Friday, 28 December 2012

Patch of the Day: Hemsby, Norfolk - Ryan Irvine

I’m relatively new to my patch, this being my first year here but already its one of my favourite patches I’ve ever worked. This is mainly because I live in the middle of the patch, can do a wee bit of birding everyday because of this and if the weather is terrible I can simply seawatch from my sofa! Lazy birding at its best and my sofa list has reached 101 so far.
The patch itself is nothing special when it comes to range of habitats, sand dunes, a few fields, caravan parks and a village. No fresh water, no mud flats but I still get a fair share of ducks and waders flying past. Hemsby is strangely under watched, just how I like it and when I had a quick search at past records on I found very few records (73 in total and I constitute about than half of these in the last 5 months!). The past records have been pretty good, pallid harrier in 2006, pallas’s warbler in 2004 and an amazing spell in October 2003 where a dusky, humes, pallas’s and yellow-browed warbler were all found within 100m of my house! This has got me excited about next autumn!! Compare this with Winterton just to the north and overlapping my patch and it’s a different story, 200 records in the last 2 years. A quick search of the rarer species and it reads, rustic bunting in 2001, Sardinian warbler in 2003, booted warbler and pallid swift in 2005, pallid harrier in 2006 and black lark in 2008 to name but a few. Why is Hemsby so underwatched?

I haven’t seen anything nearly as good yet though and in the same area as the 2003 warbler-fest I have managed 3 firecrests this year. It’s an overgrown area with a small wood and a hedgerow and parts of it are undisturbed by the numerous dog walkers. The caravan parks and street I live in are pretty good for birds, plenty of bushes and hedgerows and I have managed to see a few nice birds, snow bunting, waxwing etc but nothing rare yet.
Snow Bunting outside me house
I spend a lot of time in the dunes, from the north end which reaches the famous ‘oaks’ at Winterton south dunes, where I found a ortolan bunting, to the south end near Scratby. There’s lots of cover and great potential for a few rares (maybe). Vis-miging has been good along the dunes and of course my best seawatching has been from the dunes (grey phalarope the best so far).
The dunes
The final bit of my patch that I watch semi regularly is in the centre of the village around the church. The churchyard has had good tit and crest flocks this autumn to scan through and I picked up my one and only patch black redstart there.

Other things aside from birds it’s been a good patch for moths with 150 species (ignoring micros so far) recorded since August including bedstraw hawkmoth in my first night. It was a poor year for butterflies so my list is poor and mammals are limited to fox, grey squirrel, hedgehog and muntjac on land and out at sea I’ve had regular sightings of harbour porpoise, grey and common seals.
Bedstraw hawkmoth

Black rustic
So onto 2013, my aim is to reach 150 species and hopefully break the 200 point barrier. Best find in 2013, well I’ll be realistic and not say Siberian accentor and instead hope for a rustic bunting. Oh and finally add green woodpecker to the list, a ridiculous omission!

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