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March 2nd

Following Sunday's miserable, grey rain we're now enjoying a welcome spell of sunny, more clement weather. The nights may be icily cold, and there's a layer of frost on the screen to contend with each morning, but the thought of Spring just around the corner lifts the spirits. Walking out beyond Moat Farm this morning I caught a snatch of song from a Reed Bunting. It was a male, singing from a low down bush adjacent to a reed filled dyke, and he had yet to fully develop his black head and bib of summer plumage. I paused for a short while, for although not a particularly awe inspiring bird in this guise, and with a rather monotonous song, Reed Buntings are never very plentiful in Happisburgh. One was present not too far from here in December, before disappearing on December 31st, and I wondered if it was possibly the same individual.

This Reed Bunting is beginning to show the black head feathering and white collar of summer plumage.
© Arthur Grosset

Yesterday, mid-morning, I happened to be in the garden, discussing some planned work on the house with a tradesman. The sky bore a sense of expectation; bright and mostly sunny but with enough billowy clouds as a background against which to pick out a passing raptor. I can't help sky-gazing on days like this and I suddenly found myself with an adrenaline flutter of excitement in my stomach that most seasoned birders feel as they spot a larger 'bop' ~ bird of prey. Soaring at a fair height just south of our garden was a larger, broad winged bird and I ran for my nearby binoculars. I'd already guessed what it probably was and, raising my glasses, I could see it was a Common Buzzard. It continued circling at height for a few minutes before abandoning it's thermal and gliding towards Eccles and the coast on fixed wings. March and April are prime months for Buzzards to pass through the county and several are recorded each year at this time. Separating true migrating birds from more local wanderers isn't easy, for the species benefits from a healthy population in east Norfolk. I have, however, often watched these birds soaring over and away from their territories, but they invariably return home after a short while. With today's bird heading for the coast, there was a reasonable chance it was a migrant...

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