Much of my Norfolk birding this year has been focused on patching. During my visits in April and June, I only went birding outside the Costessey area four times, twice in April and twice in June. Further to that, I haven’t been to the north coast itself since February – a bit ridiculous but indicative of the productive birding within a 20 mile radius of Norwich. Rather than going through each day comprehensively (as I am so prone to doing), here’s some pics from each visit, with overviews and short accounts of each day below.
This long stayer was a much appreciated bird and worth the short drive, and in my preferred Glauc plumage. 3+ birds were present over the winter, but only the one was present on this occasion. The above flypast was the best views I managed, with views remaining too distant for photography thereafter. A mobile individual, there was a whole 20 minute period when I lost it, only to re-find it right at the other end of the beach. What a stonking beast it was though; I’ll never tire of these birds.
A very much enjoyed bonus on the dune slope near the beach entrance. Note the rufous ear coverts, extensive white around the median and lesser coverts and frosty mantle with black streaking. Another bonus was a Red Kite from the A149 near Stalham.
The highlight of a day in the Brecks was 7 of these enigmatic birds, extremely well camouflaged in their surroundings. Aside from missing out on Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Lynford Arboretum, it was a successful day, holding a single distant male Goshawk at an undisclosed site, 6 Bramblings, a Kingfisher and a dodgy pair of Mandarin at Santon Downham, as well as Marsh Tits and Nuthatches a plenty.
I bumped into this beauty by chance whilst on a casual non-birding walk in decent habitat during late June, its melancholy song adding yet more beauty to the serene surroundings.
Last but not least, as the main Norfolk highlight of the spring and summer so far, was an amazing Nightjar night at an undisclosed site, involving 6+ individuals: 5+ churring males and a female. The latter was seen very well, floating past us ethereally down to 10ft and tracked in flight for over a minute. The frog-like contact call was heard from at least two males, a short, throaty ‘keewick’. What will always stick in my mind, however was hearing wing-clapping from a few males for the first time, the most outlandish sound of all. I have never been in Nightjar habitat during courtship, so hearing this was a lastingly fresh and vivid experience for me. To my ears, the sound is akin to someone clapping slowly whilst a futuristic car with a dodgy engine is being switched off. It is an abrupt and dissonant end to the timeless but resonant earth drone that is churring. This melee of Nightjar noises, as well as decent views of at least two other males, provided one of my highlights of the year; as always with these true birds of the soil. Utterly memorable and superb; easily the most Nightjars I have ever had at any one place in the UK.
I will be down in Norfolk again throughout August. As wader passage gets fully under way, and if this Two-barred Crossbill madness continues, I’ll definitely make my first trip up to the north coast in nearly half a year. A personal record for me, but given how decent the birding was in April and June away from that area, I am not in the least bit fussed!
Thanks for reading,