Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Norfolk Tuesday!

Temp - 2/5C - Sunny start then Hail showers late afternoon - Wind ➝ NW @ 18 mph

Another chance for a Norfolk away-day yesterday with Pete Worthy and Ken Sherlock from the Brandon team. A Red Kite over the A14 on route and our first stop was the 'Chill Out' Cafe at Guyhirn (A47), where (7) Common Cranes were showing nicely but at distance in the fields opposite the pull-in.

Highly cropped record shot of ♂Parrot Crossbill at Holt
A great start to the day and so from Guyhirn it was a direct route to Holt Country Park for the recently reported Parrot Crossbills, a bird which occasionally irrupts into Britain from Europe after the cone crop has failed. There is also a small stronghold for these birds in Abernethy Forest, Scotland. Unfortunately, our arrival at the country park was not quite what we expected! As we drove into the parking area a car reversed out from one of the parking bays straight into the side of Pete's car, putting a couple of nice creases into the driver and rear doors. Without going into too much detail I thought Pete dealt with the whole episode with great restraint and didn't let it spoil the rest of his day.

Parrot Crossbill - demolishing another pine cone!
As you would expect a good turnout from the birding fraternity put us directly onto the birds, with 2♂ and 2♀ showing intermittently from high in the canopy. A pleasant forty minutes or so watching and photographing these amazing birds, which remained in the same tree during our whole stay, simply demolishing each pine cone with their powerful deep 'parrot-like' bills.

Turnstone at Salthouse
Cley Marshes next and a short stay at the beach car park in bitterly cold north-westerly winds, managing (3) Red-throated Diver, (3) Gannet, several Guillemot, and (2) Skua Sp. too distant for any positive ID. After lunch at Salthouse, watching the many Turnstone in the parking area, back along to Cley locating both Black Brant and Pale-bellied Brent Goose in among the many Brent Geese. While the two wusses Pete and Ken returned to the car during a hail shower my intrepid self took a walk along the East Bank past Arnold's Marsh. Here a good scan of the pools had of note: Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Little Egret, Shelduck, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit. A pair of Marsh Harrier were constantly scouring the marsh during my stay. Unfortunately, no sign of Scaup, one having been noted on the marsh in the nature centre listings earlier in the day.

 ♂♀ Parrot Crossbill - Birds of the day!
With the remainder of the daylight fading, hate these short winter days, we made off for RSPB Titchwell for sunset. On route lots of Pink-footed Geese in the surrounding fields and with the rain now having moved through an excellent but brief view of Barn Owl, which hovered over a field as we drove slowly past. The sky had cleared to produce a stunning sunset over Titchwell, with the unmistakable Pink-footed Geese silhouetted against the red of the sky. Our hope of Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl never quite materialised but the harrier roost held over (14) birds, all marsh and a Peregrine made a brief appearance, having a tentative nudge at one or two harriers before heading off. Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler and the pinging of Bearded Tit all heard before finally heading home!