Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Birding - At Last

Monday January 23
Due to a combination of circumstances - Sue in New Zealand via Singapore and home via Hong Kong - Christmas and New Year, we hadn't taken her birding for almost three months. Pam still not well but made the effort to keep our commitment date.
A beautiful winter morning with no frost, we set off before 9a.m., first stop Holme. The reported Spoonbill was no longer on the Broadwater, two Scaup were. Despite extensive scanning, no Short-eared Owl....
Maybe Thornham would turn up trumps. The first bird we saw was a Spoonbill, huddled, preening, on the far mud.
Titchwell was a disappointment to-day. The Freshwater Pool looked like a lake. A display board explained that a special machine will be arriving next Monday (!!). It travels over the water, cutting the reeds below, hence the water level. Is this the most efficient method of reed cutting? I suppose that the RSPB knows what it's doing but.....why do it a week in advance?
On to the sea where we found the tide to be at its lowest possible. The bench was vacant but only a foot above the sand blown onto the platform. Most birders had walked to the sea edge. We didn't, it was cold enough where we were despite my ear-muffed hat - Sue threatened not to walk with me. I told her it was the height of fashion but I don't think she believed me. At least I had warm ears and part of my face was covered, protecting my vulnerable sinuses. I'll wear my Balaclava next time.
About 20 minutes scanning brought: 2 Long-tailed Ducks which flew in, at least ten Goldeneye, the occasional Red-throated Diver fly-past and a distant passage of Auks.
On the return journey, I decided to sit and scope the distant, narrow island on the Fresh Marsh. Amongst the gulls and ducks massed on the little available space, there were half a dozen Ruff, Dunlin and Pintail to add to Sue's list. Determined to locate a Snipe, I slowly scanned the bank under the Parrinder Hide and found one. Eureka, at last.
A Water Rail fed under the Centre bird feeding station but, as the Redpoll flock was not present, we didn't linger.
Still no sign of any Corn Buntings at Choseley, too much yard activity.
A hastily eaten lunch at Thornham where Pauline appeared, telling us that Betty has a health problem. Get well soon. Betty is  remarkably healthy usually, hasn't seen a doctor for 23 years. Incredible. 
Away to view Gun Hill marsh from the layby. The flock of Lapland Buntings soon rose from the stubble field, at least 60 have been recorded. We had to be careful as there is also a flock of Skylark, which are very similar in flight.
Lady Anne's Drive for a quick geese scan - no warden present to-day and we refuse to pay the exorbitant parking fees for a 5 minute visit. We've paid for an annual permit in the past when we could also drive into Holkham Park to view the grounds and Lake. This is only possible between April and October now and the car park has been moved so that the lake is out of view. And.....the permit cost is beyond that which we are prepared to pay. Shame, as Pam loves her geese. About 200 hundred Pinks were feeding to the east of the drive, amongst them one Greenland White-fronted Goose. Four had been reported further west yesterday.
Wells' Beach Road had traffic lights on the corner near the Toilet block, We waited patiently until, eventually, a car came from the other direction and told us what we'd begun to suspect. It was red both ways, they were not working. A quick whizz when it seemed safe to do so, in time to see hundreds of Brent flighting from the harbour and onto the football pitch and the Pitch and Putt. They weren't settled either and kept moving position and being joined by others. I don't like to give in.....I did though... without finding a Black Brant.
Last stop was Salthouse for a hot drink, watching a flock of Snow Bunting, containing a few lovely males, feeding on nearby shingle. Lovely.
Barely time to get in and have tea before we were out again. Gt Yarmouth Bird Club night. Justin was as fluent and informative as always, the subject 'Affordable Western Europe Mini Breaks'. Italy, then Finland and lastly, Portugal and Spain. Some great photos he'd acquired too.
A written voting slip when added up, gave the annual 'best bird' found by a club member within a 30 mile radius to a Sardinian Warbler found by Ian at Hopton. Well done, he's found a lot of good birds in the time we've known him. Broad-billed Sandpiper was a close second.

No comments:

Post a Comment