Saturday, 2 April 2011

Not a Foolish Day

Friday April 1
Still very dull and cloudy when we set off at 5.55a.m., we even had rain the other side of Holt. The wind gradually increased too.
A Buzzard called overhead as we walked to Abbey Farm Hide. It's sole occupant hadn't seen the Little Owl either - we had to wait until Felbrigg on the way home where one showed in the nesthole. However, a Kingfisher was perched on the ground, hidden by the reeds, below the nesting bank. We had to wait for a gust of wind to glimpse the blue blob. Five minutes later, the perched bird flew down the stream and away, closely followed by another. There can't be any eggs yet.
Snettisham was teeming with the expected waders, reasonably close for scope views on a falling tide. Both Golden and Grey Plovers, hordes of Bar-tailed Godwits and Curlew, the huge flocks of Knot rising like smoke from the water's edge. Lovely views with breakfast. A few Goldeneye and about 40 Avocets on the pits. No Pinkfeet but about 300 Brent rose from a distant field, settling on the mud.
A lone Scoter from the cliffs at Hunstanton, just the one Fulmar floated by. Too rough for them to bob on the sea? Or egg sitting? I wasn't getting out to hear them gargle on the nest, the wind made it cold despite the temperature reading of 12C.
Holme wasn't worth the potholed drive to-day - apart from adding our only Magpies of the day and a female Sparrowhawk spooking the 17 Avocets on the Broadwater. Everything we saw here we would see elsewhere. The wind howling down the Broadwater didn't help.
We met Geordie David and Ben outside Titchwell Centre, he was complaining about the wind strength not allowing him to walk to Thornham as usual.
Carried along by the wind gusting at our backs, we lurched to island Hide from which we could see 4 Garganey, two drakes and 2 females, asleep on the mud in a reedy bay.

At least the males' white head stripe shows...
We waited half an hour but, they only woke briefly when a Marsh Harrier floated by.  A camera holding man told me how well they'd been showing earlier, feeding in the open near the hide... Sickening.

A bright Ruff (Reeve?)
Difficult to accurately count the number of Sand Martins feeding over the pools and marsh, maybe as many as 50.
Battling back against the wind, we walked the Meadow Trail to Fen Hide, grateful for the shelter of the trees. Here, Pam caught up with the Blackcap I'd heard in the car park, thank goodness for that.
For the first time, we could use our permit to drive in to Holkham Park, only to find that the car park has been moved much further back so that the lake is out of sight. Very disappointing.

We looked at this striking tree bark instead!
We stopped on the way out, to view and photograph a herd of about 400 Fallow Deer feeding under the trees in gentle sunlight (at last).

Only one stag visible, must be very fit.....
Down the hill towards the main road, our first Swallow hawked the house roofs.
Finding the Brent flock too distant and/or obscured to scan for anomalies, we added the Little Owl at Felbrigg and three Great Crested Grebes in splendid plumage at Gunton. The biggest surprise of the day was finding a resplendent pair of Mandarin on the Saw Mill stream.
Home before 4.00 to count up.
Day's total: 93 with 4 year birds.

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