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Sunday, January 15, 2012

15th January

Norfolk yesterday was well worth the 4.40am alarm call. Well in fact I was awake before the alarm went off, thus not waking up Sally (my wife). I picked up Glen from Primrose Hill and off we went. I had arranged to meet my friend Mark and Trevor (his Dad) between 8.15am and 8.30am at Cley NWT Reserve. I was a little worried that the weather forecasters had mentioned fog and even though we drove through some small patches on route by the time we reached the North Norfolk Coast at 7.50am all we were met with was some high cloud and good visibility. We made our way to Daukes Hide, as we approached the hides the roosting Pink footed Geese began to leave, to feed on the farmlands of East Norfolk, amongst them was alone Ross’s Snow Goose, one of 2 birds in Norfolk this winter. Once inside the hide we set about trying o find our target bird, Western Sandpiper. At around 8.10am Mark and his Trevor arrived and within 10 minutes Mark drew my attention to some waders on the farside of Simmons scrape, going through these it wasn’t long before I announced that the Western was amongst a small group of waders. We watched the bird for a while until they were spooked by a Marsh Harrier. They were then very fidgety and would land and take off after a few seconds, this was our cue to move on. I then headed off towards Titchwell and would stop if I thought something might be on view. My first stop was along the coast road between Wells next-the Sea. We then starting scanning and it wasn’t long before I said b----- h---, which is not like me, when in the middle of my scope was a not to distant Rough-legged Buzzard. It was sat looking at us with not a care in the world. A fantastic bird in superb light, you couldn’t ask for more. It was spooked by something and headed away from us, but soon settled in a small pine plantation. We headed off, stopping next to look at a flock of grey geese in a roadside field. This consisted mainly of White-fronted Geese, with a few Grey-lags and a dozen Barnacle Geese. As time was passing and I wanted to be at Titchwell before the car park became to busy we carried on, only stopping when a very obliging Barn Owl sat on a roadside fence post. We pulled into the RSPB’s Titchwell Reserve at 10.15am, to find the1st car park full but the over-flow car park empty. Our target here was Coues’s Arctic Redpoll, a bird I had seen last year without confirming it’s identity, was later done. We stopped at the feeding station (one of it’s haunts), before moving to the main beach path. Here there was a group of birders looking at some redpolls feeding in some Alder tree’s. There were 11 or more Lesser and a single Common (Meally) present. After much scanning and looking at the underside of birds I picked out the Coues’s, it’s short stubby bill, small balck throat patch is a good clue to this birds identity. The pale rump is very hard to pick up, especially as it fed on the far side of the tree’s. After we had seen this for long enough we set off towards the beach, bumping into Lee Evans, who gave us a run down of what he had seen on the sea, 4 Long-tailed Ducks being the best of a good bunch. Unfortunately we were unable to find them we we reached the beach, though other ducks, auks and waders made up for it. Our stomachs were now in need of food so we headed back for some food (mushroom & stilton baguette) at the RSPB snack shop. After this Glen and I left Mark & Trevor, as they were here for the weekend and headed towards home stopping on route for a Great Grey Shrike at Fakenham and then hoping for Hawfinch at Lynford Arboretum. Unfortunately some irresponsible bird photographer had trespassed into the field and under the trees that the birds favour. For this reason the tally for the number of species I recorded was only 99.

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European White-fronted Goose

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Barnacles with White-fronted Geese(above) and Brent Geese(below)

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Northern Pintails  and female Shoveler (Titchwell)

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Water Rail running between ditches at Cley NNT Reserve

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Barn Owl in the mid-morning sun

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Is it a bird or is it a branch? yes it’s a Treecreeper

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Meally Redpoll (Titchwell) show large chin patch. The Coues’s Arctic Redpoll has a much smaller patch.

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The broad wing-bar, lighter mantle, pale rump, light brown ear coverts and small stumpy bill are features differentiating Coues’s from Meally Redpoll.

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Great Grey Shrike near Fakenham

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Black-tailed Godwit looks to be going down the plug-hole

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Sanderling (above) and Oystercatcghers (below) at Titchwell leaving their high-tide roosts.

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With a couple of rarities only a quick dash down the M3 to the New Forest, it really was an opportunity to good to miss.

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Dark-eyed Junco at Hawkshill enclosure in the New Forest

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Just a short 10 minute drive from Hawkshill enclosure to Calshot was the Spanish Sparrow, present for at least a year.

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Spanish Sparrow trying to hide amongst dense cover.

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