy, very busy. We spent a while not seeing the Red Breasted Flycatcher but getting brief views of a Pied Flycatcher. On the Fen Trail we heard but didn't see a couple of YBW's and we saw a Common Redstart in a hedge near Patsy's Pool. Walking down the West Bank path expecting a tough time finding the Pectoral Sandpiper we were pleased to find it staked out right by the side of the path, it spent a lot of time in cover only ever giving brief views, often of its back.

Pied Flycatcher, Titchwell
Heading home we picked up a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by Jackdaws,  which meant five species of BOP in a morning and no Kestrel.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Titchwell

All in all a great four hours birding, the best bit being the time Jim and I had a prime bit of east coast habitat to ourselves along with a couple of Yellow Browed's. I love the sense of being able to say not only did I clap eyes on these birds but that I also shared the communal experience of this years invasion of this tiny little warblers. Just as last year it was great to share in that amazing period at Holkham when the bushes were full of rares and birders from across the UK came together to join in the fun. Not that today was all plain sailing whilst giving the kids their tea I had a quick look at BirdGuides Norfolk page on my mobile phone only to discover that a Black Browed Albatross had flown past Old Hunstanton, maybe half a mile as the Albatross flies from my kitchen, ho bloody hum.