Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Creeping Pipit

So everyone has a bogey bird and mine just happened to be a little unassuming siberian pipit, which due to their regular appearances each autumn has now been relegated from its previous rarity status to a scarcity. I have missed a few over the years (well hundreds if you add up all of the UK records) but those that I made an effort to see have always eluded me, sometimes by as little as a few minutes. So when an Olive-backed Pipit found a hillock in north Norfolk to its liking last week, phone calls were made, texts were sent, and a cunning plan was hatched late one Friday night...

Muckleburgh Hill O.B.P site
All Pipit photos courtesy of Andy Last.

It was a bittersweet moment when I finally clapt eyes on this little gem, of course very pleased to finally see an O.B.P but at the same time, a little disappointed that my birding journey to see this species was at an end.

The Curious tale of the Beeston Butcher

Prior to Muckleburgh we had stopped off at Beeston Regis to catch up with another long stayer, namely an Isabelline Shrike, one of three birds in Norfolk with a fourth bird in residency in Devon.

Beeston Regis Common temporary home to an Izzy Shrike

These subtly beautiful and pallid Shrikes are wrapped in a wash of gentle autumnal hues, full of pale browns, gentle ochres and breathtakingly rich rufous tones captured within the tail, which catches the eye and draws you into their world, the world of a kinetic avian wanderer...

Andy, on the other hand described it as a

"beige shrike"...


Andy acting all like, cool, nonchalant n' sh*t whilst in the company of the Beeston yodeller.  

A theory of Isabelline as a colour (god bless Wikipedia...)

A few theories have been proposed for the origin of the colour's name. According to a popular legend, the name comes from Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain; during the Siege of Ostend, which started in July 1601, Isabella is claimed to have vowed not to change her underwear until the siege was over, expecting a quick victory for her husband Archduke Albert of Austria. Since the siege lasted over three years, finally ending in September 1604, it is claimed that the discolouration of her underwear in that interval led to the naming of the colour.[1][6] However, this theory was discounted by the Oxford English Dictionary as the word was in use before the siege had begun.[2] A variation of the legend refers to Isabella I of Castile and the eight-month siege of Granada by Ferdinand II of Aragon starting in April 1491. This siege ended in January 1492 and again was said to have resulted in overworn underwear belonging to an Isabella.

Perhaps 'Beige Shrike' isn't too bad after all...

And talking of Shrikes...lots of these Great-greys were turning up along the east coast over the weekend. This one turned up in the drizzle late afternoon saturday at Wells Woods.
With Saturday's birding so good we made a decision to seek accommodation overnight and continue with the birdfest that was north Norfolk. We had finished at dusk in Wells Woods and would continue at first light from where we had left off... in those magical autumnal woods full of eastern promise. 

Leave it to me I said...

We should stay local to Wells I said...

How hard can it be I said..?

(So this is where we ended up)

For future reference...
The Kings Lynn Travelodge...
Isn't actually in Kings Lynn... 
In fact it's not even in Norfolkshire.

The Dell of the Devilish Sprites 

Sunday morning found myself and Lasty at the back of an area known as the Dell, an area of deciduous trees and bushes in what is in the most part a pine wood, our quarry was a Blyth's Reed Warbler, an Acro of slim build and sharp tack.

Below is a recording of a Blyth's in Goa which is where this bird should be wintering.

Blyth's Reed Warbler Wells Woods courtesy of...well that's a lie...actually courtesy of no one...I stole it off the interweb. But, like, totally well done friend, you did well to get any sort of shot of this very sneaky warbler...yay!!...(please don't sue). 

After a brief but good view of the Blyth's it was on to see the other goodies on 
offer within the trees...

Not you Oddie, back to Hampstead Heath with you!

No, this included a smashing Hume's Leaf Warbler a cracking Pallas's Leaf Warbler and a superb Red-flanked Bluetail, all of these birds under the continuous avian soundtrack of incoming Redwings, Siskins, Brambling and Crossbill.

There had been a mass fall of Goldcrests in the week and at least a couple of Wrens 
(Paul & Vic).

Birding Titchwell under bruising skies.

No time to stop, caffeine and rares, LETS BIRD!!!


The Movie.

Featuring O.B.P, Great-grey Shrike, Isabelline Shrike and Red-flanked Bluetail.

(Please click the cog and view at 720p HD)

Hedgehog and Badger in harmony.


  1. Great write-up and video! Glad you finally caught up with your bogey bird though as you say it's always a bit sad when it finally happens.

  2. Absolutely brilliant account. Wish I could have been there - but..........