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.