Tuesday 26 September 2017

20170926 Yellow-browed Warbler NT Blakeney Point

Yellow-browed Warbler
Bagged by Ryan and myself whilst checking suaeda spurs towards Far Point.
Bird in low veg with Willow Warbler and remained in this area for the afternoon.

Yellow-browed Warbler

With light ENE winds on the 25th and  26th September conditions looked ideal for scare drift migrants making landfall along the East coast. I had booked a seal boat trip for the 26th to Blakeney Point the day before and disembarked mid-morning  with the clear smell of rare birds in the air. I was also hoping to meet the young and enthusiastic NT summer warden here before his stint drew to a close.  Fortunately  he was in the  kitchen and keen to join the search for scarce passerine migrants in the sparse cover about the Point. On reaching the Lifeboat House garden it had already  become clear that the area was alive and hopping with migrants. Two Whinchat and five continental Song thrush were found here. The game was afoot. Every circuit of the plantation produced more Redstarts, Willow Warblers and Song Thrush,  also a lone Garden Warbler was located in the sycamores and a Brambling flushed from this clump. 
After checking other clumps we headed off to search the low shrubby sea-blight towards Far Point. Alarm bells continued to ring as we found yet more Redstart, Willow Warbler and continental Robins lurking under the low shrubbery, some almost under our feet. Over eight  Song Thrush were sitting out on the mudflats here;  an odd setting for a woodland bird. As we approached Far Point two birds were located in a very small clump of sea-blight and glasswort, one a Willow Warbler the other smaller and more active. Pulses doubled as we rapidly moved into better viewing positions and saw a strikingly long yellow supercilium as the small bird flitted up and down. ID was then confirmed as Yellow-browed Warbler the bird zipping out into even less cover of glasswort and sedges. It popped up briefly posing and  facilitating the required photo opportunity which was seized upon.
Of the many Yellow browed Warblers I have connected with in autumn this is the first found at ground level in low vegetation of scrubby sea-blight and glasswort out on salt mudflats. The backdrop of lush green sedges and crimson glasswort coming into flower really made the photograph unique. The bird remained in this area for the rest of the afternoon and was seen by at least two other Point enthusiasts.

The 1st record of Yellow-browed Warbler in Norfolk was of one shot to smithereens at Cley on 1st October 1894. Its remains are said to be in storage at the City of Birmingham Museum, well worth a visit for the required record shot I suspect...... H. N. Pashley the noted Cley naturalist and taxidermist records in 1925 that the man who shot it was only discharging his battered old muzzle loader at the bird so as not to take it home loaded.  Fortunately he took the remnants of the Goldcrest sized bird Home. This bird was then probably the fourth record for the British Isles in those early days of specimen collecting.

The 2015 and 2016 Norfolk Bird & Mammal Reports noted  exceptional and  excellent autumns for  Siberian Yellow-browed Warblers with over 180 birds reported, with a peak on the 4th October 2016 of at least 60 birds in the county. In recent years birders have now come to expect this arrival as an annual event , as 2017 has also demonstrated.
The 2016 Report from the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalist's  Society is an excellent publication and a must have for anyone with an interest in Norfolk's wildlife. Hats off to all involved in the sterling work required to get this report to publication each year.

10+ counted on the Point today.
Also found under suaeda but favouring the Plantaion.

Robin of continental race Erithacus rubecula rubecula
Exhausted just up from the surf near the Hood.
Another 8 found under the suaeda about the Point.