Search This Blog

Saturday, February 16, 2013

15th February

I have been trying to plan organise a days birding to Norfolk for a while. It finally came down to do we go on Saturday or take a day off work which will mean less people around, making it more enjoyable. The forecaster were saying that Friday was looking good with sunny spell with white cloud. That made up my mind, Glen finally got the okay to go but Dave had something more appealing on his agenda. He was off to Shetland to see the Pine Grosbeak.

I picked Glen up at 5.00am and we were off, traffic was light and slow lorries few and far between. Our first stop was Choseley Barns, on the ridge just inland from Titchwell. Here we saw over 100 Yellow Hammers, 50 Corn Buntings and few Bramblings and Chaffinches. These were a bit flighty due to the lorries and their drivers that were waiting there to start work. It was then off down the hill to the reserve. Water levels here were quite high meaning no waders on the fresh marsh. There were however large numbers on the adjacent grazing meadows. These were large numbers of Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Curlews with a few Ruff mixed in. The water level being so high had attracted over 25 Goldeneye, more than I have ever seen here, normally they are on the sea. We carried on down to the coast as it was approaching high tide, a great time to see waders on the move. As we reached the end of the boardwalk we were treated to an amazing sight hundreds and hundreds of Knot, Sanderling and Turnstones feeding on a 10 metre wide by 24cm deep band of Razorshells. It was absolutely amazing, they looked like a swarm of Locusts as they worked there way along the shore. Unfortunately there was very little on the sea so we headed back for a Bacon Roll and a coffee. As we approached the Fen Trail a Barn Owl, which was the first of possible 9 birds we were to see that day flew over the path.

After a quick pitstop we headed east stopping first by the roadside just past Brancaster Staithe. There was already a few cars parked up with people scanning the distant marsh. After a while someone said “ I think I’ve got it, it is in the reeds by a post”. A few people looked through his scope but were unsure. I finally had a look, confirmed what he had thought and found it in my scope. It was a long way off and not doing an awful lot. The others there were having difficulty locating it, so I set there scopes up, even then it wasn’t until the bird decided to take off that everyone finally saw it. The bird, being so pale looked fantastic with the sun shining on it. It flew towards us a bit gained some height before banking and drifting away eastwards. Glen and I decided to get in the car in the hope of meeting it along the road. It could have been a good plan, but if you haven’t already worked out what our quarry was, the Rough-legged Buzzard had other ideas. We did encounter a Red Kite that was so low as it flew across the road may have been feeding on a nearby carcass.While here we scanned the nearby marsh as this is one of the places that I always stop and scan from. It was quiet apart from a stunning Barn Owl hunting at the end of the field and a distant flock of Common White-fronted Geese. Two Marsh Harriers were also quartering the distant grazing marsh.

Back in the car we headed off to Salthouse and the Snow Buntings. The birds didn’t disappoint and showed really well, they normall do. The Turnstones here are always a joy to watch, rather than the ones that run around the cars on the quay at Wells. Looking briefly on the sea, as there was little to make us want to stay, another highlight of the day flew past. Though it may not sound exciting to you when I say it was a flock of 18 Eiders. What made this such a highlight was the sun was out, the light was fantastic and the flock consisted of 17 adult drakes and 1 female. It would have only been better if they were slightly closer allowing me to attempt to get a good photo.

Right, back to the car, it was 1.00pm, what next? I headed back west past the Cley NNT visitor centre and up the road to the beach car park. I wasn’t sure why I chose this destination, but it turned out to be a good choice. In the field by the road was an ever increasing flock of over 4000 Brent Geese. They are always worth scanning through, though it is easier when there are slightly fewer. Our first odd one out was a leucistic bird, a bird that I had seen the past 2 winters. The next bird and also easy to see was a lone White-fronted Goose. We thought that is enough goose scanning got back in the car and headed up towards the car park to turn around. That is when I spotted the next odd one out, a Pale-bellied Brent Goose. So out of the car a few photos and back in the car. Hold on what was that? It was another leucistic bird and possibly one that was not related to the other bird. Well not the same years brother or sister as they were not associating with each other, being on opposites sided of the flock.

Car, coffee, cake and then off to Stiffkey and hopefully some harriers. It was slightly early being 2.15pm but I wasn’t sure where to go next. The light at first was good and within 20 minutes I had picked out distant 2 distant Marsh Harriers and a distant female and even more distant male Hen Harrier. The saltmarsh was quieter than usual with not much happening, that was until some distant waders took off indicating that a bird of prey was close. After some more scanning and almost the same time as Glen we picked up a female Merlin perched on a small bush. She stayed there until a small propeller engine plane spooked her. Constant scanning wasn’t yielding much, apart from a fairly reasonable fly past by 2 Marsh Harriers. Then with a flicker of sun light on the distant East Hills (a small pine copse at the outside edge of the saltmarsh) I picked up our 2nd Rough-legged Buzzard of the day. In the end we were getting cold and thought that we had done reasonably well and had seen over 90 species of bird without really trying it was time to go home.

Apart from 2 minor slow spots we were home by 6.50pm, slightly tired and in need of a good glass of wine.

Please excuse the quality of todays photos. I was trying out a x2 converter. It is only the 4th time that I have used it, having bought it a year ago.


One of our highlights





Knot feeding amongst the Razorshells. I couldn’t see anything to eat here.





Brambling on the feeding station at Titchwell


Barn Owl in almost the mid-day sun at Wells next-the Sea







In coming Brent Geese







The two different leucistic Brents







1 comment:

birdman_euston said...

17 Feb:
1 Great Crested Grebe (in last year's favoured spot by fallen tree off SE shore of Bandstand Island, area 7), 2 Sparrowhawk (pair favouring SW corner of Winfield House estate), 1 Jackdaw NE over Leaf Yard Wood a.40 at 09:10, 1 Fieldfare W a.40 09:10, 17 Song Thrush singing, 1 Mistle Thrush singing (edge of Open Spaces, a.35).
The Jackdaw was vociferous (otherwise I wouldn't have spotted it), giving a repeated, descending series of 5-6 high-pitched 'keow's while flying fast and straight 100m overhead just as the early-morning mist dissipated.