Monday, October 14, 2013

Norfolk dawn to dusk!

Temp - 9/13C - Drizzle Early - Sunny Intervals then Rain later - Wind ➝ SW @ 15 mph

A spur of the moment decision to head off to the Norfolk coast for a dawn till dusk birding session on Monday and what a spectacular day it turned out to be, so no excuses for the length of this post!

Driving up the dirt road towards the Holme Dunes parking area just before first light it was obvious, even at this early hour with low cloud and drizzle, that there had been a major fall of birds over the weekend. In fact as I was setting up the scope and enjoying an early cuppa, Robins and Thrushes could be heard from almost every bush. By the time I'd reached the pine wood along the boardwalk I'd flushed a Woodcock, had a brief view of a gorgeous ♂Ring Ouzel and lost count of the Robins, Song Thrush, Blackbirds and Redwings I'd encountered on the way! To be honest I'd spent so much time checking out the hawthorn and bramble I'd hardly devoted any time to checking out the shoreline. In addition, a constant passage of Skylark, Linnet and Meadow Pipit, along with the odd Redpoll, Brambling and Siskin, had also kept me occupied.

Goldcrests Everywhere!
A ♀Ring Ouzel or juvenile just prior to entering the pines, which immediately on arrival was awash with more Robins and as many Goldcrests you could shake a stick at, this probably explains why a Sparrowhawk appeared several times during my stay! After checking out literally everything that dared move I'd managed to pick out a half dozen Chiffchaff and a single Yellow-browed Warbler, before I headed off towards Thornham Bank. Mealy Redpoll and a couple of late Swallows, but the star of the show had to be a gorgeous Great Grey Shrike, sadly no opportunities for a photo (story of the day) but some excellent scope views before I headed back. A fifteen minute scout for the reported Bluethroat near the steps proved unsuccessful, but I noted that later in the day the bird was trapped and ringed and thereafter was showing well, according to reports, on the south side of the broadwater! Apparently, I also missed out on a couple of Black Redstarts, but hey I was happy with me lot.

Loads more Thrushes and Robins on the walk back to the car, this time along the dirt road and picking up Fieldfare, Blackcap, BullfinchRed-legged Partridge, Mistle Thrush, Snipe, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier to add to the list. Another little gem was added when I decided to walk up past the houses before heading off. Here flitting around in one of the adjoining gardens was a single Firecrest, in among a small foraging flock of Long-tailed Tits, could the day get any better?

A stop off at RSPB Titchwell next and a short stop at the Parrinder Hide, followed by a walk down to the beach. Pinging Bearded Tit within the reed bed and Cetti's Warbler refused to be found while on route to the hide. The freshwater meadow held Little Egret, with Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Shoveler, Teal, Shelduck and Gadwall on the pools, plus Common Buzzard over. Unfortunately, the recent rain had filled the freshwater marsh considerably, reducing the amount of mud and therefore waders, but still included Dunlin, Ruff, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Lapwing, Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit, the saltwater marsh held Avocet and Grey Plover. A short sea watch only yielded a single juvenile Gannet and the shore held the usual Turnstone, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Curlew and Oystercatcher, plus my first Snow Buntings of the autumn. A quick walk around to Patsy's pool prior to leaving, where a Jack Snipe had been reported paid off, but sadly the bird was fast asleep during my brief stay.

Snow Buntings are back!
Holkham Pines next and after a sandwich and a short stop to catch my breath, into the woods I went. Again so many birds flitting around to get your teeth into, mostly Goldcrest but today and with patience my luck was certainly in. Another Yellow-browed Warbler to add to the one at Holme and thank you to the two gents who's names I forgot to ask, who picked out a Pallas's Warbler, my first clear view of this beautiful little bird.

Red-flanked Bluetail next reported at Warham Greens on route to Cley. NO! It wasn't a twitch, it was simply on my route! Sadly, after a fruitless thirty minute stint with a few dozen other expectant birders and lots more Goldcrest, Robins and several Chiffchaff, I duly gave up and headed off, nope the twitching lark is definitely not my bag!

My final stop of the day was Cley Marsh at high tide and after parking up I decided to head off along the East Bank past Arnold's Marsh. Here a large group of Greylag Geese had a half dozen Brent Geese and a single Barnacle Goose within. A dozen or so Black-tailed Godwit over, another couple of late Swallows and the usual waders on the pool. Off in the distance a Barn Owl was quartering and as I reached the sea wall reports of a Great Grey Shrike, eventually locating my second for the day perched in a bush, locally known as 'Billy's Clump'. Finally with the rain falling once more and the day drawing to a close I spent my last half hour in a deserted Bishop's Hide. Here some excellent views of a ♂Bearded Tit perched atop the reeds, a half dozen Pintail in with the usual selection of waterfowl and overhead nine Swallows and six Grey Wagtail, which appeared to come down to roost. My final birds of an extraordinary day were Marsh Harrier and Barn Owl looking for a late meal and skeins of Pink-footed Geese passing overhead, a typical Norfolk end to a stunning day!