Posts Tagged ‘Overstrand



A whale was the target of our attentions yesterday. We were supposed to be travelling West but we ended up going East. We made camp at Overstrand and viewed the sea. Friend Ben had seen what was most likely a Minke travelling far offshore. Squinting eyes revealed no sign of cetaceans. However, around are feet was a more showy arctic visitor vying for our attentions. This Snow Bunting would just not leave us alone. Having first coupled with friend Megan a few days ago, it was still seeking company.



The only place in Norfolk I know of where this Hottentot Fig is growing in the wild. Great care is needed here. We could end up with acres of this introduced alien along the cliffs if this patch isn’t uprooted. It would only take a winter storm to spread this far and wide. There are orchids a plenty along the cliffs here that will be smothered if this happens. You only have to look at Winterton South Dunes to realise what a detrimental difference quick growers like ‘Russian Vine’ can make.


Light and easy

Pallid Swifts within Norfolk during November are regular but always a little contentious. They are never easy to distinguish from Common Swifts. Even photographs can be a little confusing and it’s not too difficult to inadvertently change a common to a pallid during processing. Time must be taken to watch the birds in a variety of light from various positions. It’s only then that distinguishing features can be clinched such as the dark eye, the darker saddle and underbody, darker primaries and leading edge of the wing that contrast with paler coverts and secondaries, the paler head and throat and the slightly shallower tail fork as well as paler feather edgings on the flanks. The feature of a blunter wing tip on Pallid is not as easy to distinguish as literature states and in my opinion varies from bird to bird. I guess it is one of those features that is dependant on it’s attitude in the air.

A message from Ben today stating he had a Pallid hawking along the cliff top at Overstrand saw me make a diversion from the shops in Cromer to the cliffs above the golf course. The light was immaculate as it frequently is in Norfolk and we were looking north to watch the bird hawking in front of the cliffs. Although relatively distant the bird’s milky coloured plumage was immediately apparent. However it took a while for the bird to come closer so the other features could be seen but in the end the identity of the bird was unquestionable.

Today’s Swift was in the company of a white rumped hirundine. Shame it was only a House Martin!



Just out of short trousers

A spring  Red breasted Flycatcher is rare enough but this one aside the cricket ground in Overstrand was singing. No red chested songster this one; not even a rose flush. However, the worn coverts concealed the remnants of a partial wingbar. A first year bird … just into long trousers. A smart find for someone … we know not whom.

Red breasted Flycatcher


An August Vortex


Walking along the North Norfolk ridge the other day and a glance out to sea stopped me in my tracks. There around a mile offshore was something that I haven’t seen for many many years; and I’ve never seen one as good. Snaking its way into the clouds was a water spout. The vortex was whipping up the sea at its base and tearing it into the heavens.

As the column tracked east it got weaker and after 20 minutes or so eventually died.


2014 08 22 Water Spout off Overstrand Norfolk_Z5A1031

2014 08 22 Water Spout off Overstrand Norfolk_Z5A1051a

2014 08 22 Water Spout off Overstrand Norfolk_Z5A1055a



National Whale and Dolphin Watch – Overstrand 27th July 2014

Once again Sharon and I will be holding a sea watch at Overstrand on Sunday 27th July for The Sea Watch Foundation National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW). All are welcome to come along and join in – the more watchers we have the better. We’ll be there from 9am to 5pm and hope to spot a few cetaceans and other sea mammals as well as seabirds throughout the day. You will be able to find us at The Promenade off Coast Road, Overstrand, Norfolk NR27 0NG. If you cant make our event there are others around the coast – see here for full details.


Rufous tailed Robin – Overstrand

Some of you may well have been involved in girding your loins to twitch a ghostly Rufous tailed Robin last week.

Because I’m getting tired of being asked,  … and just to put the record straight, with Tony’s permission, here is what happened.

I was wandering around on Sunday morning and there’s no doubt about it there were birds arriving. In the shelter of the valley at the back of Falcon Cottage the bushes were hanging with Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps all there no doubt having had an easterly wind up their tails overnight. A Yellow browed had flicked through with a tit flock and Ben had also seen another trip through his garden.

I phoned Tony and stated if he wasn’t out already he should be looking. He was doing chores but said he would take a look … and he did.

It was just as I was sitting down to my late breakfast that I received his return call. He had seen something briefly in Overstrand and didn’t know what it was. That was my cue to ignore breakfast and join him.

When I arrived Tony and two others had seen the bird … only briefly. Just Tony had seen the bird perched and confirmed it was small, uniformly grey/brown and had scalloping on the breast. We flicked through the pages of Collins trying to decipher the identity. Nothing resulted. We discussed Rufous tailed Robin but it was discounted as the bird wasn’t seen by Tony to possess an eye-ring. Perhaps others looking for Ben’s Yellow browed in the same area had overheard our conversations? A further search of the copse revealed only a Roe Deer and what was probably some sort of escaped firefinch – very different indeed to the bird seen earlier.

I returned later in the day to find others looking for the bird. The rumour mill had been turning as news had got onto the information services as a Mega – someone had put two and two together and got five and put out tweets that stated there was a Rufous tailed Robin present – a very very silly thing to do! Inconveniencing people who genuinely thought they had a chance of seeing something quite special is not funny. Cars started arriving and no doubt more had set off from locations further afield. Locals had even alerted the police to increasing numbers of cars parked on their roads. The information services were soon put right with a phone call but they then broadcast a message stating the sighting was withdrawn by the observer – er… no it wasn’t! It was never put out by the observer so how can he withdraw it? Is someone trying to save face here?

So just what did Tony see? Who knows. We couldn’t, and he couldn’t work that one out. He did the right thing. He alerted others to help him find something he couldn’t identify on the views he obtained. Quite rightly he didn’t broadcast the news more widely.

What was he supposed to say – “Mega …beep beep beep  poor views of an unidentified bird in Overstrand beep beep beep I have no idea what it is but you may wish to come and look at it?” I don’t think so. If you’re into that sort of message you’re in for a busy time … I alone will be sending out information like that every ten minutes!

So no crippling photos of a Rufous tailed Robin (unfortunately) but another photo of the Red breasted Flycatcher at Trimingham taken this morning …news of which, I may add, was broadcast shortly after being found.

2013 10 03 Red breasted Flycatcher Trimingham Norfolk_Z5A2608

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Apr 2023


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