Tuesday, 2 September 2014

September 1st

Monday September 1

Not a good forecast but,  hey, it's the first. 
Soon after 6 a.m., the rising sun glowing a brilliant orange behind us, scattered clouds in the east a paler shade, it was a pleasure to set out. Pam actually had to close the side mirrors, the reflection was blinding.
No bird song at all at home, yet we'd logged 65 species by 10 a.m. Sculthorpe Mill had a Grey Wagtail on the Inn roof. Whilst scanning the mill pool, a Kingfisher skimmed across before - obligingly - returning so that Pam could view it. A Chiffchaff called loudly from nearby gardens.
Valley farm Road was especially rewarding to-day. We had to search for the Tree Sparrows, a Buzzard appeared and disappeared, the many Partridges were all recently released  Red-legged, clustered around the feeders. As we neared the farm, a well grown leveret lolloped down the road towards us. I took some appalling photos through the windscreen and a better quality one over the side mirror as it played '' You can't see me'' in the verge.

I asked Pam to park so that I could photograph the Partridges on the farm's work buildings part way down the lane. Little Owl, she exclaimed. Sitting on a tatty corrugated metal roof. First time we've seen one here.

It soon dived off, looping into a low opening before re-appearing and disappearing into a more distant dilapidated shed. Are they breeding here? 

Abbey Farm sheltered about 60 noisily gabbling Greylag Geese. A few Teal flew in and then, as we were leaving, our second Kingfisher flew across from left to right in front of the hide, landing on a low branch to the left of the gate. Lovely.
We always have a look at the last field on the left before the first house in Flitcham village. Many House Sparrows distracted from a pair of Blackcaps also feeding on the numerous berries available, both  Hawthorn and Elder.
Past the primary school, a family of skittish Mistle Thrushes swooped from tree to field and back again, the single Song Thrush fed on the ground, undeterred by their antics.
We hit Snettisham at the ideal time, nearly two hours before high tide. A mass of waders, ducks and gulls were feeding, relatively closely, at the eastern, entrance end. Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits and Knot, many still sporting summer red, one Avocet, Golden and Grey Plovers, Curlew, Sanderling and Oystercatchers. A surprising number of Sandwich and Common Terns gathered on the beach, at least 50, probably more as they were scattered amongst the gulls and waders. In all plumages too from full breeding to winter. Two Mediterranean Gulls were a surprise find.
Whilst we breakfasted on a porridge pot, the whole mass flew off west in response to the encroaching water.
We responded, parking near the Rotary Hide. Much more exposed mud here and very distant flocks, making the mud banks look black. Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and Turnstone fed diligently on the nearby exposed banks with their many creeks. Now you see me, now you don't.
The sky had been darkening for some time, a first flurry of rain curtailed our visit.
Fulmar are one of the - reputedly- easier birds to photograph. Today's bird, riding the thermals at Hunstanton cliffs, repeating its patrol for five minutes, certainly was. The challenge was achieving a sharp image in appalling light. I switched to TV, shutter priority with automatic repeat shots - as long as finger is kept on button - with  reasonable success.

We both scoped at Thornham, in a rain lull. Over 60 mainly Sandwich Terns with a few Common, on and off the beach. There must have been a shoal off shore,  as Gannets also plunged the viewable water. This attracted both an Arctic and a Great Skua to predate the terns. I feel a little sorry for the terns yet,  really love watching the supreme flying skill of the skuas  more. 
Best surprise was a Great Egret flying across the marsh, comparable with the many Little Egrets feeding there. Three adult Spoonbills were widely separated, a very murky and indistinct Titchwell showing in the distance.
The rain really set in now, we contented ourselves with a hot drink at Titchwell and deprived ourselves of a probable 10+ species by not walking there.
Apart from adding Pied Wagtail, 6 wet Snipe and a Carrion Crow from the Beach carpark at Cley, all our 87 species were achieved by mid-day - and from the car in my case, as I scope from my window when it's raining.

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