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Thursday, February 17, 2011

17th February

I had a day trip to Norfolk yesterday, with an old friend of mine Dave W. We had a couple of targets species and weather permitting would try and get a couple of snaps of the odd bird or two.

Not sure what weather to expect when I left home at 5.00am I would make my decision where to start when we reached Fakenham. We arrived here as the sun was just above the horizon, Salthouse it would be with it’s wintering Snow Buntings. We parked up in the beach car park at 7.30am and scanned, looking for these fidgety little birds in their usual area. I could here them and they sounded close by. In fact their plumage camouflaged them so well on the shingle, we were surprised when as they took off at know more than ten yards distance. We took a few pictures and target 1 had been achieved. Next we were going to head to Thornham Harbour in the hope that the Northern Harrier would show. On route I pulled over on to the side of the road just past Holkham Hall. From here you can look out over the fresh marsh and with luck pick up something of interest. Lots of ducks, Lapwings a quartering Marsh Harrier, our 4th and 5th Barn Owls of the day. Then something caught my attention, so scope out. There on a gate post sat a Rough-legged Buzzard, I let Dave look and as he scanned the nearby fields he found another Rough-leg. Well that was worthwhile stop, so on to Thornham. We pulled up and there were five birders looking in all directions, never a good sign. Apparently there had been know sign of the harrier, although there were 4 Marsh Harriers, 2 more Barn Owls, hundreds of Pink-footed Geese, and a few other common salt marsh loving birds. The time was now 10.30, so we thought we would head to Titchwell, we might get lucky with the harrier there. We paused briefly in their eatery, as it was a long-time since breakfast. Hunger satisfied we ventured out on to the new look footpath. The new Parrinder hide stood out above the skyline, it desperately needs weathering in. Now where are the birds, hundreds of Lapwings and Golden Plovers, a few Ruff, Goldeneye, Pintails, Wigeon and other species that you would expect here. We got mid way along, and noticed a lot of people standing by the new hide. A raptor flying low over the salt marsh then caught my attention. It really hugged the ground, but I new by the size and shape, the dark face and barring on the wing and tail, the visible white rump what it was. I tried to get Dave on to it but it was impossible. I glimpsed it several times as it moved west towards Thornham Harbour, where it dropped down. We carried on towards the beach. Dave went to check out the new hide I went to the beach. Forty Twite were on the brackish marsh, while on the sea a large raft of Common Scoter were bobbing up and down, a few Eiders were a little closer in. I didn’t stay here long as we wanted to visit other locations. Just before I joined Dave all the waders on the pools got up, and the sky was full of birds. There must be a bird of prey somewhere I thought, but where. Then circling below the panicking mass of birds was a Peregrine. He didn’t seem bothered that he was upsetting every bird on the marsh. Joining Dave he said that it was the Northern Harrier that I had seen fly through. The crowd of bird watchers by the hide had seen it. What to do next? I thought that Thornham might be worth a look again and it was only five minutes drive away. Arriving there, the news was that the bird had gone down in to the vegetation out on the marsh but nobody new exactly where. We gave it an hour, before Dave J from work phoned to say that a Great grey Shrike and 1 Hawfinch has been seen at Lynford Arboretum. Decision made back in the car and off there. Once there it was soon evident that the shrike had flown. We did however manage to see one Hawfinch it was perched on top of a very high conifer and being buzzed by some Siskins. This was the last stop, well almost, we called in at Santon Downham, a site that can produce Lesser spotted Woodpecker, though it is still a little early in the year.

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Snow Buntings

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What is this?

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Mayhem in the skies and below the cause

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