Friday, 16 May 2014

Home in Norfolk

Tuesday May 13

After a morning in Norwich, a short late afternoon visit to Cley was mooted and, off we went. We didn't much fancy walking, still stiff and swollen-legged from all our travelling in and to Scotland.  No Wagtails in Cley field, a Blue-headed had been reported earlier. Yellow Wagtails have been present for a week or so. Where? Their squeaky cry alerted us to two Little Terns speeding by at sea. Plenty of Sandwich and Common too.
Despite an initial reluctance, we ambled to the Dawkes Hide trio, adding Bearded Tit and Reed Warbler to the month list. Despite some serious scanning, I couldn't find any waders apart from Avocet and Lapwing. I should definitely have carried my scope. What happened to my rule of never going without? Sciatica.........
Very enjoyable and relaxing nontheless, reminiscent of our Friday night after work sessions once the nights were light enough.

Thursday May 14

Time for Norfolk birding, having missed our usual first of the month expedition. Still not full of the joys physically but, a beautiful morning helped with that. We did manage to set off at 6.20 a.m.
A splendid start, the Ebridge Grey Wagtail was sitting on overhead wires, one of my favourite birds.
A very curtailed birding visit day compared with the norm, a short visit to Sculthorpe Mill in case the Spotted Flycatchers were back drew a negative. Next stop, the main destination of the day, Choseley concrete pad. We were the only ones there, apprehensive after a clear night, numbers already down to 5 yesterday. Viewing a potato field in a heat haze, we found nothing at first. Another birder drew up, he went to look at the adjacent field. Pam was scanning with her bins as was I, and exclaimed triumphantly 'got one'. We quickly put our scopes up and I found two heads and then torsos, together, of two lovely Dotterel. They were doing their usual ducking heads and running, hardly viewable above the potatoes.
I offered the other birder a look through my scope with which he was delighted. He'd never seen one before. Even at minimum zoom, the heat haze was considerable - but not enough to spoil the enjoyment of this beautiful bird, especially as the best view was of a bright female. There was probably a third but the farmer driving into the field in a tractor, complete with sprayer, sent us onwards. Did he do it on purpose? There are tales that he grubbed out the Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer attracting hedge near the barns to deter birders. What a shame if it's true. The previous farmer was co-operative, mostly, as long as gateways were not obstructed.
Holme was well worth a visit, yet frustrating at the same time. Parking is not allowed along the approach road, but we stop and have a scan if there isn't any traffic. Much bird activity this morning, mostly Whitethroat, and far too many cars moving us on.
The Broadwater Hide added Pochard, Tufted Duck, Avocet, Greylag, Canada Goose, Redshank, Sedge Warbler, a calling Cuckoo, Cetti's and two circling Buzzards. Pam hears Grasshopper Warbler well, I don't any more, unless they are close by. To-day, one was.
On the way back down the track, a Cuckoo sped across in front of us, closely followed by an irate dive-bombing Lapwing.
We have been concerned since the 2013 'flying flock' of sheep were fenced in on the area where a mass of Early Marsh Orchids grew.  Surely the Norfolk Wildlife Trust know what they're doing? This year, the whole of the area is a mass of the primaeval Mare's Tail and other lush vegetation. No sign of any orchids, is it too early? Pam found a group of three, not fully out,  in a different area.

Thornham, on a fast ebbing tide, produced a superb summer plumaged Grey Plover, three Gannets flying east, plenty of Curlew and a lone Brent Goose. 
Titchwell was merely a convenience stop to-day, followed by Brancaster Staithe for Pam's lunch time. So many boats back in the water.

Three Common Terns spent ages wasting energy, chasing each other around whilst constantly calling. Silly birds, testosterone based no doubt. A distant Little Tern fished amongst the boats. No Turnstone and only a few Ringed Plover. A sizeable number of Brent flying around too. No surprise, I didn't count them !
We found two very active Little Terns having a wash and preen on the far bank at Brancaster Overy. Couldn't resist... I probably should have done.

Pulling in at the western end of Holkham Marsh, I was delighted to find our first Hobby of the year flying west. Despite being the wrong side of the car., Pam got on to it too.
Time for another go at the Eye Field, Cley. We parked in the overflow car park, delighted to find that the herd of cows and their enchanting youngsters had moved to the very western end of the field, right in front of us. Bingo. One Yellow Wagtail tripping its way through the hooves, not easy to see as the grass and thistles are well grown. I was hoping to digiscope it but it flew away as soon as I located it in my scope. A Swallow was more obliging. 300mm lens this time.

David (Geordie) appeared at Pam's window for a chat.He's traded in his motor home for a smaller VW as he can no longer drive long distances, after a recent illness. he can still walk for 2 hours though. I believe he's even older than us!
Parking at Cley Centre, we walked to Bishop's hide, overlooking Pat's Pool. I had my scope and my D60 Canon this time.
Impossible to discern using bins but, very obvious once I set my scope up. 2 Temminck's Stints and a Common Sandpiper fed on a central island, amongst the myriad Shelducks. No wonder we couldn't find them on Tuesday. Never go without a scope !!
It was lovely, just sitting there, watching  a female Marsh Harrier wheel over the reed bed,

young Lapwings foraging in the weeds - until a Grey Heron flew over and an anxious mother called them to her. This involved swimming to an island, easy prey. Lapwings are nearly as bad a parent as the champion Avocet. They're very aggressive though when other Lapwing invade their territory. They abandon the chicks and fight. Very sensible.

At least two Little Ringed Plovers roamed the islands, their yellow eye-rings showing well. Shoveller are handsome birds.

One Bahama Pintail at the back of the pool, a definite escape.
Home by 4 p.m. with a day list of 85, very respectable for little activity and few sites. Great to see so may Swifts at their usual sites.

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