Saturday, March 09, 2013

Atrocious Norfolk

Simply put I don't think I can remember a time when I've been out birding in such horrendous conditions! A constant easterly with a wind chill of around -3C and the rain relentless since starting out first thing this morning. As I arrived back at the hotel just after 5pm, it had finally turned totally to snow.

I met up with Steve Chapman, a former regular at Brandon Marsh who's been lucky enough to move to Norfolk recently, at a relatively deserted RSPB Titchwell just after breakfast. After donning the wets we decided to start at the feeding station area, where among the usual Finches were 2♂ and 1♀Brambling, plus a lone Siskin. A brief look at Fen Hide produced little and so off towards the Freshwater Marsh recording good numbers of Snipe over the wet meadow, Little Egret, Cetti's Warbler, Skylark in song (what was he thinking) and several Meadow Pipit. A short stop at Island Hide proved pointless with the wind and rain hammering through the flaps.

Finally some respite at the Parrinder Hides and here we spent around 45 minutes drying out with of note:Long-tailed Duck, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Pintail, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Pochard, Wigeon and Shelduck.

A walk down to the beach had a lone Spotted Redshank on Volunteer Marsh and the briefest of visits against the bitter wind had: Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling and Turnstone. A sea watch was just impossible and at any rate frost bite was setting in! To add to our tally Marsh Harrier, Golden Plover, Brent Goose and Grey Partridge were all noted on route back to the car, plus a possible ping of Bearded Tit, but I'm not convinced.

Before Cley Marshes a stop at Choseley Barns, were the best we could do was a single Corn Bunting and a couple of Yellowhammer. Coffee at Cley and after drying off yet again a walk to The hides overlooking Pats Pool produced nothing further of note, dipping on the reported Spoonbills. However, the 30 or so Avocet huddled in the middle are well worth a mention.

Salthouse next and by this time the sea was starting to crash near to the shingle and the rain was beginning to turn to sleet, but this didn't seem to bother (7) Snow Bunting feeding happily near the car park, occasionally joined by the resident Turnstone population. At this point the coast guard turned up and after a brief chat turns out that they were on the lookout for a guy in a kayak who had unfortunately gone missing near Gt. Yarmouth.

Totally bedraggled our final destination was Cley beach and here a walk to the disused pillbox flushed a couple of Pipits, one of which turned out to be a Water Pipit, the other we failed to relocate.

Finally, Steve totally pulled one out of the bag, with a Purple Sandpiper feeding on one of the small pools along with good numbers of Dunlin, Turnstone and Golden Plover. A good birding day but an atrocious days weather!