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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Lapland Buntings save the day (and the month?)


With prevailing south- westerly winds throughout the month, a lack of birds all month, especially in Suffolk (Norfolk is honorably excepted) and missing out on the seabird bonanza (as usual) mid month, lack of birds seen on any of my local patches, this September must be one of the worst.. no, the worst on record for me and the complete lack of scarce birds seen all month. Today was my last chance to change all that and initially the signs were promising when at 9.30am I headed hotfoot to the back of the southern end of Lowestoft Oval following a BINS message, that Rob & Andrew had found an Icky Warbler there. I would have received the message an hour earlier, if I hadn't left my personal phone in the car (and text messages out of earshot) both Andrew and Rob had very kindly sent me messages, but this oversight cost me the bird and all I saw there was 1 male Blackcap. A Southern Hawker and Migrant Hawker were seen flying around the trees here. A nice Pied Flycatcher was seen at the top of Sparrows Nest plus a Treecreeper seen, plus a Jay and around 40 Long- tailed Tits.
Good to see Don & Gwen, OFB, Neville L, Rob Wil & Win, Ricky F, Chris M and Paul & Jane, sadly I missed chatting to the LBC chairman who popped in briefly.

Another BINS message stating that a Lapland Bunting had been seen on Kessingland beach between the Rider Haggard Lane steps and Heathland caravan park, somewhere on the beach meant in all probability an extensive search for one small bird but I was up for the challenge!
From half past 4, I combed the beach and initially all I saw were 40 Linnet and a Wheatear which flew in.
I was zig-zagging across every inch of the beach and checking every area, no mean feat when the entire area is 1/2 mile long by a 1/4 mile wide! I was about to head back when I decided to follow the Linnet flock, when I reached the area near the seaward side of the beach, by a lifejacket (yellow) holder and stones piled around its base. This area must have been 100 yards north of the steps (down from Green Lane/ Rider Haggard Lane) and 3/4 of the way across the beach towards the sea.
From the lifejacket holder walk 50 yards in a north- west direction following the narrowing finger of sandy dune with the odd bits of marram grass which is sandwiched by short green/ brown turf (formerly the puddle area in the winter) and near the tip of the finger before the sandy dune peters out, locate a bright green or blue rope (can't remember the colour!) and look east from here to 2 clumps of marram grass. I was walking along here, the Linnets were just east of here and I heard the very distinctive dry rattling call "prrrtt" of a Lapland and looking around, I saw an excellent Lapland Bunting feeding underneath clumps of Marram grass, I crept along and got a few shots in the fading light. Even better there was a second Lapland Bunting feeding out a little in the open, I crept further around but this second bird was less confiding and when the Linnets behind them took to flight the 2 Lapland Buntings flew 10 yards nearer the sea, one then seen feeding here and then one flew west 30 yards. the birds adopted their usual "shy" hunched shape as they fed between the blades of Marram grass.
Later on at 6.15pm checking the original area, there was still 1 Lapland Bunting feeding between 2 clumps of Marram grass.
I watched it for 10 minutes before the fading light made me retrace my steps up the cliff.

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