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March 19th

A relatively mild - for March anyway - south-westerly had me hoping for something to indicate that the winter was inevitably losing it's grip on us and I was rewarded with three Sand Martins hawking westwards as I strolled along the clifftop by the Coast Watch. A few were reported around the county yesterday, but I'd had to wait a little longer for a bird that often marks a watershed in the birding year; the first summer migrant. Little else was apparently moving. Offshore, Gulls were 'milling around' at best and a couple of Red-throated Divers passed westwards. Interestingly, a single Cormorant flying to the east was the first I had seen in Happisburgh this year. Familiar garden birds are often forgotten when it comes to talk of migrants, but six Great Tits which flew out of the hedges near The Forge and gained height as they flew off west were no doubt just that. Mechanised farming operations were underway in the fields just behind the Coast Watch and four Pied Wagtails attracted to the resultant disturbed soil were accompanied by two male White Wagtails which, like the male Pied, had yet to acquire absolutely full summer plumage.

I almost had a collision with a Sparrowhawk this afternoon as I drove a narrow back road into Ingham. It shot through a gap in the hedge to my left and, with a deft wing flick, missed my nearside and continued flying very low to the road only three or four feet in front of me, totally unperturbed it seemed. For those few privileged seconds it almost felt as though I was riding on the little hunters back...

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