Sunday, 3 August 2014

Our Beloved Snettisham

Friday August 1

Would we escape a shower to-day? The weather is more uncertain than it has been for the last week or so. Indeed parts of the west and south are getting storms again. We've had enough to top up the water butts which is most welcome. I can still dip the watering cans instead of having to wait for the tap outlet.
Birding did not start auspiciously, only 20 species by Abbey Farm but it did include Tree Sparrows feeding a second brood in an old nestbox on a very exposed house wall.

Very little at Abbey, we hastened on to Snettisham where it was an hour until high tide. The water was well in, a small number of beautiful summer Turnstones, Sanderlings and Oystercatchers still on the eastern shore. Most of the birds had already massed on any mud still exposed on the western shore. Seeing a few birders in front of Rotary Hide, that was our first call. They were watching a White-rumped Sandpiper on the near shore, feeding with a good number of the 4,000 Dunlin present. The nearest birder said ' Quick, look through my scope before you put yours up'. As I placed my eye to the lens, they all flew away !! Did I see it? No way could I count that. Most of the birds were escaping the rising tide, making their way further west. Baz and DH left wishing us Good Luck. Slim chance. We enjoyed the massed spectacle of Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Knot, Dunlin, some already congregating on the pit. The central hide was a victim of last year's storm surge, no point in going further. 

The Horned Poppies on the shore and the bank between the pits were a picture. The latter a tight mass of wildflowers.

Horned Poppy
 Reluctantly, we dragged ourselves away to breakfast at Hunstanton Tesco, tick off Fulmar along the cliffs and drive to Holme. Another spectacle as we entered the track out to the reserves. At least 200 Swallows and a few Martins clustered on the overhead wires. Very restless, they kept swarming into the air many descending once more. Impossible to photograph but I tried. They'd all gone by the time we returned...

Nothing to keep us at the reserve. On to Thornham, where the water was still high, before walking out to Island Hide at Titchwell. The first pool had 3 young Red-crested Pochard and Little Grebe with one young.  
About a dozen birders were stood on the main path at the entrance to the hide. Why? We went on to the hide, easily finding seats at the south end. After a wait of 45 minutes, the Spotted Crake appeared from the reeds, showing well for about five minutes before disappearing into the reedbed. Plenty of lovely waders to keep us occupied whilst waiting. Spotted Redshank, one ringed as an adult in Holland in 2008 - rings read by the warden, Wood Sandpiper and at least nine Spoonbills. Most too distant for my small pocket camera.
None of the birders on the bank had seen the Crake !
We didn't feel like hanging around at Cley just in case the Purple Heron showed again. we were home at 4.45, after ten hours with a list in the  lower 80s.

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