After spending four hours planting out vegetable plants, Leeks, Sweetcorn and French Beans, then having to cover everything against the pheasants, I was looking forward to watching the shortened rain affected England/ New Zealand Federation Cup, cricket match. If England won, they were through to the semis.
Only a few overs of the 23 over match bowled, England put in to bat, my pager announced that there was a Roller at Edgefield, near Holt Country Park. I'd eaten very little to-day, one small lunch, as had Pam. A few skinny small sausages and a bag of crisps, mango, apple, banana and blueberries thrown into a bag and away.
Along with many others, we parked in a field and set off down a grassy track. Where to? We followed a few others assuming they knew where to go. Ticker had parked at the bottom of the field.......wish we'd known. Woods, a stile, through a wet boggy bit, round a pond, another uphill wood, a steep climb up a stony bank onto a cleared open area and we could see some birders. Very far away at the top of a hill. Still no marked path, uphill and down dale across a heather, low bracken, small tree-stump strewn area. Would we ever get there? Was the bird still around? The half a mile stated on the pager was a good mile and a half of rough hot trudge with midges at times. I had new walking shoes on.. worn once around the house. They were great.
The crowd at last. Jacquie told us where the bird had last been seen !! Quite a distance away low in a wooded valley. I caught my breath and then joined an advanced group of six or so, including Eddie, who looked as though they could see it. Yes, they could - beak and legs in a birch tree - so could I if I'd been a foot taller. Eddie found the area in my scope but couldn't see it. Fortunately, after five minutes or so, The European Roller flew out for a short sortie before flying back into cover and out of sight.
We waited on, more birders left and eventually, so did we. I'm pleased that my first UK sighting was infinitely better and for longer but I've long wanted this for my Norfolk list. Makes up a tiny little bit for missing the Pacific Swift at Trimley Marshes. That involved a minimum of a 6 mile walk tjhere and back which we thought was too far for knees, hips and backs. Poor old things.....We missed the Norfolk one some years ago as we were already at the welsh borders on the way to Pembrokeshire.
I was delighted to get back to the car, some birders still rushing out, including Penny who'd been for the swift. The pager later said that the Roller was visible from the gate near the Edgefield sign......
Leaving Holt, I turned on the radio when we listened to England bowl the last over of the cricket. England won by 10 runs. Phew. Good timing. NZ could easily have won in the last over, well bowled Jimmy Anderson.
Home just before 8 p.m.