Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Bird Race - More like a Sack Race

January 1 2013
After 3 hours of sleep, we didn't set off until almost 7.00 a.m. By 7.45 we had seen a total of 4 birds - one pheasant and THREE Barn Owls, all before the Fakenham roundabout.
Abbey Farm already had two parked cars. Penny left as we arived, the other two folk were still in the hide, reporting that P had seen a Kingfisher fly through. Lucky. The hedgerows, field and pond were pretty empty apart from Greylag and Mallard, a Stoat playing near the lower pond gate was nice.
After the now normal Golden Pheasant at Wolferton blank, next stop Snettisham at high tide. All the expected waders on the beach plus a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pintail and Pochard. Four handsome male Goldeneyes on the third pit, a pair on the second pit. I got out of the car and looked about, finding birds Pam could rive to see. It was very cold, 2C on the car gauge, more like -2 in the wind chill.
No Tesco loo stop to-day, it was closed. On to Holme via Hunstanton Cliffs and several prospecting Fulmar, nothing on the sea...
I walked to the Broadwater Hide at Holme to find that I could only open one shutter, all others swollen tightly closed due to all the rain we've had, At least it was sunny and dry to-day. Shoveller and Marsh Harrier added to the list. I'd intended going to pay Sophie the sponsor money for her Christmas Eve Bird Race but decided to drive on in order to make full use of the day.
The next hour and more was a complete waste of time. The car park at Thornham was full.....
Titchwell was full, including three cars in the Fishermen's car park we use, people had Double parked along the approach road. Many seemed to be the fancy wellies, dogs and kids, no bins set. That knocked a minimum of 12 birds off the list.
Brancaster Staithe is the only reliable spot for Ringed Plover which we ticked and drove on. Traffic slowed as we approached Lady Anne's Drive to find chaos. Parked cars inside the entrance gate and a huge queue waiting to come out and another to go in, The entry queue stretched half a mile towards Wells.
We reached Wells Beach Road without a problem, turned left and encountered a stream of nose to tail cars from the junction as far as the beach car park. Yow. After a 15 point turn in the pitch and putt , packed,  car park, we eased back into the exit stream of traffic and inched our way out of there. Feeling very tired by now, a lucky chance finding a parking spot in the Cley East Bank car park. I climbed the bank and saw distant geese, motioning to Pam who decided to get out for the first time. The flock of Canadas was visible distantly at the far corner of the field, the Hutchinson's Canada Goose (sub-species of the recently split 'Cackling Goose' ) stood out due to its small size. I tried some digiscoping with very limited success, much too distant. 

Richardson's Canada Goose -  facing us front centre.
The Sacred Ibis was also visible about half a mile away towards Salthouse.
After our first hot drink of the day from the coffee van parked at Salthouse Beach - another jam packed with cars experience, we drove home via Gunton Park, adding Tufted Duck to the lowest Jan 1st list in memory. A bare 70 species. A just reflection on a day of car birding and no Titchwell. I think I'll have to review a) the date and b) the route. A fit Pam would also be an essential. I could have gone off without her but it doesn't seem right.
We saw 5 Buzzards and 4 Kestrels, dipping on Greenfinch, Coal and Long-tailed Tits and Grey Heron to name a few obvious misses. Enjoyed the day but not the traffic and the low total

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