Sunday, 1 January 2012


Sunday January 1
We had a great day, leaving home at 6.45, having already ticked off a Tawny Owl at 12.15 when we went to bed after the awesome London fireworks. The best ever I think, we didn't have those little boats chugging up and down the river spewing fire in various colours.The next bird was a Barn Owl shortly before Fakenham as it began to get light. Somewhere between Holt and Fakenham, a Woodcock did a VTO from the near verge and we also had one flying over the road.
Harpley Area
Breakfast (ham sandwiches, home cooked ham and bread), watching a couple of Brown Hares chasing about in a stubble field.  The first skeins of many thousand Pinks seen to-day, drifted across the sky, calling all the while. As it got light, as usual, our favourite lane added Red-legged and Grey Partridges, Tree Sparrow, a singing Song Thrush and a few finches.
Flitcham and Abbey Farm
Our worst experience ever at Abbey. A mere puddle of water in front of the hide, a few Mallard in the pool behind and the usual scurry of white-tail-flicking Moorhens, Very disappointing. Too early for any raptors. Yellowhammers and a single Fieldfare  along the road.
Flitcham - West Newton - Sandringham - Wolferton Triangle
A flock of Redwing with the odd Fieldfare in the orchard area, a field of Curlew at West Newton,
a quick recce around the Sandringham car parks (full of royal watchers and radio/TV cameras and reporters), Goldcrest at Wolferton and off to Snettisham.
What we know as the quinoa field, had a dozen or more Mistle Thrushes and a small flock of Greenfinches using the wires as a jump off for the fruiting hedge.
That road through the chalets gets worse! Even our 4x4 suffers. The tide wasn't as well in as I'd expected but, distances for scoping were reasonable. All the usual waders plus a splendid group of 6 male Goldeneye displaying to a single bewildered looking female. Being anthropormorphic....I'd swear she was saying ' What are you on about'. Four Bewick's Swans flew through, which was a bonus.
Responding to a pager message, we toured both North and South sections before giving up. The pager hadn't said which area - nor where chalet 46 with its Black Redstart was. We gave it up as a wasted half an hour and went on to
Tesco was closed, good job for the workers, good that we didn't need the loo nor a food supplement.
The cliffs were crowded to-day, we parked in a different area from usual, another lucky happenstance. Fulmars, 'Rock' Doves, a close Razorbill, a small flock of common Scoter and ........a Black-necked Grebe. Excellent.
Holme NOA Hide
Time for another re-fuelling, two more sandwiches and a banana and a struggle to open a rain swollen hide hatch. Was it worth it? With a little patience and steady scanning, yes. A lone Shoveller sleeping on an island, firstly a Marsh Harrier, then a female Hen Harrier and two Grey Herons perched together on a fence post. We often miss Heron.
Too many Hoorahs about... our first Brent and an immediate turn round.
Usually avoided on New Year's Day but I really wanted to see the Redpolls  so we drove in and actually found a parking place in the first  car park. Jammy.
We only had to wait about 10 minutes for the birds to return to the Alders around the feeding area. We had one Lesser, one Mealy and the lone Coue's Arctic Redpoll feeding in close proximity.
The walk to the pools and the sea will have to wait for another day despite that it would have added up to six birds to the list.
Zilch. It's months since we saw a Corn Bunting there, before we went to Australia.
Brancaster Staithe
For lunch, there was room on the far mound, which is our preferred spot. Ringed Plover added whist we gulped down a piece of leftover Turkey and Ham Pie ( frozen precisely for the occasion), a piece of Pam's delicious cake and a cup of coffee.
Burnham Norton
We still haven't seen any Canada Geese - none here either.
Holkham - Gun Hill end
No sign of the Roughie....
The light was fading fast as we walked out to Daukes. Several thousand Golden Plover took off and swirled around the hides, their wing noise had to be heard ... it made the hairs on my neck stand up.
We started in Daukes, adding Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Water Rail Gadwall and  Avocet before moving to the one with a better view of Pat's. The Western Sand had been seen on the furthest spit, in front of Bishop's and crammed with Goldies. I tried my best to scope it but I was not alone in failing. A scope emphasises the gloom and it was very gloomy. Spirits were lifted by a Bearded Reedling apearing in the reedbed.
Bird number 89 was a Sparrowhawk zooming across in front of us as we passed Ebridge Mill. 'Our' Buzzards must have gone to bed.
We saw some very good birds but had some incredible misses. No Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Snipe, Jay, Bullfinch, Coal Tit, Canada Goose. Pied Wag was our 80th bird and Mute Swan the 78th. Typical birders, bemoaning the birds missed rather than celebrating the ones seen ! We're very happy with the result though, we've only made the upper 90s once when we were younger and fitter.
No feeders in the garden either, although we think the rats have gone, we have to wait for the pest man's all clear.
I may get round to adding a list of 'seens' to-morrow, if birding allows. If not, later in the week as every day after to-morrow has an appointment of some sort.
List of birds seen - in order of appearance
Tawny Owl
Barn Owl
Black-headed Gull
Blue Tit
Pinkfooted Geese
Wood Pigeon
Tree Sparrow
Red-legged partridge
grey Partridge
Stock Dove
Song Thrush
Collared Dove
Egyptian Goose
Great Tit
Carrion Crow
Mistle Thrush
Common Gull
Red breasted Merganser
Bar-tailed Godwit
Go;den Plover
Little Egret
Little Grebe
Herring Gull
Grey Plover
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Meadow Pipit
Tufted Duck
Bewick Swan
Rock Dove
Black-necked Grebe
Grey Heron
Hen harrier
Marsh Harrier
Brent Geese
Coue's Arctic Redpoll
lesser Redpoll
Mealy Redpoll
Ringed Plover
Mute Swan
Pied Wagtail
Black-tailed Godwit
Water Rail
Bearded Reedling

I've missed one somewhere... must check my list.

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