Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A Lovely Fool's Day

Tuesday April 1
Waking early to a full orchestra dawn chorus, the soloist a Song Thrush, the undertones,  Dunnock, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Pheasant and Wood Pigeon, vying to be heard, promises a good day ahead. A Tawny Owl lent an occasional, comma. A lovely start to a most enjoyable day.
Yes. There is still at least one Grey Wagtail at Sculthorpe Mill. A handsome male sat watchfully on the apex of the roof, as a man exercised four dogs below. Only three were on the leash.
It was one of those days when we kept adding new species, many of them often not seen on the 1st, such as Jay, Bullfinch, Tree Sparrow, both Partridges, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Little Owl. 

Male Grey Partridge in breeding plumage

Revving up to call
Probably the biggest surprise was a calling Nuthatch in the woods at Wolferton Triangle, we've never had one there.
We'd seen 40 species by the time we arrived for a porridge breakfast at Abbey farm. Those porridge pots are ideal, I prefer the Alpen ones. 
Visibility was not good, the sea fret/haar was polluted by Saharan dust blown over from Europe by the light south easterly winds. Before leaving home, in the semi-dusk,  I sqeegeed the car windows  as normal, to clean off the dew, wiping the blade on a tissue after every swipe. When it was light, I saw beads of brown dewdrops making the windows a right mess. The car was covered in a fine layer of Saharan dust. I cleaned my window with my cardigan sleeve......
Apparently the pollution level in East Anglia is at its maximum level.
As soon as the Little Owl appeared, we left the cackling Greylag, Moorhens, Coot and singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff - no ducks - and drove to Snettisham for high tide. It had been reported that CITB students had restored the track in from the chalet park and re-built the roosting bank on the far pit. Indeed they had. Hundreds of winter-grey Knot pebble-dashed the sandy bank, most have already migrated north. Dozens of Avocets, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit massed on the islands. The many more massed on the west side of the wash were not scopable in the poor light conditions, yet  the sun shone warmly through the murk. 
The tide was falling swiftly as it does on the Wash, the second greatest tide fall and rise in the world. The greatest is Bay of Fundy in Canada,  I believe.
Our first raptors of the day at Holme. Two Buzzards sailing the sky effortlessly and a Marsh Harrier looking clumsy in comparison. Elegant Pintail on the Broadwater is not a common sight.
Brunch at Thornham was notable for our first Brent Geese of the day, rising from the marsh in small groups to fly away west and, our first Alba Wagtail of the year The latter was  trit-trotting along and then, making vertical swooping forays into the air after the disturbed insects.
I always reckon on adding 10+ birds by walking to the freshwater Pool at Titchwell (is it still 100% so after the storm surge breached the east bank?). Not to-day, we'd seen so many already. Two Long-tailed Tits looked as though they were dismantling their nest. Well, they'd made an entrance hole at the very bottom and appeared to be taking material away. We'll see. Silly birds had built far too close to the path, there must have been an unacceptable level of disturbance.
'Only' four additions to-day, the expected Gadwall and Cetti's and an always exciting,  flying Bittern and Bearded Reedling
Starting to flag by now, up since 5.30, out soon after 6, we paid a quick visit to Chosely for Corn Bunting before a longer stop at Brancaster Staithe. What do we call this small meal? Late lunch or meal 3?  We tried hard to make a distant Little Egret into  a Great, there's been one around the north coast. I even got out in the mud and scoped it. No go.
Yes, I managed to April fool Pam again, she falls for it every year. I even left it until 11.30 this year. The ingenuity lies in making it different, believable and well timed. 
A final totting up yielded a total of 86 species. Very pleasing, as many winter migrants have left and there are only three summer migrants in the total. We didn't see a Grey Heron either. An excellent day.
Man United drew 1-1 with Bayern Munich in the Champions League. I thought they'd be the Chumpions.....

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