Monday, March 11, 2019

πŸ“– #9/2019 ~ Norfolk Weekend

πŸŒ¦πŸ’¨10C Saturday 9th March 2019 ~ Despite the strong winds, heavy showers and more prolonged periods of rain on Sunday, we can reflect on what turned out to be an excellent weekend on the North Norfolk Coast.

Staying at the Premier Inn Kings Lynn Friday/Saturday night we began Saturday morning with a visit to RSPB Titchwell. We decided to make straight for the beach for a quick sea-watch, despite a yellow warning of high wind speed. As expected the conditions were pretty challenging but having found a small area which afforded some protection we managed a half hour scan. Things were pretty quiet offshore with just a few Gannet passing through at distance, a single Common Scoter and Long-tailed Duck in flight. Onshore a good selection of waders along the tideline with Grey Plover, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatcher.

Close views of Knot on the Volunteer Marsh at RSPB Titchwell
Heading back for some shelter in the Parinder Hide a group of circa 100 Knot provided some close-up views on the Volunteer Marsh, before being flushed by a marauding Peregrine. Our timing was perfect as we reached the hide just as a heavy hail shower blew in.

A small group of the 24 Meditteranean Gulls seen at Titchwell
From the hide, our count of Mediterranean Gulls was briefly interrupted by a Little Gull, which flew through during the heavy showers. Resuming our count, we eventually managed an amazing (24) Med Gulls, mostly hunkered down in the strong wind. There was no sign of the Water Pipit from the Parinder Hide but a quick tally of other sightings, while drying off and having lunch in the centre, included of note: (6) Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Little Egret and many Brent Geese.

Red-legged Partridge & Hare taking shelter from the gales
Our next stop was Cholsey Barns for a Black Redstart, which unsurprisingly we didn't connect with, by this time the wind was at its peak but there were far more Yellowhammers than I've seen here during previous visits, plus several Hares, which delighted Dazza and a half dozen Red-legged Partridge taking shelter. 

From here on to Kelling Heath in search of Dartford Warbler and although we were sceptical of seeing any in the conditions we did, in fact, manage some brief views of a male just beyond the railway crossing, having first heard the bird calling close by in the gorse. A Stonechat also added to the day list, plus a brief stop in the fading light at Cley for Snow Bunting, where we also managed three Barnacle Geese.

πŸ’¨☔3C Sunday 10th March 2019 ~ Although more strong winds were forecast the day started off wet but reasonably calm. Our first stop was Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, having been thwarted yesterday by it's closure due to the high winds. It's our first visit here and I must say it's one the most well kept and organised reserves we've ever visited, a real shop window for the Hawk and Owl Trust who run it. There is a boardwalk throughout the reserve and feeders were everywhere (and full) including at most of the six hides and each one had plenty of activity around them, well worth the £5 entry fee, which helps maintain the costs.

Arctic Redpoll
One of the reasons for the visit was to catch up with an Arctic Redpoll which has been frequenting one of the feeders and it wasn't long before we connected. This along with some smart looking Siskin, Brambling and more Redpolls, both Mealy and Lesser. There are plenty of Marsh Tits and despite the conditions, a Barn Owl was seen quartering on the fen and a Marsh Harrier was also active during our three-hour stay.

Several Marsh Tits during our visit to Sculthorpe ~ This one a ringed bird

Gorgeous male Brambling at the Volunteer Hide, Sculthorpe
After a cuppa in the Nature Centre, we headed off back to the coast for a final look around Cley Marshes. The rain had now cleared through but the wind had returned. We managed a walk to the beach along the East Bank but the conditions for sea-watching were horrendous. However, we did manage to connect with three Pink-footed Geese and six Eurasian White-fronted, plus four Ringed Plover before we decided to call it a day and head home.

Three of six Eurasian White-fronted Geese at Cley Marshes