Saturday, 28 February 2015

PC Overload

Friday February 27

Having spent a lot of time at the computer this week......Solway Blog, followed by the Bird Club Newsletter, we decided to go out birding for a couple of hours. A lovely, warm(9C) and sunny day, only a chiropodist appointment prevented a full day out.
Ludham Marsh was again devoid of Cranes, probably establishing their breeding areas.
Pam could see an owl-sized shape in a Hawthorn from her side of the car, so changed position so that I could scope without getting out and disturbing the bird. Looking into the sun and at full magnification, I saw two Short-eared Owls huddled in the densest part of the tree. Both birds eventually flew towards the river bank and hunted along the raised ground which holds the Abbey ruins. Disappointingly, they never came close enough to photograph.
The herd of Swans at the track entrance has diminished considerably. Migration? The 200+ Bewick's  have become a group of about 30 Mute, Whooper and Bewick, Whoopers the largest in number. I counted 16 of them but many had their heads tucked away. Only 20 Fieldfare too, making their restless and wild-flying way from tree perching to ground and back again.
Two male Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and Blue Tits using the puddles near the barn, the usual mixed group of Stock and Feral Doves on top of the outbuilding roof. A lone Buzzard in the Womack Staithe area.
Winterton Beach yielded a half dozen Gannets and nothing else of note, we didn't stay long. So many cars parked on the roadside where it says 'No parking on Verges'. 
The owner's (Burnley Hall Estate) plans to log the wood on the North Dunes, make an access road to do so and then extend it to the concrete blocks at the far end to make parking place for the would be seal watchers, is causing a stir. Some Club members ring in the woods and, both the logging and making access easier for visitors, will cause much disturbance to an area which has seen many good birds, e.g Black Lark. 
The Caister Holiday camp owned dune area south of Caister Second Avenue is currently being bull-dozed and cleared. No hope of intervening.
Apart from Corvids, the Somerton/Horsey Mill area was devoid of birds to-day. Not even a Marsh Harrier showing.
Will Man U manage a win this weekend? Will we beat Sri Lanka in the World Cup? Not confident of either. Nor Wales playing France at the Stade de france this afternoon......
I used to be an optimist !

Monday, 23 February 2015

Solway Weekend

Friday February 20

Trip organised and led by:

We arrived at Falcon Cottage entrance at the same time as Jane, the other tour participant. She from the Norwich direction, us from Mundesley. Carl Chapman, tour leader, was waiting to direct us into a grassy area where the cars would be parked whilst we were away. Whilst Carl packed our luggage into the roof pod, his partner Sharon offered us the use of their loo and we introduced ourselves. Always a polite and reserved affair at the start of a trip, strangers assessing their, soon to be close, companions. 
After  a couple of comfort stops with tea and biscuits dispensed from the back of the car, and another for a very large and enjoyable packed lunch produced by Sharon, we arrived at Leighton Moss RSPB. We used their loos and then drove on to park at the entrance track to the Eric Morecambe hide.
A lovely sunny day with a bitterly cold wind hitting me as I left the cocoon of the car. Kitted up, we scanned the field at the entrance, Carl finding 4 Greenland Whitefronts amongst the flock of Greylag. 

Greenland Whitefronts - 5 - at the back of the photo (Pam)
At least two of the Greylag sported orange neck rings. Part of the Orkney ringing project?

Pam pic.
The journey had nor done much for my back so it was a trudge to the car park (car + pod was too tall to go under the bridge), enhanced by a lovely - and close - Stonechat on top of reed mace. I hadn't carried a camera.......Pam did.

A feeding station in the scrub area approaching the first Hide (the Allen Hide) had Blue and Great Tits, Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and Yellowhammer. Allen Hide is large and spacious, overlooking tide-full pools and creeks of Morecambe Bay.  So many wooden fence posts scattered about in the water. 

Through watering eyes, I scanned the distant scattering of birds, the usual seashore suspects. Curlew, Teal, Gadwall, Pintail, Shelduck, a few Shoveller and a small flock of Skylark. The other three left to walk on to the Eric Morecambe hide whilst I stayed on. 

To my delight, a pair of Goosander flew in to the pool in front of the hide and swam directly in front of me, soon joined by another female who appeared from nowhere. She flew off and the remaining female took up her, flat in the water, beak stretched out in front, submissive and 'I'm ready' position - which he completely ignored. Such handsome ducks, in pristine breeding plumage. 
Two hours driving later, we arrived at the Mabie Lodge Hotel, home for two nights. Established in 1715, it's a very attractive and typically Scottish stone building,  at the top of a hill, attractively situated in woodland with a fine view from the front. 

Passing the parrot's cage enshrouded for the night (?!) we reached our very large bedroom via one long and two short flights of steps. The room contained 1 normal size double bed and one king size - to give an idea of its size.
Dinner was very enjoyable, decent food and entertaining company. Jane is a retired opthamologist, she and her husband ran a family firm. She is very pleasant and entertaining company as is Carl.
Bed was most welcome after a long day, the hot water bottle helped considerably - icy sheets.

Saturday February 21

I decided not to join the pre breakfast walk around the grounds, saving my back for the day ahead. It kills me to miss anything but, for once, my head over-ruled my heart. I went out of the front door to admire the view, in time to see my one and only flock of Pinkfeet  for the trip fly over. The distant hills looked as though they were covered in the snowdrops we've been seeing everywhere, it had snowed on them overnight. 

The view from the Hotel
The others returned at 8 a.m and we had a filling breakfast. of eggs and bacon (me) with a few extras for the others.
The parrot was uncovered when I returned to the stairs. I had a chat with him and he wound himself up to do a very good 'Hallo'. He went quite loopy at my attention, climbing about the wire, flapping his wings, bobbing up and down, emitting hallos at frequent intervals. A smallish green parrot with rose pink under tail feathers, haven't a clue what sort. (Orange-winged Amazonian, I telephoned and asked) Pam carried on the conversation.
With the very high tides predicted for this weekend, we made our way west to Carsethorn.

The village was started by Danish Vikings as a fishing and coastal trading port, the sandy shore giving a hard where it was safe to beach ships at mid-tide on a falling tide, unload or load them from carts at low tide, then float them off on the next rising tide. At a time when roads inland were rutted tracks, most freight and much passenger traffic was by sea. This was only to change with the road improvers like Telford and MacAdam in the early 1800s.  Prints in The Steamboat Inn show that that local fishermen still used 'haaf' nets and worked their boats from the beach until well into the end of the twentieth century.
The channel of the River Nith moved closer to Carsethorn over time, until the deep water channel was near the shore. Carsethorn is first mentioned as a port, in 1562, when a ship was loading for Rochelle and Bordeaux. Later, the 'Carse', as it is fondly referred to, acted as an outport for Dumfries, with the larger ships anchoring in Carse Bay, before unloading their cargo. There was a great deal of trade through the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s, chiefly coastal to ports either side of the Solway, to Ireland and to the Isle of Man.

Now, there is a scattering of houses, gardens and garages on the shore side of the road. We parked near to the Steamboat Inn to scan the shore. An immense stretch of sand, dimming into the distance, the nearby channel from the Nith Estuary filling with the fast, inrushing tide. Oystercatchers, a few Turnstone, Curlew and a lone over-wintering Whimbrel. That was a surprise, I didn't know that any stayed over.
Carl thought that a 100 yards or so back the way we'd come in might be better as the channel filled. I sat and scoped on a convenient rock on the beach, Pam joined me and took this lovely photo. 

Before the tide raced in
Carl and Jane scoped from the top.
The sheer abundance of birds rivalled Snettisham but massed in a smaller area with less variety. Probably 2,000 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plovers, Redshank, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail and 4 Scaup were within discernable view

Male Wigeon
The channel had now morphed into a sea, ancient wooden stakes  a clue to its former active life. Passers by said they'd seen an Otter 10 minutes before we'd arrived. 

I stayed, sitting on a bench in front of the car, to scope, whilst the others walked on a little further. Soon after they'd left, I had scope views of at least 2 Harbour Porpoises, swimming right. Thankfully the others saw them too, Carl reckons there were 5. 


Next stop,  Merseside RSPB reserve, to the southwest of Carsethorn. En route, sharp-eyed Carl spotted a distant flock of geese. Taking a side road we saw our first Barnacles, 500 or so. As soon as we arrived, heads were raised and the slow walking away began. Stopping made the whole flock fly away. A magnificent spectacle but we didn't want to disturb them. So wary.
En route a Roe Deer gave Pam a photographic opportunity.

Merseside RSPB Centre has a feeding station directly outside a large window. Very busy, buzzing with photogenic Yellowhammers next to early crocus clumps, Tree Sparrows perched in a tree, on the stumps and on the feeders. So active, so close. Four camera shutters clicking like ackack fire on the Western Front. The reserve is also situated  on the Solway Coast as are Leighton Moss and Caerlaverock..

Tree Sparrow in the waiting area
Merseside Reserve map (Pam)
 After a welcome cuppa and biscuits back at the car, we walked the shortish distance to the hides, along a thickly hedged track which protected the flock of feeding Barnacle Geese 
from seeing us. And us them.......I managed to find a shorter and thinner patch of hawthorn through which to take a few photos, from which I edited out the intruding branches.

I then paused for a rest before joining the others in Bruaich Hide, where Carl had found a Green-winged Teal. Good bird. Carl thinks it was 75 yards away, I think it was rather more. As I'd never photographed this species, I took an appalling photograph which I will still include. Please pass over quickly if it offends !

Green-winged Teal with a European Teal at the back
Early afternoon, time to leave for the swan feeding session at Caerlaverock WWT further east. Lunch was eaten en route to save time. Tower Hide was packed as the feed had already started. I was offered a seat to one side, the others found room at the centre window. The pond was full of gently bugling Whooper Swans, 

Pam pic.
Whooper Swan

Teal and Wigeon, one Pochard, Gadwall and a single female Scaup. 
The near bank, studded with corn, was covered in furiously feeding Stock Doves and feral Rock Doves, flighting away and then returning for more. 

 The Scaup eventually came near enough for photography.

Female Scaup and male Wigeon
The hide soon emptied after the commentary had stopped, Jane and Carl went off to another hide, Pam and I stayed to continue enjoying the spectacle in the soft, late afternoon sun. It had been another beautiful day. Spring on the ground, budding daffodils and crocus, swathes of snowdrops roadside and decorating woodland understory. Still a real edge in the air and winter birds abounding, yet showing signs of the restless and excited gathering which presages their fresh-plumaged journey back to their breeding grounds.
The pond started to empty too, the Whoopers leaving the water, shaking their tails and waddling laboriously, like pregnant women, along to the end of a grassy strip which they used as the runway. In small groups, they collected at the end, nodding necks to each other whilst uttering soft, closed-beak calls before lumbering into flight. 

Pam pic.
Feet thrusting at the ground, necks stretched, wings beating madly, as ponderous as Lancaster bombers before lift-off. They then become powerful and graceful aerial sculptures.

Carl and Jane returned, having seen a second Green-winged Teal and two Water Rails. Carl proposed that we go up to the tower above us for a better view into the distance.
We had earlier seen large flocks of Barnacles rise into the air before landing again in distant fields. The extended and expansive view from the tower made us aware of how many birds were congregated in the fields. The small corner previously visible....

was a minute fraction of the birds present in the area. Irregularly, as the sun dropped towards the horizon, vast fractured clouds of Barnacles would rise into the air, circle and drift before landing again. We estimated 8-10.000 birds in total. 

Stupendous, a lifetime birding experience. My 300mm lens wasn't really up to the job.
Pam and her camera did rather better....
 The still departing Whoopers now showed in a very different light.

Evening light
Reluctantly, we had to leave, as the reserve closes at 5.00 p.m. What a lovely day we'd had.
The parrot was again enshrouded when we got back........

Sunday February 22

Over breakfast, to-day's forecast was discussed and alternative routes planned, missing out the A62 over the Pennines where heavy snow and high winds were forecast. We should be able to cross Shap before the weather hit. It was raining when we left and rarely eased all day. Shap had a sprinkling of snow with strong gusts of wind affecting the car with its pod on top but, nothing major.
This time, we parked and visited Leighton Moss Reserve Centre, which is rather splendid. Especially the feeding areas at the back. Sheltering from the incessant rain under a band stand type place, we watched a group of busy feeders. Nuthatch, calling Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, two Bullfinches, Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Goldfinches all came down. Carl called a Willow Tit on the opposite side from the feeders which sent me rushing (!) over. I had good views of it in a nearby twiggy tree, a real treat.
The nearest Centre hide, overlooking part of the biggest reedbed remaining in the north-west, was very close. A few patches of the red Elf-cap fungus in the leaf mould outside were briefly admired before heading for shelter. Pam and I stayed in the hide but Carl and Jane also visited a further one where they added Peregrine. 

Part of the rainy view from the hide (Pam)
Raptors have been missing on this trip, apart from Buzzards and Kestrels.
Locating and counting the cryptic Snipe was the order of the day! 

Pam pic.
We also saw Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Shoveller, Cormorant, Gadwall and Greater Black-backed Gulls.

Male Tufted Duck
 The drive home was not pleasant for Carl. heavy rain all the way with its attendant spray from other vehicles. We were back at Falcon Cottage soon after 8 and home by nine, after seeing to the luggage.
Jane was very good company, undemanding and amusing. Carl the same, with the addition of leading very well with both wildlife knowledge, care and thought for his group. Thank you.
We laughed a lot all weekend.

Thursday, 19 February 2015


Thursday February 19

Two lovely sunny days encouraged me to put the moth trap out. Three species and 5 moths in total ! 
A very worn Chestnut, 3 Early brindled Beauty and a Spring Usher which is new for the garden. Never trapped this early before, I'd hoped for a new record.

Spring Usher

Pale Brindled beauty (Pam's pic)
 We're off to the Solway to-morrow for  a Geese Weekend with Carl Chapman. Fingers crossed for reasonable weather. We're due at Northrepps for 6 a.m.

Impulse Visit

Wednesday February 18

Wednesdays are busy in that both Freda and Kevin are here, not regularly at this time of year but both to-day.
Kevin took down the rotted raspberry supports, weeded and fleeced the early potato bed, manured the veggie patches (apart from the carrot sowing area) and finished off the bean trench, covering it with black plastic. Excellent.
It was after 2 p.m when Pam suggested an outing. Maybe  Cley?  We hadn't lunched so the Centre was first, to discover that they finish serving at 3.30, closing at 4. It was packed too - half term. Our friendly serving lady questioned why we were so late but 'allowed' us a hot chocolate and a cake. Only 1 scone left so Pam had something else. We did discover that the cafe is closing for 3 weeks as from next Sunday, that will be a significant loss of revenue and the workers have to use up their holiday time. Pat is to be based in a grey shed near the portaloos......
The main aim was to discover the whereabouts of the drake Garganey present for the last week or so. Some people had seen it from the Centre. Not to-day, it was on the Serpentine off East Bank.
There was room in the small car park so we trudged east bank in a cold wind, Pam carrying her scope. That's the first time in probably years, I wasn't carrying mine as my shoulder cuff tear was painful.We stopped about two thirds of the way out, as oncoming birders either hadn't seen it or reported it flying away. Pam decided that, as we were there, she'd scope anyway. After finding 2 elegant designer duck Pintail, she let out a cry of delight. The drake Garganey - another designer triumph - was actually awake and feeding on the edge of a small pool. Well done Pam. A worthwhile impulse visit.
Very early spring record, it has been mooted that it has over-wintered somewhere. Who knows.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Garden Bird

Sunday February 15

Preparing breakfast (at 12.00) in the kitchen, I looked out of the window at the near feeders, as always. Was that a female Blackcap? I called Pam who came trotting, carrying her camera, and took this photo.

I went to get my camera and was back in time to see the female Sparrowhawk go through. No birds at all for the next 10 minutes......

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Titchwell at last - The Pretty Way

Saturday February 14

Half an hour into our journey, it was still grey overcast with a constant drizzle. We kept talking about going to Natural Surroundings to pay our annual membership fee - necessary in order to go to Moth-ing sessions in the grounds. Pam suggested we call in and have breakfast there. What a good idea.They don't really do a breakfast menu, we both had delicious cheese on toast.
Many improvements to the grounds and plants area by the new owners Simon and Anne Harrop. Well done, everywhere looks tended.
Whilst waiting for our food, we sat and watched the dozens of birds coming to the feeders outside the windows. Mostly Blue Tits and Chaffinches, a few Coal Tits and one Nuthatch. No Marsh Tit to-day. It was a constant blur of activity. I decided to test out my Canon bridge on full mag. through the glass. The Blue Tit is an example.More patience needed for the Coal Tit and Nuthatch, they grab and go.

Pam took this crowded cafe, Great pic !
 It had cleared by the time we reached Titchwell. Seemed less cold too - until we left the shelter of the trees. The western marsh pool has been drained again but held a good number of Dunlin and Ruff. We walked as far as Island Hide, when my back was very painful so we turned back. 
We'd been told that a Water Pipit had been seen on the drained pool so we stopped again and I set up my scope, leaning against the bench. Pam saw a Kingfisher fly along the northern drain and I managed to find it perched in the reeds. Very quickly, it flew again, away from us and then back towards us, joined by another. The two Kingfishers crossed the path and flew towards the freshmarsh from where they later returned.
One birder called a Water Rail at the very back of the muddy pool whilst another spotted a pair of Bearded Tits feeding on the mud around the exposed pipe. Lovely, a good stop. Freezing cheeks encouraged us to the cafe for a latish lunch before making our way home. The Long-tailed Ducks and Spotted Redshank will have to wait for another day.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Not enough Sun

Friday February 13

Unsure of whether to visit Titchwell or Sculthorpe to-day, getting up to weak sunshine sent us to the Goshawk site in the Brecks. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours gazing at a line of mixed conifer and deciduous woodland, across sizeable arable fields. Much clearer viewing than at Olley's Farm was a bonus.
Hundreds of Wood Pigeons and Rooks rose in clouds whenever any of the four Buzzards rose into the air, very distracting and a nuisance. Four adult female Red Deer galloping across the field had the same effect. 
Seeing all four Buzzards in the air at once, circling and occasionally displaying, was a bonus much appreciated. Eventually we had a short view of a Goshawk followed by a longer flight across the treeline, but none of the anticipated display. The sunny day had deteriorated into cloud cover with occasional sun. I wouldn't have felt like displaying either. There's always another visit....

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Out of Order - back to the 6th

Friday February 6

Reports of a very early male Garganey at Cley yesterday, encouraged by an EM photo of it asleep on Pat's late last night, we made an early start for Cley. Toss up. Pat's Pool where it was last reported or Simmonds where it first appeared?
Despite the grey cloud cover and a very cold wind, we sat in Pat's Pool Hide for well over an hour, thoroughly enjoying the spectacle of hundreds of Lapwing, even more Golden Plover, 9 Avocets, a dozen Black-tailed Godwits, Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall. At erratic intervals, with no apparent reason, the flocks would rise into the air, swirl about and land again. 

 Where they landed and the variety and number of birds changed but, not the species. A Grey Heron landed to join the ever present Little Egret, this became a Mexican standoff as they neared each other. 

Time to move our solid limbs, no sign of Garganey here. Should we go on to Simmonds? Cold and hunger took precedence. Brunch at Cley Centre would mean information if the Garganey was re-found -  the breakfast food at Bacton is better.

Lovely cooked breakfast. Shame the Garganey was on Simmonds after all ! Serves us right.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


Tuesday February10

After the always enjoyable coffee, scone and natter at Cley Centre with J and D, we had some time to spare before my medication review appointment in North Walsham. A peer over the wall near the Crown pub on Sheringham town front was again fruitless apart from 2 Turnstones. 
We decided to walk a little further, as far as the steps with the incredibly good fishermen painting on the wall at the bottom. It is so 3D. Pam's photo.....

Success. A lone Purple Sandpiper was just below us, feeding on the low heap of  algae covered rocks. Pam rushed back for our cameras. I saw that the bird took no notice of passers by on the lower level so we went down to take a few photographs. 
Conditions are never to my satisfaction......certainly not on a dull, grey February day, dark rocks against a foaming white sea, breaking on the shore. Against the light too. A lot to expect of any camera. I am reasonable satisfied with the results but would wish that the whole bird was sharper.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Surprise Find

Monday February 2

Pam returned from shopping and the garage (wipers bent by the wind, adjustments made), immediately suggesting that we go out. She'd noticed some thrushes in the Soay sheep field on the way to Walcott. I was easily swayed.
Having hastily prepared a roll, we set off. The thrushes were still there, not a large flock but containing Fieldfare, Redwing and Song Thrush. 
At the Bacton end of Ridlington Road, Pam pulled in to  an unofficial layby, formed by passing traffic in a narrow road. About 30 Brent Geese have been in the field for several days. Whilst waiting for the vehicle to pass I scanned the flock, saying 'some of the birds have got orange legs, they're Whitefronts'. I quickly reached for my scope from the back seat, identifying four birds with bright orange beaks, two with large white 'fronts', two with smaller. Consulting the Helm Guide, they were very obviously Greenland Whitefronts, too distant for a photo.
Pausing at Brograve Farm, there were at least 30 Cranes distantly viewable.
The Horsey Layby was almost filled by a large birding tour minibus. No wonder, the field to the east was full of birds. Thousands of Pinkfeet, Lapwing, one Ruff  and a few Fieldfare. The next field was full of Golden Plover, Starling, Lapwing and 30+ Snipe. The latter, the largest flock I've seen in Norfolk.
£1 in the Coastguards bucket at Winterton Beach for car park entry, 5 Gannets the only birds on an empty sea. Why do I not record Black-headed Gulls as present?
Late for putting the roast in the oven, we drove directly home until.....seeing Bob in the Horsey layby brought us to a swift halt. I'd texted him earlier about the geese but he hadn't responded. It turned out that he wasn't wearing his aids and hadn't heard his phone.He'd also seen the geese but was very cross that he hadn't scoped them and identified 4 as Greenland Whitefronts, We had a quick and short look for Purple Sand on Walcott front - it started raining - so Bob was already in the layby digiscoping when we passed.
I took a few hopeful shots as it was now very poor light in the rain after a sunny afternoon.
Bob mailed me some shots which he was not happy with but they're better than mine ! It was a family of Whitefronts, 2 adults and 2 young.

Bob's digiscoped. 1 adult right, juvenile left

My photo - much enlarged

Tuesday morning

The Brent remained, the Whitefronts had gone.
Lunch at Cley Centre added 7 Avocets for the month.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Not Showers....

Sunday February 1

The forecast 'showers'  should have been ' may stop raining occasionally'. Such a dark and dreary morning we didn't leave until 8.08 (Pam's very exact).
It was light enough to tick off several birds on the garden feeders before leaving, all of them seen elsewhere during the day. I now wonder why we stuck to the task, we didn't get home until after 5 p.m., when the weather was so disgusting. Much of the rain containing splodgy soft snow and it was bitterly cold. Leaving the car's warmth to walk to Sculthorpe Mill bridge, open and shut gates (Snettisham) and to walk to two hides, Snettisham and Holme, felt like an Arctic expedition. 
The car park at Tesco in a far from Sunny Hunny is very exposed too. No breakfast there to-day, too late, it was lunchtime. We needed to buy walnuts. Why? I read an article which said that 13 gms of walnuts a day appreciabley improved memory and could delay dementia. Some exclusive avid or other...Worth a try, although neither of us much likes dried walnuts.
 Having drawn a blank at the Mill, the next stop was for a pot of porridge at Abbey Farm, Flitcham which we left to thicken whilst visiting the hide. The pot gets very hot and the path is uneven and slippery.Two hands needed - for both.We added Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Fieldfare and Greylag (exciting) whilst Pam read yesterday's logbook entry which was mouth-watering. It included Red Kite, Peregrine, Little and Barn Owls, Hen Harrier, 15 Brambling and Green Woodpecker !! Plus a eulogy about 'this wonderful reserve'. Good thing that he didn't come to-day.
We scanned two different finch flocks in the hedge and village seeing Yellowhammers and Reed Bunting amongst the host of Chaffinches but nothing else. We did see both partridges before reaching Sandringham.
The first pit near the caravan park and chalets at Snettisham produced our first Red-breasted Merganser - a male - of the year and 10+ Goldeneye which never fail to delight me. Distant small flock of Tufted Duck too.
Yes, low tide again at Snettisham. Miles of mud, the scattered birds difficult to discern through the rain with streaming eyes. Curlew, both Godwits, Dunlin, Teal, Wigeon, Redshank, Grey Plover and I saw Sanderling. I wonder what the, beyond scope  view, dark masses of huddled birds held?
Pam parked at the door of the Rotary Hide whilst I dashed (!) in for my best  view yet of the Black-necked Grebe beginning to gain its summer garb.What a time to find that my camera battery was dead. That hasn't happened for years - not when I haven't got a charged replacement with me anyway. 
I couldn't get back into the car as I couldn't sit and hold the car door open enough to get my leg in. The wind was too strong. Pam had to get out and hold the door.
I was surprised that Pam chose to drive to Holme, it was a good day to miss it. A short view of a male Marsh Harrier was the only reward. Even the horses were hiding somewhere.
No sign of the reported Spotted Redshank at Thornham where the tide was rushing into the creeks. 
A full of water Brancaster Staithe added one Ringed Plover to the list.
At least Stiffkey Marsh is reliable for Little Egret, too wet and with very poor visibility to even consider scanning for raptors. 
Morston's full creeks looked lovely. The Greenshank was in the pool inland of the boat landing area. Scanning the field to the left of the exit road, where Pam thought she'd seen Snipe fly in, I found 18 Black-tailed Godwits and a pair of Stonechats, feeding on the ground.
As we approached, we could see massive breakers throwing sheets of white spray into the air above Cley shingle bank. Awesome. No wonder that, with a more suitable wind, the 2013 storm surge breached the bank in so many places. We drove to the far end of the car park where I had a quick glimpse of a small dark bird whizzing east along the shoreline. A birder escaping from the top of the bank was binning the same restricted area. I forgot about it until my pager tweeted that a Little Auk had flown past at that exact time. Not countable, I'm not stringy.
Julian's hot chocolate, although I had to stand in an arctic blast for 5 minutes whilst he made it , was very welcome. Another customer actually held his coat out to make a windshield for me. Chivalry is not quite dead. 
A grand total of 68 was the reward for our endeavours..........big deal. I still loved our day.

I'm writing this on Monday morning whilst it's snowing. We had a half a centimetre shower late last evening before a clear, starry night. The snow started as a snow drizzle of tiny particles before becoming a whirlwind of fluffiness, the most photogenic sort. A Jay landed in the top of the Youngii birch, what a lovely photograph that would have been. My camera is in the car and the car is in North Walsham. Pam is shopping for us and the 95 year old next door before going on to Mundesley to have the wipers replaced. They started clicking loudly yesterday and the passenger side wiper did not wipe fully.
I have now added a couple of photos to my previous entry.

The Winterton Run

Thursday January 29

A lovely afternoon seeing thousands of birds . Bliss.
Nothing unusual. Thousands of Pinkfeet, waves of them rising  into the sky from unseen fields, gathering in groups and flighting overhead and in all directions.

Fields full of own space, beady-eyed, Golden Plovers still in winter garb.  Lapwings, swivelling eyes looking sideways without moving their heads, a lone Marsh Harrier and the biggest surprise, 20 Snipe, probing like an efficient sewing machine, in a lush green pasture.