Wings over Weybourne: an account of the history and birdlife of Weybourne Camp

Published on 17 January 2019 in Book reviews

By Moss Taylor

Wren Publishing, 2018; pbk, 145pp; 48 colour and black-and-white photos, two maps; ISBN 978-0-9542545-6-8

£22.99 buy it from the BB Bookshop

Weybourne Camp lies on the north Norfolk coast just to the west of Sheringham. It is a private site to which the author has had access for over 45 years, conducting regular observations and also managing a ringing operation. Wings over Weybourne presents the results of this work and it is a welcome addition to the growing library of Norfolk site-specific avifaunas.

The four main chapters provide an activity summary and bird highlights, a full IOC-compliant classified list of all 289 species recorded at the Camp (and on neighbouring Muckleburgh Hill), a list of breeding birds and details of ringing results. Contained within these chapters are a host of fascinating observations which chart, for example, the fortunes of the local Common Stonechats Saxicola rubicola, the decline of Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur and the rise of Common Buzzards Buteo buteo; the year-to-year weather-related variations in the numbers of continental migrants; and a fine sprinkling of rarities including Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala, Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola and no fewer than three Red-flanked Bluetails Tarsiger cyanurus. 

The chapter on ringing is particularly fascinating, representing the results of ringing almost 24,000 birds of 118 species. The most far-flung recovery involves a Reed Warbler A. scirpaceus in Senegal but perhaps more revealing are the insights into the age-related movements of the Camp’s breeding Stonechats.

Unusually for a local avifauna, the bird content is supplemented by introductory chapters on the surprisingly long military history of Weybourne (to which the Camp owes its origins) and a summary of land-use changes over the centuries. These provide a useful context for the subsequent bird observations. 

Andy Stoddart