Norfolk Monthly Review


October 2003 will long be remembered for the unprecedented number of Pallas's Warblers located at many sites around the Norfolk coast. At least 28 had been reported by the month's end. The persistent easterly winds also ensured a steady arrival of other species from eastern Europe, including over 50 Yellow-browed Warblers, no fewer than 4 Hume's and 2 Dusky Warblers, Yellow-breasted Bunting and third Red-flanked Bluetail, as well as Olive-backed Pipit, Pied Wheatear, Isabelline Shrike and Little Bunting. As if that were not enough, two of the other gems of the bird world, Waxwing and Firecrest, both appeared in good numbers. Truly a month never to be forgotten.

Red-throated Diver

Maximum of 17 past Eccles on 20th.

Black-throated Diver

Singles off Sheringham on 5th, Blakeney Point on 11th and Eccles on 20th, with 2 at Great Yarmouth on 13th and 2 off Waxham on 31st.

Great Northern Diver

Singles off Sheringham on 10th and Titchwell on 19th.

Red-necked Grebe

One flew past Sheringham on 5th, the only one reported.

Slavonian Grebe

Apart from 1-2 at Titchwell the only others reported were at Blakeney Point on 20th and Holme on 25th.


A 'blue' phase bird past Great Yarmouth on 13th.

Cory's Shearwater

Singles off Caister on 4th and Great Yarmouth on 13th.

Sooty Shearwater

Maximum of 9 past Sheringham on 4th.

Manx Shearwater

Maximum of 11 past Blakeney Point and 10 past Sheringham on 5th.

Balearic Shearwater

One past Sheringham on 4th.

Leach's Petrel

Singles reported off Titchwell, Blakeney Point, Cley, Sheringham, Mundesley, Eccles, Sea Palling and Gorleston on a number of dates, and 7 past Great Yarmouth on 13th.

Little Egret

The roost at Holkham continued to build up during the month, reaching a county record of 104 on 27th.

Great White Egret

One joined the roost of Little Egrets at Holkham on 18th and 26th; it was also recorded at Titchwell on the latter date and the following day was seen flying west across the Wash at Hunstanton.

Bewick's Swan

182 had returned to Welney by 24th.

Whooper Swan

1-2 at Hunstanton, Titchwell, Stiffkey Fen and Horsey.

Bean Goose

2 at Welney on 28th reported as Taiga, but as Tundra on 30th.

Pink-footed Goose

An amazing total of 35,000 were reported at Holkham on 11th. In east Norfolk up to 3,500 at Martham by mid-month.

Snow Goose

One reported at Holkham FM with the Pink-footed Geese on 13th.

Ross's Goose

Two, presumed escapes, again at Stiffkey Fen on 9th-12th, and an adult reported with the Pink-footed Goose flock at varying times throughout the month at Thornham, Titchwell, Holkham, Cley, Waxham, Martham and Berney Marsh.

Barnacle Goose

One at Stiffkey Fen on 12th.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose

2 at Holme on 28th.

Ruddy Shelduck

4 at Cley on 4th and 3 flying east at Acle on 15th.


An eclipse drake at Cantley BF on 3rd and 9th.


2 at Snettisham on 5th were the only ones reported.

Long-tailed Duck

A drake past Cley on 7th, 3 past Hunstanton on 26th and one off Titchwell on 28th.

Velvet Scoter

Up to 4 at Titchwell and Holkham Bay, elsewhere 1-3 at Holme, Blakeney Point, Happisburgh and Eccles.


An early returning 'red-head' at Tottenhill GP on 30th.

Honey Buzzard

One at Holkham on 4th.

White-tailed Eagle

One flew south at Hunstanton on 28th.

Marsh Harrier

The Stubb Mill roost peaked at 21 on 27th.

Hen Harrier

Singles at several scattered localities with 4 roosting at Warham Greens on 25th and 3 at Stubb Mill on 27th.

Montagu's Harrier

A male flew south at Waxham on 24th and a Montagu's or Pallid Harrier was at the Warham Greens roost on 23rd.


1-2 at usual coastal sites.


Singles at Cley on 11th and Winterton on 13th.


Apart from 2 at Wells on 2nd, singles reported from Titchwell, Holkham, Warham Greens, Blakeney Point, Winterton, Buckenham Marsh and Welney.

Spotted Crake

One remained at Cantley BF until 3rd.


Maximum of 19 at the Stubb Mill roost, up to 3 in Winterton North Dunes, 14 at Sea Palling and 3 at Waxham.

Black-winged Stilt

The long-stayer remained at Titchwell all month.

American Golden Plover

Singles at Breydon on 12th-19th and Bressingham on 22nd/23rd.

American Golden Plover: Breydon. (Photo: Kit Day)

Little Stint

One at Titchwell on 17th.

Pectoral Sandpiper

Following the influx in September, singles continued to be reported at Kelling WM until 4th, Hickling until 3rd and Cantley BF until 3rd. One at Welney on 27th-30th was joined by a second bird on 28th.

Curlew Sandpiper

Singles only at Titchwell on 7th-11th and Cley on 2nd.

Purple Sandpiper

Apart from 5 past Sheringham on 5th, singles at Hunstanton, Holme, Titchwell, Salthouse and Eccles.


The only notable gathering reported was at Welney with a maximum of 216 on 30th.

Jack Snipe

1-4 reported from scattered coastal localities and inland at Hickling Broad, Strumpshaw and Pentney GP.

Black-tailed Godwit

Maximum counts of 100 at Titchwell on 10th and 52 at Cley on 4th.

Spotted Redshank

The only reports involved up to 2 at Cley on 4th-10th and singles at Breydon on 15th and 28th.

Red-necked Phalarope

One at Titchwell on 16th-19th.

Grey Phalarope

One past Cley on 5th and 2 on 7th, one past Mundesley on 5th, one west at Sheringham and possibly the same bird at Titchwell on 10th, moving to Holme the next day, where it remained until 13th when it flew off to the north-east, and one south at Eccles on 20th.

Grey Phalarope: Holme. (Photo: Graham Ruffles)

Pomarine Skua

Apart from 40 past Gorleston on 20th, no reports of more than 3 from other coastal sites.

Arctic Skua

Maximum count of 30 past Sheringham on 5th, apart from what was surely an erroneous report of 526 past Eccles on 7th.

Long-tailed Skua

Only four reported: Cley on 5th, Titchwell on 6th, Sheringham on 20th and Burnham Norton on 22nd.


Maximum counts of 83 past Holme, 25 past Blakeney Point and 40 past Sheringham on 5th, 20 past Cley and 54 past Eccles on 7th, and 26 past Sea Palling on 19th.

Mediterranean Gull

Up to 18 at Great Yarmouth, elsewhere maximum of 4 at Titchwell on 10th. Inland reports of a second-winter at Winfarthing on 2nd and a first-winter at Welney on 21st and 28th.

Little Gull

Peak counts of 490 past Sheringham and 594 past Mundesley on 5th.

Sabine's Gull

An adult past Sheringham on 4th, and juveniles past Sheringham and Mundesley on 5th, Hunstanton on 6th and Great Yarmouth on 13th.

Yellow-legged Gull

Maximum of 27 at Saddlebow, 5 at Breydon and 4 at Gorleston.

Caspian Gull

2 at Saddlebow on 8th and 21st.

Sandwich Tern

The last reported were 5 off Gorleston on 7th.

Arctic Tern

Maximum of 6 past Holme on 5th and 4 past Weybourne on 7th.

White-winged Black Tern

A juvenile at Snettisham on 2nd/3rd.

Black Guillemot

Singles past Cley on 7th and Weybourne on 20th.

Little Auk

Another early bird at Mundesley on 5th, with 1-3 past several coastal localities between 19th and 24th.


1-2 past Blakeney Point, Sheringham and Sea Palling on 5th and 20th/21st.

Ring-necked Parakeet

One at Burnham Deepdale on 30th.

Long-eared Owl

Singles at Warham Greens on 15th, Great Yarmouth Cemetery on 16th and Sheringham on 21st.

Short-eared Owl

Usual small influx during month with several sightings of bird arriving in off the sea.


A migrant at Waxham on 14th.


Apart from 9 at Holkham Gap on 20th, all other reports concerned 1-3 birds.

Richard's Pipit

Singles at Horsey on 1st and 23rd, Cley on 3rd and 22nd, Stiffkey Fen on 14th, Burnham Overy and Weybourne on 15th, 2 at Burnham Norton on 27th and 2 at Holme on 29th.

Olive-backed Pipit

One at Great Yarmouth Cemetery on 18th-22nd.

Olive-backed Pipit: Great Yarmouth. (Photo: Kevin Elsby)

Tree Pipit

The last was reported at Great Yarmouth Cemetery on 22nd.

Rock Pipit

One inland at Cantley BF on 9th.

Water Pipit

2 at Hickling on 2nd and one at Welney on 21st.

Yellow Wagtail

The last was reported at Holkham on 5th.


An unusually early influx with the first over Holt on 18th, thereafter small numbers of arrivals reported almost daily with maximum counts of 10 at East Runton on 26th, 30 in Norwich and 13 over Burnham Deepdale on 27th, 8 at Holkham and 9 at Tottenhill GP on 30th and 11 flying north over Great Yarmouth Cemetery on 31st.

Red-flanked Bluetail

A first-summer female at Caister-on-Sea on 27th. Only two previous county records, both in mid-October, in 1994 and 1999.

Black Redstart

Only 2 reports involving 2 at Blakeney Point on 2nd and one at Beeston Bump on 23rd.


Maximum of 5 at Holkham on 12th.

Siberian Stonechat

A first-winter male at Titchwell on 24th-27th.

Pied Wheatear

One at Waxham on 23rd-26th. The ninth county record.

Pied Wheatear: Waxham. (Photo: Nigel Blake)

Desert Wheatear

One at Heacham on 5th. Ten previous county records, but only three in October, and this one is the earliest by nine days.

Ring Ouzel

Singles at Holkham, Warham Greens, Cley, Great Yarmouth Cemetery and Roydon Common.

Cetti's Warbler

During the month reported from four sites in north Norfolk: Holme, Burnham Norton, Cley and Weybourne.

Marsh Warbler

One reported at Walsey Hills, Cley on 11th, which if accepted would equal the latest date for the county.

Booted Warbler

The second of the autumn at Walsey Hills, Cley on 5th/6th.

Dartford Warbler

One near Kelling Quags on 11th.

Barred Warbler

Singles at Holme on 12th-18th and Blakeney Point on 14th-17th.

Barred Warbler: Holme. (Photo: Andy Brett)

Pallas's Warbler

In what will almost certainly be a record breaking year for the number of Pallas's Warblers in Norfolk, an estimated total of 28 had been reported on BirdGuides up to the end of October. The previous autumn record of 29 birds occurred in 1996, which included at least 22 in mid-November. The dates that birds arrived, or at least were first reported, were as follows: 14th Holme, Wells, Warham Greens, Weybourne, Sea Palling, Great Yarmouth Cemetery; 15th Burnham Deepdale, Holkham (3), Stiffkey, Blakeney Point, Horsey, Great Yarmouth Cemetery (a second bird); 18th East Runton; 19th West Somerton, Hemsby; 21st Trimingham (2); 22nd Wells (a different bird), Blakeney Point (a different bird), Walsey Hills, Weybourne (3); 23rd Hemsby (a different bird), Caister-on-Sea; 25th Cley (The Hangs); 26th Winterton North Dunes; 29th Waxham. Thus there appear to have been two main arrival periods on 14th/15th and 21st/22nd.

Yellow-browed Warbler

At least 52 reported during the month from over 20 coastal localities, also inland at Roman Camp, West Runton on 4th, Wolferton Triangle and Upper Sheringham on 19th and Langham on 25th-28th. Maximum site counts of 7 at Wells on 16th and 5 at Holkham on 6th.

Hume's Warbler

No fewer than four were reported during the month: singles at Trimingham on 17th-22nd, Waxham on 26th, with 2 the following day and Titchwell on 27th. Also a probable at Hemsby on 25th. Only 7 previous county records.

Dusky Warbler

Singles at Hemsby on 22nd-27th and Waxham on 27th-30th.


One of the Siberian race at Wells on 30th.

Willow Warbler

One ringed at Weybourne on 3rd was the last reported.


A notable influx in mid-month with reports from (maximum counts in brackets): Caister-on-Sea (3), Gorleston (2), Great Yarmouth Cemetery (4), Great Yarmouth Roman Catholic Cemetery (10 on 19th), Hickling, Holkham (4), Holme, Horsey (2), Stiffkey (2), Thompson Common (on 8th), Titchwell, Trimingham, Warham Greens, Waxham (5 on 19th), Wells (2), Weybourne and Winterton (4).

Pied Flycatcher

Singles at Warham Greens on 14th-16th and Holme on 21st were the only ones reported.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

One reported at Titchwell on 15th.

Coal Tit

Two of the continental race ringed at Holme on 28th.

Isabelline Shrike

A first-winter at Burnham Norton on 26th/27th.

Isabelline Shrike: Burnham Norton. (Photo: Nigel Blake)

Red-backed Shrike

A juvenile at Cley on 3rd-11th.

Great Grey Shrike

One on Blakeney Point on 12th may have been the same bird reported at Warham Greens on 14th, another at Eccles on 15th and Waxham on 16th, and one at Snettisham CP on 26th-29th.

Rose-coloured Starling

The juvenile remained at Kelling WM until 11th, and during its stay was also reported at Salthouse on 2nd/3rd.


The largest numbers reported were 40 at Wells on 2nd and 200 at Langham on 8th, with a total of 100 west at Titchwell on 28th.


A maximum of 40 at Holkham Gap on 26th.


A female of the northern race reported at Hemsby on 27th.


Migrants at Great Yarmouth Cemetery on 13th and 31st, Holme on 18th and Titchwell on 28th. Also 2 at Lynford Arboretum on 18th and 2 at Tottenhill GP on 30th.

Lapland Bunting

A few reported from scattered coastal localities throughout the month with maximum counts of 8 at Thornham and 5 at Trimingham on 21st.

Snow Bunting

By the end of the month there had been reports of up to 50 at Holkham/Wells, 36 on Blakeney Point, 20 at Cley and 20 at Eccles.

Yellow-breasted Bunting

One at Great Yarmouth on 14th.

Little Bunting

A long-staying bird at Walsey Hills, Cley on 15th-30th.

Little Bunting: Walsey Hills. (Photo: Mike Lawrence)
From November onwards Moss will be writing quarterly, rather than monthly, reviews; the first will cover the period November 2003–February 2004.
Written by: Moss Taylor