Here, There and Everywhere- Part I: Burnham Overy Staithe to Warham

When my friends ask me how was my half term, the following won’t mean much to them, but it definitely will to me.

  • SEVEN lifers (including four in one day)
  • Two Isabelline Wheatears (yes, TWO)
  • Two Dusky Warblers, and dipped two more (well supposedly two more at least)
  • Two Little Buntings (together)
  • Four Olive-backed Pipits (yes, FOUR)
  • Pallid Swift, Desert Wheatear, and much more…

Oh, and a little bird called a Siberian Accentor…

To summarise the last two weeks in one blog post is unthinkable, so I’ve split it down into four ‘chunks’: one for Holkham, one for Spurn, one for Scilly & one for Burnham Overy/Cley. Here goes…

Doubling Up

Fresh on the morning of 15th October 2016, I got out of the car at Burnham Overy Staithe, fully prepared for a day in the field at the birding holy grails of Burnham Overy Dunes, Holkham Pines, Wells Woods & Warham Greens. First on the agenda, and first lifer of the half term (though just how many was completely unknown to me), was a BARRED WARBLER. This species was one of the last ‘common’ birds I needed to get on my life list, and one of my bogey birds. The bird had disappeared for a while, and it wasn’t long before I managed to relocate it!! The warbler was my first UK lifer since July.

My first Barred Warbler– here happily feeding on some berries

Chuffed with a fine start, my luck ran out when a Dusky Warbler that had been reported at Burnham Overy Dunes decided to fly away out of view, not to be seen again. Not to worry, I made my way up slowly to Holkham, via Grey Plovers & Brent Geese.

The exquisite Grey Plover in one of Burnham Overy Marsh’s many creeks.

So I arrived in the dunes, passing bushes where I’d seen Booted, Greenish & Icterine Warblers, and stood not far from where I’d seen Spectacled Warbler!! So, after a brief search for the Dusky Warbler & Great Grey Shrike, I started the long walk to Wells Woods. On the way, I was entertained by a rather showy Yellow-browed Warbler, which was soon joined by one of its friends.

One of the two Yellow-browed Warblers at Holkham.

After an abortive search for a reported Radde’s Warbler, and a narrow miss on a Pallas’s Warbler, I pressed on to Wells Woods.

I finally arrived after about 15 minutes of walking (and two more Yellow-broweds) at the drinking pool, and almost immediately connected with my target: Olive-backed Pipit!! This was my second ever after a bird on the Scillies four years ago (more on that on a later date…), and eventually gave itself up for good views.

Beautiful Olive-backed Pipit– but that wasn’t the last this half term…

Having firmly entertained myself with the pipit, caught up with a few mates & had an explore around The Dell, I finally made my way to Wells Harbour. This is one of my favourite spaces in Norfolk, a beautiful inlet harbour with creeks running everywhere & the saltmarsh backing on to it, with East Hills, Stiffkey & Warham looming in the background. Naturally, the mud was alive with waders, including Curlew, Turnstone & Ringed Plover.

A rather bemused-looking Curlew in Wells Harbour.

I then finally reached Warham Greens just as the light was fading. Up Garden Drove, flitting about in a bush, was my first ever RADDE’S WARBLER. Now, this was the first day that I had seen two lifers in a day since April this year, so this was quite a big deal. The bird was fortunately surprisingly readily viewable compared to some other individuals that I have read about, and even showed down to a couple of feet!!

A glimpse of the eyestripe & eye of the Radde’s Warbler
Back-on view- you can just about make out the rusty-buff undertail coverts & vent.

And that, well, was that for the day. The next day was spent preparing for the events that shall follow in the next blog post- stay tuned…


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