Sunday, March 01, 2015

Norfolk Weekend

Temp - 8C/11C - Mostly Overcast Occasional Sun - Wind NW @ 25/35 mph Gusting

It's always nice to escape to the coast when your living in a landlocked county like Warwickshire. In fact it's been ten years now since we first arrived at our current mooring on the Oxford Canal, how time has moved on! Anyway I digress, so back to our Norfolk trip and Dee had found another Premier Inn bargain weekend, this time staying at Kings Lynn.

Saturday we decided to begin at a very blustery Hunstanton and took a stroll along the sea-front and down towards the cliffs. From time to time Purple Sandpipers can be found along the wooden piles here and so it was worth a try. The usual waders could be found in various numbers including Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Redshank and Dee's all time favourite Sanderling scurrying around as usual!

At the top end we took a stroll along the beach and past the cliffs where it was nice to see several Fulmar already in residence, this being the largest breeding colony in Norfolk with around 460 birds at its peak. A few Meadow Pipits and a couple of Bar-tailed Godwit before we headed back to town, sadly no Purple Sandpipers on this occasion.

Black-tailed Godwit - Muddy feast!
After lunch we spent the remainder of the day walking the Burnham Overy area. Despite the constant breeze and overcast conditions it was reasonably mild and the walk down to the shore produced Kestrel, singing Skylarks, a single Snipe and huge flocks of Brent Geese and Golden Plover. Common Buzzard, Red Kite and ♂♀Marsh Harrier constantly harassing the waders which included Dunlin, Curlew, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher. Still a few Fieldfare and Redwing ground feeding and Starlings were in good numbers. The surrounding pools contained huge Wigeon counts, Pochard, Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck and the odd Shoveler. On the mud flats one or two Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, more Dunlin and several Little Egret dotted around.

Blowing a 'hoolie" at Titchwell too!
The wind along the shoreline was displacing large drifts of sand making observation difficult and a large raft of distant Common Scoter, which apparently contained Velvet Scoter within, was impossible to determine. With the conditions as such we never bothered to try for the trio of Shore Lark apparently further along the dunes and in fact the walk back to the car yielded the best of the day. First, excellent views of Rough-legged Buzzard, with Red Kite and Little Egret in the scope at the same time, several Pink-footed Geese and a day hunting Barn Owl, always a pleasure to see. With the light fading a stop at various sites on route back to the hotel produced a brace of Barn Owl, Hare and five Egyptian Geese to end an enjoyable day.

Dee's photo - Sanderling braving the swirling sands! 
Sunday was even more windy, in fact it was blowing a hoolie and this along with the bright conditions was always going to make the birding a challenge. A vigil at Wolfreton Triangle for the elusive Golden Pheasant once again proved fruitless. I don't know who keeps posting this on bird guides as we were there at the exact time it was posted but like any birding, right place, right time!

With the freshwater marsh bursting at the seems RSPB Titchwell was generally disappointing with no sign of the Water Pipit during several attempts at scanning the drained wet meadow, although a Stoat running along the peripheral of the reedbed was a nice sight. A trio of ♂Red-crested Pochards and a single female on Patsy's reedbed was a nice year tick, plus Little Grebe, several Pintail, many Brent Geese and over forty Avocet packed on the only piece of dry land on the freshwater pool. A couple of Cetti's Warbler on route to the beach with Skylark, Linnet and Meadow Pipit overhead. The sea was naturally choppy and with little movement, the only observations on the water were a half dozen Goldeneye, a couple of Great-crested Grebes and several Common Gull. Dee managed a Weasel, which darted across the path on route back and a Greenshank was heard but unfortunately not seen.

Dee's photo - Red-crested Pochard - year tick!
Finally, a stop off at Eldernell for an hour on route home before the rain set in, still both Bewick Swans and Whooper Swans to be found along the roadside as you drive down. On arrival the wind was still gusting and despite not seeing any Short-eared Owls, disappointing for Dee who's not seen one this year, we still managed a stunning ♂Hen Harrier, Red Kite, ♂♀Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Common Buzzard. Cranes could be heard in the distance but the rain put paid to any attempt of finding them.