Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Yellow-browed Warbler at Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

On Monday 2nd October I started five days holiday from work and I told myself that the week ahead would be used to find a Yellow-browed Warbler on my patch.  I did not consider this an unrealistic target given the numbers of this bird now occurring in inland Norfolk.
I arrived at Houghton-on-the-Hill at around 0700 on Tuesday 3rd October, initially to walk a circuit with my dog Toby to check the area for migrant species and straight away heard two Chiffchaffs, one a singing bird.  Also on route, at least 3 Blackcaps were encountered.  Overhead, a very light southerly passage of Meadow Pipits was seen.
Blackcap (male) Houghton-on-the=Hill 3rd October.  6+ seen in the area.
Chiffchaff at Houghton-on-the-Hill 3rd October.  Several seen.
 I arrived back at St Mary's Church on Houghton-on-the-Hill at around 0800, and as I always do I sat and waited to see what would pass through.  A male Blackcap was seen as was a couple of Chiffchaffs, also, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, and Blue Tits passed through.  A small flock of Long-tailed Tits passed through, some almost within arms reach, then at 0835, something small dropped almost vertically into a lovely patch of Ivy, Hawthorn, and Sycamore, I immediately raised my binoculars and was amazed to see a gorgeous Yellow-browed Warbler, yes, I was excited but not a totally unexpected species to see.  I did not bother with trying to photograph the bird as I knew I would lose it, therefore I just continued to watch it to pick up the salient features of this Siberian jewel.
I was initially struck by the size of the Yellow-browed Warbler, smaller than the other Warblers, Chiffchaff and Blackcap, which were present.  I was struck by the long, yellow, and very conspicuous supercillium, this was accentuated by the dark eye stripe and green head and upperparts. "Quick, check for wing-bars" I thought to myself, with the bird seen through light cover I did manage to see the most prominent wing-bar, again, this feature accentuated by the darker wing.  This was to be the best sighting of this gem before the bird continued through the churchyard and away.  A call was heard at least once, this was a thin, very sweet and strident, "tseweest"
I called birding friends Peter Dolton and Micky Stainthorpe and told them both about this find, they both arrived and we started our search over roughly a two hour period, however, we did not relocate the bird on this occasion.  Whilst searching for the Yellow-browed Warbler we saw a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps (male and female), Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, and Coal Tit.
This was my first inland record of Yellow-browed Warbler, and given the numbers turning up away from coastal locations, I doubt this will be the last.

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