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March 27th

Spring marches on and there come continued sightings of many summer species from around Norfolk and with Swallow, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Ring Ouzel and Osprey all being reported. Many fortunate observers had also been enjoying two or three of a mini UK invasion of several Alpine Swifts that have stopped off in the county in recent days. Work committments meant that Ossie's walk had to wait until later in the afternoon, so we headed out across Rollesby Way towards the lighthouse sometime after 4pm. Not long after heading out along the grassy track I was treated to a surprise reminder that Spring isn't all about summer migrants arriving as two large, brown birds suddenly sprang up from behind the low bank and flew out over a barren field; they were both Short-eared Owls. I tracked one to my right and it dropped down on the bank surrounding another field where it sat, turning it's large round head, checking for danger with large, yellow eyes. Scanning back, the second bird was soon relocated sitting 150 yards or so distant, in the open of the big field. It too sat there just looking around so after a while I left it undisturbed. A Sand Martin was over the fields a little further on and a small party of resting birds just south of Upton Way were 11 Golden Plovers, one of which was a handsome, black-bellied male. As we headed back, I could see neither Owl but then, just as we reached the place from where they had originally erupted, one flew out from behind the bank again. It obviously preferred the cover offered by the emergent vegetation to sitting in an open field, and I followed this one until it dropped out of sight close to where the other had landed. As with most Owls, the Short-eared hunts mostly at night, but it is one of the more regular of our native Owls to be seen hunting in daylight hours. Short-eared Owl's usually occur as a passage migrant within Happisburgh, most often in the Autumn when they can sometimes be seen flying in from the sea, and I've no doubt that todays birds were two outbound birds waiting for the right time to head back out across the North Sea.

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