Friday, October 16, 2015

Norfolk Again

Having felt a little frustrated at missing out on a few decent species during Mondays Norfolk visit with the Brandon Marsh team I decided on a return visit today, arriving at Salthouse just after 8.30am. Quite a gloomy start with a very stiff offshore breeze and waves crashing over the shingle. I battled my way around to the back of Granborough Hill but despite the relatively sheltered environment the best I could manage was a single Stonechat and several Meadow Pipits on the fencing, nothing except Goldcrest within the bushes. With high tide imminent the sea was almost up to the hill when I peered over the top but with the strong winds lots of Gannets were performing quite close in, four Guillemot, Razorbill and a couple of Red-throated Divers also passed through during my stay. As I arrived back at the car a bird being mobbed by a number of Corvids coming in across the hills turned out to be a Short-eared Owl, which flew high towards Cley still being mobbed.

One of a dozen or so Brambling at Walsey Hills
A brief stop at the Walsey Hills reserve to check out the track down to the hide yielded almost immediately, with at least a dozen Brambling, plus Chiffchaff, several Goldcrest and Coat Tit around the feeders. When I arrived back to the car I flushed a Greenshank off the pool which was feeding quite close in. Next stop 'Camp Site' Car park and after parking up I wandered along the track as far as the whirligig at Stiffkey. I bumped into a number of other birders who were in search of a reported Great Grey Shrike but nobody I spoke to had actually seen it, me included! A Peregrine over and tons more Goldcrest, plus a nice flock of Brent Geese feeding close in were worth the effort.

Best I could manage of the Pallas's Warbler despite it showing quite well!
With no requirement for one I don't carry a pager and so rely on my Birdguides App for my information but of course this relies on a phone signal, non existent here on the Norfolk coast it would seem!  Therefore being mostly in the dark and relying entirely on word of mouth I decided, having heard so many reports that from here on the best plan of action was to park up at Lady Anne's Drive and take the walk through to Wells Wood. However, an Isabelline Shrike was reported along the east track so I decided to tackle this first and maybe even have another attempt at the Red-flanked Bluetail, so frustrating on Monday's visit. As it worked out the Shrike was sitting up beautifully when I arrived offering some excellent views, my second in a week! The Bluetail of course was a different matter. When I arrived I was quite surprised to find few birders on site, this until I discovered that the viewing area had moved almost 180 degrees to the rear of where I was standing on Monday! I can actually claim to have had a half decent view this time around, albeit fleeting but I'm prepared to give it the 'tick'. As it turned out I needn't have spent the time and effort as I got a better view of a second bird later at the drinking pool in Well Wood!

Treecreeper - Good job I'm not looking for the perfect image!
Returning to my original plan to walk through to Wells Wood it wasn't long before I discovered a group on birders on a mission. This was the Pallas's Warbler and joining the enthusiastic and very helpful group it wasn't long before I had the little beauty in the bins, I even managed a record shot, although I think the ISO was on something like 3200! Full of beans I continued on and like last Monday every tree was dripping Goldcrests. I paused every so often to check out a number of 'Tit flocks' moving through and finally it happened! There among them a Yellow-browed Warbler, my only sighting this autumn after searching a million 'Tit flocks' and I was glad to get that monkey off my back. It didn't help though when the lady who'd appeared next to me told me she'd managed three today!

A terrific days birding and I was happy with my lot, despite missing out on more great species. I can understand the buzz of 'Twitching' when it's on a day like today but talking to a chap who had spent four hours this morning after the one bird, simply for the 'Tick' I still don't believe it's for me.

Species Seen:

Mute Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Red-throated Diver, Little Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Guillemot, Razorbill, Wood Pigeon, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Red-flanked Bluetail, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Redwing, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler, Pallas's Warbler, Goldcrest, Wren, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit , Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Isabelline Shrike, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.