Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Birds, Bees and Sun

Tuesday June 26
The early haar soon dissipated, leaving a lovely sunny morning with very little wind. As we drove through Holt, the pager alerted us to the Pacific Golden Plover showing on North Scrape at Cley. Too good to miss, we'd planned to call in later anyway.
The shingle trudge to North Hide is not a favourite of ours, it went quickly to-day. Only half a dozen birders in the hide - standing with scopes though, not much room for us. I gradually wormed my way in....... we were soon scoping the PGP.  A lovely bird in almost full summer plumage. It was already showing signs of moulting after only three days here. One or two feathers showing white on the breast and a funny tuft at the back of the head. I tried some digiscoping, it was too distant for my usual 1-400 mm lens. It was about half way to the back of the scrape, dashing about, being harried by an aggressive Lapwing.

The best I could manage......
The latter saw it off at one point, it flew out of view onto the Eye Field.

A Spotted Redshank, several Dunlin, Ringed Plovers and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers, a solitary Little Tern, Redshank, Cormorants and Shelduck with young entertained us, whilst we tried to find - unsuccessfully - the Greenshank seen earlier. It was now 8.30 a.m. and the heat haze prevalent from the Swarovski hide on a sunny day, was making scoping a problem. We left.
Some anxious latecomers who'd arrived as the PGP disappeared, had gone off to try and re-locate it on the Eye Field. Five minutes later, it flew back in to continue its Lapwing jousting. Trevor put the message out on the pager but none of them had one. Eventually he went off to alert them, very good of him - some very fast moving men passed us as we left ......
Next target was dismissed as an  'escape' bird by other birders in the hide. Trevor pointed out that it wasn't ringed (it's always possible that it could be a careless owner) and, that there was regular breeding along the north Atlantic coast. Hm, insurance tick time.

Time to enjoy the show of Horned Poppies on the walk back.

Where's Pope's Marsh? The pager said that the Sacred Ibis  was viewable distantly, looking east from East bank.We drove past Walsey Hills and parked in a roadside verge pull-off, from which I scoped a pool full of birds. At least 80 Black-tailed Godwit (I usually only count birds when I'm bored, I certainly wasn't on this occasion), a dozen Curlew, Avocet and Shelduck. Our presence brought some anxious birders 'Have you got it?' No, despite a careful search. I suggested parking beyond the Walsey gorse mound where the track meets the road. Success. The Sacred Ibis was 50 metres along the road with a pair of Mute Swans. It preened busily for some time, allowing four others to see it too, before flying off high south, then back again, increasingly distant. No idea whether or not it landed again. Lucky.

Cley Centre for a much needed comfort stop. Pam had a coffee, we had a chat with Pat, resisted the fresh scones, enjoyed two Spoonbills on Pat's Pool and drove on to our next target.
Parking in Blakeney Village Hall car park, we tried to make sense of some instructions on where to find Bee Orchids. Once we'd found the starting point, the instructions made total sense. Thank you Penny.
From the garage forecourt, a dead end track led past some newish houses. After passing the houses, a mown and very uneven track underfoot, on the left, led us across a meadow until we reached the raised track from Blakeney village. (Blakeney dog walkers: please pick up your dog's excrement).
A small trodden path to the right led us to a fenced off area which contained several thousand Bee Orchids. I've never seen such numbers before. Fantastic sight.It seems to be a good year for them, Mags' grandsons found some in the meadow next to Beccles McDonalds.

Probably past their best but, there were enough good flowers at the top of the stems to see why they're called Bee. There were flowers outside the roped area too but not in such density.

This is why it's called a Bee Orchid

Contented and happy after a lovely morning, we drove home for a late lunch.
If Bob had found the Man Orchids at Holme, we'd have driven on but, no phone call meant fuel saving for us.

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