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Saturday, 7 June 2014

Spectacled Warbler at Burnham Overy Dunes Gun Hill

Early on Saturday 7th June, I left at 6am to drive up to Burnham Overy Staithe and 1 hour and 50 minutes later parking at the same spot (200 yards east of the village I took the long mile walk down to the Dunes and Gun Hill, where I had seen a superb Siberian Thrush in the 1990's (a long time ago!). I could see the line of birders all grouped together in the far distance. I took the long 25 minutes mile and a half long walk over to the Dunes and Gun Hill picking up the boardwalk and stepping off that by Gun Hill and walking around the back to join the assembled throng of around 40 birders all in a line. Walking to the middle I was fortunate enough to be closest of any at around just 10 metres from the nearest bush. The excellent Spectacled Warbler (only my 3rd UK one following sightings at Landguard, Suffolk and Scilly) then duly flew in with nest material then disappearing into the middle of the bush and then briefly perching up by a frond sticking up on the left hand end of the small Sueda bush. It then flew left and started singing its lovely scratchy song what has been called a "rattlesnake rattle" which is an apt description of its scratchy Sylvia Warbler call. for a few minutes before flying back. It would occasionally forage around in nearby bushes before always flying back with a beakful of material and to continue its nest. The Spectacled warbler was a really smart bird like a small slim Whitethroat with noticeable pale yellowish buff coloration on much of its lower mandible (the black on the lower mandible only seen by the tip of the bill), straw coloured legs, a reddy- brownish eye bordered bu a white eye ring which appeared more complete on its right side than the left. A slate grey crown face being much darker grey by the lores area the grey merged into a buff mantle and back with chestnut rufus on the wings. It had a white throat and pale dull buffy pink coloration on the underparts. (to be continued) The bird then hopped up o its favourite perch to the left of the bush foa few seconds before ageing flying left and even foraging amongst the bushes for nest material or perched right up singing its distinctive song on top a bush to the left. It always flew back and sometimes showed quite well in adjacent bushes before again flying back to its favoured bush with yet more nest material. Later on it flew right and we could here it singing in the distance before it flew back minutes later. A Cuckoo was heard in the distance too. The sky was starting to darken and the distant rumble of thunder were ominous waning signs of the storm about to one. So I and around 8 others packed up their optical gear and slowly walked back. In the gloom, a close male Linnet was singing on top a bush, its mate nearby. Also a Sedge Warbler was also seen singing very close nearby too. I caught up to other birders who kindly put me onto a fine Spoonbill flying away from us other the estuary and the western dunes by Burnham Overy Staithe on the right. Meanwhile on the marsh to the left, flying in the rain was a fine Little Tern, a belated first of the year for me and very welcome to see this sadly declining sea bird. By this time the heavens opened and we got a soaking, I was glad of the waterproofs for the camera gear and optics but the zip went on mine so I got a soaking!

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