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April 5th

At 6:20am, Ossie and I were striking out towards the lighthouse along the track known as Rollesby Way. We'd already seen a local Barn Owl hunting the verges but with cloudy skies and iminent rain borne on a chilly westerly, I didn't hold out much hope of any decent visible migration. As it turned out, I was pretty much spot on, but a couple of surprises made our hour and a half worthwhile. Walking across the Decca site, a large bird with quick wingbeats drew my attention. It was a Marsh Harrier, probably a couple of hundred yards offshore and well above the height of even the higher cliffs at Happisburgh. It was flying slightly less than parallel to the shore and upon reaching the broken end of Beach Road, it turned and flew inland over the lighthouse. Was it a bird that had left the Stubb Mill roost and was moving north or was it completing an overnight crossing of the North Sea? That will remain a mystery, but it was an interesting sighting nonetheless. Whilst watching the incoming Harrier, a Grey Wagtail flew south, calling as it passed, my first through Happisburgh this year. Also along our way I noted three 'alba' Wagtails, five Meadow Pipits and a couple of flocks of Woodpigeons (17 & 11) heading north and the Sand Martin count at the colony had risen to 13. The large field south of Upton Way was playing host to two smart, black-breasted male Golden Plovers but these didn't stay long, the calls of two more passing overhead luring them, and all four flew off to the west. Later in the day, Chiffchaffs were noted in song dotted around the parish, and a slippery Weasel was seen briefly along Blacksmiths Lane. A short stop at Walcott seafront early pm was quiet although there were 25 Turnstones resting on one of the groynes.

Elsewhere in north-east Norfolk this afternoon I recorded my first Blackcap of the year in song whilst watching a female Tawny Owl, live on 'nestboxcam', as she incubated her precious clutch in the warm afternoon sun. At Honing, a brief stopover in likely looking habitat soon turned up the 'pitchoo, - pitchoo' of Marsh Tit, and a pair were watched close to the road. Also here were Chiffchaff, two Treecreepers (including a singing male) and a pair of Long-tailed Tits gathering nesting material. Another brief stop at East Ruston treated me to my first Swallow of the year and a fine adult male Marsh Harrier which was hunting over the allotment reedbed. A fearless Muntjac was also seen as I drove through East Ruston, showing complete disregard to my slowly passing car as it browsed the verge.

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