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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Lowestoft Woodchat

After an autumn which has been sadly lacking in scarce passerines on my local patch so far, today certainly delivered.
A brief vigil at Ness Point in the company of Andrew E and Rob M we saw up to 40 Red- throated Divers flying north, 12 Brent Geese flying north and 15 Gannet flying north with 12 Common Scoter and 1 Wigeon flying north also. 1 adult winter Mediterranean Gull flew south.
The Denes, Flycatcher Alley seemed quiet, I had to sit down for a while as I suffered a mild migraine which soon passed but always impairs your observation for up to 24 hours afterwards. As we approached Warren House wood we were joined by Robert Wil we looked at a passing flock of Long- tailed Tits and Rob M picked up an excellent Yellow- browed Warbler tagging along behind that showed briefly. It soon disappeared into the wood, but Andrew refound it by the eastern edge of the wood by the pillbox and we were treated to further glimpses of this enigmatic species. It also called once here, As usual olive- green plumage with a riot of cream supercilias and wing-bars.
A calling Redpoll flew over flying south.
By the northern edge of the wood, some "chop- chop calls revealed 8 excellent Crossbills flying south west over the wood.
Our luck didn't stop there, walking south out of the wood, we were approaching Links road, when Rob Wil said there's a Shrike on the bushes over there and there was, it was an excellent immature Woodchat Shrike!
Wow! I'm just not used to seeing so many quality birds especially on my local patch, usually i walk around and see absolutely nothing, this was incredible!

The bird then flew to a bush a few yards east of bordering the northen end of the car park and a passer-by flushed it onto the tall post on the northern edge of the sea wall before another walker flushed it back onto its original perch. It was feeding occasionally. We stood by the concrete blocks near the entrance and looked across to its perch first on a bramble and then a nearby post. It then flew south and perched on the small concrete water tap wall where it stayed for sometime making occasional forays on the ground catching Bees (including an Orange-tipped Bumble Bee), a Devil's Coach Horse and other insects. It even coughed up a pellet at one point that sadly blew off the wall a few minutes later. It would always return to the wall. Once or twice it flew right away over the seawall and the beach but it always returned. I left it to check the Gunton Dunes area, I didn't see much here but I did see the regular adult Yellow- legged Herring Gull on the groynes off Gunton beach. Returning to the Shrike it was seen on the large evergreen bush along the southern edge of the car park. It then returned to the concrete wall hunting from here and a small grey post nearby before some dog walkers flushed it to a post much closer to us where we had further good of this stunning bird.
new birder arrivals included OFB, Justin L, Derek B, Peter N, Chris M, James B, regular correspondent Paul W, Morris B, Nick B, Danny P & others.
James B spotted a Skua flying north, it was an excellent dark phase Arctic Skua flying north close in low over the sea, would have been very good views from the beach/ sea wall.
Walking back along the seawall south, a Grey Wagtail flew north over the Denes by the netposts and along the old broken up sea wall, I spotted 3 singleton Rock Pipits and on the grassy area within Birds Eye 2 Wheatear.

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