Making a Point

It’s not often that tides and weather coincide to give an ideal opportunity but last Saturday they did.

Blakeney Point pokes a finger of shingle into the southern North Sea and picks up migrant birds as they make landfall in Autumn. Getting to the point is a long four mile walk, nay SLOG, on a shifting surface; and then there’s the four mile slog back.

Tides meant that it was possible just the once in October to catch the boat out, land on the point and walk back thereby halving the uncomfortable walk. Such favourable tides don’t always coincide with a high pressure over Scandinavia, a north easterly wind and an occulting front giving ideal fall conditions for migrant birds. This last Saturday the planets aligned for us and the weather forecast looked good to give it a go.

Andy and I disembarked onto the point having already had good views of Long tailed Duck, a pair of Mergansers and both species of Seal on the way out.

Thrushes were flying overhead in bright sunshine. This wasn’t the weather we wanted. We wanted rain to drop the migrants. Still, we flushed an eared Owl that promptly vanished before yielding its name, Ring Ousels chacked away and hopped around the turf, a Lapland Bunting and a flock of Snow Buntings flew south. In the plantation a Brambling buzzed at us and a mixed flock of Goldcrest, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were joined by a Willow Warbler and a Yellow Browed.

A Redstart flicked among the Sueda and a Black Redstart or two hopped from high point to high Point. A Redpoll bush hopped while others flew overhead.

Andy detonated a Woodcock from his feet and another flew in off the sea followed by a Snipe.

It started to rain during our walk back.

A Goosander punctuated flocks of Wigeon and Redwings shrouded the shingle. A roaming flock of Goldcrests, their shining crowns glowing in the dullness of the afternoon, never revealed the Pallas’ Warbler they promised but a great Grey Shrike appearing from nowhere halted us in our stride as it posed for photographs.

Of all the birds on the point however it was the Robins that stole the show. Continental Robins with orange breasts and grey bellies. Perched on every post and bush they flycatched and fed, ravenous after their journey across the sea.

There is nothing to match migration in action especially when it’s a spectacle shared with good company.

Great Grey Shrike


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Oct 2013


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