Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wells Wood - Pallas's Warbler

There was a feeling of 'after the Lord Mayor's show' about this morning as I made my way up to North Norfolk.  The previous days had seen a veritable bounty of eastern migrants propelled by favourable winds off the continent and devoured gluttonously by many twitch-hungry birders.

It did however look ominous today when by 10am and in clear blue skies, the bird news was relatively bereft of the rares that had graced the arboreal northern coastline.

My pursuit was not tempered by these unwelcome developments and deciding to park up on Lady Anne's Drive, was unceremoniously robbed of a fiver for the privilege of parking the car there for four hours.

Despite the extortion, the clock was set and I marched into the forest.

There were plenty of birders around, we were even graced by the presence of Lord Evans whom at every sighting seemed to be harassed by something or someone.

First at the drinking pool, the hushed silence was palpably audible as we all waited for the sighting of one of our autumn jewels.  Out of the shadows, a Red-flanked Bluetail appeared from a sallow and then continued to perform circuits briefly showing very well in the canopy-pierced sunlight.  The constant harassment from territorial Robins did not seem to break its resolve.  They are just delightful little birds and a second Bluetail of the week - that really is a joyous thing.

While waiting for the Bluetail, the Olive-Backed Pipit that had been present in the area, lifted off from a nearby pine and flew past overhead uttering a rasping mono-syllabic call, obviously discernible to that of a Tree Pipit.  This was my third OBP and my second for Wells Wood having seen one there last September.

Buoyed by this, I wandered back up the main path towards Holkham as another striking autumn gem had been reported from the woodland.  Heading up, I drew a blank from the oak that it had been reported from so instead ambled slowly back along the path, checking trees for any subtle avian movement.  A small bird flew alone into a Holm Oak.  I looked up.  It was a Pallas's Leaf Warbler.  This was my first, I was on my own at the time, I felt a little panicked by the experience, but a birder further along the path thankfully heard my painfully subdued verbal and wildly semaphorical gesticulations at the finding, and so together enjoyed reasonable views before it darted away along the avenue of trees.  What a beaut.

This was all going rather well I thought considering my initial despondancy.  The supporting cast were the numerous Goldcrest, occupying many of the trees along with a few Chiffchaff mixed in, and a couple of Treecreeper there too.  A surprise was a Woodcock that was flushed from the undergrowth and flew low past us as we were staring into the woodland.

It would be rather inconsiderate for me not to mention once again the many friendly birders I met today that were willing to share, chat, and co-observe.  I was cheered by the conviviality.

And that was that really, five hours driving, four hours loitering, and not a dust-cart in sight.

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