Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Agony and Ecstacy

Tuesday June 3

Maybe we should have left at 4 - when we woke - it was a couple of hours later. Departure is delayed by servicing the propagator, watering tomato plants and feeding a demanding cat. A Barn Owl near Sculthorpe and a Red Kite over Wells added interest to the drive.
Oh no, as feared, nowhere to park near the track down to Gun Hill. Fortunately we were able to pull off completely onto a grass verge along the single track road south.
We last walked the track to Gun Hill in 1994 to see a Siberian Thrush. Much older, fatter bruised and battered since then. The style was a challenge as the bottom step was much too high for my knees, the ground beneath worn away. I allowed a  hurrying Penny, late for work, she'd been out there since 4.15, to climb over first,  whilst  I had a little think. I sat on the top step and got up and over from there. 
At last the climb up the hill to the coast path from Burnham Ovary Staithe. And........birders in sight, looking like stick people in the distance, clumped on the dunes. 

Find the birders.....line up the green clumps

Same photograph, enlarged
We'd been warned by a puffing man that it was a fair old distance. It didn't look too bad.....until we got near the end of the straight and found the path taking a massive dogleg to the east. At the end of the eastern straight, oncoming birders alerted us to two Spoonbills flying overhead from the west and the news that the Warbler had flown into the sueda in front of us - somewhere. It was being hassled by several Meadow Pipits - and was singing well. We stopped here with several others, seeing and hearing only Reed Bunting, Linnets and a very noisy, distracting Sedge Warbler. It was here that I discovered that my binoculars were not around my neck! The first time ever. What a mistaka to maka. And I'd not carried my scope, knowing that the walk would be taxing for my bruised knees (I caught my foot in a nettle last Friday).
Bob C had a chat on his way back and then Jax and Dave joined us. Jax received a call to say that the bird had returned to its original sueda swathe along the dunes. Off we staggered, along with Alan, still walking in the 'wrong' direction until we got to the end of a short stretch of boardwalk. Would we ever get there? Yes we did.
With the aid of Jax' binoculars (thank you so much), and patience, we saw the second Spectacled Warbler for Norfolk perched, flying and heard it sing. The first was in 2011 on Scolt Head and suppressed - despite many trippers being present. It was my third UK record, Pam's second, the first was at Landguard in 1992, where Pam objected to queuing to look through a scope.She caught up by seeing my second on Tresco.
The walk back was painful, over 4 miles round trip is a lot for us. We met John and Jane ambling out, knowing that they were late because we were on the way back ! 
I was feeling light-headed by the time we reached the style. I stayed there whilst thoughtful Pam fetched the car. I was concerned that I might keel over - heat, lack of food and a Eustacian tube problem. Very minor.
My favourite quote of the day from many passing birders was ' it's much better when the pager says, showing well in the pub car park'.
Alan, enquiring after Brenda said that she occasionally phoned to give him her latest bird droppings.
A successful twitch is always a good twitch. It was difficult to respond to the frequent question of ''Was it worth it?'' from passing birders though. Pam's favourite response was ''Probably''.
In future, if necessary, I shall walk from Burnham Ovary Staithe. The car parking is better and the path along the sea wall is flat and even all the way.

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