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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Swept away by windy Norfolk

It was nice to get a call from fellow patch birder Jason K on Tuesday to say he had found a Ring Ouzel in Stone. I popped straight over to see a welcome local spring migrant. A very smart specimen.

As good a bird as it was, I didn't anticipate the migration floodgates opening in the short term so decided that I would take a mini break over in Norfolk, away from the spring of discontent.

Arriving in the Cley area on Wednesday morning, I started my quest to dig out a few different birds at Salthouse, where a Snow Bunting had been knocking around. The sky was blue, but the Easterlies were ripping down the beach at a ferocious pace, with plenty of Common Gulls zooming around on the wind, and over 20 Turnstones present. Oystercatchers and a Redshank were about, as well as a Little Egret. However there was no Snow Bunting. Oh well, I nipped round to the Eye Pool at Cley, hoping the long lingering Purple Sandpiper would be around. It wasn't. Now, at this point, after being up since 4am, I began to wander if this was a bad call.

I headed off to buy my permit and see what was on the board, the answer was not much. I decided, given the bitter winds that a session in the hides would be my next move. I was picking up good birds, Brent Geese, Red Legged Partridge and Egyptian Goose, but the spark had yet appear.
Settling the hide there were loads of Avocets around. Ringed Plovers was fourth year tick, and there were good numbers of Dunlin and Curlew. The highlight of the session was watching a female Marsh Harrier pass through very close, I was started to feel the buzz at last.

I decided to nip back to Salthouse and eat lunch there. some twitchers had just turned up, apparently a Glaucous Gull had been around, but I imagined it had passed like an express train heading west. I was informed however the the Snow Bunting had been feeding with the Turnstones until a dog had scattered the lot. So I hung around, and after the lunchtime drop in's went, I patrolled the area. I was close to knocking it on the head when I heard what I knew must be the call of the Snow Bunting, and sure enough it dropped in a few feet away. Game on ! It showed really well, moving across to the west side after a few  minutes, where I followed and photographed it.

As I was leaving, someone said the Purple Sandpiper was on 'The Pond' at Cley. I zipped back round and managed about 2 minutes viewing it before it went up and headed west. It was all now worthwhile, and I decided to head to RSPB Titchwell.

I hadn't even reached the visitor centre at Titchwell when I was treated to amazing views of a Woodcock, pecking around in the undergrowth. This was a real highlight, you just don't get to see these birds like this very often, and it was still around when I left. The plumage is just stunning

It was all about waders here. I hoovered up most of the usual stuff, with Spotted Redshank, and Ruff being the highlights among Knot,Black Tailed Godwit,Dunlin, Redshank,Ringed Plover ,Avocets and Curlew.There was no sign of the Bearded Tit's, no doubt staying deep down in the reeds out of the freezing wind.I saw one solitary Chiffchaff as I was leaving.

By the time I had filled my boots, it was close to 6pm, and I was pretty well done for the day. A hot bath, Pub meal and a couple of pints finished me off, I slept very well.

The following morning was even windier, and also dull. Tucking into my full English it actually snowed a little. I decided to try some beach watching, so after checking out, I popped down the road  to the promenade at Hunstanton. I started at the far End, near the Cliffs, venturing onto the beach to observe the Fulmars. Some looked to have paired up, peering down from their personal ledges.

The beach had a good selection of waders. Loads of Turnstones, Oystercatchers, and a few Curlew. Out on the sea, a Great Black Backed Gull and some Great Crested Grebes. I then picked up on a smaller grebe. It wasn't too far out, but with the swell and wind in my eyes I had to study it for 20 minutes or so before I was happy it was a Slavonian Grebe. I was really pleased with my decision to work this area , even more so, as I observed the grebe, I caught a Tern in my scope. Panning along the sea, it was being hassled by a couple of gulls, I was able to follow it for nearly a minute,  happy it was a Sandwich Tern.

The final highlight of the session was an adult Little Gull. What a productive morning ! By 12.30, the wind was picking up even more, and threatening to blow my scope over. I was happy to call it a wrap, before I had total brain freeze, and thawed myself during the drive back home.
A really enjoyable mini break, around 15 ticks, including a few lifers, as well as a spiritual lift from the raw beauty of the North Norfolk coast and the elements.

1 comment:

  1. Best of both worlds eh? Cant beat a bit of Norfolk, a special place.