Sunday, 12 January 2014

Slog It

Sunday January 12

I woke to a silver morning. The heaviest ground frost of the winter - so far. Not conducive to leaving the comfort of a warm bed. It was late morning - after 11.30 - when we set out. I had a lot of farming to do having been unable to access it all day yesterday. Downloading Firefox solved the problem.
The instructions for finding the Shorelarks said ' quarter of a mile north of the Imperial Hotel near the pink and blue beach huts'.  Having passed the area......we decided to try for the Mediterranean Gulls first. There they were, on the beach behind the Sealife Centre. Easy. Two Sanderlings and our first Lesser Black-backed Gull were a bonus. I had to wait for the gulls to settle again - a bread feeding local - before taking a picture.

Having located the new GY Bird Club venue in Albert Square (!) in preparation for this month's meeting, we parked near the beach huts, north of the Imperial Hotel and slogged across the sand to the sea edge of the dunes. North Denes could be swear words for me. A vast expanse of marram clad dunes, fairly flat but very exposed, especially in to-day's raw wind at 6C. The last time I trudged here was to release a Leach's Petrel which Millsy had in his shower room. Don't ask.
Seeing a group of birders, seawards, hastened our steps. To no avail, they scattered as we approached. Ah well, Denes strikes again. We met up with Pauline, first time for ages, the group hadn't seen the Shorelarks either. marginally better news. After exchanging Man U commiserations, we returned to the warmth of the car.
Second Avenue, Caister was the next destination. As we parked, Paul Lee appeared from below, having seen the Snow Buntings 'about half a mile away'. These birder distances kill me. Always under-estimated. He hadn't found the Shorelark either.
Oh no. Four horses were cantering along the beach followed by two more. Maybe they'd disturb the birds for us was our optimistic conclusion. They didn't. Neither did the inevitable dog walkers. How does any bird survive on a Norfolk Beach. These Snowies are fed by a local ringing group which must help keep them here.
Eventually, as we turned round to face the biting wind on the way back (it was more than half a mile), Pam spotted a group of about 30 Snow Buntings. Almost invisible at the edge of the sea amongst small stones and very still. They're not often so immoveable. Pam was walking on the beach by now but I had a better view higher up in the dune below the concrete path. I'd carried my Canon bridge zoom camera but couldn't even find the birds in the view-finder.
Pam's photo of Snow Bunting
I couldn't pass Winterton without deviating to the beach car park.  Pam needed to eat her lunch too - mid afternoon. The luxury of sea watching from the car at the hut end of the car park.
We added, Kittiwakes, one Gannet, my first Red-throated Diver and Grey Seal of the year.
Not a bad day's outcome. I regret not finding the Shore Lark but at least we tried,


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