Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Weather Obsession

Tuesday February 22
It's a widely believed euphamism that the English are obsessed with the weather.  This Welshwoman is becoming increasingly so - especially when it interferes with birding over a longish period.
 Yesterday's monthly (approx) birding with friends Bridget and Aileen was, yet again, marred by poor conditions. We drove to Snettisham, where we'd arranged to meet, in occasional snow amongst the rain, in poor visibility and ceiling low cloud cover.
At least it stopped by the time we arrived, Pam and I forty minutes before high tide. We'd forgotten that it was half term, the reserve was teeming with family groups containing young children wet and cold and miserable (one dad told us).
It's always a joy to see the enormous flocks rising and falling on their way to roost, the 500 or so Oystercatchers last of all to fly to the western shore already heaving with waders, gulls and geese. Pam spotted a Peregrine flying parallel with the shore towards the waiting breakfast, it left hungry.
When A and B arrived - on time, we were early - we drove and then walked the short distance to the first hide watching from there for a while. The living bank of roosting waders was visible in the distance, Oystercatchers around the edges of the large flock of Knot which looked like grey pebbles to the unaware. Bridget found a male Red Breasted Merganser as we were leaving.
Such a disappointing day bird-wise. No Brent at Holme so no Pale - breasted which we'd earmarked for A and B. No Brent at Wells either, so no Black Brant. Both birds were wanted by the others. Nothing at Thornham either.....
A very enjoyable hot drink and chat at Titchwell feeding station was the highlight of the morning.
Lunch at Brancaster Staithe where a pair of displaying Red-breasted Mergansers drifted by on the ebbing tide.

Morston to look for last week's Rock luck.  Brighter by now - not difficult - I admired a fishing Little Egret set against the - to me - irresistble back-drop of aged wooden landing posts, mud and marsh.

My camera had problems dealing with the big contrast between the dark wood and the light water/mud. I should know how to deal with that I suppose. Another learning curve.....
 A breeding plumaged Herring Gull talked at us from a nearby post.

At least the last sought for birds turned up trumps but, that wasn't immediate either. Too many parked cars, people and photographers. The flock of Snow Buntings at Salthouse Beach car park area did fly past and back - and back again,  several times, looking for their usual feeding place, eventually settling on the shingle ridge.
We said goodbye to A and B, disappointed with the species seen but, as always, enjoying a day out with friends.
Chipping Norton on Thursday............

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