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Unusual birds spotted along the north Norfolk coast
Alder Flycatcher
Rarely seen species of flycatchers have been spotted in Norfolk

A number of unusual birds are being spotted on the north Norfolk coast as flocks start their winter migration to the county.

Thanks to favourable weather conditions in spring and autumn, a rarely-spotted flycatcher and various species of warblers have been seen at Blakeney.

Richard Hearn, from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), says there could be many reasons for the visits.

"Vagrancy is a hard thing to get to grips with," he said.

"Some birds just make mistakes and sometimes end up in strange places far away from where they should be.

"October is the month it starts to get going and it'll be December, January before the numbers peak. It's only that time of year where we'll have a feel for how it compares to other years," he added.

Wetlands on the north Norfolk coast are renowned for millions of migratory visitors each winter from the arctic and subarctic including Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia.

However, this autumn vagrants such as the willow or alder flycatcher, that usually fly from North America to South America for the winter, have provided an extra treat for the county's birdwatchers.

Birds regularly roost in the warmer climes of Norfolk from October until around March.

There are many places where people can watch natural wonders, such as the balletic flight of the knot in Snettisham or the arrival of pink-footed geese on the mudflats around Blakeney.

Autmnwatch cameras capture the spectacular flight of the knot at Snettisham

"The sites at Holkham and the other freshwater marshes along the north coast are absolutely fantastic at this time of year - there are thousands of pink feet arriving from Iceland as we speak," said Richard.

Wind farm development

In the past there has been concern that continuing wind farm development on the North Sea could stop future generations of these birds flocking to the county for winter, but Richard is confident that they will continue to roost on our coastline.

"The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust supports renewable energy - it's an important part of our ability to fight climate change which is one of the main threats to wetlands and wetland species, but we need to ensure that these sights are located appropriately," he said.

"We've undertaken work to try and understand the potential risk to migrating birds from these wind farms or proposed wind farms.

"We use satellite transmitters, which are little GPS units that you can attach to birds, so we get a very detailed understanding of where they migrate and importantly for the wind farm aspect, what sort of heights they fly at.

"This sort of information will be fed into the environmental impact assessment to make sure these places are located in places that avoid conflict with birds."

Pink-footed geese land in Norfolk
25 Oct 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Autumn visitors to north Norfolk
25 Oct 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Wind farms pose low risk to birds
08 Jun 05 |  Science & Environment



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