Monday, January 23, 2012

Norfolk Day 1 (Saturday)

Tundra Bean Goose (Holkham)
Having dropped Dee off at Luton Airport for her early morning flight up to Scotland I made my way across to Norfolk for a weekends solo birding.

My first stop was Holkham and another shot at the reported Shore Larks, something that myself and a few of the Brandon team had failed to pick up on a few weeks early. As I drove up St Anne's Lane towards the car park the usual congregation of Pink-footed Geese were on site and by the time I entered the pine wood on route to the sea shore, I'd recorded several Grey Partridge, plus Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. At least 2 Goldcrest in the pines before I emerged on to the salt flats and it was immediately apparent that the birding was going to be extremely difficult in a very strong north-westerly.

Battling my way across the flats towards the beach area I recorded many Skylark, mingled in with the odd Meadow Pipit, but alas, another blow out on the Shore Larks. A brief sea-watch produced Red-breasted Merganser and Razorbill, the beach held Sanderling, Redshank and Oystercatcher, but to be honest I was glad to get back to the comfort of the car having even battled to keep the tripod upright!

**Greenland White fronted
My next stop was a few miles further up the A149 at Holkham Freshwater Marsh, where I met up with a couple of Hertfordshire birders already on site, they'd already done the hard work and within minutes I'd recorded 200+ Brent Geese, around 75 White-fronted, along with 2 Greenland White-fronted, 27 Barnacle Geese and 4 Egyptian. A scan for the local Rough-legged Buzzard came up a blank but during the search a Common Buzzard and a second Marsh Harrier of the day were recorded.

A little further on and a stop at Burnham Overy for a shot at the Lapland Buntings, which from my observations today are mingled in with a large flock of Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Skylark. I'm not sure that the bird-guides report of at least 64 is that accurate. Myself and several other birders did manage to pick out at least 8 birds but it's extremely hard work and when the birds return to the stubble field they completely disappear from view! The local Rough-legged Buzzard, often seen from this vantage point, and indeed seen earlier, still remained absent from my list. Other birds of note during my 60 minute observation were 4 Grey Partridge, 2 Yellowhammer and a solitary day hunting Barn Owl.

My intention from here was to move on to Titchwell but having been given a few tip offs from birders I'd met earlier I decided to back track to Holkham, where a Tundra Bean Goose was now showing well. The guys also told me of a remarkable situation further up the coast at Kelling, where apparently 2 Coues Arctic Redpoll were showing in someones garden!

Snow Buntings at Salthouse
Tundra duly recorded and photographed I made the drive across to Kelling, with a brief stop at Cley, great timing, recording my first UK Glaucous Gull (Juv) for some time, Water Pipit and taking a second peak of the month at the Western Sandpiper.

What greeted me at Kelling was surreal to say the least, a group of birders, with the owners permission, staring from the road at his garden feeders, where apparently 2 Arctic and several Mealy are regular visitors, sadly not during my brief stay!

With light fading a stop off at Salthouse and the company of at least 15 or so Snow Buntings and an excellent Latte from the white van man, pure bliss!

**Greenland Image taken by Tony Collins just prior to my arrival