Sunday, 1 July 2012

Great, a Rainless Day

Sunday July 1
No rain........but a strongly gusting south westerly wind with cool temperatures.
We set off at 6 a.m. and - foolishly - got out at the Mill in shirtsleeves. It was freezing, not literally but, goose bump time. Woollen cardigan and  birding gilet was the order of the day. No sighting of either pair of Spot Fly, two juvenile Grey Wagtails hunched on rocks in the middle of the mill race were a bonus. A Barn Owl was blown across the road just before the Sculthorpe Moor turning.
Taking the back lane to Harpley Cottages, our only  pair of Grey Partridges to-day,  trotted along in front of us before taking flight. This lane is a dodgy turn off across double yellow at the top of the hill where traffic speeds along. Early on a Sunday was fine.
Tree Sparrows duly ticked off - should be more next year, this pair copulated five times in 15 seconds - we arrived at Abbey Farm for Pam to breakfast. Again, plenty of water, yet a lack of birds in both species and number. A single eclipse mallard was the only duck, one Little Owl in the oak and the usual suspects scattered around the field. The log book noted Kingfisher and Red Kite on several of the previous days, sightings were all late afternoon though.
Finding a Fulmar at Hunstanton was a struggle, a single bird appeared briefly viewed from the lighthouse car park.
The NOA  car park hide on the Broadwater was a penance, the wind was blowing straight in through the front flaps. We ticked off the Avocets, Black-tailed Godwit, two Curlew and Redshank before quickly closing the hatch. Opening the flap looking down the water gave us a bit of  calm. Unfortunately the water, field and sky was empty of birds !
Taking our raffle ticket stubs across to the NOA centre, we found that Sophie was on holiday, the assistant warden elsewhere, the man in charge a very pleasant and interesting Geordie. He's worked for the RSPB in Ghana and completed other projects recently in Ethiopia and Uganda. He's hoping to return to Uganda for another project. His wife works in the Health service, she's in Ethiopia at the moment and he's hoping to join her there next week. Meantime, he's ringing Nightjars at Dersingham Bog.
A Lesser Whitethroat sang lustily in the dunes as we walked back over an ankle rolling carpet of fir cones.
We only walked as far as the Freshmarsh at Titchwell, finding a seat and making ourselves as low as possible in the strong wind. At least it was warmer now that it was late morning. Assiduous scanning added 6 Little Gulls, a single black Spotted Redshank, a pair of Common Terns and 30+ at least Black-tailed Godwits, the vast majority of the latter still beautifully brick red. We added a handful of other sightings and could have added about three more if we'd bothered to walk to the beach. Didn't fancy being sand blasted to-day.
A Choseley Corn Bunting added, we lunched at Brancaster Staithe (we always do) where a Little Tern appeared, fishing the channel. No waders to-day, too many people walking about at low tide.
What now? We could add woodland species by walking Holkham Woods and at least eight more by going along the coast road to Cley.........Neither of us enjoys birding in a strong wind, Pam in particular. She suggested driving home via Aylsham and Woodgate Garden Centre which has a good selection of rockery stones. I want to put some on my raised alpine bed, once I've given the Stonecrop I've spent hours removing, the chance to re-generate and be attacked again.

Can't take it straight on - huge weeping birch Youngii in the way.
The Stonecrop roots are so fine, the top breaks off easily and  it loves growing through the other plants. I do a bit most days and Pam helped to-day (Monday). I've still got the plants I bought at Aberconwy to put in but I'm making myself be patient !! Stonecrop clearance first. I will then top dress the area before replacing the surface layer of grit. That's the plan anyway.

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