Sunday, 24 January 2010

Norfolk Trip - Day One

As you can see, I didn't update the blog whilst up there, but now we're back I will tell each day as it happened. Hope you enjoy....

The team - Me (driver), Bun and Karen - left Seaton at 3am on Wednesday 20th, we passed through lots of rain, a bit of sleet, a possible snow flake or two, and arrived at Wolverton Triangle at 08:05, just as it was getting light. Perfect timing I'd say!

First thing I needed was a pee, as I stepped out of the car, a Crossbill broke out in an eruption of 'chups' above me before flying off, and as I was hiding behind a hedge to 'do the deed', a Lesser Redpoll did the same. It was a very worthwhile pee as this was the only time in the trip these two species were noted!

It took an hour of driving round 'The Triangle' (a pastime I'd rate at being less enjoyable than sticking pins in my eye) 'til Karen glimpsed a tail disappearing into the middle, we pulled up and glared in....three male Golden Pheasants! There was also a dark shape with them which was presumably a female. They disappeared deeper into cover, so we drove around to the other side, and eventually two (and briefly three) males came out onto the edge of the road feeding - excellent! The light was really dull, so photos for me weren't an option at all, but to show how colourful they are...

The dirty windscreen didn't help either! A truly PANTS photo

Worse than that photo is my video of them! Just soooo dull...

video

I know these 'dark-throated' guys get bad press - mostly from me - but they are stunning! Past hybridisation has been blamed for the dark throats, but looking at them, I see no other anomalies, so why is it not just a DNA cock-up in this small and isolated population?

It was then time to do some 'proper' birding. We headed to Snettisham, the first time I've ever been here! Getting out of the car, a Green Sand flew over, the only one of the trip so that was a bit of a jam! It's a bit of a walk to the beach, past all the small pools, larger lakes, and this big lagoon (most of which seemed to be littered with Goldeneye!)...

Looking west

We timed this visit well, as the tide was just edging out. Masses and MASSES of waders (mostly Knot) gave great aerial displays, with hundreds of Teal shuffling about on the mud. Further out more species of duck were dabbling on the water, and singles of Merlin and Peregrine were out looking for some late breakfast. All the time we were here, Pink-feet were going over, with many large flocks still resting on the mud in the distance.

The main reason we were here was to look for the two Shorelarks, and a trudge round the usual haunt drew a blank. We had earlier seen a flock of 26 Snow Buntings (which were flushed by the Merlin) fly east along the beach, so this is the way we walked.... Eventually we stumbled upon the Shorelarks, awesome birds!!! I only managed photos of one of them...

A 'lifer' for both Bun and Karen

Us relocating them went down well with other birders on scene, and soon 'Norfolk's finest' had gathered to enjoy these beauts....

Six nice people, and one not so nice person.... Goldfinches!????

Walking along the beach revealed a HUGE numbers of ex-birds, a dead seal pup and part of a porpoise! One of the ex-birds was this Pinkie....

'showing well!'

From here we headed to Titchwell. We knew a Mealy Redpoll was seen the previous day with the Goldfinch flock behind the visitors' centre. As we walked away from the centre Karen said 'there are the Goldfinches'... I pointed my scope up at the tree tops and immediately had the Mealy staring down at me, which was lucky!

I know a lot of people will be going 'Mealy....yawn!', but this this one was a STONKER! He really was an Arctic-wannabe, huge great wing bars, white tram lines, nice white underparts, a stunning bird! You can kind of see some of these features on my poor photo of him, just....

Nothing like a gingery Lesser, far from it! We were so impressed he almost got 'bird of the day'

Wandering out along the bank, Bearded Tits 'pinged' away but remained invisible, a Cetti's Warbler called briefly, at least three Marsh Harriers were the first of our trip and 15 Ruff and a few Avocet were the best in with the waders. We dipped a few things, which meant a return visit was necessary...

We continued east along the A149, but hadn't gone far when a road-side flock of Pinkies encouraged me to pull over for a scan. Singles of White-fronted and Barnacle Geese made this a worthwhile move.

We carried on to Wells, and pulled in at the Boating Lake where a pair of Scaup had been present. The light was really dull by now, but they still looked cracking - especially the male, probably one of my favouite ducks...

Apologies again for the consistently crap photography quality, trust me, it gets worse...

We headed back west a little to see the Geese come in at Holkham. I enjoy viewing them from the entrance to the church along the A149, so this is where we went. 180+ White-fronted and one Barnacle were amongst the thousands and THOUSANDS of Pinkies already on the marsh, and the wintering Snow Goose flew in soon enough with a massive skein of Pinkies from the west, and when it landed shone out like a beacon!!! Our first Barn Owl and only Marsh Tit of the trip were seen here.

Darkness had fallen, so we made our way to our B and B, The Cobblers, in Wells-next-the-sea. For the second year in a row it provided very comfortable, friendly and birder-friendly accommodation, I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

We unpacked, then headed to The Bowling Green Inn, where Bun was dying to get his teeth into their Vegetarian Quiche once more!!

We were sooo tired so hit our beds by 8:30, but still eager to get up and get out in the field again the next morning...

(Click on 'newer post' for Day Two)

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